Happy New Year, my wonderful readers!
Have you made any resolutions? I have! Are you ready for this? My New Year’s resolution is… to not drop my phone. It is ridiculously expensive to replace an iPhone. Who knew a bug could do so much damage?
It’s really not fair.
All right. I finally pulled out my trusty copy of the Avengers and wrote out this chapter last night. Yes, it’s a little bit shorter than the last two, but the next one should be a bit longer, so it all evens out. Just so you are all aware, I did include quotes straight from the movie, so you can thank Marvel’s amazing writers for that.
I’m warning you all right now that this chapter follows the movie. THINGS WILL CHANGE AFTER THIS CHAPTER. Try not to be too disappointed when you realize you saw this chapter in the movie. I promise the whole story will not be written like this. Bella returns next chapter and she just changes everything.
Now, here’s what you need to know about this chapter: Clint pulled in a second team of men at the last minute to keep an eye on things and Fury brought three men with him when he came down to the basement. That’s important, because Loki is going to brainwash a few of them. Basically, Loki takes control of 7 men total, including Clint, Selvig, and Thompson, my O.C. Things will start to deviate from the movie after this and I needed those men to replace Clint later down the line. That doesn’t make any sense to you right now, but it’ll make sense in a future chapter. I’m also skipping over the car chase scene and the collapse of the base, but, basically, they just take two cars when they flee.
That’s it. What are you waiting for?! Dig in!
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or the Avengers. Stephanie Meyers and Marvel’s own it all. I just have a thing for secret agents and a soft spot for Clint.
As the warm, New Mexican sun slowly dipped beneath the horizon and night descended, S.H.I.E.L.D. slowly began to start the evacuation process. Down in the basement, on sub level one, tensions were high and the Tesseract was acting up like never before. In the last few hours, the Tesseract had literally come to life and was behaving in a way that baffled Dr. Selvig and his staff, mainly because it was behaving at all.
Dr. Selvig had spent the last few months researching the Tesseract, trying to develop a way for S.H.I.E.L.D. to safely harness it, but he was nowhere near ready for an event like this. Like Howard Stark, he thought the Tesseract could very well be the key to unlimited, sustainable energy. In fact, if what he had discovered over the course of his research was correct, the cube itself was unlimited sustainable energy, but they still didn’t know how to harness it. He honestly believed they were well on there way to learning how to use it to accomplish their goals, however, they weren’t ready to do it at that very moment and wouldn’t be for quite some time.
Dr. Selvig was merely in the research stage, so when the Tesseract randomly powered up, shocking them all, he couldn’t figure out how to get it to power back down. Anytime they tried to turn it off, so to speak, it simply turned itself back on. Since they didn’t have a way to harness all of the energy it was suddenly producing, that energy had nowhere to go. They couldn’t shut it off, harness it, or even stabilize it, so the entire base was now in jeopardy.
And it looked like they were all going to be in for one rough fucking night.
At first, things didn’t look so dire. There was a spike of energy here and there, but it didn’t look all that dangerous. Then the spikes grew more intense and started happening more frequently. Before they knew it, the Tesseract was producing waves of icy blue energy and throwing out low level gamma radiation. Since security was definitely more his thing than science was, Clint warily kept an eye on things while Dr. Selvig scrambled to keep up.
After talking to Clint via his earpiece about the now constant level of baffling activity, Coulson decided to start the evacuation process. Clint emphatically agreed with his decision and called in a tactical unit, deciding it would be best to have more men in the room below him just in case they needed to pack things up in a hurry. The four man team took up posts around the room, automatic weapons in hand, while Coulson activated the sirens and lights that signaled the need to evacuate.
Pressing on his earpiece, Clint spoke to Agent Thompson, who was still at his post below, “Everyone’s leaving but us, Thompson. Tell the Doc the level’s on lockdown. No one in or out until Fury gives the order.”
Glancing up at Clint’s perch, Thompson gave him a quick hand signal indicating he got the message and approached Dr. Selvig. One of the men from the tactical unit took up position next to the only exit in the room and Clint nodded at him in acknowledgment. Taking note of just how active the Tesseract was growing, Clint decided to call in another four man team at the last second to add to their security detail. Usually, Clint wouldn’t have bothered with the extra precaution, confident the six of them could handle anything that came their way, but he found his thoughts wandering more than normal and he didn’t like the idea of facing a threat without more backup if he wasn’t able to give the mission his undivided attention.
