Warnings: bad grammar and multiple mistakes
Disclaimer: most of the characters are not mine, but all the mistakes are.
Coulson slithered through the long corridors towards the main hall, looking for surveillance spots and civilians in distress. The ground floor was deserted in a rush, lights flickering and papers flying in the wind like confetti after a parade.
Police outside won’t be much of a help at least until the robbers declare their demands. Ask for backup? Possible. But the closest on call is Stark, and he is anything but subtle. High risk of collateral damage is unwanted. I should proceed with caution and gather additional Intel.
Suspicious noise from the janitor’s closet pulled Coulson out of his calculations. The agent drew out his gun and approached cautiously, keeping the shelf door at the point, only to jump back when the lock cracked and the door swung open. That’s when the janitor came out of hiding and launched a desperate attack with a battle cry.
The agent’s hand darted out to stop the loud shout while the other blocked the mop in janitor’s grip from reaching its target. The struggle was short, poor man immediately subdued, shivering in horror, and Coulson motioned him to keep silent, petting his shoulder in attempt to offer comfort. Their little commotion, however fleeting it was, had unfortunately alerted the gunmen.
Coulson had to act fast. He grabbed the trembling mass of the cleanliness devotee and dragged him back into the closet, pushing the breath out of them both while squeezing the door shut.
The echo of steps grew louder as the gunman walked to the doorway. He was armed to his teeth and then some, with two handguns, automatic rifle, stripes of ammo and at least two knives sticking out of his boots, and judging by the lazy stride sported at least 5 to 7 years of service in the military or, more likely, in a pack of mercenaries and assassins and thugs somewhere in the Earth’s smelliest armpit.
One second was all it took Coulson to conclude that he was completely and hopelessly outgunned. At this point all further course of action depended solely on the gunmen’s intentions, which Coulson had yet to get himself acquainted with. As all the employees had already been herded out to the main hall, the agent needed a plausible explanation for even being in the building. Luckily for him, his hiding companion just had given him an idea.
As soon as the footsteps subdued, Coulson sprung from the shelter and motioned the janitor to undress. The man gave Coulson a weird look but complied. He was getting a new, custom made and tailored suit in exchange for a worn dirty uniform, so that was a fair trade after all.
Coulson smoothed the clothes on himself, feeling the fabric, its weight and tug and movement constrains it brought, and reached out for the name tag when the man withdrew it and shook his head. The picture ID with someone older and darker and smiling brightly didn’t look like Coulson at all. The agent nodded in agreement and guided the man into the corridor, explaining the escape plan.
When the man was gone for good, the agent pulled himself up to the ventilation shaft and pushed in.
And he certainly did not think he had one too many donuts when his rear stuck in the opening for a split of a second.
“Bring him to me.”
Two armed men grabbed Coulson by his arms and dragged him across the lobby, through the line of terrified hostages’ face-sweeping the marble floor.
Coulson was forced on his knees before a tall man with a small laptop in his hands. The man’s fingers flew over the keyboard for a brief moment before he shut it closed and turned to face the agent. So this is the alpha.
“Now, what do we have here?”
The man’s eyes scanned Coulson from head to toe and fixed on the agent’s face, unblinking.
“Janitor? With perfect hair, shiny designer boots and a Swiss watch?”
Coulson shrugged, “I’m that good.”
The leader glared at him for a second, then leaned forward close enough for their noses to be almost touching.
“Don’t think me a fool. I don’t know who you are, but if you try to do something stupid, I will shoot a hostage. And then you. Just to set an example. Understood?”
Coulson remained inscrutable and sharply nodded, “Yes.”
“Keep an eye on him. I don’t need any hiccups.” The leader waved Coulson away and returned to his computer.
The agent’s ribs squeaked when he collided with the floor alongside with other hostages, but Coulson just breathed out and kept his cool as the assailants spread out throughout the hall.
The situation unfolding before Coulson’s eyes made his nerves tingle. While being simply outnumbered fourteen to one were the odds he could live with, one small detail about the gunmen screamed that something much worse than a heist was about to go down: with all their preparation and professionalism, they were not wearing any masks.
