Chapter Twenty-Nine: The WSC
After taking a shower and getting dressed again, she went downstairs. Tony wasn't there yet, but Loki was glaring at Fandral, and Natalie sighed, then went over and asked, "What happened?"
"Fandral was making inappropriate comments," Sif sighed. "He never learns."
"I take it I wasn't imagining the looks he's been giving me, then?" Natalie asked.
"No, and Fandral had better back off if he knows what's good for him," Loki growled.
Natalie went over to Loki and whispered in his ear, "Why not give him pink hair?"
Loki switched from glaring at Fandral to grinning evilly at him, and snapped his fingers. Fandral's blonde hair turned neon pink. Sif snorted as Thor sighed. "Must you, Brother?" he asked.
"You want pink hair too?" Loki asked menacingly.
Thor flinched and said quickly, "No."
"Then don't complain," Loki said. "That spell works much better on blonde hair, I notice."
"It's certainly more neon than when you did it to Clint," Natalie said thoughtfully.
Tony came in at this point, looking gleeful, but that faded to confusion as he asked, "What'd Robin Hood do to you, Reindeer Games?"
"He was making some rather inappropriate comments on Natalie's…. assets," Loki said grouchily. "Unfortunately, the spell is not permanent, but he will have to spend a week with pink hair."
Tony snickered, but that faded quickly when JARVIS said, "Sir, there is a call from Director Fury for you; he claims it's urgent."
Tony sighed. "Put him through; I'll never hear the end of it otherwise," he said resignedly.
A screen popped up with Fury's face on it, and he said, "Stark, the WSC-"
"Can go screw themselves," Tony said, cutting Fury off. "They tried to nuke Manhattan; they're obviously insane. And corrupt. Don't forget totally corrupt."
Fury sighed. "They found out about Loki staying there," he said.
Tony's eyes narrowed. "Don't you mean you TOLD them?" he asked. "The only people who know Loki's here outside of those of us who live here are you and Natalie's family."
"I did not tell them anything; they said something about the Museum of Natural History security cameras," Fury said. "I'll have you know I tried to tell them Loki was harmless, but they didn't listen. They never listen, and you know that as well as I do."
"Oh, I think they'll listen once I'm done with them," Tony said coldly, and cut the connection. "JARVIS, hack into the WSC's system, and call them," he said. "I'll be in my lab."
"At once, Sir," JARVIS said, sounding pleased.
Tony turned to the others in the room, and said, "Natalie, come with me, and the rest of you stay up here." His tone brooked no argument, and Natalie followed him down to the lab. "What's the WSC?" she asked.
"The World Security Council," Tony said grimly. "They believe the world should be ruled by the military, and things like world peace are anathema to them. The Council is composed of three men and one woman, all of whom are military leaders. I figured you'd enjoy watching me take them down. Having Loki here wouldn't be a good idea though."
"You're right," Natalie said as they got out of the elevator and went to Tony's lab. As they went in, JARVIS said, "Sir, I have successfully hacked the WSC's systems, and the call is going through at this moment."
"Good work, J," Tony said. He sat down in a desk chair, and a screen popped up in front of him. Natalie sat down nearby as Tony said conversationally, "So, I hear you're after Loki now."
A woman's voice said, "You know why we are after Loki, Stark. He's a danger to everyone on this planet left free."
"He's been here for months, and hasn't done anything to prove your statement," Tony said coldly. His normally casual demeanor changed into frosty calm as he said coldly, "Let's get one thing clear. You mess with my friends, you mess with me. I know where you are. I know how to take all of you down. If you mess with me or anyone I call a friend, I will crush you. I'll put all your personal information on the internet. I'll make sure you're at the top of every country's Most Wanted list, and you'll be hunted down like the rabid dogs that you are. Any wealth you have? I'll strip you of every penny. You will never be safe again. You will spend the rest of your lives running from every type of military and law enforcement on the planet. I took out the power bases of half of Asia Minor - don't think I won't destroy you if you so much as lay a finger on Loki."
Tony cut the call after that speech, and asked, "JARVIS?"
"At once, Sir," JARVIS said, sounding smug.
Natalie was looking at Tony in awe. "That was amazing," she said. "What's JARVIS doing to them?"
"Showing them pictures of their homes exploding," Tony said with satisfaction. "And shutting down their systems. I figured it would back up my words. They won't be able to tell the difference between real and fake."
"Thanks," Natalie said.
"Sure," Tony said. "Those old geezers get on my nerves. And if they don't listen- well, at least I'll finally have a reason to crush them."
