Title: Out of Space and Time ch9
Rating: T (to be safe, there's some swearing)
Genre: Avengers/LOTR crossover
Summary: The Tesseract and the Bifrost aren't the only ways by which to travel between the worlds, and there are more worlds than Thor has spoken of. When one of the pathways goes awry, the Avengers are called in to clean up the resulting mess.
Disclaimer: If I owned any of it besides the plot, I wouldn't be slaving away in retail.
A/N: A reviewer questioned my take on Legolas' age. It was a respectful and intelligent question so I thought I'd address it here. Tolkien never gave an age for Legolas. He never gave us much information at all about our favorite elven archer. What little we do know is gleaned mostly from subtext and things Legolas says. There are some fantastic articles on the subject. My favorite is: essays/michael-martinez-1/michaelmartinezsuite101e ssay06. Another good one is: post/41313960261/how-old-is-legolas. And: . . Here's a good one on Legolas in general: legolas-mirkwood#age. My own take on him is that he's around 500 years old. Old enough to be an experienced warrior, young enough to be a bit of a pain in the ass to his companions at times. I'm sorry, but I'd have had to smack him for the 'off to find the sun' bit in the books. Boromir, Aragorn and Gandalf showed great restraint in not doing so.
The story arc that this belongs to is A/U. I do take small liberties with Legolas' history from time to time. This story and its outtakes will also be A/U to 'Iron Man 3". I've seen it and enjoyed it though it was the weakest of the trilogy, but I don't see the need to alter any part of this story to mesh with it.
Tony groaned, stretching his back as soon as he had stepped away from the horse. Just feet away from him, Steve was performing similar contortions as was Bruce.
"Haven't been on a horse in twenty years," the billionaire commented. "I forgot about the whole 'sore in places you never knew you had' aspect of it."
"You ride pretty well, Stark," Clint observed, giving his mount a farewell scratch as a rider came to lead it away to be cared for.
"Expensive boarding schools place a high value on such things," Tony replied. "Walk around a bit , Cap. It helps." The super soldier merely nodded, taking Tony's advice and walking in a circle nearby. Dreogan approached, grinning. He handed a small pot to Steve. Turning he called to Legolas, who was just handing the reins of his horse to a rider. The elf walked over, listening to his friend for a moment.
"It is salve, to ease the soreness," he said. "Unfortunately, you will have to become accustomed to riding." Steve smiled, a slight lifting of the corner of his mouth.
"How do I say 'thank you'?" he asked. Legolas enunciated the phrase carefully and Steve turned to Dreogan, repeating it carefully. The rider grinned again, clouting Cap on the shoulder before walking away to attend to his duties. "I think we're going to need a vat of this stuff," Steve said quietly. Legolas chuckled.
"It may not be so terrible as that," he said, offering a sympathetic smile to both Steve and Tony.
"Easy for you to say," Tony snarked. "You're an elf and he's got the serum working for him. Some of us aren't so lucky."
"Legolas!" The elf turned towards Eomer, who had hailed him. "I'll have my men set aside a tent for you and your companions. Come to my fire when you're settled, all of you."
"As you wish, Eomer King! Thank you for your generous hospitality."
"That, my friend, is a tale to be sung for the ages," Eomer commented, raising his tankard and drinking deeply. Legolas merely smiled into his own tankard. "Dreogan and the others I left with you have all regaled the rest of the Eored with the tale of your bravery," the young king continued, casting his gaze across the Avengers.
"And we have heard of yours," Steve replied, raising his own tankard in Rohan's king's direction.
"Now that we have all eaten our fill, quenched our thirst and spoken of our battles, I would know how I may assist you. Legolas, you plan to travel to Minas Tirith, yes?" Eomer turned his attention back to the elf.
"Yes. I would worry my friends there no more than necessary." He smiled briefly. "I also value both my skin and my dignity far too much to not head straight there. Adar will have gone there, and Gimli with him. Besides, Arwen will have my head if I do not go there first."
"King Thranduil and Gimli will have arrived in the White City by now. They stopped in Edoras to pay their respects to me on their journey. I would say it is wise of you to pursue this course. Queen Arwen is the loveliest of ladies, saving my own lady of course, but I would not dare to cross her."
