Buffy and Steve stood in the back of the plane that Natasha and a restored Agent Barton were flying. They were en route to New York City where the party had already started. A gaping hole in the sky was the doorway for the army of creepy alien guys flying on their mopeds of doom. They were flying through the city, shooting at civilians and destroying everything they got near.
"Stark, we're on your three, headed northeast." Natasha said.
"What? Did you stop for drive through?" Tony asked. "Swing up Park. I'm going to lay them out for you."
Natasha and Barton did as Tony asked and began firing at the aliens. Steve and Buffy braced themselves. The plane hovered over Stark Tower where Loki and Thor were going at it. "Nat?" Barton said."I see him." Natasha said. She turned the plane around and began firing, but Loki shot his staff at the plane, knocking out one of the engines. The plane began to crash and Steve and Buffy were thrown about in the back. They grabbed onto anything they could hold and tried to brace for impact.
Buffy lost her grip on the pole she was holding and Steve caught her, holding her tightly against him. The plane hit the ground, sending debris everywhere and people scattering. Steve held onto Buffy as they were tossed around some more. Luckily they were both pretty resilient and got to their feet. Steve grabbed his shield and Buffy made sure her scythe was at the ready. The back of the plane opened as Natasha and Barton joined them.
They ran out into the chaos and saw the aliens flying overhead. "We gotta get back up there!" Steve said. They stopped in front of Stark Tower and stared up. What looked like a massive metal manatee was coming out of the portal in the sky. From out of the manatee, more aliens came popping out and climbing the buildings around them. "Stark, are you seeing this?"
"Seeing." Tony replied. "Still working on believing."
"Welcome to my world." Buffy said.
"Your world is crazy, sweetheart."
"You don't have to tell me."
"Where's Banner? Has he shown up yet?"
"Banner?" Steve asked.
"Just keep me posted."
Natasha and Barton took cover behind some abandoned taxis in the street. Steve and Buffy joined them. "We've got civilians still trapped up here." Barton said. Above them, aliens flew overhead on crazy looking hovercrafts, shooting their lasers at anything and everything. One of the hovercrafts contained….
"Loki." Steve said. Cars on the street below them exploded in all different directions. People ran for their lives. "They're fish in a barrel down there."
Natasha stood up and shot at some oncoming aliens. Barton moved over to another taxi just as the aliens climbing buildings dropped down near them. Buffy looked over at the people running for their lives and then back at the oncoming aliens. "We got this." Natasha said to her. "It's good. You guys go."
"Do you think you can hold them off?" Steve asked.
"Captain, it would be my genuine pleasure." Barton said. He stood up and shot his arrows at the aliens. Natasha stood up and joined him, shooting her guns.
Buffy and Steve exchanged glances and stood up, dodging the laser fire. They jumped over the edge of the overpass and down onto a bus. The lasers exploded behind them and Buffy dove off the side of the bus. Steve stayed straight, jumping onto an SUV just before it exploded. Buffy caught up to him and they ran towards the huddle of police cars. She dodged around the cars while Steve jumped over them.
When he glanced over at her, she said, "Show off."
They finally made it to the police, startling them with their sudden appearance. Steve looked around. "You need men in these buildings. There are people inside and they're going to be running right into the line of fire. You take them to the basements or through the subway. You keep them off the streets. We need a perimeter as far back as 39th."
"Why the hell should I take orders from you?" One of the cops asked. Two aliens came flying around the corner and attacked. Steve and Buffy each took one on, displaying exactly why the cops should take their orders from them. Steve ended up taking one of the laser guns off an alien's arm and shooting it in the face while Buffy beheaded another with her scythe. The cop turned around and started shouting, "I need men in those buildings! Lead the people down and away from the streets. We're going to set up a perimeter all the way down to 39th Street."
Buffy glanced up at where Natasha and Barton were outnumbered by aliens. She decided that's where she was needed at the moment and ran back over. Just as she was jumping up to the overpass, Steve appeared beside her.
"It's just because you're taller than me." She commented as they climbed.
"I wasn't always." Steve said, taking her hand and throwing her over onto the overpass before leaping over. They both jumped into the fight back to back, taking on the aliens as best they could. Natasha and Barton held their own and the four of them created a box of alien destruction. Suddenly, multiple bolts of lightning struck the aliens around them and Thor appeared, landing with a loud thud. He'd given them a momentary break from the onslaught.
