Swimming wasn't so bad. Raven liked it. She liked being in the water kicking her legs, feeling the current on her skin. She had never gone in the water since she was four, only for showers, baths and walking through rain but she had never gone to the beach, swam in a lake or been a swimming pool. She had been too scared, afraid of the distant memory connected with inescapable water, the massacre at her feet when she came to, but now she didn't feel so scared. As long as she wasn't in the deep part and Ylva and Eyolf nearby coaxing her.
Ylva had taken a shine to then on their little trip. She had nudged Raven into the water and guided her with her wet nose until the water was waist-high, she even licked her as an reward. Not only that she barked when she had tried to escape at first, unlike her former teachers who let her run off or evade the situation with a pitying sigh, Ylva would not have it. She was a wolf for the moment and had to be brave like a wolf, and wolves were not afraid of water.
It wasn't so bad. The water was gratefully cold which kept the vision of a bathtub in a poorly lit room distant and flickering. The sound of the trees rustling and the birds chirping filled the tense still ripples of water. Eyolf coaxing her blocked the stumbling fumbles of a man's rough hands and the pressure of a deliberately rough hold. Ylva's presence gave her no excuse to run at the slightest falter.
"That was so much fun!" Raven laughed. "I never went swimming before."'
She kicked at the water's edge. It was hardly a friendly kick out of boredom, she purposely treaded on the water. I beat you, she thought tauntingly. I can beat you. I did beat you. In truth Raven had not gone far she remained waist deep but she did doggy paddle, and she had never done that before. It made feel proud and tall like Thor and the Hulk combined.
Eyolf did her tenth cartwheel in a row. "This is so much fun! Can all people on Midgard do this?"
"Not everyone," Raven said. "But they can do a lot of other things like somersaults, back flips and stuff like that. We call it gymnastics."
Eyolf eyes were mystified. "You have a whole different realm than mine, don't you?"
Eyolf looked to the sky, "I can show you one more thing before we have to head back to the pack ground."
Raven was excited, "Really? What?"
"The cave of Hait and Sköll, the wolves that chased the sun and moon," Eyolf said dramatically. "Only the bravest of úlfrsons go in there."
"What's in there?" asked Raven incensed with curiosity.
Eyolf shrugged, "It has many things. The story of our people and the most ancient of things. Of our hopes and dreams. Prophecies. Stuff like that," she giggled at the use of the modern expression.
"That sounds important. Only the bravest go?"
"Well..." Eyolf went on, "my father says that only those worthy can enter and behold what's inside."
"Have you been inside before?"
"My father has taken me before, I saw the story of our people." She all but stuck out her chest in childish boasting.
"Was it nice?" Raven asked, she loved a good story.
Eyolf smiled, "It's a tale we all know." She took Raven's hand, "And now you will know it too."
With Ylva keeping watch they ran through the forest, chasing on another until they came to the cave. It was tall and massively wide like the one Ylva brought her to, this one was different though. Raven touched the frame of the cave, it was carved to be this wide, it was smoothed into swirls that no doubt went all around within the cave.
"Wow. They're like carvings."
"Come," Eyolf went in and gave a howl that illuminated the whole room.
Her howl sounded like a young wolf's although she appeared human, it's volume brought rows and columns of crystals to life. The crystals glowed a green hue that lit up the entire cave that held markings and paintings. The painting were in black, red and blue ink, of wolves and warriors, some were on grand horses and chariots with spears, swords and shields, along with greatly detailed armor. The wolves were lean and slender, long legged and elegantly painted. It was like reading a picture story, each part of the cave was one part of the story.
The men were fighting the wolves, one in particular, a huge black mean looking wolf with two smaller wolves slightly less intimidating behind him. There was a battle, and the wolves fled, many of the men had died the big wolf had vanished. One of the smaller wolves went on a journey of its own, he chased the sun while the other chased the moon, and they too had vanished. Another picture showed a grand wolf escorting people to a forest, Eyolf's people, away from the remaining army of men who had tried to kill the bigger wolves.
