Everything That Can Go Wrong

Chapter 9

By Selina Novella

AN- A couple cameo's in this one, it was too good to pass up. Also, due to issues with line breaks, I ended up just doing (insert POV's name here) instead. I am not very happy with it, but what else can you do? As usual, Bold italics is Loki's smoke writing, and Bold is Natasha on the Starkpad. Enjoy!

"Did you have to turn the delivery boy into a monkey?" Tony asked Loki, who looked annoyed. "They wouldn't have figured it out if you had chosen something else."

"He attempted to kick me!" the cat protested, fur on end. "I panicked!"

"So you turn him into a monkey? What is it with you and monkeys anyway?" Tony asked quizzically.

"They are disgusting creatures that fling their own excrement at one another. In some cases I feel it is quite an apt description of mortals. Present company excluded of course." The cat added graciously, glancing around the conference table where the other inhabitants of the tower were, well, assembled, along with the now human Shield director.

"Enough!" Fury barked at them from the head of the room, his coat swirling dramatically, turning his single eye on Loki who was perched on the table. "Did you REALLY think you would get away with this!?" he demanded. "Turning me and my men into monkeys?!"

"Well it would be stupid to say yes now." Loki replied, utterly unapologetic.

Darcy snickered, then beamed beatifically at Fury when he turned his glare on her.

"I should put your furry ass in the brig right now!" Fury began only to be cut off.

"But you can't, cause he'd just pop right out again. And then maybe turn you and your agents into cockroaches this time for your audacity." Tony interrupted smoothly.

"I hadn't considered cockroaches." Loki tilted his head to the side thoughtfully. "An excellent idea, my love."

Fury's eye twitched spastically.

"Thank you, darling. I have lots of ideas for you." Tony told the cat flirtatiously, subtly observing Fury out of the corner of her eye, immediately catching onto her god's new game.

"You shall have to tell me every one of them, when we're alone." The cat purred suggestively, winding his way sinuously through the super-heroine's arms, allowing his tail to caress her face.

"ENOUGH!" Fury barked. "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU STARK?! And why exactly did NONE OF MY AGENTS tell me this was Loki's spell and not Puck's?! Rogers informed me it's been common knowledge in the tower since the first day!" he bellowed angrily, turning his attention on Natasha's empty chair and Clint's high chair.

"Why does it not surprise me that Fury speaks German?" Tony asked Loki rhetorically, who did his little cat shrug in response.

"I've got maimouphobia. It's in my file." Clint said, not bothering to look at the director, more interested in preening his wings, which had gotten a little ruffled during the pizza boy battle. Natasha's floating Stark-tablet typed out – I assumed Clint informed you. Sorry.

Fury threw his hands up in the air, furious and annoyed at the fact that no one seemed to care.

"Are you behind the rest of the spells too!?" he demanded, looking to Loki who began washing one paw, utterly unconcerned.

"I was behind the cheese building, which you've already had reversed by your mortal sorcerer, and the flying cars, which I made sure landed in a safe area. I was also behind the giant poodle, and the anvil chorus. Your Midgardian animation is most amusing. I am fond of the anthropomorphic rabbit and the cat and mouse who attempt to kill one another with falling objects."

Fury's single eye twitched again. "You got ideas from TOM AND JERRY AND BUGS BUNNY?!"

"Indeed. The lady Darcy introduced me to this form of Midgardian entertainment. I also enjoy the tales of friendship between the small, oddly colored talking horses, even though their concepts of magic are very inaccurate. Also the small yellow sponge that lives in a fruit on the ocean floor. The star shaped creature he is friends with reminds me of Thor." Loki continued, enjoying the large vein on the man's forehead that was throbbing.

"Where'd you get the idea for the flying cars?" Darcy asked curiously.

"I saw that they were referred to as 'bugs' and decided to make the name a bit more accurate." he replied innocently.

Tony had buried her face in her arms and was shaking from silent laughter. Bruce was munching on a cookie contentedly. No one wanted the Hulk to make a visit because Fury pissed off a five year old by not giving him a cookie. He glanced at the director and gave him a bland, cookie crumb framed smile, the threat going unspoken.

Fury's anger drained from him seeing it, and seemed to decide the chance of upsetting Bruce was not worth yelling about something he evidently could not change, and instead he stormed out of the room yelling at Natasha and Clint that he wanted daily reports on his desk at "o'21 hundred sharp!"

"Well, that went well." Darcy mused. "Think we can hunt down my iPod while we're here?"

Jane face palmed and Clint gave a little snore from his high chair, having fallen asleep some time earlier.