"At least she did not change your baby clouts, my friend. Count yourself fortunate as that subject always comes up when she is displeased with me," Legolas said with a chuckle.
"I don't wish to consider that. Eowyn is bad enough, and I am older than she," Eomer King stated with a grimace. "So," he continued, returning to the original subject, "you will need mounts, clothing, food and travel gear. These I will gladly provide. No, Legolas, I will hear no protest from you. You are our ally, and a friend. Besides, it would be churlish of me to allow warriors who aided my people to go wanting in my lands." He set his tankard down and stretched. "Return to Edoras with me and I will provision you for the remainder of your journey. Lothiriel would never forgive me if I didn't give her a chance to meet you and to scold Legolas for scaring the life out of all of us."
"If it will keep you in your lady wife's good graces, Eomer, I will bear the scolding with good humor," Legolas replied, grinning wryly. "And now, I think we should take our leave and seek our rest. Morning will come early, especially to those unused to riding."
"So I have been told," the king laughed. "I would not know, myself, having been ahorse ere I could walk. A good night to you all, then, and I will see you at dawn."
The Avengers bade their host good night and preceded Legolas from the king's tent. Their own tent, donated by several riders who were now bunking with their fellows, was towards the far end of the camp; in the camp far enough to prevent their leaving without being noticed and enough that they were well protected but far enough from the king's tent to prevent possible threat to him. Clint and Natasha commented briefly, and approvingly, of the Rohirrim's security measures as they walked to their tent.
"They are a good people as a whole," Legolas said. "Honest, brave and hard-working, and loyal to a fault." He would have said more, but a commotion at the edge of camp caught the attention of all of them. Catching Dreogan's arm as the rider passed, Legolas asked, "My friend, what is the matter?"
"Riders coming in, two horses and one carries double," the rider explained quickly before hurrying to his king's tent. Eomer emerged a moment later, strapping on his sword.
"Hang back," Legolas said to his companions, drawing them to stand where they had a good view but were somewhat shielded by the riders around them. "This will likely have nothing to do with us." They heard the unknown riders challenged at the edge of camp, and heard that challenge answered. Legolas drew in his breath, surprise warring with joy on his face. It was obvious that he recognized the voices of the unknowns.
"Who is it?" Bruce asked, hand on the elf's shoulder. Legolas opened his mouth to reply but closed it again as the riders came into their line of sight.
Two fine gray horses trotted into the open area that was lit by torches. Their riders were mirror images of each other, tall and athletically lean and clad in black with gray cloaks. The second rider's passenger was considerably shorter and broader through the shoulders and chest. He, too, wore a gray cloak but was clad in maille and wore an armored helm. He also carried two mighty war axes on his back.
"Is that Gimli?" Steve whispered to Legolas. The elf nodded, his eyes suspiciously moist. "And the sons of Elrond?" Another nod.
"Hail, Eomer King!" The first twin said, bowing in his saddle. "We bear a message from King Elessar."
"Your timing is fortuitous, my friends," Eomer said, moving to clasp arms with the first twin as soon as he dismounted. "I have tidings for you as well, and for King Elessar."
"Good news, I hope," the second twin said, aiding the dwarf down from his horse before dismounting himself. He moved to clasp arms with the Rohirric king as soon as his brother moved aside.
"Very good news, Lord Elrohir," Eomer said, grinning. "Gimli, son of Gloin, I did not think to have the pleasure of your company again so soon, but I am very glad to see you."
"And I you, Eomer King," the dwarf replied, his voice a pleasant bass rumble. "I hear you've been chasing wargs of late."
"You hear correctly and they've been dealt with," the king said, clasping arms with the dwarf. "Which brings me to the news I mentioned." He turned to the riders standing in front of Legolas and the Avengers. "Move aside so that they may see our honored guests." The riders parted like a curtain revealing the elf and his companions to the twins and the dwarf. For a moment silence reigned and then Gimli recovered himself.
