Fandoms: Avengers/Marvel Movies, Highlander
Warnings/Notes: Crossover/AU. Methos/OC, Clint Barton/Natasha Romanov implied, Methos & Duncan. This is set before The Avengers, and contains no spoilers for the movie. I can't quite remember what had me interested in researching Snow White, but I did, and came to discover that many cultures have a similar story, and that immediately bred a plot bunny. This is my take on the Snow White folktale with a Loki spin - is he Prince Charming, the Wicked Queen...or both? I'm using what happened in the tag of Thor for my jumping off point - Loki has spent some time spying on various SHIELD members, coming across some useful nuggets of intel to use against our heroes.
Character(s): Methos, Loki, Duncan MacLeod, Clint Barton, Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, Natasha Romanov, Original Characters.
Summary: Methos doesn't believe in fairy tales – or gods.
"We sent a team to where you say you were held in France," Fury told Methos. "But it was deserted, with no evidence that anyone had been there for a decade."
They were meeting in Charlotte and Methos' sitting room at the New Mexico ranch house. Charlotte had been desperate to go back home to the familiar, and Nick had never really been able to say 'no' to his old comrade-at-arms. So the last debriefing with the two Immortals was being held here.
Methos shook his head. "How is that possible?"
"Dr. Selvig has a theory about folded space," Fury said. "That Loki was never actually on Earth, but was manipulating space to bring you to wherever it was he was."
Looking incredulous at Fury's explanation, Methos began to pace. "Folded space? That's what we're going with?"
"I think the term he used was 'pocket universe'." Fury shrugged. "You're our resident expert on Norse mythology. You tell me; science, magic? Does it really matter? You know the Asgardian profile, what happened not far from here." It seemed as if he were going to say more, but he looked at Charlotte, shaking his head slightly.
She noticed. "Would you like me to leave the room, Director?" she demanded. "I'd hate to impose myself on your classified discussion!"
Nick raised his hand. "Charlotte, you know that isn't—"
She didn't let him finish, leaping from her chair angrily. "I don't even need to be here. I was indisposed through most of it, if you'll recall!"
He didn't seem put out by her outburst, smiling a little. "Are you done?" He cocked an eyebrow inquiringly.
Glaring at him for a moment, she shook her head, and then sighed, sinking back into her seat. "Sorry. I just…." She knew she was on edge, and that Nicholas was a convenient target for her anger and uncertainty.
"I know," Nick said softly.
She knew that too, remembering the disastrous Spanish mission nearly seventy years prior, and its aftermath. "We've been here before, you and I." She forced a laugh. "Though last time, it wasn't aliens playing at god. On the upside, I was in a coma through most of it. Beats torture."
Methos reached over, taking her hand, squeezing it hard, a look in his eyes she couldn't decipher. "This time, I'll be with you, every step along the way."
Squeezing his hand in return, her expression softened. "I never had any doubt, my love."
His lips brushed the top of her head before he reseated himself. "Maybe Selvig is on to something. There was a moment, as if the walls were fading and I could see a snow covered forest. At the time, I thought I was hallucinating. Not long after, just before the end, we found ourselves in that same forest. It was endless; a place of seemingly eternal twilight and falling snow."
Fury had gone very still, looking intently at Charlotte. "What is it?"
Methos looked at Fury, then at Charlotte, not entirely certain what was happening. "Love?"
"No," she whispered. It seemed as if she weren't talking to either man, but to someone unseen.
"Charlotte." Fury leaned in, putting a hand on her shoulder. "Tell me," he commanded softly.
She seemed startled by his touch, looking up at him with wide dark eyes. "They were only dreams, Nicholas." She shook her head. "You told me you sat at my bedside."
"I did. But you need to tell me about those dreams now."
Pressing fingers against her temple, she shivered. "Snow, all was snow. And the wind, I can hear it still. A forest; it held me there, a prisoner. I walked so far, for so long. And then, he came, rescued me. And I was warm again."
"He?" Fury questioned. "Charlotte," he prompted gently, but insistently.
"Loki, he said he was Loki." She closed her eyes, a pained sound coming from deep in her throat. Then she gasped, doubling over, Methos and Fury grabbing her as she toppled from the chair.
"Feeling better?" Methos asked, taking the empty glass from her hand.