After stealing back Darcy's iPod from a storage area, they decided to walk home, enjoying the crisp fall weather. Tony insisted on stopping by a pet boutique on the way home, after having seen a doggy shirt that said "Hammer Time" on it. Between Darcy, Clint, and Tony's begging, pleading and bribes of poptarts, Thor ended up promising to wear it for at least an hour.

Tony, as easily distracted as ever, grabbed Darcy, Jane, and (somehow) Natasha and pulled them into Amour 24, a very expensive salon to get mani-pedis and facials. Natasha had ended up with a facial mask that seemed to float in midair. She was not entirely sure how the billionaire had managed to convince her to do that. It did feel nice though, and being paid attention to as a non-threat from someone other than Sue or Clint was a pleasant change.

"So what colors do you like on your nails Jane? Darc? I usually got a manicure and clear nail polish when I was a guy, but last time Pepper let me get Iron Man themed colors. But that seems a bit cliché, don't you think?" Tony asked from behind her own facial mask and cucumbers (they don't generally use them, as they don't actually do anything, but Tony had wanted the experience, and had given one of the attendants enough money to head to a grocery store to pick some up for her).

"I don't really do this sort of thing. YOWCH!" Jane protested at one of the attendants, who looked very put out at the state of her feet, which were callused and still slightly dirty from her habit of walking around a dusty desert in bare feet at night while watching the stars.

"I can see that," the attendant muttered, looking longingly at Darcy's attendant. Darcy, a firm believer in layers, even in New Mexico, had perfectly normal feet.

"I didn't do them much either. Most of my foster mothers either just wanted the government money that came with a foster kid, or were more interested in alcohol, or both. I usually did my own nails if I did it at all." She frowned thoughtfully before perking up. "I did go through a Goth phase in high school and painted my nails black all the time."

Every single nail artist and assistant in the boutique immediately yelled, "NO BLACK!"

Jane blinked. "Isn't that our choice?"

"No," her attendant told her calmly, returning to soap stoning away her calluses.

"Huh." Jane looked at Tony for an idea of what to do. Tony shrugged. "Black makes your fingers look fat. Black's only slimming in clothing, not nails."

"I want sparkles on mine," Darcy said happily, glancing over several sealed jars of sparkly things.

"Gemstones or precious metals?" her hand stylist asked.

"I want purple, so what would go well with that?" Darcy politely differed to the woman.

"I believe if you went with a dark plum purple some garnets would look nice, or fire opal chips." The woman said, looking almost weepy that at least one of them had a modicum of sense.

"Go ahead, I can afford it." Tony waved the hand not currently occupied.

Darcy blinked. "Wait, these are REAL opals and diamonds and stuff?" she asked, looking shell shocked.

Now it was Tony's turn to blink. "Well yeah, what else would you use?"

"Uh, plastic glitter, or small pieces of colored foil sometimes. Or rhinestones?" Darcy answered faintly.

"Why on earth would you put plastic on your finger nails? Gross. Don't worry, I offered, I'm paying. No need to get sticker shock. You can make that lasagna you were talking about if you wanna make it up to me."

"I think I will…."

"I could buy so much equipment with this sort of money…" Jane muttered, glaring at her nails accusingly, as though they'd betrayed her.

"Stick around, I tend to give labs to all my favorite scientists." Tony grinned, amused. "No need to take it out on the poor keratin."

"Stupid expensive keratin." Jane pouted as night sky blue polish was studded with tiny diamond stars, which were astrologically incorrect, and she set about lecturing the long suffering attendant on star constellation positioning.

Tony rolled her eyes, and she amused herself with quizzing the gemologist (yes, the store had a gemologist) on the source of each tiny gem, and its color, clarity and carat. She may have grown up hating her father, but Howard Stark had not allowed his son to leave the cradle without knowing how to get his money's worth. Thankfully for the staff, Tony herself had also learned that tipping well was a very good idea if you wanted to be allowed back in nice places after acting like a jackass.

The boys (and animals) lounged outside, Thor and Loki both sprawled in a sunbeam, Thor absolutely thrilled because Loki decided the bench was too hard and decided to use his brothers back as a couch. Loki wasn't entirely sure of what he wanted from his relationship with his would-be brother at the moment, but he was always one for milking a situation for all it was worth. And the dog was warm and fluffy, even with the silly t-shirt.

"Think they're talking about us?" Clint asked curiously. He was wearing a small baggy hoodie over his wings, and kept shifting uncomfortably at the sensation of having his wings flattened.

"Why would they?" Bruce asked, thinking of the Bechtel test. Surely Tony of all people could have a conversation about something other than boys with the girls.

"I think that's what girls are supposed to do during these things." Clint frowned thoughtfully. "At least, that's what the trapeze walkers, the magician's assistants, and the dancing girls did when I was growing up. But that was a long time ago I guess. And they did each others nails, not go to a place like this." He gestured at the extremely expensive store before them.

