I'm at war with the world
And they try to pull me into the dark
I struggle to find my faith
As I'm slipping from your arms
-Awake and Alive by Skillet

The truck rattled to a stop, and Clint gave a sigh of relief. He was still alive. That had to be a good thing. He looked over at Natasha and rubbed his forehead. Oh dear, how would he explain this to Loki? One did not simply say, "Antoinette has died, and I brought a replacement who just happens to be a girl who beat you to a pulp last she saw you" because it would not go over well. Perhaps the more subtle approach would help? "Antoinette is permanently missing, so here's Nat! No, Clint shook his head quietly. That would not work either.

Natasha looked over towards her companion, and she let out a sigh, and said, "I'll deal with Loki." It was the obvious problem with her arrival. She couldn't be smuggled in or anything, so she'd have to walk right through the doors. Clint was probably easier to squeeze into Loki's company because he had a history of working with the man before. Natasha, on the other hand, was famous for kicking his behind during the battle with the Chitauri only a year ago. There was no way Loki would care to have her in his company for whatever reason.

She pulled on the handle of the car and slipped outside onto the gravel. The pieces of rock crunched beneath her feet as she made her way over to the large building. The gray concrete walls loomed overhead, and if Natasha didn't know better, she would have said it was deserted. But that was the thing about seemingly deserted buildings; everyone always chose to hide in deserted buildings. It was practically a trick of the trade.

Natasha's emerald eyes flicked to an upper floor window to see a sniper scope peeping out. She turned directly towards the gun and gave a quick wave. It was pretty much the only way for her to signal peace other than waving a white flag. Curious eyes peered from over the scope and warily looked down at her. "I'm not here to hurt you!" she called out to the man.

"You would not believe how many times I have heard that," Maxton said gruffly. His blue eyes looked Natasha over cautiously before flicking to Clint coming out of the car. "Barton! What's the meaning of this?"

Clint looked away absently before meandering up closer to the building, calling, "It's all right, Rorison. She's clear." When Maxton didn't put his gun down, Clint added, "Trust me." The dark-toned man gave a tired sigh before uncocking his gun.

"You had better have a good reason for this, Barton." Maxton propped his shoulders on the window sill and peered down at the people below. "You were supposed to come back in a heli, weren't you? What happened?"

Clint's face turned grim at that, and he said, "Can we talk about that inside? It's confidential." Natasha looked back to Clint, and she remembered that Fury had mentioned that they sent a missile after them. They must have hit the helicopter if he was heading back by truck.

Maxton's face turned understanding, and he nodded. "I'll open up. She can come in for now, and we'll tell Loki the news then as well. I'm guessing he'll want to know what happened." He disappeared from the window, coming down to the ground floor a few minutes later. He unlatched the bolt, slid it out of the way, and jerked open the doors.

The place looked like a dump on the inside as well with rats scurrying to and fro and the wooden beams creaking from the creatures upon them. Natasha was sure she smelled mold, but she wasn't going to be the first one to mention it. All of them were probably used to it by now.

"This way," Maxton motioned towards the back of the building and headed through one of the decrepit hallways. Bits of wet straw were strewn over the ground, and Natasha assumed the place was an old barn. She and Clint followed Maxton back into the depths of the facility until they came upon a steel door. The high tech lock seemed out of place from the rest of the barn as Maxton bent down to use the retina scanner.

Natasha made a mental note to either get a retina projector or to get herself uploaded in the system. It would be helpful in case she had to run when she killed Loki. The door clicked before swinging open to allow the three in. The dirt on the ground immediately cut off to reveal white linoleum flooring. Natasha's gaze drifted up to look at a whole new world.

Lines of people were placed on the walls to the left of her while dozens of workers rushed around to the right. It was an underground world that SHIELD had never even suspected to be in existence. They had known that a base probably existed somewhere, but they had thought it was in another country. The base was so close to the field that it nearly cleared the entire county from suspicion. It was deceptively smart.

"Agent Barton and... Romanoff. It's a pleasure to see you, I'm sure," Loki said hesitantly as he walked down the aisle. People parted around him as he made his way down towards them. "Although I must say, your appearance is unexpected. To what do I owe this pleasure?" It was the polite way of asking why the heck she was here since she had been one of the first to attack him a year ago.

Natasha exhaled before saying, "I'm here because Clint's here." Clint gave her a mildly incredulous look before she continued. "I'm not going to say I'm here because I want to become a worker bee because we both know that is false. It would be an insult to both of our intelligence if I suggested that. I'm here because I don't want Clint to get hurt. I can't ensure that if I'm on the other side now, can I?" She sent Loki a resolute stare as she crossed her arms over her chest.

Over the years, she had found that it was easier to lie if you mixed the truth in. She was here to protect Clint, but she was also here to kill off Loki. It was strange to be staring at the one she wanted to kill, but she knew she couldn't do it yet. There was a reason why infiltration came before assassination. She would have been asking to be killed if she went right up and attacked him now. No, she'd have to wait patiently for her time to come.

"Hmph. I suppose that is something I admire about humans," Loki sighed. "You always have this profound dedication to one another that I simply cannot understand. It's endearing." He looked at Natasha with a sad look on his face. Humans were so faithful to one another. They were blindly faithful to the very end, especially for those they loved. Why couldn't Asgardians be that way? As soon as the look came, it flickered away, and his mask was back on in place. "We'll get you introduced, I suppose. As long as you stay next to Barton, then it will be no problem."

