Live to Rise
What was once Stark Tower, was now known as the Avengers Tower, as Tony Stark never felt the need or desire to repair the letters on the roof of his building after the attack against the city. It was ironic that what used to be STARK plastered on the building was destroyed and was now only left with the A. The large, single letter suited him, as Tony discovered that his tower now deserved to stand as a monument, not to him, but to all of the Avengers, as the six of them had fought together to save the world from a threat like no one had ever known before.
Tony more than welcomed each one of his teammates into what had once been just his and Pepper's home. Pepper had been surprised, but supportive as Tony was giving them a place to stay where they could feel safe, not only from the numerous reporters looking for stories about the heroes, but also from the scrutiny and anger that a slightly smaller percentage of the world cast down on them for the damage caused throughout the city. Tony even built a training room where each of the teammates could work out against technology that created what felt like real scenarios in which they could face off against on their missions. He was very proud of the end result.
Though Steve Rogers had his own apartment somewhere in the middle of the town, the super soldier spent most of his time at the tower when he wasn't on a mission for S.H.I.E.L.D., as he grew more comfortable around the other Avengers aside from just while they worked. Despite Stark's relentless jabs at Steve's inability to get used to today's technology, Captain America enjoyed being among the company of his friends, even though from time to time he felt homesick for the world he once knew seventy years ago.
Bruce Banner accepted Tony's offer graciously and worked alongside the billionaire on many of his projects, except for when the doctor was called away to help the rare sicknesses that appeared from diseases or plagues that were foreign to most other doctors throughout the world. As Dr. Banner and the Hulk had finally come to accept each other for who they were, that they were both good, the monster was no longer a problem for anyone, except for the evils that the Avengers fought against.
Thor had returned to Earth for a final time after Loki's trial was finally over, as he decided it was where he wanted to stay. In the end, Thor's father had sentenced Loki to a confinement of an icy tomb, where the god of frost child origins would remain encased for what was over a thousand years in Earth time, or for eternity should he choose not to change his evil ways. Thor figured Earth would be where he could be of the most good since new threats were coming out now that the Avengers were known throughout what Thor described were the nine realms of the universe.
As for Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow wasn't at all comfortable among the agents back at S.H.I.E.L.D. as she had once been before her life had changed, whether or not it was for the better, she was still unsure, as the fact that her partner, whom she trusted above everyone else, was still out there somewhere all alone while trying to work things out for himself. Despite her almost cold demeanor that came across more often than not as of late, she was welcomed among the others whenever she wasn't sent on a mission and deep down, she was grateful for their acceptance of who she was.
Six months had gone by since the attack on New York City and within that period, fear among mankind that the world could be destroyed at any time increased throughout the planet, as did the crime that took place almost daily. Like before, law enforcements were still capable of dealing with the increase. However, some of the threats that were slowly beginning to rise up were becoming too much for them, which is when S.H.I.E.L.D. called on the Avengers to fight, notwithstanding the discomfort among the council, whom the agency's director, Nick Fury, and his new right hand, Agent Maria Hill, were still forced to answer to, as Fury and Hill never ousted them for their action of discharging a nuclear missile into downtown Manhattan in order to gain leverage over them, should they make a bad call again.
Night had fallen hours ago throughout the city on a night when the one eyed man came by the Avengers Tower to speak with his newly formed team about an urgent matter, despite the lateness of the hour. This time, he decided to ring the doorbell so to speak as he asked JARVIS to let Stark know he had come. Luckily, each member of the team was there when he arrived and none of them appeared to be prepared for bed any time soon, as they were all inside the main room on the top floor talking about their latest fight.
When Tony agreed to let Fury up and after the founder of the team arrived in the elevator, Tony was the first to speak up as he said, "Hello, Nick. How's your day going? I take it from the fact that it is past two in the morning that something big has come up. Am I right or are you just here to tell us good job on our take down of those bank robbers with the freaky skin conditions?"
Fury glared at Tony as he answered, "Those bank robbers with the freaky skin conditions as you say, call themselves the serpent society and from what we've been told, there are plenty more of them out there, who are extremely dangerous, as you found out today. However, that is not what I'm here for. An hour ago, I received a call from the council, telling me that one of their own was murdered two nights ago while he was in Prague visiting with another world council leader. Truth be told, I didn't really care until they went on to tell Agent Hill and I how the member was killed. They say it was from being shot through his heart with one of Agent Barton's arrows."
"It's a lie!" Natasha responded forcefully as she stood up from the couch where she had been sitting and crossed her arms. "Clint didn't do this. He wouldn't do this and you know that."
"Of course I know that, just as you do," Fury replied. "Unfortunately, there's nothing I can say that will get them to change their mind about putting a kill order out for him. They would prefer it if he is brought back in body bag, rather than alive to save them the trouble of having to capture him and having a trial."
Steve spoke up saying, "Then, we need to do something to help him."
Natasha began to make a move toward her room as cut him off and answered, "I'm going to find him. If they come for him, I will make them pay."
"If you go after him, Agent Romanoff, then the agents sent for him will see you as a traitor too and they won't hesitate to put you down either," the director responded firmly.
"What exactly do you expect us to do then, Nick?" Tony asked in frustration. "Sit her and twirl our thumbs, while hoping that our friend can dodge the hellhounds for the rest of his life, however long that is?"
Fury replied, "If that was what I wanted, do you really believe that I would have come here to tell you all this?"
Tony haughtily answered, "I don't know, with you who knows what your true motives are."
"Back when Barton was first taken control of by Loki, Loki gave him the order to kill me," Fury responded resolutely. "Agent Barton fired a shot at my chest, knowing that I always wear a kevlar vest. He should have gone for a head-shot, but he didn't, which means he fought against Loki's power, just as he did when he fired at Agent Hill. He fought Loki for as long as he could, saving both our lives. I once trusted Agent Barton because I trusted Coulson. Now I trust him based on his merits alone. I owe him. So, Agent Romanoff, I want you and Rogers to go find him, let him know that we're here for his support. The rest of us will stay behind and do whatever it takes to clear his name and find the real killer."
"That sounds good enough for me," Bruce said as he stood up from behind both Steve and Natasha, followed by Thor, who nodded in agreement.
Tony nodded as well and replied, "Okay, well me too. So, where do we start?"