I Hear the Voices

A/N: This story is written by Sariniste and Sophia E. We've noticed that there are very few Avengers/Bleach crossovers, and none featuring Loki and Aizen.

So we decided to remedy that lack.

Summary: Loki's return trip to Asgard in Thor's custody is interrupted and he falls to Earth once more. There he meets a man with strange powers who offers to help him. But is everything what it seems? Loki is soon enmeshed in a web of deceit and intrigue that rivals anything he has seen in any of the Nine Realms.

Avengers and Bleach crossover, Loki and Aizen, Ichigo and Tony Stark. No pairings. The story takes place after the end of the movie, and will be consistent with Avengers canon through the movie and Bleach through chapter 533.

Disclaimer: We do not own The Avengers or any of the Marvel characters, nor Bleach or any of Tite Kubo's characters. This is fan-made work and not for profit.

(Originally posted 4/11/2013.)

Chapter 1


He was falling.

Not again, was the first thought that sent a spear of panic through him.

Only this time, his mouth was sealed shut as in his nightmares of old, memories of the cord sewn through his lips piercing him as the dwarves' needle had once pierced his skin. Ancient recollections of silence and pain and shame.

No, this must surely be another dreadful dream, his two worst nightmares somehow conflated into one horrific scenario.

He opened his eyes, only to see the vast and unfortunately familiar chaos of the Void he had plummeted through before, many years ago, when he had fallen from the Bifrost, betrayed by those who should have served him, rejected with finality by the man he had once called father.

No, Loki.

He was falling again, but with a most unfortunate difference: he was gagged and chained. Powerless.

His hands reached for the muzzle that sealed his lips, but they were bound as well, shackles about his wrists and a chain of some alloy even his strength could not break.

Without his powers, he could not hope to stop his fall.

How could this have happened? He cast his mind back; there had been his ignominious defeat at the hands of the mortals and their heroes, and then Thor binding and muzzling him, the return journey to Asgard via the power of the Tesseract, clumsily wielded by Thor… He winced at how rough that journey had been; Thor truly did not have the skill to walk the secret ways between worlds, even aided by a device of such raw power as the Tesseract.

They had been shaken and thrashed, tossed from side to side, Loki's teeth jarring painfully against the muzzle as Thor fought the device with brute force rather than the finesse it required. And then—a sudden flare of turbulence, a lash of chaotic power that split them from one another with brutal suddenness, an abrupt pull. Once again Loki had lost his hold and was falling.

Had he sensed something at the moment he was torn from the Tesseract? He strained his memory, reaching for that faint sense of something gone wrong… and then, without warning, he struck something hard with a prodigious impact and his mind went dark.

XxXxXxX

He came to awareness gradually, first the myriad twinges and stabs of dull and sharp pain, the familiar aches of lacerations scabbing over and broken bones knitting together. He was lying on something soft. He kept his eyes closed out of long habit, pretending to still be asleep just in case he was a prisoner of hostile beings. But there was light behind his eyelids, and as he gradually became more awake, he realized he was lying in a soft, warm bed.

He remained still and allowed his eyelids to crack open the tiniest bit so he could observe his surroundings. He was in a bed, in a small room with whitewashed walls and what looked like a scroll made of silk hanging upon one wall, a few delicate lines hinting at a scene with willows in the foreground and herons winging their way over a pond in the back. He did not recognize the style of the artist; it was not of Asgard nor of any of the Midgard societies he had visited most recently. A translucent screen painted with water lilies covered a wide window through which could be seen yellow sunlight.

The door opened and a man entered. Loki hurriedly closed his eyes, but not before he spied a tiny smile upon the man's face. Footsteps approached his bedside.

"So you are awake at last." The voice was soft and gentle, nonthreatening; that of a healer perhaps? The language was English, although with a faint accent that was different than the one used by the mortals from the so-called United States. So he was on Midgard then? "How are you feeling?" continued the gentle, deep voice.

Since there was no point in feigning unconsciousness any longer, Loki opened his eyes to gaze at his visitor. The man was tall for a mortal, perhaps his own height, wearing an elegant black suit jacket over a cream colored silk shirt and black trousers. Brown eyes gazed mildly at him from behind square black spectacles, and thick brown bangs hung tousled over the man's forehead.

The man gave him a gentle smile with just a hint of concern. "Are you all right? I found you only yesterday on my lawn. I don't know how you arrived here, but you made quite a substantial crater in my begonia patch, as though you had fallen from a great distance. I've tried to make you as comfortable as possible."

Loki stared at the man. One hand crept up to brush his lips; the muzzle was gone.

The man grimaced briefly. "I removed that archaic device from your mouth. Who put it on you? That was cruel and barbaric."

Loki kept his face neutral as surprise washed through him. The device was made of Asgardian metal and magically sealed. There was no way a mere mortal could remove it. Who was this man?

The brown eyes were mild. "Truth be told, however, the clasp was already broken and it took little effort to unlatch. It must have shattered upon impact." He watched Loki closely.

With the muzzle gone, he should have access to all his magic. Loki closed his eyes briefly and reached out with his powers, only to find no response. It was as though his magic had disappeared. His eyes opened again and scrutinized the friendly, open face of the other. The mortal bore all the earmarks of a kind and trustworthy individual. But was he?

Why was he here? Of all the places he could have fallen to, why this one?

Still, it made sense to pretend to be grateful, to be trusting. Especially since he appeared to be bereft of his powers. Loki cleared his throat carefully and essayed a charming smile.

"My apologies for my rudeness," he began. "I am, as you might imagine, somewhat distressed by the events that have befallen me. I am grateful to you for your kindness." He gestured at the bed and that his own bandages.

