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05 October 2014 @ 08:08 pm
FIC: When the Levee Breaks 02 - Tony/Loki - Chitauri Won AU  
OR ON AO3

Well, this took forever. I’m not going to make excuses, if you follow me, you know I was prioritising other fics/fests, etc. Only thing I have to say: I had forgotten how hard full time education is!!!

Enjoy.

Words: 3,361
Chapter 02

Marshal Law wasn't something Tony had ever experienced before. Maybe Steve had lived under it once, back in the good old days of World War Two? There had been curfews then, right, and areal bombings, and horrible, horrible sirens constantly wailing. But maybe not, cause Howard had never talked to him about the bad stuff: just all of the hero shit they'd done back them, him and Captain America and the Howling Commandos (and Aunt Peggy). Tony figured there must have been rules though, something to help keep people safe. Maybe marshal law was one of them (or maybe it was only used in backwards Dictator States where fear kept the peace because nothing else could)? Tony didn't know, honestly he didn't care much. He just knew he hated it.

People with blue eyes stuck to a rigid curfew. Handfuls of them took 'shifts' patrolling the streets, looking for other humans to turn in for a lesson in Mind Control 101, or, alternatively, kill. Sometimes it was a quick shot to the head, or the back as they ran for their lives, but sometimes there was a Chitauri with the patrol. The Chitauri liked to take their time. It was never quick with them.

Anyone who didn't have blue eyes (and that's blue in the Tesseract sense, not a sea-blue or sky-blue or anything natural) tended to stay out of sight. Tony hadn't seen many of them, so they were either hiding super well or there wasn't that many people left free and alive in the city. He hoped it was the first, but either way there wasn't much Tony could do for them at the time, other than to tell them 'sit tight' because help would come. At some point.

Clint sighed loudly, glaring at the back of Tony's head. The genius was lost in thought, picking the lock of a pharmacy somehow without paying any attention at all to it. There was a fresh wound on the back of his neck, a little lump just below his hair line, and Clint cringed at the sight of it because he was the one to make it. He'd run into Tony just as the engineer had finished upgrading his suit. He'd crossed paths with Bruce too, who was doing his best to hide anyone he encountered and to smash as many Chitauri as encountered him. Clint had kept moving, not wanting to risk being on the wrong end of the Hulk while he was doing his thing, and unfortunately had arrived just in time to help Tony insert some nano-technology into his spinal cord (or cranial nerves, whatever, either way it freaked Clint the fuck out)!

The nano-tech was actually a bastard child of Jarvis and some research Tony had helped a former conquest resolve a long time ago. In lieu of an actual base of operations, Tony had set Jarvis up in his own brain. Which was weird, since Jarvis apparently disliked pain and other human problems such as hunger and, uh, bowel moment, and apparently was a worse nag than Tony had ever realized. But he was still Jarvis, and Tony put up with him because he couldn't live without him (and that was a confession of love, if there ever was one to be heard from Tony Stark).

Tony was working on gathering forces, on finding somewhere safe to hole up so he could call the others back in and get to work on sending Thanos packing. But to do that, they needed to be able to move about freely. For that, they needed a disguise!

"Can't we just break the window?" Clint asked, scowling at the back of Tony's head before glaring pointedly at the surrounding stores that had either been looted since or shot or blown up during the invasion. "Not like it'll make much difference!"

"Hush," Tony whispered, not particularly bothered by Clint's complaint. He'd been complaining since they arrived after all, and at the last three pharmacies they'd hit up too. "It's bad enough I'm stealing without having to break and enter first. I'm Tony fucking Stark, man, I don't need to steal!"

"Bet you have though."

"Stole a tube of lipstick once as a kid for this girl I liked. She hating accepting gifts, but I figured since it was stolen it didn't count." Tony paused for effect; he could practically hear Clint's unvoiced demand for conversation. "She apparently didn't date thieves, but she kept the lipstick. My dad sent the company a cheque, with four years' interest after he overheard me telling Obi- uh, someone I knew."

