Author: The Plot Bunny Whisperer
Title: Deus Ex Machina
Summary: (Or - The Time MoD!Harry Got Fed Up and Dealt With Loki Himself, to the Consternation and Confusion of Everyone Else.) Some days, dealing with a bunch of bratty quasi-immortal beings and their temper tantrums just wasn't worth it. Especially when they kept causing him so much extra paperwork.
Warnings: None, unless you count author insanity. Oh, and swearing, I guess.
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't care, don't sue.
AN: When I left this site two years ago, someone kindly asked me if I would be willing to post completed or one-shot stories here, because that's what I left behind. Here's my answer.
Deus Ex Machina
(Or - The Time MoD!Harry Got Fed Up and Dealt With Loki Himself, to the Consternation and Confusion of Everyone Else.)
Five seconds before a dark-cloaked being of indeterminate gender would have crossed the threshold passed its boss's office door, a chill of foreboding went down its spine. This was strange in itself, as although the plain of existence on which the being existed was almost always freezing anyway, the creatures and beings who lived there didn't actually feel the cold. It stopped to ponder this anomaly for a moment, just in time to avoid getting hit by a large purple cup that then went sailing out the door with a strangled yell of frustration trailing in its wake.
The being looked at the miraculously unbroken cup, then peeked its head around the corner into its boss's office.
Behind a large, luxuriant mahogany desk in an equally luxuriant black monstrosity of a chair sat a man with slightly tousled dark hair. There wasn't much else to tell about him, other than that he wore a black button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to show pale skin that almost seem to glow like soft moonlight against the darkness of the fabric. Black and silver swirls and lines etched intricately into his skin disappeared into the sleeves of his shirt, a small part of a bigger unseen design.
That was all that could be seen of him because he currently had his face buried in said pale arms atop the desk, mountains and hills of papers and scrolls and feather quills haphazardly placed around him, threatening to topple and bury him beneath them at any moment.
The dark-cloaked being of indeterminate gender sent out a pulse of inquiry, but didn't move any further into the room. It wasn't stupid.
Its boss's head lifted, bright green eyes squinting over the pile of arms and paper. They alighted on his cautious minion and narrowed, head lifting off his desk to reveal an aristocratic face with angled cheekbones and firm chin. There was a forgotten smudge of black ink on the bridge of his nose, and more black and silver whorls at his collar and the hollow of his throat. When he spoke, there was a hint of dire warning laced within his words that matched the dangerous glint in his eyes.
"You better not have more paperwork for me." A guilty crinkle of papers answered him.
The Boss, as his minions called him (capitals included), took a deep breath and let it out. He counted to twenty, then did it again. It didn't help. Releasing a growled, "Let me see it," between his clenched teeth, he irritably gestured his minion to come inside which it did with a bit of hesitancy. Nimble fingers and quick eyes scanned the new pile of paperwork he was handed, his glower growing darker with each page.
Finally, he threw the papers down with the rest.
"What in fucking Yggdrasil is going on down on Midgard that is giving me so much gods be damned paperwork?!"
The dark-cloaked being of indeterminate gender pointed silently at a large mirror in a gilded black and silver frame that hung in the center of the wall opposite his desk, taking up nearly the entire upper half. Aside from the door itself, nothing else occupied the wall. The mirror was suddenly filled with light and colour like muted Midgardian flat-screen television, showing a tall man in a green and black coat with bronze upper-body armor and a rather... unique bronze helmet standing atop a pedestal in front of what looked like a museum. A large banner behind him proclaimed him to be in front of 22 Königstrasse, Stuttgart. In one of his hands was a long staff with a shining blue gem clasped between the crab-like clawed end.
The mirror produced no sound (an automatic setting The Boss kept it on so he wouldn't be tempted to destroy it, even if it had been made indestructible for that very reason), so the strangely dressed man's speech went unheard. The Boss watched closely as he pointed his staff at an old man whom seemed to be standing up to him. The gem glowed and released a bright burst of blue light at the old man, which was reflected back at him by a red, white and blue shield with a white star in the center, held by a man in a matching full-body suit.
The Boss's eyebrow twitched as the rest of the scene played out, ending in a red and gold robot (which later revealed itself to be a man in a robot suit) forcing the man's surrender. The helmet and armor disappeared in wispy gold light, and the man was cuffed and brought onto a small black jet. Not much later, the man was abducted by a flying man with a lightning-shooting hammer, followed by the robot man and the guy in the blue suit, and the mirror went blank.
The Boss took a deep breath and let it out. He counted to twenty and did it again. It didn't help.
If it weren't for the paperwork, he didn't think he would mind being the current physical incarnation of Death. He got to see new places, meet interesting people, and he would gleefully slaughter anyone who tried to steal his office chair. It was just that sometimes, Harry really, really wished he hadn't picked up the Elder Wand after Voldemort had killed himself from the rebound of his own spell. Again.
