A/N: Hello everyone. Long time no see (speak...read...whatever). Hope you are all well, I know it's been a long time since I've written anything, but I hope you will bear with me and continue to follow me and read my story.

For all of those wondering, I am not giving up on my stories, so keep nudging me, keep nagging at me lol. You all inspire and motivate me so much... so does a certain god of mischief ;0) For anyone wishing to know, I've very busy with my new job. I've passed my animal management course and I am now a Veterinary Nurse in the making... very exciting... but also very stressful and time-consuming, as I'm sure you all understand.

As for the story itself, I was considering including Thor 2 in this story in the future plot (that movie is amazing!) - what do you guys think? Let me know. Also, I will be adding some new scenes into the mixture, just to spice things up a bit, but it will still be following the movies.

Anyhow... Here it is, Chapter 9 of my story called 'Of Mischief and Madness'

Let me know what you think of it so far!

Enjoy :0)

Let the madness commence!

Chapter 9


His clever bright orbs flashed to his weapon and then to me. I could only watch as a variety emotions crossed over his perfect face. But there was one emotion, the one look that caught me in its web and filled me with dread…

Victorious realisation.

" So," his voice was dark and gravelly, as though it did not belong to him, " That is why they brought you here."

I frowned. I had no idea what he was talking about.


I was beyond confused, beyond puzzled. Why who brought what here? What was he going on about?

I barely registered my own chaotic thoughts, they clashed together like a storm of turmoil and emotion. I was seeing with my own eyes, but not really viewing the world around me. All I could feel was the cold floor seeping up into my knelt form. I heard ragged breathing echoing about the cavernous chamber; both my own and that of the tall ethereal man standing before me.

"Impossible." That one word was low, whispered almost in... disbelief.

I met his emerald gaze, his eyes so sharp with knowledge, bright with hidden secrets. He took a slow, almost cautious, step towards me. As if I was the threat and not he. I shuffled backwards and sprang up to my feet, trying to get away from him. My gaze shifted to the sceptre which lay glowing and useless on the metal floor by his feet. My hand still tingling from the contact.

Loki did not bend to retrieve it, his entire focus was directly on me. If looks could be disturbing, his was down right frightening. It was so piercing, delving into the very depths of me, yet his eyes remained cold, glacial, like frosted glass.

"Now this..." He gave mocking smile, ".. is very interesting." He took another step closer, " Never in a thousand millennia would I ever think you were..."

That had my attention. My brows furrowed. My fear turned to confusion. I felt torn, half wanting to ask him what he meant, but at the same time I was very aware that he was dangerous, and a trickster who could not be trusted. His words were nothing but poison, nothing but lies. He was the master of deception.

Don't listen to him...

I eyed around him, looking towards the exit I had tried escaping through earlier. Wondering what my chances were of getting through it before he could catch me again.

I let my attention slide back to him, to find him still watching me carefully, as though I were a puzzle needing to be solved. It was disconcerting.

" You do not know." he stated suddenly, his head tilting curiously at me as his inky locks brushed across the leather of his shoulders.

There was a moment, a pause, in which I said nothing. I only continued to stare at him, bewildered. I was anxious of what he would do next.

" They have not told you, have they?"

" Told me what?" it came out hoarse, my throat tight and my body tense; ready to flee or fight if need be.

His long legs moved, leather creaked, as they brought him another step closer to me. I swallowed and remained frozen to the spot. My neck strained back as his eyes held mine, refusing to let me look away.

He was a force of nature not to be reckoned with. It was scary just thinking about it; despite the fact that he was sleeker than Thor's muscular shape, he was easily just as tall, and just as intimidating.

Loki smiled down at me, a flash of white teeth that could be both charming and unsettling.

In that brief second, I half expected him to reach out and grab for me again; like the striking of a snake after it had ensnared the mouse in its spell. My heart pounded and my hands shook at my sides as the seconds ticked by. My courage shrank away from me even as a wary, almost cautious gleam flashed across his face.

" You're going to lose."

We both turned at that, following the voice until we realised we were no longer alone in the chamber together. Agent Coulson sat nought but a few meters away from us, leaning against the far wall, eyes open, watching us.


" Phil." It came out a whisper from my lips, a prayer.

"Am I?" I felt rather than saw Loki lean away from me, his head angled as he straightened with confidence.

" It's in your nature."

Loki smiled again, darkly. " Your heroes are scattered, your floating fortress falls from the sky. So tell me, where is my disadvantage?"

"You lack conviction." Was Coulson's reply.

That seemed to get the Asgardian's back up, as a tension seemed to rise in him, like the tightening of a drawn bow. The atmosphere around us grew heavy, infinitely colder.

