"What? You gettin' sleepy?"
Steve smirked after landing a good kick to Thor's gut, sending the God down to one knee. The two sparred like this frequently. It was more stimulating than running or lifting weights for Steve, but he wasn't aware if an Asgardian even needed exercise. Obviously Thor was the only one on the team for him to spar with. Clint wasn't strong enough, Natasha would only yell at him for not going all out, Tony didn't like to waste his suits and Bruce, or Hulk, was clearly out of the question. He always wondered how much Thor held back with him though. Neither of them used their weapons but he heard back in the hellicarrier fight that Thor was strong enough to restrain Hulk.
Thor returned the smirk and got back to his feet. He swung a fist that Steve swiped away, followed by another and another before Steve swung back only for Thor to dodge. They continued like this for minutes. They looked nearly choreographed. This is how they always were: quick, intuitive, jovial, nonchalant, playful. In this room they had all they needed.
"Hey twinkle toes," Tony's voice tore them from their trance. He was standing just by the door of the gym. "We've got business to take care of so if you can tear yourselves away from each other suit up."
The team strapped themselves into Tony's newest jet. He had debriefed them on all its new specs during their meeting yesterday but Bruce was always the only one to understand him when he got on one of his rants. Everything seemed the same to Steve and Thor every time Tony upgraded it.
"What's the mission?" Cap asked.
"There's a robbery occurring at a NASA research lab," Black Widow answered.
"We're being called in for a robbery? Isn't that a little much?"
"The police have been rendered useless. Their technology has been completely shutdown somehow and with the instability of the materials inside the lab they can't risk going in blind," Widow said.
"How did their tech get wiped out?" Hawkeye asked.
"Don't know. Robber might be some kind of genius."
"Was it an E.M.P.?"
"Not exactly," Ironman said, "It wasn't a one time surge. It's continuous. Anything that goes within the vicinity of the lab shuts down."
"What are we doing to combat that?" Cap asked.
"I've got the suit's and the jet's scanners up detecting any frequency disturbances. I'll counter it once we're in range," Ironman said.
"Do we have an ID on the robber?"
"Nada. With the lab's cameras shut down facial recognition is out of the question and there are no witness reports," Widow said.
"So we're going in blind?" Cap asked. Every Avenger looked around at each other. "So we're going in blind."
"Have you picked up anything yet?" Bruce asked Tony. "We're just a mile out now."
"Nothing. Everything is reading normal."
"Maybe we have to get closer," Hawkeye said.
"That or my tech is too superio—" Simultaneously the Ironman suit and every display in the jet went dark.
"What just happened?" Cap asked.
Tony immediately tried every override on his suit to turn it back on as Hawkeye did everything he could think of at the jet's navigation. "We've been shut down. We have no power. I don't know what happened."
Everyone then felt the jet begin plummeting downward. "We're going down!" Widow yelled.
"Tony, what do we do? We're sitting ducks!" Hawkeye added.
"I don't have power! All the technology just stopped working. I…"
Every Avenger was looking to him as the jet became increasingly close to the ground.
"Lightning!" Thor proclaimed.
"Your ability to control the weather doesn't solve everything!" Ironman snapped.
"What do you mean Thor?" Captain America asked him.
He stepped towards Ironman and said, "When we fought in the woods and I struck you with lightning it powered your suit above its regular capacity! If I struck you now, would it not do the same?"
Tony paused and thought. Cap looked to him. "Well?"
"It's our only shot," he answered. "Let's do it." Thor immediately walked to the jet bridge as Mjolnir flew to his hand. Ironman grabbed some cords from the navigation panels at the front of the jet and plugged them into the suit. "Plug these into the jet battery," he said, handing the other ends of the cords to Hawkeye, "When Thor hits me my suit will channel the lightning into power and I'll route it to the jet. Be prepared to pull us up immediately!" Ironman turned to Thor and the God took the cue.
"Everyone stay towards the walls and hold on!" He hit the bridge opening and as it opened powerful gusts of wind invaded the jet. He flew out and into the sky. He lifted Mjolnir upward and with a loud crack from the clouds a bolt of lightning struck the hammer. He pointed it towards the ship and the lightning flew from his hammer. Ironman stood alone at the center of the jet as the lightning struck him. His suit at once lit up and within moments the jet's navigation did as well. Hawkeye instantly grabbed the steers and pulled back as hard as possible. The jet's nose jolted up and the rear followed. Everyone inside the jet was jostled with the abrupt movement. When the jet leveled Hawkeye smirked at Black Widow.
"We're 50 feet above ground. That was close."
The jet landed and Thor landed himself next to it. Cap was the first to exit the jet and greet him. "You saved us Thor," Cap said placing a hand on his shoulder. "That was great thinking."
"Aye. And the metal man thinks lightning doesn't solve anything."
"This," Ironman interjected as he exited the jet, "is an abnormal situation."
"What happened exactly?" Cap asked as the rest of the Avengers funneled out of the jet.
"I'm not sure. The frequencies read fine. The disturbances must have been subtle enough that I couldn't see it coming."
"And what about now? Your suit is fine?" Widow asked.
"All systems are online."
"Now, what about this?" Banner asked, turning to the giant building yards in front of them.
"I vote we stick together. We have no idea who is in there and what they have their hands on," Cap answered.
"Agreed. This is NASA. The possibilities are endless," Ironman said.
"Keep your eyes peeled. Never let your guard down. Let's go," Captain America ordered and the rest followed him into the lab.
Everything was pitch black when they entered. Ironman used his repulsers for light, Thor made Mjolnir light up, and Black Widow and Hawkeye both had flashlights. The entire place was empty. It was evident the place was evacuated in a rush: half eaten meals on tables, purses on desks, jackets on chairs. It was eerily silent as the team traveled down the halls.
"Wait," Ironman said and everyone froze. "I'm picking something up. My suit isn't the only piece of tech active in here."
"Chances are the thief is using the other tech. Lead the way," the Captain said.
As Ironman took the lead Cap found himself now walking along side Thor.
"What do you understand of this villains capabilities?" Thor whispered to him.
"What do you mean?"
"Technology and frequencies… these things mean nothing that I understand."
"Honestly, me either. We're on the same page there."
"I'll fight with caution then."
"I doubt you'll have much to worry about."
"I worry not just for myself in these situations, Captain."
Steve paused after hearing those words. "Steve," he said.
Ironman came to a stop in front of a door. He looked at his radar screen and whispered, "Whoever it is, they're behind this door. Get ready for the big fight kids."
