Warnings/Notes: Crossover/AU. Methos/OC, Clint Barton/Natasha Romanov implied, Methos & Duncan. This is set before The Avengers, and contains no real spoilers for the movie.
Character(s): Methos, Loki, Nick Fury, Duncan MacLeod, Clint Barton, Phil Coulson, Natasha Romanov, Charlotte Sparrow
Summary: Methos doesn't believe in fairy tales – or gods.
The only reality was pain. It felt as if he'd been assaulted by a hundred quickenings—but with none of the calories. Methos fought the urge to curl up in a fetal position, not wanting to give his audience the satisfaction. Rolling onto his side, he opened his eyes, almost expecting to see the shade of Kronos in this very familiar room. If he were here, haunting the place, he must be feeling a great deal of satisfaction at Methos' current predicament.
After deciding to not kill Barton and MacLeod, Loki had waved the ever present scepter in his hand, this time, a green light blooming up from it, enclosing the four of them like a bubble. Then there had been a gut wrenching shift, the light disappearing, Methos feeling as if he'd fallen ten stories, stopping just before he hit the ground. He blinked; skin prickling, like he'd been too near a lightning strike. Turning around, eyes trying to pierce the shadows, he realized that his companions weren’t here with him. Then Loki stepped out of the gloom; a snap of his hand, torches on the wall flaming to life, the fire pit flaring up violently, sparks reaching to the sky.
"I hope you like what I've done with the place," Loki said congenially. "I tried to keep it just as you remember, but with a few special touches of my own." He pointed towards a metallic circular platform off to one side that looked as if it had come from the set of Metropolis.
Methos shook his head. It shouldn't be, but it was—the abandoned submarine base that had been the Horsemen's last camp. Loki had unerringly pulled a place from his captive's subconscious that Methos had never wanted to revisit. From the echoes of the past he heard himself say, 'What is the first rule of great drama? Start small, and build.'. Loki had learned that lesson well. Then he felt the presence of another Immortal, but it wasn't MacLeod.
"Allow me to introduce Dr. Vogt," Loki said, as a thin, brown haired man came to stand silently at Loki's side, holding a syringe in his hand. "He will be assisting during our time together here, and I must say, he's quite eager to begin…."
Now, Methos was stretched out on that platform, recovering from the first round of Loki's experiments. He choked back a groan as he attempted to sit up. From somewhere behind him, Loki said, "Well now, that was surprisingly effective for such a crude serum." He moved into Methos' view.
"Is there some sort of point to all this?" Methos demanded, voice cracking.
"You will find that there is a point to all that I do, ancient one. But in this case, curiosity. Dr. Vogt was a part of the same program that held your lady love captive. He's the last now, of course. Merely a minor functionary in those days, he has used the passing decades to hone his skills. "
"And what exactly was it that you were curious about?" He coughed, wishing for a drink of water to clear the bitter taste in his mouth.
Loki leaned in, a cold smile on his lips. "I wanted to see if that serum was really as terrible as your Charlotte remembered it to be. After weeks of such torment, no wonder the mere idea of being my captive would bring the terror I saw in her eyes."
Methos recoiled at Loki's explanation. Cold nausea crawled up his belly into his throat, as the import of his words sunk in. The realization that Charlotte had suffered so, coupled with the memories of this place and who he had been, left him feeling dead inside. Like Death he thought bitterly.
"I truly am a merciful god to spare her, am I not?"
Loki's eyes locked with Methos', and he knew it was not a rhetorical question. "The picture of," Methos agreed softly.
Methos covered his eyes with his hands. This just kept getting better and better. Once more, Loki had transported him, this time to the cage that Kronos had kept Cassandra locked up in. And he had company: MacLeod and Barton. They looked none the worse for wear, though Mac was virtually silent. Not that Barton noticed, Methos was sure. He didn't know the Highlander well enough to know that Duncan's silence was residual disapproval for Methos and what had transpired here more than ten years ago.
"How long has it been?" Methos asked.
"Four hours," Barton replied. "Mac says you've both been here before."
Methos knew Barton was curious, but also knew the man wouldn't press him for answers he didn't want to give, as long as he was reassured that it wouldn't impact the mission. "It was a long time ago, a lifetime ago. Loki's just playing mind games with me and MacLeod." From the other side of the cage, Mac snorted.
Barton searched his face, then nodded, seemingly satisfied with the answer. Then he asked, "What did he do to you?"
"Are you familiar with HYDRA using Immortals as guinea pigs during World War Two?" Mac's head shot up at that, now totally and firmly in the present.
"Sure – I've studied the reports from those days."
"And Charlotte's unwilling participation?" There was a sharp edge to Methos' query. "Not now, MacLeod." He waved away Duncan's questions.