It had been like a dam bursting, all the memories, what she had thought were dreams, remembering all of it at once. Slowly, haltingly, she had told them what she remembered, Nicholas stopping her frequently with questions, wanting more detail on certain points, which drew more memories from her subconscious. As she spoke, what had seemed intangible bits of a dreamscape had become more real than the world around her, and it frightened her. How could she ever know what was real ever again? She felt violated and vulnerable, and she hated Loki for making her feel so.
"It's over now," Methos told her.
"Is it?" She shook her head. Over was not at all what it felt like; just the opposite. "What did he do to me?"
"We will find that out," Nick promised.
"I know you'll try," Charlotte replied with a weak smile. And he would; she trusted Nicholas with her life. But she also knew that this was something beyond them, and that in the end, her only answers would come from him…from Loki.
Charlotte stood in front of the full length mirror in their bedroom, studying her reflection. She wondered if she would ever be able to look in a mirror again without remembering that place; remembering him.
Methos came to stand behind her, and she half looked over her shoulder, seeing his silhouette in the firelight. "Verthandi," she said softly. "Does that mean something to you?" She turned back to the mirror, seeing the carefully controlled expression on his face, his eyes shuttered. "Just tell me, Methos."
"Why do you ask? You didn't mention it in the debriefing." He was stalling.
She snorted. "As if you told Nicholas everything that happened!" She turned to face him. "Your secrets have secrets, my love."
He flashed her a crooked smile. "Guilty."
She brushed his cheek with her fingers. "Verthandi," she pressed.
His jaw clenched just a little, and he let out a breath. "It's a variation of Verdandi, one of the three Norns. They're the Norse goddes—"
"I know what they are." She closed her eyes. "What else?"
Methos wrapped his arms against his bare chest, dropping his head, staring at the wood plank floor. "Verdandi is the goddess of destiny."
"We have destiny within our reach," she whispered, remembering Loki's words. "The child."
Methos' head shot up. "Child?"
Taking a shuddering breath, she opened her eyes, bright with unshed tears. "My child; mine and Loki's. He showed her to me, said she was the hope of the Nine Realms, a vessel of great power once she was grown."
"And her name was Verthandi," he said.
Nodding mutely, she turned away, walking to the French doors and pulling them open, Methos following. For a moment neither spoke, looking up into the clear New Mexico night and seeing nothing but stars. She swallowed, the realization hitting her that they may very well have been where those stars were.
"Time is not a straight line."
"Something he said to me, when I told him I would never do his bidding. He said I had, I would, and did I think time a straight line. I wonder what Eric would say to that?"
"Charlotte, what exactly is it you're saying?"
"I don't know! I don’t know, Methos; what I'm thinking, feeling, none of it!"
"Whatever he may have said to you, tried to make you believe…his is a twisted reality, love."
"I know that! He's the god of lies, isn't he? And that's what it was, a lie, a manipulation, a way to try and control me." It sounded as if she were trying to convince herself.
"Do you want it to be a lie, Charlotte?" he asked quietly, stroking her hair.
"Yes! Of course…I love you, Methos. You know that."
Methos drew her into his arms, holding her tight. "I know you do. But that doesn't mean your love for me is any less, desiring that which we've always been told is an impossibility for Immortals, a child of your own."
Charlotte walked the quiet rooms of her home, touching the walls, caressing treasured mementos, remembering the past. It had been a week since the day she'd remembered what had happened at Loki's hands, and she was still unsettled.
She paused at the hearth in the parlour, reaching out, laying her hand on the sleek smooth wood of the mantel, fingers running along a tracery of ivy and roses, carved by her husband, Chris, a century and a half ago. A tangible reminder of the man she'd loved, taken from her far too soon.
A knock at the front door pulled her from the past, and she wondered who it might be as she walked into the foyer, pulling open the large oak door. "Agent Coulson," she said in surprise. She noted that he was dressed more casually than she'd ever seen him, with no suit jacket, his white shirt open at the collar and no tie.
"Ma'am," he said with a slight smile.
She held the door open, inviting him in. "I take it this isn't an official visit?" she asked, a hand sweeping up, indicating his attire.
"Strictly personal," he told her as they walked down the hall towards the kitchen.
"Have you had dinner?" she asked, motioning him to take a seat at the large table.
"I have, thanks."
"A glass of wine then?" She picked up the already open bottle from the sideboard at his nod, snagging two glasses with her other hand and bringing them over to the table, sitting across from him. "So what brings you to my door, Agent…Phil?" she amended. He had said it was a personal call.
