Title: Team is a four-letter word chapter 7 of 7
Pairing/Characters: Teamfic. No Pairings. Loki, Tony Stark, Thor, Frigga, Steve Rogers, Avengers.
Warnings: Suicide attempt. A few swear words, especially in chapters 4 and 6.
Summary: The fourth part of the team work series. Previous fics were "Better Teamwork Through Dragon Hunting", "I used to be a god, but then I took an arrow to the eye", and "Six hugs a day keeps the doctor away" which can all be found on my profile.
"After some serious therapy, Loki has now been a member of the Avengers for 2 years, but when an attack by Doom leaves him gravely ill, his team mates have to fight to save his life."
*~* Team is a four-letter word *~*
Chapter 7 of 7
"What do you want, Stark?"
"Can't a friend just call for a chat? What makes you think I want something?"
"The fact that you phoned me by choice, and I haven't had to hound you for three days to return my calls. Plus I can hear the Quinjet engines in the background. Kind of a giveaway."
"OK, we need a favour."
"And I guess this favour relates to a certain Norse god?"
"Doom has a cure, we all know it. We're going to get it."
"Fury will never approve that without government or UN backing-"
"Coulson, this is Loki we're talking about here. You were the one who fought to get him on the team. You can't abandon him now."
"Oh, I wasn't saying that. If you'd let me finish I was simply going to wonder what would happen if a certain persons all powerful father threatened to destroy our planet if a team wasn't sent to the find the cure."
"You're suggesting Odin should declare war against us?"
"He isn't party to international laws, he doesn't have to adhere to a formal process to declare war. If he says we're at war, then we're at war."
"We haven't got time to get Odin down here now."
"Stark, Odin doesn't have to do this by the usual channels, in fact, oh, he just appeared to me in a vision and declared war."
"Of course not. I'll pass the message on to Fury."
"Will he be OK with this?"
"This wasn't my idea."
"Wait, this was Fury's idea?"
"An attack on U.S. soil against one of our own? You really think he wasn't trying to come up with a way for an all out invasion?"
The castle was oppressive, built on a crag overlooking Doomstadt, with high spires that reached towards the sky. They landed the Quinjet high in the mountains, far enough away from the castle that their presence would go unnoticed.
"So what have we got?" Steve asked.
"I could only pull a basic layout off Shield's mainframe," Tony said, as he brought up a holographic display, and everyone gathered round. "There are two guards posts on this side of the castle, and on the other side there's one more post and a central surveillance tower."
"It's a shame Loki isn't here," Natasha said. "He could have teleported us all in and it would have been over in five minutes."
"Next time we fight, he will be with us," Thor said, and Natasha smiled, placing a reassuring hand on his arm.
"I'd like to avoid the guard towers if possible," Steve said. "Anywhere likely to unguarded?"
"Unguarded, no. Less guarded, either the servants quarters or the art gallery, maybe?"
"Doom has an art gallery?" Clint asked.
"Oh, yeah, and he's incredibly protective of it," Tony replied. "Maybe we could break in there, blow up a few priceless art treasures and find the cure while he's too busy weeping?"
"You can't destroy art!" Bruce exclaimed. "I thought you were an art collector yourself?"
"That was more Pepper's than mine, and I think I might have donated most of it to… somewhere, I can't remember."
"Wait," Steve said, as he pointed at the vague line that ran under the castle on the hologram. "What's this?"
" I'm not entirely sure," Tony said as he moved closer. "Jarvis, can you access the Quinjet scanners, and find out what that is?"
"Sir, a quick look at Google can provide you with that information," Jarvis replied over the Quinjet comm. "Castle Doom is built on a fault line, and has been destroyed three times in the past by earthquakes."
"That's our in," Tony said.
"We're going to cause an earthquake?" Natasha asked. "How are we going to do that?"
"We have our very own tectonic weapon right here," Tony said, as he laid his hand on Bruce's shoulder.
"What do you want me to do? Bruce asked. "Jump up and down till I cause an tremor?"
"Oh, I've got a bigger plan than that," Tony replied.
"You're sure this is the fault line?" Bruce asked as he climbed into the hole Tony had carved out of the rock with his lasers.