“Me, why does it always have to be me?! I didn’t even sin that much! “
The man lying next to the agent was rather lavish in his expressions. His bold head shone with small drops of sweat as he stared at the leader of the criminals. While other hostages shivered with fear and fatigue from keeping their arms over their heads, that man looked downright murderous.
“Invest your retirement with us, the safest bank in US. Safest bank my ass.”
The guy grunted and reached down to scratch his unshaved chin only to stop in mid-movement. His eyes were now fixed on the back of one of the gunman standing a mere foot from him. Or, rather, on a spot slightly lower- where a gun was tucked into the pants, and left unguarded. The man tensed and pulled himself up, ready to lash out, but Coulson’s firm grip on his leg stopped him.
The agent met the death glare with calmness and simply shook his head.
The man mouthed, “Let go of me.” Coulson obeyed, but the moment was lost: the gunman moved to another location way out of reach.
The guy turned back to Coulson, lips pursed into a thin line.
The agent sighed, “I understand your frustration and resentment, but now is not a good time for heroics.”
“Touch me again, and I will kick you in the face.”
“And it will help with the situation?”
“No, but I’ll enjoy it.”
“Before you attack one of them, think of the consequences for all of us.”
The death promising glare turned patronizing, “Son, I know what I am doing.”
The agent was slowly losing his patience. “If you start a brawl many people will die.”
“And if I don’t, we all die. So we are fucked anyway.”
“And what makes you think that?”
The man tsked, “They are not wearing any masks, so they are either termlessly stupid, too full of themselves or they just know there will be no witnesses to id them. I bet on the third, cause why else would they drag a pet kamikaze along?”
Coulson shot the man a questioning look and shifted closer, widening his line of sight, only to realize to his great displeasure that the man was right. The aforementioned kamikaze was standing near the grand staircase, fidgeting and watching the people around him with unconcealed hatred. The long dirty trench coat barely covered a vest-bomb underneath.
Coulson reached for his watch and pushed the emergency button, sending a message to the operator, Inform Stark.
While the situation continued shifting from bad to worse.
The Alpha who was monitoring the process on his mini laptop suddenly sprang to his feet and sent two of his men running up the stairs. Likely something has interfered with the wire transfer (it was a wire-heist, Coulson was sure of it- those guys wouldn’t burden themselves with bags of money that is traceable when they could steal millions in much more efficient way). As two minutes passed, the boss didn’t get a response he wanted from them- he didn’t get any response at all, the radio spilling out only white noise and static, and that stripped away his calm and determination. He barked two code words and the gunmen swiftly gathered around him, guns upholstered.
That put the boss and the kamikaze on the collision course.
Coulson couldn’t decipher in detail what the two men were arguing about, but he heard the end of the heated conversation as it resonated through the arched ceiling and reflected from the walls.
“You promised me glory, and I shall have it!”
With that he grabbed a young woman from the floor, sticking a gun in her temple and shielding him from the group with her trembling body. The assailants held him at the gunpoint but the boss lifted his hand up and ordered them to stop, letting the man climb up the stairs and disappear into the second floor. And then commanded to move out.
The man near Coulson was first to improvise.
“Hey, you, pretty boy, I am getting really tired of this bullshit.”
The boss snapped his finger and one of the gunmen detached from the pack, taking out a big knife and rushed towards them.
The man looked down at Coulson and whispered, “Know how to shoot?”
The agent nodded.
“Good.” The man watched as the criminal approached him and tensed, preparing for the fight, but the killer never reached his target- he slipped on the clear surface inches from the man and hit the floor hard, the back of his head made a sickening cracking noise as it collided with the marble.
The bold man cackled in disbelief.
And then he pounced.
Loki observed with mild fascination a stream of numbers and symbols rushing through the screen as fingers of a man sitting in front of him danced over a keyboard. Loki was new to this computer thing, but those symbols were of highest importance, since the whole heist was planned so this man could perform his wrongdoings away from the main center of events, unnoticed, and unbothered.
Loki didn’t trouble himself with running through the floors to find the craftsman- he simply called on a locator spell when realized that the leader of the marauders was talking to someone outside of his pack.