Buffy looked over at Thor. He looked a bit worse for the wear and he was bleeding from a wound in his abdomen. "Are you ok?"
"I will live." Thor said.
"Good to know."
"What's the story upstairs?" Steve asked.
"The power surrounding the Cube is impenetrable." Thor said.
"Thor's right." Tony said over their earpieces. "We gotta deal with these guys."
"How do we do this?" Natasha asked.
"As a team." Steve and Buffy said.
"You two are getting scarily in sync."
"I have unfinished business with Loki." Thor said.
"Yeah?" Barton asked. "Well, get in line."
"Save it." Steve said.
"Loki's going to keep this fight focused on us. That's exactly what we need." Buffy said.
"Right. Without him, these things could run wild. We got Stark up top. He's going to need us to…." Steve trailed off when they heard a motorcycle approaching. Everyone turned to see Bruce Banner riding up to them.
"So," Bruce said. "This all seems horrible."
"I've seen worse." Natasha said.
"I blew up my high school and then turned my town into a crater." Buffy said. "So, yeah. This isn't so bad."
Natasha nodded her agreement. "We could use a little worse."
"Stark, we got him." Steve said into his earpiece.
"Banner?" Tony asked.
"Just like you said.
"Then tell him to suit up. I'm bringing the party to you."
"Aren't you just so sweet?" Buffy said sarcastically.
"Only for you, sweetheart." Tony appeared around the corner followed by one of the giant metal manatees. "I know how you enjoy a good party."
"I don't see how that's a party." Natasha said.
Bruce turned and watched the metal manatee come up the street. He started to stroll towards it. "Dr. Banner," Steve said. "Now might be a really good time for you to get angry."
Bruce kept walking. "That' my secret, Captain. I'm always angry." He started to turn, his skin changed to green and his muscles exploded outward, ripping through his shirt.
The Hulk turned and smashed its fist into the metal manatee's nose. The two of them skidded to a stop, tearing up concrete around them. The metal manatee's backend flipped up and over its head and the tail started to crash down towards them.
"Hold on!" Tony called, flying in and shooting a missile at the tail.
Steve grabbed Buffy to him and they crouched under the cover of his shield. Natasha and Barton dove out of the way, finding their cover behind a taxi. Thor backed up and held his arm up to shield himself. The metal manatee exploded all around them and the aliens scaling the buildings all shrieked and snarled their anger. The Hulk roared back at them as Tony landed and the seven people making up the Avengers Initiative formed a circle.
They looked up at the portal where two more of the giant metal manatees were flying out. They were surrounded by more of the aliens on the flying death ray machines. "Guys…." Buffy said.
"Call it, Captain." Tony said.
"All right, listen up." Steve said. "Until we can close that portal, our priority is containment. Barton, I want you on that roof. Eyes on everything. Call out patterns and strays. Stark, you got the perimeter. Anything gets more than three blocks out, you turn it back or you turn it to ash.
Barton looked at Tony. "Can you give me a lift?"
"Right." Tony moved towards him. "Better clench up, Legolas." He grabbed Barton and flew off.
"Thor, you got to try and bottleneck that portal. Slow them down. You got the lightning. Light the bastards up."
Buffy smiled brightly at Natasha as Thor spun his hammer and flew off. "Looks like the girls get to stay down here and play with the big boys."
"I can get down with that plan." Natasha said.
"We need to keep the fighting here." Steve said. "And Hulk…." The Hulk turned a growled. "Smash." It smiled and jumped up and away to scale a building, taking out the aliens on its way.
Buffy heard screams coming from down below and she raced over to the edge of the overpass. A familiar figure had caught her attention and she groaned. "Oh, you've got to be kidding me!"
"What?" Steve asked, joining her.
"That's my little sister down there." Sure enough, Dawn was helping lead people out of the way of danger and inside the buildings while offering medical assistance to those who needed it.
"What's she doing here?"
"I don't know. She was supposed to be visiting our cousins in Chicago." Buffy jumped off the overpass and ran over to Dawn, fighting off the aliens that attacked on her way.
