Strangely enough, it was Clint who got the call, casually and off-duty at that. Considering the mammoth repercussions of the event that sparked the worried alert from NYPD, you would think that Cap, maybe Thor would be better equipped to deal with it. To doll out encouragement and orders and brainstorm on the best way to contain the situation. But no, it was Clint phone that rang as he cruised down the congested New York strip in Tony's Lexus (What Stark didn't know couldn't hurt him, and Clint wasn't about to share a home with a billionaire who owned, count em', six cars without playing in the sandbox once in a while) and he flipped it open smoothly.
"Yeah?" "A-agent Barton?"
The voice on the other end was shaky and too loud, a scared amateur's attempt at true authority. Clint sat up a little straighter in his seat by instinct at the utterance of his professional title.
"This is he."
"The people at SHEILD gave us this number, sorry to bother you. I'm Detective Johnson with the NYPD. Is, uh, Captain America available?"
Clint rolled his eyes behind his Dolce and Gabba sunglasses (also Tony's) and popped a stick of gum (Natasha's) in his mouth. If you had told him six months ago that he was going to be taking calls for a dead supersolider, he would have calmly strung his bow and taken aim, because someone that insane was obviously a danger to themselves and others. But life had changed dramatically since the Avengers initiative became a roaring success, and after a little therapeutic time apart (a trip to the mother country for Natasha, nostalgic wanderings around New York for Steve, Tivo and target practice for Clint and sciencey God-knows-what for Tony and Bruce) the team had come together again, presumably for good. The Avengers Tower as it was now called was completely habitable and nearly finished, and the team had been called on to defend the good people of greater Manhattan and beyond from more threats than they thought were possible in such short a time. They had even made a considerable name for themselves and were forced to attend benefits, press conferences, ribbon-cuttings, that sort of useless pandering to the publics romanticising. They had a fansite, for God's sake. But business was good and it kept Clint's hands busy, his friends close, and Natasha closer. He couldn't complain.
Except when the ever-excitable public started ringing up SHEILD over trivial emergencies and Fury defaulted the panic calls to his agents cell phones, of course. It had become a sort of time-out corner for the team; "Ditch a meeting one more time and Fury's gonna synch your phone to SHEILD's switchboard". These veiled threats were usually thrown in Tony's direction, but he had blocked all his numbers long ago with so many encryptions that now the panic calls cycled throughout the team, and apparently today was Clint's day.
"He's not in right now, but I'd be glad to give you his number-"
"No, you'll do. We have a bit of situation in Central Park…"
Clint swore wordlessly, taking the exit that would dump him out at the mouth of Central Park three blocks away. Of course he was close. He was never lucky enough to be out of range.
"Have you exhausted all rational law enforcement resources? The Avengers aren't here for a bit of a situation, Detective, you break glass only in the case of an earth-shattering, life-altering emergency."
"Yes, I know that, I assure you-" There was indistinct shouting and the crackling of static in the background, then a faint, low boom that Clint recognized as sonic. The detective took a moment to shout at his men, something panicky about "Get that damn dome up now, you hear me?" Then he returned to his conversation with Clint, a little more insistent. "Agent Barton, please. This definitely warrants your attention. Hell, bring your whole team. Bring SHEILD if you wanna, they'll be wanting a piece of this…"
Clint pulled into a parking space in Central Park, killing the engine but making no move to get out of the car. His voice was understated steel, pure assassin, tired of dealing with some scatterbrained civilian.
"You have five seconds to brief me and hold my attention. What exactly have you got?"
The Detective told him. Clint felt some of the color drain from his face, twitched at the familiar twinge of green magic pulling the strings on his heart, and exited the vehicle. While Detective Johnson breathlessly relayed the situation, Clint popped the Lexus's trunk and subtly removed his hydraulic bow. He slung the canister of custom-made arrows over his shoulder as the detective stopped to breathe, then uttered a simple,
"Give me three minuets."
Snapping his phone shut, Clint snapped his bow open and slammed the trunk lid, striding into Central Park with a determined set to his jaw. The bastard just didn't know when to give up.
Two minuets and forty-six seconds later, Clint strode into a quarantined section of Central Park, ducking under police tape, dodging people with questions in their eyes and flashing his SHEILD badge like the best of the with. A few square miles of Central Park had been evacuated of all non-law enforcement personnel, so he didn't have to worry about scaring civilians or signing the dreaded autographs.
He singled Dectective Johnson out easily by the wringing of hands and mopping of brow, not to mention the small crowd of underlings gathered around him. He wordlessly took the harried man by the elbow and began to drag him away from his employees, who bit back a few snarled protests when they saw the bow and arrows. He led the detective towards ground zero, his pale blue eyes hard with professionalism and barely contained anger.
"When did this happen?"
"About an hour ago," Johnson replied, quickening his pace so Clint didn't have to drag him. "Sky just opened up out of nowhere, like a mouth into a different dimension. Looked a lot like that vortex over downtown a the last time around, but smaller. He stumbled out, we've got nearly a dozen witnesses waiting in the wings. A couple of those Clusia…Calui…Cluth-
"Chitauri," Hawkeye supplied impatiently, hopping over trees felled by the winds that had undoubtedly ripped out from the inter-dimensional vortex.
"Y-yes, two of them, footsoilders. He was struggling against them, badly hurt, but killed them both, then closed the portal. Witnesses say after that he just…Collapsed. That's how we found him, we got up the dome as soon as we could. It's blast and radiation proof, strongest thing we've got, but he's starting to wake up and I'm worried that it won't hold…"
His voice trailed off as they came to the lip of the crater where their unexpected visitor had fallen to earth, all shattered rock and dying foliage. An uneasy electricity still crackled in the air, the remains of a dimensional trip, and Hawkeye bristled at the familiar taste of magic and metal it brought to his mouth. He strode into the crater and stopped dead at what he found.
Sitting bruised and bleeding and scowling like a jaded child beneath the reinforced plastic dome his captors had erected was the God of Mischief, less resplendent then usual in dented armor and a torn cape. Loki's eyes were wild and hard as steel, the image of a caged animal, but he didn't seem to have the strength left to pull himself to his feet and his breathing was labored and sporadic.
He caught sight of Clint, arrow half strung out of instinct, and his face broke into a manic grin, all teeth and threats.
"Barton," He rasped delightedly, spitting out blood.
Clint kept an arrow trained on Loki as he pulled out his cellphone and punched in Steve's number.
"Hiya, Green Eyes."
His flippancy was deceiving. Inside, his rage ran through him taunt as a bowstring, ready to snap at the slightest provocation. This was the man who had stolen his mind, forced him to attack his closest friend, and damn near destroyed New York City. He's be perfectly content to put an arrow through one of those haunting eyes and go home. But, he had to go through socially acceptable channels to see justice done. Besides, Steve would want a piece of this action.
Captain America picked up on the second ring. "Hey Clint, how are you?"
"Cap. Got you a birthday present."
Steve sounded confused. "...It's not my birthday..."
"Forget it. We've got company in Central Park. Suit up and get the others. And before you ask, yeah, it's worth your time."