Mischief Makers – Chapters One - Four:

Cami matched Natasha's hurried, angry strides the best she could. The people and equipment that filled the corridors hardly seemed to hinder the graceful Black Widow.

"What were you thinking?" Natasha asked. "How do you expect Clint to not find out about this?"

"I didn't hurt anything. I just wanted to see the jet in action," Cami said, trying to get Natasha to understand. Sometimes the two women could connect on certain issues, like Cami applying to become a field agent. This time, however, Natasha was just too frustrated with her recent string of antics.

"An important mission was delayed because they had to fly you back here to the helicarrier. You could have just asked Clint to take you up if the jet was so interesting."

"No I couldn't," Cami insisted. "He'd just tell me no."

"Then give him a reason to say yes." Natasha stopped a few paces down the corridor from the conference room. "Your brother doesn't trust you because you constantly get into trouble."

Cami dropped her gaze from Black Widow's. "You'll help smooth things over with Director Fury right?"

With a sigh and frown, Natasha said, "What choice have I got? Fury sends you away and Clint will go too. He's needed."

Once again staring into the beautiful eyes of Natasha Romanoff, Cami asked softly and hopefully, "You need him?"

Natasha hesitated then clarified. "We need him. S.H.I.E.L.D and the Avengers need him."

"I thought that was what you meant," Cami said sadly.

"Hey," Natasha said, lightly touching her shoulder, "after this meeting, we can hang out for a little while."

Cami tried to smile at her generosity. Natasha understood her so much better than her brother ever would. "What's the meeting about?"

"I don't know. There are a lot of people in there."

"Move aside please!" a voice bellowed from the end of the corridor.

The women turned in that direction in time to see people dodging out of the way of two tall figures clad in more colorful and decorative clothing than the norm around S.H.I.E.L.D. Cami recognized Thor, though she'd only seen him from a distance on a few occasions. His wardrobe was hard to miss.

"Loki," Natasha muttered, her eyes wide with disbelief.

Cami turned her attention to the other man. He was dressed in black, dark green and gold with long dark hair, slicked back from his forehead. His clothing seemed to weigh heavily on his tall, slender frame. His features were dull and pale. His gaze was cast downward, hardly paying heed to his surroundings. Cami might have guessed that he was comatose if his long legs hadn't been propelling his body forward.

"That's Loki? Really?" Cami asked, though she spoke only because she didn't have a proper response to the situation. She hadn't been in the service of S.H.I.E.L.D. for that long, but everyone knew of the events two years ago in New York. Loki was enemy number one.

Natasha's gaze on Loki was venomous as the Asgardians passed. "I've got to go," she said, following the men into the conference room.

Cami wanted to know what was happening, so she tagged along. The room was full of higher-ranking agents, some seated at the large table, most standing. Either no one noticed her enter on Natasha's heels, or they were too preoccupied with the tense atmosphere to care.

Thor and Loki continued to the front of the room where the director, Nick Fury waited.

"Quiet down, and shut that door," Fury ordered.

Cami froze, mostly hiding behind Natasha, who was close to the same height and body size as her. She held her breath as someone passed her to close the door. Still her presence was not noted.

"Thor has requested this meeting. I know there's a lot of animosity in here at the moment, but let's hear what he has to say."

Thor did not step forward to take the spot relinquished by Fury. Instead he chose to remain at Loki's side. "The citizens of Asgard are sympathetic to the horrific crimes Loki has committed against the peoples of Earth and the Frost Giants of the Jotunheim. As part of his punishment, he has spent two years in the Jotunheim helping to rebuild their kingdom."

"I'm surprised they didn't kill him," Nick Fury said candidly.

"Or that he didn't escape," Clint Barton interjected from a seat near the front of the room.

"Loki was stripped of his powers at his trial," Thor explained. "He is mortal."

"Then how did he survive in the Jotunheim for two years?" Fury pressed.

"My father made an agreement with the Frost Giants. Loki would remain to serve out his sentence only as long as they didn't try to end his life."

