The Date (That Wasn't A Date)
Tony, naturally, got an hour long lecture about not interrupting Shield meetings and scarring off assets and blah, blah, blah. He was too put out by the fact that both had so quickly and easily given him the slip to care that Shield was mad at him. I mean, really, what was new? Shield was always mad at him for something, after all. The important thing was that Tony had gotten a brilliant idea out of all this.
After having Jarvis keep a careful watch on the next few Avengers related incidents, he found that Project White Mage was in much easier reach than he anticipated. He shouldn't have been surprised. She'd said it herself, she didn't want them to die and it wasn't difficult to find their battles. It stood to reason that she would be watching if she planned to be helping.
So, brilliant that he was, he devised the perfect plan to speak with her. All he had to do was talk to her before she left their battles; which meant, all he had to do was talk to her before the fights were over.
"Jarvis, get me a read on White Mage, will you?" Tony asked, multitasking as he dodged out of the way of several Doombots.
"Target found," Jarvis replied. A visual opened showing the woman, barely visible as she watched from one of the roofs, mostly hidden from sight.
"Great!" Tony said, then to the others on the comm link, he called, "Hey, think you guys can hold out by yourselves for a minute?"
"What? Why?" Steve asked.
"Be right back!" Tony yelled, flying off towards the building his target was waiting on.
"Tony!" Steve yelled, but they didn't really have the time to pay much attention to his departure, being surrounded by Doombots and all. Tony decided to mute the comms.
"You are awfully hard to get a hold of," Tony said as he landed on the roof, startling her. "I'd almost think you didn't want to talk to me."
She narrowed her eyes at him in annoyance. "Far be it for anyone to not want to talk to the great Tony Stark," She drawled, angling herself so that she could keep an eye on both Iron Man and the battle. "You realize your being here is endangering your teammates?"
"How so?" Tony asked, lifting his face plate so that she could see his frown.
She turned to him a moment to shoot him a look. "Are you a fool?" She asked him. "If you are here talking to me, you are not only leaving your fellow warriors crippled as they fight, but you are also distracting me from keeping vigilant watch over them, meaning I may miss being able to aid in a critical moment."
"You really take this seriously, huh?" Tony asked.
"And you do not at all," She sighed. "Which is a terrible shame, because you are a decent warrior, when you choose to be."
"Only decent?" He asked.
She rolled her eyes. "I am not going to stroke your ego when you are being so irrepressibly irresponsible with your comrade's lives."
"Would you be willing to give me your name?" He asked.
She pressed her lips together tightly a moment before responded. "My companions have taken to calling me Luna."
"Luna, huh? Any chance you--"
"Your Hawk could use some support," Luna told him dispassionately.
Tony looked to where Hawkeye was fighting, finding the archer becoming rapidly overcome by Doombots. "Shit!" Tony called, face plate lowering as he flew off immediately toward his teammate. He turned the comms back on, hearing his teammates screaming for him. "Hey. Calm down, I'm here." Tony punctuated his statement by blasting two bots at once.
"Where the hell were you?" Hawkeye asked, launching exploding arrows as fast as he could.
"Doesn't matter, I'm here now," Tony answered.
Tony was surprised after the battle when he returned to the roof to find 'Luna' still waiting on her rooftop perch. He landed before her and lifted his face plate, surprise clear on is face. "You're still here."
"Yes," She answered. "Since you are so set upon my company, I thought I would save myself the trouble of you chasing after me further." She crossed her arms over her chest as she stared him down, green eyes diamond hard. "Why is it, Tony Stark, that you are so very determined to have my company? What is it that you want from me?"
"Time and answers," Tony told her.
"Why will you need time if I am willing to provide you with answers?" She asked.
"You interest me," He told her truthfully. "I wanna know how you can do that healing thing. And why you care whether or not a few heroes live or die."
"Again, answers I could give you, but that does not require time. I could write a note and deliver it to your tower without wasting more than minutes. What do you want of my time?" Luna demanded.
"I said you interest me."