Steve muttered something in that sounded unhappy about the money being spent. Bruce looked like he wanted to ask where on Earth Clint had grown up, but refrained, instead pointing out, "I can't believe they got Natasha in there with them. Her nails are going to look like they're floating."

"Not to mention her toes." Clint grinned, the image in his mind resembling a human Cheshire cat, floating smile and all.

"Those would probably be covered by her invisible shoes Clint," Bruce reminded him, amused.

Down the street the enormous poodle lumbered by, a man in a red and black outfit and a sombrero singing Lady Gaga at the top of his lungs on its back.

Clint and Bruce exchanged sidelong glances.

"You see that?"

"Nope. Didn't see a thing."

"Good. Me neither."

"Ich kann euch beide nicht verstehen. Was wenn er jemanden umbringt? Ich werde nicht einfach vor einem Frisörsalon herumliegen, wenn Menschen Hilfe benötigen." Steve yelled, glaring at them, with his hands on his hips, before heading off down the street. Bruce and Clint looked unconcerned.

"He can handle it. He's Captain America," Clint pointed out wisely, leaning back on the bench and tilting his head up to bask in the warm sunlight.

Bruce nodded. "And what could two adorable kids like us possibly do against a giant poodle riding assassin?"

"Not a thing, my dear doctor. Not a damn thing."

On the ground, Loki and Thor both wrinkled their noses, and smoky words of "What IS that horrid stench?" floated up, only to be blown away in the wind.

(Pepper)

Pepper made her way through Stark Industries in her usual pants suit, hair up in a tidy bun and high heels click clacking on the floors, Oops hovering along behind her like a duckling. After the first few days no one gave the floating robot a second glance, it was just another odd thing about working in Stark Industries. She accepted various reports, assured several department heads that the meeting would take place this afternoon on schedule, and no, Tony would not be there. She had not even been told about it. If several looked relieved at that information, Pepper politely pretended not to notice. She finally got up to her own office, where her secretary Elsie looked up from her phone and looked close to weeping, her face red and angry. Pepper was surprised. Elsie was usually extremely efficient and unflappable. What could have caused her such distress?

Elsie covered the speaker end with one hand and mouthed "Justin Hammer is in your office and he is driving. Me. Crazy!" widening her eyes for emphasis.

Ah. That would do it. Pepper could feel a migraine starting herself. Hammer had managed to bribe his way out of prison, claiming of all things, PTSD from watching footage of Tony's incarceration in Afghanistan on the news. The whole thing was a complete farce, an insult to those who actually had PTSD, and the jury had been so obviously paid off it was insulting. But as a result Hammer was free, and Hammer Industries and Stark Industries had been asked to work together on a fundraiser to raise money for people left homeless from the various attacks on New York, and to a smaller extent, Newark. Which meant she had to put up with the CEO himself in her office. Touching her things. Ugh.

She nodded to the woman, carefully straightened her suit (Tony called it her corporate armor) and strode into the office, Oops hovering over her shoulder, head swiveling around curiously, scanning the office for potential threats.

Hammer was sprawled in one of the two guest chairs, his feet up and resting next to her kinetic sculpture, getting dirt on her nice clean desk. Pepper had to consciously keep herself from grinding her teeth.

"Justin! How are you?" she asked with carefully constructed warmth, clicking her way to her desk in a way she knew was intimidating. Natasha had given her lessons on their last girls' night before the spell.

He stood and smiled insolently, his eyes sliding up and down to her figure before returning to her face. "Pepper, so nice to see you, I was so concerned after I heard about what happened to Tony! It must be such a hardship for you." His voice dripped with false sympathy.

"We're both doing wonderfully, thank you for your concern. I hope the trauma of seeing the news hasn't caused any relapses in your health?" she asked with a bright smile.

Justin's smile became slightly fixed. "Oh no, just fine, thank you." Looking to change the subject he noticed Oops who had settled down on the desk, watching the kinetic sculpture curiously.

"And who might this little fellow be? Not a very original design, but I suppose with Tony's change you'd need a few toys around." He smirked, the double entendre very much intended.

"Oh, Tony and I have no need for toys to keep ourselves entertained. Tony's mind could keep me entertained for decades. This is Oops. Tony made him for me after my kidnapping incident a week or so ago. She worries. I'm sure your…." She trailed off significantly, looking at him as though waiting for the name of his significant other, who of course did not exist.

Justin hid a poorly concealed sneer.

Oops chirped and swiveled to look at her and asked in his innocent childish voice, "Mommy, this man is designation Justin Douche-Canoe Hammer. My data sates that he should be buried up to his neck in excrement and locked away until the next ice age. Why is he here?"

