He Without Sin

Loki and Doom Debate Safety

In the future, Raven decided that she would ask for explicit definitions on important concepts. It seemed that she and Shield had very different understandings on a few words. For instance, when she heard the word 'abandoned' she imagined a place that was empty, but Shield seemed to be under the impression that the word was more synonymous with 'filled with people waiting to ambush you'.

Also, in the future, she would put more trust in Loki, who'd warned her about putting too much trust in Shield.

Black Widow, as it turned out, was good to have in an ambush situation. Raven supposed that being both superhero and spy would have to make one pretty adept. Having an electric taser bracelet didn't hurt either. The woman had kept two of their attackers at bay between that and her own skills with hand to hand. (Raven was going to ask Doom if he could make something similar for her. She was no slouch at fighting, but between magical alien gods and genius mad scientist, having a few toys of her own would not hurt in the least.)

Of their five attackers, one was temporarily downed by the combined efforts of her and the Widow, two were still fighting the assassin, and the other two were trying to pin Raven down. Flexibility was one of he greater assets. She twisted out of the reaching hands, jumping slightly to send a kick to her second attacker's face and then kicking the first guy away with the same foot as she spun around. Fighting them wasn't seeming to do as much damage as they wanted. The men, all with varying degrees of glowing red beneath their skin, were stronger and their skin got hotter the longer they fought.

Glancing toward the Widow, she saw the woman able pin one of her attackers with a combination attack from the widow's bite and the crushing power of her thighs around the guy's neck. (A move that Raven made note to study once she was at back in Doom's castle, sudden very glad for the camera in her choker.) With the efficiency and precision of an assassin, she quickly twisted the guy's head until their was an audible snap. It looked to take a bit more strength than expected to snap the man's neck, but that train of thought was cut of when she was grabbed from behind.

The hand tightly wrapped around her wrist burned. Enough that she let out a scream and was frozen for a moment with the pain. She pulled herself out of it as quickly as she could, in time to kick out at the next approaching man, pushing him back far enough that Natasha could deliver a follow up blow to the head. It barely stunned him, but he stopped moving a moment, Natasha had jammed a dagger into the side of his throat. Thinking it was done, she turned from the fallen opponent, but Raven watched as the injury began to knit itself back together before her eyes.

"Natasha!" She called in warning. She couldn't say more before her other wrist was grabbed and another harsh wave of pain washed over her. Two scorching hands pressed into her neck, cutting off the sound. The skin touching her was getting hotter and hotter.

Black Widow moved quickly. Raven couldn't see what she did to the man whose throat had begun to heal, but a jolt of electricity distracted her strangler long enough for Widow to get him off. Raven jumped up and forward, pulling against the man holding her enough to get her her legs between them. She leaned away from him further, gaining the leverage to slam her foot into his jaw and causing him to release her. She twisted just fast enough to avoid breaking her neck when she fell.

Then one of the men began to scream, clutching at his own skin. Raven remembered the image of the explosion from the previous day. "We have to run. Now!" She said.

Black Widow had precisely no objections in taking off and Raven was quick to follow. They were only a room away when the explosion happened and Raven screamed as the wall of intense heat crashed into her back. The Widow was just ahead of her and around the corner enough that she couldn't feel it enough to burn. Raven used all her concentration to hold her form while the pain washed over her. She would never hear the end of it from Loki or Amora if she didn't.

"Lockley?" Natasha was kneeling beside her once the heat died down.

Raven couldn't bring herself to speak and only nodded. She could hear the spy speaking into an ear piece, but Raven really couldn't focus well after that.

Raven's burns weren't that bad, thankfully, but they were still very painful. Her wrist were angry and red, sore even though nothing touched her. Her back felt even worse. Black Widow promised that they would hurry back to base to treat her and she couldn't really think of anything other than how to get out of it. She wanted the burning in the wrist and back to go away, but she also didn't want Shield giving her medical attention of any kind.

Raven startled slightly when Black Widow sat beside her. The woman was looking at her in a decidedly less hostile manner than before. "Hey," She began. "That was nice work out there."

"Thank you."

"Where did you learn to fight so well?" The Widow asked.

"Here and there," Raven answered. "I knew a few people in the military." She shrugged.

Natasha nodded. "I picked up a few good moves that way."

"How'd you learn that take down move?"

A small smile touched Natasha's lips. "Personal preference. I can do a lot with my thighs."

Raven smiled in return. "Signature moves?"