Luna hummed noncommittally. "Do your companions share your curiosity?"
Tony frowned. "They don't know that I've been trying to talk to you, so probably not."
She tilted her head in confusion at that. "If you can manage to show up somewhere without this ostentatious look of yours, then I will meet you. Name a place, a time, a day."
"Just like that?" Tony asked in surprise.
"It will not do anyone any good if you continue to distract myself and your teammates both with your erratic behavior," Luna said. "So time, place, day, and I shall meet you there, Mr. Stark."
"We are not so familiar," she argued.
"You gave me your name."
"I gave you a name."
"That your friends call you."
She smirked. "Tells you a little something about me and my friends, does it not?"
"How about tomorrow? That restaurant you ditched me at?"
"Time, Mr. Stark?"
She began to eye him skeptically. "In the morning?"
"God, no," Tony protested quickly, waving off the very idea. "At night."
"For dinner?" she deadpanned. "This will not be a date, Mr. Stark."
She let out a sigh. "Fine. I expect, being wealthy as you are, you shall take care of my every comfort."
"Not like you ever touch any food you ever order," Tony muttered to himself, but Luna smiled as she heard the complaint.
"That is only while I am distracted." Her eyes met his. "I assure you, you shall have my full attention, Mr. Stark."
"Tony," He insisted again.
"Iron Man," She said instead. He groaned, but she only smirked wider.
"Fine, but tomorrow you better use my name," He told her and flew off the roof.
"We'll see," She said to herself, watching him until he flew was out of her sight.
"I've got a date with Iron Man tomorrow," Loki said as he walked into Victor's lab, pausing at the sight he came upon. Raven was sitting on Victor's work table with sensors pressed onto her skin, connecting her to one of Victor's machines. She was in her true form as usual, various screens displayed information and measurements on the mutants body, and Loki just stared for a moment. "Well, this is unexpected."
"It isn't what you think," Raven protested.
"Oh, and what do I think?" Loki asked with a smirk.
"She is allowing me to do a medical exam," Victor said, not bothering to look away from whatever readings he was studying. "I thought it best that I have readings of her normal state, so that we can be well aware if anything is wrong."
"A wise venture," Loki nodded. "I'm surprised she agreed to it."
"I was hesitant," Raven answered truthfully.
"Is there any reason you are seeing Tony Stark tomorrow?" Victor questioned, typing something on a separate computer.
"Only that he persist in stalking me and I thought this was the simpler option," Loki answered, sitting atop another work table.
"Is that why he showed up when I was talking to that agent?" Raven questioned.
"I assume. He was likely looking for either Luna or Lockley." Loki shrugged. "If you plan on having another meeting with Shield, tomorrow would be the time."
"They want me to go to their base," Raven said.
"What?" Loki stood and moved to stand before the mutant girl. "Why?"
"You know why," Raven answered. "They want Lockley to tell them more about what's going on."
"You don't know more," Loki replied.
"I know where their base was and I know Magneto was involved," Raven countered.
"Victor?" Loki turned to the mortal scientist.
"I'm checking her vitals now and I've already made improvements to her tracker and communication device," Victor explained. "I have also created this," Victor held up a very simple looking choker. "There is a camera that has a feed directly to the lab, so we will be able to keep an eye on her."
Raven rolled her eyes and Loki rolled his in return. "Yes, it isn't as though you need our assistance at all. You were only running from this man when we met and wish not to be found by him. No reason for us to worry."
The look on Raven's face was just shy of being a pout. "I'm not powerless," She complained.
"No one thinks that you are," Loki soothed. "But you will be alone amongst enemies, it does not hurt to be cautious."
"You and Amora don't wear trackers."
"Amora and I can teleport."
"Is that caution talking?" Raven asked sarcastically.
Loki sighed and Victor turned and handed him a bracelet like the one that Raven wore. "I've already created one for Amora, as well."
"I suddenly feel like I've been manipulated," Loki smiled as he reached out for the metal device, slipping it around his wrist. "How long have you had this made?"
"I made them just after Mystique's," Victor answered.
