As soon as they landed on the Helicarrier, they were met with an armed escort to take Loki to a cell. Ellie headed for her quarters so she could change only to be redirected by Natasha to the bridge. She fidgeted uncomfortable as she sat down next to Captain America, only barely able to contain herself at the realization that she was sitting next to her favorite hero. She discreetly scanned the bridge looking for Phil but didn't see him.
"In case it's unclear," Director Fury's voice said via the video feed they were currently watching as he spoke to Loki. "If you try to escape, if you so much as scratch that glass, it's a 30,000 feet straight down in a steel trap. You get how that works?"
"It's an impressive cage." Loki admitted. "Not built, I think, for me."
"Built for something stronger than you." Fury corrected.
"Oh, I've heard." Loki looked at the cameras. "A mindless beast. Makes play he's still a man."
Ellie kept her gaze on the screen, trying very hard to not awkwardly stare at Bruce.
"How desperate are you? That you call on such lost creatures to defend you?" Loki continued.
"How desperate am I?" Fury asked. "You threaten my world with war. You steal a force you can't hope to control. You talk of peace and you kill because it's fun. You have made me very desperate. You might not be glad that you did."
"Ooh. It burns you to have come so close." Loki taunted Fury. "To have the Tesseract, to have power, unlimited power. And for what? A warm light for all mankind to share. And then to be reminded of what real power is."
Fury held Loki's gaze a long few seconds before speaking. "Let me know if 'real power' wants a magazine or something."
The video screens went dark as Fury left and the group exchanged glances. Bruce spoke first. "He really grows on you, doesn't he?"
"Loki's going to drag this out." Steve said. "So, Thor, what's his play?"
Thor had been deep in thought during the entire discussion between Fury and Loki. "He has an army called the Chitauri. They are not of Asgard or any world known. He means to lead them against your people in exchange, I suspect, for the Tesseract."
"An army." Steve said. "From outer space."
"I think he's building another portal." Ellie said, making a conscious effort not to slouch. This corset didn't allow much room for slouching and breathing. "That's why he needs Erik Selvig."
"Selvig?" Thor asked.
"He's an astrophysicist." Bruce said.
"He's a friend." Thor replied.
"Loki has him under some kind of spell." Natasha said. "Along with one of our own."
"I want to know why Loki let us take him." Steve said. "He's not leading an army from here."
Ellie opened her mouth to speak but Bruce interrupted. "I don't think we should be worried about Loki. That guys' brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell the crazy on him."
"Have care how you speak." Thor warned. "Loki's mind may be far afield but he is my brother."
"He killed eighty people in two days." Natasha said.
"He's adopted." Thor corrected.
"Did Loki say anything to you while you were there?" Steve asked Ellie.
Ellie didn't know if the others knew that Tesseract energy was a part of her. While they had seen the force fields and energy blasts, they hadn't seen the Tesseract part of her and she thought maybe Fury would want to keep that a secret. But at the same time, they needed to know. "Loki wants to use me for power as well. He offered me a throne beside him."
"Why would he use you for power?" Bruce asked.
Ellie sighed before speaking. "When I was eighteen, I was held and experimented on. I was injected with the same Super Soldier serum that you were, Captain, but with one difference."
"And that was?" Steve spoke this time.
"Somehow they had added a part of the Tesseract's energy to the serum." Ellie said, raising her hands. A nameless agent had brought her a pair of gloves. "The Tesseract changed my genetic makeup and is part of me. These gloves keep me from hurting others."
"Loki wants a controlled source." Steve said. "What did you tell him?"
"I told him I don't help men who have killed innocent people." Ellie said.
"I think it's about the mechanics." Bruce said. "Iridium. What do they need iridium for?"
"It's a stabilizing agent." Tony said, entering the bridge with Phil. Ellie smiled at the agent as he nodded at her. "It means the portal won't collapse on itself like it did at SHIELD."
Tony walked on the bridge like he owned the whole boat. He tapped Thor's shoulder twice as he walked past him. "No hard feelings, Point Break. You've got a mean swing. Also, it means the portal can open as wide and stay open as long as Loki wants."
