Warnings: bad grammar and multiple mistakes
Disclaimer: most of the characters are not mine, but all the mistakes are.
“What is the meaning of all this?”
“Please, follow me, it is for your own safety,” Coulson's calm voice soothed Thor's unease as the group pushed its way through the narrow corridors up to the captain's bridge.
As soon as the door opened, the chain of humans and Aesir dispersed in the room. Jay rushed to the console and forcefully dismissed another seaman out of the communications chair, immediately occupying it himself; First Officer took his post near the navigation charts with binoculars in his hand, and Captain Iceman...stopped dead and turned on his heels to face Coulson and the Asgardians.
“Sir?” Agent's lack of emotion only fueled the fire of Captain's indignation.
“Meteorites hitting a moving target in the open waters miles from the coast with two aliens on board? Coincidence? Bullshit! I call it a planned demonstration of power by your dearest friends over here!”
“How dare you accuse us of such treachery?!” Thor's voice boomed over the chaos like a burst of thunder, reverberating from the metal surfaces and echoing through the hallway.
“Why shouldn't I? You've been treating us like shit since you first stepped on our soil; I bet you won't give it a second thought to rub our faces in your superiority again, no matter the consequences!”
“I will not have you speaking to me in such manner, you petty human!” Loki managed to wrap his arm around Thor's chest just in time to stall the Thunderer from launching at the captain.
“Quiet!” Coulson's commanding voice stopped all movement on the bridge, freezing humans and Aesir alike in their respective places, some in mid-movement.
Loki had wondered for a while how the agent Coulson would look and sound when he finally lost his patience- and yet he had to wonder a little longer, since the agent was as calm as ever, just slightly louder.
“Gentlemen, please. I know in a moment like present emotions could run high, but I urge you to stay calm.”
“You are asking me to ignore the insults?”
“I'm asking you to prioritize and not let personal issues get in the way for our common goal.”
Thor growled in frustration, cheeks burning with anger, but took a step back, pinned to his place by Coulson's light eyes, fury slowly leaving him as his mighty shoulders relaxed.
Loki instantly felt a flash of jealousy and righteous indignation.
How could it be possible for a mere mortal, a human who wasn't even aware of Asgard's existence a week before, to be able to tame Thor's temper so easily, a skill that Loki exercised for hundreds of years and yet had not perfected enough?
“Captain, “- it was Iceman's turn to be soothed, “I promise I will debrief you on the matter, but only when we are out of the danger zone. All I can say right now is that our guests here have nothing to do with this unfortunate turn of events.”
“And you seriously want me to believe you?”
Iceman's temper took a bit longer to pacify, but even he submitted to the overwhelming power of son of Coul.
The Captain shot a control killer look at Thor and refocused his attention.
“Cleary, set course to shore, let’s put some distance between us and the rocks.”
“It won’t help.”
Iceman and all the rest turned back to staring at Coulson. The agent didn’t even blink, but Loki’s sharp eyes caught a miniscule twitch of the man’s fingers- the only indication he was rather uncomfortable in the spot light.
“The hit will impact whole eastern seaboard. We won’t outrun it, sir, no matter how fast we go.”
“Well, shit.” Crude choice of words by Jay accurately reflected the mood on the bridge.
Loki watched with fascination as the storm in human captain’s eyes drained into non-existence, leaving space for calmness and determination.
The Aesir admired Iceman for that rare ability to control his temper by the power of will.
That’s what a true leader should be like – unnerved and resolved in the face of danger.
Loki felt anger sipping through his veins like light venom, angry at himself for being jealous of a mere human, but it was well deserved- Loki knew both him and Thor were not in full control of their emotions which often sabotaged their missions.
A foul realization, but yet- he had indeed a lot to learn from Midgardians.
Although Jay turned his head away from the console to address Iceman, his dexterous fingers never stopped flying, switching the comm links and channels.
He had put on the headphones and stuck the scarf Loki gave him earlier between the plastic and his cheek, but the silk kept slipping away, baring the burned skin and making him wince every time headphones met the wound. All until the Chief Officer lost his patience and tied it up around Jay's face, finishing the composition with a neat bow on top, as if the injured man was a gift wrapped for a party and ready to go.
Jay didn't mind.
