AN: So, a few quick notes before you read the story:
This is a Rise of the Brave Tangled Dragons crossover with the Avengers, our favorite teen heroes staring as the four seasons. It takes place during the Avengers, primarily the battle at the end.
Also, I've come to understand that Frost was not originally Jack's last name, so I gave the other three teens last names that I felt had to do with the seasons - but honestly I'm no good with names. If anyone wants to suggest any alternatives I may go back and change it.
Let me know what you think!
Meeting the Seasons
The Avengers quickly followed their Captain's orders, falling into positions and readying themselves for the battle of their lives, but before any of them could truly begin the battle they were startled by a loud shriek that filled the air. It was a sound unlike any they had ever heard before and was followed by what could only be described as a ball of purple lightning that struck down one of the Chitauri hovercrafts.
Clint watched as the ball of lightning was followed by a large black creature that zoomed past him, grabbing one of the Chitauri in its claws and throwing it against a nearby building. The creature circled back and for the first time Clint noticed the two riders on its back. The dragon - for what else could it be? - hovered above him and the red haired young woman jumped off, joining him on the top of the building. She nodded in greeting but didn't waste time with words, nocking an arrow on her bow and taking out one of the aliens on the ground that had been about to attack a young brunette in a purple dress.
Clint watched as the dragon flew off, the rider - a young man about the same age as the young woman who had joined him on the roof - pulling out a sword as dragon and rider dove back into the swarm of invaders. He loosed another arrow at one of the creatures approaching the perimeter that Cap had established and turned to glance at the teen beside him. Her bow looked old and rickety, both it and her arrows made out of wood, but they flew just as straight and as far as his, if not farther.
"Merida Sky," she introduced herself between arrows. "Don't worry, we're here to help."
He chuckled. "Clint Barton. I'm more worried about the aliens then a couple of kids." She smirked at him in return as the two of them continued to fire arrow after arrow, the kind of smirk that indicated that she knew something he didn't. How was he supposed to know that she and all of her friends were centuries old?
They didn't waste much time on small talk after that but Clint couldn't help but notice that despite her smaller quiver she never ran out of arrows. Nor could he help but notice that she was concentrating her fire primarily around the small brunette on the ground, protecting her from any alien who dared approach. He concentrated on maintaining the perimeter but out of the corner of his eye he kept watch on the girl, sure that she was with Sky.
Steve watched, puzzled, as a small brunette ran from building to building, helping kids out and pointing them toward the perimeter. As the nearest Chitauri fired on him he ducked behind his shield, dodging the blast, and then slammed it into the alien, taking the invader out for the count. Looking back to the girl his eyes widened in surprise as he saw two aliens approaching her, the young teen completely oblivious to the danger behind her as she helped a boy out of an overturned car. Before he could throw his shield two quick arrows pierced the heads of the aliens. He ducked another shot, slinging his shield at an alien near him instead as he began to work his way over to the two civilians, even if he was starting to doubt that the brunette was indeed a civilian.
It was odd, he mused further, thinking back to the defense that had saved the brunette's life, but those arrows had looked wooden and he was pretty sure that Clint was up to date on the latest technology. He could think of no explanation for it so as he steadily worked his way toward the brunette and the boy she was supporting he allowed himself a glance up toward Clint, noticing the large red hair of the young women beside him. He took it all in stride, adapting during the battle as he always had, but part of him couldn't help but be confused by the strange appearances and things he had seen that day. The future couldn't have changed that much, could it?
If Steve had been hoping for some normalcy the next sight quickly cut down those hopes as a young teen with white hair, bare feet, and a shepard's crook swooped down from the sky, landing next to the brunette and relieving her of her burden only to take off again, carrying the seemingly uninjured civilian past the perimeter. Steve shook his head at the strange sight and continued on, following the strange girl - who he noticed was also barefoot - through the battle as he attempted to protect her and the civilians she rescued, occasionally spotting the flying boy as he pointed his staff and froze the aliens that attacked him.