"It's like a history book," exclaimed Raven. "These are like your ancestors then?"
Eyolf nodded, "The story of my people, children of Fenrir, Sköll and Hati. Protected by Ylva, the great she-wolf."
Raven was mystified by the story, it was their story of creation. She felt so small and unimportant, the world, the universe was full of wonderful stories that nobody knew about. She wished that she could know more about these wonderful stories, these larger than life stories. All of them.
"What are these crystals?" Raven asked Eyolf. "They're so bright."
"We call them sun crystals because all say that they have the power of the sun." Eyolf touched a crystal as did Raven. They were warm and they flickered when she touched them. "Careful, they can go out." She gave a smile, "If you were úlfur we would say you are a child of Sköll who chased the sun. The fire of the sun is within you."
"I have a friend with cold hands," Raven murmured hypnotized by the glow, "he would be of the moon, of Hati, then? Right?"
"That's right." Eyolf grabbed her hand. "Come there is more to see."
"More? What else is there?"
Eyolf voiced echoed. "There is a stone that shows you what you desire, only if you are ready to behold it." She looked ahead, "Sometimes it shows you what you need to see as well. It lies with the person."
It reminded her of the heart of the Tardis. It had a mind of it's own and when the Doctor was in trouble it would save him sometimes, it also took him where he needed to go. Maybe it was like the Tardis but instead of taking you there, it told you what you had to do or what you needed to know. Raven wondered if it would tell her anything.
The rock was like a big cluster of crystals, stacked like steps in a triangular fashion. It shined brighter than the other stones and hummed like a swarm of humming birds and you could feel the warmth that brought through the chill of the air. Eyolf stuck out her hand and the light grew slightly.
"I saw what I was to be," she said softly. "I am to replace my father and guard with Ylva, be her voice for the pack and those who do not hear her."
Raven made a silent wow, Eyolf had seen her future. What would it show her? "Would it work for me?" She asked.
"Let's see!" Eyolf decided. "Ylva declared that you are a friend of the pack, so it should work for you. Her word is law." She grabbed Raven's hand by the wrist placing it at the center of the crystal formation wrapping her fingers around the column.
The crystal was warm, like the glow of a light bulb. She gripped the crystal and the pendant that beat on her chest burned and a blue light burst from it and everything was on fire. Blue fire. For a moment she thought of the bathtub in the dull yellow glowing room, the way the water had blurred her vision, and the tight burning in her chest the longer she was submerged.
Raven heard seagulls and the ocean waves, she felt hot sand against her exposed skin and the sun beating down on her brow. She rubbed her eyes and stood up. Where was she? She was in the cave with Eyolf and now she was somewhere else. Had she jumped worlds again? But this place looked like Midgard, like Earth. She was very confused. Had she popped back to Earth? But it didn't look like New York, or anywhere she had been. So where was she?
"Smile for the camera you two!"
Raven froze and turned her head to the voice, she crouched down on instinct and stared. She had the voice before through cheap speakers, distorted by static and the buzz of technology trying to revive what was no longer there. It was her mother. The voice came from the shore, and even from behind she knew who the woman was, it was her mother. She was so beautiful, she was in a blue and green tie-dye beach dress with a wide rimmed sun hat and slippers, she holding up a camera taking a picture. She was taking a picture of two people in the water, a man and a baby. It took Raven a moment to see but she nearly screamed when it dawned on her, it was Harris. Big and tough looking, a big grinning face gently holding a baby that kicked happily at the water clapping her hands excitedly. It was her, she recognized the pink and orange bathing suit from old pictures. Her mommy had loved to put her in pink.
She was awe-struck. It was how things used to be, the times she couldn't remember because it made her so sad. She felt herself too blinded sided to cry, her mommy was alive and laughing. She was feet from her and she couldn't go to her. Everything in the world suddenly became insignificant and unnecessary, all that mattered was this moment, that had faded from her memory coming back to her now. She felt like crying now.
"Oh no, my hat!" She heard her mother cry as a strong wind blew. "I got it!"