Justin's eye twitched.

Pepper smiled serenely at the little bot. "He's here because the American legal system found him not guilty of any crimes against the American people. And it's not nice to call people douche-canoes sweet heart."

"But that is his designation? Should I alter the designation?" Oops asked curiously

"No sweetie, we'll talk to your Mom about it when we get home." She smiled and patted him gently on the head. Oops gave a happy chirp and began puttering around the desk, pulling a small vacuum hose out of somewhere in his body and cleaning up the dust Hammer's shoes had left behind.

Pepper turned her serene smile to Hammer. "You'll have to forgive him. He takes after Tony."

Hammer gritted his teeth angrily and bit out, "Oh, please, don't trouble yourself. I suppose you can't have children of your own, too busy doing a man's job, and with Tony running around pretending to be a woman himself, well, I suppose this is the only way you could have a child. Pity."

Pepper tensed. That was a low blow. A VERY low blow. Hammer didn't know it, but after her encounter with Extremis she was actually unable to bare children. And while she'd never particularly wanted children, having the option taken away hurt more than she'd thought it would. She was about to counter with a scathing retort when Oops darted forward on the desk, a small panel opened and two darts shot forward, attached to Hammer's ears with pin point accuracy, and a loud ZZZZZZT! noise was followed by Hammer jerking like a puppet on a string. He collapsed onto the floor, wisps of smoke rising gently from his charred hair gel.

Oops turned to her and zoomed over to land in her lap, her arms automatically coming up to hug him. "Mommy is a good mommy. Justin Douche-Canoe Hammer is mean and bad. Oops tased him. Okay?" he asked, his main optical sensor swiveling up to look at her inquiringly.

Pepper couldn't help but laugh. She hugged the little bot to her chest and replied. "Yes, Oops did very good. Mommy's very proud. But you are definitely your Mom's son."

"Exterminate!" Oops replied cheerfully, and emptied the contents of his little vacuum on Hammer's unconscious form, while Pepper picked up the phone and called for Elsie, who entered the room a moment later, glanced at Hammer, and smiled pleasantly at Pepper, awaiting instructions.

"Elsie, can you please have Mr. Hammer removed from the premises? Inform his driver he may schedule an appointment once his burns have healed and he learns some manners."

Elsie smiled angelically. "Of course, I'll call Happy to dispose of the garbage right away. Will that be all, Ms. Potts?"

"Yes, thank you, Elsie." Pepper didn't realize that she was petting Oops on her lap like a Bond villain stroking a cat, but she wouldn't have been terribly unhappy with the comparison. Oops gave a contented little whirring noise that sounded a bit like a purr. Mommy was safe, Justin Douche-Canoe Hammer was neutralized, and now he was getting cuddled. Life, as much as a tiny dalek could have, was good.

(Darcy and Thor)

In retrospect, it was probably a bad idea to let Darcy and Thor go off for a walk around New York by themselves. But Darcy had excellent puppy eyes, and Thor (for obvious reasons) had even better ones. And so while the rest of the crew (minus Steve who had run off somewhere) headed back to the Tower, Darcy and Thor ended up wandering around the large city, a tourist map in one hand, a sparkly pink and rhinestone incrusted leash in the other.

After having walked around for several hours, Darcy was quite thirsty, and judging by Thor's panting, he was too. She directed them over to a street café, and was quickly seated by a boy her age that fell all over himself to sit the pretty girl with the cute little dog. The problem came when the manager wandered out and saw Thor.

"Miss, I'm afraid we don't allow animals," he told her firmly.

"Oh, he's not a dog. He's a Norse god." She told him calmly, lowering the menu she'd been perusing to observe him over the top.

He blinked. "I'm sorry?"

Most people in New York, if they were inclined to feel anything was their business at all, had been desensitized to the craziness by now. Flying pigs out the window? Better get the Windex and the ladders in case they poop on the sky lights. Got turned into a guinea pig? There's a form for that at the Police Station. Have to evacuate into the subways because there's a giant dragon that destroys downtown? Damn, everyone's going to be late to work again. But the manager had only just moved to New York last week to take over for his cousin (who'd incidentally had a nervous breakdown), and was unused to the chaos New York had become since the Chitauri invasion, so no one could blame him for being skeptical about her statement.

"That's Thor. You know, he has a big hammer, beats up evil villains with a single blow, L'Oreal commercial hair and biceps the size of my head? He's on the news all the time," she explained calmly.

"The Avenger. And he's your dog?" he clarified and looked around surreptitiously, hoping someone with a straight jacket was coming for the strange girl in his shop.

"Currently. He'd like some pop tarts if you have any," she told him, amused at his utter confusion.