"Oh my god! Buffy?" Dawn yelled as her sister made it over to her. "What are you doing here? And what are you wearing?"
"You're supposed to be in Chicago."
"They decided to visit New York instead. Bad timing, huh?"
"Very." Buffy turned with a throwing knife in her hand and shoved it into an oncoming alien's face, killing him.
"I thought you were in London with Giles."
"I was, but he sent me here for an end-of-the-world thing…. Not this one…. A different one…. I was going to surprise you after I stopped it, but I got offered a job."
"Um…. Is that Captain America coming towards us?"
"Yeah. That's Steve." Buffy used the throwing knife and threw it into an alien's neck before it could sneak attack Steve.
"First name basis? What, are you dating him?"
"He's my partner."
"Partner? Like he's your partner in the superhero police force?"
"Something like that."
Tony flew overhead with aliens on his tail. "Oh, and I suppose you're friends with Iron Man, too." Dawn said with a laugh.
"Summers, quit socializing and get back to work." Tony's voice came in her earpiece just before he landed next to her.
"Shut up, Stark. This is my sister."
"Oh, two Summers women! My night is looking promising!" Tony nudged her playfully before taking off into the air again.
"Gross, Tony!" Buffy shook her head and looked at Dawn's shocked face. "You need to get inside."
Dawn shook her head and the shock turned to determination. "These people…."
"You can help them inside." Buffy pointed up at the portal. "You're the Key, Dawn, and I don't need Loki to find out that you're right here. He might try and open up more of those things."
"Someone very, very bad. He's the reason this is happening."
Steve finally made it to Buffy and Dawn. "We need to get back. Natasha is up there by herself." He smiled at Dawn. "You must be Buffy's sister."
"Wow…." Dawn looked up at Steve with big doe eyes. "I, uh…. I…."
"Yes, you're Dawn. Close your mouth. And now you're getting inside with everyone else." Buffy took her sister's elbow and ushered her towards the nearest building.
"I'll find you later. Go." Buffy gave Dawn a final push and she and Steve headed back over to the overpass, killing aliens on every side. They made it back to Natasha just as she finished off one of the aliens. Natasha took a deep breath and sat down on the hood of a car. Buffy was looking up at the portal. "You know…. None of this is going to mean a damn thing if we don't close that thing." She said.
"Our biggest guns couldn't touch it." Steve said.
"Well, maybe it's not about guns." Natasha said. More aliens landed a little ways away, turning to attack them.
"If you want to get up there, you're going to need a ride." Buffy said.
"I got a ride." Natasha pointed at Steve. "I could use a boost, though."
Steve backed up and Buffy moved out of the way. "Are you sure about this?" He asked.
"Yeah. It's gonna be fun." Natasha backed up, took a running leap off a nearby car, and used Steve's shield and his upward momentum to fly up in the air and catch onto the next alien death ray flyer. One of the approaching aliens took a shot at Buffy and Steve.
"And then there were two." Buffy said, taking her scythe off her back and getting into a defensive crouch. She and Steve began moving around each other, taking out alien after alien. Tony appeared in the sky again, shooting energy out of his hands. He landed next to them and joined the fight. Steve grabbed Buffy behind him and turned his shield to Tony. Tony used the energy from his hand in a steady stream against the shield, destroying anything in the ricocheted energy's path. He then took flight, knocking down aliens scaling the wall after Barton.
Buffy grabbed Steve's shoulder and pulled him down to the ground just as an alien shot at them. Their limbs got tangled and she ended up rolling on top of him. They both blushed and looked away. Steve got his knee between them, grabbed Buffy's hands, and swung her up into a flip, sending her feet into the nearest alien's solar plexus. Buffy turned and helped Steve to his feet and they both looked around. The aliens' numbers had doubled.
Buffy lost track of time as she waded into them, taking them on two or three at a time. She and Steve each kept an eye on each other, making sure the other didn't get bogged down. Unfortunately, Steve ended up getting taken down as he was fighting off one of the aliens with a laser staff. Buffy beheaded the alien in front of her and turned, shoving the end of her scythe through the alien holding Steve down. She gave him a hand up just as Barton's voice sounded in their ears.
"Summers, Captain, the bank on 42nd past Madison. They've cornered a lot of civilians in there."
"Barton, is that where…." Buffy started.