"Did you make one for yourself?" Loki questioned. Victor stopped at this, surprise showing in his body as his face was covered by his mask. "It's only fair, is it not?" Loki asked. "If you get to keep tabs on us, we should keep tabs on you."
There was a pause before Victor replied. "You wouldn't know what to do."
"As if you cannot teach us to monitor your devices," Loki replied with a sarcastic drawl. "You have already taught Amora and I much about your creations."
Victor made a noncommittal sound as he turned back to the readings on Raven.
"Are you all each other's apprentices?" Raven asked annoyed.
"Hmm, perhaps," Loki answered. "Are you interested in either my magic or Victor's machines? Only ask and you shall be taught."
"Let's go back to talking about you and Iron Man," She complained.
"I am to meet him tomorrow. What more would you have me say?"
"What more is there to say?" Raven hedged.
Loki thought for a moment. "I believe I will take the opportunity to inform him of what is to come."
"Oh?" Victor asked. "Is that wise?"
"Probably not, but I'd rather not waste the opportunity," Loki said. "I cannot say much, but I can give some form of warning."
"Yes, well, enjoy your... date," Victor said.
"You do realize that I am not going on an actual date, yes?"
"Does he realize that?"
Loki just sighed.
It was very late when Amora returned to the castle, Loki and Victor still in Victor's lab. The two were standing side by side before the computers and Amora walked in between the pair and leaned on their shoulders.
"Raven is going to Shield's base," Loki said immediately.
"Loki is going on a date with Iron Man," Victor added.
"I did that with Captain America," Amora said musingly. "He reminds me of you, Loki."
"I think I was just insulted," Loki replied.
"Why is Mystique going to Shield?" Amora questioned.
"My theory is that she wants to get her Magneto locked up so that she no longer has to worry about him," Loki said.
"What, she doesn't think we can protect her?" Amora asked with a hint of anger.
"I do not think that is the point," Victor said. "It doesn't matter what she thinks nor wants, we will be watching her. She will be fine, and if she is not, we will destroy whatever endangers her."
"Victor was about to teach me how to monitor the new device he's given her," Loki explained. "A camera with a live feed."
"Here," Victor handed her a bracelet.
"What is this?" Amora asked as she examined the bracelet.
"The same as Raven's tracker," Loki told her.
"But we don't need that."
"Yes, I told them, but let's indulge them, shall we?" Loki reached out to touch her bracelet and it lit for a moment. "I placed my own tracking spell on it. I placed one on Raven's as well. Victor is to be wearing one, but he has yet to do so."
"I will do it once we have finshed preparing for Mystique's venture," Victor answered.
"You should add your magic to them as well," Loki said to Amora.
"I intend to," She answered. "What do you plan to do about Iron Man?"
"He is the most approachable of the Avengers since you already have the captain."
"Pay attention, now," Victor said, turning to them. "I am about to teach you to hack into a satellite. From there, I will teach you the needed maintenance for keeping watch on Mystique's feed."
"Yes, Let's get on with it," Loki said.
Amora thought it amusing to dress Loki up for an actual date. She dragged him into her room, stood him before the mirror, demanded he take female form, and ordered him to be still and complaint. Loki was not amused as she used her magic to dress him in several Midgardian outfits that neither of them would ever consider wearing, not even bothering to contain her laughter as she did so. Loki only let it go on because he knew she was worried over Raven's meeting with Shield (as they all were) and this kept her slightly distracted.
At some point Loki demanded to be dressed in something decent, and Amora began draping him furs or leather, proper Asgardian attire, and one noticeable inappropriate Vanir style outfit that had him raising an eyebrow at her.
"How much longer have you for me to play?" Amora asked, ignoring his look. "I want to paint your face."
"I am not your doll, Amora," Loki replied with slight annoyance. "Nor am I going to suffer on behalf of Tony Stark."
"But Loki!" Amora whined, holding out various forms of make-up. "Midgardian woman like to stand out."
"Yes, and I can very well do that myself."
"You're no fun!"