"We don't carry pop tarts. We have Danishes and croissants," he replied faintly.

Darcy looked down at Thor questioningly. He yipped. She nodded and told the man, "He'll have two of each. I'll have a cup of iced hazelnut coffee and a chocolate croissant please. You take Stark cards, right?" she asked, offering Tony's credit card politely.

"Yes, of course, right away," the manager said, looking dazed, handed back the card, and wandered back to the kitchen to put in the order.

"Poor guy. Well, he'll get used to it eventually," Darcy murmured to the dog, who wagged his tail.

Thor liked Midgardian pastries.

After the café, they continued through New York.

"So, we've hit the Chrysler building, Radio City Music Hall, Broadway, and the Met, none of which we could go in, because apparently even god-dogs can't go in, which is lame, but oh well. So I've figured out where we CAN go," Darcy told her companion, ignoring the raised eyebrows of tourists around her.

Thor yapped curiously, as Darcy wound her way through the crowded sidewalks to a large clock tower topped stand, and she bought a ticket from an apathetic zoo attendant with a name tag that said "Alice" on it.

"This," she explained to the small dog as they wandered through the various exhibits, "is a zoo. I'm not sure if you have those in Asgard. From what you've said you tend to just kill any animals you can't eat. We did that for a long time, but then those species started dying out, and some went extinct."

Thor's eyes widened. Such a thing had never occurred to him. Would there be a day when they had slain all the dragons in the nine realms and there would be none left for his future sons to slay in battle?

"So, to preserve those species, and also to share them with the public, humans created zoos. I think menageries existed before then, but those were generally birds I think. Anyway, London had the first zoo that I know of, but New York's is pretty good too. Just don't go to Hoboken's," she told him seriously. The god-dog nodded gravely.

They wandered past otters, a lion who seemed to enjoy attention more than Tony did, a hippo Darcy incorrectly identified as male, a rather shaky looking giraffe, two monkeys that could do sign language – which made Darcy (and Thor) wonder if they had previously been someone who annoyed Loki. Darcy bought them some snow cones despite the crispness of the air, and the two sat on a bench in front of a penguin exhibit, the four inhabitants waving at them adorably.

"So, not to be, you know, a nosey bitch or anything, but, what's up with you and Loki? After you left in a giant lightning tornado all of us did some reading, cause suddenly those myths weren't myths anymore, you know? And Jane missed you a LOT, so reading about you before bed seemed like a fun way to make her actually want to go to bed. You better not actually be married to Sif by the way, or I will test out my lipstick taser on you." She glared down at the dog, whose ears swiveled backward in horror and he shook his head rapidly. "Well good. Anyway, it sounds like you guys seemed to blame EVERYTHING on your brother. I made a flow chart for it. I mean, he got you that wall built, and then you made him do that thing with the horse to fix it cause you were all cheapskates, and then there was that thing with Baldr, and if the stuff about his kids is true your godly ass should be in jail 'till you're a couple billion years old."

Thor gave a weary sigh and buried his nose in his paws. He really needed to read these books the mortals kept referencing. He was not entirely sure what was in them, and if what was written was correct, and if some was, what, and if not, what was because they influenced human's perceptions of him and his people. He technically had been engaged to Sif, because by doing so he, as her fiancé, could allow her to learn fighting as a man did. It had been strictly an engagement of convenience and friendship, there had been no intention to actually wed. As for his niece and nephews… perhaps he did deserve to be punished for it. If nothing else it might ease his mind, and Loki's. And the fact that he still categorized them as his niece and nephews showed that he, at least on some level, considering them as beings worthy of the title.

He thought guiltily of Fenrir who was essentially stapled to the ground with a giant sword spearing his mouth shut, kicked out of Asgard when he was only a puppy. Of Sleipnir who his father rode as nothing more than a horse, thought Thor knew the steed to be much smarter than that. Of Jorgmandir, who had been thrown off the Bifrost as a monster, who landed in Midgard and still dwelt in the depths of the oceans. Of Hel, who had scared him with her appearance and affinity for the dead even when she was a newborn, before she was thrown into Niflheim to rule over the dead, barely a year old. And of Vali and Nafi, whom the Allfather had used to punish Loki. He'd turned Vali into a mindless wolf that had been goaded into attacking and killing his helpless twin brother Narfi. Odin had then used the child's entrails to tie a heartbroken Loki to boulders. Thor wasn't sure if that was the time they had bound a snake above him so that [its] venom had poured into Loki's eyes, blinding him. At the time it had seemed… not right, but wrong for him to question? Coming to Midgard had made him question many of his father's actions, and his own participation in them.