“We've got a black eye for sure, several surface fires, but they will be put out pretty soon, so... nothing serious. Except for the killed bird, of course.”
“Alive, Santa Ana fished him out two minutes ago.”
“Tell them to seize fire. I need everything prepped and loaded when we hit the hot spot.”
“Javi says he can maintain low intensity cover…”
“I said abort that, they are wasting ammunition on low-priority targets, and I don't want to go into that naked.”
“They have triple load of ammo on board.”
“Excuse me?” Captain forgot his binoculars for a moment and stared at Jay. The smaller man shrugged and smiled smugly,
“Javi always comes prepared.”
Judging by the intensity of Iceman’s pursed lips, triple load of ammunition on board of the vessel was both a breach of a protocol of conduct and common sense, but due to emergency situation the Captain let it slip for the time being.
For some reason Loki was assured that when the company gets back ashore, Iceman will have a long and serious conversation with Jay and Javi. The one that likely involves a lot of slapping.
Jay took a moment to listen to the voice in his headphones, frown deepening with each passing second.
“Sir, they were hit pretty badly, there is fire in the engine room and they run on 30% power capacity…” Jay put the palm over the microphone and shot Iceman a worried look, “Sir, Monterey’s cooling system sucks a bag of dicks, if they don’t put fire out in the next 25 minutes, it will collapse. We are facing a full scale engine explosion here.”
“Rescue team deployed?”
“They don’t have enough man power.”
“Coulson, how much time do we have until the red zone?”
“30 minutes, sir.”
Iceman turned to the Chief Officer,
“Send a team to help with repairs.”
“I need their engine intact. If they can’t out fire the hit, they should at least be able to outmaneuver it. Team is in, fix, and out.”
“Permission to join the rescue mission, Captain Iceman?”
Steve’s resolute inquiry sounded from Loki’s behind, sending sudden shiver through Aesir’s bones, filling his gut with a gloom sense of foreboding.
It was queer.
The prince had never relied on intuition since he was certain it was not a true manifestation of foresight, but rather a reflection of one’s fears. One could only get a glimpse in the future through careful planning and tedious preparation, and even then, with all the spells and potions at hand it promised nothing more but one of the hundreds of possibilities.
Intuition, premonition, and the rest of the “foresight gifts” many boasted to possess had been either carefully calculated conclusions, or suppressed emotions coming to the surface.
It was a wrong time to indulge in self-reflection, but Loki could not help himself.
What could it be that frightened him so much in the prospect of Steve leaving his sight?
Fear to lose his only true friend to the force of nature?
No mind to the wishes, a human cannot become a friend of the Aesir, at least not that fast. He is honorable and humble, qualities anyone would cherish, but what more than that.
Perhaps, the fact that Steve will be protecting somebody other than you?
Loki’s heart skipped a bit.
The thought was so outrageously preposterous, that it might as well have been the truth.
And it hurt.
What a pathetic creature you are, to hunger for attention so much that you would value a mortal as an equal?
No. No, it is not that, Loki kept repeating to himself. No.
Humans are weak. This one, well, he is stronger than other men are, but weak nonetheless. His untimely demise would simply leave Loki without a bearable companion.
A minor inconvenience, but unwanted.
Loki had always resolved to the solitude. By necessity mostly- his interests were uncommon and methods…unconventional, other Aesir either despised them or simply got scared away. Even closest of all- Thor’s dearest friends- would rather have Loki locked up in the tallest tower, crushed under the piles of ancient books, then to have him accompany them in the adventures.
The prince got well used to that attitude and over the years resigned himself to the obvious answer.
Loneliness was essential, but never truly desired.
A horde of worshipping Midgardians is pleasant, but attracts too much attention.
For what I have planned, I need discretion, and a smart servant at my side would suit that much better than a crowd of cheering fans.
Definitely not jealousy.
Loki turned to Steve, reassured in his reasoning, only to hiss out a breath as another wave of fear washed over him.
Whatever that feeling was, Coulson’s horrified face just fueled it up.
“I advise you against this course of action, Captain Rogers.”
“I’ve asked you to call me Steve. And please, don’t object.”
“Should I remind you of your…”
“No, you shouldn’t. Those men need assistance, and you know I can help them. It will not be long, I promise. Just as Captain said, in, fix, and out.”
