Warnings/Notes: WIP, Crossover/AU. This is probably set after The Avengers, but trying to avoid getting totally Jossed, so I'll withhold a firm decision till May. This takes place after my story, The House of Keebler.
Character(s): Methos, Loki, Nick Fury, Clint Barton, Natasha Romanov, Charlotte Sparrow
Summary: Methos doesn't believe in fairy tales – or gods.
Methos doesn't believe in fairy tales – or gods.
Methos pounded futilely on the door. Damnit, what was wrong with a doorknob and hinges? No, instead, the heavy metal door was seamless, sliding open and shut. Except it wasn't sliding currently, and he was trapped in his own office; a parting gift from Loki.
After Loki's disappearance, Methos had hit the alarm, an action that was greeted by silence. Then he'd tried his cellphone, his office phone, the computer – all inoperable. Now, he was reduced to banging on the door, not that anyone would hear it on the other side, but it made him feel better.
"Get back from the door, Doc," he heard Agent Barton's voice; looked like they'd got the intercom working at least. Methos did as instructed, walking to the side of the room opposite the door. Shortly after, he heard a pop, accompanied by a flash and smoke. When the smoke cleared, he could see the door was now open a crack, light coming in from the hallway beyond.
"You okay?" Clint Barton called out.
"Fine, just get me out of here!"
"Working on it, Doc."
The sound of metal against metal tore through the room, as the SHIELD personnel on the other side used a crowbar to open the door enough for them to get in.
"Loki was here," Methos told Barton as he entered.
Barton nodded. "We figured it was something like that. Picked up some odd energy fluctuations, and when you were the only one not to check in, we headed down here."
"Everything went dark after he left," Methos explained. "I was afraid I was going to be stuck here all night."
"Nah, we would have missed your sunny personality in the canteen at dinner," Barton said with a grin.
Methos laughed, reaching into his pocket as he felt the vibration of his cell powering back up.
"What did he want?"
"I'm not sure. I have the feeling he hasn't played all his cards yet, and that concerns me," Methos said as he hit the speed dial for home, wanting to reassure himself that all was well. "Come on, Charlotte, pick up, please." Just as he thought it would go to voicemail, it answered, but the voice on the other end made his blood run cold. I'm terribly sorry, but Charlotte can't come to the phone right now; she has company.
Charlotte hummed to herself as she worked in the rose garden, deadheading the spent blossoms in preparation for winter. Some of the plants were ones she had originally planted a hundred and fifty years ago, and some were new, planted by her and Jane Foster this last spring.
It had been odd, coming back to New Mexico after so many years, restoring the old ranch house that held so many memories. But it had also been comforting, holding those memories close, and making new ones, with friends both old and new. And it had kept her busy in the hours that she was alone here – there'd been many of those lately. When Methos had accepted Nick Fury's offer to join SHIELD, Charlotte had had no idea of what that would really mean. Nick had been right when her old compatriot had told her last Christmas that they were living in a maelstrom, just as they had seventy years ago. Earth stood at a precipice, and no one was safe.
Setting her shears down on the table next to her, her hand paused over a white bud. It was too late in the year now; it would probably never blossom, but it was a reminder of the summer that had just slipped away into autumn. This bush was one of her favourites; the original cutting coming from her father's home in England two centuries before. Now, the old canes were thick and gnarled, but the roses it produced held the vibrant brilliance of spring.
She stilled, the feeling that she was no longer alone prickling across her skin. Slowly turning, she stepped away from the roses, stopping in front of the small table her gardening tools were on. The man who stood but a few yards from her was very fair, with ice blue eyes, and soft black curls that brushed the length of his jaw. A mixture of beauty and danger that she recognized from photos she had been shown.
Neither of them had said a word, each contemplating the other. Then he smiled, but it did nothing to comfort her. "Can I help you?" she finally asked, not acknowledging that she knew who he was.
He took a few steps forward, the smile widening. "I'm certain you can." A few more steps. "In fact, I really cannot go on without you."
Charlotte stood her ground as he closed the space between them, now far too close. "I don't understand."
"Of course you don't, not yet. But allow me to explain. I need something from your lover, and you are going to help me get it."
"I won't help you." She shook her head. It was almost funny – Methos and Nick had always thought her friendship with Tony Stark would be what brought danger to her life, but it appeared that once again, it was the oldest Immortal who put her in harm's way.
Loki laughed. "That's what Methos said."
"Is he all right?" she demanded, fear curling in the pit of her stomach. She hadn't heard from Methos in days. Had something happened? Jane had told her how Loki had tried to kill his brother, and that he had attempted to destroy an entire planet. Only Thor's intervention, destroying the Bifröst, had prevented it.
"For now," he said softly at her ear.
She pressed back against the table, instinctively reaching behind for the shears she knew were there, her fight or flight instinct choosing fight with no hesitation. Grasping them, she pulled her arm around, thrusting forward. But it was a move that he anticipated, hands grasping her wrist, twisting it around. She used the momentum to get under his guard, the blades coming within inches of his chest before he stopped her.