Loki turned to Clint and said, "Report. Why did you take so long to get back?"

Clint stared blankly back at Loki before reciting, "Drone was successfully shot down. However, while meeting up at Checkpoint 28 to fly back to base, a SHIELD missile struck the helicopter. All other agents were lost at that time, including Agent Leroy."

Loki frowned at Clint's words and a line creased his forehead. He bit his lip tightly, and he shook his head, "We'll mourn the loss of Agent Leroy. She was a great woman." Natasha was personally surprised that he had enough emotion to mourn. She did respect it though, and instead of mocking Loki for it, she kept silent. No one's memory should ever be desecrated, no matter how evil they were. -

"We'll send out a team to collect their remains later." Loki ran a hand through his ebony hair before dropping his hand to his side to address Natasha. "You'll be taking Antoinette's place then. We don't have any other recruits that are as good in hand-to-hand, unfortunately. This means you'll have to get up to speed quickly. Come on, we'll get you debriefed."

Natasha nodded in return and followed after Loki when he turned to lead them down the hall. Maxton slid past her to walk beside Loki. Her eyes narrowed slightly as Maxton leaned over to whisper into Loki's ear. She couldn't help but feel that they were saying something about her, but Maxton had a hand concealing his mouth, so she couldn't lip read him.

Loki murmured something back to the man before speeding up the pace of his walk. He came to a door with six small holes in it. Natasha made a confused face as she stared at the door. What kind of locking mechanism was that?

Loki poked his index finger into the hole to the upper right. A few moments later, the door made a popping sound before swinging up before them. The Asgardian pulled his finger out before walking through the door with a blasé look on his face. Once Natasha popped through the door, she stopped to examine the lock.

"My fingers are longer than those of most mortals." Loki's voice cut into her musings, and Natasha turned back to look at him, "Only I can spring it because it's impossible to stick a curved piece of metal through there, and it's far enough so that no one else can touch it." Loki had a smug look on his face as he walked to the far side of the room.

The large metallic table in the center of the room blinked a few times as it recognized Loki's approach. A projector protruded from the table. The machine clicked and whirred before letting a blue holographic projection fill the room. "Oh, shut off." Loki snapped at the projector. "I told you to stop turning on when I come in."

The machine made a sort of whining noise before flickering back off. Natasha quickly took in the sight of the projection before it clicked off. What was that? It looked like some sort of atom. Could that have been the weapon that Clint had used to melt the bark? "Take a seat," Loki ordered tiredly.

Natasha took her spot at the table, waiting for Loki to speak. The man in question leaned on the back of his chair as he looked at the people in the room. "Rorison and Barton already know this, but I suppose it can't hurt to elaborate." Loki waved his hand absently before saying, "As you probably know, I plan on uniting the globe under a single force. However, that force will not be me."

Natasha's eyes widened at this. World domination was supposed to be so that a person could possess the entire planet, right? If so, then why would he just give away all of his work to someone else? It made no sense!

"A few days after everything is united, I shall perform a process called 'de-evolution.'" Loki rested his hands on his fists and stared right into Natasha's eyes. "When this happens, I shall die. That will be all. I won't explode or take people out with me. Its only purpose is to separate my soul from my body to prevent my regeneration."

Natasha shook her head slowly in denial. What was he talking about? "You can't be serious? Why would you do that?" she exclaimed incredulously. It wasn't against her plans to have him die, but admittedly, finding him willing to die was something unexpected. It was completely out of the character she had developed for him. She hated it when people acted out of character, and Loki was violating all of those rules in a single go.

"Why would I do all of this?" Loki said with a wave of his hand. "I am to die in any case, or at the very least I will rot in an Asgardian cell. Death has no hold on me. I want to do something to help this planet."

"I will become the catalyst for change. Midgard is too precious to suffer like this. Too many wars ravage this planet, and Midgardians don't realize how precious their environment is." Loki closed his green eyes before sighing, "Asgard isn't what you think. You're born the same way you die. There is no chance for any change in position. Thor was born into being god of thunder. He never earned his role if you thought that. It just happens. Midgard is so free. I'm jealous at times."

Natasha wondered if this was the reason that Loki had always said that he hated humans. From his perspective, they must throw away so many chances that he would never get. Natasha almost sympathized with the man, but she cleared away the thought. He desired to do something good, but the way he was doing it was wrong. He was taking away the free will of the people around him which was something Natasha would never forgive.

I was wrong about you, Loki. You are not evil, but you do evil things. But, Natasha's eyes flashed open as she looked up at Loki, you still must die

Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed the chapter! (: Loki's intentions sure are a puzzle aren't they? Remember, his life is next to purposeless at this point. A part of him has already given up at ever being loved, so the last thing he wants to do with his life is cultivate a world so a child like him would never be raised. Because Midgard is that precious. (:

This story is over halfway over so I'll try to keep these coming out! If you've read this far, I assume you're enjoying it and I hope that you'll enjoy it to the very end! :D

Thanks for reading! By the way... Review! D8 I get lonely~