"Absolutely," Tony replied.
"And you just want me to push two whole continents apart?" Bruce asked, sarcastically.
"Pretty much, yeah," Tony replied. "Can you do that?"
"I'll be honest, I've never actually tested what the other guy's limits are. I'm kinda interested to see what happens."
"Give us at least 15 minutes to get to there, then suit up," Steve said.
"Good luck," Bruce shouted after them as they disappeared out of his vision and headed towards the castle.
He waited, counting down with his phone, and at 14 minutes he put it in his trouser pocket, safely securing it with buttons so it would not be lost. He held his breath and thought about Loki, all the pain and torture Doom had put him through, and began to feel anger welling up inside him.
As the Avengers huddled against the wall outside the servant's quarters, out of sight of the guard's towers, they felt the ground begin to shake.
"He did it," Tony laughed. "He actually did it!"
"How long before we go in?" Natasha asked.
"Give it a minute or two," Steve said. "We need it to be really chaotic in there."
"We must hurry," Thor said impatiently. "We do not know how long Loki has."
"I know you're worried," Steve said, "but for this to work we need them really distracted. Give it a little longer."
Thor huffed in displeasure and continued to wait until Steve gave Natasha a sign with his hand.
She moved along the group, sticking to the wall as closely as she could then stood up as she reached the level of the window. Steve grabbed her ankles, and pushed her up high, then asked, "You see anything?"
"Other than some pretty squalid living conditions, no, it's empty."
Steve dropped Natasha back to the floor, directing her to move back along the wall, and said, "Tony."
Tony edged out a little, using his lasers to neatly snip away the metal bars that covered the window, and catching each one as the fell to the ground.
"Jarvis, can you scan for life signs?"
"All human life signs are currently in the Art Gallery, and moving towards the vehicle launch area, however I cannot account for location of the robotic guards until we are inside the castle," Jarvis replied.
"We good to go?" Clint asked.
"Yup," Tony replied, as he launched himself up, caught the side of the edge of the windowsill, and hauled himself inside.
"Clear?" Steve asked from outside.
"Come on in."
One by one the Avengers climbed in through the open window as the floor still shuddered under their feet.
"How long did you tell Bruce to press the fault line for?" Clint asked, as a small puff of white dust fell from the ceiling over their heads.
"Err… I actually didn't tell him when to stop," Tony replied.
"We need to move fast."
"I agree," Steve said. "This place isn't going to stand up to shaking for long."
"Jarvis, can you scan the castle and find the location of any labs within the building? Anywhere that may have been used for medical research."
"The research and development laboratories are located in the sub-basement catacombs, but they cover a wide area."
"Can you transfer that information to someone's cell phone?"
"Transferring detailed maps to Agent Barton's phone now."
Clint pulled out his phone, and swiped the screen. "Got it."
"I have also sent out a signal to the surveillance cameras that cover the castle," Jarvis said. "They are now showing a static image."
"Thanks, Jarvis," Tony replied.
"What's the plan?" Natasha asked.
"We head down to the catacombs. If we run into any bots, try to kill them before they see you so they can't raise the alarm," Steve said. "When we get down there we'll split up for the search."
"Let's go," Natasha said, and they headed out into the corridor.
"This makes me feel at home," Thor said, as they quietly edged their way into the catacombs, quickly destroying any bots they came across. "It is very much like the dungeons in Asgard."
"Remind me not to break the law next time we're there," Clint said.
"I am detecting electrical activity in the next corridor, sir," Jarvis said. "I believe there may be another guard."
"Guard in the corridor," Tony said.
"I'll take care of it," Natasha said, and she stealthily moved around the corner. There was the sound of a scuffle, and then the bot's head skittered past the end of the corridor.
"Nice job," Clint said, as Natasha appeared, wiping her hands on her thighs.
"Thanks. Rest of the corridor's clear," Natasha said. "Left or right?"
"Time to split up," Steve said, then he asked, "Tony, can Jarvis scan far enough to alert the other team via Clint's phone if there are guards?"
"Won't be 100% accurate from a distance, but it'll be better than nothing."
"OK, you guys go left, search every room, look for computers, medical equipment, anything that might have been used, and stay in touch," Steve said, and the others nodded. "Tony, you're with me."