Raven made a gash for some tall grass, ducking. She had no idea why she hid but she didn't know if she should say something, or nothing at all, if she should hide or take advantage for the last time she would see her mother ever again. In a Doctor Who episode, a companion went back in time to see her father who had died and she was supposed to stay hidden but she didn't. It caused time to be damaged and Raven knew that damaging time could effect the future, and she didn't want her future to change that much. So many questions swirled around her head and she didn't know what to do. She had no idea what to do, what was the right thing to do, and it made her cry. Cry like a little baby. A big baby.
"Hello," a cooed came from behind her, "it's too pretty outside to be crying."
Her voice was so beautiful like a song that it made her look up and spring for a hug, she wrapped her arms around her mother's waist snuggling into her for the last time. The very last time. Raven took in everything; her shampoo, her perfume, the smell of cream and sunblock, the smoothness of her skin, the softness of her touch, her warmth and the weight of her hands on her back and head.
"What's wrong? Were you playing a game and got lost?" A hand held her head. "Where did you come from love?"
She let her pull away and wept at the loss, her mother touched her face and held it up.
Her mommy was so beautiful she had green eyes, green like jewels, long auburn hair that glowed like embers in the sun, her skin was sun-kissed and she was so beautiful. Alive and beautiful. Breathing and beautiful. Looking at her and beautiful. Raven wondered if her mother would recognize her, would she know who she was, see her in Raven or maybe even Tony? Or would she walk away curious but unconcerned with the oddness of her face?
Vivian, at first, smiled at her hoping the befriend her and stop her tears. The more she stared however she noted that this little girls face seemed familiar, the shape of her face, her eyes, the way she followed her with her eyes, the curl and dip of her lips and those darling freckles. Not only that the girl was watching her and she had this look a recognition as if they had met a thousand times before, and Vivian was sure she would remember a face like this. It was so familiar, the way she stared, her eyes, the burdening wisdom in her old soul eyes.
Then it clicked stupidly. A stupid impossible notion fit for the imagination of a Whovian, but she couldn't shake it. This girl had a aura and she was lashing it at her praying with those blubbery tears that Vivian would catch her hook and reel.
"Do I know you?" She asked the little girl. She nodded biting her lip. "Can you tell your name?"
She hesitated and she gave a cooing cry like a wounded cat. "R-R-Raven."
"Raven?" Vivian felt confused. "I have a daughter called Raven," she pointed over she shoulder, "she's right over there."
Raven, this little girl, she had the look of such forlorn she felt at a loss what to say next. But thankfully the girl said something.
"You don't call her Raven all t-the t-t-time..."
"Well no, I don't sometimes I call her -"
"Magpie," she answered for her. "Because they're black birds. A-A-And sometimes you call me mon ange, or little maestro," she hiccuped in between words, "or... When was sick or I couldn't sleep you used to sing me songs. Y-Y-You used to sing me That's Amore by Dean Martin and Norwegian Wood by the Beatles. A-A-And you would make me tea in a mug with puppies and penguins. A-A-And when I went to bed you always said sleep with angels but don't fly away." Her little face crumbled, "Because you used to say my freckles were angels' kisses!"
Vivian stiffed as if she had been slapped.
"Mon dieu," she gasped. "Magpie?"
Raven cried tried to force down her sobs. She knew who she was, she saw her in her. She know it's me, she knows it's me.
Vivian's hands pushed back her hair. "Raven?"
She did see herself in Raven. She could see the remnants of the chubby baby she had left with Harris, her mother's nose, the nearly regal look of her family but she had those Stark eyes. The eyes that shined with haughty arrogance yet playfulness, and that messy hair that needed product to be tamed. In her daughter her eyes were shy and sad, yet that lethal Stark intellect shined within, though with a gentleness that made her want to hold onto Raven and never let her go.
She looked behind her and then back at her. "How is this possible? I left you down there with Harris." She looked at her clothes, "What are you wearing? How old are you?"
"Seven," she sniffled. "I'm seven, and I'm going to be eight soon."