"Oh yeah?" Clint wanted to keep talking, wanted to fill the silence, cause it was too much like something out of a zombie flick the streets lately and he'd always hated horror movies. Nothing moved or stirred unless there was a strong gust of wind, there were no voices, no cars, not even any screaming lately. It was too quiet. Wrong.. Clint hated it. "How much?"

"Bingo!" Tony said instead, as the lock he was picking turned over. He pushed the door open, the alarm already having been silenced by Jarvis.

Clint went in first, his gun held steady in his right hand and balanced on his left. He had been mind controlled once, and it had sucked, but Tony was the brains of the operation. Just because Loki's sceptre hadn't worked on the genius, didn't mean they could afford to risk a Chitauri (or worse, the Other) having more luck. Nor could they let him die. Natasha had her mission, and Clint had his.

So he went first, gun out and eyes peeled. Nothing moved in the shadows but them. The light from the arc reactor cast strange shapes against the wall as Tony followed Clint inside, but nothing tried to kill them, so the assassin ignored that (despite it reminding him of something out of this old Vampire show he'd seen once. He really hated horror movies: unfortunately, Natasha loved them). "All clear," he reported dutifully. His comm. still wasn't working, so no one but Tony heard him, but Clint was more comfortable pretending that this was just one more shitty mission gone to shit, than real life end of the world shit.

"Cheers, Legolas. Give me a sec." The bum-bag Tony was wearing tucked under his shirt gave him a paunch, but that was preferable in the case of being spotted. Let Loki think he'd gotten fat and lazy over the last month; it was better than Loki knowing that they were prepared for him. It was stuffed full at the moment, of medical supplies and pills, ointments and bandages, and most importantly contact lenses. Blue ones.

After grabbing all he could find from behind the counter (along with a second bag) Tony handed them to Clint. "Stick that on ya," he ordered, before grabbing some water out of the sadly warm fridge. Some of the city had power and some of it didn't, this store was in the second half of that sentence. Tony's favourite place was in the first. He handed over the box that he'd kept in his pocket, left out especially. "Prescription ones," Tony gleefully informed his friend, "not too hot, or too cold, but juuuust right. Put them in. Let's get the fuck outta here."

"Let's," Clint agreed easily. He was partially deaf in one ear, and only had 20/20 vision in one eye. Not that Clint ever willingly advertised that. Tony knew, because Tony somehow managed to know everything. SHIELD knew because they paid for his hearing aid and his laser surgery (one from a childhood accident and one from an arrow head exploding before he'd manage to fire it). Natasha knew, but no one else did: as far as they were concerned, he was Hawkeye with the eyes and ears of a hawke (artificial or not, he had them).

He put in the contacts, easily replacing his prescription daily's with the ones Tony had saved for him. When his eyes were good and ready, after blinking several times to keep the tears at bay, Clint looked over at Tony and almost smirked at the way he flinched.

"Not a good look on you, bro!" The genius muttered. He'd put his contacts in already; generic ones from the shelf, because he didn't need any help with his vision. "Way too weird," Tony grumbled, thinking of the descriptions of Clint's eye colour during his stint as Loki's mind-slave. It hadn't been long enough ago to quite forget about it, especially considering how close Tony came to joining their bandwagon. He patted the arc reactor unconsciously, thanking it for its part in saving him, fingers brushing over the surface a nervous habit Tony had developed since Obadiah had ripped it from his chest.

"You ready to go, Stark?" Ready or not, Clint was already headed for the door, spare bum-bag around his waist and under his jacket.

Tony grabbed the empty boxes, and out of habit crushed them up and over-handed threw them towards the trash can. "5 points," he joked, but Clint was already outside and couldn't hear him. "Fine, fine, I'm coming," Tony muttered, as he made his way around the aisles he had come passed earlier until he reached the door. His mouth was open, ready to grouse about being left behind, but it snapped shut as fear sent his heart sky rocketing into his throat.

Clint was already outside, and he was also already surrounded by a pack of Chitauri.

Tony's pulse beat wildly under his skin, the back of his neck throbbed around the implant as blood and adrenaline rushed through him, competing to see which one would make him faint fastest. He swallowed, mouth open to make one last witty remark before he died, but again he found his teeth clanking together, surprise forcing his mouth to close over his tongue. He gritted his teeth to keep from swearing about the pain, and instead focused on straightening his spine and shoulders, legs apart and arms straight by his sides: like a proper soldier. Like Clint.

