Pairings/Characters: Steve/Tony, Natasha/Pepper, Bruce, Clint/Coulson, Thor, JARVIS, Nick Fury and assorted OCs
Fandom Universe: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Hurt/Comfort, Romance
Warnings: Scenes of near-drowning and suffocation
Spoilers: For The Avengers (2012)
Artist: marian_leywald. Link to art: http://i152.photobucket.com/albums/s166/dreamsofnever/Brady/2012Marvel_BangTheSoldierAndTheScientistVI--StoryCover.jpg
Summary: Wraith-like sirens invade Steve’s dreams, trying to lure him back into the ice. During his waking hours, he and the Avengers are fighting another invasion of Manhattan, this time by giant, Hulk-like figures. During the battle, Pepper, a convalescent Coulson, and a S.H.I.E.L.D. nurse are stuck in an elevator at Avengers Tower.
Can the beautiful owner of a mysterious antique shop help them fight the invaders and also prevent Steve from succumbing to the sirens?
Dates Of Completion: June 4, 2012-August 11, 2012
Date Of Posting: November 16, 2012
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Marvel does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 21,520
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: Written for the 2012 marvel_bang.
The stars sparkle
In the night sky,
And we celebrate
"Day And Night"
Tony flitted from one project to the next, restless as he worked. He kept looking at Steve, marveling at how beautiful his lover looked in sleep. He was wearing a white T-shirt and boxer shorts, his sliver dog tags glinting against sun-bronzed skin.
Tony rubbed his face tiredly and took a gulp of coffee, putting the cup on the nightstand. He had been badly shaken by Steve’s haunted look as he had stood at the water’s edge. He had looked so lost and forlorn.
You’re not alone, Steve.
He put his hand over Steve’s, happy to have that freedom but worried over his lover’s state of mind.
“You’re everything to me, Steve. Don’t let this spooky mumbo-jumbo win.”
Stars twinkled in the sky as he gazed out the window. New York had taken a beating from the Chitauri invasion and the strange one today, but the city sparkled like a tiara as its lights twinkled.
Tony was a man of science. All this magical stuff gave him a stomachache. He didn’t know what to do. How could you fight singing sirens, for cryin’ out loud?
Am I enough for you, Steve?
The coffee in his cup sloshed as it vibrated. Tony frowned.
Suddenly the building shook as the lights of the city shook crazily like writhing ribbons.
“What the fuck?”
Tony shot to his feet as Natasha stuck her head in.
“Suit up, Stark. They’re back." A shriek underscored her declaration as one of the monsters let out a cry to announce the return of the invaders.
Tony swore. He turned to wake Steve but his lover was already sitting up, white-faced and wide-eyed.
“Steve, the monsters are back.”
“I know,” Steve murmured.
“C’mon, soldier. Up and at ‘em!”
“Better put the suit on,” Steve mumbled.
“Ha, ha. C’mon, Cap. Time to save the world, or at least Manhattan”
Steve still sounded groggy. “Look, sweetheart, if you’re too out of it, just go downstairs and head for the shelters.”
“No, why would you say that?”
“Just worried, I guess.”
“No time.” Steve scrambled out of bed. “Let’s go.”
Tony kissed him as he ran for the armor. Steve quickly opened the closet door, revealing his costume and shield mounted on the wall. He put his costume on and stumbled over to the nightstand to grab his gloves. Opening the drawer, he saw his ring and slipped it on . He considered it a good luck charm. Pulling on his gloves, he grabbed his shield and ran out to join the other Avengers.
The scene was surreal with the three huge creatures roaring and nearly blending into the darkness as the stars twinkled overhead and the lights in the buildings glowed. People were roused out of bed as the nightmare returned.
Thor yelled, “Beware, my friend! These apparitions may be magic!”
Cap frowned. “Magic?”
“Aye! As your Midgardian scientists speculate, their size and weight make it difficult impossible for them to exist.”
“All right, any ideas on how to fight them if they‘re magical?”