"How did you-" She held her head. "This is too much like a Doctor Who episode."
"I can't explain it either." She wanted to hold on to this moment forever. Hold her mother's hand, who held hers in way no one could ever duplicate. Everything about her was her way, and hers alone.
"Why are you crying?" She asked worriedly. "Why are you crying? Raven Alice Celeste Rocher, answer me."
"I miss you," she sobbed. "I just really miss you!"
Her tone was unmistakeably tragic and lamenting that she understood right away.
"No," her voice was layered in fear and pain. "No. No. No." She grabbed Raven holding her close in a death grip. "God no. God no. Please God no. Not my baby."
Raven dug her hands into her mother, she wanted to commit every inch and pixel like detail to memory and not some dumb photograph or home movie. Raven never wanted to forget her, she wanted remember her until she died.
"Are you okay?" She heard her mother say. "I mean not now, but," she took a composing breath, "with..."
"I'm with my daddy."
She gave a tight sigh. "Well," she swiped her nose, "at least you have him, that's-"
"Not Harris," she interrupted knowing right away who her mother was thinking about. Raven refused to let the thought be finished. "With Tony." Her mother's face contorted to shock. "Tony Stark."
"You're with him? You live with Tony?" She covered her mouth and laughed bittersweetly.
The Tony Stark she knew was no father, the sight of babies or talk of them made him make a cross sign with his fingers. She knew that he would have never expected Raven, even if she was a genius like him, nor did she want her daughter in that environment. The Tony Stark Raven knew was different, you never could predict a Stark.
"Figures." She smiled sadly. "Are you happy?" Raven nodded. "Do you two get along well?"
"He lets me win at chess," she murmured unable to contain her smile. "And we watch movies, and play Cluedo, and we build statues. Metal statues. He hates the cello though."
"I knew he hated classical music," the mood became lighter. "And bet he still likes AC/DC."
"And he hates being handed stuff," she nodded eagerly.
The two laughed despite the tears in their eyes. "I'm not even going to ask why you look like that." Vivian gestured to the outfit, "Never question a Stark."
"But I'm a Rocher," she muttered.
Vivian held her daughter's shoulders. "You are both. But you are so much like your father." She cupped her cheek stroking the pattern of freckles under her eye. "You are going to be someone wonderful. You aren't some passing wind, you are my special little magpie." She kissed her forehead. "You are your father's daughter but you will be more than that someday."
"Tony's special too," Raven said. "He doesn't make weapons anymore. He's a superhero! And he's part of a team of superheroes called the Avengers. I've met them mommy. Captain America. The Hulk. Thor. Hawkeye. Black Widow. All of them."
"I knew it," Vivian said eyes beaming proudly. "I knew it. You are something wonderful," she kissed her again. "And you're safe," she tucked Raven's hair behind her ears. "My little magpie."
"I love you so much mommy," tears came back to her face. "I don't want to go. I don't."
Vivian hugged her daughter, "You have to," she said. "You have to go, my little magpie. Tony must be worried sick. I'm not even going to ask how you got here because I've learn a long time ago that Starks have their own technology."
"No buts," her voice was final. "You go back home," she straightened the imaginary ruffles on her clothes. "You go back home and be a good girl for your papa, understood?"
"Yes mama." She hugged her mother again. "Can I tell you a secret Mommy?"
"Oui, mon ange?"
"The world is so big," her voice was hushed. "Just like they say in Doctor Who, there are so many other things out there. So many stories and we'll never hear them, so many moons and stars. It's so pretty Mommy, I've seen some of them."
"You Starks," her voice was overflown with love and pride, "always making us nincompoops feel like cavemen."
Vivian pulled away and took off the necklace she had around her neck. It was a quarter sized silver horseshoe pendant on a genuine silver chain.
"Here," she put it around her neck, "I bought this with your papa when we were together. I want you to have it." She kissed it, "Alice in wonderland had one. I always loved that name Alice. I never did decide when you were a baby, and Raven is such an unique name. I always loved a poem called The Raven and when I was a little girl I had a lot of ravens by my house, people thought they were pests but I loved them. They loved to steal my mama's jewelery," she laughed.
