Director Fury had been nervous for weeks as the election between Santos and Vinnick reached a fever pitch. But that wasn’t what had Fury on edge, Coulson knew; it was something beyond their world that was pushing all of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s limited resources to the brink.
Coulson had been pushing off his cover for a few weeks in order to better understand what was at risk right now, how dangerous the threat was. There were indicators that someone with access to the Bifrost was inching closer and closer to Earth with more than just their otherworldly power at their heel. There were covert friends of Thor’s in Asgard who were saying Loki was up to something while his brother and father were off fighting in another realm.
Sensors in their office were beeping incessantly. Coulson had to fight over the din to say, “Sir, do I need to brief the President about Valhalla?”
Fury said, “It’s time, but keep it brief, Coulson. There’s too much going on tonight to start something drastic. We’re about to play a very smart game of chess with Bartlet and whoever wins. Valhalla can’t succeed if we tip our hand too soon.”
“Noted sir. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get to DC before it’s too late. The President has a few parties tonight.”
“Do what you need to, Coulson. Just play it smart.”
Coulson knew exactly where he needed to start, and so he made his way into this SUV and settled in to make a phone call once he was closer to DC.
“Margaret, I know it’s late and that CJ is probably already ready to go to a few galas tonight, but I need five minutes with her. Now. ” The voice on the other end of the line was tinny and a little muffled, but understandable. “I’m driving down as we speak, but she needs to know this now, before all the results complicate matters.”
“How soon will you be here?”
“Maybe an hour.”
Margaret had always done her job well and knew when Agent Casper called, it was something everyone needed to be worried about. There was already terrible news in the night and it was hard enough for Margaret to know that the whole White House staff was going to act as if nothing was wrong until the Santos campaign made its announcement. This distraction wouldn’t help much, either. An hour was too long for her to stall. CJ was attending the first gala in a matter of minutes, and if this news was as dire as it sounded, the President would need to know sooner rather than later. She wouldn’t let anyone else know what she feared about the end of anyone’s life until someone confirmed the details so she simply said, “She had her dress in the office waiting and she’s got three minutes until she leaves. I’ll put you through.”
“Thank you. I’ll need to speak to her in person tonight as well. I’m hoping that traffic into the city isn’t too bad tonight.”
“Of course.” She transferred him quickly enough and went back to looking at her own outfit for the first gala of the night. She would need to pack a few extra supplies into her handbag tonight just in case CJ had more work to do than she would have liked.
Her phone rang again, a minute later, but this time it was Josh calling from Texas.
Everything after that mattered much less, she had to believe.
“I have bad news for you on two fronts, CJ,” Coulson started off with. He had to get to the point of the call before he was forced to talk it out in person, and with everything as it was tonight, there was little time to waste.
“You have two more minutes Casper. The President’s leaving soon, and I’m in his limo.”
“Fine. Firstly, ma’am, my name isn’t Mike Casper, but Phil Coulson and I work with an organization called S.H.I.E.L.D., which examines a variety of issues that involve other worlds besides Earth.”
“Casper, this isn’t the time.” There was a pause on her end of the line. “I mean that,” she added for effect.
“I’m not lying ma’am and there’s an extraterrestrial attack that is imminent and the President needs to know. Codename Valhalla.”
“How imminent?” CJ asked, because she already had so much to worry about with the President and the news about Leo (thankfully Fury had heard about it - somehow - and already alerted Coulson) as well as whoever was going to win the election beyond her own grief for the man who all but picked her as his successor.
“We have days before anything serious happens, but it could change. Loki is known to be fickle.”
“Loki, the god of mischief, is real?” There was another long pause. “Casper--”
“Yes, Coulson. I need to verify this information from you before we met, but I expect to see you at the Hilton within ninety minutes.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He let her hang up, and looked at the traffic surrounding him. Hopefully he’d make it in time.
CJ hung up the phone, let out a long breath and willed that this was all a strange fever dream from which she’d wake up later and find out that Leo wasn’t dead and that Norse gods weren’t about to attack Earth. That the potential attack had a codename made it more real, but that didn’t make it easier to process. She sat at her desk for a few minutes, trying to process it all.
She had seen too many things since her promotion that she should take this as gospel, even if it came from a man who had lied to her for years. He had never been anything but loyal to the White House, however.
It took her another few seconds to finally accept what Coulson had said before she picked up her phone. “Margaret, please let the President and First Lady know I’ll be late and that they should wait for me. I need to go to the Sit Room and verify something.”
“Of course. Should I say anything about why?”
“Just say Valhalla, and hope that the President remembers what it means.”
She walked to the Sit Room and hoped that she’d find the confirmation of which Coulson spoke.