Stark walked to the screens where Fury usually stood. "Raise the mizzenmast. Jib the topsails." At the collective glare of the agents working, Tony said, "That man is playing Galaga. Thought we wouldn't notice but we did."
Ellie coughed back a chuckle when she realized that Steve had no idea what Galaga was, even though he was pretending to.
"Agent Barton can get his hands on the rest of the raw materials pretty easily. All that's left is to find a power source of high energy density." Tony said. "Something to kick start the cube."
"When did you become an expert in thermonuclear astrophysics?" Agent Hill asked.
"Last night." Tony replied. "The packet, Selvig's notes, the extraction theory papers. Am I the only one who did the reading?"
"Does Loki need any kind of particular power source?" Steve asked, less than amused at Tony's attitude.
"He would have to heat the cube to 120 million Kelvin just to break through the Coulmb barrier." Bruce said, pacing in small steps as he thought.
"Unless Selvig has figured out how to stabilize the quantum tunneling effect." Tony said, almost like a test as he walked toward Bruce.
"Well, if he could do that, he could achieve heavy ion fusion at any reactor on the planet." Bruce said.
"Finally, someone who speaks English." Tony said.
"Is that what happened?" Steve said to himself and Ellie chuckled.
"It's good to meet you, Dr. Banner." Tony said, shaking his hand. "Your work on anti-electron collisions is unparallelled. Oh, and I'm a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into a big, green rage monster."
"Thanks." Bruce said half heartedly.
"Dr. Banner is only here to track the cube." Fury said, coming onto the bridge. "I was hoping you might join him."
"I would start with that stick of his." Steve suggested. "It may look magical but it works an awful lot like a Hydra weapon."
"I don't know about that." Fury said. "But it is powered by the cube. And I would like to know how Loki used it to turn two of the sharpest men I know into his personal flying monkeys."
"Monkeys?" Thor asked. "I do not understand-"
"I do." Steve interrupted. "I understood that reference."
"Johnson go with them." Fury commanded. "I want you to see if you can help them locate the Tesseract."
"How am I supposed to find it?" Ellie asked.
"You felt it when the energy spiked." Fury said. "See if you can detect any other spikes."
"I will but for the love of all that's holy, can somebody cut me out of this thing?" Ellie asked as she stood. Fury didn't look overly amused and Ellie excused herself, her heels clicking as she walked to her room. She had pulled out a new set of clothes when her door opened again and Phil stood in her room.
"I thought you could use some help." Phil smiled at her.
"Just the man for the job." Ellie said and turned her back to him, pulling her hair over her shoulder so he could untie the strings of the corset. "Did you have Cap sign your trading cards?"
"I asked him to. We'll just have to wait until he gets the time." Phil said. "Did he do anything to hurt you?"
"Nothing I couldn't handle." Ellie assured him, taking a deep breath as she was finally free. One arm was holding up the dress to prevent it from falling at her feet as she turned. "Thanks."
"No problem." Phil said, putting one hand on the back of her neck and pulling her forward so he could kiss her. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back. Her dress would have fallen had they not been standing so close.
"Phil." Ellie said against his lips, her fingers in his hair. "I'm supposed to help Stark and Banner."
"They can wait." Phil said. He picked her up and she wrapped her legs around his waist as he pushed her against the wall, his lips moving roughly against hers. He had been worried sick about her since her abduction and wasn't ready to let her go just yet. Ellie felt her tongue dance against his and it caused her to shiver. When Phil abandoned her lips in favor of her neck, she emitted a breathy moan and her eyes fluttered closed. He spoke, his lips brushing her neck as he did so. "I was scared I wouldn't see you again."
Ellie opened her eyes and held his gaze as he placed her back on the ground but kept his body pressed to hers. "I will always come home to you. Every time."
"I need to talk to you about something." Phil said, his voice still low.
"Are you okay?" Ellie asked. "Is something wrong?"
"No. I just-" Phil started to say when his radio interrupted him. "I have to get to the bridge but I'll come find you later."