"Two years hardly makes up for mass murder," Clint said, showing little restraint from his anger.

"His sentence was supposed to be much longer," Thor said, taking a side glance at Loki. "The Jotun did not keep their promise."

Cami found herself staring at Loki. Even as Thor admitted to the group that the Jotun had tried to kill his adopted brother, Loki didn't flinch, frown or show any other sign that he was actually taking in this conversation.

After a brief pause, Thor continued, "Odin wants Loki to be useful and to learn the virtues of serving others. Therefore, he requests that Loki be allowed to join S.H.I.E.L.D."

Shock kept most of the room silent, but not Maria Hill. Cami saw Maria push forward from the back of a group; her features were tight with rage. "Joining S.H.I.E.L.D. is a privilege! What has Loki done to deserve such an honor?"

"If he's really mortal we can just throw him in jail," Clint added. "Let him live out his life in a cell."

"You have rehabilitated criminals before," Thor countered. "People who have taken the lives of others and still been allowed to redeem themselves."

Cami knew Thor was referring to Clint and Natasha, the two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that he knew more than any others. Both had done questionable things in their pasts, hurt people and regretted it.

She studied Loki's features, searching for anything that resembled an emotion, but he was an empty void. In fact, the longer she stared at him, the more Cami realized that she was thinking about herself and how terrible it felt when no one believed in her or stood at her side when she made mistakes. She'd been there a couple of times at least.

Fury put up his hand, silencing the awakening noise in the room again. "You can't guarantee that he's safe, no matter what rehabilitation he's already been through."

Cami leaned forward, uttering into Natasha's ear. "We should give him a chance."

Natasha turned on the spot and spoke in harsh whispers, "You don't fully understand the situation, and you shouldn't even be in here."

Cami discovered the words only as she spoke them since her thoughts were chaotic. "I know, but if you and Clint offered to supervise him, I think Fury would agree."

"No." Natasha shook her head, which caused her crimson curls to bounce a bit. This time she was much louder, instantly drawing attention to them.

"Is there a problem?" The director asked. Then he spotted Cami. "Miss Barton," Fury said with a scowl, "I don't believe you were invited to this meeting."

Cami fought the urge to retreat from the stares around her and Fury's disapproval. With some trepidation she stepped out where everyone could see her. She chose to focus on the director instead of the group at large. "Can I make a suggestion?"

"I don't think Director Fury is interested in what you have to say right now," Clint said, rising from his chair. He started toward her as quickly as the tightly-packed crowd would allow.

Cami persisted. "I think we should give him a chance. People can change if their environment changes and they have a strong support system. Loki is super smart. We could use that to our advantage."

Clint had reached her by then. He took Cami firmly by the arm and escorted her from the room. Once in the corridor, he glared at her in silence for several moments before speaking. "Haven't you been in enough trouble this week?"

"I want to help."

"He doesn't deserve your help."


"He's a monster."

"Let him prove that to me himself. I think you are all too blinded by what he's done in the past."

"We are not going to continue this conversation," Clint said with exasperation.

"Come on, where would Nat be if you hadn't given her this second chance with S.H.I.E.L.D.?"

Clint wasn't really hearing what she said. "Go to your quarters. We still need to talk about you stowing away on that jet this morning. Don't think I'm going to let that slide."

Cami wanted to come back with some sort of a retort, but she was too emotional and Clint moved quickly to rejoin the meeting, shutting her out. She cursed and stormed off to find something that she could hit repeatedly without getting in more trouble.

At dinner Cami had filled her plate with delicious foods from the mess hall in the hopes that she would be tempted to eat. Unfortunately, her appetite had been affected by the events earlier in the day that lingered in her thoughts, making her angry and even a bit depressed. It didn't help that everywhere she went people were either looking at her too much or not looking at all. It appeared that word had spread of her suggestion in the meeting and her view of Loki's fate was in the extreme minority.