"Yeah. Your sister's in there."
"We're on it." Steve said. He grabbed up his shield and took off after Buffy. She was making short work of any of the aliens that came near her. Steve finished them off if she didn't, before following her jump up into the second story window. She was already on the back of one, pulling out one of her throwing knives to stab it in the face. It tried to throw her over the railing, but she held onto its arm. She swung herself back up and onto the railing, throwing the alien over with a knife in its throat.
Steve was taking care of the other alien, so Buffy turned on her perch and yelled at the crowd, "Get out! Move!" A third alien came up behind her and grabbed her around the waist.
"Buffy!" Steve yelled as the alien slammed her against the wall, holding her there by her throat. He was being held himself by an alien with its arm around his throat. He managed to flip backwards out of the alien's hold, losing his mask in the process. The alien holding Buffy shot at Steve, but hit the alien he'd just managed to release himself from, killing it. A loud, incessant beeping broke through the chaos and they both realized it was a bomb.
The alien holding Buffy realized how close it was to the bomb and released her. She suddenly realized that the ground was a lot further down than she'd thought. The alien had been holding her over a broken section of the balcony. Her fall to the ground was accompanied by the explosion of the bomb above. She landed painfully on the marble, her shoulder yanking out of place. Her head hit a piece of debris and the world went black for a moment. All around her, people were rushing out."Buffy!" Dawn's voice came from far off. "No, that's my sister!"
"Dawn, I'll make sure she's ok. You get somewhere safe." Buffy looked around from her position on the floor and saw Steve helping her sister into the hands of a firefighter before running up to her and sitting on the floor. He lifted her up in his arms and gently checked her head wound. His glove came away stained with blood. She groaned at the pain in her shoulder. "You need a medic." He said looking at her shoulder.
"No. It's ok." Buffy struggled to sit up with Steve's help. She placed his hand on her shoulder. "Hold it tight." His grip tightened and she gritted her teeth, braced herself against Steve with her other arm, maneuvered herself into the right position, and pulled. Her shoulder went back into place with a loud and sickening pop. She let out a yelp that echoed in the now empty space, placing her head on Steve's chest as she waited for the pain to subside. He gently held her to him, stroking her back. When her shoulder stopped throbbing, she realized her head was pounding. She leaned back and realized she'd bled on Steve's suit. "Sorry."
"It's ok." He said. "I've got plenty of mine on it." Gently wiping the blood off her forehead, he let out a small hiss. "That's a pretty nasty cut.""It'll heal." The sounds of explosions came from outside. "We need to get back out there.""Are you sure you're up to it?"
"I've had worse." Steve helped her to her feet and she retrieved her scythe. "Let's finish this, shall we?"
"Ladies first." Steve said, following her out.
Thor landed in front of them and the three of them took on the aliens around the area. Steve got hit by one of the lasers from a staff and he went down hard. Buffy and Thor surrounded him, keeping him safe while he recovered. Thor used his hammer to throw a car at the aliens, effectively smashing them underneath its weight.
Buffy helped Steve to his feet. "Are you ok?"
"I've had worse." He said, giving her a slightly grin.
"Are you ready for another bout?" Thor asked them.
"What, are you getting sleepy?"
Thor let out a breath that almost sounded like a chuckle and held out his hand for his hammer. Buffy and Steve's earpieces crackled and Natasha's voice sounded. "I can close it. Can anybody copy? I can shut the portal down."
"Do it!" Steve yelled.
"No, wait!" Tony's voice came over the earpieces.
"Tony, are you crazy? These guys are still coming in waves!" Buffy said.
"I've got a nuke coming in. It's gonna blow in less than a minute. And I know just where to put it."
"Stark, you know that's a one way trip." Steve said.
"Tony?" Buffy asked, looking up. They spotted Iron Man holding the nuke and flying overhead. His thrusters sent him up towards the portal. He disappeared into it and a moment later, the aliens around them all collapsed. The giant metal manatees fell from the sky, crashing down on the buildings. An explosion could be seen through the portal, but Iron Man wasn't visible.
"Close it." Steve said sadly. A long moment past, but the portal began to close. At the last minute, Iron Man appeared, falling from the sky. "Son of a gun."
