Disclaimer: I won nothing! Which probably is a good thing. After all, things are going to get interesting...
-Seconds later, SHIELD Helicarrier, debriefing room-
Harry popped into the debriefing room with a loud 'pop' only to find Phil and Nick waiting for him.
Glaring at Nick, Harry asked, "You called. So what did you find out?"
"We don't know yet. We are still trying to track them down," Phil answered hesitantly.
"Then why did you call me?" Harry grounded out still glaring at Nick.
"About what I said in the lab…" Nick began before Harry cut him off with a wave of his hand.
"Don't want to hear it. I know what I am Nick. What I can become. That staff…" Harry began before he really thought about what he was saying. He felt his eyes widen as he realized something important.
"What is it?" Phil asked, shrewd eyes examining his friend
"That staff was affecting people without Loki," Harry murmured, almost to himself as his thoughts raced. He turned to Fury, "Nick, do we have any footage of Loki when he first came to earth? Before he came with the staff? Anything at all? Hell... even a description?"
Nick nodded before tapping at the computer in the table, "We might. Nothing real clear but I know we got some kind of footage."
"Good. I need to speak with someone while you find it," Harry said as his eyes burned emerald. His thoughts focused inward, making the connection between the realms to the one person who would know without a doubt.
"Master of Death, I greet you," a young goddess's voice echoed in his head as his vision cleared to reveal the speaker.
"Hel, Goddess of Death. I greet you," Harry returned as he watched the goddess stand from her throne. Her skin and hair shimmered back and forth between midnight black and the purest white giving the illusion that she was many shades of light and darkness. Fitting for the Norse Goddess of Death.
"What brings you to my realm, young immortal?" the goddess asked, curiosity evident on her normally impassive features. "You are not one to leave your responsibilities in Midgard."
"I am still in Midgard but I have sent a projection of myself to you in hopes of you being able to enlighten me," Harry answered honestly. Hel had always been kind to him and patient as he learned his new role.
"You have but to ask," Hel answered, sweeping her long hair over her shoulder.
"You know your father is in danger of losing himself. I am trying to figure out what happened to change him. When he reappeared after falling into the Abyss, was there anything different? Anything that stood out?" Harry asked, wracking his brain for answers.
Hel remained silent as she thought, eyes seeing far beyond her domain. Harry wasn't sure she would answer until she looked at him with dark clear eyes that were swiftly shifting to white and then back again.
"My father saw with different eyes. As a child, I remember seeing green eyes, the shade of meadow in high summer. When he returned, they were not as I had remembered," Hel said quietly.
"Master of Death, will you save my father? He is a lost man." Hel's eyes softened slightly, not begging, but simply requesting.
"I will do my best. You have probably saved us all," Harry said with a determined smile before thanking the goddess and returning to his body with a snap.
When he returned, he found Phil and Nick staring at him.
"Where did you go?" Phil asked tapping his temple.
"I visited Hel. Who knows Loki better than his own daughter?" Harry said with a grin.
Phil sighed, "It's never something simple with you is it?"
"What did you find out?" Nick asked redirecting the conversation before it got completely off track.
"Did you find the images? I need Barton's as well. Before and after shots," Harry said turning his attention to the monitors that were bringing up files.
Phil and Nick posted the before and after photos of Barton first since his was the easiest to find while they still searched for images of Loki. Only when they had put up a recent photo did Harry stop them from posting any more onto the monitor.
Harry studied the photos before finding the evidence to support his hunch. "Hel said Loki had green eyes when she was a child. And if I remember correctly, Barton has light blue eyes, almost grey. Look at their eyes. What do you see?"
Nick and Phil took a closer look at the pictures. "Loki's are blue and Barton's eyes are darker than they normally are. Are you saying that the staff is controlling Loki rather than the other way around?" Phil asked.
"Exactly. Loki is a puppet. Something is manipulating him. I would bet my entire vault that when Loki fell into the Abyss, something or someone found him. Took control and set him loose. I have a hunch that Loki just needs a 'cerebral recalibration' as you put it, Nick." Harry turned away from them both and headed for the door.
"Where are you going?" Phil asked. Concerned for his friend who was still covered in blood and wounds.
"What I do everytime I need to save the world," Harry said with an almost terrifying grin, "Drink a pot of coffee and take a shower. But first there are some people I need to speak with."
"Grim, about before, in the lab…" Nick began again.
Harry turned to look at him over his shoulder with an amused smirk on his face, "Please, Nick. Apologies don't suit you. In regards to telling everyone about me killing someone and starting the Apocalypse? Just don't be that person and we'll call it even."
"Smart ass," Nick grinned as Harry disappeared out the door. But his grin vanished quickly.
"He's not looking good."
"No, he isn't. He's going to do something stupid," Phil stated, worry lines creasing his forehead.
"Here's hoping we put everything in place to stop him," Nick said, looking tiredly at the photos on the monitor.
Phil couldn't help but wonder if what they had done would be enough. After all, it isn't every day that an immortal wizard was balanced on the brink of insanity.
What the heck?! Where did this chapter come from? Why am I posting it so early? I have another week before May's update. WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE!?
All well, I am going to be busy next week with meeting my boyfriend's family for the first time so I might as well post this. Besides Johnny Three Tears threatened to riot if I didn't post an update and I did just finish editing this chapter so... ENJOY!