She knew Loki was currently in a cell in the detention center. At some point he was going to be transferred to a maximum security prison to await trial for war crimes. No one had mentioned to her when that would be. Guilty or not, Cami figured he was the one person on the ship that felt remotely like she did right now.

Taking her plate with her, Cami headed down to the detention center where four armed guards blocked the entrance.

"Can he have visitors?" she asked the steely-faced guards.

"Not without the director's authorization," the closest man named Mike Hopper informed her.

"I see. We got any other prisoners in there right now?"


"You guys heard that I stowed away on a jet this morning and caused all kinds of trouble, right?"

None of them responded to this question.

"I really want a chance to talk to Loki," she confessed. "Can't you guys put me in there for a few hours for bad behavior? I'd have to serve some jail time for the same offense if this was the air force."

"Don't be crazy. Clint will kick our asses if we let you anywhere near this wacko," Hopper said.

"Yes, he would," the familiar voice of Natasha Romanoff said from behind Cami. The crimson-haired beauty walked up and gave the situation a quick once over. "He's not going anywhere, boys. I think you can get some dinner."

"I don't know if that's a good idea, Ma'am," Hopper said.

"It's OK. I'll keep an eye on him. Give us an hour."

Cami was watching this exchange with wide eyes. She didn't know why Natasha was helping her out instead of lecturing her, but she knew better than to speak up now and possibly jinx her chances.

"Alright," Hopper gave in, handing Natasha the keys to the cells and waving his guys off. He peeked at the food on the plate Cami carried. "They're serving the chicken parmesan tonight. I'm going to get me some of that."

Cami thanked the men as they departed, though she knew they weren't doing this for her.

Natasha was studying her with a worried expression. "What do you think you're going to get from Loki?"

"I don't know. I think I understand some of what he's been going through."

"I think you're feeling a little singled out lately and under appreciated. Do you want someone to empathize with you? Because I doubt you'll get that from Loki."

Cami didn't know what she wanted. Having Natasha throw out ideas for her motives didn't solidify her thoughts any. She felt like she was running mostly on a form of instinct. "Can I see him?"

Natasha unlocked the door. "Stay away from the bars. He's probably still stronger and faster than the average human. And remember, he's all about deception."

Loki was stretched out on his bunk with his eyes closed as Cami approached. His Asgardian fashions had been swapped out for a long-sleeved, dull gray prisoner jumpsuit, which was far from flattering on him. Considering the scene, the God of Mischief didn't look so extraordinary.

There were chairs and a table in the center of the room with the cells lining the outer walls. Cami considered pulling a chair closer to Loki's cell, but decided to take a seat on the floor instead.

She put down her plate, noticing his dinner tray resting on the floor just inside his cell. Everything on the tray was white, brown or yellow. While the food was probably nutritionally sound, it looked utterly unappetizing. It didn't appear that Loki had touched the tray at all.

Loki remained as he was, giving no acknowledgement of her presence. He could have been sleeping, but Cami didn't think so. He was ignoring her.

"Um..." she said, searching for just the right words as apprehension rose in her chest. There were so many things she could say, like 'I'm sorry the Jotun tried to kill you. I bet that hurt coming from your own people' or 'I understand what it's like to not quite fit in', but none of that would matter to him coming from her. He didn't know her at all.

"I'm Cami."

Several seconds passed. Loki just laid there, the slight rise and fall of his chest the only indication that he was alive.

Cami wondered if this had been a stupid idea. She didn't know what to say to him and he wasn't responding anyway. He had no reason to take an interest in her considering the burden of his own situation.

"I brought you some food," she tried again, doubting herself more with every word. "These are some of my favorites." Cami slid the plate close enough to the bars that he should be able to reach out for it if he wanted. "Sorry it's already getting a little cold."

Loki remained unchanged and the silence grew heavier as time passed. Cami endured it as long as she could then pushed to her feet to find Natasha, Clint and Thor standing just outside the open doorway. Clint looked angry as he and Natasha talked.

Thor came into the room, casually eying the surroundings. Finally his gaze fell on Cami. "Barton says you are his sister. I am Thor."