"Thank you," he said, taking the glass she offered. "Tasha asked me to check in on you, since she's…working. Your first day alone here, after what happened, wanted to make sure you were okay."
Methos had finally gone back to work at the SHIELD complex, and Charlotte had made Ezra go back to his life after sitting at her bedside and then hovering over her here at the house after her recovery. She'd needed a few days alone before going to Manhattan to tell Tony what had happened; it wasn't something for a phone call. SHIELD hadn't informed him, of course, but Charlotte wasn't going to keep secrets from her best friend anymore. Tony would bring a whole new meaning to 'hovering' once he found out.
She raised an eyebrow, not expecting him to be so forthrightly honest. Tasha had a soft side very few witnessed, and she and Charlotte had become good friends after the agent had finished her assignment at Stark Industries. Still, she didn't like being fussed over, however well intentioned. Several responses occurred to her, but she settled for, "That's very considerate."
He flashed a genuine smile, having a good idea of the things she didn't say. "I like this better than the 2008," he said, jutting his chin toward the bottle on the table.
Returning the smile, she said, "I do too. If I'd realized you were a fan of my wine, I would have invited you to the winery long ago."
"I'd like that, so would Anne."
"Anne? Oh, that's right, the cellist." She smiled at the look of consternation on his face. "You're not the only one with sources, you know! It's a date then, when I'm back in California."
"Do you think that'll be soon?"
Shrugging, she replied, "I'm planning on spending some time there next week. Matthew has his work here, and I probably won't see him for days on end anyways. I won't be missed." The last was said lightly.
But Coulson now looked very serious. "I don't think that's true, Charlotte. I don't think you can just walk away from what happened."
She narrowed her eyes. Presumptuous He held her gaze, not concerned he'd overstepped. "And why is that, Phil?" Her tone was coolly polite.
"What happened, with Loki, it's only the first act. I know that, and so do you. His next move, I don't know what it'll be, but I do know it's going to involve you. He's gone to too much trouble, with you, and Doctor Adamson, to think this is over."
"I can see why Director Fury keeps you close. You certainly have no trouble speaking your mind, do you?" Leaning back in her chair, she considered the SHIELD agent. "What I may think, or not think, really isn't your concern," she countered.
"This doesn't surprise me," she said wryly. Then she laughed, which seemed to startle him. "You remind me a great deal of my late husband, Chris Larabee," she explained. "He was—opinionated. And he never let an opportunity to share those opinions pass him by." She and Chris had butted heads more than once over what she perceived as his high-handedness. "Do please continue." She waved a hand at him.
"You have a unique perspective. What's coming, we're going to need that."
"You know I walked away from that life sixty years ago. I don't want to go back." She'd had this conversation with Nicholas more times than she cared to count. It seemed that Agent Coulson had taken up the cause.
"But you are back. Not officially, but in every way that matters. You started the journey the moment Stark was taken in Afghanistan. And everything that's happened since then, you've taken one step after another, back to this life. Your friends, those you love, you aren't going to let them fight alone when the storm comes."
Damn him! She wanted to object, listing all the reasons he was wrong, but she couldn't, because he wasn't. The Avengers Initiative – while it might be officially shelved, it wasn't in Nick's heart. She knew what the project meant to him. Then there was Tony – Iron Man would be involved, there was no doubt in her heart. Where her best friend was, so would she be; he would not be going into battle alone. And new friends, like Tasha and Clint. She hadn't known them long, but she thought of them as hers, a part of her extended family, remembering the recent barbeques, Clint and Methos arguing over who was the better griller, Tasha and her drinking sangria and rolling their eyes at their good-natured battle.
Sighing, she poured them both more wine. "I won't say you're wrong, but that's all I will say for now. You're going to have to accept that."
He studied her for a moment. "Agreed."
"Well then," she said with a sharp nod. "That's settled. Now, how about some dessert? I baked an apple pie today."
Charlotte hadn't been sleeping well, so instead of tossing and turning in bed, she'd decided to sit in her rocker by the fire, hoping the familiar motion would calm her. Closing her eyes, she felt the warmth of the fire on her face, the crackle of the flames almost a lullaby, as she drifted to sleep.
