Due to the fact that it's the holidays as I post this, I'm soon to start my last semester of college, and this holiday has been absolutely laden with computer problems, expect updates twice a week. When those twice a weeks will fall, I can't say for certain. But I think I can definitely manage twice a week.
Thor landed on the roof of the skyscraper so hard that he stumbled a few steps slowing down. The first thing he did was lower Loki onto the grimy concrete, checking his brother frantically for signs of obvious injury. Loki was senseless, motionless, but he was breathing and a quick check confirmed to Thor that he wasn't bleeding that hard where he'd been shot. That was enough. That would have to be enough. He didn't know how just a few shots had been enough to put Loki out of commission, but SHIELD was a big organization with a lot of very clever humans on their payroll. And they would have been putting a lot of effort into just this very eventuality, since his brother's last known visit to Earth.
Thor mentally cursed himself, tore into himself, and the voice in his head sounded very much like Loki's. What a fool he'd been. He should have known this day would come, and now that everything was teetering on a knife's edge, he didn't know what to do.
Still. Loki was alive. And even if he was possibly hurt in ways Thor couldn't see, the healers could see to that. Thor knelt down, gathering his brother up in his arms, and looked to the sky. They didn't have much time, SHIELD would still be tracking them, would already be moving in.
"Heimdall!" Thor cried. "Open the Bifrost!"
He waited. And he waited. Seconds ticked by, turning into precious minutes they didn't have to waste, and nothing happened. Thor felt nothing, no sign that the gateway back home was being opened for them.
He felt panic rising once more, and tried to swallow it down. Heimdall couldn't leave them here, couldn't leave them to be captured and interrogated by SHIELD. Mother and Father wouldn't allow it, unless…
…unless they would. Unless they had known this day would come as well, and had decided that Thor had put it off long enough. Unless relations with Earth were too precious, with how quickly humanity was growing and developing, and as future king he could not afford to shatter those relations and run.
Heimdall would not invite danger into Asgard, and humans could be so very dangerous.
And if he wanted his brother and his friends, he was going to have to find a way to keep them.
Thor's grip tightened reflexively, protectively on Loki. He hadn't wanted this day to come, but he'd run out his luck, he'd stalled too long. And now it was just a matter of hoping that he and Loki had come far enough together for his friends to believe in his good intentions. That, and trusting them not to hurt Loki, even if only for his sake, while he sorted this out. Not to mention trusting Loki not to hurt anyone else in fear or anger.
His heart felt heavy, the responsibility of the next few hours weighing on his mind. But when he hadn't been seeing to the peace of the Nine Realms and the rehabilitation of his brother, Thor had been spending every remaining waking second training for the day when he would be king. Now, it seemed, his training was to be tested.
He stole a hug from his unconscious brother, silently praying to Loki to show the faith in him that he had in the past. Then Thor took hold of Mjolnir once more, and with it flew off the roof and back towards the frantically searching SHIELD agents.
This was…chaotic as all hell.
They were in New York investigating suspicious activity. There was apparently an active and growing cult, with behaviors and stated goals disturbingly in line with the Berserker nutjobs from a while back. That, in and of itself, might have been nothing much. The world was changing, and Thor was still a very visible part of the Avengers. Humans had fan clubs. Gods, or super high tech aliens or whatever the hell Thor was, had cults.
In and of itself, they might have written these guys off for the sake of more important missions or even some much needed downtime. Even SHIELD couldn't control everything. But there had been readings of strange flashes of power from the same area as of late. Fitz-Simmons had eventually received reports that, coupled with their own investigation, had identified it as Tesseract in origin. And Coulson hadn't been able to move them out here fast enough.
Thad had all been worrying enough, but wonder of wonders, who had they met on the streets but Thor himself. Skye had been so stunned by the sight of him that she hadn't noticed the man at his side until May had shot him with the Night-Night Gun and hadn't stopped until it was empty.
Things had gotten bad after that with a lot of shouting. Coulson shouting at Thor, Thor shouting at Coulson. Coulson had ordered the unconscious man arrested, and Thor had nearly tossed Ward down the block when he'd tried. Coulson had then ordered May to load up the gun again to put Thor down, and Thor had resolved the issue by outright flying off.