A sudden burst of The Ride Of The Valkyries filled the air. Thor took his cellphone out from his belt pouch.
“Hello? Oh, Miss Maximoff, glad to hear from you. You see the creatures on the television? Good. Can you suggest something? Uh huh. Mmm hmm.”
“Damn, what’s she say, Thor?” Iron Man demanded.
“Yes, thank you very much, Miss Maximoff.” Thor flipped his cellphone shut. “We need to attack them directly. She is working on a spell right now.”
“A spell?” Black Widow asked.
“Yes, Miss Maximoff is a Witch.”
“How’d you know that?”
“I know what a magic-wielder looks like.”
“Well, folks, let’s get to it,” Cap said. “Thor, you and Iron Man go straight for them. Head-on, gentlemen. Widow, you and I will provide the distractions. Where’s Bruce?”
“He’s at S.H.I.EL.D. Headquarters with Clint.”
Cap blinked. He should have guessed that. Why did he feel so fuzzy?
Come with us, Captain.
He shook off the sound of the voice. No matter what, he would stay focused.
“All right, Avengers Assemble!”
The Avengers nodded, all business.
Phil swore softly as he, Clint and Bruce watched the breaking news on the TV in Phil’s hospital room.
"Damnit.” Clint grabbed his quiver.
“Clint…” Phil grabbed his arm with surprising strength. “Be careful.”
Clint smiled at him, leaning over to kiss his lover. “I’ll be back,” Clint whispered in Phil’s ear, “Bet on it.”
Bruce looked down at Phil’s chart, giving the lovers a modicum of privacy.
“The strange creatures appeared again fifteen minutes ago ten blocks from Avengers Tower. The people living in blocks surrounding the Tower are advised to evacuate. The NYPD has officers at Grand Central Station ready to assist refugees.”
Clint straightened up. “Coming, Doc?”
In a small back room, an auburn-haired woman dressed in yellow robes sat cross-legged on yellow satin pillows in front of a low table on which a crystal ball glowed. Set on a pewter stand sculpted in the shape of a dragon with ruby eyes, she waved a hand over the ball while the other hand tossed an ingredient in a firepot, smoke billowing up as a small explosion reverberated through the room.
“All right, Cousin, let us begin.”
Thor was certain that his instincts in trusting Allison Maximoff were correct. They needed help with Steve’s problem and this larger one. He drew his arm back and let Mjolnir fly. The hammer hit the chest of the lead monster and bounced backoff. Thor held out his hand and it flew back to him.
He noticed Iron Man flying directly toward the creature on the right. He decided to do the same thing and yelled out his battle cry in the language of his fathers as he plunged ahead.
Cap and Black Widow were attempting a distraction when the sound of a motorcycle attracted their attention.
“Glad to see you guys!” Cap said as Bruce drove up, Hawkeye riding behind him.
“Well, not sure I’m glad to be here, but I’ll take that,” Bruce said wryly.
Hawkeye hopped off the cycle. “Am I topside, Cap?”
“It’s where you do your best work.”
Hawkeye smiled as he shot a grapple arrow and it drew him up to the top of Avengers Tower.
“Looks like I’ll have to suit up, so to speak,” said Bruce.
“Hey, it’s my thing.” Bruce’s eyes began to glow green as he began his transformation.
Black Widow tensed but didn’t edge away. Cap had seen her gradually conquer her fear of the Hulk. Her courage inspired him.
“Smash the one on the left!”
Hulk roared his assent as he leaped up and toward the creature.
Cap aimed his shield, frowning slightly as he felt his ring turn so cold that his finger ached. “I’ll distract the leader with my shield while you use your Sting,” he told Black Widow.
A plane droned far overhead on its way to JFK, the creature on the right roaring as it craned its massive head to watch the thin contrail of light as it slanted upward in the night sky.
Suddenly the creatures began to sparkle at the edges, their bodies erupting into a cavalcade of sparks as the tiny lights fell in a shower to the ground, catching Cap and Black Widow in the golden rain. The sparkles glowed in the Widow’s strawberry-red hair as she grabbed Cap’s arm.