If he had not been able to live out the rest of his life naturally, with a wife and kids, grandkids, and dozens of nieces and nephews, he might just have hunted down his predecessor and gutted the bastard like a fish. It was bad enough that he died at a respectfully old age thinking he would see all of his loved ones again, only to appear in what was now his office and told point blank that yeah, no, that wasn't gonna happen for a long time. Adding a blinding migraine from the download of an eternity's worth of memories from all of the past physical incarnations of Death, and then paperwork on top of that? That was just mean.
Harry gathered his coat, ignoring his black-cloaked minion of indeterminate gender's nearly audible sigh of relief when he informed it that he was going out (which would be an accomplishment, as his minions were all mute empathic beings that never spoke). Instead, he focussed firmly on the thought of Midgard, and on the two Asgardians causing trouble there (why was it always Asgardians?), and the thought that was going to do something about it, because it was pissing him off.
Some days, dealing with a bunch of bratty quasi-immortal beings and their temper tantrums just wasn't worth it. Especially when they kept causing him so much extra paperwork. No matter how awesome his office chair was.
It just wasn't.
On the bridge of a large, flying aircraft carrier, a small interesting group of people were meeting to discuss the plans their captive, a man not of their world who had caused a lot of trouble, killed a lot of people, and kidnapped a bunch of others. Included in this group were the leader of a secret organization, two spies who worked for him, a super soldier enhanced by science, a genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist, a scientist who turned into a giant green rage monster, and the crazy alien's brother.
Director Fury, the leader of the secret spy organization, was in the middle of explaining that he'd only brought Dr. Bruce Banner (the scientist with anger issues) on board in order to help him find an artifact of unimaginable power - the object the alien had stolen, along with several of his men - when something made him pause. It made everyone pause, in fact, and stare incomprehensibly at an anomoly that shouldn't be possible.
At the top of the steps leading to a door with a large, backlit design depicting a stylized bird, there was a small ball of what looked like black and silver lightning. It seemed to do nothing for a moment before it began to grow bigger, covering first the bird before spreading to cover the entire door. The black and silver lightning flashed only at the edges of what began to look like a portal, while silver mist and endless shadows filled the center.
Fury began to bark orders, his single eye never straying from the still-growing anomaly, while soldiers in black bulletproof attire and carrying large weapons streamed into the room from the side doors, surrounding the portal with weapons raised and ready. Dr. Banner and Tony stark, closest to the anomaly, both unconsciously leaned forward with undisguised curiosity, while Natasha Romanov, the spy, pointed her own weapon at it, and the super soldier, Steve Rogers, fell into a defensive stance. Thor, the prisoner's brother, seemed to be the only one not gearing for a fight, merely looking apprehensive and resigned.
After less than a minute, the portal stopped growing, now covering the entirety of the door. Several tense moments passed, while nothing else happened.
"This... is not good." The silence was broken with Thor's words. Fury rounded on him, glaring promises of pain and retribution if he didn't get the answers he wanted.
"You know what the hell that is?" he demanded, pointing at the portal. Thor grimaced, rubbing the back of his neck as Banner, Stark, and Rogers looked at him as well.
"Yes. It is a portal to realm that none dare go," Thor admitted reluctantly. "It is ruled by a being that is beyond even Asgard, whose power is unmeasurable and undeniable. He is the ultimate neutral, never siding with any, never interfering in any war. So if He has come to Midgard, then I fear my brother's fate is no longer in our hands."
"What exactly does that mean?" Rogers looked uneasily at the portal, which still seemed to be doing nothing. "If this being is always neutral, why would he come here now?"
"I do not know. It seems we will soon find out."
They turned back to the portal at his words, to see that the silver mist had begun to swirl and the shadows had become restless. A shape was beginning to form in the portal, slowly growing larger. It soon was in the shape of a person, walking towards them through the portal with a swift, almost angry stride.
"Who the hell is this 'neutral being of immeasurable power' supposed to be?" Fury asked, sarcasm lacing his words even as his shoulders tightened with tension. Thor grimaced again.
"He is Death."
When Harry exited the portal he'd made to Midgard, the first thing he saw were guns. A lot of them. He stopped and stared at the dozen black-clad men (and one black-clad woman) pointing them at him with flat, unamused eyes. He pinched the bridge of his nose, closed his eyes for a moment, and sighed heavily.
"I am not in the mood for this."
"Then we're in agreement, because neither am I." Harry looked passed the armed men at a tall, dark-skinned man in a long black trenchcoat and an eye patch over his left eye, who was glaring at him. The information came automatically to his mind, as it always did. Nicholas Joseph Fury, born December 21, 1951. A master spy, had a low sense of humor. "Who the hell are you, and what the hell are you doing on my ship?"