"Should we go tell the others?" Natalie asked.
"Good idea," Tony said. He got up, and Natalie did the same, following him out.
The others were waiting in the living room, and Loki asked, "How did it go?"
"They won't mess with you if they know what's good for them- and if they do, I'll be more than happy to crush them; I've always hated them," Tony said.
"Thank you," Loki said.
The next day: Tony received another call from Fury, and this time for some reason he wanted Natalie and Clint, who had just returned to the Tower, to meet with him and Phil at the Helicarrier. Natalie promptly changed into something a bit more professional, and left with Clint.
On the Helicarrier: Natalie and Clint were escorted to Fury's office, and they found Phil and Fury waiting for them. They both looked grim, and Natalie asked, "Alright, what did the WSC do now?"
Fury sighed. "They're all but frothing at the mouth over Stark's announcement yesterday," he said. "Apparently once it became clear the images of their homes burning weren't real, they decided to ignore his warning. And unfortunately, they're now gunning for you, Miss McKenzie. They apparently saw the footage from security cameras at the Museum of Natural History, which showed you holding hands with Loki. They don't know you're living with him, but it might be only a matter of time. They figured out that you're the most important person in Loki's life somehow, and now they're gunning for you."
"So why is Clint here?" Natalie asked.
"I called him with you because Agent Coulson has expressed concern that some of my agents may be working for the WSC, and therefore they might attempt to harm you," Fury said grimly. "I'm sending Agent Coulson back with you two, and I want you to stay in the tower until I've got this sorted out- or until Stark ruins the Council."
Fury turned to Clint and said, "Agent Barton, you, Agent Romanov, and Agent Coulson are all to stay at Avengers Tower until further notice. And before you say anything, it's not just because of Miss McKenzie; one of the Council members said something about assassinating Stark when he thought I was listening to another person."
"Great…." Clint said. "We'd better get back."
"Good plan," Phil said.
Fury nodded, and Natalie followed Phil out, Clint bringing up the rear.
Luckily, they got back to the Tower without incident, but that luck went sour when they got inside, and JARVIS said, "Agent Barton, Agent Coulson, Miss McKenzie, there is a situation in the communal living room."
The three wasted no time in getting down there, and found Steve and Natasha tying up a man wearing some kind of uniform. "What happened?" Phil asked.
"This guy tried to shoot Tony through the window, and we captured him," Steve said grimly. "He won't say who he's working for though."
"Is Tony okay?" Natalie asked.
"He's fine, but we thought it would be better for him to be somewhere else, and Loki and Thor took him and Bruce to Tony's lab," Natasha said. "Why did Fury want you?"
"The WSC is apparently after me because I'm close to Loki, and they're planning to assassinate Tony," Natalie said. "I'm guessing that's who this guy is working for."
"Fury has ordered us to stay here until further notice," Phil said.
"What should we do with this guy?" Steve asked, motioning to the tied-up would-be assassin.
"Interrogate him, and if that doesn't work, we dispose of him," Natasha said. "Natalie, go somewhere else."
Natalie left without a word, and went to Tony's lab. She found Tony, Bruce, Loki, and Thor down there, and Tony asked, "What's up?"
"The WSC ignored your warning and now they're gunning for both me and you, since apparently they found out I'm with Loki," Natalie said grimly.
Tony smiled grimly. "They're about to rue the day they messed with me," he said. "JARVIS, pull up everything you got when you hacked them yesterday, and download it to my tablet."
"Certainly, Sir," JARVIS said.
Tony picked up his tablet, and started working. "The rest of you are free to go," he said over his shoulder.
"Come on Loki, let's go to our room," Natalie said.
Loki perked up and teleported her to their room. "Why the enthusiasm?" Natalie asked when they arrived.
"I want to prank Thor," Loki said. "Therefore, we need a planning session."
Natalie thought, then said, "Why not paint Mjolnir hot pink?"
Loki's face lit up. "That would be perfect!" he said gleefully. "Now how do we get it away from him?"
"What we need to do is get him away from it, not the other way around," Natalie said. "I don't mind being the distraction; maybe I can get him to help me bake cookies."
"You are a genius," Loki said happily, and kissed her.
When they stopped kissing, Natalie asked, "JARVIS, are the others done interrogating the assassin?"
"Yes, and they are currently carting him off to SHIELD," JARVIS said.
"Good," Natalie said. "Can you tell me where Thor is?"
"Mr. Odinson is in his rooms, Miss McKenzie," JARVIS said.