Today, his focus was split between the Tesseract and Bella, which was unusual for Clint. Normally, Clint was able to empty his mind of everything but the mission at hand. No matter how hard he tried, though, Clint couldn’t stop thinking about Bella. His worry for her settled heavily on his chest and Clint found it surprisingly hard to think about anything else. It took a conscious effort for him to stay focused on the events happening in the room beneath him.
After the last of the sun’s rays finally disappeared, cloaking the base fully in darkness, the temperature dropped and Clint slipped on a pair of fingerless gloves. The desert was a place of extremes. It could literally be sweltering at noon and below freezing at midnight, so Clint was prepared. As he tugged them on, Coulson caught his attention via his earpiece and reported, “Fury’s been briefed. He’s on the way to you, Barton. ETA two minutes.”
“Understood,” Clint quickly replied. He paused contemplatively, taking in Dr. Selvig’s frenzied excitement and the way the blue energy spiked and surged in the middle of the room, before adding, “I’d hurry things up, if you can, Coulson. It’s starting to get exciting down here.”
By the time Fury showed up, Clint realized Dr. Selvig’s excitement was just another mask for his panic. When everything was said and done, the good doctor had no idea why the Tesseract was so active and if he didn’t figure out a way to stabilize it, it was going to bury the whole base.
Clint watched intently from his perch as Dr. Selvig did his best to explain the current situation to Fury and actually had to stifle a laugh. Oddly enough, Clint was pretty sure he knew more about what was happening than Selvig did. The genius doctor couldn’t figure out why the Tesseract was suddenly so active, but Clint had an overwhelming instinct that Selvig wasn’t even asking the right question. Instead of asking why, he should’ve been asking who. Who was trying to open the door from the other side?
Even though, like Clint, Director Fury was no scientist, he got the gist. Now that Selvig had filled him in and he understood what was happening, he just needed to understand why. Scanning the room for the agent he hoped would help him figure that part out, Fury asked, “Where’s Agent Barton?”
“The hawk?” Dr. Selvig clarified, sounding amused. He glanced over his shoulder, his gaze landing on Clint’s perch, and said, “Up in his nest, as usual.”
Following his gaze, Fury trained his eye on Clint and pressed on his earpiece, ordering, “Agent Barton, report.”
Nodding to himself, Clint straightened up and climbed over the railing. With the ease of someone who had literally done it hundreds of times, he grabbed the rope he attached to the ceiling the first night he spent on base and slid down it. Fury met him at the bottom and Clint gave him a tense nod.
Fury eyed him thoughtfully, noticing something was different about his best agent, something he couldn’t quite pinpoint. Agent Barton was usually always intense when it came to his work, but Fury thought he looked even more intense than normal. No, that wasn’t quite right. Barton looked worried and that actually unnerved Fury.
Clint Barton was a hard man to read. Fear didn’t have the same effect on him that it did on normal men and that made his tells nearly nonexistent. With fear came adrenaline and Clint Barton loved the feel of adrenaline. In fact, he damn near thrived on it. He often reacted to the most dangerous of situations as casually as man out for a Sunday stroll and very rarely looked surprised or concerned about anything he encountered on the job, so to see him worried? It bothered Fury much more than anything else he had seen or heard since he stepped off the helicopter fifteen minutes ago. A worried Clint was a fucking rarity and it set the normally calm and collected Director on edge.
“Which case is bothering you, Agent Barton?” Fury asked point blank.
Clint let go of the rope and straightened his jacket while he answered, “The new one.”
Fury nodded slowly, feeling less concerned now that he knew Clint wasn’t bothered by the way the Tesseract was acting up. He could actually understand why the Swan case bothered Clint. Well, at least he thought he understood. The two Enhanced in that video had alarming abilities and Clint would likely end up coming face to face with those threats at some point, so it made sense to Fury that he would be a little worried about it.