This wasn't a dream, she knew that with unshakable certainty, looking out at an alien vista of star clusters and nebulas, glowing in the velvet black of space. All around her were, she supposed she'd call them, asteroids, one of which she was standing upon. It was as if she were hanging in space, like some sort of celestial Christmas ornament. Stairs had been carved from the rock above her, twisting up into the dark. And where was Loki? She knew he had to here, somewhere.
At her thought, he appeared at the top of the stairs, scepter in his hands, the blue glow of the orb casting his face in shadows and harsh angles. She watched silently as he came down the stairs to her. Clenching her fists, she held her ground as he stopped in front of her.
"My Queen!" he said mockingly. "How long it has been since last we were together. Have you missed me?"
She ignored his question. "Why, Loki? Why such an elaborate game? For what?" she demanded.
"Destiny, little Immortal – mine, yours, the galaxy's!" He waved an arm grandly. "And very soon, you will stand by my side on Midgard; I await only the knock upon the door."
"I would never willingly be at your side, Loki! You are truly mad if you think that!"
He loomed over her, eyes glittering dangerously. "I never said anything about willing. You will serve me, Immortal, so shall you all."
"Never." She looked up at him, defiant.
The fingers that brushed her cheek were cold, but the smile on his lips was colder still. Turning a hand with a flourish, like a magician, a globe of glass appeared in his palm. "Never is a very long time, Charlotte. I can send you back here—" he nodded at the globe "—my prisoner, forever, unless you yield, swearing fealty to me as your king. Do not forget that."
The menace in his voice made her shiver despite herself. She looked at the glass in his hand, seeing inside of it a forest, snow falling. Then realization struck her; she'd seen this before, there had been a snow globe in her hospital room, in amongst the flowers and stuffed animals.
"Ah, I see you remember. So many happy memories of the time we spent there together." Another twist of his hand, and it was gone. "An effective prison, you will find, but not, I think, without its charms."
"Do what you will, Loki. I shall never yield to you." Her voice was quiet, certain. He would not intimidate her, god or no.
His reaction this time was not anger, but laughter. "I look forward to proving you wrong." He laid the palm of his hand against her temple. "Till we meet again," he said at her ear.
She jerked from sleep with a gasp of pain. Till we meet again. The words echoed around her.
"There it is, Doc, the Tesseract," Clint Barton said to the man standing next to him on the catwalk overlooking Eric Selvig's laboratory, deep underneath the Dark Matter facility.
Methos nodded, looking down at the glowing cube, feeling uneasy.
Barton nudged him with an elbow. "Want a closer look? Boss cleared it. Thinks you're right, that this is somehow related to your research. If you can connect the dots, it would move Phase Two along a lot faster."
"Yeah, sure," Methos answered absently, following Barton down the long flight of stairs to the lab.
"Matthew!" Eric Selvig greeted Methos jovially. "I hear you've come to visit my girl." He looked towards where the Tesseract was housed, beaming fondly at the alien power source.
"Loki spoke of it, leading me to believe there may be a connection to my research, yes." Methos couldn't shake off the sense of unease. The closer he got to the Tesseract, the more the feeling intensified.
"Come on then, I'll introduce you."
Methos and Barton shared a look and a shrug as Selvig led them towards the artifact. Obviously, the man was attached.
They stopped in front of it, Selvig explaining something, but Methos didn't hear him. What he did hear were whispers. No that wasn't it. Then it came to him; the sound of the aurora borealis. That's what it reminded him of. He wanted to ask if they heard it too, but he didn't. Finally, he caught up with that Eric was saying.
"She has a lot to show us still. It will change the world as we know it!"
"I believe it," he replied quietly. He stepped a little closer, looking into its depths, mesmerized. A warmth, a feeling of…affection, brushed at him. It was if the Tesseract were alive, greeting him. It felt familiar, comforting; the opposite of a Quickening, yet not. He was losing his mind. That was it. He forced himself to turn away. "Thank you, Eric, for letting me down here."
"Any time." Eric smiled, slapping Methos on the shoulder.
"We should go, I know you're busy." It reached for him, as he walked away, wanting him to stay, a loneliness pulling at him, almost making him turn around. He fought back the urge with everything he had. What the hell was that thing? And was he going to report what he'd felt? No, he needed time, time to decide. Time to sort out what had just happened.
Loki smiled. The knock on the door had come just as he'd planned. The time had finally arrived, and now, he could open that door. And once he stepped through…then, the Earth would be his.
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