"What about the Celeste part?" Raven wondered.
"That was my mother's name. Celeste Rocher, she had freckles just like you. She hated them but my father loved to count them."
"I love you Mommy," Raven said for the last time. "I love you so much."
"And I love you Raven, so so so much, mon ange." She gave her a long kiss. "Remember what I said, Raven. You are going to be something wonderful, no question about it, you are special and wonderful. So wonderful and so special. You can do anything. You are Raven Alice Celeste Stark, and you are the most wonderful and most beautiful girl in the whole universe. All of them. You are the best daughter anyone can ask for. Do you hear me?"
"Yes Mommy. I won't forget."
"Good girl, now go home to your papa."
She surrounded by a burning blue light, the warmth licked her skin but it caused no pain. There was no other way to describe the sensation that was coursing through her but as warm, warmth all around her. Her eyes then caught a shape, a wolf. The name Sköll popped in her mind like a whisper, the wolf bowed to her. Off you go little one. She nodded to the wolf.
"But I need to go to Asgard," she said. Was it going to send her back to the Old Lands?
And you shall little one.
Like when you blew on a flame and it grew wilder, so did the blue light around her. It came to life in a spark and her skin felt electric. Like when the hairs raised on your skin from static, only it was ten times that feeling, maybe twenty times intensified. Raven instinctively held her breath as the light carried her away. It was like being stretched and shaken with warm tingles going all along your body. As soon as it began to be too much it ended, in a blink and Raven tumbled to her knees but someone caught her before her head hit the ground. Her vision was spinning like she had gone on a super charged merry-go-round, she tried to see who was helping her but all she could make out was long black hair and icy blue eyes.
"Loki?" She guessed.
"You did well Raven," he responded. "Come," he picked her up, "someone's looking for you."
She made a confirmed coo and wrapped her arms around his neck, feeling safe and sound.
Loki had sensed the girl was coming while his clone was taking a beating from Stark. They would have probably tried to return to Midgard today if not for his intrusion and suicidal distraction. He knew that she would return eventually, but they were all convinced that she was lost to them. He knew that she most likely gone beyond where he had ever tread which made her non-existent to the universe, their universe. He had to bid time before Stark decide to return defeated to Midgard and declare the child dead, even if he had to antagonize that beast. He wondered how they reacted when he battered clone vanished, another wasted moment, but worth the trouble.
No need for Raven to think that her father had no faith in her, that he would so easily give up on her. No need to have her feel that gutting disappointment. She groaned against him and he kissed her temple which had made her snuggle into the crook of his neck.
She had gone quite far. She was dressed primitively in wolf skins, a fashion he only heard in children fables, she stank of animals, dirt and spring water. She looked positively feral, with unkempt hair, black stained fingers and lips. She still had her satchel that was stuffed to the seams with the clothes he had left her in. The little bird had truly gone beyond their reach and came back on her own accord.
Heimdall eyes flickered in disbelief, "This is the child?"
"Unharmed as I promised," he flashed a Cheshire smile. "You of so little faith."
No one stopped him as he walked back to the castle, his clone would vanish once he got to the royal courtyard. The guards knew who she was from a glance and they were hushed passing but Loki halted in his stride to listen for when his clone vanished. A mechanical roar went through the air and Raven stirred holding her head, the jolt of the tesseract must have made her weak. It was expected which was why he had been waiting unseen for her.
Loki had made his way in the palace when a roar made him halt. Damn, he had almost forgot about the beast. His clone was intended to stall the Avengers but it during the distraction he seemed to have angered the good doctor. Not part of the plan, and judging by that roar that had piped Raven's senses, it was infuriated. As he stood in the courtyard, he saw the Hulk's silhouette as it became airborne. It had spotted him. He moved to cover Raven's eyes but she was staring directly ahead, stunned at the approaching collision to feel fear or panic.