Jane would probably murder him if he even considered punishing any of their future children in such a manner, if Darcy or one of the other Avengers did not do so first. The punishments had certainly not seemed to do his brother much good. Why HAD the Allfather chosen such harsh punishments for his adopted son? Thor had explained, shortly after the Chitaruri battle the circumstances of his own casting out. Tony had translated them as "He grounded you, because you were acting like a whiney little brat." Thor supposed, in retrospect that was quite similar to what had occurred, by Asgardian standards. Loki's punishments were entirely out of proportion for his crimes.

And he'd stood by and done nothing. Perhaps telling Loki that his slights were imagined after Stuttgart had been cruel and stupid, and he'd indeed deserved it when Loki had stabbed him with that dagger on top of Avengers Tower. Still, it might not be too late. Hel, Sleipnir, Jorgmandir, and Fenrir still lived. There might yet be time to make amends. And his brother seemed to be finding happiness here, on Midgard. Thor silently promised himself to protect this small piece of joy Loki had made for himself, from their father, from enemies, and from within, those like Fury.

And perhaps someday his brother would view him as a brother again.

Darcy watched the god, noting his thoughtful, unhappy air. She turned her gaze to the penguins, whose happy expressions had become slightly forced looking at their continued presence. Grumpy penguins. Only in New York, she figured.

She liked Thor. Really, the guy was like a happy puppy even before he was turned into one. But seriously, Asgard had to be one fucked up place. And having now met him on the other side of the killer evil robot, she kind of liked Loki. It was hard not to. He was always playing small pranks on the others, like when he switched the salt and the sugar when Clint was cooking, or when he kept changing Natasha's invisible outfits visibly pink. And he watched cartoons with her, and they chatted, or she chatted and he magically texted her, about the subplots and deeper meanings in My Little Pony, and about comedic theory. And Darcy didn't mind when he turned her hair a rainbow of colors when she wasn't looking.

And the Eddas made her cry damn it! If she ever met Odin, even if it was the last thing she would do alive, she was going to tase his ass. If Tony hadn't already given her a shiny new purple lightsaber. Then she'd totally go all Anakin vs Dooku on his one eyed head. Maybe she should ask for two lightsabers, she thought, making a mental note. And maybe get some lessons on how to use a sword. That'd probably be a good idea before going head to head with the king of a group of immortal warrior gods.

At that point the universe must have decided it had been too angst for a while, because she heard a loud, metallic clanging and that noise hydraulic cylinders made when they went up and down. She turned her head to stare, as what looked like an army of gremlins on top of robotic velociraptors began swarming the zoo.

"Seriously?!" she demanded incredulously, as the various zoo goers screamed and ran from the sudden onslaught. She whipped out her Starkphone and shot off a text to Jarvis (who was much more reliable then Tony when it came to answering texts) telling him the New York Zoo was under attack and could he send some help please? She never got a chance to read his response, as she was too busy whipping out her BAMF girl mascara whip. She hadn't actually gotten a chance to practice with it, but how hard could it be? Tony had made it for them, and she knew they had no experience with fighting.

The small mascara container clicked as she unscrewed it, then it expanded and lengthened until it formed into a good sized handle. The sinuous black liquid inside attached to the wand and the container pulled out between the two in a stretchy continuous stream that firmed as it came into contact with the air. By the time it had finished it was a good six feet long, and made a satisfying snap when she tested it. Cool.

Thor had already pulled Mjolnir from somewhere, and had changed into his doggy armor in bolt of lighting, a method that reminded her of a Sailor Moon henshin sequence, and was beating the crap out of a couple of the gremlins. The gremlins seemed baffled at this unexpected, and highly effective, resistance to… whatever their plan was, and were shrieking to one another in what seemed to be Portuguese.

Darcy's whip abruptly started sparking with bolts of electricity, and she barred her teeth in a vicious grin. "FOR NARNIA!" she screamed and dove into the fray.

Phil Coulson had been having a fairly good day. For one thing, he was no longer a monkey. That was a definite improvement, although he would miss his tail.

He was also happy because a side effect of the monkeyfication was that all the agents had nothing but paperwork to do for almost two weeks. As a result, the back paperwork was almost entirely turned in. As far as the Avengers went, Tony was wrapped up in his new god boyfriend, who'd had the good grace to turn Shield back after being caught, and was also not attempting to take over the world, always a good thing in Phil's mind. Doctor Banner was now easily bribed with sugary pastries, and he could still speak to Steve, having taken German as his foreign language in college. Clint and Natasha were fairly happy, all things considered. And Thor had Jane visiting, so he had to be happy too.

So yes, over all a very good day.