Frigga sat with Loki, gently cradling his increasingly cold hand in hers, willing him to stay with her until Thor got back. His fingertips had turned white earlier, and now the colour was fading from them, leaving them a sickly grey that was slowly darkening.
She jumped as one of the machines started beeping, and Dr Morgan ran into the room, followed by two nurses. "What is happening?"
"The alarm means he isn't getting enough oxygen. I'm afraid I'm going have to ask you step back for a moment," Morgan said, as he ushered Frigga out of her chair, and away from the bed, then he turned to the nurse and said, "Prepare him for intubation." Morgan turned back to Frigga. "We're going to put a tube down his throat to help him breathe."
"He is not improving," Frigga stated quietly. "His fingers, they are turning black."
"We just need to hope they can find the cure, and Loki can hang on till they get back with it."
Steve and Tony entered the final lab on their corridor, it was small, a bank of computers lined one wall, and a door stood at the other end of it.
"Looks promising," Tony said as he opened his faceplate, pulled off his gloves, and started working on one of the computers.
Steve tried the door, but it was firmly locked, and a keypad blinked next to it. He pressed one of the buttons below the numerical keypad, and a light came on revealing a second door. "I definitely think were onto something here. Looks like an isolation room."
"Give me a second," Tony said, and then the lights came on.
"You're into the computer already?"
"Yeah, his password was 'God'"
"Really?" Steve asked. "Even I wouldn't be that lame."
Tony raised an eyebrow. "Your first password was 'USA'. A five year old could have guessed that."
"Well, I've learnt a lot since then."
"Yeah, I guess anyone would learn from having tasteful nude photos posted on their hacked Facebook," Tony said as he continued to type.
"I still don't know how Loki made them. They weren't real."
"You should just count yourself lucky that you weren't shot for that DM he sent to president's wife on twitter," Tony said, and then he stabbed at a key and said, "and voilà!"
The strip lighting inside the sealed room flickered into life one by one, revealing 20 empty beds, rows of animal cages, and laboratory equipment against the back wall.
"What the hell?" Steve gasped. "He was doing human testing?"
"He has it all documented. 30 Latverian gypsy magic users were captured and used to develop the virus, then once he developed the cure, all of them were killed."
"We have evidence?"
"Not only documents, but video footage too. Fury is gonna have a field day with this," Tony tapped on the keyboard. "Jarvis, can you access all this information over the network, then upload it to my private server, and send a copy to Shield?"
"Of course, sir. Upload is now in progress."
"So where's the cure?" Steve asked.
"Working on finding it now," Tony said not taking his eyes off the screen as he typed. "And…" Tony hit a key and the door at the end of the room popped open. "The cure is kept in the refrigerator at the end of the room."
Steve went in, closing the door behind him, and then entered the room through the other door. He quickly moved to the other end of the lab, pulling open the refrigerator door, and taking out a white plastic tray that held several syringes of a green fluid.
"Think this the cure?" Steve asked, holding the white tray.
"Bring it out and we'll run some tests on it," Tony said.
Steve headed back through the double doors, and then placed the tray on the desk. "Can Jarvis analyse it?"
"Maybe," Tony replied, picking up on of the syringes and jabbing it into his neck.
"No, don't!" Steve shouted, and Tony depressed the plunger. "You idiot, Tony, that could be poison for all we know."
"Jarvis, do a full body scan and tell me if I'm dying."
"With pleasure, sir," the A.I. replied. "Scan in progress. All outputs remain at baseline levels. The antibodies in the formula are attacking viral cells close to the injection site, and their surface is beginning to destabilise. Viral replication is also slowing, and I estimate that the virus will be fully eliminated within 48 to 72 hours, sir."
"That's good enough for me," Tony replied, as he tucked the syringes into a compartment into his suit, and pulled his gloves back on. "You guys OK without me?"
"We'll be fine," Steve replied. "Go on, get going."
"See ya back home," Tony replied, as his faceplate slammed down. He raised his hands, and used his repulsors to blow a hole in the ceiling of the lab, out into the castle, then another through the exterior wall, and then blasted into the sky.
"Jarvis, give me an estimated arrival time."
