AN: Avengers AU-compliant and not canon to the new Avengers movie. There are no spoilers for the Avengers movie. Written for the Avengers_Bang on Livejournal. Thank you to psyco_chick32 for the beta job.

The Flip Side

Chapter One: The Gopher and the God

Darcy Lewis blinked back oncoming tears as she stood in front of the Avengers Mansion (and also known as Stark Tower) and gripped the suitcase in her hand.

This was a dream job.

No, it was a dream life. How the hell Jane Foster was able to get her a job with S.H.I.E.L.D and the Avengers still made her scratch her head. And it wasn't the "Jane is boinking the Thunder God" part either. There was more to it than that. She couldn't believe anyone would trust in her work experience that much, but Jane Foster had wanted her, little ole' poli-sci major Darcy Lewis as her assistant, and Nick Fury and Tony Stark had obliged her.

Plus, Thor had somehow given her a wicked recommendation.

The first week at S.H.I.E.L.D, of course, was total gopher work. She got coffee, she alphabetized files, and she even picked up Nick Fury's dry cleaning. Jesus, it was sucky work but she enjoyed every bit of it with a smile on her face. A bright, cheery smile.

Of course, she still was allowed her taser at work (considering how much weird dangerous shit went on at S.H.I.E.L.D, no wonder) and Darcy only saw it as icing on the cake to this dream job.

Now, because she had no money and nowhere to stay, Thor and Jane had appealed for her to get one of the guest rooms at the Avengers Mansion. It had what it seemed like millions of rooms anyway so what did it matter if one little S.H.I.E.L.D gopher (and personal BFF of the Thunder God) stayed there? With her key card in hand, a computer voice named Jarvis recognized her and opened the door for her. When she stepped in agape, another Avenger she'd heard about - Steve Rogers (CAPTAIN FREAKING AMERICA - she said in her head), was waiting for her.

He wasn't wearing his uniform, unfortunately, but he still looked stylish in his brown coat and khaki pants. He smiled at her and Darcy thought she was going to faint in a puddle of drool. (Holy shit, he's smiling at me, talking about the weather and taking my bags like a gentleman!) However, the meeting between her and the dreamy hunk of American male was cut terribly short, and Darcy wondered when she'd meet Steve again (or run into him in the mansion in a towel; she wasn't picky).

When Tony Stark arrived, he rambled off some general rules to Darcy about the mansion, handed her off to a stone-faced maid and took Steve away. Darcy almost cried, but she held it in, and all emotions changed when she saw the sheer size of her new bedroom.

Why would she want to leave this posh, cozy little place for work ever again?


There is a balance to everything, Loki thought. He'd done some bad things. Bad, bad things that more or less gave him amusement. He'd tried to kill his own father, banish his brother, and put a choke hold over the Asgardian realm. He tried to kill millions of Frost Giants with trickery and deceit. He'd also allied himself with several unsavory characters just to get more power, to one-up his brother even more and then enslave the human race.

All and all, he found it quite entertaining. Pity it hadn't worked out.

He did not foresee betrayal from those so-called unsavory characters he'd allied with. Well, of course he knew they were capable of it, and he'd even planned ahead - but apparently, he hadn't planned well enough.

So, he became a good guy. For a minute. It made Thor happy, at least, which left such a bad taste in his mouth he thought he'd never get it out. His brother had also claimed responsibility for him, which saved him from whatever laughable torture and punishment S.H.I.E.L.D had waiting for him.

As if they could ever truly punish him or contain him. Silly, delusional Midgardians.

But he wasn't a good guy. He was, of course, not a monster despite the fact that he was a Frost Giant and his skin was blue. It didn't matter. He'd like to think he had...some sense of compassion. He wasn't always a silver-tongued trickster, despite what the Warriors Three had always said about him.

Still, Loki was tired of the stigma. He was tired of the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D, and more importantly, he was tired of the power trips. Maybe he needed a vacation?

He wanted a break. He wanted to go back to space and jump around other dimensions and planets again. He wanted to whore around a bit since it'd been awhile since he did that. He wanted to drink mead, turn humans into ice cream for a laugh, and catch a few rides at Disney. Maybe he'd even learn to subdue an alligator and ride it like a horse around Miami Beach, scaring the tourists.