Until the call of a battle between Hipster Girl (whoever the hell that was), Thorgi and an army of robot dinosaurs and living furbys came in. Had he been anyone else Phil would have facepalmed. As it was, he sent a memo to Fury alerting him to the battle, did the same for the Avengers (who were apparently were already in route according to Jarvis' response), selected a squad of Agents for the inevitable clean up, called medical and arranged for an ambulance (and a vet) to meet at the Zoo just in case, and as an afterthought, added the Shield PR department in the memo. If any of the animals were injured PETA would be on the warpath.

Doctor Doom was also having a good day.

He could not fail this time. He'd thought of everything! He'd carefully locked down Baxter Tower with a new spell he'd created (i.e. found on the internet), trapping the Fantastic Four and the Black Widow inside. He'd chosen a location away from Hell's Kitchen, so Daredevil was not likely to come to the rescue. The X-men were on a team building conference in Wisconsin, learning to make their own cheese. It was well known in the villain chat rooms that Shield had been turned into monkeys and as such was outsourcing to inferior groups. Of the Avengers, his sources (also known as a SI employee in accounting who had a grudge against Stark and would do anything Doom wanted to take the man down) informed him that Tony Stark had crashed a Stark Industries Department Head meeting with her cat and was enjoying tormenting them by throwing sugar packets at their heads. A scan of the tower told him that the Hulk was taking a nap, as was Agent Barton. And he'd scryed in an ancient crystal ball he'd bought last month on ebay and discovered Thor was currently a small lap dog and out in the city on a walk with a helpless nubile twenty something year old girl that functioned as Dr. Fosters lab assistant. None were in his way.

He'd even created a new army, as his usual Doom Bots were on strike, campaigning for better treatment, and a dental plan. His (small) minions of hell were riding proudly on their newly constructed robot mounts – all fierce, fast and with mouths full of razor sharp teeth.

Doom was clever. Doom was prepared. Doom was ready for anything.

Except perhaps for his combination robot/magical minion army having their collective asses handed to them by a nubile lab assistant armed with an electric whip, an armored dog with a magical hammer, and four penguins, one of whom kept hacking up pieces of lit dynamite.

Doom did, in fact, facepalm. It made an annoying clang sound, and did not help his growing headache. He floated down in front of his enemies and demanded "Who are you to fight Doom?"

He was summarily ignored.

He cleared his throat and said louder, "Doom said, WHO ARE YOU TO FIGHT DOOM?!"

Still nothing, although the woman did flick her whip in just such a way that a thrown stick of dynamite landed at his feet. It then exploded, knocking the super villain back against a brick wall and causing his cloak to catch fire. After a rather undignified stop, drop and roll, Doom sprang (stumbled) to his feet, and reached out with his mind, ordering his demon horde to destroy the interlopers! Said hordes responded that they were a little busy right now thanks, the bird with the exploding sticks was obviously a Duke of Hell in disguise, and that was NOT in the contract!

Several of the small hell spawn got sat on by a smug looking hippopotamus; several more were cowering in the otter exhibit in terror. If Doom did not know better he would have thought the otter was laughing at them. The lightning dog-god had melted several of the raptors into hot silvery puddles, and the girl had deftly cut off several of their heads, before throwing what looked like a an open makeup compact into a group of them, which proceeded to explode with such force the ground shook. This was no good, he wasn't killing anybody!

He swept his cape dramatically over one shoulder and strode forward, ducking under the girls whip to grab her wrist tightly with one gauntleted hand, tearing the whip from her other hand and tossing it aside. "Cease this nonsense at once girl!" he demanded imperiously, waiting expectantly for her to cower before his might.

The girl blinked up at him. "Can you hang on a second? I need to check my make up."

Doom rolled his eyes, and waited patiently while she rifled through her purse. Obviously the girl was overcome by his charisma. It was tiring being so handsome and desirable to the opposite sex, even when all they could see were his eyes through the metal of his mask. It was his curse he supposed.

So he was a bit surprised when she pulled out a bottle of pepper spray and got him directly in the eyes. And then electrocuted him with what looked like a feminine hygiene product. He was still technically organic under his mask, even though he preferred to think of himself as a being above such petty things as flesh and blood. It turns out whatever his body had changed into after the space cloud, it still conducted electricity perfectly. Even better than a normal humans in fact, metal and liquid being excellent conductors of electricity.

Oh and it hurt.

A lot.

He passed out.

When he came to, he was in a pair of green glowing silver chains, which judging by his sudden inability to call on his magic, were sorcerous in origin. Curses. The girl who had defeated him, obviously a warrior goddess of Asgard in disguise, was chatting with a black cat, probably another god in disguise (surprisingly he was correct in this). Tony Stark was casually tearing apart one of his robot dinosaurs, looking disgusted about something. Obviously she was angry to be beaten at her own game by his genius. (She was actually horrified at the shoddy craftsmanship).