He kicked the door in and flew up into the room. Thor flew in behind him, the two of them circling towards the center of the room. Cap and Bruce split up from Widow and Hawkeye circling towards the center of the room from the left and right. Thor and Ironman found the man first. He was in some sort of metal suit that was red and silver. It looked thin, as if it were a second layer of skin. He was hunched over screwing something into his wrist when the two Avengers closed in on him.
"You've had your fun playing with the big boy toys," Ironman said. "Now it's time for big boy prison."
The man snapped around instantly, looking up at the two from where they hovered in the air. Thor had Mjolnir at the ready and Ironman was aiming his hands at him.
"I didn't think they'd send for the Avengers so quickly," he said.
"Consider yourself fortunate," Thor said.
"I do. You," he turned to Ironman, "shouldn't be working. I told you to turn off."
Tony's suit at once turned off and fell hard to the ground, crashing through a table. Thor took that as his cue and threw Mjolnir at him. The thief waved his hand at the hammer hurtling towards him and it flew off in that direction. Thor ran towards him and a blast of white energy erupted from the villain's hand that threw his body several feet back. The remaining Avengers then closed in around him. Cap looked back at Thor's grounded body.
"Who are you?"
"It's ironic you of all people would ask Captain Rodgers; you, the supposed peak of human potential. I am the correction of that fallacy. I am the evolution of human genetics, the pinnacle of our species potential. I am the High Evolutionary. And I am your end."
He lifted his hand to Captain America and Black Widow unloaded her pistols on him. She hit him with each shot but every bullet bounced off of him with no effect. He shot a blast of energy at Cap who protected himself with his shield. The blast knocked him back but he quickly got to his feet.
The doctor nodded and his body slowly grew in size and his skin turned green. Widow was still shooting High Evolutionary to no avail. Hawkeye shot an explosive arrow that hit the villain squarely in the face and blew up. He got to his feet unscathed the next moment. He stared at Hawkeye, then to Black Widow. Natasha then heard the High Evolutionary's voice in her head: kill Hawkeye, kill Hawkeye. When Hawkeye reached for another arrow Widow kicked him in the face.
"Nat? What're you doing?" She didn't answer. She punched him in the gut. When she moved to strike him again he blocked her and the two were locked in combat.
Cap surprised him from behind, grabbing his head and ramming it into the steel table beside them. The High Evolutionary retaliated, punching the soldier several times before launching his body off into the distance with a kick to the chest. Hulk now leaped to the High Evolutionary. The man stared up at the beast unwaveringly. Hulk screamed and punched him, his body was sent flying back, crashing the multiple bookshelves. Hulk watched him stand up from across the room and grinned. The High Evolutionary's body began to grow exponentially. It halted when his head was just beneath the ceiling. Hulk now leaped to the near 20-foot tall giant. He punched repeatedly at his leg until it hiked back and kicked the Hulk. The green goliath's body catapulted through the room, breaking through wall after wall.
The High Evolutionary punched a hole through the ceiling and flew through it then. Captain America staggered to his feet and looked up as the villain flew higher and higher into the sky until his body was out of sight.
Steve found Thor beating a punching bag in the gym at Stark Tower. He only stopped for a second when he saw the other enter the room.
"I've told you before. You can call me Steve."
"Steve," he nodded, continuing to pound away at the punching bag.
"How's the team?"
"Mostly bruised egos. Natasha's getting her head checked out. Clint had to hit her pretty hard to make her snap out of it."
"How are you?"
"Humiliated. That man tossed me aside like I was nothing; as if I weren't the God of Thunder, second to the throne of Asgard, slayer of Frost Giant, Dark Elves, and Demons alike!" His last punch knocked the bag off its chain and across the room.
"He beat all of us Thor. Made us all look like rookies. But we're alive, we'll retaliate, and we'll beat him."
"And he'll lament the day he didn't heed the power of Thor."
Steve laughed slightly at Thor's enthusiasm. "Yeah. I bet he will."
"Forgive me, in my selfishness I didn't ask how you were. Were you injured?"
"No, I've taken worse. That guy's got a punch like a mack truck though," Steve said, rubbing over a sore spot on his jaw.
"Are you sure you're alright?"
Steve smiled at him. "Yeah, I'm fine."
"Good. So what is our plan?"
"Tony and Bruce are researching this so called 'High Evolutionary.' Hopefully we can get some details on him that will help us find him and take him out."
Thor grinned. "And until then, we train?"
Neither of them knew how long it had been. All they knew was this room, each other, their hearts beating fast. Steve and Thor were both covered with a light sheen of sweat. They both had damp, messy hair. They both breathed heavily. But neither was ready to quit. Steve leapt at the other hero. Thor caught him by the wrist, spun him around, and tripped his leg out from under him. Steve had a tight grip on the god's wrist that pulled him down as well when he fell. Thor landed squarely on top of Steve. Thor froze with his face centimeters above Steve's. Their eyes locked.
"Thor…" Steve nearly whispered.
Thor was immediately on his feet and looking anywhere in the room that wasn't in Steve's direction. "I believe that's sufficient training for this day." He turned and walked towards the door without waiting for a response.
"Thor. Wait!" Steve's protests were unanswered.
The next morning Steve went to visit Peggy at her retirement home. He did so nearly every week. He sat at her bedside.
"So we still don't know who this guy is but he's definitely dangerous," Steve told her.
"I worry about you," Peggy said. She was bundled up in a blanket.
"I'll be fine. I've got the team with me."
She smiled. "Not about that. Not about villains and saving the world. That, I know you can do. I worry because that's all you do."
Steve smiled but looked down at the ground. "It's a full time job."
"That's not a life to live Steve. Even while running SHEILD I married a wonderful man who made me happy."
"No matter how many times you tell yourself that won't make it true."
"I'm friends with the team… I'm not completely alone."
"You don't even sound like you believe that yourself."
"It's just different now. Everyone's different than they were back then. And I'm still like the people back then. It's hard to find common ground with people. Well… most people. But that's why I have you."
The very next second Peggy's face changed into the clueless expression Steve had grown accustomed to. "Steve? It's you? You—You came back!"
He smiled weakly. "Yeah, I did."
When Steve returned to the tower he saw Thor in one of the kitchens. He was on the phone, talking rather loudly.
"It is out of my control. What would you have me do?"
Steve proceeded to the refrigerator, acting as if he hadn't heard anything at all.
"This is what I'm here for! To protect Midgard, to protect you… Ay? Jane?"
Steve placed the bottle of milk on the counter after taking a sip of it.
Thor was now holding the phone in front of his face. "Jane? Where have you gone?... Steve, I cannot hear her."
Steve was taken back when he was addressed. He went to Thor and took the phone. "She hung up on you," he said after hearing the dial tone. Thor looked a little confused at this. "She uh… turned her phone off. She didn't want to talk to you."