Barton stood to attention, chin raised but eyes lowered respectfully, bright blue and watery so that they looked like they were glowing. "No sign of non-useful humans, sir. Any further orders, sir?" He barked, very much like Rhodey during one of his few military chewing outs (usually because Tony had fucked something up for him somehow).

The Chitarui who had first approached him paused, head tilted left curiously. He turned around and, Tony wanted to rub at his ears to make sure he heard right, chittered (like a rat) at the others behind him. The sceptre he held was tipped like Loki's had been with a shard of the Tesseract, less elaborately, but it linked them to Thanos all the same. As they spoke, as they decided, the shard began to pulse, sharply every few seconds, and then slowly, and then quickly, several pulses all together. Like Morse code.

Like some sort of code, because Clint could obviously understand it. His shoulders loosened, and he cracked his neck by tilting his head left and then right and then left again before rolling it. "Sir!" He nodded his head at the aliens, before turning sharply on his heel and striding away. Tony was left standing around like a spare part, but he hid his nervousness quickly, not wanting to give the game away by acting as anything other than a Pod-Person.

"Sir!" He copied, with a sharp nod of his head, before spinning on his heel and following after his friend. The Chitauri let him go, without a word of goodbye or even another glance. They had forgotten about the humans already: useless, pathetic humans, so easily out of mind (and often simultaneously out of sight). Tony tried not to let that annoy him, knowing it would be useless now to do anything about it, to say anything. All it would get him, if he was lucky, would be another tap of a Tesseract powered scepter. A hole in the head, if he wasn't.

XXX

When Bruce met up with Tony (after running into Clint and then running some more, cause hanging around a human while Hulked out and being chased by a pack of Chitauri? Not the best idea), the last thing he expected was for the engineer to volunteer himself for patrols. The guy had always seemed more like a hole-himself-up and work-out-a-solution kind of guy: this was more final-countdown-Tony-Stark, giving it all while he still had the chance to. It worried Bruce, a lot actually, because what if something happened to him? Yeah, he was immune to the effects of the Tesseract (mostly) but that didn't mean he wouldn't get himself killed. There was no Loki to flirt with in his penthouse apartment, stalling for time and having a ball, no Thanos to outwit or intrigue with his weapons of mass destruction, not this time: this time there were Chitauri, dogs of war who ravaged first and then accepted punishment for wrong doing later, no apology, no questions asked. If they wanted to kill Tony they would, and nothing, not his brain, his suit, Jarvis, or his weapons would save him.

So, when Tony walked into their safe house with Clint in tow, both sets of eyes glowing blue, Bruce was relieved to see him alive. But also sort of validated.

The Hulk was roaring inside his head, loud and angry and threatened, but not by Tony. Because of Tony. That made Bruce think, gun in hand even as he backed away, putting himself between the duo and the terrified group of stragglers they had managed to accumulate as the days wore into months. "Tony?" Bruce asked softly, having gotten along with the genius better from the very start (not that he didn't like Clint, but well, their first meeting involve Clint trying to blow them from the sky). "You doing ok?"

"A-ok, Brucie Bear!" Tony said with his usual flair, a casual shrug, and a stretched armed air-hug thrown in for good measure. "Got enough for everyone!" He pulled a pack of the contact lenses out of his bum-bag and chucked them to his friend. Bruce dropped his gun, hands flailing to catch the object before it fell, in case it was valuable. Fortunately, the gun was locked, mostly because he didn't want to shoot a friend (one of his only friends), not really, but also because what could a gun do that the Hulk couldn't?

"Contacts?"

"Yup," Tony agreed, popping his mouth on the last syllable. He'd already begun to hand them out to the group behind Bruce by the time the biologist had recovered himself enough to respond. It was less 'words' and more mumble of 'huh', but Tony turned to him and grinned at the noise. "Worked well enough to fool a pack of Chitauri. No humans with them this time, but a lot more in one place than we were expecting. If you see the others, pass it on."

"I think it's time we called the others in," Clint ordered, soft and calmly, speaking for the first time since they'd arrived back.