Frankly as he thought more about it, his stay on Earth was becoming more mundane every day. He was bored - no question, and though his brother had a constant, beady blue eye focused his way (as were the eyes of the other Avengers - if they could find him), he honestly didn't want to give the super heroes any sort of encouragement to capture him again.

Perhaps he couldn't prove to them that he was a good guy. Though it wasn't within his nature, he wished they could at least understand he didn't want to be bored. (Plus, he'd been avoiding a trip to Asgard. A stern lecture from the All-Father was not something he was looking forward to, in the grand scheme of things.)

So...he'd have to come up with another nefarious plan. There was no other way to indulge himself. Of course, this plan had to seem harmless to his watchful brother, and all cloak and dagger to the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. He could play off his own lethargy and boredom with the world, pretend he was emotional and full of angst and 'Woe is me, brother!'. His brother usually caved instantly to that sort of thing, got a tear in his eye and would bend to Loki's will after a nostalgic story and a strong hug.

But in reality, he'd have a plan. A good plan. A plan that would fool everybody! It would be so magnificent, so devious that his brother, the loyal and affable Thor, wouldn't even notice the wool being pulled over his eyes! Then, he wouldn't notice Loki, the silver-tongued trickster born again, stealing the Hammer right from under his nose!

Yes, he thought, smiling wickedly as he sunk into the chair. He looked around his dark, inter-dimensional study and sipped a glass of wine. It would be a great plan, he thought again.

He just had to figure out what that plan was going to be.

Loki felt the first place he'd look for a good plan was in a glass of mead. Well, beer, as they called it now. Things just weren't the same anymore in Midgard after the Vikings died out. Instead, he felt the modern humans were sort of weak, either overly skinny or overly obese, and had more care for the pleasures in life than war. Well, some of them still liked war, but there was still a lot that was disconcerting about the average mortal.

Technology and other modern advances had changed them. Loki couldn't figure out if it was for the worse or not. They were definitely not as entertaining as the Vikings had been, but the Vikings had been superstitious and well, primitive. Their religion was horribly different, if they had any religion at all.

Loki disguised himself in his normal black coat, houndstooth scarf and gray slacks. He wondered if anyone would notice him, considering not too long ago he'd intended to rule this planet and forced hundreds of Midgardians to bow to him.

Ah, well, if only that had worked out.

So he headed to somewhere obscure, a small bar in the armpit of the world called New Jersey. He observed, drank horribly weak alcohol, and considered acquiring company that evening. At least, Loki noticed, the Midgardian females had improved since the Viking days.

At least they cleaned themselves in this age.

After the tenth mug of mortal beer, Loki finally felt the slight buzz. Disappointed, he eyed a tall, well-toned female that reminded him of Lady Sif, only a tad prettier and less masculine in aura. His eyes traced down the curves of her body, tightly wrapped in a fitted scarlet dress and accented with gold, sparkling heels.

Lovely, Loki thought, and he stalked over to her. He stopped a few feet away when he heard a loud clatter to his left. Someone had swung open the door to the bar so roughly that it ripped off its hinges and crashed to the floor. Three towering and noisy Asgardian guards squeezed through the door, spotted him with a glare, and then marched toward him. Loki slowly began to slink away before he smacked into a hard surface. Turning around, he spotted a familiar face.

"Volstagg," he forced with cheeriness.

"Snake," he quipped back at him, and Loki made way to disappear before he could get a hand on him, but he felt frozen. Hearing a buzz in his ear, his blood went cold as he was unable to use any magic to escape. What the...he thought, and when he turned around felt the blood drain from his face.

He looked into the one good eye of his father, and quickly noticed that the air in the bar had gone still - frozen even, as if the humans that had once danced and moved with life were mere statues.

"Father..." Loki spit out, still struggling to move to no avail. He knew this meeting was coming, and Loki had been smart enough to avoid it for now, but he never imagined the All-Father would actually swoop down to Midgard to find him.

Apparently he'd been hiding long enough.

"Son, I have summoned you many times and you have not come home. I am afraid I will have to take you by force," he said, his voice beginning soft and ending sharp.

Loki inwardly winced, but he jutted out his chin in defiance. "You can take me now, but you will not keep me for long, Father."

