Dust flew into the air as two sets of boots raced across the compound. Using his blue, red and silver shield as a buffer between them and the bullets flying through the air, Steve waited until they were covered by the darkness of the forest, before lowering it and turning to face the sweating archer.
"You think you can handle it from here?"
The concern in the Captain's voice was evident, if not slightly touching. Not bothering to return the blonde's gaze, Clint took in his surroundings, quickly noting the best positions and possible escape routes. "Yeah," he muttered at last, hooking his bow over his shoulder in preparation of the next part of his mission. "I got this Cap, you go do your bit. I don't think Thor's going to wait for you."
Not sure if the archer was speaking the truth, but knowing that he did indeed have to return to the compound where the Norse God was currently using his hammer as a concrete boomerang, blue eyes steeled on last glance at the shorter sniper and nodded.
"Keep us updated."
Sparing a glance at the solider, Clint watched as sharp red boots spun on the spot and pushed off back the way they came from. He knew that sending Steve off like that was stupid, and he was more than likely going to be chewed out about it later, but at this very moment they had the upper hand. He was not going to lose that just because some idiot got lucky with a shot. Making his way towards the lowest branch of his chosen tree, Clint stomped down the gasp that threatened to escape his mouth. Bullets to the thigh were a bitch, but he had had worse.
Favouring his left leg, the archer latched onto the nearest branch available and started the slow, painful process of getting himself into position. Shouts and sounds of explosions made their way through the air, but the blonde did not let that deter him. Finally reaching a branch that would give him best eyesight of the field below whilst covering him from vision, Clint took a second to glance down at his aching leg and assess just how bad the wound was.
The bullet was still lodged, that much was clear as he poked at the blood soaked patch on his uniform. It seemed to have missed his artery but was still bleeding heavily. Snapping open a pocket on his vest, Clint pulled out a folded bandage and a roll of gauze before closing the pocket back up and setting to work. Wrapping the gauze tightly around the wound, the archer knew that he would have to go see medical after this, but until then, would be fine.
Finally tucking the end of the gauze underneath the other layers, the agent wiped his blood caked hands on his other leg, before grabbing his bow and preparing himself for the next move.
Fuck Natasha was going to kill him later for this, he just knew it.
Dew covered leaves and branches whipped at green hued cheeks as the Hulk raced through the thick foliage; the four legged creature an ever present shadow by his side. The news of the Magic Man disappearing had both hurt and angered the Hulk. He was still upset with what Bruce had done with the Tin Man, but that was nothing compared to the loss of the Magic Man. Magic Man calmed the Hulk's inner anger, made him feel like more than just the mindless beast everyone calls him.
Breathing in deeply, Acid green eyes flashed ominously as the scent of the Magic Man and another swirled around his nostrils.
He was getting close.
Pushing his calf muscles into overdrive, the Hulk let out a mighty roar. Howling in reply, Moony pushed his food deprived body harder, but knew that if they didn't catch up soon, then he would be left behind. Racing through the darkness, the pair finally caught sight of two glowing red lights off to the horizon, when a sudden flash of greying white to the left caught their eyes. Turning his head to see just what it was, Moony let out a startled yelp as the white blur crashed into his side, pushing both him and it down onto the moss covered forest floor.
Hearing the yelp, Hulk felt the need to go back and help the wolf, but scent of the Magic Man flew past his nose once more. Magic Man was injured and just within arm's reach. Glancing over his shoulder, Hulk caught sight of the wolf forcing himself to stand back up, and huffed. Wolf was fine, Wolf could take care of himself, at least until Hulk came back with Magic Man.
Nodding at the thought, Hulk ignored the shouting voice of Bruce Banner at the back of his head; telling him to go back and help the wolf, and continued on his way towards the glowing red tail-lights.
Slamming his opponent's face into the silo, Tony heard a sickening crunch that was sure to be the man's nose breaking. The numbers were starting to die down, but the chaos was still there. Pinning the screaming man there with the hand wrapped in the idiot's hair, Tony took the second to quickly glance around the area and see how everyone else was fairing.
