"Unbeing dead isn't being alive."
E.E. Cummings

Chapter 24- Dead and Alive

"The Tesseract has awakened; it is on a little world, a human world. They would wield its power, but our puppet knows its workings as they never will. He is ready to lead and our force, our Chitauri, will follow. The world will be his, the universe yours, and the humans what can they do…but burn."


Thor stood by Heimdall tense and ready to fight at a moment's notice. His father stood by his side, quiet, contemplative as he looked with eyes all seeing out into the void and gaze steady on earth. "Who is it? What foe moves to assault earth?" Thor asked tensely as he could bare the silence no longer. Heimdall's eyes looked through him, away from earth and across the galaxies, his body tense and alert. "Well! What sorcery is this? Who dares to broker war with a realm under my protection?" Thor said blusterously as he paced like a caged lion kept from a meal.

Odin had an odd look on his face, weary, resigned, and oddly relieved. "It is your brother Thor, Loki has return to Midgard," his voice echoed across the broken bifrost. "Surely you jest father! Loki was lost to us! I watched him slip into the void, I had him in my hand and we all thought him dead or worse!" Thor turned pleading eyes to his father, unsure about what answer he wanted and confusion taking hold.

"It is Loki," Heimdall's said ominously, "and he is not alone." That drew Odin and Thor's attention to the guardian. "What do you see?" Odin demanded. "An army the likes of which has not been seen throughout the realms, they are called the Chitauri and they are vast. If Loki brings this force to earth I fear it will mean the ruin of Midgard for we cannot hope to assist them against this foe while we remained trapped here." Heimdall said eyes steady on the Chitauri that only he could see.

"We must stop him! Before he can unleash this army upon the earth! Midgard is not ready for this higher form of war! If we do not stop him father they are lost!" Thor said desperately turning pleading eyes to the All father. Odin stayed silent, his face severe as he contemplated the options available to him. "Surely you can't mean to abandon them father! We are the sworn protectors of these realms! We cannot forsake them, it would be more than a blow to our honor to renounce that duty…it would bring shame upon us all!" Thor said desperately.

"We will do as we have always done, Thor," Odin clasped a heavy hand on his son's shoulder, "I will begin to prepare myself to transport you to Midgard, it will cost me dearly and I will not be able to send you aid should you need it. You will remain on Midgard until you have the Tesseract, it will be your only way back, if you fail son…" The consequence of failing was left unsaid and Thor nodded solemnly.

"I shall not fail you father, I will retrieve the Tesseract and I will bring Loki home." Thor said as their eyes met. Odin nodded, "I should be ready within the day, make your preparations son…you have a war to fight." Odin said as he swept from the broken bifrost. Heimdall looked to Thor placing his hand on the man's shoulder and from his expression Thor knew he was not going to like what he was going to say. "What is it Heimdall?" Thor asked. Heimdall turned his eyes to Odin's retreating back and then looked to Thor sadly. "It is Loki, he has fallen Thor, he lies within shadow and fire. I do not know if you will be able to reach him, not as he is now." Heimdall said regretfully.

Thor threw Heimdall's hand from his shoulder. "He is my brother; I will not betray him again! I will bring him back Heimdall, no matter what it takes!" he said as he angrily stormed off. Heimdall watched him go with sad eyes, "That was what I was afraid of," he said as he turned his gaze back onto earth and the havoc Loki was reaping there. "But sometimes you cannot save that which refuses to be saved Thor." His words echoed across the void, unheard and warning ignored.


Phil wasn't entirely sure how this had happened but he knew he would make sure not to get roped into something like this ever again. After he had been indoctrinated into the cult of Harry after a very delicious breakfast he had decided to stick around since the bugs he had brought to replace the ones that had fried…were fried. Stark, Foster, Banner, Luna, and Harry had gotten to work on a coding program that would use the satellites in orbit to trace Harry's missing father down and that left Rogers, Lewis and him on the sidelines.

It had been a little awkward at first and then Darcy got out a deck of cards from somewhere. She had managed to convince the two of them to play black jack with her and they had passed some of the day doing that. Then things got interesting around the time Stark launched the program and left the rest of them with little to do but wait. Phil wasn't entirely sure how Stark had managed to convince all of them (especially Captain Rogers) to play strip poker to pass the time.

Yet, here they were playing strip poker for goodness sake. If Fury found out about this then Phil was sure he would be facing a reprimand. They were sitting in a circle on the floor, Banner, Stark, Rogers and Phil facing Luna, Jane, Darcy and Harry. Everyone was in various states of undress. Harry was down to only his boxers, and find out he was a boy had certainly been a startling surprise! All the girls were in their bras and panties (though Darcy still had her socks). Stark was lounging about in his boxers briefs that were in his Ironman colors (Phil could have done without seeing that).