" I don't think I-"


The room shook. There was a great flash of light. A deafening roar of energy. Metal creaked and wood splintered as something slammed into Loki. My hair whipped at the motion. A wave of a air rushed at me, hot and tangible. My hands shot up to defend my face as he was all but flung away with such force that he disappeared through the wall in a thick cloud of dust.

"So, that's what it does."

Coulson's voice snapped me out of my shock. I lowered my arms and without a thought sprang forward towards his fallen body. The aircraft tilted for one awful moment, and I thought that I would teeter over and lose my balance. Adrenaline coursed through me. I clawed at a nearby railing and pulled myself so that I fell to a kneel beside him.

An alarm blared in the distance.

All hands to crash stations immediately.

"Oh my god," I pressed down a hand over the red stain seeping through the chest of his shirt, "Oh my god. Oh my god!"

Panic consumed me. Sheer, utter panic. My hands shook even as his hot blood poured steadily through the gaps of my fingers.

"Shh... its ok."

I looked up at his whitening face; only then did I notice tears had flooded my vision, blinding me.

"No," I shook my head desperately, " No it's not."

He placed his hand on mine, stilling me. They were icy cold to the touch. " It's going to be all right. You're safe now."

"I..." I stammered, " I don't know what to do." Blood trickled down the corner of his mouth down his chin. I knew that if I ran to get him some help, by the time I would get back, he would be gone. He was going to die. "What shall I do?" Despair settled in my stomach, clogging my throat.

" Find the others."

I looked up at him, surprised. "What?... No."

" All things happen for a reason."

I frowned at him. Refusing to listen to him. Refusing to leave him alone like this.

" Whatever happens..." He inhaled a breath, heavily and painfully, "Stay with them. They need you, now more than ever."

His words caused me to pause, caused me to think. What did he mean by that exactly? Things happen for a reason? They need me? No, they didn't need me, not at all. I wasn't like them.

"Remember that..." his grey eyes pierced into me, through me, with a hidden knowledge of something. "We are not your enemy."

I opened my mouth, about to ask him what he was going on about, when suddenly he turned his unfocused eyes to something, or rather someone behind me.

"Sorry boss," his voice was weak, "the guy rabbited."

I turned to find Director Fury standing behind me. His long black leather coat rustling as he moved to kneel beside me. His one visible eye was dark, determined.

" Just stay awake," The darker man ordered, " eyes on me."

Coulson shook his head, " No, I'm clocking out here."

"Not an option."

" It's ok boss," he gave another pained exhale of air, his chest heaving, " if this was never going to work, if they didn't have something..." his pale eyes drifted over to me and gave a small, fleeting sad smile.

But then his features changed, the pain passed, his eyes grew dim and then... there was nothing.

I stared at him for a few moments. My hand still pressing against him, almost willing him to move, to take another breath, to live. But there was nothing.

A tear scolded its was down my cheek, and then another, and then another. I blinked. And then reality began to sink in. He was gone.

Director Fury shifted and stood suddenly, lifting a hand to press against the communicator at his ear, " Agent Coulson is down." he stated,

"A medical team is on its way to your location." I heard another unfamiliar voice reply to him,

" They're here." He answered solemnly, "They called it."

I was in a dream-like state. I was watching everything happening around me, but not really seeing. My hand slid away from Coulson's body as someone pulled me away. Someone spoke to me, asking me questions as hands touched me, dabbing at me with something cool. Are you all right? Are you hurt anywhere? I could not answer. I had just watched a man, a friend, die. First Thor, and now Phil. This was all too much.

Some one called my name.

"Miss Manning."

I slowly looked up to find Director Fury watching me expectantly, "I understand you're in a bit of shock at the moment, but I need you to come with me."

Without thinking, half in a daze, I nodded. Miraculously, my legs moved. I followed him silently as he led me out and through the various corridors, trailing behind him until we reached a familiar destination. The main control room. People bustled around us, going this way and that. At the large table at the centre of the room sat Captain America and Tony stark. Both of them looked as bad as I felt. Tired. Confused. A bit lost. Without a word Fury indicates with his arm, and I fall into a seat beside Steve. Trying to draw strength from his presence.

I catch his eyes and he tries to give me small smile, but I cannot find the energy nor the emotion to return it to him. We sat there for what felt like ages, neither of us saying a word. There was only silence.

Something was suddenly thrown across the table towards us; a collection of cards with various depictions of superheroes on them. No, not just any old hero. But the very man sitting next to me, Captain America himself.

" These were in Phil Coulson's jacket." Fury motioned to the cards, " Guess he did never get you to sign them."

No one said a word. Even Stark was quiet. Gone was the cocky and confident rich man. In its place was a human being, who was feeling the loss of a comrade.

I couldn't bear it, I had to look down at the table.