Thor sighed and sat down on a barstool. "She was angry."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"We had an engagement yesterday. I did not go because of our mission."
"Ah," Steve nodded. "That usually makes a woman mad."
"I do not do such things to offend her. My purpose here is to protect this realm. I must do that above all else."
"And she doesn't understand that?"
"I think not. Being of Asgard, I put duty above all else. That means sacrificing things: happiness, love, people. Sometimes I think it best for her if I leave her be. Let her find someone who can put her above all else in ways I will never be able to."
"That would be a very noble thing of you to do."
"Do you not do the same?"
Steve paused. "Excuse me?"
"Tony has Pepper. Clint and Natasha have each other in a way. And Bruce still loves that woman from his past. Yet, you have no one. Is it because of your duty?"
Steve looked down at the counter. "I guess that's part of it."
Thor nodded. "Well then, I guess that's part of it we can share."
"Our mystery man left behind some DNA at the lab yesterday," Tony said. The team has just filtered into their round table. "Meet Herbert Wyndham," a picture of the man they fought yesterday appeared on the screen, without the metal suit. "He comes from a family of geneticists that fit the literal definition of mad scientists. They have generations of police arrests for child abuse, theft, obstruction of justice, disturbing the peace, you name it. Fifty years ago an investigation found a laboratory in one of their homes. The parents were running medical tests on their children. Herbert's grandfather said in a testimony that they were trying to unlock human's full genetic potential."
"And they succeeded with Herbert?" Cap asked.
"Don't think so. Herbert's parents are long dead. And he's got doctor reports dating back the last six years: symptoms of color blindness, cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell, angelman syndrome. All genetic disorders. The doctors reports are riddled with confusion; one: people are born with these diseases, they're not onset, two: it's impossible to have so many genetic disorders and thirdly: this guy should be dead."
"Yet he beat the crap out of us," Natasha said.
"How long have his parents been dead?"
"Twelve years. Long before he became ill," Tony answered.
"So, he continued the experiments on himself?" Steve asked.
"Seems so. He has no siblings or children. His grandparents are locked up. He actually graduated from Harvard with a bachelors' in biochemistry. "
"Did NASA get back to us about what they're missing since the robbery?" Bruce asked.
"Yeah. Tons of stuff that I can't even begin to understand," Hawkeye said.
"Laments terms," Tony interjected. "Materials that would help with his symptoms, not materials that would explain his abilities or complete recovery."
"So say he did it, he reached his genetic potential, would that explain everything he could do?" Steve asked.
"Well we still don't know a lot about the human genome. It's vast. There are a lot of theories about everything inside a genome. They contain thousands of genes, the majority of which aren't active," Bruce said.
"If he made them active, would it let him do all of those things?" Natasha asked.
Bruce looked to Tony before answering. He shrugged. "We don't know," Bruce answered.
"Well we need to find out so that we can know everything he's capable of. We have to be prepared for him next time," Steve said.
"We're on it. You and I are going to meet his grandfather and see what we can get out of him. He's in maximum security in Albany," Tony told him.
"Sounds good. Should we bring Thor? In case we need more muscle," Steve asked.
"Well, I don't think Grandpa Wyndham is gonna put up much of a fight but if you think we should," Tony said sarcastically.
"I just want us to be ready for anything."
"You really can't expect anything," a doctor told them. Thor, Steve and Tony had just sat down at a table in the prison's interrogation room. "He doesn't speak. In the two years I've worked here he hasn't said a word."
"I'm sure we can liven him up," Tony told her.
Two guards entered the room. Dr. Wyndham was behind them with his hands handcuffed behind his back. He was nearly bald. He had a long, un-kept beard that was white with dark grey speckled through out. He had his head down as they walked him to his chair opposite of the Avengers'. It wasn't until he was chained to the chair and the doctor and guards left the room that he finally looked up at them. He looked to each one slowly. He grinned wickedly.
"We need to know about the experiments your family conducted," Steve said firmly.
"Someone has done it." His voice was weak and barely audible.
"What do you speak of?" Thor asked.
"If you're here it means one of my descendants has done it. They unlocked the genome, reached their genetic peak and are capable enough to threaten you."
"What's that mean? Unlocked their genome?"
He laughed boldly. "You can't hope to understand! The human gene controls everything that makes a person. They control each and every cell of your make up. They lie dormant in most cells, as they aren't need for the cell's functionality. We knew! We knew if you could turn them all on you could unlock everything! Control everything!"
"Control every cell of your body?" Tony asked.
"And everything is connected! Because of the human brain! My brain, your brain, all brains are receptive to a small fraction of the electro magnetic spectrum! With every gene in every brain cell activated and accessible to every frequency of the spectrum and every frequency we are not even aware of, the possibilities are endless!"
"He has control over every class of the electromagnetic spectrum?" Tony clarified.
"You should feel threatened. With all of your power, fame, notoriety; you're nothing compared to him."
"If he's all powerful, why would he need those materials?" Steve asked Tony. "He can control his entire body but still has to go to the doctor for those symptoms?"
"The experiments took a toll on his body," Tony answered, still speaking to the doctor. "All of those active genes were too much for the human body to handle. It wasn't designed to handle it."
"A foreseen side effect," Dr. Wyndham said. "But it was a risk worth taking."
"Yeah, I'm sure you're son was given a complete choice about being experimented on," Steve said.
"It's our legacy! It's our names' work!"
"So he achieved it, now what does he want?" Steve asked.
"The world must know what our family has done! They must see what he can do!"
"So now it's time for him to show off," Steve said.
"And you will grovel at his feet! You will look up at him with awe and you will know fear! Everything you've ever been certain of will be no more! Any confidence you've ever had will be shattered! He will show you what power is!"
"There's no more for us to learn here I presume?" Thor asked Tony.
"No, I don't think Dr. Wyndham here has anything more productive to say."
"You'll learn!" Wyndham yelled. "You'll learn his power!"
"Yeah, I think we're done here," Steve said, standing from his chair.
"We're finished." Thor had just entered the gym to find Steve doing push ups. The soldier looked up at him before getting to his feet.
"Jane and I." There was a hint of sorrow in his voice.
Steve looked down and started un-taping his palms. "I'm really sorry to hear that."
"She was quite angry. She said it wasn't my place to decide what was best for her. Perhaps she was right."
"She wasn't," Steve replied. "I mean… I understand her point. But that's what we do. It's our job. Sometimes we have to make unpopular decisions because it's what the world needs."
"You would have done the same?" Thor asked.
Steve nodded slowly. "I think so."