Rogers was down to his own set of boxers and Phil only had his button up, socks and boxers left. Though his button up was open and not doing much to cover him at this point. Steve was blushing so much staring across at Darcy that Phil was almost sure if he blush anymore blood vessels would start to break down from the flood of blood to his face resulting in a nosebleed. Not that it had happened yet but Phil was keeping an eye out for it. Darcy certainly wasn't helping since she would push her breast together and wink at Steve every so often.

The most surprising one was banner who was killing it, he still had almost all his clothes and most of theirs piled up beside him. Phil had been allowed to keep his ear piece though since he had argued against it being actual clothing. Stark was smirking again and it made Phil shift nervously as he had a dreadful feeling he was about to lose his shirt to this game. "Okay time to man up or shut up!" Stark said smiling dangerously. "All in," He said winking at Jane who was sitting across from him turning her a lovely shade of pink.

Banner seemed to deliberate and then said confidently, "I'll throw in my shirt and pants then." Rogers somehow managed to get even redder, "I fold," he said nervously as he squirmed. It was obvious to everyone that he was very uncomfortable with the entire situation but also that he was having fun (not that they would ever get him to admit it). Darcy smiled, "I see your boxers and raise you my bra and socks!" She giggled and winked at Steve who suddenly found the ceiling fascinating.

Luna giggled at her and said, "I'll fold." Jane squirmed a bit and then sighed dramatically saying, "I'll fold too." Harry's face was a blank mask, the perfect poker face and then he said firmly, "All in." Stark woof whistled and Harry blushed. "That's what I'm talking about!" Tony said winking at Harry. Then all eyes turned to Phil, who started to sweat under the pressure, "Okay fine, I'll raise my shirt and socks." Then there was a tense moment where everyone who was still in the game looked at each other, assessing, waiting for the first one to make a move. Banner was the first to move, "Three of a kind," he said confidently laying down his cards.

Darcy smirked at him, "Straight, sorry Banner its time to join the undressed masses!" she smiled at him evilly as he undressed. Phil sighed, "High card," and threw in his shirt and socks. Harry smiled, "Flush!" he said delighted. Then Tony smirked at him causing Harry to pale, "Royal Flush read 'em and weep my dear! Time to show us what you got!" Tony said smiling evilly as he stared at Harry who went deep red. Everyone's eyes were suddenly trained on the beautiful boy and everything got tense waiting to see what would happen. Steve was trying valiantly not to look but his eyes would flicker from Darcy to Harry to the ceiling his face deeply red.

Harry sighed and stood up hooking his thumbs under his boxers while his face turned pink. Just as he was inching his boxers off Phil's comlink went off and Fury was ordering him down to check out the situation occurring at the Tesseract facility. "Ah, sorry guys but I got to run." Phil said making Harry stop. Tony cried injustice at it all but Harry's smile of relief relaxed the entire room. They all laughed as Phil scrambled to get dressed and Tony pouted. "Agent Coulson, you so owe me!" Tony called out as Phil scrambled from the room. A Helicopter was waiting for him on the roof and his ETA from the base was only ten minutes out.


Phil was waiting for him when he arrived and from the activity around him Fury was inclined to see the evacuation well underway. Hill opened the helicopter door and Fury made his way to Phil quickly, "How bad is it?" Fury asked. Phil looked at him seriously, "That's the problem sir, we don't know." Then Phil turned and led them to the elevator that would take them down to the core of the lab. "Dr. Selvig read an energy source from the Tesseract four hours ago." Phil began as they walked.

"Nasa didn't authorize Selvig to go to test phase." Fury said question implied in his voice. "He wasn't testing it. He wasn't even in the room. Spontaneous event." Phil said ominously. "It just turned itself on?" Agent Hill said in disbelief. "Where are the energy levels now?" Fury demanded. "Climbing, when Selvig couldn't shut it down we ordered an immediate evac." Phil said. "How long to get everyone out?" Fury demanded. "The campus should be clear within the next half hour," Phil said. Fury turned to look him in the eye, "Do better." Phil nodded and broke off to do just that.

"Sir, evacuation may be futile." Agent Hill said seriously. "So we should just tell them to go back to sleep?" Fury said sarcastically. "If we can't control the Tesseract's energy there may not be a minimum safe distance." Hill said trying to voice her concerns. "I need you to make sure the Phase 2 prototypes are shipped out." Fury commanded disregarding her. "Sir, is that really a priority right now?" Hill demanded. Fury turned to her sternly, "Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on. Clear out the tech below. Every piece of Phase 2 on a truck and gone." Hill's lips pinched in disapproval, "Yes, sir." And then she was off.

After he got some details from Selvig Fury order Barton down from his nest and got him to report. "No one's come or gone. Selvig's clean. No contacts, no IMs. If there was any tampering, sir it wasn't at this end." Barton said seriously. Fury looked at him seriously, "At this end?" his question was implied. Barton nodded, "Yeah, the cube is a doorway to the other side of space right? Doors open from both sides." He said worryingly. Fury felt a shill go down his spine at those words. "Selvig! I want this thing deactivated now! Whatever is trying to get in from the other side, do not, I repeat do not allow them to succeed!" Fury commanded.