" We're dead in the air up here. Communications. Location of the cube. Banner. Thor." Fury shrugged. " Lost my one good eye. Maybe I had that coming." He gave a low sigh, "Yes, were going to build an arsenal with the Tesseract. But I never put all my chips on that number though, because I was playing on something riskier."

He straightened, "There was an idea. Stark know this; called the avenger initiative," He looked to Stark briefly before he continued, "the idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people and see if they could become something more. To see if they could work together if we needed them to, to fight the battle that we never could." He gave a pause before finally saying, "Phil Coulson died still believing in that idea. In heroes..."

Before he could finish, Stark stood up and without looking back left the room. He was giving up. The action was so unexpected, that he left the feeling of hopelessness behind with him.

" Well it's an old-fashioned notion."

It was a childish notion, I thought quietly to myself. I had believed heroes existed, but only in my world; like firemen, police officers and doctors. I had never believed that there could be people some place, somewhere, who could make you feel like anything was possible; like magic, flying, supernatural strength and abilities. I had never believed in gods, or other dimensions, worlds beyond imaging. I had never believed in superheroes... until recently. And here I was, sat amongst them. The myths, the stories, the impossible had suddenly become so very real.

So as much as I would have liked to have sat there and mocked Fury for ridiculous assumption. I couldn't mock his hope in that things would work out all right. I only wished I had his optimism.

" Miss Manning," I looked up as he addressed me and all eyes in the room turned to me, " I know you're going through a lot right now. Everything is new to you. But we need information."

I grew somewhat uneasy as he took a step closer to the table, his single-eyed stare direct and probing as he stated, " Every piece of detail is key to us. So I ask you this; back in the container room, where Loki was kept... Did anything happen between the two of you? Anything unusual?"

A coldness washed through me. Dread plummeted into my stomach as I stared like a deer in headlights at him. What could I say? What should I say? My throat closed up as I tried to think of something to say. I felt everyone's attention on me, waiting for my answer. Suspicion poured through my mind like sieve.

Did he know something? Something that I didn't. Had he known that this would happen? Had he been expecting something to happen?

A memory flashed through my head, raw and new. Of a raven haired god, towering over me, holding me captive against him, trying to use the sceptre to control me. I remember the glow of its blue power, thrumming and potent, as it tried to creeps its way inside of my very being, my soul; as it tried to take something out of me and replace it with something else. Only, that's not how it had ended. Loki's powers had failed. I had reached out and somehow stopped the energy from...

No, I stated silently, firmly to myself, You were frightened, Jessie, It didn't happen. What had happened back there was not real, it couldn't be.

" No." the word tasted bitter on my tongue.

" No?" Fury's brow rose, dubious at my answer, " Nothing unusual? What exactly happened." He asked, "Start from the beginning."

" I went inside to help Thor, he was trapped inside the container. Loki, he tried to kill me, but Agent Coulson was there, he helped me before anything could happen."

"And nothing else happened?"

I shook my head, trying not to wince as I felt even Steve's gaze burning into me. When I weakened and let my gaze quickly slide to him, I caught a gleam in his blue eyes telling me that he knew something. That he could see something in my face that was giving me away. That was revealing my dishonesty.

" You were very lucky." Fury said again, drawing my attention back to him. " Anything could have happened to you in there." he sighed, " I guess there's nothing more for us to do but wait."

I froze at that.

" Miss Manning, in future I want you to stay with someone at all times. Next time we will..."

"Wait," I sighed tiredly, drawing a hand over my face, "Next time? What do you mean by 'next time'?"

There was an awkward pause as we stared at each other.

" There's no need for her to be here." It was Steve that spoke up beside me.

Fury's dark eye turn on him, glared at him. " She has every need to be here." He turned back to me and spoke, " What you have to realize is that this situation is dangerous. Only when this is over will I deem it suitable for you to go back home."

I felt something rise in me, something ugly and heated. Demanding answers and wanting freedom from all this chaos. I tried to gauge him, to figure out his hidden motives. He was hiding something, I could feel it deep inside of myself. There was something he was not telling me and I couldn't figure out what. It was downright annoying. If he was not going to share information, than neither would I. Two could play at this game.

I glared at him, " And when will that be?"

He shrugged, "I do not know."

"You're being unreasonable," Steve piped up again, shaking his fair head at the taller male, " You can't just keep her here."

" She's in danger and will be protected."

" It is unnecessary."

" It is completely necessary."

" She's been here long enough."

" I cant do this any more." I whispered aloud suddenly, breaking into their argument. They were talking about me as though I was not even there, not even in the same room.

Enough was enough. I wanted to go home.