"I think you're pompous," Natasha's voice came from behind them. Her and Clint had just entered the gym. "It's very 1950's chauvinistic man-of-the-house of you."
"What do you expect? Look who he takes relationship advice from," Clint said, motioning towards Steve.
"You both think it wrong of me?" Thor asked.
"You're asking a feminist here Thor," Natasha said.
"And someone else who doesn't want to get into an argument with a feminist," Clint added.
"You don't see anything noble in admitting your own flaws, and sacrificing your own happiness for the sake of someone else's?" Steve asked her.
"No. I don't see anything noble in quitting and overestimating your own ideals. No offense," she added, turning to Thor. He looked puzzled.
"That's just a different way of looking at it," Steve told him. "A difference of opinion. You did it with good intention."
Thor nodded. "I didn't want her to hurt."
Natasha chuckled lightly. "And how'd that work out? She took it well?"
"She did not," Thor looked down.
"She's upset now," Steve said. "But you probably saved her a world of heart ache in the long run."
"Aye?" Thor looked up to him.
"I think so." Thor managed a weak smile at Steve's words. "Look, I'm done here. Do you want to go grab dinner?" Thor nodded and followed after Steve out of the gym. Natasha shrugged as she watched them leave.
That night Thor found himself awake in his bed in the middle of the night. He felt like he had been lying there for hours. His mind was running rampant. His body was restless. He all but leapt from the bed, threw on some clothes and left his room. Minutes later when he entered the gym he was more than surprised to find Steve in there, using the punching bag.
"What ails you?" Thor asked.
The Captain nearly jumped when the surprising words came from behind him. He turned to find Thor. He looked down at the ground before he spoke: "Nothing."
Thor was perplexed. "There's no need to lie to me, friend."
"There's no shame in affliction. I too am here at this odd hour of night because of my troubles. I could not sleep. My thoughts will not seize."
Steve turned back to the bag and resumed his punches. "Mine either."
"Again I ask," Thor said as he walked around the room and held Steve's punching bag firm, "What plagues you? You know my troubles of Jane and—of Jane."
Steve's punches grew stronger. "It's nothing. Personal stuff. Not exactly appropriate conversation for teammates."
"I thought us more than mere colleagues. I confide in you; I seek your counsel. Could I not do those same things for you?"
Steve stopped punching and sighed. "We are. More than that. It's just… It's complicated."
"And you do not think I could aid you?"
Steve walked back and sat on the bench by the wall. "I don't even know what aiding me would mean in this situation."
He hung his head and stared at the floor. He could see Thor come nearer in his peripheral. He took a seat right next to him. They sat in silence. Steve stayed with his eyes fixed on the floor, ignoring every impulse to look over at Thor. He continued ignoring those impulses when Thor finally spoke.
"My thoughts are not just of Jane. They are also of what troubles you if my perception is correct," Steve's stomach sank. "Things are not like this in Asgard. There's a kinship between comrades but not of this intensity. It's… unheard of. Despicable by all accounts of my people. If there were an account to be accounted by, for which there is not. I fear to think what my house and peers would say. I understand that this nature of relation is acceptable here but the problem is I'm not of here."
"Neither am I," Steve said, finally looking at Thor. "You're right. Your 'perception.' I'm… not sure what it means either. In my time it was looked down on harshly. People were judged, ridiculed, discriminated against. In the military guys got lonely and… but it was ignored. No one talked about it. Out of sight, out of mind."
"In your day… did you?"
"No. My heart belonged to someone back then. This is all new for me too."
"I know not what to do from here."
"Me either," Steve shook his head. "But we should probably try to get some rest now. We need to be at our best." Steve stood from the bench. "Goodnight Thor."
The next morning they again had a briefing. Tony and Bruce had spent most of the night analyzing what Dr. Wyndham had told them.
"We have a fairly a good understanding now of everything this High Evolutionary can do," Tony said. "He has complete control of his cellular make up. That explains his strength and ability to grow his size. He can most likely heal himself from physical harm at a rapid rate. With his access to the electromagnetic spectrum he can control electricity and technology, create energy from thin air, be telekinetic and telepathic."
No one spoke for moments. "This guy's basically God," Natasha scoffed.
"There's got to be a window. A weakness of some kind," Clint said.
"We believe it's his suit," Bruce replied. "He needs it to sustain his abilities."
"So if we destroy it he's neutralized?" Steve asked.
"Easier said than done. It's made of a vibranium alloy," Tony answered.
"Vibranium?" Steve said.
"Bingo. The same stuff your shield is made of, albeit thinner to mold to his form," Tony said.
"Let's take it back a second," Natasha jumped in. "How do we even get close enough to? He can turn us all into his puppets in seconds. He can throw anything that we throw at him back in our face. He can shut off any technology, completely neutralizing Tony."
"I'm working on a disruptor," Tony said with annoyance. "I should be able to make devices for each of us to put on our person that disrupts all frequencies in our vicinity. It should lessen his control over the spectrum."
"Lessen?" Thor asked. "That doesn't sound infallible."
"It's the best we can do. The electromagnetic spectrum isn't something that can just be shut off. It's part of physics. It's a fundamental component of reality. The disruptor only shoots off a bunch of different frequencies that should make it harder for him to navigate through to achieve his desired results. He shouldn't be able to turn off our tech, use telekinesis or telepathy on us, or blast us with energy."
"Then the next question becomes, how do we find him?" Clint asked.
"Dr. Wyndham said now he'll want to display what he's capable of for the world. Show his power off," Steve said.
"So, that mean's taking us out right?" Natasha asked.
"A la Loki," Tony said.
"Well this is getting old," Natasha sighed.
"So, we just sit here and wait for him to strike?" Clint asked.
"We sit here and hope he doesn't strike until Tony and I have finished making the disruptors," Bruce corrected.
"Aye!" Thor said randomly. They all looked to him to see him pointing to the TV mounted to the corner of the room. The High Evolutionary's face was plastered on the screen.
"Jarvis! Volume!" Tony yelled.
"was Herbert Wyndham. Now you will all know me as the High Evolutionary. I am the peak of our species genetic potential. I am capable of anything you can imagine. I am power personified. My family set me on this path. They were foolish and maniacal. They experimented on me since I was the age of five and died before they could succeed in the task of making me what I am today. I am here in spite of my family. Where they have failed, I have triumphed. Their trials left me weak, ill and dying until I completed what they weren't intelligent enough to. I will no longer share their name. I am no longer Herbert Wyndham and I will forever be the High Evolutionary. My first task will be to show you all what I am; to show you my power. You think you've seen power. You think your Avengers are powerful. I will show you truth. I will kill your Avengers and I will broadcast their deaths to the world. Avengers, you will meet me at the coordinates of thirty-seven degrees North, one hundred-nine degrees West by this time tomorrow. If you do not come, the people you claim to protect will die." The TV screen flashed and Passions started to play.