Cami decided a simple nod was a sufficient response.

"If you don't mind, I'd like to visit with my brother in private."

Cami looked back at Loki. "He doesn't want to see you right now," she said, softly voicing the thought that came to her.

Thor's tone was urgent as he asked, "Did he say this? Did Loki speak to you?"

"He didn't have to."

Thor was looking at Cami curiously and it made her feel a little self conscious. It definitely felt like time to leave. "I'll come see you tomorrow, Loki," she promised then met up with Clint and Natasha in the hallway.

"Don't be mad at Natasha," Cami said immediately when Clint looked at her. "She was just helping me out. She stayed to make sure I didn't do anything stupid."

Clint was pretty wound up. The tension radiated from him and it was a wonder to Cami that he managed to not explode. After a few deep breaths, he admitted, "I don't even know what to say to you right now."

"Maybe we can talk tomorrow," Cami suggested, barely meeting his eyes.

He thought about it. "Fine. 7:30 for breakfast."

Cami agreed then fled the area.

There was a lot of stuff they could talk about when the Bartons met up in the mess hall the next morning. Surprisingly, Clint was in a pretty good mood and didn't jump into any particular topic as they cut into their waffles and sipped coffee. It was Cami who finally said something.

"Loki ignored me."

Clint finished chewing then took a few moments longer to respond. "Thor says he's been like that for a while now. He had severe injuries from the Jotun and had to return to Asgard to recover. He wouldn't talk to Thor, Odin or anyone else the whole time."

"I bet he feels alone, like he doesn't belong anywhere."

"He's burned every bridge he had. He chose to do that himself."

Cami continued to eat while she contemplated.

"You sure you want to see him again?" Clint asked in a guarded tone a little while later.

"He expects us to be horrible to him. Some forgiveness might be just the shot in the arm he needs to start new."

"It's unfair for me to flat out say you're wrong."

"Then don't."

Clint was visibly moved by her conviction. "If you make it to all your classes on time today, I'll request that Fury give you visitor clearance for Loki."

Cami came around the small table to give Clint the strongest hug she could muster. "I will be so good today," she promised.

He pushed her long hair back from her face. "I guess forgiveness works pretty well on you too."

"Yeah, it does."

Cami returned to her seat. It was tempting to keep talking, but things had gone pretty well thus far and it seemed dumb to tempt the fates.

Natasha came by to get Clint about 8 o'clock. Calm and collected as usual, Natasha didn't seem to hold a grudge against Cami for getting her in hot water with Clint. Cami knew those two had been good friends for too long to let occasional disagreements come between them.

It took valiant strides for Cami to keep her promise about the training sessions. Some topics she really liked, computers and gadgetry being highest on her list. The classes she dreaded the most were for hand-to-hand fighting and firing guns, which she didn't show much aptitude for, unlike her brother.

Finally at the end of the day she rushed off to find Clint, hoping he had been able to keep up his end of their bargain. It just so happened that he was in a meeting with the director and when they realized Cami was standing outside the door, she was asked to join them.

Fury cut right to the chase. "Clint says you want a free pass to Loki."

Cami shifted uncomfortably under the director's scrutiny. "Did he explain why?"

"Somewhat, but I am very concerned with your preoccupation with him. Loki is not a good person, no matter what you might think."

"We're not giving him anything good to live up to," Cami said. "Everyone here has expectations for how I should behave; and though I might fall short sometimes, at least I know those goals are in place."

"I don't think positive guidance will work in this case. Loki was never playing with a full deck," Fury said.

"We won't know if we don't try. Odin seems to think there is something redeemable in him," Cami responded, knowing that she was grasping for straws because she couldn't seem to make them understand how important this was becoming to her.

"Are you sure you're the best person to undertake his rehabilitation?" Fury asked, still looking skeptical.

Cami bit at her lip, looking between them with uncertainty. "Well, actually... I was hoping that Natasha and Clint could supervise and let me be more of a supportive element."

"You don't think Captain Rogers or Thor should be involved, just for safety sake?"