He knew better to run, and if he let Raven go the beast would definitely try to kill him. So Loki shield Raven from the debris as the Hulk landed right in front of them. He had seen the Hulk before so its appearance simply annoyed him but Raven had never seen the Hulk, and he felt the pause in her pulse when she stared up at the Hulk.
Raven could only stared at the panting green behemoth. He was huge, like a giant and wide with taunting muscles that made Thor look like nothing, with wrecking ball sized fists. His face was twisted in a sneer with squinty eyes, but she could see traces of Bruce in him. The shape of his nose, the faded scar on his chin and his hair was kind of curly like Bruce's.
Loki's voice broke her investigation.
"Let's not give the girl too much of a fright, shall we?"
"Bruce?" She called cautiously. The Hulk roared indignantly. "H-Hulk," she corrected.
The Avengers were already thundering behind Tony who was chasing after the Hulk when they saw him. They halted dumbstruck when they saw what he was facing and who he had in his arms. Tony felt genuine pang of terror seeing the Hulk and his little frail daughter less than two feet from each other. If he barely squeezed her too tight she was dead.
"My God," Steve panted, "she made it. She actually made it."
"Jesus," breathed Clint hearing the Hulk roar at Raven.
"Goddammit," Natasha breathed.
The Hulk raised his hand and with the most delicacy he was capable of he grabbed Raven by the scruff of her top and bag strap. The girl dangled feet from the ground but kept her eyes on the Hulk who breathed heavily in her face. If she were any animal her legs would have curled in involuntarily.
"I'm sorry," Raven said to the Hulk. "Did I make you mad?"
The Hulk said nothing and his eyes trained on set her down and without any fear she latched herself on his leg hugging tight.
"Don't be mad anymore!" She cried urgently. "Everything's okay now." She looked up at him. "Everything's okay! So don't make a mess okay?"
Steve launched himself in-between the situation grabbed Raven by her shoulder. "That's right," he said. "Everything's okay now and don't need to make a mess. Right Hulk?" He slowly pulled Raven towards him. "See? Raven's just fine. Calm down."
He took a stomp forward leaning his head over them glaring at Loki, he gave a loud roar that made Raven jump and cling to Steve before he closed his eyes and began to shrink. Before her very eyes she watched as the Hulk became Bruce Banner once again, and even more unbelievable, how his pants shrunk with him.
"Wow," she gasped as Bruce Banner was completely before her. Her face broke out in a smile and she launched herself in his arms. "Bruce! I missed you so much!" She then realized where she was, and who surrounded her. "Huh?" Raven held her head up craning around to see who was present. She hadn't properly thought of why they all were here. Her first sight of the Hulk was too exciting. "What are you guys doing here?" She turned to Loki, "Did I take too long?"
"I'm afraid so little one," his tone was so sweet it made them wince.
"Am I in trouble?" She asked the tense adults.
"Of course not," Loki intercepted before anyone could reply. "We were quite worried however."
"It wasn't my fault!" She protested. "I got lost!"
Before Loki could respond Raven was plucked from Bruce's arms by Tony who still was in his suit, but had taken his helmet off. He knew that the Big Guy wouldn't hurt her, and preferred her in the Hulk's arms than Loki's any day, but he didn't hold her soon he was going to burst. He held her close and showered her face with kisses. He smiled so brightly not caring who saw and hugged his little baby. His princess.
"God, I was worried sick." He planted a loud smack on her cheek. "I think you shaved twenty years off my life princess."
She replied abashed, "I'm sorry I took so long Daddy. I didn't mean to."
The scene suddenly was mute. Everyone was looking at the ruffled Raven who stared up at Tony like a scolded pet while he gawked back in a stupor. It was the first time, the very first time she ever called him, to his face, daddy. It floored him. He had honestly thought he would have been Tony for at least a year or more. It was the equivalent of when a father was called dada for this first time, when they came to voice that love with such basic, to the core sincerity.
Tony screeched to a stop. He really like he could cry now. "What?" He asked. "What did you say?"
"I said I was sorry," her face was confused.
