Hey guys, sorry this one took so long to get out. Though, and I'm probably saying this kind of prematurely, but I think the fact that it's sort of hilarious makes up for it (this is foreshadowing because there is a really good chance that the next one will be filled with brother-related angst). Anyway, again, may I pretty, pretty, pretty please with sugar on top get some more reviews? You have no idea how happy it makes me when that message pops up on my yahoo. Please guys? Anyway, thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy the story.
Natasha smiles idly as she watches the boys get wasted.
Not all of the boys of course. Steve, Sam, and Bruce have all retreated to a lower floor, something about introducing Steve to Lord of the Rings.
This leaves Dean, Clint, Tony, and Thor at the kitchen counter to slowly and happily destroy their livers.
She shakes her head and walks the rest of the way into the kitchen. She's been partners with Clint long enough to recognize his individual stages of drunk-ness, and whatever Thor's brought from home has moved up the time table alarmingly.
Normally she wouldn't be worried. For the longest time the only people Clint had trusted himself to get shit-faced around were her and Coulson, and rarely at that. Apparently neither of them were very good drinking buddies.
"Sorry," Coulson would say with a small smile. "But my sense of responsibility counteracts the effects of alcohol."
And it's hardly Natasha's fault that Russians were born knowing how to hold their liquor.
But they'd been working with the others for a couple of months now, and fighting and living alongside a group of people as idiosyncratic and enigmatic as the Avengers is bound to spawn trust at some point.
"Besides," he'd said before they'd started. "You're here. You've got my back."
Not a question. A fact.
It made her smile, not that she'd let anyone see.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand.
Clint, having had waay to much to drink up this point, was about two shots away from spilling SHEILD secrets.
"Ha-have I told yooouuu guuyssss aboouut Budapest? I-I think tha- that now is a realllllly gooood time to tellll you abo - about Budapest."
Make that no shots. Time for extraction.
"Come on Clint, I think it's about time for you to cut out," She grabs his arm and starts the process of hauling him out of his chair and to the elevator.
He's enjoying making this as difficult as he can for her.
"TAsshhhh. Tassshhhhhaaaaaa, come on! I'm jusssss jusstt- oh, oww, mm'not sure that my arms goes on my back like that… ohhh, okkkaay. M'coming, no need to get so ruff. Rufffffff. RRRfffffff. Ha."
Thor laughs as Clint's dragged away and smiles at his remaining companions. They look no worse for wear than Clint, and he decides that now is probably a good time to take away the mead he'd brought from home.
Met with shouts of protest as he stands up and snatches the enchanted, never-emptying bottle off the table, Thor laughs again.
"You have had enough my friends. I wish not to send you into a stupor, and I will share again. Just, no more tonight. Perhaps next time we may persuade the others to join us." His friends roll their eyes a bit, but Dean nods and Tony waves him off. So Thor grins and walks towards the stairs not even stumbling once, much to the annoyance of his friends.
"Guy's like a damn…. Dam. The way he holds his liquor," Dean slurs slightly, rolling his neck.
"Naahhh, he's just made of sterner stuff then us mere mortals. It's not his fault," Tony pinches the bridge of his nose and rubs at his eyes. "He and Loki probably drank that shit out of a sippy-cup."
"Really Stark? I know you think us primitive to you in some aspects, but giving alcohol to children?" Loki laughs sharply, and both Tony and Dean tense. "I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume it's the drink talking, and I'll also remind you that I much prefer wine to that sludge Thor finds so enjoyable."
Dean relaxes a bit. Regardless of what he'd done in the past (not that it didn't matter), Loki has been a perfect gentlemen ever since he'd started living in the Tower.
He read mostly, and took his meals in his room, which was on the guest floor near both Sam's and Dean's. Neither of the brother's minded being so close to him, and a small part of Dean recognized that should Loki go genocidal on the world again, they were expected to act as a sort of first line of defense. It kinda made him feel warm that the team trusted him and his brother that much.
