I went to go see The Avengers last weekend, and loved it instantly. I grew up reading the comics over my cousins' shoulder, so I was super excited, no matter how many adaptations were made. Of course, I've loved Tom Hiddleston's version of Loki since 'Thor' came out, and The Avengers gave me that extra push to start writing.
Disclaimer: Only the OC, the rest is Marvel's.
The day was sweltering, and the air was heavy with that kind of dry heat that stuffs into the lungs. The drive across the barren land had been long, and increasingly boring. Wynn knew that by the time they got to the village, there was a good chance it wouldn't be standing.
"Look alive, Randall. We need your attention," McPhee shouted over the roar of the jeep, and she nodded, tearing her gaze from her feet to straight ahead. She should prepare anyway – being in a ground Army troop didn't exactly offer peace. Just a ton of children with sloughing skin and jagged bones, rampant poverty and disease. It was gruesome, but the small bits of triumph were worth it. Or so she told herself.
"Shit," Samson cursed, peeking out of the tarp.
"Is it finished?" she asked, though she already knew the answer.
The Jeep stuttered to a stop and they jumped out, hauling the bags of first aid and nutritional supplies with them. Samson was right – all that was left of the village was a mass of ash. The stink was unbearable, and Wynn barely held down the vomit that clawed up her throat.
"Janjaweed has already been here. We'll move in, look for any survivors. Be careful, don't let your guard slip," McPhee ordered, and cut her a look. "That means you, Randall."
She nodded, and when he turned his back, sent him a mock salute with her eyes crossed. Samson just rolled his eyes at her and moved away, probably wondering why they had gotten the reject on their squad.
Well, boo to you too, she thought bitterly, and hiked up her backpack. One step, two step – and suddenly, the sky was exploding. A loud whistling filled the air to the brim, and somewhere, she heard Samson scream. The sunlight seemed to engulf her. One second she was moving forward, the next she was flying through the air, her sight blanked out by white.
She had a mother who still loved her, sort of, and a father to visit in the cemetery, and a puppy waiting for her at home and she prayed to some God before she hit the ground with a crash. Her spine snapped and everything went to black.
When she awoke, the sun was going down and the desert was growing cold. The smell of rot flooded in and she turned her head to vomit. It spewed, and ran across the dry ground to hit a pair of feet encased in black leather. With a groan, she lolled her head upwards, and the face of a tall, black man blocked the sun. His one non-patched eye seemed to accuse her.
"This territory was supposed to be off-limits," the man said, leaning down to her. She could only stare at him, her head aching so much it felt like it would split.
"There's some nasty stuff around her, the kind of thing you weren't supposed to see." He paused, took her jaw, and examined it.
"But you'll find out pretty damn soon, Wynn Randall. Sorry you're gonna be stuck with this surprise."
Before she could reply, black began to seep around the corners of her sight.
Two Years Later
"What do you think, Nanook?" Wynn turned side to side, white-blonde hair stuffed into one fist, observing the collar of her new training outfit. The reflection of her Saint Bernard only regarded her with a calm eye, head propped on his massive paws.
"You're never any help," she sighed, and let her hair fall. The collar would stay down, she decided. Popping the collar would seem very desperate.
"I want to fit in, you know. I've been training to move up in the ranks, but…whatever," she trailed off, leaning to grab the I.D. card Fury had assigned her. She was supposed to go to what she dubbed, "Fury's Super Special Secret Meeting Place" and find whatever guard had been luckless enough to get assigned pick-up duty. Fury was vague on the details, but she gathered that he was buffing up his security and she was heading to a place that would probably be mind-blowingly dangerous. But, what was dangerous anymore, really?
"All right, I'm gone. Don't pee on the floor, don't eat the leftover Chinese and definitely don't eat Anna when she comes to let you out," Wynn said, pointing with what she considered a stern finger at Nanook. He thumped his tail and rolled over on his side.
I'll accept that, she thought wearily, and headed out, making sure to slam the door shut behind her and lock it tightly.
She tucked herself deeply into her trench coat, attempting to hide from the freezing New York wind. By the time she arrived at the run-down warehouse, she was grumpy from the two hour walk and gnashing her teeth. She could almost feel her metabolism humming beneath her skin, screaming for food to keep up the boiling temperature her body had adapted to.
Wynn stared up at the old building, thinking that it was cliché, even for Fury. Suddenly, something flew into her line of vision and she immediately crouched, muscles squeezing tight.
"Easy, cougar. I see the tag. C'mon, or we'll miss our ride," a voice hissed at her, and she followed the source to see a woman standing in one of the many broken windows. The woman leapt through the smashed glass opening with ease, her bright red hair flying up and landing back into its perfect shape. Wynn huffed a lock of unruly hair from her eye and tried not to look indignant.
The girl walked away without another word, and Wynn fell in line behind her, keeping the silence. They circled around to the back of the old building district, where a helicopter sat in an overgrown plot of land.
"Hop in," the woman told her, and she did, strapping in immediately to avoid wasting time.
As the blades started to whir, the woman nudged her arm and said, "Natasha Romanoff."
Oh, she knew the woman had looked familiar. After the few "incidents" the city had been bombarded with, Wynn had seen constant coverage on the news. Never the real names, of course, but who would forget Black Widow?
"Wynn Randall," she shouted, now that the blades were going full-force. They slowly lifted off the ground and maneuvered out of the area, zipping above the desolate buildings.