"Thanks," Natalie said. "Come on Loki, let's go put the plan into action."
Loki eagerly headed for the door, and he and Natalie went to Thor's room. Loki made himself invisible as Natalie knocked on the door. Thor opened the door a minute later, and asked, "Is something wrong?"
"No, but I'm trying out a new cookie recipe and I wanted to know if you'd like to help out," Natalie said. "Loki's addicted to a comic book series I have, and isn't listening to me."
"I will gladly help you make cookies!" Thor said happily.
"Great!" Natalie said. "Let's go." She led the way to the kitchen, inwardly smirking.
With Loki: Loki teleported into Thor's room as soon as Natalie and Thor were out of sight, and looked around for Mjolnir. He found the hammer sitting by the door, and grinned before conjuring up some hot pink paint and a paintbrush. Just as he was about to start painting the hammer, though, a voice in his head said, If you MUST paint me, I prefer green to that garish shade of pink.
It took Loki a minute to get over the shock of Thor's hammer talking, but finally he said, If you insist. I was unaware you were capable of speech.
Your lady knows, Mjolnir commented. She was the first to recognize that I am sentient; even Thor didn't notice. He thinks I am just a magical object. When he finds out you painted me, can you pass on a message?
Sure, Loki said. What's the message?
Tell him I'd appreciate it if he'd realize that I am able to talk, and I'd like my partner to talk to me, Mjolnir said.
It will be my pleasure, Loki said, smirking as he started painting Mjolnir spring green. Why was Natalie able to hear you, by the way? Her magic isn't like mine.
The Dream Walker is able to speak to magical spirits, among other powers, Mjolnir said. She can't speak to the spirits of the human dead, though. I must admit to being curious about her, though.
Why is that? Loki asked.
She is worthy to pick me up; you saw what happened when Thor was possessed, Mjolnir replied. I would be interested to see if she could use my power the way Thor does.
You think she can call down lightning? Loki asked.
It's worth a try, at least, Mjolnir commented. If she can, you, Thor, and the humans would have a back-up should Thor get injured.
I have yet to see humans injure Thor, Loki commented.
Thanos could manage it, and he will come, at some point, Mjolnir replied. When that day comes, Natalie will need to be able to defend herself. Thanos is after her as well as you, and he has an army. She will be caught up in the fight no matter what; it would be best to give her an edge.
My fighting skills lie in magic and daggers, as well as hand-to-hand combat, Loki commented.
Then train her to use daggers and hone her hand-to-hand skills, Mjolnir said. I am very much a last resort for her, since Thor would have to be taken out before she could use me.
Loki sighed. I will do so, he said. I just don't want her to get hurt or killed.
If she can protect herself properly, there will be far less chance of that, Mjolnir commented.
Meanwhile, with Natalie and Thor: Natalie had patiently explained how to bake cookies to Thor, and was currently putting the second batch of chocolate chunk mint cookies into the oven. Thor was eyeing the first batch, and Natalie said, "They're still too hot to eat, and if you pick them up, they'll fall apart. Let them cool first."
Thor pouted, and Natalie said, "Would you like to help roll the rest of the dough into balls?"
Thor perked up again, and came over. Natalie showed him how to roll the dough into balls, and then went to check on the batch of cookies in the oven.
Just as she was taking them out, Tony's voice came over the PA system, saying, "Avengers assemble on the roof; there's someone up there and they don't look friendly."
Thor immediately ran out, and Natalie turned the oven off for the moment, following him. She had a bad feeling about this, so she kept to the shadows as she followed Thor to the roof. The other Avengers, all of them suited up, were up there soon after. Loki appeared soon after, following them out. Natalie silently followed him.
There was a Jotun standing on the roof, and they were arguing with Frigga. The argument stopped when Loki threw a fireball at the Jotun. Natalie noticed his face was twisted in rage, and edged closer to the others so she could hear better. Frigga had thrown up some sort of magical shield around herself and the Jotun, but she looked unhappy, and something told Natalie she was unhappy with the Jotun next to her.
Natalie's train of thought was derailed when Loki screamed, "Why should I believe ANYTHING you have to say!? I was abandoned by your people, and now you say I am your brother!? Maybe you should have thought of that when Odin was making my life a living Hell!"
Though confused, Natalie could see someone needed to do damage control, and went over to Loki, then said calmly, "Loki, I need you to calm down. Throwing fireballs won't help the situation, nor will screaming."