Over in the penguin exhibit, a mild looking agent in a rather nice suit, was speaking to the disguised Dukes of Hell, shaking the head ones flipper solemnly. Fool. Doom would laugh when they revealed themselves. Which would doubtlessly be any minute now.

Any minute now.

Yup.

Any time...

He was distracted by one of the smaller hell spawn he'd summoned limping its way over to him and knocking his small fist on Dooms metal boots to get his attention.

"What?!" he demanded imperiously, sneering at the lower being.

"Yeah, hi. Listen, we've got an appointment down below, it's Pizza Monday, so we're just gonna go. You can deliver the offerings you still owe us and any future supplications to the usual portal at the DMV," it told him, in Portuguese.

"What do you mean you're leaving?! I paid for a month's work! And it's Tuesday, not Monday," Doom protested.

"You really need to check those contracts before you sign them. It said a month as of 29 days and 12 hours ago. You had us for the afternoon. And it's always Monday in hell. Duh." With that there was a little pop! and his army of hell was gone.

"Curses," he swore under his breath.

To add insult to injury, the warrior goddess from before gestured at him to the cat, and his cloak turned a very girly shade of baby pink.

"How you doing, champ?" one of the Agents asked him cheerfully.

"Doom demands Doom's lawyer, a doctor, and a grilled cheese sandwich!" he informed the man. It had been a long day, and his mother had always made him grilled cheese when he'd had a bad day at school as a child. The other two were self explanatory.

"That's up to Fury. I am authorized to inform you that Loki, God of Mischief, Magic and Lies has claimed New York as his own territory, and any further acts against the city or its people will result in your being turned into a cockroach."

"A cockroach?" Doom repeated thoughtfully, digesting this new information.

"Yup. He got mad after the Magneto incident last week."

"Hmm…Doom has decided this city is unworthy of his leadership. Doom shall go back to Latveria," he decided after a few minutes of thought.

"Good idea," the agent agreed amiably.

"But before Doom's departure, he wishes to know the identity of the warrior goddess he was… inconvenienced by."

The agent blinked in confusion. "What warrior goddess?"

"The one speaking to the cat. You cannot hope to fool Doctor Doom with such a pitiful disguise. She is obviously of divine origins, to be able to hold her own against one of Doom's power," Doom snapped, the uncomfortable thought that she might be a normal human slowly dawning on him.

"Oh, you mean Darcy Lewis? I don't think she's a goddess. She's definitely not human though. I heard she put Thor in the hospital with a single blow and last week she escaped from a kidnapping attempt by Magneto without breaking a sweat. I don't know what she is. There's a betting pool going, odds are on her being Loki's daughter, Hel, but I put my money on her being an immortal sorceress from Atlantis."

"Ah." This made perfect sense to Doctor Doom. All was once again right with the world. He had not been beaten by a puny human girl, but either an ancient immortal sorceress or a goddess of the underworld. Any mortal, even one as mighty as he, would have difficulty with such a foe.

"Is Doom able to get in on the pool? Doom thinks she is Hel also," he told the chatty agent as he was lead into the waiting criminal transport vehicle.

"You'd have to ask Coulson when he's done talking to Special Agents Skipper, Rico, Kowalski, and Private. He's in charge of the pool. Watch your head," he added kindly.

"They're not really penguins you know," Doom told him conversationally as he sat down on one of the benches. "They are secretly Dukes of Hell."

"I believe it. Those penguins are psychotic. You want a coke?"

"Are you attempting to slip Doom a truth serum, or vile poison?" he demanded, attempting to look intimidating and failing. To be fair, it's very difficult to be frightening in a pink cloak, especially when your hands are chained together.

The agent shrugged. "It's diet. Does that count as poison?"

"Yes." Doom replied firmly, then paused and said, "Doom will accept your offering of soda."

"Cool. Uh… how do you drink with the mask on?"

"Doom requires a crazy straw."

The agent blinked. "Uh… don't think I have one of those."

"Doom carries one in his cloak pocket, so that after a successful battle he might go to Jamba Juice to celebrate."

"Ah," the agent politely said nothing, and he dug through the pocket before finding and pulling out the straw. "Nice color. Matches your cloak."

"Thank you."

Doom was not allowed in the betting pool. He pouted most of the boat ride back to Latvaria.

All in all, it had been a normal day in New York.

German –

Ich kann euch beide nicht verstehen. Was wenn er jemanden umbringt? Ich werde nicht einfach vor einem Frisörsalon herumliegen, wenn Menschen Hilfe benötigen. - "I can't believe you two. What if he kills someone?! I'm not going to lie around in front of a hair salon when people need help!"