"Mute it, Jarvis," Tony said.
"Well, I guess we don't have to go looking for him," Steve said.
"Those coordinates are in the middle of the Great Basin Desert," Natasha said, turning her phone around so the others could see her map on it. "Unpopulated."
"So he's not interested in mass killing. That's something," Clint said.
"Is it a foregone conclusion that we're going?" Bruce asked.
"Don't see how we can't. We can't risk him killing people," Steve answered.
"Maybe we could find him before that? Catch him off guard?" Clint asked.
"Eh," Tony said. "I could try to trace the broadcast signal he used on to take over the airways but my guess is he could scramble it easily. And it's time spent away from making the disruptors which are only chance against him."
"Okay," Steve said. "In twenty-four hours we're at that desert. Tony and Bruce will get to work on the disruptors now. Thor and I will plan out our attack. Clint and Natasha, stock up on weapons. We're going to need more than the usual on this guy. Let's get to work."
"There was desperation in his voice," Thor said. He and Steve were in one of their meeting rooms sitting over a map of the Great Basin Desert. "A longing to succeed to spite his family; to prove himself better. To prove he can triumph outside of his families limitations; to ignore their reputation and restrictions."
"Yeah," Steve nodded. "I picked up on that too."
"I only say because a man's desperation changes how he fights. He takes more risks, cares not for his own well-being."
"We'll have to take into account that he'll sacrifice himself to get a kill shot."
"Aye." Steve started to jot down notes on his notepad. "Would you think it strange that I find him a slight inspiring?"
Steve looked up at him puzzled. "How's that?"
"Regardless of how contemptible his success may be, he did succeed in his goal. He repaired what his family damaged and now can achieve anything despite what his family or society may think. There's something to be said for that kind of drive to pursue one's own happiness."
Steve thought about what he said for a couple of moments. "Yeah, I guess so… So long as your happiness doesn't involve murdering people," Steve said with a slight smirk. Thor's expression did not mirror his own. He was staring back at Steve with a seriousness in his eyes. They weren't harsh; they were quite comforting.
"Mine does not."
The High Evolutionary was sitting crossed leg in the middle of the air, four feet above ground. Underneath him was a white marble floor in a perfect square spanning 500 feet. Each corner had a 50-foot tall pillar. The construct lay in the middle of a vast, flat, desert land. The sky was calm. It was a light shade of blue with no clouds in sight. He turned his head and looked up. A jet was approaching. He waved his hand and twenty-some-odd cameras flew up from the ground and turned on. They surrounded the marble construct. He watched from his still position as the jet landed, the Avengers exited it, and approached him. As they got closer he stood on his feet.
"They will all see," he said with his arms spread wide in a notion towards the cameras.
"I perform better with an audience," Ironman said.
"Everyone turn on your disruptors!" Captain America ordered. Each of them had a small black device fastened to their suits that they all turned on.
"You should have learned," the High Evolutionary said, pointing to Ironman. He stayed still for a moment, just pointing. His head cocked. "You did. What have you done?"
"Strike!" Captain ordered.
Each Avenger did as they had been previously instructed. Cap and Thor devised the entire battle earlier. Ironman and Thor took to the sky. Widow and Hawkeye ran to either side toward him. Captain America ran directly at him. The High Evolutionary held his hand out towards him and a blast of white energy appeared that immediately flew at the soldier. Cap continued running without being deterred. When the blast of energy was just several feet away from Cap it dispersed into nothingness.
"What?!" the High Evolutionary yelled.
Cap reached him and quickly punched him several times, alternating from his face to his gut. When he finally retaliated and swung a fist at Cap, he quickly held his shield up and saved himself. The strength of the punch launched Cap's body feet back. Then the villain felt the rapid gunfire on his suit from both sides from the assassins. He held both of his hands out and sent the bullets flying outward in every direction. Black Widow and Hawkeye seized firing and quickly laid on the ground. He then was blasted right on the back by Ironman's repulsors. He turned to find Ironman and Thor hovering above him.
"Kill Thor," he said.
"That wouldn't be very teamly of me," Ironman said. "Thor, keep him busy while Jarvis tries to find a weak part on his suit."
The God nodded. He flew towards the High Evolutionary at full speed. He crashed into him, sending both of their bodies hard into the ground and cracking the hard marble floor. They got to their feet and took turns punching each other in the face. Thor landed a strong kick to the villain's gut, launching his body backwards. He lifted Mjolnir and the thunderclouds appeared.
"You'll regret that," the High Evolutionary said.
A bolt of lightning came down on Mjolnir and then erupted towards him. The villain held his hand out and the lightning bolt vanished as it touched him. Thor was stunned for a moment then swung Mjolnir right towards his face. The High Evolutionary dodged and raised his own fist towards him. As his fist moved closer to the thunder God it grew exponentially until it was the size of a boulder then collided. The punch flew Thor's body several yards back.
Several grenades then landed all around the High Evolutionary. He was raising his hand to throw them telekinetically when they all exploded. The explosion knocked him to the ground and fractured the floor beneath him. When the smoke began to clear the High Evolutionary looked up to see the Hulk running at him. The green goliath yanked his body from the ground and threw it off into the distance. The High Evolutionary landed hard on the floor several yards back. He looked up to see the Hulk coming back at him. He got to his feet and looked to see one of the pillars was nearby. He waved his hand and the pillar was pulled from the floor. He swung his hand again and the pillar was sent hurtling towards the Hulk. It collided against him with a loud crash. The pillar broke into dozens of little pieces.
He saw the other four Avengers now standing together off in the distance. Ironman was still hovering in the air. He focused in on them: on the disruptors he had seen them turn on. They were shooting off frequencies that were like a maze for him to travel through. The heroes were all coming at him now. His mind continued to run through the frequencies of all their disruptors. When he finally found the disruptors frequency and took over it, none of the Avengers noticed their disruptors were turned off. They continued running at him. He held his hand in Ironman's direction and against Tony's will several missiles launched from the suit and exploded against the floor his teammates were running on. Ironman froze as he saw the smoke and fire course around his grounded teammates.
"I'm sure you have some tricks up your sleeve to stop the mad Hulk," the High Evolutionary said. "Go, kill him."
Ironman at once turned and flew towards Hulk. Captain America stood back up. The High Evolutionary grinned. He held his hand out and Cap was held up still in the air. Cap struggled but he couldn't move a muscle. The villain swung his hand and Cap went crashing hard on the floor. He swung his hand again and again. Every time he did so, the soldier's body was again smacked against the hard floor. Thor came to then and looked up at what was happening.