XXX

Of the members who weren't already there, they found Thor first.

It was hard not to find Thor, actually, considering that every time he got into a fight thunder, lightening and rain all seemed to converge upon him, drenching one particular area of New York and, like moths to a flame, drawing all available Chitauri there. The Avengers (in this instance being Tony, Bruce and Clint) arrived just in time to watch Thor jump in front of a woman, huddled and cowering on the ground. Chitauri gathered around them, and one had just blasted an energy bolt from a sceptre rather more like Loki's than any Tony had seen before. He wore more clothes as well, robed from head to foot like some desert nomad with a horrible contraption across his face, spiderwebs of metal over his nose and mouth and like lenses around his eyes.

"Lucas, you have been out sandpeople-d," Tony muttered to himself, but Bruce snorted, having understood the reference.

"Here you are!" The creature hissed. He turned away from Thor, who had been blasted back three feet (taking the woman he was protecting with him through no fault of his own bar his own body weight), to face the others. The Other (for that was who he was, ruling in place of Thanos who hid within Stark Tower or in his Ravage and left the messy human business to another) scowled darkly at the sight of them. "And where are your fellows? Has my friend," he scoffed, gesturing to Thor who was climbing unsteadily to his feet, "not earned your protection, your devotion, that you would not send all of your forces to rescue him?"

Thor was looking pretty battered. Last Tony had heard, he'd been holed up with Steve in some blocked in part of the sewage system with a boat load of people and some cops, taking it easy. Obviously they'd gone their separate ways, and Thor's angry shout of "I will not allow you entrance!" sort of explained why.

The Other didn't look particularly concerned by Thor's noble goals, nor by the hammer that was already spinning above Thor's head. The Other threw himself to the ground, a full second before Mjolnir knocked the Chitauri around him over like bowling pins and kept sailing through the window of a deserted Starbucks before Thor called it back. The scepter flashed, like electricity shorting out a bulb, but it didn't stay dark: it got brighter, and brighter, until like one of Tony's repulsors it fired itself at Thor. The God went down again, and Tony decided enough was enough.

"Clint, get up high. Take out as many as you can." The archer disappeared around the corner they had been watching from, vanishing out of Tony's sight (and certainly out of the Chitauri's) and climbing up the fire escape ladder to the roof. "Brucey baby, you might need to let the Other Guy out to deal with that Other guy!" Tony grinned at himself, even as Bruce rolled his eyes and stripped out of his shirt.

"I don't know how Pepper puts up with you," Bruce grumbled good naturedly, skin already tinged a sickly shade of green and growing darker by the second.

"You know you love me," Tony quipped back, unashamedly watching his friend change forms.

When Bruce was ready to go, no trace of human left in the wake of the Hulk's appearance, huge straight teeth grinned at him from a huge green lipped mouth, and the Hulk's eyes (which were the only feature he shared with Bruce, aside from the now ruined purple chinos) were wide as they met Tony's equally brown ones. Still grinning, Hulk asked, "smash?"

"Smash!" Tony agreed, offering a smile almost as wide in return.

The Hulk smashed.

Thor eventually pulled himself to his feet and joined in, helping Clint take out as many of the Others' back up forces as they could, while Tony suited and booted. Never being one to waste time, Tony had spent his time in hiding productively. With Jarvis implanted in the back of his skull, and Maya Hansen's theory having popped suddenly into his head one night after a discussion with Bruce about bioengineering, Tony had worked on a new way to always make sure the Iron Man suit would never be too far out of reach. Little bumps under his arms, like the one at the top of his neck, glowed lightly below his skin: mini arc reactors by sight, but tracking beacons in reality. The suit, called by the trackers, flew in pieces from its hideout straight to Tony, moulding around him like pieces of a puzzle falling into place. Once he was ready, Tony joined the fight.

Afterwards, he’d grab Steve and whoever he was protecting, carry Thor if he had to, and lead them all somewhere safe. To somewhere Tony didn’t particularly like, nor want to be, but it was safe. It used to be home.

XXX


Thanks for reading (to anyone who IS still reading). Let me know if you are glad I’m alive?