"There," Percy said, finishing with mopping the place.
It was late at night, past closing hours time but Percy needed a little bit of time to mop before finishing up with his shift.
It had been a year and a half since the events of the fall of SHIELD, and Percy was now living in the West Coast. It had taken a while but he had been able to get a promotion at his job and he was now one of the managers of Alberto's Cafe, working the final shift and being one of the last to leave when it closed for the night.
He rolled the bucket and the mop into the cleaning closet and started to leave to go home. As Percy started to lock the door, he glanced up to see the silhouette of a stranger in front of the shop.
"Sorry, we're closed for the night," Percy said to stranger.
The stranger took three steps forward and Percy froze, realizing that he recognized the stranger. He sighed and bit his lip before beginning to unlock the door. "On second thought, maybe I can spare a few minutes before closing up."
Maria Hill smirked at him in response.
"It's been a while," Maria started. "How's life been treating you?"
Percy spread his arms to whole shop. "I'm one of the managers of this coffee shop. So … I guess I would say I'm doing pretty well for myself." Percy finished brewing some coffee for himself and Maria before bringing the cups over to her. "It's been like what, a year and a half since we last saw each other."
"Yeah. How old are you now?"
Percy grinned. "21. It means I'm old enough to drink, not that I plan to."
"That's what we all say ... until life hits you like a truck. And we start wanting to drown your sorrows."
"Ain't that the truth." Percy took a sip of coffee before setting down his cup. "So … I'm guessing you're not here for a social call. You need something."
Percy sighed. "Ok. You know you can call me to help at any time. So, what do you need?
"We need you to rejoin the Avengers."
"Oh," Percy said, eyebrows raised. "Well, shit ... it must serious then."
Maria nodded. "It is. Remember how HYDRA had been inside SHIELD all along? Well, during all the events that happened a few years ago, Loki's scepter made its way into HYDRA's hands."
"Shit," Percy muttered.
"Shit indeed. We have finally tracked the whereabouts of the scepter. We finally tracked the whereabouts of the scepter. A man that lives in Sokovia, by the name of Baron von Strucker. Usually, we probably could have sent Iron Man or Captain America to get it. Maybe even just you by yourself."
"But he's got an army. And that's why I need you to regroup with the Avengers again."
Percy finished his coffee and sat back. "That's a lot to take in."
Percy sighed, thinking about it for a moment before standing up. "Yeah ... I can do that. Can't wait see the guys again."
Maria sighed in relief and stood up. "Thank you, Percy. This means a lot." She shook Percy's hand before Percy started leading her to the door. "We'll pick you up in the morning."
"Because I gotta get a good night's sleep before I go save the world again? Aw, thanks, how could I ever repay you?"
Percy chuckled. "I'm joking. I'll see you then."
Percy watched Maria enter her car before driving off into the night. Percy walked to his own car, figuring it was to go home and get plenty of sleep. He had a lot to forward to in the morning.
THE NEXT DAY
Avengers Tower, Manhattan
Percy bent over in the Quinjet to see the familiar New York skyline as it descended onto a platform on the Avengers Tower.
"Man, it's good to be home," Percy commented as the Quinjet landed.
As the latch opened, Percy walked out and met an awaiting Natasha. Percy and Natasha smiled at each other.
"Welcome back, Jackson," she said.
Percy grinned. "It's good to see you. I like your new look."
Natasha had shorter hair now, but she still looked as badass as she ever did. She nodded towards the entrance. "Come on, let's get you inside."
As the pair walked inside, Clint Barton came out of his room and joined them along. "So, we're bringing the kid along."
"He's not so much a kid, anymore. 21 now," Nat replied.
Clint raised his eyebrows. "Wow, the big one."
"I'm been 21 for a while, Clint. Since last August, so it's really not that bid of a deal," Percy dismissed.
"Well … who knows what's in store for you," Clint said mysteriously. "What you've been doing these past few years anyway?"
Nat and Percy exchanged a knowing look. "Ah, nothing much. Went back to camp for a little. While I was there though, I noticed … your photo, it's on Chiron's wall."
Clint shrugged. "It's like his version of Hall of Fame. Keep the best of the best on that wall."
"Man , really? Just how good were you at archery?"
"Let's just say the Hunters hated my guts."
"Don't they with everyone."
"Not because of losing a one-on-one competition."
Percy looked at Clint disbelievingly. "You're joking, right? No one is as good as any of the Hunters, much less better."
Clint shrugged. "First time for everything, I guess."
"While I'm sure you two can reminisce about the good old days at this camp of yours," Nat interrupted. "We have a mission to do, so save that talk for later."
Percy raised an eyebrow. "Right."
They continued walking until they met with the rest of the group. Steve, Tony, Thor, and Bruce stood waiting. Tony grinned as soon as he spotted Percy.
"Hey! We got the kid with us again," Tony said walking over to Percy. He grabbed his chin like a grandma would. "Look at him all baby-faced. You haven't aged one bit. I bet the ladies are all over you."
Percy playfully pushed his hand away. "Alright, Stark, that's enough."
"Hey, if we do this thing and win, I say we throw a party. Just for the kid here. Aren't you 21 now?"
Percy raised an eyebrow. "I am."
"Good, that means you're legal to party like an adult."
"Stark," Steve reprimanded.
"Alright, alright," Tony said, waving his hands and letting go of Percy.
Steve walked up to Percy and shook his hand. "It's good to see you again. How are you doing?"
Percy shrugged. "I've been pretty much hiding."
Steve nodded. "Weren't we all?"
Percy looked to Thor and nodded at him. "Thor." Thor nodded back. Percy looked to Bruce and nodded at him as well. "Bruce."
Bruce waved at him shyly. "Hey, Percy."
Percy took a deep breath. "So … not all of HYDRA went down in Washington, did it?"
"Actually, from my understanding, this is more recovering Loki's little toy than it is actually taking down HYDRA," Tony said.
"Either way, they're expecting us to attack at any moment. They got an army prepared," Steve said.
"Where are we going?" Percy asked.
"Sokovia. It's a little country in Eastern Europe. A man named Baron von Strucker has been in hiding and experimenting with the scepter Loki was using back a few years ago," Steve added. "Considering that SHIELD had been HYDRA all along, it's no wonder how the scepter got to Strucker's hands."
Steve took a good look at everyone in the room. "We all know our mission. Straightforward and difficult, but it's a task that needs to be done. Everyone suit up."
Tony raised a finger. "Hold up, speaking of suits, I have been making something for you, Cap. I think you'll like it."
Steve started to follow Tony and as he left told everyone, "Alright, I'll go see what he's made. Everyone get ready."
Natasha spoke up as Steve and Tony left and she looked at Percy. "You know, you could use a suit."
Percy looked down at his casual clothes and then to everyone in their respective suits. Except Banner, of course. But … to be fair, a green rage monster didn't really need one to begin with.
"Yeah, I could definitely use one," Percy finally agreed.
"Come on, let me show you something," Natasha said.
Percy started to follow after her. "Does it have a mask? I'd like a mask," Percy said as he left the room.
So that's the first chapter. Just a little set up to the events of Age of Ultron. Just like I always do, there will be some changes to the story. Plot-wise, well, we know what Ultron does, that's still gonna happen. Anyways, here's a toast to the third story in the series and I hope you guys enjoy it as you did the last two. Cheers.