"Steve!" He raised Mjolnir from where he lay on the ground. A huge bolt of lightning came down on the High Evolutionary and when the bolt dispersed the villain's body was gone. Thor ran to Captain America. He was down on the ground. The marble beneath him was cracked. His suit was dirty and torn in several places. His mask was barely on. Thor knelt down on the ground next to him. He held him up with a strong arm against his back. He took off his mask. His eyes were closed.
"Steve," he said apprehensively. "Steve!" His eyes slowly opened. His mouth dropped open slightly and released a pained sigh.
"I'm fine," he said.
"Lying doesn't suit you," Thor said.
"I'll be fine… Don't worry."
Tony's team of doctors had just left Steve in his room in the medical department. He was lying on his bed. His right arm was in a sling to help his dislocated shoulder. His ribs were taped up. He had a bandage covering a long cut on his forehead. The rest of his face was marred with scrapes as well as some more on his arms. He rested his head back and sighed. There was a knock on his door.
"I know you need rest but… I—" Thor's voice came, from behind the closed door.
"It's fine," Steve said loudly enough for it to carry. "Come in." Thor entered and was still wearing his suit. Mjolnir was still in his hand. His skin and suit were dirt ridden. "We've been back for at least an hour. Why didn't you change?"
"They wouldn't let me in until they were finished," Thor answered as he walked toward Steve.
"Who?" Steve asked, confused.
"Wouldn't let you in where?"
"Here," Thor said. Steve was too lost in figuring out what Thor was saying to speak. "Are you okay?"
Steve smiled. "Yeah. I've been worse."
"That's not what I asked you," Thor said, standing over Steve. He was looking down at him with so much concern.
"I'm in some pain, yeah. But I heal quick. It's part of the super hero package." Thor nodded and visibly relaxed some. "What did you do to him by the way? One second he's standing there throwing me around like a puppet, one bolt of lighting later and he's vanished."
"I can control the current of the lightning. I made it take him back with it. It propelled him some where into the atmosphere."
"Not a very honorable battle tactic," Thor looked down. "To remove someone from the battleground admits defeat in a way. Shameful. Further, Tony says since he can control my lightning I likely won't be able to do it a second time now that he knows I can."
"Oh. So maybe you shouldn't have—"
"No!" Thor looked back up at him instantly. "I don't regret it for a second… I only regret I didn't do it sooner. I didn't do it before—I didn't even realize what he was doing!—that he was hurting you!—I just lied there!—I can't even protect you!—how am I supposed to—"
"Hey!" Steve interrupted him. He reached out and held his hand in a sudden movement that hurt his ribcage but he hid any sign of his pain. "It's not your job to protect me." He pulled Thor towards the bed as he spoke. The God sat down next to where Steve lie. "I told you I'm fine. I've come back from worse beatings than this. I'll be fine."
"When I got to you, you weren't moving. You didn't wake up. I couldn't tell if you were breathing. You didn't respond to me. I didn't know."
With gentle force Steve grabbed Thor's face and pulled it down to his own. Their lips met and any thoughts of worry, remorse or guilt vanished; all thoughts vanished. There was just each other and their kiss and their lips moving against each other's. Nothing else mattered at that moment.
And the next moment it was over. Thor stood. He paced away from Steve. He froze in front of the wall, his back to other man. Steve couldn't do anything but stare and miss the feeling of his lips on his. They stayed like this far longer than they stayed together.
"Thor…" Steve said finally. His voice was weaker than he could have thought possible.
"Do you know what my father would say?!" Thor turned instantly as he spoke.
"I could imagine."
"I would dishonor our name! I would bring shame to the throne! It was task enough that I loved a mortal before but this! This is different entirely!"
"Things change. In my time this would be unacceptable to nearly everyone but people changed and grew."
"Your species is young. You're rules change so frequently because your generation last a fraction of the time an Asgardian one does. We're talking about customs that have been place for millennia!"
"So what do you want to do? Just ignore it? Continue living together, working together and just pretend this thing doesn't exist?" Steve asked with sarcasm he immediately knew he had picked up from Tony.
"I don't know what we do here! All I know is that I'm so drawn to you that I toss aside everything I've ever known for you. To protect you. To feel you."
Steve paused. "Doesn't it feel right though? Didn't it?"
"We can't think in that manner. That's not logic or moral. It's emotion. Blind and raw and senseless."
"Thor, we feel something. That's what makes us humane and caring. There's nothing wrong with feeling."
"But perhaps much is wrong with acting on it."
Thor turned and headed for the door hastily. Steve didn't waste his breath calling for him to stop. He looked down and saw that Thor had left Mjolnir in his rush. He got transfixed on where the hammer's inscription read 'Thor.'
Hours later Thor sat on a couch in one of the tower's common areas. He was watching a television. It was a news broadcast showing their fight with the High Evolutionary. He watched the villain with such disdain. The title across the bottom of the screen read: "Avengers best their newest threat: High Evolutionary".
"Are you okay?" Thor turned and saw Bruce walking toward the couch. "No one's seen you much since we got back."
"I am fine."
Bruce started watching the screen. "I can't imagine he's too happy about this. He brought the cameras to show everyone he'd beat us and they showed the exact opposite."
"His rage shall make him more dangerous than before. I do not regret my actions regardless."
"You shouldn't." The telecast was now showing High Evolutionary throwing Captain America around with his telekinesis. "You did what you had to do to protect someone…" Thor looked to Bruce as his words trailed off. "Look, we all see things, hear things, talk about things… We sort of know."
"Oh…" Thor looked down.
"It's okay, really. No one minds it or anything. Natasha actually likes it a lot. She eavesdrops sometimes."
"It's… It's not okay, I'm afraid. To your people it may be, but to mine it is not."
Bruce nodded. "Asgard is kind of old fashioned?"
"Yes, as your people would say."
"That's hardly fair to you."
"Fair. Fair is not a right."
"Doesn't mean it shouldn't be fought for, especially when it's attainable. I knew a girl named Betty. And for a long time she was everything to me. Then I changed. And now that the Hulk is always in me I can never be with her. That's out of my control. There's nothing I can do about that when I would do anything to be with her. I would never make the choice to not be with her."
They didn't speak for a while. Thor processed everything he had said. "You have given much me much to think about," Thor said as he stood from the couch. "I'll sleep on the matter." Bruce nodded and Thor began to exit the room. He stopped before reaching the hallway. "I am very sorry about your fate."
"Yeah," Bruce said. "Me too."