"You blasted, thrice damned, reckless, brainless, point-eared scrap of mischief! Where in bloody Mordor have you been?!" He crossed the distance between them swiftly, pulling Legolas into a crushing embrace before drawing the elf's head down to touch foreheads with him. "If you ever do anything like that again, I'm going to take the flat of my axe to your worthless backside."
"I will try not to," Legolas said softly, gripping the dwarf's shoulders for dear life. "I have missed you, Elvellon."
"I missed you, too, lad. Now go and greet your cousins before they skin us both." Gimli patted his back before stepping aside and giving him a gentle push towards Elladan and Elrohir.
Elladan reached him first, drawing him into a fierce hug. "We thought we had lost you, you skinny piece of orc bait. The trail disappeared and we could find no trace of you." The elder twin released him and the younger stepped in to embrace him equally fiercely.
"Nothing, no sign of you anywhere. We found the Haradrim's camp, and the orcs' camp along with your weapons, and then nothing. It was like you vanished into the air." Elrohir's voice was thick with emotion, and Legolas had to swallow hard and blink his eyes to keep from disgracing himself.
"I fairly well did vanish into the air," Legolas said, resting his forehead on Elrohir's shoulder for a moment. "I will tell you all, as soon as I may." He took a deep breath, composing himself, and drew back a bit. "For now, give your message to Eomer King and then I will introduce you to my companions."
"The message is a bit tardy, I fear," Elladan said, laughing. "King Elessar wished to give you warning of strange folk traveling in your lands, though he felt that they meant your people no harm. He did say that he thought it might have something to do with Legolas." He turned to grasp the prince's shoulder. "And so it did."
"I am as thankful for his foresight as I am in awe of it," Eomer said. "He was correct, they do mean my people no harm. They disposed of the wargs rather impressively. You'll no doubt hear the tale from one of my riders. In the meantime, it grows late and we have some distance to travel tomorrow. My men will see that you're fed and housed for the night. You're more than welcome to travel with us back to Edoras if you wish."
"Thank you, we would be pleased to do so," Elladan replied, inclining his head to the young king.
"Good, I will see you at dawn, then." Eomer nodded to them and to the Avengers, and stepped back into his tent.
"So, cousin, tell us how you managed to get yourself into this latest predicament," Elladan teased, settling down next to the campfire that the riders had prepared in front of the tent they had set aside for the Avengers. Introductions had been made, food had been provided to the twins and Gimli, and Steve and Thor, who were still a bit peckish, and they had all settled around the fire to trade stories before they retired for the night.
"I know not even still," Legolas replied. "Somehow, the orcs, the captive Haradrim and I were pulled from this world into theirs," he gestured towards the team, "and then we were all pulled back here. We have been unable to discover how it was accomplished or by whom. Even Tony and Bruce, who have two of the keenest minds that ever I have encountered have only theories as to how this was even possible. Nor does Thor, who travels regularly from his world to theirs and back."
"That it was done by means of magic, I am certain," Thor intoned. "But what spells were used or by whom, I do not know. As I said, were it not that Loki has been stripped of his magic and bound, I would suspect him. It may well be one of his allies."
"Or it could be someone completely unrelated," Steve put in. "We can't rule out that possibility, now that other worlds are aware of us."
"Can't do the equation without all the data," Tony said, tossing a twig into the flames. "Even if your douchebag baby brother isn't involved, Thor, he might've played show and tell with someone who is." He ignored the frown the thunder god aimed at him as well as the puzzled looks from the twins. Legolas quickly translated them and for Gimli, who sat beside him and the dwarf chuckled appreciatively at Tony's irreverent humor while the twins traded an arch look. "Or Steve might be right and it might be an entirely new douchebag that we're dealing with. Let's face it, douchebags kind of grow on trees these days."
"You keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means," Legolas said, grinning wickedly. Tony gave a bark of laughter.
"Wrong, Keebler, I know exactly what a douchebag is."
"Takes one to know one," Clint said, straightfaced.
"Says you, Birdbrain," Tony shot back. "That's good coming from the Rear Admiral of the entire douche fleet."
"Oh, good, I got a promotion," Clint retorted. "If you can't be good at least be good at it."