Loki looked at her, and seemed to calm down a bit. Natalie gently took his hand and turned to Frigga and the Jotun. Looking at Frigga, she asked, "I assume there's a reason behind this?"
"After I took over from Odin, I decided that it would be prudent to make peace with Jotunheim, due to the fact that Thanos is still a threat," Frigga replied. "I told Helblindi- she motioned to the Jotun beside her- "that Odin had taken from a temple a babe with the markings of the royal line of Jotunheim. He demanded to see his sibling, and I honestly did not know a way to refuse without him thinking I was trying to keep Loki from him."
Natalie sighed and asked Helblindi, "What did you say to Loki?"
"I merely told him we are brothers," Helblindi said.
"And… that caused him to throw a fireball at you?" Natalie asked skeptically.
"He also wants me to come 'home'," Loki said bitterly. "My home is where you are, not Jotunheim or Asgard."
"Was the fireball really necessary?" Natalie asked.
Loki considered that, and said, "Maybe."
Natalie mentally rolled her eyes and said to Frigga, "Frigga, I'd suggest that you and Helblindi leave; it's clear to me that Loki has no intention of going anywhere near Jotunheim, and I honestly can't blame him for that." She looked at Helblindi, and said, "I understand that you would like your brother back, but since it's quite clear he's not interested, I would ask you not to force the issue in any way. Loki's had it hard, and doesn't need more emotional upheaval in his life right now."
She felt Loki's arms wrap around her shoulders, and then Loki said, "Natalie is right. And Jotunheim is not my home. My home now is here, with Natalie."
Helblindi looked less than pleased, but he said, "Very well. I will tell Mother your decision."
Loki just nodded, and Frigga called for Heimdall. A minute later, she and Helblindi were gone, and Steve sighed. "Thanks for diffusing the situation, Natalie," he said.
"Sure," Natalie said. They went back inside, but before Natalie could go back to making cookies, her cell phone rang. Seeing it was her father, she picked up. "Hi Dad, what's up?" she asked.
"I wanted to invite you over for dinner; my godmother is paying us a visit," Mr. McKenzie said.
"Aunt Peggy's coming over?" Natalie asked excitedly.
"Yep, and yes, Loki can come, if he wants," Mr. McKenzie said. "We're having dinner at 6:30."
"We'll be there," Natalie said happily. "Bye!"
"Bye," Mr. McKenzie said, and hung up.
Natalie noticed Steve was looking at her, and asked, "Something wrong?"
"I had a friend named Peggy," Steve said.
"Aunt Peggy's not really my aunt; she's my dad's godmother," Natalie said. "She and my grandmother met in preschool and were literally inseparable from then on. Dad says Grandma was really worried when Aunt Peggy joined the French Resistance, but no one could ever stop her from doing something she wanted to do. She tells the best stories, too."
Steve's eyes were wide, and he asked, "Is her last name Carter?"
"Yeah," Natalie said. "She always seemed sad when Kevin asked her if she'd known you; I guess now I know why."
Steve looked overwhelmed, and Natalie asked, "Should I call my dad and let him know you'd like to come?"
Steve seemed to come back down to Earth, and said, "I wouldn't want to impose…."
"I'll call anyways," Natalie said. She picked up her cell phone and called her home number. When Mr. McKenzie picked up, Natalie said, "Hi Dad. Can I bring Steve too?"
"Steve?" Mr. McKenzie asked.
"Rogers? Captain America?" Natalie asked dryly. "Jeez Dad, did you pay ANY attention when I said he was one of my clients?"
"You're thinking about Aunt Peggy, right?" Mr. McKenzie asked. "I must admit that she'd probably like that…. alright, you can bring him. I'll let your mother know. Is Loki coming?"
"Hang on," Natalie said. She put the phone down and asked, "Loki, do you want to come to my parents'?"
"I think I will pass; I have plans," Loki said.
"Try not to destroy anything," Natalie said, and picked up the phone. "Loki's not coming this time, it'll just be me and Steve," she told her father.
"Alright, see you later," Mr. McKenzie said, and hung up.
Natalie slipped her phone back into her pocket, and said, "Alright Steve, Dad says it's fine. We're supposed to be there in three hours; you might want to start getting ready, since we have to take the subway and then walk. I have to clean up in the kitchen. Which reminds me, there's two batches of chocolate chunk mint cookies for whoever's interested."
Cue the rest of the group running for the kitchen. Natalie giggled. "Maybe I should clean later; they'll probably make more of a mess than I did," she said.
"Thanks," Steve said softly.
"You're welcome," Natalie replied.