“Let’s get out of here!”
Cap was literally star-spangled as he allowed himself to be dragged away. Hawkeye rappelled down to the ground.
“What happened?” he asked.
“Dunno.” Black Widow released Cap’s arm. “I guess Thor was right.”
“About the creatures being magical.”
The Hulk stomped over as Thor and Iron Man descended to touch ground.
Suddenly a display of fireworks exploded as the sparkles few up to create a show for a beleaguered city, the remainder still dusting the heroes and the building as Avengers Tower glittered like a Christmas tree .
In an incense-filled room, the woman behind the crystal ball stilled her hand and blew out the candles.
Tony’s faceplate was up as he enjoyed the show. He hoped that the creatures were gone for a good this time, though why they had appeared at all was a mystery.
The Ride Of The Valkyries sounded again from Thor’s direction and he pulled his cellphone out. “Hello, Misss. Maximoff. Yes, all is well.” He laughed. “Yes, just another day in the magical arts. Thank you.” He hung up and beamed. “All is well. The fine lady assures me that the creatures will not return.”
“Who sent them?” Clint asked.
“She could not say. However, the important thing is that they will not trouble us again.”
“That’s great, isn’t it, Steve?” Tony turned, expecting to see Steve standing next to him. “Steve? Steve!” he looked around frantically. “Where is he?”
Natasha looked up as she heard a plane engine. “The Quinjet!”
“Where’s Steve going?” Clint asked in surprise.
“The Arctic,” Tony replied grimly.
That the heart
Of the siren
Shall be found
On the bottom
Of the sea.
Old Norse Tale
Second Century C.E.
Steve flew the Quinjet over endless ice, the snow-covered mountains and glaciers an awe-inspiring sight. Sunlight glittered off the glaciers as the sky was an eye-aching blue.
He flew the jet over a vast lake, ice locking its surface. He stared out the cockpit window and touched the photograph of Tony on the instrument panel. His ring burned with cold.
Come with us, Captain.</b>
He increased the jet’s speed and plunged it into the ice.
“I’m going after him,” Tony said.
Suddenly, the earth shook and the stars danced. Tony was nearly knocked off his feet. Natasha and Clint grabbed onto each other while Thor flew up to scan the area. The Hulk roared his displeasure.
“Is it an earthquake?” Natasha yelled.
“The fall-out from such powerful magic,” Thor called down from his great height. “Brace yourselves.”
“But I have to get to Steve!” Tony protested.
The Quinjet broke up around him as Steve descended to the depths, the wraiths dancing their dance of death. The cold leeched the air out of his lungs as his bones cracked and his blood froze.
You will know peace.
I want to stay with Tony. I don’t want to sleep again for seventy years.
The wraith’s hand reached out, her long nails drawing down his arm.
You will grieve no more. You belong here. Sleep the sleep of the just.
Steve struggled as the ice closed in all around him and he opened his mouth in a silent scream.
Iron Man and Thor led the chase as another Quinjet flew behind them with Hawkeye and Black Widow piloting and Bruce a de-Hulked passenger.
“JARVIS, any signs of the Quinjet that Steve was piloting?”
“None yet, sir.”
“Keep at it.”
Iron Man despaired of the sheer vastness of the search. How would they ever find Steve in the Arctic? The homing beacon on Steve’s Quinjet was silent.
“Don’t worry, we’ll find him,” Black Widow said over the commlink.
“Are you reading minds now?”
“Ha, you wish.”
Iron Man flew closer to Thor. “Anything in the ol’ crystal ball?”
“Nothing yet, my friend. We should split up to cover more territory at a faster pace.”
“Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.”
“I agree,” said Black Widow. “We should stay in constant contact, though.”
Iron Man, Thor and the Quinjet banked away from each other and went off in different directions.
Iron Man tried to stay calm. His instincts were screaming at him to go off on his own but Steve would be terribly disappointed if his lover abandoned teamwork.
