A/N: First off, thanks for all your wonderful reviews and faves. I'm sorry I haven't replied to all of them, and also this and my other stories are getting update more slowly, I've been packing for a move. Thanks to the beta branch for the once over, and if you're interested in checking out those forums where we edit stuff and shoot the breeze, shoot me a PM or do a google search, it's now the first thing that pops up. Yay! I was gonna see the movie for the 5th time yesterday, but my plans fell through. OH WELL. I now have a framed Hawkeye/Hulk poster to bring to my summer job. Thanks for reading!
It didn't take long for Tony to hack into SHIELD's systems again to find the location of the blood. He knew SHIELD would be able to trace him again though, so he ran two simultaneous programs. One to actually discover the location of the blood, the other to serve as a distraction.
Fury was NOT happy when AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" began to play loudly over the Helicarrier's PA system and videos of Thor took up half the screens on the bridge.
"Do you think this is a joke, Stark?" Fury stood staring down at the smaller man who held his ground defiantly as Bruce continued to work behind him, effectively ignoring the conversation. Steve and Thor stood off to the side, pretending to look disappointed in Stark while Natasha and Clint cleaned various weapons on the other side of the room.
"I walked past the bridge on my way down here. Your henchmen looked half-dead, they could really use some livening up-"
"I am trying to run a command here, something that is growing increasingly impossible with you aboard. Let me reiterate that you are a millimeter from getting kicked off this ship personally by my shiny black boot."
"You know, Loki threw me out a window and I survived without anyone's help, so I'd welcome-"
"Stop." Fury spoke very quietly. "If you're bored, go somewhere else. I'm not here to entertain you, and I think the rest of them can get along quite well without you."
Steve saw the flicker of hurt and uncertainty in Tony's eyes, just for a split second before the walls came back up. Steve was beginning to regret using Tony as the patsy, but he quickly spoke up before Fury actually could kick the other man off the ship. "Uh, Sir, Mr. Stark's…jokes aside, he is helping Dr. Banner trace Sterns."
Steve could almost see Fury's teeth grinding together, before the other man whipped around, tearing down the hall. "Hurry up!" came the distant echo of his voice.
Tony giggled. "That was exciting. I always love rubbing Fury the wrong way."
"Sorry, Tony," Bruce said from where he was sitting behind the desk.
"For what? I'm still here. We have work to do, chop, chop!" Tony clapped loudly at them once, before wincing and dropping his arms.
Bruce exchanged a look with Steve before they got back to work.
A few hours later and some very bored non-geniuses later, all six of them were boarding a quinjet headed for Minnesota. Tony had gotten back into the Iron Man suit, even though Steve had protested.
"You're not fighting, you can barely breathe!"
"I can too, breathe, see?" Tony managed two deep breaths before hiding a wince. "Okay, so I've had better breaths. Point is, I need Jarvis. And Jarvis is in the suit. So you see, I need the suit. I won't be fighting in it. Or out of it. I think you got enough muscle around here to tackle on Big Head. Actually if you don't, I'll be so embarrassed I'll just have to return to-"
"OH MY GOD, STOP. TALKING." Clint whirled in the seat to glare angrily at the billionaire. Everyone, including a somewhat surprised Tony looked at him. He rolled his shoulders, somewhat embarrassed, before turning back to the console. "Just…you're giving me a headache. And I know I'm not the only one."
Tony snorted, before he let out a shallow cough, wincing painfully again.
"He's right you should probably stop talking. For your own safety." Steve gave him a cocky smile and Tony scowled back at him.
When they landed, they left Tony behind again, who, amazingly, didn't complain. They had landed the quinjet on the outskirts of town again, knowing the blood was being kept in a SHIELD facility about a half mile through the woods and into an indiscreet office park.
"Last chance," Steve said to Clint and Natasha. "You could…get whatever the equivalent of a SHIELD court martial is for this."
Natasha looked at Bruce. "It's death," she said casually.
Clint elbowed her and she let a small smirk cross her face before he spoke. "We owe it to Banner. We're not leaving now."
Bruce looked humbled and both Steve and Thor smiled at them. "Good. Then let's get going."
This time, they waited outside. They had found in the files the building was mostly deserted, only having a bear skeleton crew to maintain the facility. Tony had set up a building alarm to evacuate the staff and point them in the direction of the nearest rendezvous point to await further orders.
The nearest rendezvous point was in the next state over, so they figured they had some time before Fury found out where they were.
Thor crashed through the roof of the building, annihilating several floors before he came to the basement level where there was a steel door. Re-adjusting Mjolnir in his hand, he beat the door mercilessly until it crumpled inwards, falling to the cold floor inside. Thor grimaced as he saw hundreds of bags with things printed on them and red blood inside hanging from racks.
He reached a finger to his ear where Rogers had given him the comm. "I've found the blood."
"Any sign of Sterns?" came the reply.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" Thor whirled at the shrieking voice behind him. An enraged man with a huge head was standing there, trembling with anger.
"Yes," Thor said grimly.
"Don't let him touch you. We're on our way."