A loud beeping siren woke Thor up. His eyes flung open from where he lay on his bed. There were alarms on the ceiling illuminating the room with bright flashing red lights. He threw on the first clothes he could find and ran out of the room. He didn't even know where to go. The entire building was dark save for red flashing lights. He just kept on running through rooms and down hallways waiting to see something.
"Tony!" Thor landed in one of the labs. A machine was putting Tony's suit on him. "What's happening?"
"It's High Evolutionary! He's broken in downstairs! He's tearing through the floors, working his way up here."
"We must get down there! There are people down there, yes? Your employees?"
"Yeah. Natasha and Clint are on their way to get the disruptors from another lab. We'll meet them at the elevators."
"What floor is he on?"
Tony looked over to one of his monitors. "Third."
"I must go now," Thor said, heading towards the door.
"We cannot delay! There are people in danger."
"Without the disruptor you won't stand a chance!"
"I cannot risk those lives!"
"What about the lives you risk by getting yourself killed? The people you can't protect while you're busy being dead?"
Thor might not have even heard Tony's last words as he left the room and ran toward the nearest staircase. He hurried down each floor.
"Tony," Steve's voice came from his intercom as his helmet was put on.
"I hear you," Tony said. He stepped out of his machine, now fully in his suit. "It's High Evolutionary. He's broken in down stairs. He's making his way up to us."
"Up to you all?" Steve asked. Tony had to think for a moment before responding.
"You're still in medical?"
"What floor is he on?"
"Fourth. He's on your floor. Steve, do not engage him. You're already hurt. Wait until we get there with the disruptors."
"Tony, your people work around the clock. You have people out there right now. I can't sit here."
"There's no point—" Tony stopped mid-sentence when the line went dead.
Steve looked around his room for some clothes. He took off his sling. He couldn't find his shield anywhere. He continued looking around his room and his eyes fell on Mjolnir. It was right where Thor had left it the night before. He stared at the hammer long and hard. He walked to it; he grabbed the hilt firmly. He took a deep breath and lifted it. The hammer went with his hand seamlessly. It was heavy but felt just right. He lifted it into the air and was overwhelmed. A power surged through him. His injured ribs and arm felt perfectly normal. He stared at the head of the hammer, again transfixed on the inscription that read 'Thor.' He brought Mjolnir down to his side and cautiously exited the room.
This room was dark with the red flashing lights as well. He didn't see anyone. He stilled and listened. He heard movement coming from the right hall and followed it. He walked slowly; clung to the wall; Mjolnir out in front of him. He came to a room. He glimpsed around the corner. High Evolutionary's back was facing him. He was walking down another hall. Light on his feet, Steve stepped into the room. He held up Mjolnir and looked at it for a second. He threw the hammer with all of his strength. It twirled the air rapidly and collided with the villain's back. His body went plummeting forward as the hammer flew backward. Mjolnir came right back to Steve's hand. He looked at it with amazement. High Evolutionary stood back up. He turned to Steve and looked at him with agitation. He raised a hand and blasted white energy towards Steve. He dived out of the way, landing behind a sofa in the middle of the room. The next second the sofa was suspended into the air and it flew across the room into a wall, shattering it into pieces. With High Evolutionary now back in sight, Steve threw Mjolnir at him again. High Evolutionary swung his hand to the right and Mjolnir flew off in the same direction. Steve ran and tackled the villain to the floor. He held him down with his body and punched him in the face relentlessly. He could feel his strength was greater. He didn't let up. He punched and punched and punched. His body was then suspended into the air.
High Evolutionary got to his feet as Steve struggled to break free of the telekinetic hold. His body was frozen in the air. He couldn't stop thinking about what happened in the desert. High Evolutionary smirked at him.
Thor came into the room then. He looked up at Steve from behind. He took a step forward when Mjolnir came from behind High Evolutionary again hitting him in the back and knocking him to the ground. The hammer continued flying and went into Steve's hand. Thor was frozen for a second. Steve's body was freed. He landed on his feet and immediately swung Mjolnir down. The hammer collided with High Evolutionary's back. Steve went to swing again but his body was thrown back into a wall with enough force to dent it. The villain ran towards Steve. Thor ran towards him, tackling him sideways. He held his hand up and Mjolnir flew into it.
He brought the hammer down on High Evoutionary's face. He swung it a second time but his hands were caught by the villain's. The two tested their strength against each other, each pushing against the other. High Evolutionary was just beginning to push Thor back when his whole body was thrown back against the wall telekinetically. The God fell to his feet and Steve's unconscious body was lying next to him. He knelt down to him and then got blasted by energy from the High Evolutionary. Thor realized what had happened right when his body was punched into the floor by a fist from the villain that was double the size of his body.
Thor came to just before the fist came down on him a second and a third time. He was lying in a crater in the floor. He slowly crept to his knees. He was struggling to get to his feet. The High Evolutionary was staring down at him unscathed. Thor made another attempt to stand and High Evolutionary blasted him with energy, sending his body back towards the wall again. Thor threw Mjolnir weakly at High Evolutionary. He waved his hand and threw the hammer telekinetically in another direction. He waved both of his hands and two steel file cabinets fell down on top of Thor. Thor fought to get them off of him. When he was free he looked up and High Evolutionary was right in front of him. He picked Thor up by the throat. The god's feet dangled in the air and his hands clung to the villain's. He tried to pull the hand at his throat off unsuccessfully. High Evolutionary tightened his grip.
High Evolutionary was blasted at his side, sending him and Thor back. He stood and the rest of the Avengers were standing in front of him. They all had disruptors on their suits. High Evolutionary flew in the opposite direction quickly. His body broke through the wall and he continued flying through wall after wall until he was outside of the building. Tony looked at a screen on his suit.
Steve awoke back in his bed in medical. He looked around his room to find he was alone. He remembered the fight. He remembered lifting Mjolnir. He looked down at his body. It was unmarred. He felt no pain. He remembered flashes of Thor being there, fighting High Evolutionary. He left his room and entered a trashed hallway. Bookshelves were knocked over; lights were out; walls had dented and fractured plaster. He walked down the hall. He stopped at every room to peak through its window. Each room was empty until he got to the last one. Thor was sleeping on the bed in it.
He sat on a chair next to Thor in silence until he woke. The God blinked a couple times when his eyes fell to Steve.
"It was my turn to check in on you," Steve said.
"I am fine," Thor smiled.
"Yeah," Steve said, looking over at Mjolnir where it stood on the floor. "I bet you are."
"It deemed you worthy."
"You left it in my room. When I was leaving to fight him I knew I wasn't going to be able to put up much of a fight. So I tried it. And… That was amazing. The feeling. And my injuries—You heal really fast don't you?"