Tony stopped midair, staring in astonishment at the teen that had just flown past him, carrying an uninjured civilian. The teen was barefoot and thin with shockingly white hair, carrying a stick that was shaped like a shepard's crook tucked under his arm. As Tony continued to fire upon the invading aliens he watched as the teen set the boy down outside the perimeter, flying up once more and pointing his staff toward an alien approaching him. He couldn't help but be grateful for the mask that hid his astonishment as the boy produced a stream of ice that froze his attacker mid-air, causing the alien to quickly fall back to the ground.
He shook himself, realizing that he had frozen, distracted in the middle of the battle by such a strange sight, and began to look for more stragglers to attack. Before he could find one a bolt of ice flew past him and he spun quickly in midair, watching as the Chitauri that had been about to leap on him fell to the ground, frozen solid. He turned back and gave a nod of thanks to the boy. "Nice trick you got there," he quipped, smirking beneath his mask.
The boy smirked in return. "Name's Jack Frost," he replied easily, as though they weren't in the middle of a battle. "Back to back?"
Tony shrugged off the voice in the back of his head that pointed out the similarities between the boy's name and the name of a certain myth before nodding in agreement. They quickly joined forces, floating in midair as they fired shot after shot, Frost with ice and Tony with fire. "Do this often?" Tony joked as he took down yet another alien.
Frost chuckled, "More than you'd think." They spun around each other easily and Tony was grateful for the semi-break, no longer having to worry about being jumped from behind. Before long though the area was cleared and they separated, facing each other once more. As Frost gave Tony a nod of thanks he noticed another alien about to attack the teen from behind.
Before he could react, either to warn the white-haired boy or to help him, he heard a loud shriek and watched a bolt of purple lightning strike down the Chitauri warrior, turning him to ash. Tony turned just in time to catch the dragon he had seen earlier turning away, its young rider taking a brief moment to send a short wave and a shout of acknowledgement in Frost's direction. The floating teen spun in midair, freezing a wave of approaching Chitauri on the ground before saluting the boy with his staff and flying off in a different direction - the way he had initially come from. Before Tony could react both Frost and dragon-boy were gone and he himself flew off, looking for more aliens to take down.
As Natasha flew through the air, perched precariously on the back of an alien as she attempted to steer it in the direction of Stark tower, she was greeted by one of the strangest sights she had ever seen – and that was saying something. Unless she was seeing things, a dragon had pulled up beside her on her right, easily keeping pace with the hovercraft. Perched upon the dragon's back was a young teen, sword easily held in his left hand as he smiled at her.
"Need a lift?" he asked easily, as though fighting an alien invasion on the back of a dragon was something he did every day.
Natasha allowed herself a rare smile. Regardless of his age, this boy was a professional. Everything from the dragon beneath him to the sword held in his hand to the calm manner in which he addressed her during the heat of battle suggested that this teen knew exactly what he was doing. "I wouldn't be opposed to one," she admitted lightly, disengaging herself from the alien hovercraft and leaping nimbly to the back of the dragon.
They dipped downward slightly as she landed but it seemed intentional, the teen leaning the dragon downward ever so slightly to compensate for the extra weight. As soon as she was settled they swooped upward again, tilting slightly to the left as the teen easily reached out and lopped the head off of the alien she had been manipulating. They righted themselves immediately after, angling upward with large strokes, and the teen turned toward her.
"Hiccup Hunter," he introduced himself. "Where to?"
"Natasha Romanoff," she returned, "Stark Tower."
He nodded, turning forward again and leaning over his dragon's neck slightly as he directed their path. They flew through the air quickly and Natasha couldn't help but be impressed by the speed of the dragon as it blew past everything in its path. Neither Hunter nor his dragon were phased by the battle around them, not reacting to the shots fired at them beyond dodging when necessary and never startling at any of the loud noises below them. Before she knew it they were at Stark tower, landing lightly next to the machine that held open the portal.