"All right, children. Play nice." Natasha pinned each of them with her gaze until they subsided.
"That would explain why your father couldn't sense you at first, wouldn't it?" Gimli asked, steering the conversation back.
"Yes." Legolas shuddered, remembering and Gimli placed a comforting hand on his forearm.
"Well, I for one am glad that your knack for finding friends wherever you go held true, lad, else we might not have gotten you back at all, much less healthy and in one piece." He looked over at Bruce. "You'll have to share your tricks for fattening up elves with us. He hasn't looked this hale since before the Quest."
"It was a group effort," Bruce said, rubbing the back of his neck self-consciously.
"You speak our tongue fairly well," Elladan commented. He gave Legolas an amused glance. "Though I find it odd that Legolas taught you an Imladrin accent rather than a Silvan one."
"The Imladrin accent is easier for Men to understand," the prince of the Wood of Green Leaves said with a shrug. "It seemed the prudent choice, especially given the manner in which events have unfolded."
"Indeed." The elder twin scrutinized the prince for long enough to make him shift uncomfortably. "Are you certain that you have no gift of foresight, cousin?"
"Very certain. I have merely done far too many ill-advised things not to see the need to take any precautions available."
"Go to sleep, laddie. Don't think I don't know you've been up to your usual tricks since you've been back. Let the Rohirrim keep watch in their own lands and save your strength for when we're on our own again." The dwarf gave Legolas a push towards his bedroll. The twins and Gimli had opted to share the Avenger's tent, it being large enough to house all of them ,second only in size to Eomer King's own tent. The twins went about the familiar routine of laying out their bedrolls and left the management of their younger cousin to Gimli. Rather than argue as he normally would have, Legolas merely smiled and sat down on his bedroll to remove his boots and and take down his braids without protest. Gimli arched a brow at him but didn't comment further.
Natasha and Clint lingered at the fire, giving the other members of the team a chance to make use of the salve once more before taking to their bedrolls. Steve passed it to Bruce, stating that he didn't need it any longer due to his enhanced healing. Bruce too, declared himself fit enough without it thanks to his irradiated state and passed it to Tony, who groused at both of them as he made liberal use of it before gingerly laying down on the bedroll he had been given. Steve went out long enough to douse the fire and let the assassins know that the coast was clear for them to seek their bed. By consensus, the team had decided to allow everyone to assume that Natasha and Clint were a married couple to avoid misunderstandings. Clint had commented that it wasn't as if it was the first time he and Natasha had played those roles. They bedded down together, as they had the previous night.
"I warn you, Gimli snores," Legolas commented into the darkness as soon as the lanterns were doused. The dwarf growled. The elf laughed and then yelped when Gimli clouted him on the leg.
"Yeah? So do Bruce and Tony," Steve said, the grin on his face evident in his voice.
"Laugh it up, Spangles," Tony's voice piped up. "At least I don't talk in my sleep."
"I don't talk in my sleep," the super soldier argued.
"Yes, you do," Clint and Tony said simultaneously. "And so does Thor," the billionaire added.
"Next one to comment gets tased in the balls," Natasha said evenly. "Go to sleep." A quiet snicker was heard from the elf's direction but wisely, no one chose to challenge the Black Widow.
The sky had not even begun to lighten when Legolas emerged from the tent. Elladan looked up from the fire he had started and was patiently feeding.
"Good morn, cousin. Brother has gone to acquire some fish for our morning meal. I thought to make some fried bread."
"You will need enough to satisfy a family of hobbits, cousin. Thor and Steve eat like any three of those good folk each, and Bruce only a little less." Legolas took up the bowl and began mixing the ingredients for the bread.
"The rock will be hot enough soon." Elrond's older son commented, sitting back on his heels. "One thing I appreciate about traveling through Rohan is their tendency to have rocks of appropriate size and shape to be used as cooking surfaces."
"Fried bread is a nice change from porridge or waybread and dried meat," Legolas agreed amiably. "Have you any dried fruit to add to the bread?"