"The distance to Stark Tower is 4369 miles, and travelling at approximately mach 8, I estimate our travel time is 43 minutes and six seconds, sir."
"Can you direct more power to the thrusters?"
"Shutting down all non essential systems will reduce our flight time 35 minutes and 14 seconds."
"Do it," Tony said. "What's the next biggest power draining system?"
"Life support, sir."
"How much power can we drain from that before I black out?"
"Approximately 37%, sir."
"Do it, and tell me the new E.T.A."
"Out new flight time is now 30 minutes and 44 seconds, sir."
"Guys, Steve said they got the cure," Clint said as he held up his hand to his earpiece. "Tony's taking it back now."
"This is excellent news," Thor said, smiling broadly.
"OK, we're gonna rendezvous with Steve back at the corridor intersection and head out," Clint said as he picked up his bow, opened the lab door, and came face to face with an iron mask.
"Bot!" Natasha shouted, preparing to attack.
"No," Doom breathed. "I am no bot."
Thor growled, twisting Mjolnir in his hand.
"Odinson" Doom hissed. "How is your pet trickster?"
"You will pay for what you have done to my brother," Thor barked.
"I think not," Doom said, as he raised his hand and blasted the Avengers with a concussive wave.
Thor raised Mjolnir, deflecting most of the blast, and shielding Clint and Natasha from the worst of the blow, but it still knocked them onto their backs. Clint loosed an explosive arrow, which detonated two feet from Doom as it crashed into his force field.
As Doom moved forward, dropping his shield, raising his hands again to attack, Thor threw Mjolnir with all his strength, and it collided with Doom's chest knocking him back, sending him flying across the corridor, and crashing into the wall outside.
"After I have defeated you, and seen to it that the trickster is dead," Doom said, as he climbed to his feet. "I will take the Tesseract and Asgard will fall before me."
"Never!" Thor roared, as he rushed forward, Mjolnir raised, and smashed it down onto Doom's force field.
"Bots!" Clint hollered as he followed Thor out into the corridor and saw the wave of mechanical men heading down towards them.
Steve could hear the sounds of battle as he moved down the corridor, and picked up his pace, running as fast as he could until he rounded a corner and found Clint and Natasha taking on a full army of robots, while Thor traded blows with Doom behind them.
Steve raised his shield, slicing the edge down in to the back of the unguarded neck of the closest bot, and watched as it spluttered and fizzled, collapsing in a heap on the floor.
"Nice of you to show up," Natasha shouted, as she smashed a bot in the eye with a knife, plunging it deep into it's circuits, and twisting viciously.
"Better late than never," Steve said, as he smashed another bot with his shield, flinging it into the wall, and grinding until sparks started to shoot out of it's broken joints.
"I agree with that sentiment," Clint shouted as he jammed an explosive arrow in through vulnerable mouth of a bot then detonated it, blowing it's head apart.
They fought together, working their way through the bots, destroying them as a team, until they stood among the smoking wreckage, as Doom and Thor fought a vicious battle.
As Doom dropped his force field to unleash a fierce blast of energy at Thor Steve whipped his shield down the corridor, and it connected the side of Doom's head, making him stagger to the side.
"How dare you attack me? I am the exalted ruler of this state," he said. You are here without authority, and you will be punished as war criminals for daring to take arms against Doom."
"Don't be so sure about that," Steve said.
"I am relieved to see you here, Captain. Another Avenger to meet his death."
"You can kill me, if you can, but it won't do you much good when there's an army about to knock on the doors of your castle."
"An illegal invasion of my country will not be tolerated by the international community."
"Oh, I wouldn't worry about it being illegal. I imagine the Security Council will probably be meeting soon to discuss how to deal with you after they see the footage we sent them."
"30 Latverian nationals subjected to torture and medical testing, then killed. Ring any bells?" Steve asked. "The footage has been emailed to every government and law enforcement agency in the world. I'm pretty sure that old diplomatic immunity thing isn't going to apply when people see that."
Doom paused a moment, then said, "We will meet again, Captain, and next time you will not escape with your life," as he teleported away.
"Well," Clint said. "That was a lot easier than I expected."
"We have to get out yet," Natasha said. "God knows how many of those bots are waiting upstairs for us."
