Chapter 14

Harry dodged through the crowds of people on the landing of the Hellicarrier, the thrum of helicopter and jet engines rattling his bones. It was incredibly loud, the air thin and icy, the waves around them a deep green-blue, crashing against the side of the giant vessel, the taste of salt in the air.

For a moment, he paused by the edge, peering into the deep water. He could faintly made out the the ghostly forms of a few white jellyfish, bobbing up and down with the waves.

Oh what a joy it would be to go overboard now; no land to see in any direction, and jellyfish, of all things, as company.

"Dr. Evans!"

Harry glanced up, stepping away from the edge, resting a comforting hand on Wendelin's back as the bird squirmed on his shoulder. Agent Coulson was striding towards him, a light, courteous smile on his face.

"Agent Coulson."

"You've acquired another companion, I see."

"Hehe, yeah. Not deliberately, I assure you. I hope it won't be a problem...?"

"Can you keep them shut in your room for most of the time?"

"Of course."

"Then no, it won't be a problem... providing they don't make too much of a mess."

"So why the one-man welcoming party?" He asked, shaking Coulson's hand and trying his best to not stare at the man's receding hairline.

"Don't feel too flattered; Fury wants all scientists in the main computer room as soon as they arrive. So head on up now; in those doors, down the lift to the 4th floor, and head straight down the hall until you reach the end. Lots of windows and lots of computers. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm back off to New York to argue with a genius... or a toddler, depending on your point of view."

Thanking the stern-yet-kind Agent, he reluctantly headed indoors, wishing he could stay outside in the wind instead of walking into a pressurised metal container, no matter how awesome it looked.

As he made his way towards the tech room, Harry vaguely wondered who else would be around that he knew. Romanoff, probably. But what about Steve? He worked with S.H.I.E.L.D occasionally; perhaps he would be here?

He entered the main tech room. There were rows of computers on one side, a few larger on the other, a raised platform in the middle and an entire wall of windows spread out front.

"Dr. Evans!"

For the second time that morning, Harry glanced up at the sound of his name, a slight twinge moving through his stomach as he recognised the voice as belonging to Director Fury; the same twinge that would go through him whenever Snape called upon him to answer a question in potions that he didn't know the answer to.

Had S.H.I.E.L.D noticed his strange escape from the building?

"Yes, Sir?" He answered, moving towards the one-eyed man, who was standing on the raised platform with Agent Hill. Agent Hill who, he noticed reluctantly, was wearing a VERY tight suit, which hugged her curves REALLY nicely...

Once again drawing his eyes off places he shouldn't be staring at (although these placed much more pleasant than a man's receding hairline), he faced the unwavering look of the Director.

"Dr. Selvig has been compromised. You're now our head scientist."

"WHAT? Sir, I..."

"These computers here," Fury cut him off, pointing to a few of the larger-screens on the wall, which were covered in colourful graphs and charts, "are our different attempts at tracking the fugitive Loki and the Tesseract, though none of our techniques have been successful as of yet, as we are not entirely sure what we are looking for. You will be working with them, and with any other issues we may find along the way."

"But... I don't know what to do! I don't work with... tracking... and... stuff!"

"Then you'll learn fast. We've lost many men, Dr. Evans. And expensive equipment. We're all on board now. You will start immediately; Agent Dasey will take your birds to your room."

Sighing lightly, Harry lifted Wendelin off his shoulder and handed her over the the expectant agent that had popped up. At least, he figured, nobody seemed to have noticed anyone weird about him yet.

"Byebye!"

"Yes, goodbye Wendy." He murmured idly, trying to dislodge Agrippa's claws from his shoulder.

"Smart bird you've got there." The young Agent murmured, holding the hand Wendelin was perched on as far away from his body as possible. Of course this did not do much, however, as Wendelin just climbed up his arm towards him, making the man grimace.

"She is rather, isn't she? All my birds seem to be..." Harry frowned lightly. Smart? Certainly. Hedwig especially. If an owl could talk like a parrot could, Harry was sure she would have been able to speak English fluently. Well, maybe not that well; but she was certainly much smarter than the average owl.

Like all the birds he rescued and re-homed. Was it a coincidence?

"Oh, for the love of... Agrippa, let go!" He barked, finally getting the raven's claws out of his clothes and all but throwing it at the poor Agent Dasey.

"YOU'LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE!" The raven crowed harshly, lunging at the poor man and pecking at his face.

"Ack!" With a few curse words, the man rushed off down the hall, two birds clinging to him, off to deliver the birds to his room.

Harry felt a little bit sorry for him. Just a little.

As it turned out, being "head scientist" was made up of drinking coffee, ordering people around, spinning on wheely chairs and generally being frustrated at the lack of progress towards the tracking of the Tesseract. They were all running out of ideas, and had taken to scanning public images to try and find any trace of Loki's face. It was failing.

It was the next morning that things started getting a little more interesting. Just a little.

There was a small room off to the side, looking out into the tech room, with a round table and a large S.H.I.E.L.D. shield stuck to the wall behind it.

At one point, Harry had glanced up and noticed Fury was in the room, as well as two other men. One was nervous looking, constantly wringing his hands, with a worn looking suit and dark, curly hair that was greying slightly at the temples and glasses that he kept pushing up his nose. Obviously a scientist of some kind... but possibly something more. He reminded Harry strongly of Remus. Though why, exactly, he wasn't sure; they looked nothing alike.

The other... it was Steve! Harry felt a stupid smile crossing his face at the thought of his friend. They had run into each other a few times in the previous weeks, and though neither had had the time to really talk for long, both found it easy to speak to one another, creating their simple friendship.

Harry smirked as he watched a shock Steve hand over money to Fury as the Hellicarrier finally took off. Clearly there had been some kind of bet running there.

"Dr. Evans!"

Sighing in frustration as one of the... less bright... scientists once again claimed his attention, Harry tore his eyes off his tall, blonde friend and back to the work he was supposed to be doing.

"We have a location! It's Loki, from four hours ago, in Venice. But he's only there for a moment before disappearing, again!"

This had been going on all night. The villain would appear, disappear, and then reappear on the opposite side of the country, too quickly and too randomly for any of them to track or predict. Was he looking for something? Was he just playing a game with S.H.I.E.L.D.? Harry didn't know. It was, however, getting annoying rather fast.

At least Loki was a good-looking villain. Harry didn't think he would be able to stand looking at hundreds of pictures of uglier villains, like Voldemort, for hours on end. He shuddered at the though of photos of Voldemort. After a few hours, he would either manically crack up laughing at his lack of nose, or hex every picture he saw. In front of all the muggles.

"Ok. Keep looking." This had been his standard answer for the past six hours. It was getting annoying. Not to mention the jittering; but no sleep and too much coffee did that to a person.

It was a short while later that Fury and the nervous scientist wandered over, and the scientist finally set them on a course of tracking gamma radiation through labs across the world.

"Dr. Evans; meet Dr. Bruce Banner. I'm sure you two will get along."