"Oh, so you're the new kid," Natasha shouted back, with a small smile. "This'll be fun."
Fun. I'm sure.
Wynn offered what she thought was a smile but was probably a mangled grimace before turning her head to look out the window. Her whole body whirred with worry, excitement, and okay, a little bit of nausea. But she kept that one to herself – her vomit and Fury's shoes had a bad history.
"It's ridiculous," Stark complained, throwing down the computer pad. He leaned onto the blueprint board, clearly in a sulk.
"Maybe," Banner offered with a shrug. "But even the daftest agents have noticed something odd brewing. It won't be long before the citizens catch on."
"Yeah, I get that. I also get Fury calling Thor back so we can complete our little study group, but Loki? Why the hell does cat-box boy have to come?"
Banner stared a Stark with a blank expression, idly screwing in a nail to some foreign-looking weapon.
"I'm not even kitten."
"As much as I appreciate your…humor, try to keep it to yourself. You know why he has to come. If Thor leaves him alone in Asgard, he'll destroy the place," Banner sighed, scrubbing his face.
Stark only grunted in response, picking the pad back up to fiddle with it. He chuckled to himself, then, and Banner looked at him quizzically.
"Just thinking how I could go for some shawarma right meow."
Before Stark could retort, a sudden crash of thunder rumbled in the sky above the tower, and they looked at each other as Pepper's voice crackled from the intercom.
"Uh…guys, there's a blue portal landing on the helicopter pad."
Stark raised a brow at Banner, who just gave the nail one final screw before placing the weapon gently into his pocket.
"Well, honey, let's go greet our house guests."
"Please don't call me honey."
Wynn watched as the helicopter flew away, wishing she could wave it back. As soon as they had arrived at their destination, she had given Natasha the best "you've got to be kidding" face she could muster.
"I was expecting to show up somewhere in the middle of the ocean or underground…not Stark's tower."
"Well, it's his second tower."
"It's across the city," she had grumbled. "I could have just taken the subway and ridden up the elevator."
"He's a little paranoid from the security breaches," Natasha pointed out, but shrugged. "Personally, I think he just doesn't want anyone in his elevator. He's possessive."
"We've met," Wynn said dryly. And they had met, sadly. Stark was a funny guy, sure – he was also narcissistic, way too proud of his accomplishments, and just didn't know when to shut up.
Natasha gave a noncommittal sound of understanding before heading to the stairway.
"Let's go. The last of them arrived this morning, and Fury will be here soon to tell you exactly what's going on."
Exactly, I'm so sure, Wynn thought. Nothing was ever exact with that man. He was more secretive than a teen boy hiding porn.
Nevertheless, she rushed to catch up and tried not to look over the side as she picked her way across the railroad-like tracks that led to the sliding glass doors.
"Does he run model trains through here?" she asked, and Natasha snorted.
"No, he's too lazy to come inside and take off the suit, so he just walks through here and the machinery takes if off for him."
"I'm actually kind of jealous."
"Don't say that – he'll rub it in your face," Natasha warned, before holding up her hand to a security pad. It scanned her palm before the doors opened with a hiss. Wynn trailed in behind her, surveying the tall ceiling and fancy marble bar that overlooked the room. They trotted up the few steps and headed for the hallway, which led to a heavily glossed wooden door. Natasha gave her a look before opening the door and barging in.
Wynn barely had time to process the sleek conference room before an obnoxiously familiar voice called,
"Hey Nat, it's about time!"
Wynn immediately locked eyes with Stark, who gave her a wink and pointed his finger at her.
"Nice to see you again, Wynny the Pooh."
"…Are you serious, Stark?"
"One hundred percent."
She sighed and fought the urge to flip the vase beside her straight into his face before her eyes scanned the rest of the table guests.
There was Banner, whom she had met once before. She liked him considerably better than Stark – he was soft-spoken and kind to her, which made her wonder how he and Stark got on so well.
Then there was the Captain, as gorgeous and blonde as usual. He had eluded her, so she had no idea what to expect. Something ending with a "ma'am", she was sure.
Natasha had gone to cuddle up beside Hawkeye, who she had the most interaction with. He hung around the base a lot more than any of the others and had been closer with Coulson, so Wynn had gotten to know him a bit.
And then there were the last two. She recognized Thor from the television coverage, and he was even bigger in real life, if that was possible. His muscles bulged dangerously under the chainmail, and she made a mental note to steer clear of his path lest he run her over and not notice. The man to his right was dwarfed in muscle comparison, but not height. He was almost as tall, but leaner, with slicked back hair and cheekbones that could kill. She met his cool seafoam gaze and mutually returned the sneer that he seemed to convey just through his eyes.
Loki. Awesome. She'd recognize that batshit crazy look through gossip alone.
"Have a seat, Wynny."
"It's Wynn, Stark."
Of course, the only seat available was the one across from Loki, who seemed to be trying to taze her with his glare alone. She plopped down and tried to ignore the awkward air that had taken over the room. They all seemed to be catching each others' eyes before looking away quickly, except for herself and Loki. She set her jaw and stared right back at him. But while he seemed perfectly calm, if not hateful, a nervous trickle of sweat glided down the back of her neck. The guy had a set of gawkers that made her want to shrivel on the spot.
Shut up, Wynn, she screamed at herself. You could totally take him out. Or at least land a good stomping on his crotch and run.
Almost as if he read her mind, he smiled suddenly, his lips parting to reveal a perfectly straight row of pearls.