“Rogers,” Iceman decided to intervene, “You have 15 minutes.”
Steve smiled as Coulson sent a glare of doom at the Captain for backing him up. Iceman shrugged in return, teasingly more then apologetically, and Loki huffed at Midgardian taste and talent to converse through body language.
Then a heavy palm came resting on his shoulder.
Steve did not say anything, just curtly nodded to his friend, and exited the compartment.
As the heavy door closed behind him, Loki barely suppressed an urge to rush after the human and drag him back inside.
The storm was coming.
Steve could feel it in the air ringing with electricity, in the sea trembling in feigned calmness, in the darkness that enveloped the world from horizon to horizon.
The blackness of heavy clouds afar shone with sparks of lightning, rare at first, but becoming more and more often with each passing minute. It was not lightning though, he realized, it was a hail of stones rushing down the atmosphere, burning away and meeting their end on the surface.
The sight was magnificent and terrifying.
Steve involuntarily remembered an old preacher who used to come to the orphanage each Sunday and scare the children with fervent prophecies of doom.
The kids would later gather in the corners of the mass hall and cry quietly, fearing the wrath of the Lord and cuddling together to fight off the shiver. And Steve would go to them and tell them that the Lord is merciful and will not call upon an end of days when there is still so much goodness around.
Steve threw one last glance on the carrier.
In the past two days, he learned as much as he would have learned in a lifetime. The planet has moved on without him, and old Steve did not like the change, he craved the past, the world he knew- but it was forever gone, buried in the ice of the time.
A distant roar of thunder made his heart beat a bit faster, adrenalin rushing to add to the excitement. For the first time since he woke up, Steve felt truly alive.
He was lost, yes, still out of place, but the new world around him was so interesting, so full of wonders, so limitless…
The grief held tight in his heart, but its’ deadly grip was weakened by hope and a spark of curiosity.
Captain Rogers smiled reassuringly at the men on the boat, and nodded to himself as a strong gust of wind splashed salty water on his face.
The God is merciful; he will not end the humanity when it still has so much potential.
The Judgment day will come, by the power of divine or by hands of people themselves- but it will not be today.
The situation on US Monterey turned out to be a disaster. Or, more accurately put- chaos.
When the armada was hit, both the Captain and the First officer had been incapacitated and rendered unfit for duty, so the chain of command followed to the third in charge, who…well, who clearly had no idea what to do.
Steve fumed with irritation as the crew escorted him through the ship- he knew that particular type of people- his fellow soldiers liked to call them “office rats” - untalented bureaucrats swollen with the sense of self-importance but capable of doing nothing but crumbling if placed in a real life situation. The worst part was that their incompetence put their subordinates’ lives in perpetual danger.
Steve’s resentment, however, evaporated at once as he finally came face to face with the acting captain - a boy not older then 19, 20 at most, with despair bordering panic written all over his young pimpled face. As the boy’s eyes, full of hope and courage found suddenly at the sight of someone who could help, met Steve’s, Rogers hated himself for the prior moment of false judgment.
“How can we be of assistance?”
Two minutes later Rogers assumed the commanding position for the time being and went on to relocating maintenance crews to the places of highest priority, bringing as much order in the disarray as he could.
As the downpour began, battering the ship outside, he called off the firefighter squads from the upper decks and ordered them to refocus on problems below, moving out with his original crew to the source of all problems- the machine room.
“Don’t you dare to stop me again!”
“We are here to create an alliance, not to wage war.”
Loki was glad he managed to maneuver his brother out of the bridge room into the corridor, away from the crowd.
The shouting match with Thor was going to be difficult and very loud, and things they were about to say to each other were not intended for human ears.
“Why are you so eager to aid the humans, Loki? They ought to be taught obedience!”
Loki rolled his eyes,
“By the Odin’s beard, Thor, can’t you see how much they’ve developed? They are no longer uneducated peasants we thought them to be. The Earth became a power to be reckoned with.”
“You’ve lost your mind! Now you are telling me they are equal to us, their gods?”
“Don’t twist my words, you know they aren’t. But that doesn’t make them our enemies, Thor, or our servants.”
