Through to the Other Side

So, I've been trying to keep up with some fic writing this year, even though vet school is trying to kill me. So, I decided I'd do a year of shuffle challenges (ipod shuffle, write five small fics out of the first ten songs). And, well, I ended April with seeing the new Avengers movie.
And the Plot bunnies... So many ficlet ideas... Cue this entire shuffle challenge being Avenger themed!

As always, feedback is love. I would love feedback on characterisation (especially as I haven't written these guys before!)

Title: Balance
Fandom: Avengers movie-verse
Characters: Bruce Banner
Theme:Rage and Serenity – X-Men: First Class Soundtrack

Bruce Banner let himself take a moment to knead his forehead in frustration. This is another one of those times where he feels like he's pedalling backwards rather than forwards. It's not a feeling he likes.

He's been roving around the slums of Calcutta for three months now, acting as a doctor of sorts for the desperate souls crammed into this teeming pile of people. He knows enough to help these people on a basic level, even with meagre supplies (asprin, antiseptic washes and soap, bandages, the cheapest broad-spectrum antibiotic he could find) that he has managed to gain access to. So his pHD was in physics instead of medicine. These people didn't care either way.

Usually, what he's had to offer has been enough: teaching them basic hygiene, food safety, splinting broken arms and legs, etcetera. But there is always times where something nastier comes to the slums to claim the weakest. Sometimes it was dysentery, sometimes pneumonia, sometimes diseases that Bruce didn't even know what they were. Things that needed far more than he could offer. Still, the people would look to him with hope in their eyes, so he did what he could. What they really needed was a real doctor and better medicine. But local doctors don't come here. Not even aid groups venture into this midden much.

This was his penance. For everything he destroys when his control slips. It usually took his mind off things. Usually.

Today was going to be one of those bad days when his mind dredges everything up. All the things he had lost, and the knowledge that he can't get them back.

He's worked so hard to gain control over... the other guy. Worked out an internal balance that keeps him him. Figured out that simply avoiding stress wasn't working, and pushing away the anger wasn't enough either. The gently simmering anger that he was used, and then hunted by people he had trusted... that never really went away. So he had instead focused on controlling that. There's still been slip-ups, but it's been about a year since the last one.

Thankfully no people had been hurt, and Bruce had fled the country before his would be captors could arrive and put him into a position that would only endanger even more people.

"Doctor!" a cry in Hindi jolts him out of his thoughts, and he thankfully seeks the distraction.

Title: That Which is Precious to You
Fandom: Avengers movie-verse
Characters: Loki. Side-serve of Clint Barton, Nick Fury and Dr Eric Selvig.
Theme:Learning the Skills – Hunger Games score

He had always figured on using the sceptre to exert control over certain humans. He'd relished the thought, in fact. Making these beings squirm would bring him a level of satisfaction after the role Midgard had played in his being usurped last year. He ignored that he himself had plotted against the throne in the first place.

Loki cracked a sinister smile as he imagined his broth-Thor's reaction to his plans. He would be livid. But with the Bifrost gone, there would be little chance of Asgard knowing what had happened until he ruled this planet. He wonders how his adoptive brother would react to his mortal lover being killed. A thought he would chase up when the planet had been successfully subjugated.

Arrival brought Loki great satisfaction. The shock on their faces alone amused him. Most of the agents present were ordinary at best, but one showed courageous determination and lightning reflexes when he attacked. Him, Loki decided, he was going to keep alive.

He knew he'd chosen well when he saw the look the dark-skinned man, Director Fury, shot him when Agent Barton re-holstered his weapon. Disbelief and a fraction of fear, no matter how well it was masked. And Barton's knowledge, from what Loki could now access, would be invaluable, both for the physical aspects of the mission as well as the psychological mayhem he planned to unleash. Taking his Fury's own men to fight against him was a delicious bonus.

The old man he had initially dismissed while toying with Fury, until Thor was mentioned. Loki sized the man up, and found he remembered him. He was in that pathetic town Thor had been in last year. A friend of his adoptive brother.

Well, if he couldn't take the woman, he'd still enjoy taking another friend in the meantime. And the scientific expertise would be necessary. He also enjoyed the fear in the scientist's eyes the second before the tesseract energy consumed him.

He would enjoy watching this world squirm as he turned them against each other before the end.

Title: Live for the Fight
Fandom: Avengers movie-verse
Characters: Steve Rogers/Captain America
Theme:Where is the Edge – Within Temptation

So much more that you've got left to fight for
But it still doesn't change who you are
There is no fear you'll ever give in to
You're untouchable

It's a sad fact that he's more comfortable in the thick of battle. In the chaos of the fight, he knows what it is he is meant to be doing, and despite the rocky start the team had, even the ever argumentative Stark deferred to his leadership.

He doesn't know much in this new world. Things are more complicated, more busy. It's a world that he still isn't sure of, of where he stands in it.

Even S.H.E.I.L.D was uncanny. People looked at him with awe, but were rarely able to overcome the awe to actually talk to him. Mind you, none of them knew him as the 90-pound asthmatic that couldn't stand bullies, and was repeatedly beaten for it. They just saw the perfect soldier, a man out of his time. He was lonely.

Even with the disagreements and posturing, the mismatched team had been a relief. There were finally people who would talk to him like equals, even if it was arguing. It's more interaction than he's had ever since he woke up. It's not till Loki's force attacks that he actually starts to feel like this may be home after all.

