Guinea Pig
By Frozzy


She is standing outside her apartment when Iron Man drops down from the sky and cracks the sidewalk open with his skull.

"Jesus fucking shit!"

"No worries, hon," the tinny voice of Tony Stark addresses her in a pained groan. She watches in morbid fascination as the robotic suit stumbles to its feet and reaches out to grab the nearest lamppost to steady itself. In the confusion of the moment, Aileen has dropped her purse onto the sidewalk and the content has spilled out all over ground. Gloves, lipstick, pills, coupons, that weird half-chewed dog-toy she keeps for good luck. At least the press hasn't arrived at the scene. And they surely will. Wherever the Avengers go, the press follows.

"Well, will you look at that," Iron Man exclaims with a look at the coupons. "Fifty percent off on Mondays."

A large hand settles itself on Aileen's shoulder, and it's surprisingly hard to scream bloody murder when the hand belongs to Captain America.

"Please seek cover, Miss. It's for your safety," he says, right at the same time that Iron Man yells: "Incoming!"

Aileen never gets to seek cover, and in the seconds that follow, she is covered by Captain America's large and protective bulk. The Cap is her human shield. It's like all those reports that were aired on TV during the Chitauri invasion of New York. That's some surrealistic shit right there. In fact, it's some very laughable shit. She was about to buy groceries, and now she's covered by Captain America's spandex-clad body, and Iron Man is shooting light beams, or whatever the hell it is his suit does, into the sky.

"Sneaking off is the coward's way to fight, Rogers," a voice says from above. The Captain doesn't move. He remains crouched above Aileen, shielding her from the person that Aileen guesses to be Loki, the crooked brother of Thor. His voice is too characteristic to mistake for anybody else's. She has heard it on the news plenty of times, and while Aileen naturally does appreciate a voice spun of the purest gold, Loki Laufeyson is not her first choice on that list.

"You're not doing much better," Iron Man says to Loki. "Without your precious voodoo stuff, we would have the advantage here."

"Says the man inside a prowess enhancing suit."

"Prowess? Don't think flattery will make me go easy on you, bud."

Aileen has trouble breathing underneath the shelter of the Captain's large body. She doesn't do well with small spaces. Or people invading her space. As if Loki has sensed her thoughts, there is a sharp flash of green somewhere to her left. The flash is followed by a shake that rocks the ground beneath them. The shake rocks the ground so hard that the Captain has to release Aileen, and she tumbles onto her back and loses what little breath she has left. It feels as though a boulder has been dropped onto her chest and for a moment she panics so intensely that her vision blackens out. Then she takes a hard-won breath, like a darned newborn baby, and she rolls onto her side. She coughs hard and long, and she almost misses Loki's voice above them.

"So chivalrous, Captain," Loki says. "Always saves the maiden."

Stark decides to even out the odds. Unfortunately, the man fails to take into account that Loki is a trained warrior. And a God. And a sorcerer. What was Iron Man and Captain America doing fighting him alone, anyway? The second that Stark charges at Loki, Loki has his staff ready and set for attack. The spell fires and hit Iron Man straight in the chest with a force that would have splintered the armor if the material had been any weaker. As it would happen, however, Iron Man's suit repels the beam of magic instead. Perhaps that was Stark's goal? The ray of neon green magic hits the chest plates of Stark's suit and is immediately cast off to the side. He takes the brunt of the impact, but he doesn't stop the beam of magic. The beam keeps going, now in a different direction.

At first, Aileen doesn't fully realize that she has just been hit with a beam of magic. It's when she catches sight of Loki's startled expression and the shocked expression of Captain America that she realizes why her skin is feeling cottony and tingly. And why her skin is glowing green. And why her hair is floating in the air beside her face.

"You can't be serious," she says, wide-eyed, and watches as her skin absorbs the green glow. The magic just crawled inside her. It just—crawled inside her.

"I think it's time to wrap this up," Iron Man says and activates a load of heavy weaponry and aims it all at Loki. Aileen hates him a little for not having done that sooner. Or more explicitly, before she was hit with Loki's magical beam of green energy.

"If we must," Loki says with a look at Stark's guns. "I bid you farewell."

He dematerializes on the spot.

"I hate guys with flashy exists. That's my trademark," Stark says and lowers his suit to the ground. His feet hit the pavement with a dull, leaden sound. He deactivates his weapons and walks up to Aileen and the Captain. Aileen sits on the ground with her knees pulled up to her chin. Her stomach is rolling in on itself in miniature seizures, her head is swimming and her eyes aren't much better off. When the two Avengers crouch down beside her, she bets that she looks as waxen as the forgotten prunes in the back of her father's kitchen cabinet.

"I'm afraid you have to come with us to our headquarters, Miss," Captain America addresses her apologetically. "Will you be alright with that?"

She promptly throws up on his shield.

Stark gives a low whistle: "If you gotta do it, you gotta do it big."

"Tony, please."

.edited 11/6/14.