"You OK?" Steve asked Thor.
"Aye, "Thor replied. "I am ready to fight."
Tony was starting to feel dizzy by the time they hit the outskirts of the city, and was relieved when he saw the Tower on the horizon.
"Jarvis, bring up all non essential systems, and turn on the heat vision cameras."
"Systems are online. Switching to heat vision camera," Jarvis replied, as the HUD display changed to a swirl of colours, which showed 3 people standing inside a room against the far wall. "Sir, we appear to be flying directly at the tower."
"I know," Tony said as he raised a hand and aimed a repulsor blast at the exterior wall of the medical bay, and flew through the gaping hole.
Tony landed, and as the dust cleared he raised his faceplate and strode across the room.
"What the hell do you think you're playing at?" Morgan snapped, as he coughed, choking on the thick dust.
Tony opened the compartment on his suit and pulled out the syringes. "Give him it."
"It's the cure? Do we need to test it?"
"Already done, give him it now."
Morgan popped the top of the needle and injected into the I.V line that ran below Loki's collar bone, as Tony breathed a sigh of relief.
"Is that it?" Frigga asked. "When will he wake up?"
"It could be any time, we really don't know if or when his magic will kick back in, and how much of the damage it's going to be able to correct."
"Loki was once decapitated and healed from that."
"Oh…" Morgan said. "Well, I'm sure he'll be OK then…"
Loki was on the ventilator for a week before he started to breathe on his own, and hologram of his body showed his brain activity increasing day by day, swirling in patterns of different colours. His fingertips and toes lost their sickly grey shade, and the black sections of the hologram displaying his stomach and intestines slowly lightened from black, to grey, and finally a healthy shade of red as his magic healed them and restored the blood flow.
"Bruce, Bruce," Frigga shouted, and Banner quickly crossed the lab. "Loki awakens!"
His eyes were open, staring blankly at the ceiling. "Loki?" Bruce asked, but there was no response, and his eyelids fluttered closed.
"He's not awake yet, but it's a very good sign," Bruce said, "He'll probably be unresponsive for a while, and when he does wake up he might be confused, but he's coming back."
Loki had been opening his eyes for a week, but had never responded to anyone or anything, but it was happening more often and everyone was sure it wouldn't be long until he woke up properly.
"You back again?" Bruce asked, when Tony walked into the medical lab, and sat by Loki's bed.
"I thought I'd sit with him for a bit," Tony said. "Anyway, I enjoy watch the hologram. His brain activity is kinda like watching a lava lamp. It's very relaxing."
"Thor said it reminds him of the Bifrost," Bruce said, as he carried a tray into the other room.
As the door swung shut, Tony looked at Loki, and noticed his eyes were open, staring blankly at the ceiling, then his head tilted, and he looked Tony in eye.
"Hey, hey Bruce! I think he's waking up!" Tony shouted, he turned back, and said, "How are you feeling? Everyone has been so worried about you."
Loki narrowed his eyes, and his lips curling into a sneer. "You think your prison can hold me, mortal?"
"What?" Tony asked, sitting up straight his seat.
Loki launched himself out of the bed, pulling over the I.V. stand by his bed, and then ripping it out all together. He threw himself at Tony, landing on his chest, knocking him off the chair and to the floor, punching him in the face, and then he sagged against him, losing consciousness.
"How does that feel?" Bruce asked as he handed Tony a cooling pack to put over the rapidly darkening bruise that covered his cheekbone.
"For a guy who was dead a week ago he still packs a punch."
"I know you said he'd be confused," Tony said, rubbing his eyes, "I just didn't expect him to be quite that confused."
Loki mumbled something under his breath, his fingers twitched and his head moved to one side. He opened his eyes, scanned round the room a second and then focused on Tony and Bruce.
"What happened to your face?" Loki asked weakly.
"I walked into a door while drunk."
Loki raised an eyebrow. "Was it a revolving door? You appear to have been hit several times."
Tony smiled. "Jarvis, can you tell Thor and Frigga that Loki is awake and being sarcastic."
"I will inform them now, sir."
"How are you feeling?" Bruce asked, as he moved to the side of the bed, and handed Loki a glass of water, which he sipped delicately.