By the number of bodies slumped along the parameter with arrows sticking out of some part of their body, the genius could see that the archer was hard at work. Steve and Thor were in the middle of the compound, re-enacting their wonderful performance in the 'Battle of New York', and Natasha and Coulson were slipping in and out of the shadows taking down anyone that had somehow bypassed the other three. Feeling the man in his grasp start to pull against his hold, Tony turned his attention back to the moron. "You just didn't know when to run, did you?"
Watching as the curly haired man screamed up at him in a language that he thought might be Turkish, Tony quickly grabbed both sides of the man's head and jerked it to the left.
The sound echoed through the enclosed section of the camp that the pair had somehow stumbled into, but the engineer paid it no attention. Once, not so long ago, he would have. He would have been sickened by it too. The feeling of his blood stained hands was bad enough with all the deaths his weapons had caused, but to actually kill a man himself without the use of the Iron Man suit?
Glancing down at the dead body as it slumped to the ground, Tony couldn't help but notice that there was not an ounce of pity or self-disgust hidden within him, crying out at the crime he had just committed. Maybe his former title was correct? Maybe he truly was the Merchant of Death, and the Iron Man suit had just been a way of containing his weapons to a point that no-one else could use them, but at the same time make it look like he was trying to save the world.
This was not the first man he had killed, and certainly not the first with his bare hands. So why was this particular man so important? Why was this situation he found himself in forcing the billionaire to question his entire Being?
Tearing his wide brown eyes away from the lifeless shell laying at his feet, Tony forced himself to walk away and back into the fray. This was not the time to question his choices; they were there to get his husband back, the end.
And as the first drops of rain hit his cheeks, the strong willed brunette that wore his masks like second skins felt the little boy still waiting for his parents to return home fade away, leaving nothing more than a gaping hole in his chest and a lone tear in the corner of his eye.
The stench of decaying flesh and musty earth was more than enough for Moony to know who it was without looking up.
Raging in the back of his mind, Remus yelled at his counterpart to stand up and face the beast head on. Forcing his suddenly aching paws to straighten out and hold his weight, Moony gave himself a second to clear his mind before turning to face his latest threat.
Standing off to the side, Greyback stared mockingly down at the weakling he had created, and sneered. He had had such high hopes for the cub, and now here he stood, half starved and mentally broken thinking that he could take on the greatest Alpha of the Northern Hemisphere. The thought was just too much. Shaking his head in amusement, Fenrir made to follow the green giant and the wheeled machine, when the sound of a low growl stopped him mid step.
Glancing over at the rustic wolf, Fenrir knew he shouldn't have been surprised, but the sight of Moony raising his hackles in warning had the greying wolf mentally raising his eyebrows. Knowing where this was leading, but needing to see if the wolf would really follow through, Fenrir purposefully took another step forward and waited to see what the other would do.
Moony knew that his maker was goading him, but as the second step was taken, the slightly smaller wolf couldn't help but react accordingly, Leaping across the path, the Marauder quickly skidded to a halt in front of the wolf and snarled. The threat was clear to the both of them; 'One more step, and I will rip you to shreds'.
Time slowed to a stop.
Staring down the other, the two abnormally large wolves stood frozen waiting for the other to make the first move. Quickly growing impatient and wanting to move the show along, Fenrir lifted his paw almost mockingly and slowly placed it down on the dirt between them.
The reaction was instantaneous.
Snarling, Moony pushed himself off the ground and right into the boulder of muscle and fur, his teeth biting at any flesh it could find. Rearing back onto his two hind legs, Fenrir used his front to try and force the smaller wolf away, but found the creature to be much more stubborn than what he had first thought. Finally getting in a decent swipe, the greying wolf used the move to his advantage. Snapping his jaw shut over the back of Moony's neck, Fenrir mentally grinned at the startled whimper the other issued, before using his mass and strength to throw the wolf across the forest floor.
Sailing through the air, Moony yelped as his body crashed into the trunk of a rather thick tree, dislodging at least one of his ribs in the process. Glancing over at Fenrir as he gave a wolfish grin, Moony knew that the monster was expecting him to not stand back up, but he now had something to fight for, and like bloody hell he was going to let that bastard lay one paw on his cub!
Watching as the other finally decided that he wasn't getting back up and turned to leave, Moony sprung up off the ground and latched his teeth around the side of Fenrir's neck. Yelping in shock and slight pain, Fenrir attempted to use his legs to scratch the insolent cub off his side, but Moony held tight. He didn't have the strength for one more bout.