"That was not very hospitable, or very smart." His blue eyes burned with an angry fire as she continued to fight him. "I think you require a reminder of just what I am."
She only had begun to register that his skin had turned blue before the searing pain of her arm freezing overwhelmed her, the bones of her wrist snapping in his grip. The shears fell from fingers that could no longer grasp them. It was worse than burning, and the pain kept on, traveling up her arm, till she thought her heart would burst as icy tendrils brushed her chest. Only when the black of unconsciousness teased at her did he release her. Collapsing to her knees, she cradled her injured arm, gasping for breath.
"I think we understand one another now, don't we?"
"Go to hell." It was a cliché, but all she had strength for.
Sighing, he reached out a hand, now no longer blue. She glared up at him. "Come now, no need for continued unpleasantness. I am a god, while you…are not. The sooner you accept your place, little Immortal, the happier we both shall be."
"Far be it for you to be unhappy," she spat out.
"Exactly my point." He once more extended his hand, which this time, she took. "I have no desire to punish you further, as long as you behave." Pulling her to her feet, he took her injured arm in an unexpectedly gentle hold. It was already healing. "So, your kind does not suffer any permanent damage from my touch. Interesting."
Unease crept up her spine at his observation. The thought that these beings from another world could inflict permanent injury to Earth's Immortals had never occurred to her. Certainly nothing Thor had ever told her would lead her to believe such a thing were possible. But it had obviously occurred to Loki.
Pulling away, she remained defiant; she would not give in to fear. "Just tell me what it is you want!"
"So many things, dear Charlotte; the list is rather extensive. But currently, my curiosity revolves around the Immortals of Midgard. I have a theory, you see, and in order to prove it, I need a cooperative subject."
Drawing her arms around herself protectively, Charlotte shook her head mutely. She'd been experimented on before; an experience that still gave her nightmares seventy years later.
Loki seemed to sense her distress. "Have no fear, my lady." He reached out, pushing back a strand of her black hair, the ring on his finger glinting in the sun. "I have no intention of recreating the experiments of Herr Schmidt's associates. They lacked finesse, not to mention any truly worthwhile results. Mortal minds are small; you and I know this to be true."
How did he know what had happened? Even Methos didn't know about her experience as a prisoner during World War Two. She wondered just what else Loki knew. "Then what?" She shivered, feeling a cold both mental and physical.
Loki didn't answer, reaching behind her, picking the lone white rosebud from the bush. "You have been touched by winter, and I blame myself." He twirled the flower in his fingers, the bud blooming before her eyes. A golden glow emanated from the rose in his grasp, flowing around them like the sea, white roses blooming by the hundreds as the wave passed over. She thought it just might be the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.
Turning in place, taking in the sight, the scent almost overwhelming, she pressed her hand to her heart. Despite her uncertainty and fear, she was not unmoved by the power Loki held to make such a thing possible. It was if he held sway over nature herself. "Asgard must be truly beautiful if every day holds the possibility of summer," she said softly.
He leaned in. "When I rule, those who have served me will be rewarded. There will be a place for you, little Immortal, when all my plans are complete."
She shook her head sharply. "No! I will not help you." She would not betray her friends, those she loved. God help her.
He smiled then, brushing the rose he still held across her jaw and down her throat. The cold metal of his ring was sharp, like a shard of ice, as it skimmed against her skin. "But you will, Charlotte. Indeed, you already have."
"Charlotte," Methos called out, "are you all right?"
She turned at the sound of his voice. "Methos?"
"I'm here." He drew closer. Her normally fair complexion was now as white as snow, and her ice blue eyes were unfocused, the pupils huge and dark. "What did he do to you?" Behind him, he heard the voices of the SHIELD team as they spread out, searching the property for Loki. But Methos knew they would find no trace.
"He wants something from you," she said quietly. "He says I'll help him. I won't, I swear I won't, Methos!"
"He's only playing mind games, Charlotte." All around, rose petals fell like snowflakes, and he wondered at the strangeness of it all. "It's going to be all right, I promise."
Nodding, she looked down at a white rose, stained with red, that she held in her hand. "I'm so cold."
He pulled off his coat, to wrap it around her. Then he stopped, trying to comprehend what he was seeing. It was something that shouldn't be. Reaching out, fingertips hovering at her throat, he watched, almost transfixed, as her blood seeped down from a wound that should have healed, the collar of her blouse already dyed red with it. "Charlotte, you're bleeding." It was such a ridiculous thing to say, and yet, those words were ones he would have never imagined saying to another Immortal.
"His ring; it burned." Stepping back, she pressed her palm against the wound. "Touched by winter," she whispered as her knees gave way beneath her. Sinking down, she fell back, her long black hair stark against the blanket of white petals, the bloodstained rose tumbling from her outstretched hand.
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