"The other part." He had to hear it one more time. Just to make sure he wasn't delirious.
"For taking so long." She looked worried. "Are you mad?"
"No no no," he kissed her cheek. "It wasn't you fault." He kissed her again. "It wasn't your fault."
"Or Loki's," she added seriously.
"You can't be mad at Loki either," she repeated. "It was all my idea." She said hurriedly missing breaths, "I wanted to go and see Yggdrasil and I asked him to take me. And I didn't tell you because I wanted to go. And I knew you would have said no. It's my fault."
A spidery hand came on her head. "You are a very good liar Raven." Loki gave her a smile, "Too bad your father knows me a little better than you."
"He only know that bad parts," she insisted, "I know the good parts. And don't say you don't have any good parts because you do, because I said so."
Loki laughed much to the shell-shocked Avengers who could only gape. "Well, I can't argue with that, now can I?"
"No you can't," she giggled. "Oh! Loki, you won't believe where I've been! I was in the Old Lands with wolf people! I met a giant wolf call Ylva! And I heard the story of Fenrir, Hati and Sköll! I went rock climbing and swimming!"
"The Old Lands?" Thor found his voice. The exchange was growing quite bizarre. He had never known his brother to be fond of children. And the fact that he had created a double was starting to tax his bearings. "You were with the children of Fenrir?" Even Loki's face betrayed his conflict. "And they treated you well?"
"Of course they did! I helped Ylva so they had to be nice to me because she said so."
"Ylva?" Loki echoed. "You helped a daughter of Fenrir?"
"She was all tied up, and she couldn't get out. So I cut the ropes with," she remembered the others behind her. "The thing."
"And how did you get home?" Loki probed. "You went quite far."
"Uhh," she fiddled with the pendant that her mother had given her. "My mommy helped."
Loki brows knotted and Tony face twitched as if he had been punched. "What?"
"Look," she held up the pendant for him to see. "She helped me get home."
Tony felt breathless, he recognized the pendant immediately. "She helped you huh?" He found himself feeling weak kneed.
"She's happy that we're together."
"Is she?" He smiled at the memory of Vivian. "That's great huh?"
Her eyes brimmed with tears, "I got to say goodbye Daddy." Tony could say nothing but a tender kiss to the head, a kiss full with love, apologies and promises. "She was so beautiful Daddy."
"Yeah, I know." He gave a smile. "You had quite an adventure huh?"
"Yeah, I did."
He kissed her again. "God, you stink." He gave a dramatic huff. "You definitely were running wild."
Bruce noticed the other chain around Raven's neck and how Loki watched it with the eye of a predator. Without waiting he blocked the gaze, and he put a hand around her shoulder. He knew what it was long before she spoke. He wanted to enjoy the peace of seeing Raven again but he wanted the tesseract back in Thor's capable hands, and pray that she hadn't been exposed to gamma radiation.
"I hate to be the wet blanket but Raven," she turned her head, "Loki has played a very mean trick on Thor. He took something that didn't belong to him, and," he pulled something out of his pocket, "it looks like this." He handed her her drawing.
Raven stared at the drawing then at Thor and Loki, returning her gaze to the paper.
"Sweetie, I know Loki gave it to you but it's not something you should be fooling around with."
Raven bit her lip and pulled out the pedant pressing and twisting it, with a flash the tesseract popped out landing into her hands. Without a word she twisting the pendant sending it back it the amber colored stone and offered it to Thor.
"I only used it twice," she stated hoping her admittance would neutralize any punishment.
"Thank you Raven," Thor gave her a peck also. "Many would have been tempted by such a thing."
"What for?" She asked. "I don't need anything like that."
"Indeed," he ruffled her hair with a rumbling laugh. The smell then hit him too. "Perhaps you would like bath before you go home?"
Her stomach rumbled, "And some food. Please." She turned back to Loki, "You're coming too, aren't you?"
Thor patted her head, "Me and Loki need to have a talk and then we will join you."
"Okay," she stretched over and whispered in his ear. "Promise you two will be friends again? Cause brothers shouldn't fight, even if one's adopted."