Her head was shaking before she managed to put her thoughts to words. "Captain Rogers is a glorified boy scout and Thor is the privileged older sibling. Loki isn't going to relate to either of them. In fact, they would make things worse."

Director Fury asked Clint, "How does this sound to you?"

"Like we're giving him that second chance."

Fury feigned a scowl. "We must be crazy and the Council is going to be pissed."

"And most of the crew," Clint added.

Fury activated his com link and ordered Natasha to his office. "Let's talk more about this plan, because I'll pull the plug in a heartbeat if this doesn't go off as expected."

With the exhilaration also came fear. Cami had said a lot, but not proved a word of her theories. She knew there was a lot riding on this, especially Loki's future.

After the meeting with Fury, there were details to prepare, including telling some key personnel the gist of the plan. Lucky for Cami, she didn't have to talk to anyone other than Loki.

The hour was late, but Cami had made a promise to come back and see Loki and she meant to keep that promise. Getting past the guards into the detention center wasn't nearly as difficult with Director Fury's authorization. The room was still completely lit and she could see Loki flattened out on his bed as before. Only, this time, he really was asleep. That is, until the guards slammed the main door shut behind Cami and woke him.

Loki drew in a deep breath, turning his head in Cami's direction and slowly opening his eyes. His hand came up to cover his face and block the harsh white lights glaring down on him.

"It's really late," Cami said, letting her apology come through in her tone. "It didn't occur to me that you'd be sleeping. I just..."

His hand moved. His electric green eyes settled on her.

Trying not to lose her cool, Cami continued, "I wanted to let you know that we're moving you out of here in the morning. I'll be here... unless you don't want me to be."

He continued to stare for several long moments before turning away from her onto his side. Cami decided not to take that as some sort of insult. The guy was tired.

"Good night," she said softly, leaving the detention center for the long trek to her own small quarters.

At breakfast the next morning, she could hardly eat. Clint and Natasha didn't seem to share her nervous stomach. They ate and talked over plans while she fretted and fidgeted in her seat.

"People are giving me evil looks," Cami complained. "I take it everyone knows what we're planning to do?"

"Since when do you care what other people think?" Natasha asked. "Thoughts like that sure don't seem to keep you out of trouble."

Cami frowned at her pancakes that were soaking through with butter and maple syrup and couldn't make herself try them. "What's Loki having for breakfast?" she wondered out loud, which drew strange looks from the present company.

"Just eat," Clint said sternly. "I don't know how much patience I'll have today."

"Long night?" Natasha asked.


Cami said, "Me too."

The redhead nodded knowingly. "Things are about to get really tense around here."

"I heard Steve and Tony are coming on board today," Clint confided. "You know we're not going to be able to keep them away, no matter what Fury says."

Cami interrupted the brief silence that followed this news to say, "Thanks guys for helping with this. I know you really don't want to."

There was more silence and an exchange of looks.

"I just hope this doesn't blow up in our faces," Natasha said softly.

"Well," Clint surmised, "he can get with the program or he can go to jail for the rest of his life. Those are the only options."

Their trio picked up curious strays as they moved through the helicarrier to the detention center. When they reached the main door, Clint asked Hopper and his guys to clear the hallway for them. "We don't need an audience," he insisted. "Loki will be on parade once we hit the main hall to the infirmary anyway."

When they entered the room, Loki was sitting upright on the bed, his back against the wall, head hanging forward, and legs crossed in front of him. His hair, no longer slicked back, was hanging down into his eyes.

"Looks like Loki didn't like the pancakes either, Cami," Natasha said with amusement as she indicated the untouched tray on the floor of the cell.

Cami couldn't smile. She was a ball of nerves as she stepped up to the bars, far closer than she'd ever ventured, and addressed Loki. "Ready to go?"

His eyes shifted to peek out at her through a gap in his long bangs. She thought there was an emotion visible in those gorgeous green orbs, but she wasn't able to decipher it before it flitted away.