Adversity really does make the strangest friendships.

Steve is up to his neck in Chitauri soldiers, the Asgardian Thor fighting beside him. He hopes that Romanoff made it to the top of the building, and he hasn't heard from Hawkeye for a while.

A moment of inattention delivers an energy blast to his stomach, and he doubles over in pain. It's tempting to just sit down, not give up. They just keep coming...

"You ready for another bout?" Thor's words are tempered by a weariness in his eyes that Steve feels in his bones.

"What, they getting sleepy?" he tries to quip back, but the exhaustion is starting to take its toll, even on him.

But still they fight on. There is no option to just lie down.

Loki is still one of those bullies he always hated. He will not be defeated by him.

Title: Final Call
Fandom: Avengers movie-verse
Characters: Tony Stark/Ironman
Theme:Somewhere – Within Temptation

Lost in the darkness,
Try to find your way home.
I want to embrace you
and never let you go.

When Jarvis asks about calling Pepper, he finds his mouth has suddenly gone dry. Somehow, he manages to respond to Jarvis' query with a steady voice, subdued, but steady.

Pepper's smiling face appears on the display, and Tony feels a lump rapidly forming in his throat. The realisation that this is probably the last image of her he sees is settling like lead in his stomach.

Truthfully (because there is no point lying at this point), he doesn't know if he wants Pepper to pick up or not.

He wanted to tell her that he loved her. Tony thinks she already knows it, but if this is his last chance to say it, he damn well intends to make the best of it. He'll also admit that he selfishly wanted to hear her voice one last time before the end, and he regrets that give her a proper goodbye when she left for DC. A quick kiss and a distracted wave as he started reviewing the plethora of information in the S.H.I.E.L.D debrief. He wishes he'd held on to her a little longer, now.

But on the other hand, what good does calling her do? Knowing Pepper, she was already glued to a TV screen, fretting. Calling her... how was he meant to say that he wasn't coming back? That he had a nuke strapped to his back, heading towards an inter-dimensional portal?

Maybe it was better for her that the call wasn't going through. She could be protected for a little bit longer.

Tony took a moment to look around as the portal approached. The blue sky, the devastation below. He'd caught a glimpse of Romanoff near the Tessaract. Rogers and Thor were still fighting together in the street, and the Hulk is about a block away. Barton isn't anywhere to be seen.

The dark and cold assaults him as he passes through. Pepper's image flickers and dies, as does Jarvis' voice as he can no longer connect with the suit. He is completely and utterly alone.

He makes sure the missile is headed for the meteoroid he sees ahead before the suit loses power. All he wants is to close his eyes before the end, but he forces himself to watch, to ensure that it hits it's target.

The fire blooms, and Tony succumbs to the urge to close his eyes.

Title: Awake and Dreaming
Fandom: Avengers movie-verse
Characters: Clint Barton/Hawkeye, Dr Eric Selvig
Theme:The Reason - Hoobastank

I'm not a perfect person
There's many things I wish I didn't do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you

He remembers everything.

It makes it so much worse. If it had been a true trance-like state it might have just been a hazy distant memory. Something he could push to the edge of his consciousness. Or it could have just been a space in his mind, blank of information. He's been through that before, after some 'enhanced interrogations'.

Although he really shouldn't be that surprised that Loki was cruel enough to make them remember it all.

He knows damn well that he is by no means a righteous person. He has seen the ugliest sides of battle and humanity, fought in so many battles. Has the blood of so many on his hands. He could tell himself that it was part of the job, that by taking those lives he was saving many more. But then there were others on his ledger too.

And now, there was even more.

Everyone on this newly-formed team told him that it wasn't his fault. Even Director Fury had tried to absolve his guilt.

He doesn't truly believe them.

While Natasha's comment about monsters and magic may hold, he can't help but feel that if he remembers the actions, he is capable. He remembers planning the raid in Stuttgart, attacking the Helicarrier, taking out fellow agents in the process. The concussion meant he can't remember the fight with Natasha, and he's thankful for that at least.

Everyone else is resting up now, but Clint is just too wound up still. Prowling the back-up base, he's found a rooftop where he can just sit and think. He's spent the last two hours analysing how he breached S.H.E.I.L.D's security, seen every name that made it on to the fatality list as a result.

Phil Coulson's name had come as a shock.

He wishes that someone had warned him.

A scuffling sound startles him out of he sombre thoughts, sidearm already in his hands as Eric Selvig appeared, slightly out of breath, at the entrance to the roof. Sighing, Clint lowered his gun.

"Sorry Doctor,"

The older man shrugged. "I should know better than to be walking around in the dark, I guess."

Clint made a non-committal noise in response.

The two sat silently there for a few minutes before Clint posed a question to the astrophysicist. "Do you remember it all?" he asked quietly.

Dr Selvig lets out a drawn-out sigh. He needs no clarification to what Agent Barton is referring to. "Yes," he answers. He pauses before continuing. "I don't know how I can face everyone, really. I nearly brought about the end of the world!" he chuckles bitterly.

"You also helped stop it, in the end," Clint is still looking to the skies when he responds.

"So did you, Agent Barton," the older man rebuts.

"Still doesn't seem like enough."

"I know."

Will it ever be enough? The unspoken question lingers in the air between the two men as they wait for the dawn to break.