I stood up, sharply scraping my chair against the floor at the swift movement. " I'm sorry, to disappoint you, Mr Fury, but I can't help you." I sighed, trying to find the words to speak, " I don't fly, I'm not strong, I'm not clever or brave, or heroic." I shrugged, "I am just me. I am no one." My voice quietened. "A nobody... So please, I want to go back home." I paused and then finally added, "My dad will be worried about me."

I moved away from the table and made my way out to leave the room. It was not until I was at the door, about exit, did I turn back one more time to say, " I'm sorry, whatever it is that you think I am..." I shook my head, " I'm not it."

And with that I left, walking through the door and down through the metal corridors until I made my way back to my room. The moment I opened the door the desperation for home hit me full force. The entire room was trashed from the upheaval. The bed was turned over. Sheets and various objects littered the floor. A mirror lay broken and in shards by the bed post.

It was a wreck.

I clenched my jaw, fighting against the need to just cry out in frustration. Wanting to break down and just let the tears pour from eyes until sleep would over come me. I will not cry, I chanted determinedly to myself, I will not cry. I will not cry.

With resolve, I strode over into the bathroom and started to get my things ready for a much needed shower. I opened the curtain and started to organise various bottles. I turned to get a towel and caught sight of myself in the small mirrored cabinet above the sink. I was taken aback with how pale I looked, almost ill, like a ghost. Dark circles surrounded my eyes. There was dried blood at my temple, only then did I realise I must have hurt myself and that's why I had felt one of the medics touching me there earlier, trying to clean it. I looked foreign, even to myself, like a stranger was staring back at me.

I noticed a red thick line on the side of my neck; a mark left by the sharp edge of a long blade.

I shivered.

Loki. He was a frightening but strange being. He was so much different to Thor, as day was different to night. The contrast between the two was startling. Both deadly and alluring, handsome in a way that could be pleasant, if not for the sharp cunning of his eyes. Eyes that both ensnared and burned. His hands that had looked delicate and long-fingered, but had been merciless and strong; hands that could have easily snapped me if they so wished. It was very clear that the two were not brother by blood. But anyone could see there was a deep bond between them. I had seen it in that split second before Loki had pressed the button to the container, dropping it and Thor with it. Thor had looked at him with resentment, but at the same time with regret and a disappointment. Loki had smiled and mocked him, but in his eyes held that one brief flash, that small shift in his resolve. A small moment of hesitation.

It had made him seem almost... Human.

I shook my head and pushed such thoughts aside forcefully.

I needed to go home. I was missing my own bed, my own bath, my flat screen television, my normal life. I missed Harry and hoped that he was well and safe; that he was at home and not recovering, alone in a hospital bed somewhere after the attack. But most of all, strangely enough, I missed my dad. I had a sudden thought, wondering if he was missing me too? If he was looking for me? I felt a warmth in my heart at the idea. He was all I had after all. Despite his aloofness towards me, I wanted him in an odd child-like way. Like a daughter who needed her father.

Would he understand any of this?

I leaned against the sink, both of my hands holding my weight as I lowered my head down, my hair falling forward as I allowed the many hours of adrenaline to leave my body.

I took a slow, deep, cleansing breath...

A knock sounded at the door.

I stilled and lifted my head slowly, and listened.

It sounded again, a little more insistent this time.

I made my way out of the bathroom and to the door. I opened it only to find Steve, Captain America himself, standing on the other side. I blinked, taken aback by his sudden appearance, and then blinked again when I noticed he was in his full costume get-up. The boots. The gloves. The mask on his face. The star on his chest. The huge red and blue and white shield.

" Steve?"

" Jessica."

I frowned and eyed him up and down again. What was he doing here? And dressed like that?

" Are you all right?" I asked tentatively, feeling somewhat worried.

He scouted either side, glancing quickly down each end of the corridor before he strode forward into the room. The sudden proximity surprised me and caused me to take a step back to allow him entrance. He shut the door firmly behind him.

" Please, get ready." He said, hurriedly yet quietly.

I was beyond perplexed.

"What? I asked, " What's going on?"

He glanced around the mess that was my room before he finally said, " We've found him. We've found Loki," His blue eyes stared into mine, " We're going after him."

My stomach dropped and I took a step back as I realised what he was implying. If he thought I was going to help him, help the others chase him down and fight him then they had another thing coming. There was no way I could...

" You're safe," he reassured me, placing a hand on my shoulder, " You don't have to worry any more. Fury thought..." He paused in his words, looking almost sheepish, as though realising what he was saying.

My suspicions grew tenfold.

"He thought what?" I questioned, filled with apprehension.

" It's nothing to worry about." He lowered his arm away from me, " So please, get ready, we're leaving."

" But fury said..."

" To hell with what fury said." His blue eyes turned warm as he smiled gently at me, " You don't deserve this."

There was a pause. And then, what he said next had my mouth falling open and my heart leaping up into my throat.

"I'm going to take you home."