And, only now that she had the chance to dig out her phone and run some very quick searches with some hastily snatched pictures, did Skye realize just how absolutely messed up things had just gotten.
Now she did know just who the man May had shot was. There weren't many pictures of him around, even online. A few brave souls, however, had risked taking video of his grand speech in Stuttgart that had heralded the alien invasion in New York that had changed everything.
"His name is Loki," said Coulson flatly, as May drove them on in the direction Thor had fled. He'd apparently managed to unload a tracer on Thor in the middle of the chaos, and it was still beeping away. "He's responsible for thousands of deaths, and I really hope Thor is going to surprise me by having a damn good reason for bringing him back here."
"Wait," said Ward, who'd been looking out the window. "Up there." Skye looked, and he pointed, in time for her to see a large, dark shape against the sky flying towards a nearby building and landing. The intent was clear enough, even to her. Thor must have come back. Maybe to talk. Maybe to bash their heads in. He had not looked happy when Loki was shot.
"I see him," said May, pulling a hard right at the next intersection.
"Doesn't he keep a cell phone?" Skye heard herself asking. She knew they were all only guessing at Thor's intentions, and had no way of confirming the meet. "Getting a hold of him when the fate of the world is at stake has got to be a massive pain otherwise."
"He always seems to know how to turn up when he's needed," said Coulson with a half shrug. "But, yeah. It's kind of a pain. Especially since he never stays long enough to clean up his messes."
"What's our plan of attack?" Ward asked.
"Not attacking if we can help it. Leaving aside the matter of how powerful Thor is, the amount of paperwork involved in arresting one of the Avengers is more than I want to think about."
"But you're not going to leave this alone unless he turns over Loki," said May, short and sweet and to the point as ever.
"Considering I can't think of any other reason for this besides him planning to turn over Loki anyway, I don't see that being a problem."
Skye saw that being a problem, and she knew that Coulson did, too. Her boss was just enjoying his denial while he could. She thought of the way Thor's eyes had gone wide as Loki fell, how he'd caught Loki and pulled him in close in a gesture that was unmistakably protective. She felt safe in saying that Thor was probably at least still mostly on their side, however, because he'd stopped short of doing Ward any harm when he'd tried to get in close, even with Mjolnir in hand.
But this was definitely looking to get really dicey really quickly.
Coulson flashed his badge to get them into the office building where Thor had landed and they all piled on to the elevator. If anyone had thought of making trouble for them anyway, one look at May and Ward made them think otherwise.
They rode all the way up to the top floor and took the stairs up from there, and opened the door onto the sight of the rooftop and the sound of someone being violently sick.
There was Thor, kneeling on the dingy concrete of the roof, wearing an expression of unmistakable concern and using one hand to hold Loki's hair out of his face. And there was Loki, doubled over on his hands and knees and emptying whatever had been in his stomach all over the ground.
Skye had to take all of this in over the course of a second, however, and could thanks to her training with Ward. A second was what it took before the two Asgardians noticed their presence. Thor looked up, his expression turning grim. Loki's eyes darted up to them, but he still obviously wasn't in any fit state to say much, as he retched up another mouthful of stomach bile.
"What did you poison him with?" Thor asked, his voice deliberately calm and level.
"Dendrotoxin," said Coulson. He looked to May. "Most people don't react that way."
"I shot him with enough of it to kill three people," said May with a half shrug.
A little of Thor's control slipped, at that. Yeah, Skye knew she'd called it right. The god was pissed at what they'd done, but he was still willing to deal. She, in turn, felt that it was time she stepped in before Coulson and May took even that advantage away from them.
To her surprise, Ward stepped up next to her as well. He was watching the two men with a strangely thoughtful look on his face – thoughtful, guarded, but not actively hostile. Good. They might get out of this yet.
"Thor of Asgard?" Ward asked. "We're with SHIELD. We…"
"Oh, of course you are," Loki growled, looking up and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. Skye felt herself freeze like a deer in the headlights as, momentarily, their gazes met. He really shouldn't have looked that scary, bent almost double with one arm wrapped around his stomach, his skin pale and sallow and his hair tangled. But there was just something in his eyes as he looked at them. Something edged and feral and ferocious.