Thor smiled brightly. "Aye, I will try."
She gave Loki her most solemn, no non-sense glare. "That goes double for you mister." He gave a mocking hurt expression that wordlessly said; who me? "I mean it! Cause next time I'm going to take you out!"
"Next time?" Clint echoed. "What next time?"
"I want to hang out with Loki again," she announced boldly. "He's my friend."
Loki looked like he had been given a door to freedom and all the Avengers wanted to take turning beating that smug look off his face. Raven was passionately defending him not caring who gave her a look for it.
"Raven," Natasha began, "Loki hasn't always played nice with everyone. He has done some very bad things and he is supposed to be paying for those crimes," she added targeting Loki lethally. "So I don't think it's the right time for you two to be arranging play dates," she said pleasantly to Raven.
Loki expected this. Raven had seen him in a better perspective than anyone had, she was the closest to understanding him more than he'd like to admit. He was however a little touched at her avid defending, she refused to let the small details to cloud her decision. She had her opinion and it was set in stone.
"Loki can visit," Thor said, "only if he is sincerely sorry for all he has done."
Loki even had to look at him with great perplexity.
"If you," he held the back of Raven's neck. "can see good in him then I believe you will see my brother again Raven."
Raven gushed and smiled at Loki, "Will you Loki?"
Although the majority of the room was murdering him in their minds he came over to her and kissed her forehead. "I suppose, I might. No promises," he lightly warned. She hugged him just the same.
"So wolf people huh? Sounds interesting."
Some woman had volunteered to bathe Raven but Tony didn't want to leave her alone for a second, he probably was using the wrong jugs but hey it was the thought that counts. She was full of dirt, grass and smelled like a wild dog, she had everything but the fleas and ticks. She had brought these weird berries with her, that had dyed up her fingers, teeth and tongue, the weird soap syrup that they had given him was getting most of it off.
"Yeah, I supposed to wait a day for someday who was supposed to help me get home. But I went into a cave and I touched this magic stone that took me to mommy and then I was here."
Tony was trying not to freak out. Raven had gone back in time and saw Vivian, it made him skittish and awed. His daughter could have tore time apart,in plausible Doctor Who rules, all to tell her mother goodbye, to see her one more time, and he only wished he could have told her sorry and that he would take good care of Raven. Or something along the lines of that.
"So what did you tell her?"
"I told her about the Avengers, Iron Man and that you let me win at chess, oh, and that you hate the cello."
"I don't let you win."
"You do too, and, she wanted to know if you still like AC/DC and I told her you did."
"She asked that?"
"Yup, and she's really happy you're a super hero. And she can't believe that you still don't like being handed stuff."
Tony was surprised that Vivian had approved of him so strongly, many people doubted that he would make a good father, even his closest friends were unsure of her parental competence. But she was glad that they were together, happy that he changed. That was all that mattered, he felt a whole new surge of certainty about raising Raven, if Vivian, the Vivian who knew him at his worst had faith in him then why shouldn't he? She knew Raven better than anyone, she had lived with her the longest, knew her the longest and most intimately. If anyone knew what Raven needed, it was her mother.
"She's glad were together huh?"
"She said that we belong together," Raven beamed.
He smiled lathering her hair just like Pepper had taught him. "Think so?"
"Of course I think so!" She declared. "We're Starks aren't we?" Her voice was proud and sure, grinning at him like a chimp. It made him get that generic fuzzy feeling. "And Starks stick together! Right Daddy?"
"Always princess. Always."
The end. Just want to send shout outs and lots of love to all my lovely reviewers and all you wonderful followers and favers. LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH.
So since I have been asked to do other stories (or a sequel *wink*) I will let you decide amongst yourselves. When you review, let me know what kind of Avengers story shall I take a shot at next. Which ever idea, theme or what if scenario get mosts votes I will attempt to write a chappie too and you can judge.
But spoiler alert, some scenarios I will not write if I can't sell it. So be warned, I gotta feel it.