Usually, they had some idea about what they were getting into before they stepped in, but they currently had no solid information on the threat this time around. They couldn’t even recon the situation to get a better understanding of what they were dealing with. Unfortunately, Bella Swan was their one and only hope of learning anything at all and, even if they brought her in and interrogated her, there was no guarantee she would tell them anything.
Bella was quite obviously the victim in the Swan case. She wasn’t a suspect or criminal, she was the one being hunted, so if Bella refused to answer their questions? They had no legal basis to hold her. Sure, they could make her life a living hell or threaten to turn her over to Seattle P.D. for questioning, but Fury and Clint both knew Bella was extremely intelligent and perceptive. She would likely figure out that they would never follow through on those threats, aware that all it would accomplish was the death of an innocent girl. When everything was said and done, S.H.I.E.L.D. couldn’t force her to say a word, so they would only learn what Bella Swan wanted to tell them. If she didn’t want to share her story or refused to comment on the video Clint unearthed, there wasn’t a damn thing they could actually do about it.
If that happened, the only thing they could do was tail her. The problem with that was how talented Bella was at disappearing. Bruce Banner had been on the run for two years longer than Bella, but even Banner wasn’t quite as adept at it as Bella was. She literally had not been caught by one single camera after she dropped beneath the radar.
Though Banner was cautious, he’d been spotted more than once over the last three years. But Bella? Fury honestly wasn’t sure how she did it. He was actually starting to wonder if it was possible that she was avoiding cities in general, which was where most people slipped up and got themselves caught by a camera on a cell phone or an ATM machine. Small towns were generally safer because they didn’t invest in things like surveillance cameras as much as businesses and homes in a city did. Most people assumed it was easier to disappear in a big city because of how populated they were, but Fury was beginning to think Bella was cleverer than that.
If Bella Swan stayed away from city life, then she was truly living on the fringes of society. Small towns didn’t usually accept strangers with open arms, so if Bella actually was avoiding cities, then Fury would be truly impressed. It was an incredibly lonely way to live and he admired anyone who had the fortitude and determination it took to live a life like that.
Fury suspected Bella might refuse to answer their questions, but Clint hadn’t actually thought that far ahead yet. While Fury was understandably worried about the unknown threat, Clint was solely worried about her. It never even occurred to him that Bella might refuse to answer their questions, not with threats like the creatures on that video stalking her. Clint thought she might even be relieved to find out she didn’t need to run anymore, that S.H.I.E.L.D. would protect her. In actuality, what worried him was getting to her in time to help her. Even now, there was a chance that she’d somehow slipped up and those creatures had caught up to her. The longer she was out there, running, the greater the risk was that she would meet a violent end.
Nodding thoughtfully, Fury said, “You’re to stay in the area after we evacuate. If she shows up, I want Miss Swan brought in tomorrow. We’ll interview her here, provided this place survives the night.”
A particular powerful spike of energy shook the room and Clint gave Fury a bit of an amused look, “And if doesn’t?”
“The local field office would do,” Fury said easily and began walking towards the Tesseract. Knowing the drill, Clint kept pace with him.
He kept his eyes forward, trained on the energy cube in the center of the room, but his mind was elsewhere. Thoughts once again focused on Bella, Clint asked, “And if she’s already in the wind?”
“Then you’ll take a quinjet to Forks,” Fury stated and Clint’s gaze snapped up to his face. Fury glanced at him and commented, “Coulson believes Chief Swan may be keeping in contact with her somehow. He knows something. Find out what he knows and see if he’ll help us track his talented daughter down.”
Against his will, Clint’s lips started to curve. Talented. He thought that was an excellent way to describe Bella Swan, because it definitely took talent to do what she did. Very few people could disappear so completely, not without leaving the country entirely.
Clint hadn’t thought about going to Forks if he couldn’t find Bella, but it made sense. A wave of relief swept through him when realized there might be another way to find her, though the suggestion brought new questions to mind. The part of him constantly focused on Bella wondered why the people hunting her hadn’t tried that very same thing. He honestly thought they likely had, which meant Bella’s dad was probably a dead end. It was entirely possible Bella only spoke with him once and then he hadn’t heard from her again. If he told her what she needed to know to keep hidden and Bella hadn’t contacted him since, then Charlie Swan had no idea where his daughter was.