Selvig worked frantically at his computer, "I'm trying! But there is nothing I can do to stop this now that it's already begun! We haven't even explored the consequences of activation from the other side within my calculations! There is just not enough time!" Selvig cried as he anxiously tried to dissipate the climbing energy. The Tesseract started to pulse and every pulse shook the entire foundation of the base causing people to panic even more. The Tesseract crackled, pulsed, and everything trembled. "Its too late," Selvig whispered in dismay, "They are already here."

The Tesseract shot out a beam of light, a tear in space and time opened on the platform not far from them. They could see the glitter of stars and a dark endless fall that was the vacuum of space. Then the portal collapsed unleashing light into the room leaving a man, coated in Tesseract blue fire kneeling at the platform where the portal had formed. Everyone got very quiet as they watched the flames die down leaving the man smoking as he stood up. His face was twisted in a smile and his agents inched their way towards him armed to the teeth. The quiet was oppressive, "Sir, please put down the spear!" Fury commanded.

The man looked confused for a moment looking at the spear in his hand as if he had forgotten it was there. Then his face twisted and he tensed as he raised the spear sending a burst of light taking out one of his men. He jumped from the platform, knives appearing out of seemingly thin air as he tossed them at his agents with well practiced ease. He took out the majority of his men like it was nothing, as if they were children and it rankled. When it was over he stood panting, tense and ready for an opponent that was not there.

Fury gathered up a transport suitcase while the man was distracted looking for someone who wasn't there. He made his way back to the Tesseract as Barton got up to fight once more. The man charged, grabbing Barton's arm and stopping him from firing his weapon. "You have heart." The man said as he raised his spear once more. Then Barton acted dropping down to kick out at the man's legs. The man sidestepped it but had to release Barton's arm as a consequence.

Barton pressed his advantage getting into his guard and aiming a swift punch at the man's head. The man growled disappearing behind Barton and sending a devastating kick to the man's back sending him flying to Fury's feet. Fury took the Tesseract out and put it in the case he had gathered. The man was touching his spear to his remaining agents chest, turning them, controlling them and Fury knew he had to get out quickly if he wanted to retain his free will. As he moved to leave the man said, "Please don't. I still need that."

"This doesn't have to get any messier." Fury said seriously.

"Of course it does, I've come too far for anything else," The man said, though the words sounded strange as if he was struggling to say them and not something else. "I am Loki, of Asgard, and I am burdened with glorious purpose." These words were said easier as if the struggle within had died down. Loki, whoever this man was, Fury knew he was dangerous.

"Loki, brother of Thor," Selvig said drawing Loki's attention.

"We have no quarrel with your people," Fury said.

"An ant has no quarrel with a boot." Loki said mockingly.

"You planning to step on us?" Fury said dangerously.

"I come with glad tidings of a world made free." Loki said as he paced the room and stopped at Barton's struggling form as the man tried to stand. Loki pressed his foot firmly on the man's back pressing him down into the floor once more. "Free from what?" Fury asked trying to draw his attention.

"Freedom." Loki said as he pressed his spear down onto Barton's back who stopped struggling to stand and Loki stepped back. Then Barton stood eyes clouded and Fury knew that he had lost another to the madman. "Freedom's is life's great lie. Once you accept that, in your heart, you will know peace." Loki said as he moved closer to Fury holding his spear aloft. Fury backed away, "Yeah you say peace, I kind of think you mean the other thing."

Barton shifted beside Loki, "Sir, Director Fury is stalling. He means to bury us." He said drawing Loki's attention to the ceiling as it rumbled threateningly. "Like the pharaohs of old." Fury said bitingly. "Well then," Loki said turning to Barton. Barton fired his weapon unflinchingly shooting Fury in the heart and sending him flying to the ground. Barton grabbed the traveling case with the Tesseract and they left as one as Fury gasped on the ground.


The device Tony was using to monitor the scanning beeped loudly drawing their attention away from the current battle over dinner. Harry rushed from the Kitchen to get at the device but Tony got there first. "What is it!" Harry demanded as Tony kept the device out of his reach. "Did you find him! Did you find my Daddy?" Harry asked desperately. Tony's face was a blank mask, "We have a reading alright but not out in some far off star." He said stiffly.

"Then where is he?!" Harry demanded. Tony looked him in the eye and sighed, "He is here, on earth, but my readings are all messed up. Wherever he is, whatever he has with him, its messing my calculations up and making it impossible to pin point." Harry looked crushed, "No, he can't be here." He said desperately. "He would have answered me if he was here! He can't be here!"

A.N.: Gahhhh this part was so hard to write! I must have redone this chapter like a dozen times! I hope you enjoyed it! Drop me a line and tell me how it was will you? Lol I need the encouragement because this chapter was such a struggle! T.T