Anyway, Stark was still tense, and his tenseness was making Loki, who apparently just wanted some OJ, tense too. And if Dean had learned anything at all in his time in the Tower, it was that tense Avengers/(Former)Super Villains were unhappy Avengers/(Former)Super Villains.
"So, Tony, I gotta tell you about the dragons, 'cause seriously man, this totally takes the cake and blows any and all of your baddies outta the water."
"Dean, how many times do I have to tell you? Being an Avenger is literally 670.825 times harder than being a Hunter. Seriously, I had JARVIS do the math. Didn't I JARVIS?"
"No, sir. That would be a lie you're telling Master Winchester at the moment."
"Well, I'm gonna have you do the math."
"Very good sir."
"Damn right I'm good."
"This sounds interesting. Please, enlighten me as to the origins of this particular argument," Loki leans back against the kitchen island and watches the men who are currently glaring at one another.
"Playboy over here thinks his job is harder than mine. Plain and simple."
"I'm sorry, thinks? Is, is the word you're looking for. Not only do we have to deal with nutcases like Reindeer Games over there, some of our super villains are lucky enough to have funding or Diplomatic Immunity, and can't be charged for crimes committed in the states like, oh, trying to kill the Fantastic Four and blowing up New York."
"How many of the people that you fight try to eat you? Like that's literally their only motivation. Do you know how scary it is when something is actually trying to EAT you? It's not a pleasant experience. Seriously."
"So, let me see if I've got this right," Loki goes to the counter where Dean and Tony are close to blows and carefully places his hands between the two of them. "You're both under the impression that you've got it worse off than the other side? Right? Well, this is a simple enough problem to solve. The next time Fury sends either of you a mission, let the other take it. Winchester, you and your brother will handle the Avenger's next crisis, and Stark, you and the others will take over the Winchester's next hunt. Is it a deal?"
"Deal." Dean and Tony say at the same time.
"Well, all deals, as you both know, must be sealed with either a handshake or a kiss," Loki straightens, crosses his arms, and grins. "I'll let you decide which is most appropriate."
So, under the watchful eye of the Trickster, Dean and Tony shake on it.
Their opportunity to fulfill the details of the contract come much sooner than anticipated.
"We have a teleprompter you know, you didn't have to make a house call," Tony quips bleakly the next morning when Coulson shows up.
"This is a special occasion. Call the Winchesters and the rest of the team, you're both suiting up today," Tony's eyes grow wide for a second and a grin splits his face in a way that worries Phil.
Five minutes later everyone is gathered communal living room. Including Loki which is odd, but not as unsettling as Coulson would have expected it to be.
"All of you are getting sent out today. Captain Rogers, you and the team need to take care of an AIM vibranium mine, just off the coast of California. The rock shelf holding the state up is unstable as is, we need to find a way to take down the operation carefully and quietly in order to prevent a catastrophic incident.
"Sam, Dean, we've sent ten agents out to deal with a vampire nest in New Orleans. Half have come back alive, and half have been recovered. We need to rectify the situation as quickly as possible with no more casualties. Understood?"
Everyone in the room nods, save Loki.
"With all due respect Agent Coulson, I believe a friendly wager has been arranged," he glances at Dean and Tony, who are grinning fiercely at one another.
"Loki-" Coulson is abruptly cut off.
"Sir, I would never suggest that this be undertaken if I was not absolutely, beyond a doubt certain that these situations could be handled by the opposite party. I'm very aware of the capabilities of everyone in this room, and Tony and Dean made a deal," cue the glares. "I'm just saying that this is an opportune moment to fulfill the contract."
"They made a deal huh?" Coulson eyes the group warily, before sighing. "I know nothing of this." He drops the files on the table and turns around. When the various shouts and shuffles have ended with the ding of elevator doors, Coulson turns back around.
Loki is grinning.
What has he done?