"It's a date." Ellie smiled at him. She watched him leave and changed quickly, pulling on her jacket as she opened the door. She almost bumped into Steve who had his hand raised as though to knock. "Oh. Hello, Captain. Did you need something?"
"I wanted to talk to you about the serum that was used on you." Steve said. "If you wouldn't mind talking about it."
"Of course not." Ellie said, inviting the Captain into her room. "It's been ten years since that happened so what would you like to know?"
"How exactly did you get ahold of the serum? I thought when Abraham died, the formula died with him." Steve declined the chair that was offered to him.
"It was the grandson of Erskine and the grandson of Schmidt. Erskine had the formula and Schmidt had a bit of Tesseract energy." Ellie said. "They mixed well and chose me for their experiment."
"Did it work?" Steve asked.
"You saw what happened in Stuttgart. What do you think?" Ellie offered a kind smile. "Phil and I used to read things like this in our comic books. When we were little, we never dreamed we would meet the one and only Captain America."
"Phil? Agent Coulson?" Steve clarified.
"Yeah. He's been my best friend for the last twenty two years." Ellie said. "Look, I'm supposed to try to help find the cube, so I need to get to the lab. Do you want to walk with me?"
"It'd be an honor." Steve said.
"I think 'honor' might be going a bit far." Ellie said, closing the door behind her. "I'm just me. Nobody special."
"Erskine told me the serum only works on a special kind of person." Steve said.
"Johnson, change of plans." Fury's voice came over her comm. "You're going to talk to Loki."
"What do you want me to say?" Ellie asked, shooting an apologetic look at Steve.
"Whatever you have to."
"I guess I have to go." Ellie said to Steve. "Keep out of trouble, Cap."
"Steve." He corrected with a half smile.
"You can call me Ellie, if you'd like." She said. "See you around, Steve."
Loki was sitting in his cage when Ellie arrived and he gave her a charming, but chilling, smile. "Have you come already?"
"Already?" Ellie asked, her head cocked to the side quizzically. "If I had known you were expecting me, I'd have come sooner."
"No doubt." Loki said.
"Since you were expecting me, what do you think I'm going to say?" Ellie asked, approaching the glass cell.
"You're here to ask my plans." Loki said. He stood and walked over to face her.
"That's what they wanted." Ellie admitted. "I was curious about why you chose me for your possible queen."
"The power of the Tesseract flows through you." Loki said. "A king as great and worthy of myself could only have one as powerful as you as my queen."
"Would I get to wear pretty dresses? Throw a lot of fancy parties?" Ellie asked.
"Whatever your heart desires." Loki said. His tone was almost seductive when he spoke. "The people of the world tending to your every want and kneeling at your feet."
"What happens if anyone disobeys?" Ellie asked. "You kill them? Slaughter hundreds of people in your attempt at a throne?"
"I am a king!" Loki shouted.
"You're a child who's throwing a tantrum." Ellie countered.
"Humans are slaughtering themselves in droves. I mean to rule them and keep them from doing so." Loki said. "They are flawed, murderous, and deserve a worthy king."
"Damn right we're flawed." Ellie said. "We make mistakes and yes, some do murder others but we will never bow to a temperamental, childish dictator. I've seen what you do to those who dare disagree or cross you and you are a monster."
"Oh no." Loki corrected. "My dear, you brought the monster."
"What?" Ellie muttered to herself, his meaning clicking a second later. "You're going to try to unleash the Hulk? It won't work. Banner can control himself."
"Are you willing to bet your life on that assessment?" Loki asked.
She didn't get a chance to respond because the Helicarrier shook, knocking her to her feet as a loud explosion sounded. Ellie got to her feet as Fury told her to help Rogers and Stark get the now exploded engine working again. "On my way, Director."
A/N: Thanks to all for reading/following/favoriting/reviewing. Every single of one of those actions is appreciated. Please feel free to leave a review on your way out. I don't bruise easily but if you are going to post negatively, please be constructive about it. I love getting criticism but it's only helpful when it's specific. Anywho, thanks for reading. xo