Thor growled and grabbed Loki by the collar of his jacket, shaking him in the attack of rage, nostrils flaring, and eyes squinting with suspicion.
“What are you saying?”
Loki twisted out of Thor’s grip and pushed him back, broadening the space between them.
As much as he was used to sibling quarrels, he always liked to have a reasonable distance from his brother. He was not afraid of Thor, no- but the older prince’s spitting image right in front of his face was always a bit unnerving. And unsanitary.
“I’m saying that we can forge a closer bond with them. Political alliance is only strong while it benefits both parties, but if we are their friends…”
Thor’s laughter rumbled through the hallway.
“Friends? I don’t need friendship of this kin, I just need their obedience!”
“And you plan to achieve it through force?”
Thor glared at Loki, eyes burning with anger.
“I shall do as I please.”
Loki shrugged indifferently, “As you wish. But beware- I will not step in to clean up another one of your messes.”
Thor’s frown laid deep wrinkles on the strong forehead.
“Another one? And when exactly have you aided me before, I can’t recall?”
Loki grinded his teeth in irritation,
“Should I concoct a spell to sharpen your memory, perhaps?”
The answer was a disdainful roar,
“I need none of your pitiful magic, I’m not that weak!”
Loki burned from the inside, the smothering heat of the fury and pain melted him from within.
“Is that what you truly think of me, brother? That I’m a miserable weakling?”
Thor’s eyes were locked on Loki, but his lips were pressed tight and unmoving. That just angered Loki more,
Thor looked away,
“We are done here.”
“We will be when I say so! Do you really think I am weak?!”
“Oh, but you are!” Thor’s self-restrain was never his strongest talent, “Any of our friends, even Sif, can beat you in the sparring, as they always had!”
“Had a thought ever crossed your mind that I might have been restraining myself?”
Thor laughed again, genuinely amused.
“Don’t take me for a fool. You won’t last a day without my help!”
Loki half-laughed half-hissed in return, battling away the tears,
“Oh, I think I’ll do just fine!”
“Is that so?”
“Do you wish to find out?”
“Is that a challenge?”
“Do you want it to be?”
Thor’s jaw moved relentlessly as the prince was making his decision.
“Fine then. Rely on your tricks. We shall see how long you will last until you crawl back wailing for my help.”
“So be it. I shall not seek your help, and you won’t have mine.”
Thor threw the last angry glance at his little brother and stormed out of the hallway and back into the command room.
Loki took a moment to follow Thor with his eyes, sly smirk curving up corners of his lips almost unnoticeably.
My beloved brother, always so eager to fall into my trap.
Thor has always been blind, Loki thought to himself.
He surely didn’t notice how weak the All- father was when they left, how fatigue crawled and settled under his skin, how his hands trembled slightly when he was speaking. He had put off the Odin sleep for far too long and it is taking its tall…
The Father wants to proclaim Thor as his rightful heir and new King of Asgard, but…Thor isn’t ready. Not yet. He will rush into war the day the crown is placed upon his head, dragging all the nine realms after him.
No. Father has always turned his blind eye on your faults, his fierce love for you has always clouded his judgment, but…I cannot do the same. I cannot risk having you as a king of Asgard, for my own sake and for all the worlds of Yggdrasil. You are the one who needs a lesson in humility; you are not yet fit to be a king. You are selfish, and arrogant, and…cruel, even to the ones closest to you.
Thor’s words echoed in Loki’s mind. He always knew the truth even if he chose not to believe it, but now…Now the truth fell from his brother’s lips and cut into his heart like a knife, and the heart started bleeding.
Loki bit his lip and inhaled, slowly, deeply, trying to calm down, but it didn’t work.
The pain from Thor’s words was blinding, excruciating, making every nerve scream.
Loki closed his eyes and concentrated, calling upon meditation techniques, but they failed him too.
And then his pain turned into anger.
Father intended this mission to be your final exam, brother, the one I will make sure you fail.
Loki’s trail of thoughts ended abruptly as the door to the bridge swung open and Jay’s bow decorated head popped out,
“Come on in, sugar pants, the show is getting started!”
And I might as well enjoy the process.
The smirk on Loki’s lips turned into a full-blown smile as he followed Jay inside and closed the door behind him.