She sent a nod of thanks in Hunter's direction, watching briefly as the dragon hunkered down, taking off again with one powerful stroke of its wings as they shot straight towards an alien hovercraft, Hunter's sword held aloft in his hand. She turned to find Eric Selvig watching her and quickly returned her mind to the mission at hand.
As Clint reached back to find his quiver empty he realized how grateful he was to have Sky there, watching as she shot down the alien about to attack him. He glanced behind him to acknowledge her help only to notice the dragon and its rider flying toward them, followed by a large fleet of Chitauri hovercrafts. The dragon was fast though and had a good head start, flying alongside the building toward them.
Sky sent a meaningful glance his way and he responded with a mischievous smile, the two of them running toward the edge of the building and leaping together onto the dragon's back. The dragon angled downwards as they landed, its rider sending a smile toward Sky.
"Wow, I can't believe you actually made a friend," he joked.
She scowled good naturedly, sending a scathing glance his way as, perched on the back of a flying dragon, she let loose arrow after arrow – all of them hitting their targets. "I see you haven't," she returned.
"Toothless is the only friend I need," he replied, patting his dragon fondly as he smirked up at her.
"Good, 'cause he's the only one you've got," she retorted, smirking right back at him.
The rider paused – momentarily distracted as he spotted whatever target on the ground he was looking for. "You win this round Scot," he replied as he angled the dragon downward.
"Don't I always, Viking?" she joked, leaping down from the dragon as they landed near Thor and Steve. Clint too quickly hopped off, feeling slightly out of place between the two friends, and the dragon took off again, leaving the group behind.
Thor glanced up as the dragon he had seen earlier approached, landing just as Steve got hit with a bolt from a Chitauri weapon. He threw his hammer viciously at an attacking alien and watched as Clint and a young warrior with bright red hair leapt from the creature's back. Another young girl with short brown hair joined them, exchanging glances with the red haired warrior, but Thor turned, offering his hand to Steve, and did not see the rest of the greeting. As Steve got to his feet the brunette approached them, her red haired friend passing some arrows to Barton as the two of them began to defend their teammates.
Thor allowed himself a brief respite as the brunette reached them, watching in astonishment as she touched Steve's wound gently, a golden light radiating from her hand. The Captain's wounds vanished, healing before his eyes, and they both turned to the girl, eyes wide in astonishment.
There was no time for questions though, and they both shook off their wonder, Steve nodding in thanks to the girl as the four warriors formed a circle around the healer.
As they continued to fight Thor heard the voice of the Black Widow as she claimed to be able to close the portal, followed shortly by Stark's reply as he informed them of the impending missile. The five of them gazed upward, watching as the Man of Iron narrowly missed his own tower in his struggle to redirect the missile. Then Stark was gone and Thor knew the rest of the Avengers were watching just as eagerly as he was, distracted from the battle by their friend's heroic deed. The dragon and its rider circled just below the portal, waiting for Stark to reappear, and on the ground they were joined by another young warrior who flew under his own power, carrying naught but a wooden staff. Shortly after Tony vanished from sight the Chitauri collapsed around them, falling motionless into the streets. Without the battle to distract them the group huddled together, looking anxiously toward the sky, but Stark still had not reappeared and the portal was still open – leaving the possibility of another invading force. Reluctantly Steve did what had to be done, giving the order to close the portal. Still, the group did not give up hope completely, continuing to watch the sky, and just as the portal disappeared completely the dragon still circling beneath it surged upward, turning at an angle to catch the falling hero in its claws.
The rider dove downward immediately, landing not far from the group and Thor reached them first, turning over the billionaire and ripping off his mask as the Hulk came crashing to the ground near them. Stark did not appear to be breathing but before the brunette could approach him the Hulk roared loudly, startling everyone in the vicinity. Tony's head jerked upward as he began gasping and the Hulk roared loudly again, this time in triumph. Thor peered down at his friend in concern as he looked around wildly.