Oh, Steve, I thought things were better. Fight this! There’s so much for you here. Iron Man swallowed. What if I’m not enough for him? Is he really so depressed that going back to the ice looks good?
He continued the search over the glittering landscape with a heavy heart.
All the old terror surged up and washed over him in icy waves. Steve remembered hitting the water those long decades ago and the pain of the freezing waves numbing him as he sank into the sea.
No, I don’t want to go back!
Steve struggled as the water sparkled like sapphires laced with diamonds. He shook with cold but was determined to break his lassitude.
Tony, help me!
Iron Man kept flying. He wouldn’t stop until he found Steve.
He remembered all the good times the two of them had enjoyed in the days since they had admitted their love to each other. He had never experienced something like this romance before. He felt as if it was part of his sinew and bones, his very DNA. He needed Steve like he needed the air to breathe .
I won’t let you go, Steve. I won’t let you go back into the ice.
Suddenly he saw a huge hole in the icy lake below. He immediately flew down to the lake.
Iron Man dove into the water.
Was he drowning? He should be. The first time that he had been frozen, it had all happened so fast the he barely remembered it except for the aching cold. Somehow he had not drowned back in ’45 and he struggled not to do so now.
Please, give me the strength to fight this.
He tried to swim upward but was weighted down by the ice. The wraith sang her siren song, joined by her sisters. The water sparkled like a million tiny diamonds, beautiful yet deadly. He felt himself sinking despite his efforts. Tears trickled prickled down in his cheeks eyes as he began to slip away.
A splash jarred him out of his lethargy. Ruby-and-gold accented the sapphire-and-diamonds. Steve’s heart soared.
Tony cleaved through the water as he headed for Steve. The wraiths attacked as Tony and Steve fought against them. It was a slow motion water ballet and Steve suddenly began to gasp. He desperately needed air and tried to get to the surface.
Tony, I’m drowning!
Tony fended off the wraiths with his armor’s strength and grabbed Steve. He brought them both up to the surface, kicking away the bony hands of the wraiths.
They broke the surface as Steve gulped in deep lungfuls of air. He tried to find purchase on the smooth armor.
“Tony,” he coughed. “I…how did you…?” (cough, cough)
“It’s okay. Let’s get out of here.”
Tony jetted them out of the water as Steve clung to him, trying to clear his head. He looked down and rasped, “They’re coming after us!”
The wraiths were flying up out of the water, the leader carrying Steve’s shield. Their eyes blazed with a terrible purpose. Tony elevated them but the wraiths were relentless, following them ever higher.
“Avengers, we need help!” Tony cried, giving his and Steve’s coordinates.
The lead wraith threw Steve’s shield as Tony tried an evasive maneuver. Steve grabbed the shield and together they fought off the gathering host. Steve shook from the cold, his uniform wet and clinging to his body.
“Tony, I…” Steve coughed violently. “I was lost until I thought of you. I was sinking into the ice but…”
Tony’s heart leapt as he heard Steve’s words. “I love you.”
Steve laughed. “Me, too.”
Thor suddenly appeared as he shouted, “Hold, wraiths! You may not lure the good captain to an in icy fate!”
He joined the battle and the Quinjet arrived, Hawkeye and Black Widow piloting with consummate skill.
“Keep your grip on me nice and firm, love.” Steve pulled on his cowl.
Tony smiled. “Always, sweetheart.”
Cap’s smile could melt any ice.
The battle raged, Thor suddenly diving into the lake. The Avengers had no time to react as they continued fighting .
Suddenly the wraiths screamed, twisting and turning as they vanished, wisps upon the crystalline air.
Steve felt drained but elated. “They’re gone!”
“Damn straight, Cap,” said Black Widow.
Steve smiled at Tony and hugged him as Thor broke the surface of the lake.
“What happened to you, big guy?” asked Steve.
“I remembered the old legends.” Thor’s smile was infectious. “The wraiths’ queen was the key. Her heart was located in a shell hidden at the bottom of the lake. I found it and crushed it.” At Steve’s shocked look he bowed his head. “No need to worry, my friend. In the ways of magic, you are safe now.”