"Better, what happened?"
"Kicked Doom's ass, found the cure, saved your life," Tony said. "I was the hero of the hour, of course."
"Of course," Loki replied, rolling his eyes.
The sound of clumping feet echoed down the hallway, and Tony said, "I think you're about to get one very over enthusiastic visitor."
"Oh joy," Loki replied, as he put his glass of water down.
The door slammed open, and Thor bounded into the room. "Brother! You are well!"
"Of course I am well, you oa-" Loki was cut off as Thor pulled him into a tight hug.
Despite Loki's improving condition, Bruce still felt the need to hover over him, noting his every movement, every output from every machine. It wasn't unusual for him to fall asleep in the chair by Loki's bed, but it was unusual for him to wake up and find the bed empty.
"Jarvis, where's Loki?"
"He is outside on the landing platform, sir."
"Why the hell didn't you wake me?" Bruce asked as he jumped out of his chair.
"Because he does not appear to be in any danger."
Bruce crept quietly into the living room, it was 5am, and the sun was beginning to peek up above the skyline, casting a strange watery golden glow across the platform outside.
Loki was sat on the edge, and Bruce's heart leapt into his mouth, until he edged closer and saw the tired look of happiness on his face. He raised one hand, then hesitated, his brow drawing together in worry for a second, and then he moved his hand, conjuring a small flame. He broke into a wide smile, allowing the flame to snake round his hand, making it burn brighter until it burst upwards into the sky.
Loki grinned, then flung himself forward into the air.
"No!" Bruce shouted as he ran towards the edge of the platform, but Loki was not falling. He was surrounded by a green glow as he changed into a large hawk, his wings beating against the air, carrying him higher, until he soared over the city.
Bruce marvelled as Loki changed forms repeatedly, from a hawk, to a bat, to a peacock, to winged horse, to a cow without wings that tumbled through the air, and then finally back into a hawk again. He wheeled around the sky, letting out screeching calls, and then finally landed back on the platform, taking his own shape as his feet hit the floor.
"I have missed doing that," Loki laughed.
"You scared me half to death," Bruce said.
"My apologies, but Stark told me once that practical testing is always the best way."
"You knew you'd be able to transform, right?"
"Well, I hoped I would..."
"You are nuts, you know that?" Bruce laughed
"So I've been told," Loki replied with a smile as they headed back inside.
"Hey, you're up and about," Steve said with a smile, as he walked into the kitchen later and found Loki staring at the open food cupboards. "You feeling better?"
"Much, thank you," Loki replied, drumming his fingers against his chin.
"What are you up to?"
"I am attempting to decide what I would like to eat, but this is just pitiful. Pass me the menu of the food delivery service, please."
"Which one do you want? Pizza? Chinese?"
"All of them," Loki replied.
"All of them?" Steve asked. " Shouldn't you be starting with something plain? People who haven't eaten for a while get sick if they eat a lot."
"Oh, nonsense, Captain," Loki replied. "When my lips were sewn shut, after they cut the cords I ate for three whole days without rest. My father was most upset, and had to restock the whole kitchen."
"OK," Steve said, as he handed over the menus, "but don't blame me if you get a bad stomach."
Loki took the menus and browsed them for a while, before finally settling on two different menus, and flipping through them. "I can't decide." He threw the menus back at Steve. "Will you order for me?"
"Sure," Steve said as he picked up the phone.
"Actually, just order me one of everything of those menus," Loki said, then he glance up at the ceiling and said, "Oh, and Jarvis?"
"Is Stark in the building?"
"He is in the lounge area. He claims he has a headache that is nothing to do with the copious amount of left over Asgardian mead he drank last night."
"Excellent," Loki replied. "Are you capable of broadcasting music to every room on this level?"
"I am indeed, sir," Jarvis replied. "Might I suggest downloading the new album?"
"An excellent idea, Jarvis," Loki replied, with a chuckle. "An excellent idea."
In the living room Tony grinned as he held his hands over his ears to blot out the sound of the latest Justin Bieber single, and shouted, " Loki! I'm gonna kill you!"
I will carry on this series eventually, but I think I need to write some really evil villain Loki fic next ;-)