Still, it was a lead, and Clint was thankful for it. It eased his mind considerably just to think it was possible to reach Bella another way.
If her father did know where Bella was, though, then why hadn’t the threats hunting her used him to draw her out? He could only think of two logical reasons why they wouldn’t use him against her. Either they doubted he knew anything or believed she wouldn’t come for him. There was a third possibility, but Clint found it highly unlikely after witnessing the speed and strength they were capable of. That third possibility was that they couldn’t get to him, which would mean he was protected somehow. Clint dismissed that thought immediately, realizing if Charlie Swan were able to protect himself against the threats Clint saw in that video, then he’d have the means to protect his daughter too.
Since Bella was still on the run, that didn’t seem likely.
Remembering how fondly Bella recalled a memory of her father during lunch, Clint realized anyone who knew Bella knew she would come for her father if they got their hands on him. That left one possibility.
They didn’t think he knew anything.
In reality, though Clint didn’t know it, it was actually a combination of all three that kept Victoria from using Charlie Swan to draw Bella out. Not only would she have to wage war just to get to him, she also doubted he knew anything and that Bella would come for him even if he did. She honestly thought there was a greater chance Bella would stop by her mother’s in Jacksonville, just to verify she was alive with her own eyes, than the chance that she would call her father, which was why there was a vampire watching the Dwyers at all times.
Victoria would gladly kill them to draw Bella out, but she couldn’t do that until she was sure Bella would find out about it somehow. If the mousy girl never called home or ventured near Jacksonville, then how would Bella even find out about their deaths?
Bella was aware that checking on her mother was a death sentence waiting to happen, for both of them, so she stayed far away from Florida. Bella learned from her experience with James. She knew he only used Renee’s voice to draw her out because Bella had been in the area, which was why she refused to call her mother, let alone go anywhere near her.
Charlie was different since he lived on the Res, where the wolves could protect him. Even so, she didn’t risk calling Charlie for the first three months after she disappeared, only contacting him by email. Victoria had Riley listen in on his phone calls whenever he left the Res, but pulled him back when it became obvious to the redhead that Bella didn’t care if her parents knew what was happening or why she disappeared. She hadn’t thought Bella would call him anyways, not when she remembered the cruel words Bella said to the man the first time she and James began hunting her. In her mind, the girl had a heart of stone and deserved everything she had coming to her.
After Fury’s decision, Clint tried his best to bury anymore thoughts of Bella until tomorrow. He hadn’t taken more than a second or so to think through all those possibilities, but Fury still noticed and was watching him curiously. Clint cocked an expectant eyebrow at the man and Fury focused his hard gaze on the rest of the room.
“I gave you this detail so you could keep a close eye on things,” Fury added, a hint of annoyance in his tone.
“Well, I see better from a distance,” Clint responded casually, clearly unruffled. When it came down to it, Fury didn’t have a problem with the way Clint did things. His methods weren’t always what Fury expected, but he got results and that’s what Fury ultimately cared about.
As quickly as his annoyance came, it disappeared. Fury couldn’t argue with that, Clint generally did see things more clearly when he took a step back. He glanced at Clint before pointedly training his eye on the Tesseract, “You seen anything that might set this thing off?”
“No one’s come or gone,” Clint reported as they came to a stop near the overactive energy cube. “Selvig’s clean,” he added, glancing over his shoulder at the doctor, who was working with one of his assistants on something at one of the high powered computers behind them. He crossed his arms over his chest, “No contacts, IMs.” He glanced at Fury before training his gaze on the Tesseract again, finishing with, “If there’s any tampering, sir, it’s not at this end.”
“At this end…” Fury repeated slowly, turning to look at Clint, a spark of wariness igniting in his eye.
“Yeah, the cube is a doorway to the other end of space, right?” he asked and met Fury’s gaze, watching as understanding started to dawn on him. He’d had a feeling the Director hadn’t thought about this and fought a smirk as he casually pointed out, “Doors open from both sides.”
The words were barely out of his mouth before the energy the Tesseract emitted once again surged, flaring outward. They both took a cautious step backwards and it spiked several more times in rapid succession, making the entire complex shake and the ground rumble beneath the feet of the people in the process of evacuating upstairs.