"Shall I walk you to the door? I expect you'll be wanting to get on your way."
"Oh no, you didn't actually think I was leaving did you? See, since everyone else is out on mission, there's no one here to watch you."
"So I'll be your babysitter for the time being. Now help me find the remote, there's a Super Nanny marathon on TLC."
"I don't understand why we couldn't just wear our clothes."
"Dean, these identify us as agents of SHIELD. They're bullet-proof, water-proof, and are laced with censors that can monitor our vitals. Why would we rather be wearing our clothes?"
"'Cause these fuckin' chafe."
"Do you know how to fly a jet?"
"Then how the fuck are we supposed to get there?"
"I dunno, it looks like coordinates have been programmed into the GPS. Maybe there's an auto-pilot…"
"Sam, let's just take the Impala. This is all just reminding me why I hate flying and- don't push that! What the hell Sam!? You don't know what that does! Quit pushing buttOOOOOHHHHHHHSHIIIITTTTTT !"
"Is that literally an abandoned Opera House?" Tony quickly lowers himself to the ground next to Steve.
"Yes Tony, it appears to be an abandoned Opera House." Steve replies dryly.
"But, that's like textbook horror movie setting. I would've thought that real vampires would be more…. I dunno, more realistic."
"And where do you want them to set up shop Tony? The suburbs?" Steve's getting irritated at this point.
"Brothers! Do not fight on the cusp of battle! It brings only dissension among our ranks. We must be together against any foe. Not bickering like unruly fae," Thor puts a broad hand on Steve and Tony's shoulders.
"Umm, maybe we could just, hurry along, and get this over with?" Bruce is shuffling nervously, wondering why he'd even been brought along at all. The others could handle this without him.
"Hey!" Tasha snaps, and everyone but Clint turns to look at her. "I don't know what makes you guys think that we can talk on regular missions. But I would like to remind you that in this case, our targets have super hearing. So please, shut the hell up before you get us eaten."
"Awww, pretty little red head," a voice that none of them recognizes drawls. "It might be too late for that."
"By Odin, what vile children!"
"I know right? How do parents even let their kids get like that?"
"If Thor or I had ever spoken anything like that to Frigga, we'd have our mouths bespelled shut and would have been locked in the dungeons till morning."
"If I'd ever talked to my mom like that she would have smacked me on the mouth and washed my mouth out with soap."
Loki gapes at Coulson.
"You have my respect Agent Coulson."
"Nice to know that orchestrating your defeat and essentially coming back from the dead is worth less to you than the fact that I was forced to wash my mouth out as a child."
"I'm glad I could enlighten you."
"So… are you guys bee keepers?" Dean asks once they've ripped the gag off of his mouth.
"We are AIM! Advanced Idea Mechanics! It is the goal of our society too-"
"Alright this is bullshit. You guys need to stop mining for vibrators or whatever the hell it is you're doing here."
"Seriously Dean? Maybe, I dunno, work with a bit more tact here."
"Tact? Sammy, these guys look like they should be Disney Channel villains or somet- AHHHHHH!" Dean voice is stopped when one of the bee keepers shoots him with some sort of laser. Electricity lances through him and Sam and for a second, neither of them can speak.
"Well? Are you through making light of AIM and it's works? We shall send your corpses back to Fury as a message of our-"
"Praying won't save you."
"No, praying won't. But he will." The bee keepers spin around and find themselves face to face with a grave man in a trench coat.
"Hello. I'm going to have to ask you to let the Winchesters go now."
"I don't know who you are, and I don't know how you got in here. But what on earth makes you think we're just going to hand them over?"
"Nothing. So I suppose I will have to free them myself." Then he's gone.
Then he's behind Sam and Dean.
Now they're all free.
And now they've got guns.
"You shoulda made more armor. You've left your friends all soft and squishy, just ripe for tasting."
"I wouldn't say they're completely helpless."