Sinking his teeth in deeper, the sudden taste of cooper almost shocked the rustic wolf into letting go, but the image of Fenrir going after his cub was enough to keep him going on. The whimpers grew louder the harder he bit, the flow of blood gushing into his mouth. Feeling the other's attempts to remove him grow weaker, Moony knew that it was time to end the Big Bad Wolf's reign. With one last squeeze, Moony closed his eyes and savoured the feel of bone crushing under his teeth.
Feeling the larger wolf go still, Moony let the bloodied body drop from his mouth and onto the forest floor.
It was over.
He was finally free.
Ignoring the spoils of war that lay at his feet just waiting for him to feast upon, Amber eyes glanced back towards the route the green giant had taken. His cub was still missing, but by now the trail was starting to fade. Sensing the oncoming thunderstorm about to hit, the wolf knew that he had to at least try.
Taking a step towards the path, Moony was surprised when a sudden wave of dizziness washed over him, forcing him to the ground. Glancing down at his body, Amber eyes attempted to figure out what was happening, but his mind was too fuzzy. Whimpering, Moony laid his down on his paws and huffed loudly. Dark circles entered his vision and the wolf knew that he wouldn't be awake for much longer. Hoping that the green giant would be successful and bring his cub back to him, the wolf finally closed his eyes and let the darkness consume him.
Pain shot through his body as the jeep bounced along the untouched terrain. Feeling his mind slip in and out of consciousness, Harry stared out at the passing trees and bushes and sighed deeply. It wouldn't be too much longer and then he'll be on a plane to some other remote place where the others will never find him.
Starting, emerald eyes widened as the anger filled roar tore through the night air. Ignoring the idiot in the front seat, Harry forced his body to sit up from its slumped position and glance out the rear window into the darkness. He knew that sound.
They hadn't given up! Catching a flash of green through the dark shadows Harry felt his eyes well at the sight. The Hulk was coming to save him, and the idiot in the front seat could do nothing about it. Feeling his mind cloud once again, the wizard laid himself back down onto the backseat and closed his eyes knowing that next time he opened them, he would be with his new family once more. Letting the sound of Hulk's earth shaking footsteps lull his aching mind into a deep sleep, Harry let a small smile grace his lips as the world blurred away into a state of unconsciousness.
It was obvious to both the Hulk and Bruce that the tiny man in the car had not been in the area for very long and had never driven in a forest before. Snorting in unison as they caught sight of the man screaming at the bogged car, Hulk slowed his pace and quietly made his way towards the small vehicle. The air reeked of Magic Man, and from the smell of it, he was in bad shape. Growling at the thought, Hulk reached for the roof of the jeep and rolled it back like a sardine can. Screaming in a surprisingly high pitched voice, the driver picked up the gun sitting on the passenger seat and opened fire.
Frowning as the annoying pieces of metal hit his face, Hulk reefed the metal fire-rod out of the driver's hands and snapped it in half.
"Holy Shit!" the driver screamed, stumbling back as far as the car's restrictions would allow him.
Watching as the tiny man yelled out profanities whilst attempting to reach the other door in a bid for escape, Hulk waited until the tiny man actually touched the door handle before picking him up by the scruff of his neck. Holding him up at eye level, the Hulk could smell the fear radiating off the man, and for once instead of being disgusted or angered by it, the Hulk felt an odd sensation in the middle of his chest that made him want to grin threateningly at the tiny man.
"It's called amusement," Bruce offered from where he was watching at the back of his mind. "And whilst this is kind of dark, I wouldn't disagree with it either."
Huffing, Hulk narrowed his eyes at the begging man in his hands and wondered out loud. "What do we do with tiny man?"
Mentally shrugging, Bruce stared down at the quivering mess. "Don't know, don't care," he admitted, feeling completely honest for once. "But make it quick, we still need to get Harry back to medical."
Understanding that he was being given full reign, Hulk kept his gaze on the now crying man and grinned menacingly.
The rain was bucketing down as the requested back-up touched down on the little clearing that had somehow turned into a war zone. Motioning for the squad of seven to exit the chopper and enter sequence one to secure the area, Agent Simon Geoff jumped down from his position on the chopper's leg and scanned his surroundings with sharp hazel eyes.