"What the hell?" he gasped out. "What just happened? Please tell me no one kissed me." Thor only smirked slightly at the comment as Steve chuckled silently, still trying to catch his breath, and it was the young red haired warrior who spoke up.
"You wish," she joked, catching their attention, Stark noticing the group of teenagers for the first time.
Thor too took his opportunity to get a good look at the warriors who had assisted them in the battle. There were four of them, standing side by side, and Thor couldn't help but compare them to his own team. The Avengers were battered, bruised, dirty, and exhausted, gathered around Tony as they tried to catch their breath, Clint and Steve to his left and the Hulk across from him. They looked as though they had been through a war, for indeed they had. The four teens, however, did not. They were not covered in grime, they were not trying to catch their breath, their bruises had faded thanks to the brunette's healing touch, and the little amount of blood that covered them was clearly not theirs.
The dragon rider had sheathed his sword, joking around with the white haired warrior with the staff. Something about the warrior seemed to remind him of something but he couldn't recall what and he let it slide, moving his gaze to the two young women beside the two young men. They were laughing and joking around, clearly enjoying their victory, and from what he could hear the brunette was excitedly recalling a tale of her prowess in battle, apparently having taken up one of the Chitauri's own weapons against them. They were so different from other warriors he had known yet he couldn't help but think of Sif and the Warriors Three and the camaraderie they had before, during, and after a battle.
He interrupted Stark's own little victory celebration, his thoughts of Asgard reminding him of his brother. "We're not finished yet." He spoke loud enough so everyone could hear him and several people turned to look toward the tower, aware of the confrontation yet to come. Tony made a last remark before struggling to stand and the Hulk, surprisingly gentle, helped him up, grabbing him and leaping upward, making his way toward the tower. Without words the rider offered his hand to the red haired warrior and she took it quickly, leaping onto the dragon's back behind the rider as the white haired warrior grabbed the brunette and took off into the sky.
"Oi, Barton!" the archer exclaimed, jerking her head back toward the empty space behind her, "You coming?" Thor watched as his fellow warrior smiled at the offer, jogging toward the trio and lifting himself lightly onto the dragon's back. The dragon lifted upward with a stroke of its mighty wings and Thor grabbed Steve, twirling his hammer to lift them into the air.
Natasha was waiting for them at the top of the tower, watching as the odd group approached, two of the teens landing first, no apparent method of flight as they set down gently beside her. The Hulk was next, setting down Stark with a gentleness that surprised her as the dragon landed behind him, Clint hopping off to join her while the girl joined the other teens, Hunter remaining on his dragon's back. Thor and Steve landed next and the Avengers exchanged glances, readying themselves. Stark removed his helmet completely and Clint held out his last arrow, one that appeared to have been used already. She herself was still holding Loki's scepter. Together they headed into the tower, the four teens and their dragon remaining behind. They knew, without being told, that this wasn't their fight.
After Loki surrendered the Avengers led him out onto the balcony to wait for SHIELD. The Hulk and Stark stayed inside, Stark to get out of his suit and the Hulk because he was probably about to shrink down in size. Upon returning to where they had last left the teens Natasha was surprised to find them lounging on the ground, sitting in a circle as they laughed and joked around.
The dragon was lying in the corner, eyes closed and catching a quick rest, though he perked up as they approached, opening his eyes and staring at them accusingly. Hunter was leaning against him, his sword across his lap as he cleaned it. To the dragon riders left, perched on the ledge of the tower, rested the white haired teen, sitting cross legged with his staff across his lap as he leaned forward and laughed. The two girls were on the ground to his left, facing Hunter, the brunette closer to the wall. To further Natasha's surprise it appeared that the brunette was braiding the red head's hair, attempting to tame the monstrosity as the archer related whatever tale it was that made the others laugh. The red head herself had her bow in her lap, fiddling with the string as her quiver lay on the ground beside her.