Barton reached out, clapping him on the shoulder. "Yeah, Doc, I am."
Methos took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. "There's a doctor with Loki, an Immortal, who was a part of that project. Not the one that ran the program, I don't think."
Shaking his head, Barton said, "No, that guy Fury killed when they extracted Ms. Sparrow."
"Loki said he was a 'minor functionary', but—"
"Why would you take his word for it?" Barton finished.
"Yeah." Methos shifted into a more comfortable position, noting how much he still hurt, and what that meant in regards to the serum and its effect on Immortals. "He has some of the serum used in the project. An object lesson on what the consequences are if I piss him off. But not the point of all this." He waved a hand at the cage and the cavernous space beyond. "I still don't know what it is he wants."
"Would someone please tell me what the hell you're talking about?" Mac demanded, finally having enough of holding his peace.
Sighing, Methos said, "You may as well explain it to him, Barton. He won't give us a moments rest till he knows."
"You want me to tell him?"
"You know more about it than I do," Methos pointed out. "That, and I think a more clinical recap would be preferable to my emotionally attached one."
Barton shrugged, launching into an account of the SSR during the war, and Charlotte and Ezra's part in it as members of the then Sergeant Fury's team. "You'd have no way to know, Doc, but it was a real thrill for a lot of us to finally meet former Agents Black and Standish." He laughed, remembering. "Tasha, er, Agent Romanov, was really thrown when she found out the woman she'd been keeping an eye on as part of Stark's circle, when she was undercover at SI, was actually the legendary Agent Black. Even funnier when she found out that Stark's playboy buddy, Ez Sanbourne was in actuality the equally infamous Agent Standish. But don't tell her I told you that," he added hastily.
Methos cracked a smile. "Your secret is safe with me."
Duncan was still digesting Barton's tale. Shaking his head, he asked Methos, "How long have you known?"
"Since yesterday. Or maybe it was the day before."
"Yesterday?" The incredulous expression on Mac's face was priceless. Even Barton laughed.
Shaking his head, "Methos said, "You don't know Charlotte as well as you think you do. In the beginning, it was classified, then, when she could have told me…come on, Mac, you know what it took to get her to tell me about what happened between her and Kronos. She doesn't like to share the bad things, or dwell on them. That's just who she is."
"Comes with the territory," Barton chimed in. "Charlotte and Tasha should form a club." The last was muttered. Then he looked up, rolling his eyes. "Yeah, okay, I have some personal experience when it comes to SHIELD women. They're a breed apart – drive a man crazy and back again."
Methos' lips curled into a warm smile. "But we wouldn't want them any other way, would we, Barton?"
"You got that right, Doc. Wouldn't trade them for all the world."
"Where is this place?" she asked Loki. He had told her that her name was Charlotte, but the name did not feel as if were hers, and it troubled her; more so than all other things.
"My hunting lodge in Nastrond – it was ever your favourite of our dwellings." She shook her head slightly. "Do you doubt me, my love?" His tone was even, but the undercurrent of warning was obvious to her.
Looking over her shoulder at him, she replied, "I find it hard to believe I would favour a place that offers naught but perpetual gloom and endless snow." She turned, curtsying slightly. "But if you say it is so, then it must be…my king."
He took a step towards her, tilting her head up with a finger under her chin, studying her. Then he laughed, brushing his lips across her cheek. "Ah, my lady, it is a great relief to me that your misfortune has done nothing to damage your temperament."
She looked at him suspiciously. "Are you mocking me?"
The merriment in his eyes only seemed to increase. "I would never do such a thing!" He placed a hand to his heart. "My word to you."
She sniffed, and with a swish of her floor length dove grey skirt, walked past him to once more look out the window at the never ceasing now. Behind her, she could hear him laughing softly. "You keep referring to an accident being the cause of my present state. I pray you tell me what befell me. Please,—" she tasted his name, a brush of something that might be a memory teasing at her "—Loki."
Coming to stand beside her, he was no longer laughing. "I have many enemies, Charlotte, and due to that, you suffer your current state." He laid a hand on her shoulder. "An attempt on my life gone awry, with you the victim; I regret it more than I can say." The hand slipped up to lie against her neck. "But those who committed the act suffered greatly before they died. Know that I avenged you, my queen."
She couldn't control the shiver that ran up her spine. "Shall I always be thus?"
"The healers assure me that one day, you will be well. It is my fondest wish that you be restored to me."
"Then it will be so, I swear it." She might not believe she was this Charlotte who Loki told her she was, but she did believe that the truth lay close by, if only she could pierce the veil that kept her past at bay. She would tread carefully, but she would discover the truth—no matter the cost.
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