"Back with your team to try again? I'll just beat you all again, you know."
Thor grinned at the man that was practically spitting with rage in front of him. "I wonder though, how much you really know about me. I was only on Midguard for a short time. I wonder if you even know my name."
"Thor," Sterns sneered.
Multiple things happened at once, then. Two giant figures ran into the room behind Sterns. They vaguely resembled the Hulk, except one was a light blue color, and had double jointed legs like a cat. The other was grey and bulky, and Thor could see parts of bone sticking out of his elbows and knees. Both were huge and vaguely man-shaped, standing at least eight feet high as they leered down at the Asgardian.
There was a roar from above them, and Thor looked up to see a pair of enormous green feet falling through the hole he had made into the building. He moved back, as the Hulk crashed to the floor, Natasha hanging around his neck. As soon as she landed, she hopped off, running into the room with the blood.
"Stop her!" Sterns screeched. The grey one charged at them, snarling, and Thor swung Mjolnir into his jaw, making him stumble backwards. Hulk charged the other one, and together they tumbled through a wall.
"We have a problem," Natasha said over the comms.
"What is it?" Steve's anxious voice replied.
She started placing bombs around the room, ones that were filled with a chemical compound Banner had made back at the lab that would kill his gamma irradiated blood on contact. "Sterns has been feeding Banner's blood to some guinea pigs. Thor and Hulk are dealing with them." As if to affirm her statement, the building shook, and she briefly caught a glimpse of Hulk shooting upwards with the blue one in a headlock. "Hulk's with one, coming to you." She placed the last bomb on the wall, arming it. "Bombs are set, Thor, get clear."
"Where's Sterns?" Stark asked.
Natasha dashed out of the room, catching a glimpse of Sterns disappearing down the hallway. "I'll get him," she said, running past where Thor was still beating a sorry excuse for a Hulk with his hammer.
"Nat, be careful. He'll just dodge if you try to fight him." Clint warned.
"He can't dodge bullets."
The Hulk exploded from the rooftop with the other…man? Creature? Clint couldn't be sure at this point. From his vantage point from the rooftop across the street he could see that even though the Hulk had his arm wrapped around the other guy's neck, it wasn't really slowing him down. It was a little disconcerting. Clint saw the muscles coil in his legs right before he kicked upwards. The Hulk who had been straddling him about to punch his face in, gave a roar of frustration as he was launched over treetops.
Clint loosed an arrow that stuck the monster's face, before it let out a hiss of blinding smoke. Rogers followed up by launching himself at the beast, aiming to bash its head with his shield. The thing let out a snarl before grapping Captain America's arms and swinging him around through a second story window of the SHIELD building.
"Shit," Clint mumbled. He launched a normal arrowhead, but as he had predicted before, it bounced harmlessly off the beast's skin. It turned , shooting a savage look at Clint who stared angrily back, pulling another arrow out of his quiver. A flash of red and gold caught his eye and he saw Iron Man land on the pavement in front of the building, aiming his repulsors at the thing. The beast roared as it got a back full of repulsor fire, falling to its knees.
Clint grimaced as he saw Stark also sink to a knee, and mentally cursed when he heard the labored breathing over the comm. The man was a goddamn idiot, not that he wasn't grateful.
But Tony was slow to get up. Too slow. Clint aimed and loosed another arrow, hoping to distract the beast from the prone Iron Man. There was an earth-shattering roar, and Clint inwardly sighed in relief when a huge, green blur came pelting through the woods, the cracking and splintering and crashing of falling trees sounding in his wake. He roared again, as he jumped and landed on top of the other beast, pounding it about two feet into the ground. Clint took his attention off them for a moment, trying to reassess the situation. "Cap, you okay?"
He heard a grunt, followed by a pained reply. "Yeah, yeah, I'm good. What's everyone's status?"
Ever the concerned leader.
"I'm getting up!" Tony said irritably.
"Hulk's using the blue cat guy as a punching bag," Clint reported. This time it seemed he was staying down.
"Thor?" Steve asked.
"I am pleased to say I have had a more engaging battle against the Hulk than this foe," the Asgardian said smugly.
"That means you're winning, right?" Tony mocked, still sounding a little out of breath.
"If by winning, you mean I have knocked the beast into unconsciousness where he is currently surrounded by his own bodily fluids, then yes," Thor reported. "It would seem these ones were…experiments, not yet realizing the full power of the Hulk. Fortunately for us."
"Oh, gross, too much information, buddy," Tony replied.
"Nat?" Clint said over the comm.
There was no reply.
"I am currently searching the compound for the Black Widow," Thor reported.
"Has the blood room been destroyed yet?" Steve asked, and Clint saw a glimpse of blue in the window across the building from him, meaning Rogers was back up and moving.
"It has not," Thor said.
"Stark, keep an eye on Hulk outside. Hawkeye, you're with us." Clint didn't hesitate, throwing the grapple rope he had used to get to the roof back down and belaying down the wall. He sprinted to the SHIELD building, kicking in the door and moving swiftly through the halls.