Clint joined her at the bars, slipping the key into the lock. "We've got quite a few things to accomplish today," he explained in a flat, no-nonsense tone. "First we are going to escort you to the infirmary for a complete physical. Cami is going to lead the way. We," Clint indicated Natasha, "will be with you for every step between here and there."

"You cause any problems," Natasha added, "and we'll drag your ass right back here to stay."

Loki drew his hand through his hair, uncovering his features which actually looked a little apprehensive before going dull and unemotional again.

Cami moved back to the main door, giving Clint room to open the cell. Natasha took a position on Loki's other side as he stood and stepped out. The plan was not to cuff him. It was going to be a huge leap of faith on their parts.

Clint, Natasha and Loki formed a tight group with Hopper's crew as they started the longest march of Cami's life past a sea of resentful faces and angry mutterings. She tried not to think about any of it, only how this wasn't about her and they just needed to reach their destination.

The infirmary was cleared of patients and most of the medical staff. Only Dr. Lloyd, the senior physician, and a few of the stronger orderlies were standing by as their group entered.

"Hopper, have your guys take position outside the door," Clint said, giving instructions to keep the gawkers away.

Cami pointed toward the nearest medical bed. "Let the doctor look you over."

Loki sat on the bed, but kept his head down. His face was once again hidden behind the curtain of dark locks.

Cami pulled a stool out of the corner, preparing to take a seat too when the doctor said, "This examination will require the patient to disrobe."

Clint immediately turned to her. "Out you go."

With an instant frown and a bit of a pout, Cami responded, "I didn't hear Loki say that he wanted me to leave."

"Funny, 'cause I didn't hear him say that you could stay either," Clint said with an edge to his voice.

Natasha stepped between the Bartons. "This is not a big deal. Us girls will leave and send in more of the guys."

"Maybe you two could walk over to supply and pick him up some clothes," Clint suggested.

Natasha said that wasn't a problem and shooed Cami out of the infirmary ahead of her. "Patience," she reminded him softly before slipping out herself.

They had been walking for a bit before it occurred to Cami that they had to be taking the longest route possible to the supply room. She stopped in her tracks, looking around. "What the hell, Nat? We're a mile away from where we need to be."

"I know," Natasha said, continuing to walk, "but it won't do us any good to rush back and have to wait in the hall. Clint will call if he needs us."

Cami caught up with her, wanting the secure feeling Natasha's proximity provided as they passed through hallways crowded with people who wanted to glare at her.

"Did Fury have to promise that Loki wouldn't be executed for his crimes?" Cami asked, not sure what brought the question to mind.

"Yeah, that was the deal," Natasha confirmed.

"Bet that angered a lot of people."

Natasha nodded.

"You ever think about getting married?" Cami asked next, causing Natasha to balk.

"How does your mind jump from Loki to me getting married?" She chuckled lightly. "No wonder you can't concentrate in classes."

"I know; it's an enigma," Cami joked back. "But do you think you'll ever want to settle down with someone; leave the spy life behind?"

"I'm sure anything is possible if and when the time is right. Why? You think I'm planning to run off?"

"It would be pretty rough for me if you weren't around," Cami admitted. "Clint would miss you a ton, too."

"I don't know about that," Natasha said, managing to hang on to her smile even as the emotion in her eyes cooled a bit. "He's a popular guy with lots of friends."

"We've only got one of you, though."

"Believe me, I'm not making any plans to go anywhere just yet," Natasha said, offering a wider, bigger grin to solidify her point.

Cami wasn't trying to be so cheesy and sentimental, but it still sounded that way. So, she shrugged and gave up on yet another failed attempt to get Natasha talking about Clint.

Finally reaching the supply room, Cami held the articles of dark clothing as Natasha pulled them off the stacks. "I'm not sure on some of these sizes. So, we'll bring extras." They decided to get Loki the uniform that field agents wore rather than the styles seen on the bridge crew or the suits that face men donned to deal with the public.

"I think Loki will look good in black," Cami said, juggling the pile in her arms.