As the Avengers approached the laughter died down, all four teens turning to meet their somewhat accusing and bewildered stares. "What?" the white haired teen asked, correctly interpreting their stares. "We're just catching up. It's been awhile."
"The four seasons can't exactly hang out in the same place whenever we want," Hunter remarked unhappily.
"Aw, Hiccup, you know I'll always be there for you," the other boy teased, smirking down at him.
Hunter raised an eyebrow, unimpressed. "Yeah, what about -"
"Do not even go there!" The teen cut him off quickly, sitting up and looking alarmed. "We agreed never to speak of that again."
The two girls laughed as Hiccup shrugged up at the other boy. "Not my fault you didn't show up. I had to think of some way to get your attention."
The teen scowled, clearly lost in memory, and beside her Clint cleared his throat, reminding the teens of their presence. None of the teens startled as they barely looked up, both Hunter and the archer remaining focused on their weapons.
"Have a seat," the brunette offered lightly, her hands full of red hair, nodding at the space between Hunter and the archer, as though it wasn't a completely ridiculous idea.
The Avengers glanced at each other, and then at Loki - who was smirking at their indecision. Natasha wondered if the teen knew the dilemma that she had given them. If they sat down and relaxed on the job and Loki managed to escape then all their effort would have been for nothing - not to mention the trouble they would get in. On the other hand, if they didn't sit down, Loki would automatically assume that they felt they couldn't handle him and wanted to remain standing in order to keep an eye on him. Not to mention, sitting down went against protocol, one simply didn't relax until the mission was over and the objective was complete. The way the teens exchanged glances suggested that they knew exactly what was going through the adults' minds and the boy on the ledge scowled.
"Adults," he muttered scornfully before speaking up, "it's not like he's going to bite." He grabbed his staff from his lap, pointing it at Loki. A bolt of ice flew through the air, hitting Loki in the face, and the teen gave a satisfied smirk as the god stumbled backward in shock. "There, now he can't." And indeed, Loki's mouth had been iced shut as he glared furiously at the teen and his staff.
"Jack," the brunette admonished lightly, not looking up from her task of braiding.
The teen snorted. "What? He had it coming." Loki's glare intensified but Jack ignored the glare, raising an eyebrow toward the Avengers as if to say 'well?'.
As Natasha warred with the pros and cons, and her fellow Avengers did as well, the red head also snorted. "Can't argue with that," she pointed out, setting her bow aside as she finished wiping it down.
The four teens chuckled and Natasha shrugged to herself. What the hell, she had never much been one for protocol anyways. She moved forward, sitting down gracefully beside Hunter, cross legged on the gravel. She was careful not to sit too close, aware of the dragon watching her every move, but nevertheless made herself comfortable on the ground. It had been a long time since she had sat on the ground simply for the purpose of doing so. She watched as Clint prodded Loki forward, grabbing his shoulder and forcing him to sit down in front of them with probably a bit more force than necessary. Nobody commented on it, though Thor was watching Loki closely. Clint then settled next to Natasha and she watched as Steve shrugged to himself, sitting next to the archer. Thor was the only one who did not sit, standing behind Clint and Natasha as he kept watch on Loki.
Bruce followed Tony up to the top of the tower, grateful for the clothes the billionaire had lent him, only to stop in shock at the site that greeted him. Tony had filled him in on the teens that had fought alongside them but never had Bruce expected to find them sitting in a circle on the ground like some kind of Sunday afternoon picnic for warriors.
"Well this looks cozy," Tony stated brightly, breaking Bruce out of his musings as the genius settled himself next to Clint. Bruce closed the circle, sitting between Tony and Steve as he completed the weird group. "Why didn't anybody tell me we were having a picnic, I would have brought snacks."