"Loki," he said, chiding him like a child, and anger immediately tore through him. "You have committed many crimes against Asgard and Midgard. Surely, you did not believe I would not hold you accountable."

"I would think my turning sides and helping my brother defeat the foe that threatened Earth would earn a generous pardon," he appealed.

But Odin was not impressed. "A foe that you yourself had brought to Midgard," he said, pausing. "It is not your crimes on Midgard that concern me, my son. You must be tried and sentenced for what you have done to Asgard. You plunged us into war, destroyed the Bifrost, and you committed treason with the Frost Giants. No, no, your lies have gone unpunished for far too long."

Loki opened his mouth to speak, but Odin had already torn his gaze away from him, unconcerned. "Take him," he said, and Loki felt invisible chains wrap around his blood, his nerves, and his entire core. Odin had departed, falling into the mists as his group of sorcerers emerged. Loki snarled at him. Charlatans! All of them. He could take them off one by one! Loki glared at him, gnashing his teeth as he still struggled to move against their power. His father must have given them some of his own power because at his best, Loki wouldn't bat an eye to take down these fools.

But today he wasn't at his best, not with the All-Father's power stifling him as they summoned binds of poisonous angry snakes around his arms, hands and legs. Loki could feel them biting him, weakening him with their venom. He fell to his knees, feeling his vision blurring at the corners of his eyes. Sweat dribbled down his forehead and he tasted a salty drop as it fell on his lip.

"Scum, all of you," he said in a hoarse whisper, and he felt his body suddenly move without his command. "You'll pay," he said, and as smoky darkness enveloped him, he couldn't fight the onslaught of crushing power any more.

"Whoa!" cried a voice behind her. It was Darcy's afternoon off, and she was catching some Vitamin D back at the Stark Tower by the ridiculously luxurious pool. Thinking she'd feel self-conscious around Natasha or even the fill-in Avengers, Wanda and Janet, Darcy decided to say screw it and dig out her bikini and work on her tan.

She lazily turned around, noticing Clint Barton staring at her, his eyes moving from her ass to her breasts.

"A nice surprise to come home to," he said, grinning at her. She managed a coy smile and waved at him.

"Hey, Clint," Darcy said. "Fighting bad guys is over already?"

"Well, Fury dismissed me today. No use getting in between Steve and Thor," he shrugged. "I was due a whiskey on the rocks anyway."

"Thor and Cap fighting again?" Darcy said, and she could feel the weight of his stare as she got up from her towel and headed toward the bar. Jarvis could probably prepare them both drinks if they asked the over-sophisticated computer, but Darcy wanted to do it the old-fashioned way to score points with Clint. That, and she wasn't sure Jarvis would make Clint's drink strong enough straight and would probably slip some seltzer in it to ward off the excessive amount of liquor.

Grabbing the Johnny Walker Blue, Darcy rounded up a high ball and some ice, and poured the drink. She turned around, still aware of Clint's eyes on her, and she leaned against the high bar and held out his drink as he sauntered over with a smile.

"You are the ever efficient assistant, aren't you?" he said, coming close.

"I try," she said, a little too breathlessly.

Darcy liked Clint. She liked him well enough that she almost didn't mind being one of his conquests. Yes, and Clint had a reputation. Natasha was mindful enough to warn her on her first run in with them in the Tower, and Darcy wasn't sure if that was for her sake or for Natasha's. Usually, Darcy wouldn't mess with anyone else's man or potential man, and though the Black Widow was scary, Darcy was having too much fun to be cautious yet.

So, what was the harm in flirting?

Clint moved closer, complimenting her pouring skills, which was Darcy found inwardly silly but cute in her reply, and before he could sweep the hair over her shoulder, as she assumed he wanted to do, she heard his comm link beep with Fury's raging voice spilling through the receiver.

"Barton, back to base. Now," said his superior gruffly.

Clint sighed, outwardly disappointed, which made Darcy feel a little good about herself, despite her own disappointment that he was now leaving, and she'd be alone again.

"On my way, sir," he said. Clint downed his drink, handed it to her, and gave her an apologetic farewell.

Darcy pouted at the loneliness of Stark Tower again. Nick Fury was definitely on her shitlist today.