They watched cautiously as the blue energy crackled and flared again before a stream of icy blue energy shot forth in a concentrated beam, running the length of the sub level, and hit the platform set up on the other side of the room. The energy collided with the platform and rebounded upward, racing up the walls. Leftover energy started gathering near the ceiling and Clint cautiously took note of it. The Tesseract spiked again, throwing out a stronger burst of energy, and then it happened. For a fleeting few seconds, they were looking through a portal into the other end of space.
Abruptly, that portal seemed to collapse in on itself, pulling inward to form a ball of white energy around the size of a boulder. That boulder started to take shape and, suddenly, the light died. It took a second for their eyes to readjust to the sudden lack of light, but once they did, their gazes fell on the figure of a man who hadn’t been there just seconds ago.
Clint studied the man for a moment, immediately taking in his odd outfit. Silently, he noted how similar it looked to the Asgardian outfit Thor donned after he finally retrieved his hammer. Instead of red and gold, the man was decked out in green. Unlike Thor, though, Clint didn’t get a good feeling from the man kneeling on the platform in front of them. The spear in his hand made Clint uneasy and the distinctly predatory smile on his face set him on high alert.
“Sir,” Fury called out, his voice commanding, “please, put down the spear.”
Clint’s hand inched towards the gun strapped to his leg as their uninvited guest stared at them. He looked at the spear questioningly, as if he were saying, “What, this spear?” and Clint subtly tensed, sensing their visitor had malicious intent.
Instead of lowering his weapon, the stranger pointed it at Fury, and a burst of blue energy exploded out of it, barreling straight towards the Director. Clint didn’t have time to think and reacted purely on instinct, throwing himself at Fury. They both hit the ground with a grunt, colliding with a metallic grate built into the floor. The deadly energy aimed at them sailed right over their heads, taking out a piece of equipment in a bright explosion of white and blue light.
The teams Clint called in immediately opened fire and Clint quickly pulled out his side arm to join them. He launched himself to his feet and slipped away from Fury, doing his damnedest to distract their guest so Fury would have a chance to grab the Tesseract.
The firefight didn’t last long. Like Thor, the stranger in front of them was extremely talented in combat and the spear he was using created blasts just as deadly as any grenade. He took out two more of Clint’s men by throwing knives their way at a speed that astonished Clint. He aimed his spear Clint’s way again and Clint didn’t hesitate, throwing himself to the right.
The blast hit closer this time, but Clint was still unharmed. He glanced over his shoulder to take in the damage before starting to get to his feet, mentally cursing when he realized the men behind him had kept firing instead of ducking like he did. The four behind him were dead, their bodies scattered across the room. He heart clenched with remorse when he realized seven of the nine men he stationed in the basement were dead now. He had led them to their deaths.
Only one of the original eight he added to the detail tonight was still alive. Thompson, who Clint had personally trained, had also somehow survived, as well as three men Fury brought with him when he came downstairs. Fury himself and Selvig, who Thompson had forced to the ground when a blast from the spear had been aimed in their direction, had also survived the fight.
Clint was the first to his feet, but the man he would later come to learn was Loki, the god of chaos, mischief, and lies, was on him as soon as he turned around. He futilely tried to attack, but as amazing as his reflexes were, Loki’s were even better. Loki grabbed his hand mid swing, holding it at an awkward angle that forced Clint to instinctively still. Realizing his fate now rested in the hands of the man who killed off his men, Clint defiantly locked eyes with him.
“You have heart,” Loki cryptically stated and aimed the spear at Clint, gently touching his chest with the curved blade forming the tip.
Clint kept his eyes on Loki’s, half expecting Loki to thrust that sharp blade into his heart. Instead, the spear once again lit up with blue energy, racing up the blade to Clint’s chest. It was painfully cold and Clint nearly expected to see his breath when his skin felt like it was starting to freeze.
As that chilling sensation of ice worked its way inward, spreading to his heart, Clint’s thoughts yet again drifted to Bella. That chilling sensation flowed through his veins, crawling it’s way up his neck, and finally settled in his brain. His mind grew foggy and one final thought, the very last one that could truly be called his own, flashed through his mind, I’m going to miss my lunch date.