“Say what now?” Abbey said as they travelled to the first hotel for the night.
“Yes, ma’am, there are real Norse gods and one of them, it seems, wants to attack Earth.” CJ had a cool look on her face, but in the last few months, Abbey had learned that it meant Jed’s Chief of Staff was scared. CJ had a right to be. They all had a right to be. Even if they were all grieving at the same time. However, there were times and places for everything and right now, Abbey would rather Jed focus on this threat than what happened to Leo.
“And to make it worse, a trusted FBI agent isn’t FBI at all and works for some until now relatively unknown organization.” President Bartlet stated.
“Yes, sir, but I think we’re better off worrying about the god that wants to end Earth.”
Abbey watched as Jeb sighed. “I suppose you’re right. How soon until Casper--”
“Coulson,” CJ interrupted.
“How long until whathisname Coulson arrives?” he finished.
“He said he was an hour out, but who knows. Margaret’s following in another limo and Coulson has her number.”
Coulson heard the news just as he pulled into the hotel’s valet. It would be the worst time for him for have to talk about what stupidity Loki must have planned. Leo was dead and the election still had hours to go until it was called.
But Coulson had to admire Santos’ campaign for announcing the death as it was. It would certainly complicate what could happen if they won. He tried to school his reaction to the news when he saw someone come to open his door.
Margaret was there waiting for him, a look on her face that said she knew some, but not all of why he was there. He had to wonder how much CJ had told her after he hung up, but he pushed it aside to focus on what he needed to tell both CJ and President Bartlet.
“The President and CJ are in a small room off from the ballroom. You have ten minutes.”
“Lead the way.”
“Start over again with smaller words now, Casper,” Jed said. He was having a hard time processing all the information and hoped that a second time would help make it less insane. So far, he didn’t have much hope.
“Sir, it’s Coulson. I know it’s a terrible day for such a transition, but it is as it is. As to why I’m here, the god of mischief from Norse mythology is real and he’s got an ax to grind with his father and brother. So he wants to come through a highway that connects our worlds and kill us all to spite his family.”
“And that can actually happen?” CJ asked. Did Casper have time to explain all of Valhalla to them tonight? Should he just hope they’d read up later?
“Loki is a powerful god, and a pain in the ass. With Odin and Thor both off fighting in another realm, the threat is very real. All of this is briefed in Valhalla’s folder.” Casper-Coulson had an easy tone, as if he did this sort of explanation all the time. It should have annoyed Jed more than it did, but there were clearly other things on his mind. Like how soon would the winner of the election be announced so they could be looped in.
“He couldn’t wait until January, could he?” Jed asked.
“Loki has little concept our American elections, and as is his wont, he wouldn’t care,” Casper said with a hint of fatalism.
“Okay, so thank you for this information. I’ll have to wait until the election is called before anyone else can know besides the three of us. And Abbey, of course. She’ll get it out of me or CJ herself anyways. Always able to get secrets from me, without fail. Maybe it’s good I’m only in office another ten weeks.”
Casper didn’t laugh at the joke. No one did, but his non-FBI agent eventually said, “That’s all I was hoping for, Sir. I’ll stay in town and can brief whoever wins as you see fit.”
“Thank you. Now, if you don’t mind, I have to hope our meeting hasn’t attracted anyone’s attention.”
“Of course, sir. CJ.”
Thankfully the headlines Wednesday morning had nothing to do with Loki and everything to do with Santos winning the election. How Josh had been able to get that one piece of information from his boss, he still wasn’t sure, but he had to find out more if he was going to do his job right.
Not that it meant much to Josh, who had had CJ on the phone as soon as he could. She was the best person to ask if Santos remained quiet.
“Santos had a long call with the President after Vinnick conceded. You can’t give me a hint?” he asked once Margaret had put him through.
“Some things aren’t meant for the transition team just yet. Patience will get you far right now, Josh.” Even through the phone, Josh could tell CJ was smirking at him.
“Shut up, CJ.”
“Not until I’m no longer Chief of Staff.”
Josh hung up the phone and let out a long sigh. He really hoped he would have gotten something from her. Clearly her job had gone to her head.
December rolled in and was still no public news on the state of this extraterrestrial attack. Santos had had more than enough on his plate - the whole team had - but between finding a replacement for Leo that wouldn’t anger constitutional scholars and the constant calls into the Sit Room about Loki to make sure everyone was prepared for whatever Loki’s attack was, he was wearing thin. He didn’t want to hurry up and wait, but it seemed that he would be forced to do just that.