Multiple men of the Middle Eastern persuasion ran haphazardly across the compound, waving weapons at anything and everything that moved. Two of the newest additions to the SHIELD recruitment stood in the middle of the compound, flinging their weapons around whilst their bright spangled uniforms made them stick out like a sore thumb. Glancing down at a dead man with an arrow sticking out of his eye socket, Geoff plucked his toothpick out of his mouth and flicked it onto the ground.
"Agent Geoff, you took longer than expected."
Turning away from the body that clearly stated the agency's pet bird as also present, Geoff stared down at the higher ranking Agent making his way towards him, and forcing down a sneer as he did so. "Agent Coulson," he nodded, ignoring the jab at his team arriving late. "Heard that your new team were in over their heads, so we got came to see if we could salvage anything worth saving."
Frowning at the comment, Coulson glanced over to where Steve and Thor were taking down a group of heavily armed terrorists, and shook his head in disagreement. "I wouldn't say that. We are about to have the package back in our control, and I called you in to take over until Clean Up arrives so that we can return to base as quickly as possible."
"So you basically called us in to clean up their mess?" Snorting at the thought, Geoff eyed the shorter man before him, and finally let the sneer take over his features. "In case this has escaped your mind, Sir, my team are a highly trained group of specialists that deal with rogue assassins and terrorist's cells on a weekly basis. We are not a team of nannies to take over half finished jobs and clean up when your latest boy band can't do it themselves!"
He knew that he had overstepped the boundaries, but as he glared down at the stony face of Agent Phil Coulson, Geoff felt that he had every right to be pissed. For years he had watched from the sidelines as Fury's right hand man pampered to the every whim of the two pieces of scum that called themselves' Agents. Before the little twittering idiot had been brought in, Simon had been the best sniper at SHIELD. He had been the one they called when they wanted a mission done right! He had been the one that was respected by the entire organization!
Glancing back at the arrow sticking out of the dead body like a bold flag for all to see, Geoff felt his sneer deepen. Barton took what was rightfully his...
"You will do as instructed Agent Geoff," Coulson's unshakable voice grounded into his skull. "And then once this is over, your team will report to the Hellicarrier for a debriefing. Is that clear?"
Knowing that now was not the time or place, Geoff nodded sharply. Hazel eyes watched as the shorter man bowed his head in return before pivoting on the heel and storming back into the fray, Geoff silently motioned for his in place team members to stay in position until he motioned otherwise.
The number of lives passing through her hands was to the point that she had long since lost count. Not bothering to watch as the life drained from yet another person in her grasp, Natasha glanced around her surroundings, desperate to find the one of the few people that mattered in all of this.
"C'mon," she muttered, quickly becoming frustrated. "Where are you, you son of a bitch?"
Catching sight of an arrow sailing through the air a foot in front of her, the red head followed its trajectory and almost cried out in delight. Standing behind the man that her partner had just taken down, was none other than the Leader of this camp, and Leader of the Ten Rings. Dropping the corpse onto the ground, Natasha kept her gaze on the frantically packing man, and opened her com-link.
"What is it Natalie? I'm kinda in the middle of something."
Brushing off the use of her pseudo-name, the red head let the corners of her lips switch slightly upward. "I found him."
Static silence filled the link at her words were processed by not only the billionaire genius, but the rest of the team, but the back-up crew she had seen get into place as well.
"Can you safely obtain him?" Steve's voice finally echoed through, shattering the heavy silence.
The answer was not from her, but from the brunette leading the mission. Having already had this conversation with the billionaire, Natasha knew that no-one else was going to get between Stark and his prey, so she simply waited for the oncoming argument; her eyes never leaving the Leader as he scurried around grabbing items.
"Tony if Natasha has a clear shot-"
"No. That bastard killed my friend, kidnapped me and tortured my husband. No-one touches him except me."
Silence filled the com-link once more. Watching as the bald headed man started towards the jeeps, Natasha slipped into a shadow and started to follow. "He's on the move."
The silent battle of the Wills continued to rage through the radio waves until suddenly Coulson's ever stable tone rang through. "Pull him out into the open Stark. If we need to give you back up, I'd rather it not be near anything flammable."
"Roger that Agent. Where is he Nat?"