"You might say that," She replied. "If you're lucky, maybe I'll teach you sometime."

Raven decided that the woman wasn't so bad after all.

The Shield base was under attack when they returned. That was interesting. Raven figured that that would make it easier for her to slip away without much trouble. Her burns needed very much to be treated and any excuse not to have that happen under government watch was one that she was willing to take. They had only been at the base for minute before the wall was blown in and Doombots rushed through. She very much hoped that Doom was not about interrupt her while she was, as Loki called it, 'working'.

Which was entirely too much to hope for, as the Doombots immediately rushed towards her and the Widow and grabbed hold of them.

Well this was awkward. Was she suppose to go with Doom? Fight him off? Which would be more suspicious?

It didn't seem to matter either way. The Doombot latched onto her very tightly and there was absolutely no room for her to get free. Both her legs and arms were held in a near crushing grip by the bot, almost like they were made for holding people against their will. Which was very disturbing. Perhaps she should reconsider her living arrangements. He'd already put a tracker on her and now she was trapped by one of his creations. Her mind began to draw a few worrying comparisons to Magneto, but her thoughts were interrupted before she could continue that thought.

One of the Doombots near her exploded and she spotted Hawkeye with his bow and arrow nearby. She didn't get to see much, except for Natasha rolling free from an exploding arrow. The bot holding her was moving too quickly. The bot only slowed when it passed by a room that she spotted Doom standing in. As they passed, the man was pulling something out of a computer and walking toward her. She wasn't the only captive. A few Shield agents had also been caught and the bots followed after Doom as he left.

"What the hell is this?" Raven yelled. It was part panic and part annoyance. She really did not like not knowing what was going on.

"Do not question, Doom!" The man commanded.

"I'll question if I damn well feel like it!" She yelled again.

The man glanced at her barely a moment. "You are not in any position to do so. Be silent and you shall be safe. Follow the lead of your fellow agents."

The last thing Raven wanted to do was be silent, but it wouldn't really do her any favors if she had an outburst at the moment. Doom really wasn't doing her any favors by being in his 'stage persona' as they had taken to calling it. She hadn't forgotten how intent the man had been to experiment on her or study her. He still eyed her like something that he wanted to dissect. Doom looked at all of them that way. He hadn't had his mask off around her very often, but she could tell just by the way his gaze seemed to follow one of them around a room. Magneto used to look at her (and other mutants) like they were power waking.

A very nervous part of her wished that Loki was somewhere near.

Outside the base were more Doombots. Doom seemed to be going all out this time. He usually never left behind anything for Shield to study, not wanting the possibility of their scientist (or Stark) to learn too much about his creations. She didn't know how he was planning to stop that from happening when he let them loose in an enemy base.

"How about we let the hostages go and make this easy for once?" Iron Man appeared suddenly before them. She could see Captain America behind him and further off the Hulk seemed to be crushing as many bots as he could get his hands on.

"I believe you have other things to worry about," Doom said. He took out a device and pressed a button and all the Doombots that were not holding hostages began to explode. And anything near them began to catch fire. "Priorities, Iron Man. Chose yours."

The man clearly hesitated, weapons trained on Doom.

"No need to dither, Iron Man," Loki, as Luna, spoke softly as she was walking in front of them. "You really should do something about the base. Trust me to handle Doom."

Iron Man hesitated another moment before finally flying off.

Luna looked at Doom dispassionately. "Whatever you are doing, I care not what, desist."

"Doom takes orders from no one!" He said.

Luna walked over to Raven, pulling the restricting arms of the bot away from her, and the mutant fell into the gods arms. "Luna," She whispered softly as a healing hand traced over her wrist, then with a darker look healed the injuries on her back and neck.

"Did Doom harm you?" She demanded.

"No, this happened before," Raven answered with a sigh of relief. Relief both for the pain ebbing away and for the gods arrival.

With a nod, the god turned to face Doom. A crash of thunder rent the sky and Luna froze for a moment. The absolute stillness worried Raven and Luna's arms tightened around her when rain began to fall and the sky darkened all at once. "You had best take cover or face defeat," Luna told him. They moved out of sight before the Thunder god arrived. Luna's attention seemed split for a long moment before she focused on Raven. "You are well?"

"Yes, I... you have good timing," Raven said. "Or you and Doom are getting reckless."

"Doom is getting reckless," Luna nodded. "I am here because you called for me."


Luna ran her hand through Raven's hair, moving it away from her face. "I heard your prayer."