"I'm going to pretend you didn't say that," Natasha muttered, grabbing three pairs of shoes of consecutive sizes and marking them on the checkout log. "Besides, just about everyone looks good in black."

"That's what I meant," Cami tried to insist.

"Right," Natasha teased. "Sure you did."

Back at the infirmary a short time later, the clothes were handed through the doorway, but the women had to wait outside. Clint stepped out though to talk to them.

"Loki's not leaving the infirmary today. He's got some nasty scars on him," Clint said, sounding concerned. "The doc says he is malnourished and dehydrated. So, he'll have to have some nutritional supplements. He's on an I.V. right now to replenish his fluid levels and get some vitamins into his system."

"Sounds like he wasn't eating much at home in Asgard either," Cami surmised. Her own empty stomach was aching and she couldn't imagine not filling it with something for days on end.

"How's his behavior?" Natasha asked with a frown.

"He's compliant, but pretty much uncommunicative."

"Did the doctor say if there is any physical reason that he isn't talking?" Cami asked. "The Jotun didn't cut out his tongue or something gross like that?"

"Nah," Clint said. "Dr. Lloyd says he should be able to talk if and when he wants to."

"Nick wants him to see the therapist, but what good will that do if he won't talk to her?" Natasha asked.

"I don't know. Other than what we've planned out with Fury, I'm making it up as I go."

"Can I come in?" Cami pleaded. With all the bad news from the doctor, she couldn't just walk away and hope to accomplish much with the rest of her day.

Clint was considering the request when Natasha tapped his arm. He glanced at her then turned to see Steve Rogers and Thor walking together down the main corridor towards the infirmary.

"Wonderful," Cami said, her tone contradictory to her choice of word. "We're not letting either of them in, right?"

"We'll do what we can," Natasha promised.

"If push comes to shove," Clint said, "we won't be able to keep them out."

Though she felt she had a vested interest in the coming confrontation, Cami chose to enter the infirmary instead, leaving the project supervisors to manage the 'undesirables'.

Loki had been moved to a more secluded area in the back of the infirmary, though still under armed guard. He was changed into hospital pajamas and lying in bed with various medical paraphernalia hooked up to him. As she stepped up to his bedside, Cami could better see some of the scars that his long-sleeved jumpsuit had hidden. They varied in color, size, shape and age from what she could determine. Clint must have chosen not to mention to her that the Jotun had hurt Loki more than once.

He was back to not looking at her, staring off into some other place. Cami was tempted to reach out and touch him, smooth his blanket or hair, but didn't feel she had the right. So, she dropped into the bedside chair, wondering if she should talk to him or just let him be.

"Guess this isn't much different than the cell," she muttered, eying the guards outside the doorway. She stole another look in Loki's direction, trying to read his eyes. He chose to give her nothing, which hurt enough to surprise her.

Clint appeared in the doorway. "Crisis averted. You might want to thank Nat when you get the chance."

"I will."

"Are you planning to do any training today?"

Cami exaggerated a look of displeasure. "Maybe I can just study my tech manuals in the infirmary."

Clint wasn't satisfied. "The areas you really need to work on cannot be practiced in here."

"Range isn't for another hour," she reminded him.

"You haven't eaten anything today," Clint countered, "and since you were brilliant enough to make me a supervisor for this project, you have to follow my orders now or face real jail time."

"Rats; foiled by my own fiendish plot," Cami joked, climbing back out of the chair and crossing to the door. The exchange left them both smiling, even though Cami realized she was being thrown out again.

"Try to focus on your classes," Clint advised. "You'll never make it out into the field if you can't handle yourself and a gun in combat situations. Let us worry about Loki."

"Three classes, then I'm coming right back."

"Fine, as long as you aren't late for any of them."

Cami had the sneaky suspicion that Fury and Clint were using this situation to work some rehabilitation magic on her as well. She didn't know how to feel about that. "Agreed," she said, taking one last look at Loki's distant gaze then went to find something to eat before she had to report to the range.