"Heading towards the south side of the car park."
"I'm on my way."
Time slowed, and sped, and blurred as the brunette weapon's designer made his way across the rain soaked compound; flecks of mud splattering the back of his jeans with each step. Taking no notice of the red and white shield as it sang through the air in front of him, nor the blot of lighting to his left as it lit up the power station, Tony kept his mind and his eyes narrowed only upon the light at the end of the tunnel, and the man that was standing at the end of it.
"Tony, hurry up! He's leaving!"
Forcing his already abused muscles to go faster, brown eyes widened as his boots lost traction on the muddy ground, and swept out from underneath him. Watching as the dark brown mess came to meet him, Tony did not dare close his eyes instead focusing on the pile of barrels and crates currently hiding his goal from his gaze. Barely registering the mud and rain that now caked his body, the engineer screamed at his arms and legs. This was not the way that it was going to end. Raza was not going to get away this time.
Letting out an inhuman growl of frustration and desperation, two lightly toned built arms prised way under his chest and with a sudden strike of adrenalin, pushed the tiring body back up onto its feet. Not bothering to take a minute to breathe, Tony compelled his feet to once again start moving.
With each step, the brunette could feel a great force attempting to drag him back. Steps were becoming sluggish and harder to make, yet the last Stark refused to give up.
"I will not let him win," he muttered, not realising that the com link was still open. "Not this time. This ends now."
Grabbing onto the corner of a crate to help balance his feet on the slippery mud, Tony suddenly felt the air shift once more and the force pulling him back disappear. Taking a deep breath, the billionaire took a second to straighten his back, before round the corner and facing the man that had started it all.
Half hanging out of a cargo truck, the bald headed man stilled at the sound of his name. The brunette could tell from the way that the man stood there, that he had not expected to be found; at least, not until he was fully in the truck. Lowering his feet back on to the ground, Raza closed the truck's door before turning around and facing the super hero he had help create.
"Stark," The smile on the Leader's face was anything but comforting. Filled with cold eyes and sharp teeth, Tony had the distinct feeling that the man was a rather large predator, and he, was the prey. "I thought that you would have followed your husband into the forest. Does he mean so little to you?"
Not rising to the bait, Tony kept his tone neutral as he answered. "Just because I'm not there doesn't mean that the situation isn't being taken care of. Besides, you and I have unfinished business."
Nodding in agreement, Raza took a step forward; grinning as he caught sight of the tension build in the billionaire's shoulders. "So we do Mr Stark, so we do."
The sky fell around them as the light shower worsened until even the worst monsoon season would be green with envy.
Not taking his eyes off the bald headed man, Tony called out. "You know that there is only one way that this is going to end."
"With my head on a silver platter?" Taking another step forward, Raza spread his arms wide and laughed out into the night. "You are without your suit, Iron Man, and the gun in your hand is useless without bullets. Tell me, how will you win when you have no weapon to hide behind?"
"I don't need a weapon. I will win, and it will be by my own hand."
The sudden bolt of lightening was like a signal, as the pair took part in their own little show down. Racing towards the other before the light could even fully leave the sky, the pair lifted their arms and aimed for the other's face. Feeling his fist connect with the man's cheek bone as he ducked the fist heading his way, Tony pulled back to land another hit, missing the foot swinging around to take out his left side.
Pain flared through his body as his rib shattered under the hit. Refusing to let out any more than a pain filled grunt, Tony lost his concentration for one vital second, and immediately wished he hadn't.
"You should have just made me that bomb Mr Stark," Raza spat, lowering the knee that he had forced the brunette's face into, successfully breaking his nose. "If you had, then we wouldn't be here. Your husband wouldn't be under my control. But you didn't! It is you who will die here tonight Mr Stark, and once I move onto my next base, I think that I will turn your little love into my personal slave, just to spite your memory. I will take great pleasure in breaking him, and when he no longer remembers your name, I will fuck him until he is screaming out mine."
Seeing red as the mental images of Raza touching his little green eyed wizard penetrated his mind, Tony pushed his body back off the ground that it had landed on when his nose had broken. Using the momentum to his advantage, the brunette lunged at the smirking Arab, pushing them both back down onto the ground.