The room on the fourth floor served as both guards stronghold and information centerpiece. The office was filled with surveillance equipment, weapons and computers, to one of which the culprit had attached his laptop in the very beginning.
Loki bent over the man’s shoulder, keeping himself invisible, and watched a little longer. The whole concept of interactive money was so alien to the Asgardian that he could hardly bring himself to understand how and why humans would put such a value in something you can neither see nor touch. The money was gold, silver, diamonds, horses and jewelry, books and ancient scrolls- but not numbers on the screen.
Throughout his rather long by Midgardian standards life he had come across many incomprehensible things, and this encroached to be the worst.
Loki threw a quick glance on the surveillance screen and noticed Coulson on the floor interacting quietly with another human.
Weird concept or not, it was his time to interfere.
With a tip of his foot Loki hooked a cord supplying the main computer with electricity and tore it out of the socket. The screen scintillated and went black.
The craftsman gaped as the flow of the numbers abruptly ended. He jumped to his feet and drew out a gun, pointing in all directions at once. Loki smiled and revealed himself.
“Surrender now and no harm will come to you.”
The man screamed in horror and fired. Loki brushed the bullets off and threw a spell. Magic seeped through the skin and cracked the bones, forcing the man to drop the weapon and fall to his knees, face distorted with pain.
“Do seize your wailing. I offered you a choice graciously, and you refused. The fault is all yours. Now,” Loki strolled forward a bit and leaned on the table, watching the security video with the corner of his eye. “Who is your warden? The one true master who ordered the operation? “
The man just stared at him through the veil of tears and kept his mouth shut.
“Do answer me promptly, for I shall not ask you again.”
The man unclenched his teeth with unconcealed effort and growled, “I don’t know.”
Loki arched an eyebrow and lifted his hand to cast another spell.
The man backed away and shielded himself with his good arm. “I swear, I don’t know! Please!”
Loki stopped. The man was telling the truth. Well, a minor upset nothing more- Loki would easily find the puppet master once he traces the flow of the money to its final destination. But it could wait.
The prince glanced at the security screen again. Apparently, his little intervention didn’t go unnoticed.
He stood there for a moment, watching the battle unfold and summoned his magic, assisting Coulson and his newly found comrade-in-arms as they fought their way through the Grand Hall.
Once the combat shifted out of his sight, Loki turned to the man and cast another spell. Three cords swirled over the floor and twined around the man’s limbs, keeping him tight in place.
“Do not leave anywhere. “
With that Loki left the room.
The fight went down easier than Coulson had anticipated.
The bold man turned out to be rather skillful, incapacitating two of the gunman in a hand-to-hand combat and energetically beating down the third one with a trash can. The agent even considered offering him a position in SHIELD when the man knocked out another gunman with a precise throw of a calculator.
And then the criminals had enough and decided to shoot them.
Coulson ditched the first round and threw himself behind the counter, looking around as the bullets shook the wood and showered his head with splinters.
A second later came a loud thump and somebody moaned in pain. The agent rolled out of his shelter just in time to see how the bold man took down two of the criminals while sprinting from column to column and spicing the action up with a stream of obscenities.
The little distraction provided Coulson with enough time to grab a gun from one of the scuppered assailants and open a second line of fire.
The hostages obviously took it as a sign and started running towards the exit.
Coulson threw a quick glance at the bold man and the other one nodded in wordless understanding. The very next moment their little attack turned offensive as they both tried their best to keep the gunmen occupied to buy the people more time.
And the time had just run out.
The biggest man of the pack reached down into a huge black backpack and pulled out a machine gun, aiming at the group of retreating hostages with Coulson standing in the way. The agent saw with his side vision the bold man bolting towards him in a daring attempt to clear him out of the harm’s way, but it was too late.
The agent heard the round and took the time remaining until the impact to calculate the outcome of the heist. All of the hostages had left the hall and he was to be the only casualty up to the date, which was good. There was of course the last hostage- a woman that the kamikaze had dragged away, but Coulson was certain that if not his new friend, then Stark will take care of her.