"And you're a pain."
"Just let me do your eyes."
"No," Loki stated firmly. "When did you even get that Midgardian mess?"
"I made friends with mortals, of course," Amora replied.
Loki rolled his eyes. "Of course," she muttered. She turned to Amora. "First of all, I will not use that. Midgardian's are terrible with their creations for beauty, and second, Amora, you do not get to place anything on my face. If I want it done, I shall do it myself. Isn't it enough that I let you dress me?"
"And that is why you may not," Loki shook his head. "It is never enough with you. If you are done, may I actually get ready to leave?"
Amora crossed her arms over her chest and pouted. "Fine," She snapped.
"Thank you." Loki walked toward her door.
"Loki," She called softly. Loki stopped and turned toward her. "Do you think she'll be okay?"
"Of course she will," Loki answered confidently.
"Mortals die, Loki."
"That is why we have to look after them," Loki answered.
Loki was waiting outside the restaurant exactly at seven.
Tony Stark was not.
Loki was not one to be patient on behalf of other people. She had a table and a drink when Stark showed up, fifteen minutes late. "Being late does not equate to being charming, Stark," Loki spoke primly when the billionaire arrived.
"It wasn't my fault I'm late!" He protested as he sat down.
"I do not believe you," Loki replied. "If anything dire had occurred, you would be more than fifteen minutes late. This is simply poor time management."
He had the grace to look sheepish at being called out. "Well, to make it up to you, you can order whatever you like!"
"That was always the plan," Loki replied with a smirk.
Their food was quick to arrive once they ordered and Stark couldn't take his eyes away from the sight of Loki eating. "Wow. I never thought I'd actually see you eat."
Loki swallowed her bite of food before making a reply. "I believe there are names for people like you, Stark."
"What do you mean people like me?" He asked.
"You've been watching me without my knowledge for long enough to make comments upon my eating habits," Loki answered. "Does that seem at all suspicious to you?"
"When you say it like that, anything sounds bad," Stark argued.
"Only because that is bad," Loki emphasized. She took a few more bites. "I believe there was a reason you wanted to speak with me?"
"Several reasons," Stark returned. "Most in the form of questions."
"You may begin asking them."
"Alright. To start, why do you keep an eye on The Avengers?"
"I thought I previously addressed that inquiry," Loki said.
"Yeah, but why?"
Loki took a sip from her drink, then she met the mortal's gaze with a serious expression. "Something is coming, Stark. Something worse than what we faced last year."
"The invasion," Loki clarified. "Something... someone... worse approaches, and if any of you were to die... well, what would the rest of us do?"
Stark stared at her with his own serious expression. "How do you know this?"
"I know it," Loki answered simply.
Stark stared at her a while longer. "I get the feeling you wouldn't exactly be lost without us."
"I couldn't take out an army alone," Loki told them. "And I would not be able to protect an entire realm."
"Hmm." He paused to take a few bites of his food. "You should come back to Stark Tower with me."
Loki's eyes widened in surprise. "You do know that I did not come out here to be one of your conquest, yes?"
"That's not what I mean," Stark denied. "Not that I would turn you down if you offered, but I meant you should come with me for science!"
"Science, Stark? In my day we called it what it was." Loki grinned.
"I wanna know how you can do that healing thing."
"You wouldn't be the only one."
"And I wanna know what else you can do."
"I imagine you would."
"I know you are, Stark." Loki placed her silverware down. "I refuse your invitation. It would be unwise for me."
"I'm not gonna hurt you," He told her.
"You want from me things that I am not willing to give."
"All I want are answers," He told her.
Loki shook her head. "That's not true. I give you answers and it is not enough for you. What you want from me is truth. I am not willing to part with it."
"So, what, you've been telling me lies?" He asked.
"Do you ever just give straight answers?" He asked in frustration.
"Yes," Loki answered. "But those answers don't seem to be enough for you and that it why I will not give you anymore. I won't tell you want you want to know just because you are curious, Stark."
"Then what will convince you to tell me?"
Loki smiled to herself as she answered. "What indeed."