"Uh…." Buffy watched Tony free fall. "He's not slowing down. Thor…." Thor was already twirling his hammer and preparing to take off.
Suddenly, the Hulk appeared and caught Tony out of the sky. It gripped him tightly as it scaled down the building and skidded to a stop a few feet away. Buffy, Steve, and Thor all ran over to where the Hulk dropped Tony. They flipped him over onto his back.
"Is he breathing?" Steve asked. Thor ripped the face mask off the Iron Man suit to reveal Tony's face.
Buffy leaned down to check for vital signs. "I can't tell through this damned suit."
The Hulk leaned down and roared in Tony's face. Tony startled and opened his eyes, gasping for breath. The Hulk roared in triumph. "What the hell?" Tony said. "What just happened? Please tell me nobody kissed me." His eyes landed on Buffy. "Ok, tell me that you kissed me."
Buffy slapped Tony's forehead and he groaned. "We won, you idiot." She said.
Tony breathed a sigh of relief. "All right. Yay! Hurray. Good job, guys. Let's just not come in tomorrow. Let's just take a day. Have you ever tried shawarma? There's a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don't know what it is, but I want to try it."
"We're not finished yet." Thor said.
Buffy looked up at Thor and knew they still had to go after Loki. "Buzz kill."
"And then shawarma after?" Tony asked hopefully.
A couple of days later, Buffy was in a pair of jeans, knee high boots, a comfy white sweater, and a black leather jacket that went down to her knees. Steve stood next to her in a pair of khakis, a blue plaid shirt, and a brown leather jacket. They'd ridden to Central Park on a motorcycle that Tony had given Steve. The rest of the Avengers had assembled in Central Park with Thor holding a chained Loki. Buffy and Steve had both been offered full time positions with S.H.I.E.L.D. at their newly built headquarters in DC. Since there wasn't much else for them to do, they'd accepted with the terms that they remained partners.
The scientist named Selvig joined them with a gold and glass tube. Tony had the Tesseract in a metal briefcase. He and Bruce carefully removed the Tesseract and placed it in the tube. Thor took the tube from Selvig and walked over to Loki. Loki rolled his eyes and grasped one of the handles. Thor nodded at his fellow teammates before turning his handle. He and his adopted brother disappeared in a blaze of blue light.
"Summers, it's a pleasure to see you out of uniform." Tony said.
Buffy rolled her eyes at him. "You're lucky I like you." He held open his arms and Buffy sighed, letting him give her a hug.
"How's your sister?"
"I talked to her this morning. She's ok. She's going to head to Chicago with the cousins tomorrow."
"Tell her to call me. I'll give her my jet."
"You don't have to do that."
"Nope, I don't. But I am. Because her sister is a good friend of mine." He winked at her and turned to Steve. "Captain."
"I'm not hugging you." Steve said.
Tony held out his hand. "Didn't want you to." They shook hands and clapped each other's shoulders.
Buffy walked over to Bruce. "Back to Timbuktu?"
Bruce chuckled. "Calcutta. But I may stick around here for a while. Help Mr. Stark out a bit."
"Nice. Maybe I'll see you around?"
"I'd like that." Bruce gave her a hug and went over to speak with Steve.
Natasha walked up to Buffy with Barton. "So, are you sticking with S.H.I.E.L.D.?"
"That's looking like the plan." Buffy said.
"Good. I look forward to working with you some more. Maybe you can show me some of those moves with that scythe of yours."
"I'd be happy to."
Steve walked up to Buffy. "Are you ready?"
"Where are you guys going?" Barton asked.
"We're gonna road trip it to DC."Natasha smiled at Buffy and Steve. "We'll see you two later, then." She and Barton got in their car and drove off.
Buffy turned to Steve as she pulled her hair up into a ponytail. "I really hope it doesn't rain."
"The forecast is clear for the entire east coast for the next three days." Steve assured her.
"Are you sure you don't want to see your sister one more time before we leave?"
"Yeah. She's busy cleaning up and packing today. I'll call her from the road and tell her about Tony's offer." Buffy looked at her watch. "We'd better get going if we're going to make it to DC before dark."
"All right." Steve hopped on the bike and helped Buffy on behind him. "Let's get going, then." Buffy wrapped her arms around his waist and he revved the bike.