The agent waited for pain, a sound of metal hitting flesh, for anything- but nothing happened. He thought it was something he saw in the movies- a brain going into a sort of slow motion before death, as he watched a swarm of bullets whirligiging in front of his face. But while the bullets froze in their mid-motion near his eyes, the rest of the world seemed to move at its normal speed. Coulson watched the bold man stop in shock and a second later pull the gun up and put a bullet right through the gunman’s head.
“Well fuck you.” The bold man took a double take at the body and then shot the dead man again, for certainty. “Twice.”
Coulson turned back and frowned- the bullets were still swirling, slower and slower still, heating up the air around them. He tried to rationalize the situation somehow but it proved to be rather difficult. And then, the moment he finally gave up and blinked, the bullets fell to the ground sending a ringing echo through the hall.
Coulson tilted his head and looked at the handful of metal lying motionless at his feet. The pattern resembled some sort of a letter. Or a tree. Or a simplified image of a man holding up his arms. Or a rune.
The bold man’s sternum colliding with Coulson’s side brought the agent out of the stupor. Coulson opened his mouth to ask him why when the windows exploded, bursting into the hall in a rain of glass smithereens.
The SWAT team signaled the assault.
While the gunmen numbers went spiraling down with the help of SWAT boys, both Coulson and his new friend hurried through the hall towards the spot where the Alpha was hiding. They were a bit late- the leader grabbed his laptop and ran away from the shout out towards the fire staircase.
The bold man didn’t hesitate, “I’ll get that son of a bitch, and you go get the girl.”
Coulson nodded and charged up the grand staircase, hearing shots and swears in the distance as the bold man chased the leader of the pack. A sudden girl’s shriek sent Coulson flying over the stairs when he suddenly collided with something.
Right in front of him, floating silently in mid-air, was a pair of the gunmen who went missing earlier. They were suspended with invisible straps above the floor, arms and feet widely outstretched and seemingly frozen, as no sound was leaving their mouths. Coulson navigated around them and looked at their motionless faces, when one man’s eyes twitched and stared at the agent.
The hair on his neck stood up. That was too weird even for his level of clearance.
“Don’t move! Stay where you are!”
Well, you’ve just made it much easier for me.
The agent watched the kamikaze drag the poor girl across the hallway, pointing his gun at Coulson.
“Look at it, look!” He pointed the gun to the two poor bastards and spit out a curse, “This is a work of a demon! The judgment day is here! We angried the god, he abandoned us to slaughter and defilement!”
“Well, I wouldn’t put it that way…Why don’t we all get together and discuss it in a less stressful environment?”
The man twitched and took a step back, “You are a demon, and you listen to the devil’s whispers! I can see through your mask! Don’t come closer, you hell spawn!” The girl shivered in his grasp and whispered inaudibly, “Help…”
Coulson aimed but had to jump to the right when the man opened fire. It had cost him precious seconds and gave the kamikaze time to drag the girl through the metal gates towards the bank vault. Coulson put all his effort into running but was too late- the gates closed in front of him with a loud slang. He pounded at the bars in powerless fury while the man on the other side smiled triumphally.
But what the kamikaze didn’t know was that when he locked Coulson out, he had locked Loki in.
Loki blinked at the sudden sound and sped up his steps.
He got a glimpse of Coulson behind the heavy metal door before the man locked it shut. Loki could tear the door off the hooks if he wished so and then do same with the man’s spine, if not one little problem:
A terrified girl in the man’s hands with a gun to her head.
“See, all those people there?” The man pushed her closer to the window, forcing to look at the street.
The sun was pouring its light onto the city, casting shadows on the bank office’s walls: two short ones and one long and dark, following slightly behind.
Loki watched the man carefully. The human was not sick for gold or power, rather he craved something of more inner nature, something that ate away his heart and poisoned his mind. Thor, for all the quick temper and loud threats, was merciful even to those who wronged him. He would have spared the man and even, out of the softness of his oaf mind, give the man a chance for redemption. But as Loki looked into the man’s eyes he saw chaos and madness and he knew that there was only one cure for that.
“Sick and tired and rushing around like rats in the sewage, eating each other away for worthless trinkets. All in the end die and rot and become food for worms.”