"Oh. I didn't say that. I can see that some of 'em at least, look like they might belong here. This one though," the vampire walks over the Bruce and runs a cold greasy hand through the doctor's hair. "Looks like he barely knows up from down. Much less like he can actually protect himself."
At this point Natasha offers up a dry laugh.
"Something funny Miss? Alright, since none of ya seem concerned about this one, we'll go ahead and start with him."
"Uhhh, Edgar?" one of the other vampires, a girl, calls out hesitantly.
"I just thought that I should mention the fact that his eyes are turning a real unnatural shade of green."
"So, have you seen this woman since your recovery?"
"No, she lives in Portland. Tony says he'll fly me out there sometime, but I dunno."
"Why not? From what you've told me about her and the way you speak about her, it seems like you really care for this woman."
"I know. And I really do, it's just that, I- she thinks I'm boring."
"I called her the other day and she just kind of let it slip in so many words that she thinks I'm boring."
"She has no idea what you do for a living?"
"I wouldn't want to put her in that kind of danger."
Loki frowns, then grins, then stamps his foot.
"I have made up my mind to help with this Agent Coulson. It has been far too long since my mischief has been used for matchmaking."
"Glad to see you're turning over a new leaf."
"And of course if I can ensure the fact that you're enamored with this woman then she'll make an excellent distraction for you, or spectacular leverage for me when I regain my magic and am free to take control of Midgard."
"And it's gone."
"Where'd Cas go?!" Dean shouts, firing his new laser gun at a lighting fixture, not bothering to watch as it lands on seven or eight of the bee keepers.
"He said we could handle it!" Sam's at some sort of control panel, and his brother, still firing left and right, hurries to join him.
"Fuckin' angels. Where's the self-destruct button on this thing?!" Dean shoves Sam aside starts frantically pushing all the buttons he sees.
"What the hell are you doing?!"
"What so now you're the only one who can push random buttons?"
"You're going to kill us both!"
'SELF DESTRUCT SEQUENCE ACTIVATED. COUNTDOWN IN 10, 9, 8'
The brothers don't stop to look at each other, don't stop to coordinate. They just run.
"THERE IS A FUCKING VAMPIRE HANGING OFF OF MY ARM!"
"SHOOT IT TONY!"
"BUT IT'S ON MY ARM!"
"BE READY TO FACE THE MIGHT OF MJOLNIR YOU UNDEAD HEATHENS!"
"TASHA AT YOUR SIX!"
"WHOSE FUCKING IDEA WAS THIS?!"
"Is now really a good time to discuss my use of expletives Clint?"
"No time like the present."
"THAT'S IT! I HAVE HAD IT WITH THESE BLOODSUCKERS! EVERYBODY OUT! I'M BLOWING THE WHOLE PLACE!"
"NO! 10, 9, 8-"
And so they run.
They all look terrible.
Seriously, Coulson doesn't think he's ever seen any of them this raggedy before.
Loki hasn't stopped grinning since they walked in, and Dean and Tony are avoiding his gaze.
Coulson's just about to tell them to go get cleaned up, to get a few hours of shut-eye before debriefs, when Pepper walks in.
"What. The hell. Is on the news right now?"
"Excuse me?" Coulson turns around and almost immediately regrets it.
"There are pictures of the Avengers trashing an entire New Orleans city block and San Francisco was about to join Atlantis in the bottom of the ocean. You're going to tell me whose fault this was. And you're going to tell me right now."
Coulson has seen terrible things. He's nearly died several times. He's seen people broken by torture and pain. He considers himself a hardened man.
None of this stops him from pointing at Dean and Tony.
Who in turn point at Loki.
"I should have known that this had something to do with you." Pepper practically hisses taking a step forward.
"Now, Lady Potts, let's not go jumping to conclusions-"
"No. Save it. You instigated this with your words and now you're going to fix it with your words."
"I'm afraid I don't really follow…."
"Coulson, let me introduce you to SHEILDS newest Public Relations expert."