“I feel like I’m in a Grimm’s fairytale,” Steve said wryly.
“The Brothers Grimm knew of what they wrote.”
Steve laughed and Tony lifted his faceplate and they kissed. Thor beamed his joy and Natasha said, “Come on home, boys.”
PUMPKIN AND PIZZA
Upon the day,
Are what makes the heart
"Life’s Simple Pleasures"
“The ring is safe to wear.”
Steve took his ring back from Allison, the scent of pumpkin candles here in the shop soothing. “Thank you for all your help, Ms. Maximoff.”
“You’re most welcome, Captain.” She smiled at Thor. “Well, Thunder God, you seem to have saved the day.”
The Asgardian beamed. “With your help, fair lady.”
She inclined her head. “It was my pleasure.”
The Avengers were in Allison’s shop, grateful for her help. Bruce inhaled the scent of the candles, always on the look-out for calming influences. Natasha fingered her bracelet while Clint quietly watched the interactions. Thor clapped a hand on Steve’s shoulder and Tony asked, “So it’s all over? The dreams and attacks by monsters?”
“Yes, it should be all over.”
“Why did it all happen?” Clint asked.
Allison shrugged. “Who knows? The wraiths wanted Captain America to return to the ice. The monsters that attacked Manhattan were sent by someone, but we have no idea why or if they’ll try again, but I think you can relax for now.”
Tony frowned. “I don’t like not knowing why.”
”Most of us don’t, Mr. Stark, but those of us who deal in magic learn to be patient.”
Allison’s smile was amused, her brown eyes twinkling. Her bracelets jangled as she picked up a fat pillar candle and boxed it. “Here, this will help keep you calm and relaxed.” She boxed up a second candle. “Looks like you could use this, too, Dr. Banner.”
Bruce was startled but shyly accepted the box. “Thank you.”
“Glad to be of help.”
Steve wanted to ask Allison more questions but decided to come another time, preferably with Thor and without skeptic Tony. He turned to see Tony’s worry and amended, Maybe with skeptic Tony. He warmly took hold of Tony’s hand, the surprise on his lover’s face delighting him. Tony quickly glanced at Allison, who only nodded with a brightened smile.
Once outside, Natasha asked, “Steve, aren’t you taking a chance? You and Tony aren’t out.”
“I think we can trust her to keep our secret.”
Natasha crossed her arms. “Well, we trust your instincts.”
The Avengers went home.
Pizzas were ordered and everyone gathered in the living room, turning on the TV while relaxing after stressful days.
Steve sat next to Tony on the couch, Tony’s arm around him and a blanket thrown over his shoulders. Natasha and Pepper were curled up on another couch and Thor sat in his favorite chair. Bruce had a chair he liked, too, and Clint sat on the floor by Phil’s wheelchair. Too weak to walk, Phil was grateful for the chair. Clint was his willing slave, fetching him water, a quilt for his legs, and a slice of hot pizza when the pies arrived.
Steve enjoyed the warm slice of sausage-and-pepperoni pizza and the company of Tony and his friends.
He thought of the ice and the sire-like wraiths. He thought of falling asleep in the ice again but he didn’t have to worry about that anymore. He inched closer to Tony, who tightened his hold.
Natasha snuggled up to Pepper, whispering in her ear that they would finish what they started before the last attack. Phil combed his fingers through Clint’s hair while Thor and Bruce exchanged amused glances. JARVIS checked the security of the Tower and locked every door and window, keeping his charges safe.
In the back room of the antique shop, Allison answered her cellphone.
“Hello, Cousin. Yes, all is well. Thank you for all of your help. The wraiths were vanquished. Captain America won’t end up back in the ice.” She sipped a cup of mint tea. “Manhattan’s safe, at least for now. Thanks again. Couldn’t have done it without you. You’re the best, Wanda. You and Pietro should visit New York. Got plenty of room.” She laughed. “Okay, see you soon.”
Allison clicked off, smiling as she finished her tea.