"I..." Raven wasn't really certain what to do with that. She didn't realize how much she had been panicking or that Loki would be able to hear it. "I didn't..."

"You were frightened," Luna went on, completely heedless to the mutants flustered stumbling. How was one suppose to respond to a situation like this? "Did you think Doom was going to harm you?"

"Um..." She wasn't quite certain how to respond to that either. To a certain extend, she always thought Doom wanted to do her some sort of harm in the name of science, but it was usually a background feeling. She both trusted and distrusted him.

Luna just nodded, as if Raven had given a completely reasonable answer. "Would you prefer not to return to the castle just yet?"

"Yes." Raven was glad to be able to finally answer a question she was asked. And not to have to return to the castle just now. Her thoughts about Magneto and Doom made her feel... uncomfortable at best.

Luna reached out to remove the choker. "I ask that you not remove the bracelet," She said. "Just in case." Raven nodded her agreement, but she didn't know that she wouldn't remove it anyway later. Luna's eyes traveled back to the battle. The heavy rain had put out most of the fires and Doom had made his escape. The gods eyes seemed to linger on the god of Thunder.

"Who is that?" Raven questioned.

"My brother..." Luna answered then they teleported away.

Loki left Raven at one of his apartments. Not the one that he had taken her to before, his things were still scattered over the bedroom floor and he didn't want anyone else near them, but one of his lesser used places. He considered taking her to Amora, but decided against it. Amora didn't need to play babysitter right now and Raven didn't need a watcher.

There was no food in the apartment that Loki left Raven in, but there were stashes of money hidden everywhere around the place. She ignored the piles of gold coins, though she was tempted to keep some, she also stared for a long time when she discovered the various gems hidden about the bedroom, fighting the temptation to take any of them. (It would not be a good idea to steal from a god.) Interestingly, it was in the kitchen that she found American money, hidden away in one of the cabinets. She took this as explicit permission to take the money for food.

She didn't actually do this right away. She explored the apartment first, which was more sparely furnished than the other Loki had shown her, but that was done with quickly. She spent a few minutes pacing the living room, staring at the bracelet that Doom had given her, debating whether or not to keep the thing or toss it out the window.

Raven could practically feel the metal of the Doombots still wrapped around her, reminding her more and more of the last fallout that she'd had with Magneto. Raven and Magneto had had more than one fallout in the past, so had she and Charles to be honest, but their last encounter had been worse than anything that came before it. Never before had she ever been afraid of Erik. Never before had she ever felt so betrayed by him. They'd been separated before, had to leave each other under less than ideal situations, but she'd still trusted him.

She no longer had any trust in Magneto. After their last encounter, she was convinced that he cared more about his distrust and hate for humans than his support for mutants and their rights.

Revisiting Magneto's castle had brought a lot of memories to the surface. She had spent a good amount of time with Erik in that castle, including their last. The stone walls were familiar, the halls had almost felt like home, but the basement had filled her with chills.

She remembered their last fight. It had started with a simple discussion, with him more hinting than telling her what he planned to do as he tried to get her to help him. She'd been reluctant to say too much to Shield, unwilling to completely betray her once friend, and afraid to give any part of the government more reason to fear or hate mutants. His plan of "converting" humans to mutants was something that she'd been skeptical about at best, but when he'd shown her the results, she was horrified. Experimenting on humans was no better than what the humans had tried to do to them and she had wanted no part of it. She didn't know whether working with a human to make that goal made it better or worst, but she was against it either way.

Seeing how much pain they seemed to be in with liquid fire traveling through their veins had been awful. He'd tried to convince her that they just needed to be stabilized, that her DNA could be the key, but she'd had more than enough of people trying to experiment on her. The fact Erik then tried to force her compliance was perhaps the worst part of all of it.

Most people thought that the metal controlling mutant was nearly invincible (she'd thought that for a time, too), but she was glad now that he wasn't. The only reason Raven knew that she meant anything to him was that his guard had been down enough for her to get the jump on him. Attacking him before he could finish strapping her down and doing him enough damage that she could get away.

Raven contemplated that something was wrong with her that she kept falling in with men like Erik and Doom. Even Charles, righteous as he pretended to be, would use his power to get what he wanted with little hesitation. Even thinking that, though, she still contemplated going to him for help. It had even been her intention before Loki had found her. (And it was perhaps a selfish part of her that hadn't told him about Charles as a source of potential aid, just so that she'd have someplace safe if she needed to run again later.)