Attempting to find some purchase on the squirming body above him, Raza for the first time since their little game had started, truly feared for his life. Grabbing onto the engineer's side, the Arab attempted to flip them over so that he would be on top, but was stopped by a right hook to the jaw. Not given time to recover, Raza felt another, and another, and another land on his body.
He knew that he had to stop, that the man should go into SHIELD custody and be taken care of by Fury and Coulson; but he just couldn't. This man was responsible for so much, and no-one but Tony himself was going to give him his final sentence. Not after everything that he had been put through because of him. Feeling the body below him become still and lacking any fight, the brunette glanced down at the barely alive Leader. Dark brown eyes stared up at him from slitted eyes, the bruises and swelling already taking effect on the abused body of the once feared Leader.
Knowing that he couldn't go on for much longer, Tony lowered his head so that his lips were align the shell of Raza's ear. "You will never touch my husband or anyone I love again. You will die right here, right now; and you will die with the knowledge that you lost."
Watching as the man gasped up at him, his eyes filling with fear and anger, Tony grabbed each side of Raza's head and breathed deeply.
"See you in hell."
The rain continued to bucket down as the team made their way towards a chopper waiting off to the side lines for them. There were still a few men running around and fires to be put out that the weather couldn't reach, but as far as any of them were concerned, that was the back-up team's problem now.
The death of Raza had not been as private as Tony had hoped. After rolling off the dead body, the billionaire had been immediately hulled to his feet by Thor and Steve whilst Coulson had watched on. No-one had dared say a word as they had regrouped, but once the brunette had heard his voice echo in the com-link, he knew that the rest of the team had heard his last words to his personal devil.
"Clint Francis Barton! What have you done to your leg?"
Glancing over to where the archer was being coddled by the master assassin, Tony raised an eyebrow at the scene, but decided that now wasn't the best time to say anything; not while he still had the look on Raza's face as he snapped his neck still fresh in his mind.
"What's the matter Barton? Can't take a little scratch?"
The sudden tension in the three official SHIELD agents caught the attention of the other three Avengers. Glancing over at the bulky blonde agent making his way towards them, Tony knew that he was the one that spoke. Seeing Steve and Thor subtly lift their weapons in preparation in the corner of his eye, the brunette let his body relax against the side of the chopper once more as he took in the show.
"Was there something you needed Agent Geoff?" Ah, Coulson. Ever the diplomat.
Ignoring the superior Agent, Geoff made his way further towards Clint and Natasha, a massive grin on his face as he did so. "I mean, I knew that you were soft Barton, being a carnie freak and all that, but seriously? Does she put out too, or did Fury let you keep her so that he could save on medical costs?"
No-one had seen her move. Lashing out quicker than Thor and Steve could even step forward, Natasha had the man twice her size pinned to the ground with a black eye and knife held to his most sensitive region.
Eyeing the pair on the ground and the amused archer staring down at them, Steve glanced over at his hopeful lover in question as to if he should interfere, but after catching a slight shake of the head, lowered his shield and turned back to watch; Thor quick to follow.
Digging the blade into the man's pants, Natasha waited until she received a frightened whimper before staring down at her prey and growling. "If I ever hear you say a word about Hawkeye or any of my team again, I will cut your balls off and use them as decorations on my Christmas tree. Am I understood?"
Feeling the blade a little too close to said parts, Geoff quickly nodded in acceptance. Watching as the idiot squirmed uncomfortably below her, Natasha dug the knife in one more time, before letting the man stand back up and shuffle away from her.
"I will not be threatened by some psycho bitch Coulson!" Geoff shouted out, pointing at said smirking psycho bitch and missing the glares from every other member of the Avengers as he did so. "This will be reported when I'm debriefed, and I will demand that she gets pulled from SHIELD and chucked into the fucking detention centre like she should have been in the first fucking place!"
Not at all liking the idiot in front of him, Tony stepped forward, filling the gap that was left between the Agents and Stave and Thor. "I don't know what world you've been living in, Agent," the brunette sneered. "But in case you haven't noticed, Agent Romanoff is no longer under the control of SHIELD."
Frowning, Geoff pointed at her suit and more importantly, the SHIELD logo. "Then what do you call that genius?"
Glancing over at said logo, Tony rolled his eyes and shrugged. "A simple case of necessity. I have yet to finish Agent's Romanoff and Barton's new outfits, and we were on a strict dead line for this mission."