It shouldn't have been possible for a man clearly shaking with the effort of even staying on his hands and knees to look that scary, but Skye caught herself wondering for one mad moment if she was about to die.
Loki looked to Thor, breaking whatever spell he'd just cast on her, and…something was said without being said, and went well over Skye's head as a result. All she knew was that neither god looked happy, and Loki suddenly a good deal less.
"You never said anything," Loki growled at the other Asgardian. "You utter fool!" He tried to lift an arm, an act which she felt cause Coulson and May to tense behind her, but only succeeded in nearly losing his balance and falling on his face. Thor caught him in time, and after another look passed between them, did not settle Loki down under his own power again.
"What didn't you say to us, Thor?" Coulson asked levelly. "That you were bringing your brother back down to Earth? Back to the city where he massacred thousands of people?"
Brother? Skye wondered with a thrill of shock. She took another, harder look at the two Asgardians, and was forced to conclude that either kings did it differently, or adoption had to be a thing even on Asgard. Looking to her teammates, however, she realized she was the only one who was surprised. Coulson and May had clearly already knew this. Ward, in turn, was nodding like someone had just answered a question he hadn't asked.
But, then, Ward would know brothers. Especially brothers with issues. Especially crazy, violent brothers.
She shifted a little nearer, enough to nudge him lightly in the ribs. He looked down at her and smiled wanly, and she smiled up at him. Thor and Loki weren't the only ones who could communicate without words and, in that moment, she trusted that he knew that he didn't have to shoulder whatever issues were currently racing around his head alone.
"You flatter me," said Loki, drawing their attention back to him. His, in turn, hadn't flinched from Coulson. The wariness in his eyes as he regarded the older man belied his airy tone. "The army was a help. How are you…?"
"My brother requires medical attention," said Thor, cutting Loki off. Loki shot him a suspicious sideways glance, scowling, but said nothing. Thor, in turn, nodded up at Coulson. "You require information. I propose we trade, one for the other."
Skye looked over at Coulson, wondering what he would say. She saw her boss looking hesitant, but her mind was already racing ahead. Medical attention would mean getting Loki on the plane, and while that would involve having a megalomaniacal god on their plane, he was obviously sick, and better there in the interrogation room where they could keep an eye on him than out on the streets of New York.
Maybe Fitz-Simmons could take a look at Thor in the bargain. Skye knew she wasn't really the most rational person, where family was concerned, but there was standing by them and there was…whatever the hell was going on here.
They needed to know what the hell was going on here.
"I think we can handle a paralyzed Asgardian," said Coulson, as though he'd read her mind.
"That'll only make it worse if he's sick all over the van," Skye caught herself adding. "It's already pretty cramped in there."
If looks could kill, Skye knew she would have been a smear on the concrete at that point. She looked back at Loki with a bright smile, however, because now that she looked, she saw that Coulson was right. Rather than knocking him out, the dendrotoxin seemed to be doing a damn good job paralyzing him. Enough that he was unable to sit up under his own power – he was having to lean against Thor instead, even if they were both trying to make this fact look subtle. What wasn't paralyzed was twitching.
At the least, she was pretty sure she could outrun him.
"I will take him wherever you direct me," said Thor, cutting in again. His voice turned hard when he added, "And I will stay with him until he is well."
"Wouldn't expect anything more of you," said Coulson, and Skye winced at the ice in his voice. He was still smiling, but that didn't have to mean anything. She wondered if Thor knew that. "Big plane parked outside the eastern edge of the city. Can't miss it. We'll let you in when we get there."
Fun fact! Unless my research has very much failed me, the one thing dendrotoxin is not going to do is knock you out, except as a side effect of the resulting massive nerve difficulty. It can cause spasms, nausea, flaccid paralysis, and arythmia, but not unconsciousness. It's a protein based toxin, and therefore can't really reach the brain. But it also originates from the green mamba snake, and so is pretty vicious stuff. Also poetic, in Loki's case.
So I was left with the fun task of trying to balance what dendrotoxin actually does with what the show says it does. Oh, Agents of SHIELD. You're lucky you have good character development.