Raven curled up on the couch, staring at the table with the small pile of money she'd gathered in preparation for getting food. She didn't feel like going out. She didn't really feel like moving. Her eyes also went to the tracking bracelet. Essentially, Victor and Erik wanted to do the same thing to her. The only question was who she'd be in the least danger with, and at least with Doom, he was still holding himself back. Well, as far as she knew. The attack could have been the prelude to him strapping her down to one of his work tables in his lab.

Did it really matter whether or not Doom could get a hold of her if Loki could? His look earlier made her firmly believe that the god would not let her be pried open by the man and he could find her if she called. Well, if she prayed. Which she hadn't even meant to do. What if she couldn't do it a second a second time?

Sitting as she was, curled on the couch and staring at the bracelet that was a direct line from her to a scalpel happy maniac, Raven couldn't help but deeply lament her life. She hated Magneto. She hated Doom. And most importantly and most deeply, she was pretty certain that she hated Extremis. Regardless of whether or not Magneto was able to get it right.

Loki wanted to go back to Shield's base to see his brother. He wanted to go back to his apartment and curl up on the floor. He wanted to talk to his mother, who he was at least assured still loved him. (Though he chose not to think about whether or not she thought him a monster. She never said so, but never said the opposite either.) It wasn't really an emergency, though, even if it felt like one.

He didn't do any of the things that he wanted to do. Instead, he went to Doom. The mortal had an embassy in New York that was really only used during times like this, when attack or retreat was imminent. The man was grumbling to himself about the loss of his hostages and Loki let out a deep and loud sigh. He didn't care what Doom did when it didn't involve Loki, not really. But there was chaos, something that was perfectly acceptable, and then there was being just plain sloppy. Loki did not condone sloppy plans, even if he himself sometimes made them.

"What were you trying to accomplish, Victor?" He said it with a heavy sigh. He felt tired, like it had been a long time since he'd been home. He almost missed the feeling he had while leading the invasion, when it felt like he would be able to go home if he just completed his task. Except that he didn't have a home waiting for him. He couldn't return to his mother's embrace, his father didn't want him, and his brother didn't love him. He didn't want to talk to Amora, either. She didn't know that Thor would hate him and she had her own feelings with Thor to deal with. And Loki very much did not want to see Amora giving Thor that look like she had done when he first arrived. He didn't want to have to think about the fact that Thor might want her more than he wanted Loki. (He didn't want to consider how horrible such a thought made him.)

"Collecting information," Victor answered.

"From Shield?" Loki raised an eyebrow. "And you could not think of a more covert way to go about it?"

"I did not intend to be covert," The mortal answered. "I wanted not only information, but personal opinions. I was going to question a few of their agents."

"My agents," Loki said pointedly. He had recognized most of the people that the Doombots had captured and he hadn't forgotten any of them.


Loki took a step forward. "And why were you specifically after the agents that I took control over?"

Victor actually let out a sigh. "I wish not to upset you."

Loki tilted his head as he looked at the man, but was unable to gleam much from the armored form. Victor only gave himself away with his movements, if he was still, the armor protected his thoughts as well as his body. A part of Loki wanted not to pursue this line of questioning any further. If it truly was something that would upset him, he did not wish to be upset in front of Victor. Loki knew the scientist was looking for weaknesses in them all. It was simply his way. It was Loki's way, too. He didn't think this was something that he should drop however. If Victor thought it would upset him, then the man already thought that it was a weakness of Loki's and he was trying not to use it.

Rather than comfort Loki, he found the thought disturbing. Was Victor trying to protect him? What did he know that could do so much damage he actually wanted to protect him?

Loki thought he might regret his decision, but asked anyway, "What information were you after?"

Victor watched him silently for a long time before giving an answer. Loki was not fond of the pause. Victor preceded to answer with caution. "Amora made mention of another god's arrival." Loki could feel the scrutiny of Victor's gaze as his body became absolutely still and a halt came to his breathing. "The myth's are not to be trusted, so I sought out a more accurate source."

"Why?" The word came out as a gasp, startled out of him.

"If I recall, we were expecting a god to come for you," Victor answered. The words were careful and slow, filled with caution. "Without information, we cannot very well make counter measures."

"No!" Loki protested. "No, don't--"

"Don't what?" Victor's voice hardened slightly. "Don't make counter measures?" Loki began to nod, but the mortal wasn't finished. "Do not be prepared to aid you? Do not make preparations for defense in case we are attacked? Do not keep you safe?"