Everyone ignored his comment, and the boy at the back of the circle, sitting on the edge of the roof, raised a hand in greeting. "Hey Tin Man," he called out, "I see you got rid of your toys."
Tony scowled lightly, "That's Iron to you ice-boy."
"Iron, tin, they're all the same thing to me," the boy replied lightly shrugging.
Before Tony could retaliate, undoubtedly getting into the difference between iron and tin, the teen leaning against the dragon sheathed his – now clean – sword loudly, drawing everyone's attention. "Right, now that we're all here why don't we do some introductions?" he asked rhetorically, smiling slightly. "I'm Hiccup Hunter, spirit of autumn. This is Toothless, he's a Night Fury." He gestured to his left and the proclaimed 'ice-boy' sat up, giving a cheeky wave in the direction of the Avengers. Bruce wondered briefly if it was him who froze Loki's mouth shut.
"Jack Frost, spirit of winter," he announced happily, grinning cheekily toward Loki - who managed a scowl as the ice around his mouth began to melt.
The brunette on the ground was next, smiling widely at the Avengers. "Rapunzel Meadows," she declared, "spirit of spring."
The red head was announced as Merida Sky, spirit of summer, and then it was Steve's turn. He introduced himself as Steve Rogers, Captain America, and then it was time for Bruce to say his bit.
"Bruce Banner," he voiced simply, turning to Tony.
"You forgot the doctor," Tony added nonchalantly before introducing himself as "Tony Stark, Iron Man."
Clint introduced himself as Clint Barton, code name Hawkeye and Natasha introduced herself similarly, citing her code name as Black Widow. Finally Thor spoke up, introducing himself as Thor Odinson, god of thunder.
Tony was the first to speak up after the introductions, asking what was on all of their minds. "Spirits of the seasons?" he scoffed. "You can't honestly expect us to believe that."
The four smirked, as though sharing a private joke, and Hiccup was the one to reply, gesturing at Bruce. "Clearly you do though. Your friend there violates the law of conservation of mass."
"And he was frozen for decades but is healthier than most people on this planet," Jack added, gesturing to Steve.
"Not to mention he's from another world!" Rapunzel exclaimed excitedly, gesturing at Thor.
Merida snorted. "You've got a hunk of metal in your chest, hang out with several people who shouldn't exist, and you're doubting the existence of the seasons?" Well, when she put it that way Bruce couldn't help but consider the possibility. His fellow Avengers looked as though they too were considering it, shocked into silence by the four's replies.
None of them got the chance to respond though, as several SHIELD jets finally arrived. Natasha and Steve were the first to stand up, returning to their usual military stances, followed shortly by Clint. Bruce stood more slowly, not really caring how SHIELD saw him, and Tony was the last stand, taking his time as the SHIELD agents landed on the roof, Nick Fury at the front of the group. By now the ice around Loki's mouth had melted and he was helped up rather roughly by several agents who carted him off. Bruce glanced back at the teens, expecting them to stand as well, but they remained as they were before. Only, not exactly as before. They seemed tenser, their smiles fixed on their faces, and there was a sadness in their eyes that confused him, forcing him to wonder on exactly how old they were.
Bruce expected Fury to comment on their presence, questioning who they were and how exactly they affected the safety of the Earth, but he didn't. In fact, Fury didn't even glance their way once, his one good eye moving over each of the Avengers in turn but never once looking behind them.
He nodded once, probably the closest thing to a compliment they would ever get, then turned back to the jet with Loki on it. "Take the rest of the day off," he said as he left, "we'll finish this up tomorrow."
The Avengers stood in silence for a moment, tension leaving their shoulders as they finally allowed themselves to relax. It was over. Loki was gone, the Chitauri were all dead, and the portal had been closed - the tesseract removed by several SHIELD agents.
"Can we get shawarma now?" Tony asked, breaking the silence.