"And why do you look like a kid?" That question came from a man off to the side in a blue shirt and dark grey suit. Anthony Edward Stark, born May 29, 1970. Extremely intelligent, but not very tactful. Harry debated for a moment whether or not to answer either of them before deciding against it. He might have had he been in a better mood, but as it was...
His eyes scanned the room, finding one of the two he was looking for standing not far from Nick Fury. Thor Odinson of Asgard, God of Thunder. Harry narrowed his eyes at him and was pleased when the Asgardian took a step back and swallowed uneasily, refusing to meet his eyes. Not seeing Loki anywhere in the room, Harry reached out a hand, curled his fingers around nothing, and pulled.
In a flash of silver light, Loki stumbled into being next to his brother, looking incredibly like someone had slapped him with a fish. He took in the room quickly, and when his eyes landed on Harry, he went very pale and stepped closer to Thor, nearly looking as though he was hiding behind him. He saw the look in the physical incarnation of Death's eyes and whimpered.
The rest of the room had absolutely no idea what the hell just happened. Fury quickly checked the cameras surrounding the cage Loki had been in to see that, yes, Loki was no longer in them and was in fact on his bridge. Just as he was about to shout his way into regaining some semblance of order, the intruder spoke over him.
"When, exactly," Harry said silkily, walking towards Thor and Loki as though the guns and men surrounding him didn't exist, men who suddenly found themselves unable to move, "did you Asgardians decide that Midgard was a fucking playground?" The last word he shouted, irritation bleeding from every syllable, black and silver lightning beginning to spark in his hair. Thor winced, and Loki moved a tiny bit more behind his brother.
"Do you have any idea the level of paperwork you have put me through?" He glared furiously at them. "You morons have upset the balance of this world so drastically it's going to take me months to fix it. I am not happy."
"To be fair, Loki's the one who did it," Thor said, casually throwing his brother under the bus while still unable to meet Harry's eyes. "I'm only here to bring him back to Asgard." Loki looked at him with clear betrayal, but Thor wasn't about to take the fall for the situation.
This was the physical representation of Death. The end of all things. The one being in the entire Multiverse that even the Norns, the representations of fate and destiny, didn't fuck with.
Screw that. It was all humans and Asgardians for himself.
The rest of the room stared at him in clear astonishment. Fury was impressed despite himself. Of course, if he was the one in the crosshairs of a supposedly primordial being with unlimited power and the ability to fuck with your afterlife, he would have done the same thing.
"I don't care!" Harry finished his march towards them and jabbed a finger at Thor's chest, observing the fact that he was shorter than the god of thunder with an annoyed grumble in the back of his mind. "That's not the bloody point! Midgard is not ready for this level of Asgardian stupidity, Thor Odinson. And you!" Harry rounded towards Loki, who shrank back. "If I see even a single fucking Chitauri on this fucking planet, I will take it out of your hide." He stepped back from them with a disgusted huff.
"Fucking Asgardians. At least the Olympians know when to leave well enough alone, and they're all a bunch of over-powered children."
"Wait, the Greek gods are real too?" came the startled question from Banner. He grinned sheepishly as heads swung towards him, putting his hands up. "Um. Nevermind. Ignore me."
Harry snapped his fingers. In a second flash of silver light, Loki was suddenly chained and a mask covered his mouth. With another snap of his fingers, a glowing blue cube appeared suspended in midair before him. He reached out and snatched it out of the air.
"This," he said, nearly shoving it in their faces, making them flinch, "is not a toy. You tell Odin that until he learns how to clean up his own messes, it's staying with me."
Before S.H.I.E.L.D.'s eyes, the very object they had assembled such a unique group of people for, the entire reason they'd been on high alert, disappeared in a burst of black and silver lightning. Fury couldn't believe it. Millions of dollars worth of manpower and preparation to find the tesseract, and one man just plucks the damn thing out of the air.
"Now." Harry felt a bit calmer, having got quite a bit out of his system. "Take your brother home, Thor Odinson, and keep him there. If I have to clean up his mess again, I will be very pissed off."
With one last glare at a frantically nodding Thor and a sullen, intimidated Loki, Harry marched back across the room and back through his portal. As it began to shrink out of existence, Fury's men suddenly found themselves able to move.
A dead silence filled the room, no one knowing what to make of any of it. Tony Stark, of course, was able to sum it up in three words.
"So, that happened."
Five minutes later, Fury received a call from a very confused Clint Barton.
Back in his office, Harry made himself comfortable in his chair with a cup of tea in the same purple cup that had previously flown out of the door, and glared crossly at the papers on his desk. He growled as another of his black-cloaked minions of indeterminate gender added even more to the precariously stacked piles.
"I hate paperwork."
AN 2: I'd love it if someone took the unrealized potential of this idea and ran with it. Please let me know if you do, so I can read it. (I'd also love it if it stayed Gen, as in, no obvious romance and canon-established pairings only.)