"What?" Loki's eyes widened at the outburst. "S-safe?"

"Yes, Loki, safe!" Victor repeated vehemently, taking a step toward the god. "Protected. Unharmed. The concept is familiar to you, yes?"

'No.' A part of Loki wanted to answer. 'It's not familiar. It's completely unknown.' But that wasn't true. "Safety" to Loki had never been "being unharmed." Safety was knowing that Thor would come for him afterwards to make everything better and spend his rage on those that had harmed Loki. Safety was Odin arriving from the Bifrost before the Joutunn's killed his sons. Safety was his mother holding him after everything had already had already gotten as bad as it could get.

Safety was aftercare, not precaution. You could not be safe before something happened, only cautious.

Unharmed was something that Loki knew absolutely nothing about. No one is Asgard was ever 'unharmed', it simply wasn't the way.

Loki understood what Victor meant, however. The meaning wasn't what stopped him in his tracks and flooded him with confusion. The idea that Victor was trying to offer it, however...

"Why... What concern is it of yours?" Loki questioned.

Victor's hands clenched at his sides, an expression of anger that he was trying to repress. "Let us say that it is no concern of mine whether or not another gods takes you away. Is it my concern whether or not he tears through my castle to do so? Is it my concern that he holds status as one of the Avengers and therefore stands in the way of my ambition?"

Loki couldn't speak. Irrationally, as he knew the mortal posed no threat to his brother, Loki wanted to tell Victor not to attack Thor. Loki didn't want this to have anything to do with him. He wanted to stand between the mortal and his brother. He wanted the mortal to stand between himself and Thor. He wanted this situation to not be happening and he wanted to not be a coward.

Victor took a step forward. "You stay in my castle," Victor spoke fiercely. "You are a member of my household. I have the right to do with you as I please."

"You have no such right!" Loki protested, appalled that the mortal would speak to him in such a way! And further appalled when the man ignored Loki's comment completely.

"If I want to toss you out, that is my right!" He stepped towards Loki. "If I want to slam you down onto my operating table and open you up, that is my right!" Another step. "If I want to protect you from errant gods, then That. Is. My. Right!" Victor was standing right before Loki now, his voice at a shout.

The god was completely lost as to what reaction he should have. He wanted to refute any claim that the man thought he could possible have on him. Mortals do not have rights to gods. Another part of him felt the sudden desire to stand down. The shock and warring emotions made his voice come out in a breathy whisper, the shock clear in his voice. "No it's not."

"I can do with you as I please!" Victor growled, grabbing Loki's arm. Loki's answering glare was automatic. This was not an unknown side of Victor. He often made such claims, often made attempts to lord over them all as Latveria's Ruler and Lord of his castle, with varying degrees of sincerity. Likewise, he was either humored or ignored to various degrees.

"You dare think you can stand up to a god!" Loki spat out angrily.

"What do you suppose that I am doing, now, trickster?"

Loki tore his arm from Victor's grasp, forgetting his strength and watching as Victor was thrown slightly off balance. "Nothing of me is your concern!"

Victor's swiftly backhanded the god, and Loki was pushed back slightly with surprise. "You are my concern if I say you are!"

"No, I am not!" Loki returned the blow and the mortal was thrown against the wall. Loki was too angry to be concerned with whether or not he hurt the mortal, but he still hadn't used anything close to his true strength. He wasn't that angry.

Victor took a moment to push himself away from the wall and stand back to full height. "It matters not what you say, trickster. I will have what I want and nothing so meager as a god is going to get in my way! Not you not your damned brother! If I have to, I'll kill him myself!"

"You will do no such thing!" Loki growled dangerously.

Victor barked out a harsh laugh. "Does the mighty god suddenly fear a mortal's power!"

"I'm warning you, Victor--"

"No! I am warning you, Loki!" Victor was full on shouting now. "You are mine, trickster! Amora is mine! Mystique is mine! I will use you all as I please and if it pleases me to keep that blundering oaf of a god away from you, then I shall do so no matter what any of your opinions are on the matter! If I have to tear apart Shield and the Avengers and personally interrogate every being on the planet to find out how to do so, then I will do so mercilessly. I need no permission and I will not apologize."

They stared each down for a long time, multiple emotions warring inside of Loki. Finally, before his anger would lead him to kill the possessive and presumptuous mortal, Loki teleported away.

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