Nobody knew quite what to say to that but there was a snort from Merida behind him and before he knew it the four teens were laughing, all traces of their previous sadness gone. Their laughter was infectious and, though none of them laughed themselves, the Avengers all cracked grins as well, smiling at the rather out of place statement. It was a rather anti-climactic conclusion to such a devastating event but they were hungry and tired and shawarma sounded like a really good idea.
"We'll meet you there," Hiccup told them as he stood up, mounting his dragon. Steve nodded in reply, still sort of leading the team, but before anything else could be said Merida stepped up on the ledge, pushing Jack off with a grin before jumping off herself. Hiccup just rolled his eyes, taking off quickly and diving down the edge of the building.
"Sorry about them," Rapunzel smiled at the Avengers, "it's like he said, we don't see each other often." And then she too stepped off the ledge.
The Avengers were frozen in shock at the unexpected departure as Toothless flew upward into view, Hiccup and Merida on his back. Jack was chasing the black dragon, Rapunzel in his arms, and all the Avengers could do was stare.
"I think I'll stick with the elevator," Bruce managed to say. There were a few wry smiles and dry chuckles at that and the group finally moved, stepping back into the building and making their way around the debris. The elevator ride down was silent, the events of the day finally catching up to them. Together they moved outside, reflecting on the destruction and what had happened earlier. A shadow fell over them as they walked down the street and several of them tensed reflexively, looking up at the dragon overhead. As one the group relaxed again, continuing their walk as their four new friends followed above them. The restaurant had clearly been in the battle but was surprisingly intact given where it was located and the group filed in, Toothless walking straight through the broken storefront window.
The two people inside the store stared at them in shock before the woman walked over. Apparently even the after effects of a battle weren't going to stop her from attending to possible customers. Bruce blinked. He could have sworn that the woman had just walked though Toothless' tail, outstretched into the aisle as he curled up and went to sleep against the wall. He blinked again, shaking his head, no, that was impossible. He was just tired. He turned back to the group, an impossible idea running through his head as he watched them interact. Jack was leaning over Tony's shoulder, somehow joking with him while at the same time asking him to place his order for him. Rapunzel was standing beside Steve and Merida was beside Clint, each of them doing the same.
"Hey," Hiccup caught his attention, giving him a small smile. "Mind ordering for me?" He asked.
Bruce stared at him. For everyone else the adrenaline was fading, they were sinking into exhaustion, unable to piece together the puzzle as they focused on food. Bruce though, well he was just waking up, just now starting to get his head back as he focused on the world around him. "They can't see you, can they?" he asked, staring at Hiccup expectantly.
Hiccup stopped, standing stiffly as his smile faded slightly. Around the table Bruce noticed the teen's three companions stiffen as well, momentarily shocked at his question. Before he could register the changes they shifted again, smiles back in place. Hiccup laughed lightly, but having seen his earlier smile Bruce couldn't help but feel that this one was fake.
"Nah," Hiccup shrugged as though it didn't bother him. "We get the added bonus of being invisible as well as invincible," he joked.
"It's a shame no one can see how good looking we are," Jack spoke up, grinning wildly. It was a different smile to the one he had worn earlier and if they had just met Bruce probably would have assumed his happiness was genuine. But now, having seen the four teens completely relaxed around them, Bruce couldn't help but notice the differences. The changes were subtle and small, slight adjustments in their posture and the way they smiled, but somehow it just seemed off.
Tony interrupted his train of thought, voicing the rest of the Avengers' confusion. "What do you mean invisible?" he half snapped, not liking the fact that he couldn't understand how someone could be invisible and yet he was able to see them.
Merida scowled and the rest of the teens wore resigned expressions as she stood up. "Like this," she snapped, walking toward the counter to the person sweeping up. "Hello!" She shouted loudly into the person's ear but they didn't react, continuing their sweeping. Merida strode closer and Bruce heard a sigh beside him as Rapunzel stood up. The Avengers watched astonished as Merida stuck her hand right through the person, scowling all the while. As Rapunzel approached her she deflated slightly, the anger leaving her as she heaved a loud sigh. The brunette put her hand on her friend's shoulder, leading her back to the table.