The girl wiggled in the man’s grip, gasping for air. “Please, let me go.”
The grip tightened, “Let go for what? This world is doomed! It’s ruled by lust and greed and false prophets! Do you really want to live in it?”
Girl wheezed, digging her fingers into the captor’s arm, “I just want to live! Please…”
The man growled, “Live? For what? So you can spread your legs and birth another filthy pig to disgrace our god? Don’t you see, he abandoned us because of those like you?”
The man slapped the girl hard across the face and she fell to the floor, whimpering.
“Do mind your manners!”
Sudden movement of air stopped the man’s hand from hitting her again as he turned, “Who’s there?”
The Prince came out of the shadows.
“My apologies, I meant no disrespect.” He held his hands up, trying to look scared and powerless. His attire mirrored that of the bank servants: black pants, white shirt and a tie.
“Where did you come from?” The man pointed his gun at Loki and took one step away from the girl. Loki suppressed a smile.
“Who the hell are you?”
Loki dramatically shivered and cringed under the man’s penetrating gaze.
“Please, I am just a …” The Aesir paused for a moment, looking for the right word, “Accountant. I mean no harm.” Loki held his head down and slithered closer.
“It’s just…If you wish to continue, take me instead, release the girl, I ask of you...Kindly.”
The man looked at him with contempt and grinned, “I think I have a better idea.”
The girl screamed as the bullet hit Loki in the chest and he dropped to his knees, head bowed low and hair falling over his eyes. She twitched towards him but the man caught her arm, dragging up and closer to him.
And then they heard the quiet laughter.
Loki raised his head, smiling, and reached for the bullet caught up in his shirt. It lay as a dead weight between his fingers and he twisted it slightly, catching the sunbeam. And then Loki sent it back with a swift flicker of his thumb.
The man shouted in pain and shock as the metal tore through his skin and muscle and crashed into a bone in his shoulder. The arm instantly spasmed, dropping the gun and that gave the girl courage to finally break free. She ran several steps but her legs gave out, and she froze on the floor watching as the Prince stood up and stretched in his full regal height.
He strolled forward watching the man with disgust. The human spit out curses and tried to reach for the gun with another hand, but the handle glowed red hot, burning through skin and almost reaching the bone.
The man screamed in agony,
“You are a spawn of Satan!”
Loki growled and stepped closer, allowing Midgardian garments to morph into his royal dress.
“I am no son of Satan, I am son of Odin the Allfather, and you will pay for your insolence.”
The man backed away, leaving the dirty traces on the floor with his own blood.
“You are the Devil, the beast walking the earth! God!” The man looked up at the ceiling and threw his hands in the air, “For what have you abandoned us? Where is your savior?! Why do you allow the abomination befoul your creation?”
Loki’s patience snapped and he prowled. The man backed even more and activated the bomb, eyes darting with panic and sweat pouring down his face. He opened his mouth to say something but couldn’t as the Aesir’s fingers linked up on his throat.
Loki’s pair of iridescent blues burning with fury stared for a second into the man’s eyes, roily with fear and madness, a bogging darkness of chaos and lunacy.
“If you have so many questions to your god, “the Prince threw a quick glance and the timer on the bomb and lifted the man off the floor, “You should ask him personally.”
As the madman crashed through the window the timer went off, disintegrating the human and blowing up the windows right into Loki’s face. The Aesir didn’t move, watching with satisfaction as what was left of the human sank to the streets in a form of a bloody snowfall.
Than Loki turned around and reached for the girl, “Time to get you to safety, milady.”
She stifled a cry as he pulled her up into his arms and fainted.
“The son of Coul is going to kill me.”
The fire staircase trembled as the Alpha collided with the wall trying to ditch the bullets. He shot back but missed, and threw out his gun to free one hand to pull up onto the roof. His other hand was clutching the laptop. He got a grip on the brick rim of the roof when the stairs under his feet went shaking like in earthquake.
“How do you like that, huh? You like it?”