The other man smiled reassuringly. "No need to apologize, my dear sir." He bowed, his brown hair falling in his face. "My name is Sousuke Aizen, and I'm pleased to make your acquaintance."

The name did not sound English. Loki tilted his head with a puzzled air. "May I ask where we are?"

Something flashed in the other man's eyes and was gone. "But of course," he answered politely. "We are in a suburb of Tokyo, Japan."

Japan. A country on Midgard. Across the globe from New York City, Loki's last known location. He frowned. The intricate magic of the paths between the worlds followed clear rules. If he had returned to Midgard, it should have been in the same location he departed from, unless a powerful force had deflected his path. Why did he feel nothing? Was this man, Aizen, a sorcerer or superhuman? He did not recognize this man's name from any of SHIELD's secret lists that Clint Barton had once obtained for him.

He hesitated. The real question now was how much he should tell the man. If he gave a false name and Aizen was aware of who he was, he would know Loki mistrusted him. It might be better to pretend to be completely unsuspicious. The Midgardians had an information network that rivaled Heimdall; no doubt this mortal was aware of the Chitauri assault and Loki's role in it.

Another friendly, open smile. "Japan. I have never been here before." His eyes met the man's. "Do you know who I am?" he asked guilelessly.

The tall man broke into an easy smile. "It appears hard to believe, but your appearance is that of the—" He made an apologetic gesture with one hand. "The extraterrestrial who apparently led an alien attack on New York City." The expression on his face indicated that no rational being would think such a thing possible.

Loki shook his head ruefully. "I'm afraid all that was an unfortunate mistake," he lied. "I was captured and used as a figurehead against my will." He opened his very green eyes wide. "They tortured me, I'm afraid…" He glanced away as if ashamed, "and I regret that I was unable to resist them."

Aizen was sympathetic. "Please don't worry," he reassured Loki. "I am quite aware of the distorted slant our newscasters can place on events." The light flashed off his glasses. "And of the injustice of being imprisoned against one's will." He smiled gently at Loki. "Seeing you bound and gagged like that brought back unpleasant memories of my own. I myself was once imprisoned by evildoers of my own people and kept bound under conditions that violated human standards for prisoner restraint."

Loki murmured politely, "I'm sorry that had to happen to you." Aizen was a former prisoner? Could he play on the man's sympathies? He eyed the other man, his scholarly appearance. "It is truly unjust that those with abilities others lack are often punished by jealous rivals. In Asgard, I was seen as the perennial scapegoat, being one of the few who chose book learning over use of weaponry."

Curiosity lit in Aizen's eyes. "So are you truly Loki, from the realm of Asgard? The Realm Eternal from our myths?"

Loki made a self-deprecating gesture. "I am Loki," he admitted, "but the myths have grown in the telling, I am certain."

"Not all of them, I'm sure," the other demurred. There was a gleam in his eyes that was almost avid for a moment, before it disappeared. "For example, you fell a distance that would have killed a human, yet you survived with only a few scratches and no internal injuries." He smiled. "I have hospital equipment here and I took the liberty of examining you myself." Again the flash of curiosity. "I am something of a scientist, and I have long been fascinated by different beings and their varying abilities. Your skin, for example." He gestured at Loki's bare arms. "It has the durability of metal."

Loki glanced down at his forearm and smiled. "I agree it is fortunate. But you say you study different beings. Are you then not a mortal? A human being of this planet?"

Aizen smiled again. "No, I'm sorry. I am of this planet, but I am not a mortal. I am, you might say, one of the guardians of this realm, one of its protectors. The recent events with the opening of the dimensional gate, I'm sorry to say, had some far-reaching effects beyond the battle over New York. You see, several of the worlds that are linked with what you call Midgard have become destabilized, in part by the actions you were involved with, and it opened the way for an attack by a hostile force that is even now threatening Midgard's existence."

Loki stiffened. "Oh? And do you hold me responsible for this?"

Aizen smiled reassuringly. "Not at all. I hope I didn't give you that impression. I simply would like to help you," he said with a sincere expression on his face. "I think—"

Suddenly, the lights flickered and there was an explosion outside the window, followed by the sound of glass shattering. The window screen hit the ground with a loud crack. Aizen threw himself on top of Loki as shards of glass rained down upon them.

The demigod grunted as he tried to free himself. "Really, that was not necessary…"

Automatic weapons fire and more shouts sounded from outside.

Aizen straightened, shaking the glass off his body calmly as he lifted himself off Loki. The demigod noticed that a few small cuts on Aizen's hand healed themselves as he rose.

"Sorry," Aizen offered with an apologetic moue. "Reflex action to protect," he said. "It's my job." He shot a glance out the window. "I think someone is coming after you." He gave Loki a calm smile. "I have an escape route, if you'd like to join me?" He held out his left hand; his right, Loki saw, now held a gleaming sword.

Loki glanced out the window. Dozens of men in uniform were running over the grass toward the opening. His eye was caught by a tall youth in black robes topped with a head of hair an unlikely shade of orange, brandishing an enormous sword with the ease with which Thor wielded his hammer. Loki shivered briefly, then swung his feet off the bed and offered his new acquaintance a friendly smile as he accepted the hand.

"I would be delighted."

XxXxXxX

A/N: We've got a novel-length adventure story outlined. Other Bleach and Avengers characters will appear, including Ichigo, Thor, and Tony Stark. There will be no non-canon pairings. Does it seem worth continuing?

a. Continue; it seems interesting.

b. Don't bother; I'm not familiar with The Avengers.

c. Don't bother; I'm not familiar with Bleach.