"Are you guys going to order or not?" Jack asked loudly in a joking manner, drawing all the attention onto him. "I'm hungry here." By the time Bruce looked back the other three were smiling again and the Avengers surprisingly didn't mention her outburst.
"On the tower," Natasha brought up slowly as they ordered their meals, "Fury couldn't see you."
Hiccup nodded. "Yeah, I'm not surprised. Despite how often they deal with the abnormal, SHIELD's pretty uptight."
"Then why can we see you?" Tony questioned suspiciously.
Despite the fact that Hiccup appeared the most battle-ready (even if he wasn't the fiercest, that honor clearly belonged to Sky) with a sword at his side, a knife in his belt, and a dragon at his back, he was also clearly a thinker, solving the challenging puzzles before anyone else could. Again it was him who answered the technical question. "It's probably because you're open minded, ready for anything. It's not like you believe in us specifically but you were in battle, ready to believe whatever your eyes saw because if you didn't it could be the death of you," he shrugged. "Survival instincts. You guys have probably seen some weird things; you weren't willing to rule anything out."
"What does believing in you have to do with seeing you?" This time it was Clint who spoke up.
"We're the spirits of the seasons, we can only be seen by people who believe in us," Rapunzel explained gently.
"What, like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny?" Tony scoffed.
"Again with the whole 'things that shouldn't exist' spiel," Merida smirked at Tony, "do we really need to get into this again?"
"Though I will say, the Easter Bunny - not your typical rabbit," Jack added, scowling slightly.
Hiccup laughed, "You always have to get on his bad side, don't you."
Jack's scowl turned into a mischievous grin. "Not my fault Easter falls so close to winter."
"It is his holiday," Rapunzel chastised Jack lightly, "you really shouldn't mess with him so often."
"You would take his side," Jack accused her, but he was smirking in her direction and there was no malice in his tone. Bruce gathered this was an argument they'd had before, less of an argument and more of an inside joke between them.
"Wait," Clint interrupted them, "you're saying the Easter Bunny's real?"
"And Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman," Jack clarified in a patronizing tone.
At the sight of several doubting faces around the table Thor took the time to remind them of their previous conversation. "You would do well to listen to the summer spirit. Her words are wise indeed. We are just as unlikely a group as they," he told them seriously. Bruce could see that Thor didn't doubt the seasons' words, but he also didn't know if Thor had ever heard of Santa Claus or even Christmas.
By now their food had arrived and, caught off guard, the waitress walked right through Hiccup to deliver their food. He startled, backing away uncomfortably with a small wince on his face. Bruce took the offered food gratefully, murmuring his thanks, but he didn't look away from Hiccup. Aware that all the eyes of the Avengers were on him, startled looks on their faces, Hiccup attempted a quick smile, waiting as the waitress moved before moving back to his previous spot. Despite Merida's actions earlier this hit home much more. To be so completely ignored... Bruce had thought he led a lonely life but however low it got he had always known he had chosen his isolation. These four, well he doubted they had chosen to become the four seasons. And what had Hiccup said, 'The four seasons can't exactly hang out in the same place whenever we want'? Not only were they invisible to most of the world around them but they didn't even have each other most of the time. Around the table the rest of the Avengers were quickly coming to the same conclusion, but none of them expressed pity. Each one of them knew what it was like to be different, to stand out from their peers, unapproachable for some reason or another – even Thor. These four would not want their pity, would not accept it. Instead Bruce simply slid Hiccup's food over to him and the group fell silent as everyone began to eat, exhaustion sinking in once and for all. And if the Avengers offered the four a place to stay whenever they wanted, well, that wasn't pity – that was friendship.