Alpha looked down and saw the bold man two levels lower. Another swing of the stairs and Alpha let go of the computer, throwing the second arm up to hold the balance. A moment later he was on the roof, running to the helicopter that had already being waiting for him.
As the helicopter rose slowly into the air the Alpha saw the bold man jumping onto the roof and pulling something from behind his back. A machine gun.
The bold man smirked, aimed and shouted into the wind, “Yippee kai yay, motherfucker!”
And shot three rounds.
The helicopter without a pilot started spiraling down, leaving a thick trace of black smoke around its tail. The bold man cursed and darted back to the staircase, but the machine was falling way too fast.
Until it stopped.
The hull of the chopper froze in the mid-air for a brief moment and then slowly and gracefully, like a ballerina, lowered itself down onto the roof.
The bold man stared at it silently.
And then the door opened and Iron Man walked out of the hull engulfed in fire.
“Nice shot.” Stark walked to the man and stopped for a moment while Jarvis ran some checks.
The man chuckled tiredly, “Not bad yourself.”
“What is going on? I got a distress signal…”
That very moment something blew up on the other side of the building.
“I better check it out,” Tony sped up on full thrust and rushed away towards the explosion.
The bold man watched him disappear behind the wall and sighed, reaching for his cigarettes.
“I can’t even retire as a normal human being.” The pack was badly creased and all the cigs inside were broken. The man cursed and threw it out, than looked at the watch. “Oh, goody, I just missed the plane. Un-fucking-believable.” He stretched his sore back, put the machine gun down and plodded away from the exploding helicopter.
“What are you doing here?”
Tony’s demanding tone made Loki quirk an eye brow. “Sightseeing.”
Iron man walked inside, crushing shattered glass under his feet, and pointed a finger at the girl in Loki’s arms.
“And what’s that, a souvenir?”
Loki pursed his lips but remained silent.
“With the speed you are doing the good deeds you might become almost as popular as me, darling.”
“Why, Stark, do you feel threatened?”
“Perhaps I should assist you with that.”
Loki waltzed lazily to the Iron Man and handed over a still unconscious girl, completely ignoring the incredulous look Tony was giving him under the helmet.
“I have a favor to ask of you.”
Tony lifted his face plate and frowned at the prince.
“I need you to keep my involvement a secret. “
“I gave my word to Agent Coulson.”
“Seriously? Ok, fine. But I would want something in return.”
Loki’s eyebrows reached the hairline and Tony silently cursed- there was no telling if the Aesir was truly incredibly amused or simply that good at mocking him.
“Are you already blackmailing me? Show some decency, Stark, at least wait for a day or so!”
“You know, being a hero and what not especially for someone else is no easy task, it puts a lot of strain on my nervous system.”
“And you put a lot of strain on mine.”
Tony smirked, “Do you mean it in a good way or in a bad way? “
Loki sighed in resignation, “Fine. You can ask anything of me, in sensible limits, of course. But later. Now I should leave.”
“Where are you going? Don’t worry, I’ll tell Coulson I don’t know. C’mon, you can tell me.”
“Or I can ignore you. And that way you won’t even have to lie.”
“Oh come on. “
“I’m going to the public library to see North myths and literature display. To get acquainted with you Midgardian perception of us, of course.”
Sudden change in Tony’s face made Loki wondering. He had no intention of going to the museum- only searching for the orchestrator of the heist. But Stark’s curious reaction made him wondering.
“Not your best idea, might get …weird. Seriously. Unless, of course, you are into horses.”
Loki shot Tony a disapproving look, putting as much irritation in it as it was possible.
“I think you have more pressing matter on your hands right now, Stark. Literally.”
Tony considered the girl in his arms, who was now twitching and coming back to her senses,”Don’t worry, she is fine, just blacked out. You might have dazed her with your awesomeness.”
Loki smiled slyly, “I might have,” and walked away.
Tony stared at Loki’s retrieving back, equally pissed and amused, “Show-off.”
The girl whimpered in his arms and opened her eyes, slightly disoriented. Tony smiled at her reassuringly,
“Hey there, I’m Tony Stark. Don’t worry; I’ll take care of you.”
The girl frowned, stared at his face for a moment, took double take, and fainted again.