"SHIELD would never just give up those two. Their options when they arrived, was join or jail-"
"SHIELD has no say in this." Ignoring the glances he knew he was receiving from everyone; Natasha and Phil a little less obviously, Tony kept his sights sorely on the dick in front of him and the problem at hand. "Nick Fury and Agent Coulson created the Avenger's Initiative, however it was vetoed by the Council before any of the members were contacted. All members were brought in simply as consultants, and formed the team on their own terms. They are currently living on Avenger's land, being paid by a source other than SHIELD, and any equipment being used by them, is provided by the Stark Industry. Agents Romanoff and Barton filed their resignment as full time Agents for SHIELD before the battle of New York, so any complaint that you make to your higher ups is more or less a waste of paper."
Gapping at the billionaire, the blonde Agent attempted to come up with some form of a comeback, but was halted as a loud crashing sound made itself known from off in the forest. Rounding on the direction that the sound came from, the team watch with a mixture of relief and happiness as Hulk blundered his way out of the darkness.
Forgetting about the dumbass he had just schooled, Tony led the rest of the team on a race across the compound. "Hulk!"
Staring around wildly for a sign of anyone he knew, the Hulk smiled widely as he caught sight of the group racing towards him. Striding forward, the green giant stopped just as he came level with the group of mismatched heroes, and pulled what looked like a fur pelt off his shoulder. "Wolf no wake."
Reaching up, Thor took what he now recognised as Moony from the Hulk's meaty palm and cradled the limp wolf to his broad chest. "Fear not, friend Hulk, I will make sure that the brave wolf gets the assistance he requires."
Grunting, Hulk nodded down at the Norse god, before turning to the worried Tin Man. Trying to smile reassuringly, Hulk lowered the arm he had kept cradled to his chest, and showed the metal man his treasure.
Glancing down at the frail body of his beloved Harry, Tony felt his eyes well up at the sight. Reaching forward, the brunette took no notice of the people around him or the place they were in, and just held his husband as close as he physically could, his warmth and steady heartbeat reassuring him like nothing else could.
They had done it.
They had saved Harry.
He was much thinner of course, and Tony knew that there would be scars both physical and mental that they would have to work through together, but the fact remained that his husband was back and Tony was never letting him go again. Glancing up at the rest of the team as they circled around the couple with massive grins and happy tears, Tony eyed each and every one of his new family, and felt his face split in two.
"Let's go home."
Sharp clicks rang through the large empty space, as the sharp edged man made his way through the shed.
"You better have good news for me. I'm growing tired of waiting."
Glancing up at the new arrival, a shaky hand ran through normally stylized hair as the man went back to what he was originally working on. "If you had kept Pym on, this wouldn't be taking nearly as long."
"Pym was a loose end that had to be taken care of before he unwound the entire tapestry."
"Pym was a genius and liked to code his work in such a way that you need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure it out."
Glaring up at the unshaven, distressed looking Justin Hammer, General Ross forced down the sneer that threatened to encompass his face at the man's less than stellar appearance, the man made his way closer to the robot shells littering the floor. "How much longer, Hammer? You said three months, it's been two."
Putting down the wrench he had been using, Hammer picked up a dirty rag from the side table and used it to wipe his greasy hands. "You can't rush art General," he reprimanded, sighing loudly as his neck popped back into place. "I have my best men working on it as we speak, and the first prototypes will be fully functional as promised, when promised."
Kicking the chest cavity one more time for good measure, the General nodded his head in satisfaction before making his way back to the hanger door.
"By the end of the month Hammer! Or I'll use you as our next lab rat."
Sorry for the long down period, there was just so many assignments! However, now that I'm on holidays hopefully I'll get to upload more. This signals the end of "The Difference working together makes"! Yay! I feel like dancing! The next chapter in the series will continue on from when the Avengers return home, and will finally introduce the side story I've had going here into the main plot. There will be laughter, there will be tears, and there will be a ton load more of explosions! So keep your eyes out!
Hard Headed Woman.
PS- Just a quick thanks to everyone that has followed this story, or better yet replied. It always lightens my day to see how much you enjoy what I write no matter how bad I may accidently go off the emotional deep end. Cheers!