Helen tried her best to ease some of the tension, but Matt knew that he wouldn’t feel easier about everything until there was an answer to this problem. He was tired of not having confirmed facts about how Loki planned to attack, or really why. He was far too used to nations acting in their own self-interest, but Loki was never easily understood.
He told President Bartlet the same thing time and time again when they talked after and Jed always said, “It’s part of the job, but let Josh guide you once you’re here. You both have good heads on your shoulders.”
“Should we worry about this Loki?” he asked another day.
“We should always worry, but Coulson and his commander know about this better than we do. Let them guide us both.”
It was a small comfort, but it was just enough to ease Matt into sleep on a cold December night.
Thor made an appearance at S.H.I.E.L.D.’s headquarters the day after Christmas. Coulson had been working with Bartlet, Santos and later the World Security Council to assess how they could collectively stop a god.
“I regret that my father and I have had no luck with Loki.” There was an finality in his words that Coulson didn’t like, but he schooled his features and waited for Fury to say something.
“Thank you for coming to tell us this. We’ll let the appropriate authorities know.”
“You do not think I should speak to your President? Heimdall will stop the Bifrost from activating as long as he is able.”
“Whatever you think is best, we will take,” Coulson said. “You know how to reach us now.”
Thor nodded and looked at the cell phone in his hand. “I do not understand why I need this, but I shall use it all the same. It can work in Asgard?”
“Tony Stark had a breakthrough with the metal, or so he said,” Fury said before he walked from the room, leaving Coulson and the god of thunder.
“I should not go with you to this District of Columbia?”
“No, I think you’re better suited to be in Asgard. You have the phone if anything changes.”
“As you say. I will talk to you later.” With that, Thor was gone and Coulson looked to the rest of the team, agents with grave faces, including an always stony May and a wide-eyed Ward fresh from the Farm. There wasn’t much for him to do here, so he silently made his way to his SUV and down to DC once again.
Spies were rather a useful sort of people to have in his employ, Loki thought as he learned that his idiotic brother had just returned from Midgard. Trust his truthful brother to have warned the pathetic humans of his plan. It would seem that if he were to rule after the Allfather died, it would need to be done sooner rather than later. He had little chance of winning over the Allfather without a true demonstration of his power and success.
There were only a few options that could spur Thor to return to that small planet, but Loki would think of one, and he would take care of Thor’s favored planet and his brother at the same time.
Loki was very good at what he did, so he didn’t worry that his chance of success were lower if Thor were on the tiny planet.
Inauguration Day was crisp but bright, and Coulson had settled into DC life again since Thor had left New York. It was far easier to keep everyone up to speed on Loki’s moves and still have Thor ready if needs be.
But it was hard to imagine the possibilities of Loki’s attack as Santos stood reading to swear on a bible and take the office to which he had been elected. Until the sky greyed, a storm swirling into action as if out of thin air and it didn’t take long for Coulson to realize what was happening.
He pulled out his phone and dialed the number he'd recently memorized.
“Tell me this isn’t the end, Thor.”
“I cannot make such a promise. The Bifrost is lost to me and Odin.”
“Did you at least try to stop it?”
“My friends died to protect the Bifrost.”
“Thank you,” Coulson said after a beat. There wasn’t much left to say.
“I wish you the best,” Thor said quietly before the call went dead.
Quickly, he let his FBI colleagues know what was happening. He had to hope that everyone could be shuttled to safety before Loki’s unholy plan affected Earth. Unknown aliens were following Loki to Earth, bend on destruction and death to the planet. Maybe they could still be stopped.
He had to hope he could make it to his rendezvous point.
The battle in Asgard was devastating and Thor looked at the ground, saddened and distraught. Director Fury stood at Thor’s side as the bodies around them were cleared away by those who survived. Fury regretted that Thor had forced him to Asgard when he needed to protect his own.
“Did Coulson made it to safety?” Thor asked. “I know that he make the call, but I could not tell from where.”
Fury sighed. Thor made a good point; just because Coulson had called didn’t mean he was safe. “I hope so. But we have work to do here. Can you call the other realms to arms now?”
“After such an unprovoked attack, everyone will band together to fight Loki.”
“Will it be enough?”
“I cannot say.”
There was a din, and then there was nothing. Coulson waited with President Santos and his personal staff and family.
“Do we have a way to know what’s happened?” the First Lady asked.
“I have one way, ma’am.”
“Use it,” the President said, his voice much more stern than it had been in his aborted speech.
Coulson dialed and waited. Finally, “Hello, Son of Coul. Are you safe?”
“Yes, but can we leave this bunker? Was Loki stopped?”
There was a long pause, and Coulson felt the worst of his tension drop into his stomach, unease creeping through his body slowly but surely. Just how was he to tell the President this news?