"Yes," Thor nodded, "One of the many powers Mjolnir bestows. I couldn't believe my eyes when it flew to your hand. No one of Asgard has ever been deemed worthy. To think anyone of Midgard could would be absurd."
"Well, I'm flattered—"
Thor's upper body lunged from the bed. His lips were on Steve's in an instant. The hero was taken back but he immediately responded. There lips moved against each other with haste. They weren't tentative. They were unhinged. Every caution was thrown to the waste side. They kissed with the unbridled passion they'd been concealing. It took Steve's breath away. He pulled back reluctantly. He held Thor's face as he looked into his eyes.
"I was wrong," Thor said. "Everything I said, protested. I was fearful and foolish. It matters not what my people think. This is real. Be with me. Please Steve."
Steve pulled him back into another kiss that was somehow even more urgent. His mouth opened for Thor and the God eagerly explored. Steve fingers tangled in his long hair, grasping it to hold on through the waves of pleasure.
They snapped away from each other when the door opened. They looked to find Natasha open mouthed and grinning at them.
"I am more sorry than you will ever know to break this up right now, but we have work to do."
"He knew what he was doing when he attacked the tower," Tony began the debriefing when all of the Avengers had arrived at the round table. "Looking at the security cameras it's evident he was going right for you Steve. You having the mighty hammer of Thor put a bit of a kink in his plan. When it delayed him till the point all of us showed up, with the disruptors, he took off. It wasn't the fight he was looking for."
"Okay, we're caught up. Now what?" Steve asked.
"It was hard to see with the lights out but the security cameras managed to get us this," Tony said motioning towards the screen on the wall behind him. It was a dark picture of High Evolutionary's back illuminated with red light. There was a rectangle that slightly stuck out of his back right between his shoulders. It had transcribed on it "U-298." "That," Tony said emphatically, "Is an extremely rare uranium compound full of electrochemical cells."
"Electrochemical?" Clint asked.
"Like a battery," Bruce answered.
"It's likely powering his suit," Tony continued. "That's his weak spot. Destroy the battery, his suit turns off, his genetic ailments resurface, he's neutralized."
"Now we find him," Thor said.
"Done. U-298 puts off a rare signature we can trace. I've got Jarvis running it now," Tony said.
"Wait," Steve interrupted, "You're telling me this guy is master of all frequencies and he's walking around inside of a beacon giving away his location? I don't trust it."
Tony shrugged. "What else is he going to do? Shutting off the trace would in turn shut off the battery. It would be suicide."
"So?" Natasha asked, looking around at everyone. "Suit up time?"
"Yes," Steve answered. "Let's be done with this guy already. I've got things to do."
The Avenger's jet landed in the middle of a street in a suburban neighborhood.
"Where are we?" Steve asked as they all exited.
"Cambridge," Hawkeye answered.
"Trace is leading us to this house here," Ironman said nodding towards a quaint, little, blue house in front of them.
"Cambridge. He never moved far from Harvard then," Bruce said.
"Nat, Clint, I need you to work your way down both ways of this street evacuating the houses. He's still not going out without a fight and that house won't contain it. Get everyone off of this street," Steve said. The two nodded and ran off in opposite directions as the other three Avengers gathered behind Steve. "Okay, we're going in. Thor and I will go in through the front. Tony and Bruce come around from the back. If there's not a door, make one. Precise hits guys. Everything is aimed at that battery."
Steve led Thor through the front door of the house. Both were at the ready; Steve with his shield out in front of him, Thor with Mjolnir in his grip. The first room was almost entirely empty. There was a wall covered in newspaper clippings. All of the articles and pictures were about the Avengers. In front of the wall were scissors and tape. The rest of the room was empty. The two were looking at the wall when it was smashed into pieces by High Evolutionary flying through it. The villain immediately hit the god of Thunder with an uppercut strong enough to send him crashing back through the front wall of the house. He turned towards Cap and swung another fist. The soldier blocked the punch with his shield, his body still moving back several feet. The High Evolutionary raised his hand to Cap. When nothing happened he looked down at Cap's belt to see the disruptor latched to it.
"Tony's little device cannot stop gravity," he said. He brought his raised hand down quickly and the ceiling above Captain America came falling down on him in pieces.
The next second Hulk's fist collided squarely on High Evolutionary's back. His body went flying through the same hole in the wall Thor had created. He landed in the front lawn. He quickly got to his feet and he took another hit on his back from Mjolnir. He fell forward on to his face. Ironman, Hulk and Thor had him surrounded when he stood. He turned on his heel, surveying them all. A loud crashing noise erupted from behind them as the house was lifted into the air. It was torn into several pieces. Plaster, wood, brick, and metal pieces of the house began to swarm. The High Evolutionary stood still at the center. The pieces spun around him like a tornado. The three heroes could hardly stand firm. Pieces were hitting them left and right. The wind was keeping them unsteady.
"Thor!" Ironman yelled through the chaos. "Can you take control this?"
"It's—It's not real wind!" Thor yelled back. "The movement of the debris is creating a similar effect!"
Cap looked up to see the vortex of materials from where he lay outside of it. He could see High Evolutionary standing in its center; his back was facing him. He could see the battery. He stood and braced his shield in his hand. He stared hard at the battery. He paid attention to all of the debris swirling around. He noticed the pattern of the debris; the big and small pieces. He took one last deep threat and threw his shield. It spun through the air with enough force to not be deterred by the small pieces of debris in its way and collided directly into the battery. The small rectangle shot sparks outward. The shield bounced off and flew back to Steve's hand. The debris fell to the ground around the three Avengers. High Evolutionary's body collapsed. It crumpled into a fetal position.
Black Widow and Hawkeye returned to them in the yard. Captain America walked to the others. The Avengers surrounded the grounded villain's body. He was still. He looked up at them with only the slightest movement of his neck. His once powerful glare was now meager.
"I would not have thought to find you here," Thor said. He had just joined Steve in the gym at the tower. The soldier was sitting on the bench.
"And here I thought it was the first place you'd come to find me," Steve smiled. He stood and walked towards Thor.
"I just meant with the battle won now is the time for celebration."
"Hence why I wanted you to find me." Steve wrapped his arms around Thor's neck and leaned up to kiss him. Thor pulled him in with two strong hands at his waist.
"You're sure about this?" Steve asked, their faces still close.
"I've never been more sure," Thor said.
"We've got an uphill battle. Society can still be harsh. Your people will be even moreso."
"Well then it is fortunate we're heroes. Battles are what we do. And what we win."
He captured Steve's lips again in a more passionate kiss. Everything was let go. None of the battles mattered. Their lips danced with each other. Everything was fast and heated. And it was all they needed.