"Brother may have some dried apples left in his pack. I will check." The older twin rose and disappeared into the tent, returning a few moments later with not one but two small pouches. "Apples and berries. He has been holding out on me, it seems," he said with a chuckle. Legolas added both to the batter he had made and tested a few drops on the rock.
"We must wait a bit longer," he said, laying a cloth over the bowl. "I have missed traveling with you, cousin."
"It has been awhile," Elladan said. "Too long, in truth." He glanced at the sky. "Elrohir should return soon."
"Elrohir returns now," the younger twin said, handing a string of cleaned fish to his brother. "He also had the presence of mind to set a fish trap last night before retiring for the evening." He ruffled Legolas' unbound hair affectionately before sitting down next to his twin. The archer gave him a half-hearted scowl.
"Did you also have the presence of mind to find another rock or perhaps some green sticks for spitting the fish?" Elladan asked.
"No to the rocks, no to the sticks, yes to some broad leaves," Elrohir said, handing half to his brother. Between them, the twins made quick work of rolling the fish into the leaves and raking coals over them at the edge of the fire. He glanced at Legolas. "I rather like your companions, cousin."
"They are fine people and courageous, all of them," the archer said. "And they are also endlessly amusing," he added with a chuckle.
"You will have to tell us of your stay with them," Elladan said, holding out his hand to receive the bowl of batter from Legolas. "But at another time, as I believe I hear at least one of them stirring."
"It will be Steve. He is the only one who voluntarily rises so early." Legolas cocked his head, listening. "Gimli is awake as well."
"Good," Elrohir commented, "he can make the tea."
"Aye, I will, as neither of you can make it near strong enough and I don't fancy drinking the piss-water you'd make," the dwarf rumbled, preceding Steve out of the tent. He pressed the straight end of a curved piece of metal into the ground next to the fire. "I don't suppose you thought to fill my kettle for me."
"Happens that I did, Master Dwarf," the younger twin said, hanging it on the portion of the metal that curved over the fire.
The journey to Edoras was uneventful and the welcoming feast the Rohirrim put together was epic even by Tony's standards. They stayed in the city long enough to rest a little and for the provisions and equipment that Eomer King insisted on providing to be gathered, and in some cases modified for their needs.
On the eve of their departure, Eomer insisted on having a farewell feast. Tony remarked, "I like the Rohirrim: any excuse for a party. Reminds me of me."
"Only with fewer explosions," Natasha said, a hint of a smirk on her lips.
"That was just the one time, and might I point out that I was dying?" the billionaire retorted, waving his hand dismissively.
At dawn the next day the group of travelers set out for Minas Tirith, well supplied mounted on truly fine horses from the Rohirrim's herds. Steve and Bruce now rode on their own, having received instruction in the art of riding during their stay, and offered the occasional advice from those in their group better versed in riding than they were.
Pepper Potts stood in front of the floor to ceiling bank of windows in the lounge of the Tower's common floor, gazing out over the nighttime cityscape, one arm wrapped around herself and the fingers of the other hand pressed to her mouth. Jane and Darcy approached her from behind, each wrapping an arm around Pepper.
"Thor is there. His father won't leave him on Arda and Thor won't leave the others behind," Jane said with utter certainty.
"Besides, Tony and Bruce are geniuses, Steve's a master tactician, Clint and Natasha are the deadliest assassin that S.H.I.E.L.D has and Legolas is from Arda and won't let anything happen to them. They'll be back before we know it." Darcy gave Pepper a comforting squeeze. Stark Industries' CEO took a slightly shaky breath.
"I know. And I know Tony well enough to know that he'll never give up trying to get everyone back." She gave both her companions a wobbly smile. "This isn't my first rodeo. Life with Tony is something of a roller coaster ride in the easiest of times."
"Come on, I'll make some tea and Jane's going to talk to Dr. Richards to see what we can do from here to get them back." Darcy drew Pepper into the kitchen and to one of the stools at the counter. "You need to concentrate on keeping Tony's company going while he's away."
"Fury and I agreed that the official story is that the Avengers are on an extended mission. I'll stall the board of executives as long as I can. I just hope it's long enough to get them back before I have to start fighting off takeover attempts."