Shield's base was very large and Raven, as Lockley, was slightly nervous as she followed Coulson through the halls. It had to be deliberate, taking her down such a complicated series of paths. She wondered if they were trying to unnerve her so that she'd let more slip or just trying to unnerve her because that's what they did. She was surprised when she was lead to the room for a conference that two of the Avengers were there, until she remembered the things that Loki had told her and almost faltered in the doorway.
Coulson directed her to a table across from Hawkeye and Black Widow, being glared down at by an intimidating man with an eye patch. Director Fury, she guessed from what Loki had told her. The Black Widow was a spy, probably here to see if she was lying, and Director Fury was the leader. She couldn't figure out why Hawkeye was here, unless it was just because Black Widow was.
"Miss Lockley," Director Fury greeted. "It's nice to finally meet you."
"I wish I could say the same, but I don't really know who you are," She replied.
"I'm Nick Fury, commander of Shield."
"I can honestly say I never thought that I would meet you."
Coulson sat forward, turning toward her. "We want to go over the information you gave us."
"Sure. Quick question," Raven began. "Why are the Avengers here?"
"Hawkeye and Black Widow are Shield agents. They're going to be investigating the information you gave us," Director Fury explained.
"Hey," Hawkeye nodded at her. Black Widow echoed the gesture silently.
Director Fury turned to a desk behind him and pressed a few buttons on a inlaid keyboard, pictures projecting on a screen behind them. Images of people with burning veins, blast sites, and distanced pictures of a castle. Her eyes were glued to the image of the castle.
"Tell us again what you know about this," Coulson said.
"Nothing," Raven answered. "Not really. I've seen it, but I don't know anything. It's the result of genetic experimentation, but that's all I really know."
"How do you know?" Black Widow asked her. The red haired spy was boring a hole into Raven's head with her stare, but the mutant met her eyes regardless.
"I was told," She answered.
Raven hesitated before answered. "Magneto."
Hawkeye sat up straighter in his chair and Director Fury focused on her a bit more. "Magneto?" Hawkeye repeated. "The guy that controls metals, that Magneto?"
Raven just nodded.
"Why would he tell you that?" Black Widow displayed no surprise or reaction to the information at all.
Raven hesitated again, eyes downcast. "We were friends. I was with him, but I didn't know what he was doing, and when I found out I ran. He tried to convince me to help him, but I wouldn't listen." Raven forced herself to meet the other woman's eyes. "It didn't occur to me that it would come up again."
"Why were you friends with Magneto?" Hawkeye asked and something in his tone --contempt, she thought, either for her friend or mutants in general-- made her angry.
"People make friends," Raven snapped. She narrowed her eyes at him. "I didn't come here to be interrogated."
"Why did you come here, Lockley?" Director Fury asked. He spoke her name like it was satire and it made her both nervous and irritated.
"It isn't a happy thought that people EXPLODE for no reason!" She snapped. "I want to help stop it if I can."
"Why didn't you stop it when you first found out about?" Hawkeye asked.
"What would you have me do?" She snapped in irritation. "It was all I could do to get away from him in the first place! And no one was exploding when I was there. Not that I saw anyway."
"So you find out your friend is conducting experiments on people and you run away?"
"You are an irritating man," Raven snapped. "If you think you can single handedly stop Magneto, be my guest! I'm not a superhero or a spy."
There was a pause before anyone replied.
"We searched the area you indicated," Director Fury said. "We found the place, but it was abandoned."
"We were hoping," Coulson began, inserting himself once more into the conversation, "That you would be willing to go with one of our agents to check out the place. You were there, you might be able to find something that we couldn't."
She nodded. "Fine," She said. "As long as it's not Hawkeye."
Coulson nodded and stood, indicating for her to stand with him. "Come with me. I'll brief you on what to do and you'll leave right away."
"Right," She answered slowly, looking around the room as she stood. They were all staring at her. Something was going on, she was certain, but she couldn't put her finger on it. There was nothing to do but follow Coulson out of the room.