inkwellwarriors

SWVTL Part 10: The Armageddon Party *FULL UPDATE*

       The Impala rumbled to a stop in the private parking garage below Stark Tower’s North Building and Dean tried not to let himself get too overwhelmed. As much as he hated to admit it, teaming up with the Avengers was pretty damn exciting. He stepped out of the car and shut the door behind him, gazing around at Stark’s collection of vehicles. Motorcycles, muscle cars, classic cars, sports cars, and even a few prototypes, all on display in the vast garage. Dean leaned back on the Impala and bit his lip to keep himself from salivating.

       “Good afternoon, Mr. Winchester,” a voice sounded from above. Dean swung his head around wildly, trying to locate the source.

       “Hello…?”

       “My name is JARVIS; I am Mr. Stark’s AI. If you’d please remain where you are, Mr. Stark will be down in a moment to escort you to the Main Tower.”

       Dean stuck his hands in his jacket pockets and settled back against the car again. “Alrighty then…”

       “1967 Chevrolet Impala?” a different voice echoed through the garage a few minutes later. Dean looked over to see Iron Man walking toward him and he smothered a childish, giddy grin.

       “Yeah, you like her?” he said, as Tony came up and patted the hood appreciatively.

       “A little road weary but makes her authentic. I had a ’67 myself. A Shelby Cobra.” Dean whistled. “Unfortunately she was the victim of some of my early experimentation.”

       “What happened?”

       “Oh, you know, crash landed right on top of her. Heavy iron suit and all that, wasn’t pretty.”

       “Son of a bitch,” Dean said, running his hand along the Impala’s roof, reluctant to entertain thoughts of her demise. He went and grabbed his bags from the trunk, locking it again before Tony could catch a good glimpse of the weapons cache. “Baby’s been through her fair share of trouble but I’ve fixed her up every time.”

       The two men began walking toward the junction between the North Building and the Main Tower.

       “Ah, Mr. Handy Man, huh? Good, we’ll probably be able to put that to use. How do you feel about robots?”

       They continued talking all the way through the lobby and up the elevator. On the way up, they were startled when Castiel decided to drop in, appearing between them.

       “Holy shit, Cas,” Dean said, backing against the wall of the elevator. “You couldn’t have joined us before we got in the elevator?”

       “My apologies.”

       “You must be angel boy,” Tony said, cuffing Castiel on the shoulder.

       “…Yes, and you must be the arrogant billionaire who owns this tower.”

       “That would be me, indeed.” Tony smiled brilliantly and Cas looked at him, his expression unchanging.

       “Cas, I thought you were gonna call when you were coming. How’d you even know we were in here?” Dean asked, straightening his jacket as he pushed himself off the wall.

       “I asked the receptionist.”

       “Right…”

       The three of them rode the rest of the way in silence until they emerged onto the main party deck floor where everyone was gathered. Dean looked around the room, taking note of the floor-length windows and positions of all the entrances and exits.

       Tony cleared his throat and the general chatter died down as everyone turned their attention to the new arrivals. “Our final recruits have arrived. Everyone, Dean Winchester and Castiel. Dean Winchester and Castiel, everyone.”

       Dean waved as best he could with his hands occupied by his bags and a few other people responded with “Hello” or a small nod or salute.

       “You can drop your bags there for the time being; you can move them down to your room later. But for now,” Tony said, clapping his hands together, “we’re all here. Let the Armageddon Party commence!”

       Jack popped a bottle of champagne and everyone got up to mingle, going up to greet Dean and Castiel or to talk to various other allies.

       Dean went over to Sam who was sitting at the bar. His brother stood up and clasped his shoulder. “Hey, you made it.”

       “Yeah. How was your ride in the Magic School Bus?”

       Sam rolled his eyes. “It’s called a TARDIS, Dean. And it’s really cool; you missed out.”

       “Yeah, well, I’m much happier taking the open road with my Baby. And speaking of babes…” Dean moved Sam to the side and approached Natasha, who was drinking with Clint and Coulson.

       “Hi.”

       “Hi,” she said, barely sparing him a glance and taking a sip of her champagne.

       “I’m Dean.”

       “So I’ve heard.”

       “And you’re Black Widow.” Dean put on what he thought was a charming smile. Natasha set her drink down on the bar as Clint and Coulson hid their smiles behind their glasses.

       “That I’m also aware of.”

       “Right…” Dean laughed nervously, and the three S.H.I.E.L.D agents watched him, waiting for him to continue. “I’m…wasting my time here, aren’t I?”

       Natasha nodded, a tiny smile hinting on her lips. Dean laughed again awkwardly before turning on his heel and going back to Sam who was on the verge of convulsive laughter. “Not a word,” Dean warned, taking a beer from the provided cooler and twisting the cap off. Even Cas, who had come to stand across from Sam, looked mildly amused.

       The rest of the of the allies had branched off into other parts of the room, falling into easy conversation. Tony joined the Doctor, Rose, and Bruce in a discussion of space travel. Jack, Steve, John, and Thor sat together on the couches, sharing war stories and laughing heartily as Jack re-enacted an air battle, complete with sound effects. Of course, Clint, Natasha, and Coulson were huddled at the end of the bar, probably talking about secret agent business. Sherlock was off by himself, standing by the windows and staring out over the cityscape as if he was going to deduce all of New York.

       Sam watched the stoic detective over his glass of Jack Daniels, ignoring his brother’s complaints over the female-to-male ratio of the room. Castiel’s unblinking stare bored into the side of Dean’s skull and brought the hunter out of his ramblings.

       He turned to the shorter man, leveling his annoyed gaze with the always-observant blue-eyed stare of his friend. “Cas.”

       “Dean?”

       “Remember what I said about staring.”

       “No, I remember something about personal space. Which I still don’t understand–how does one monopolize a specific portion of the atmosphere–”

       “Okay, okay,” shaking his head, Dean took another swig of the thankfully familiar beer. “Ease off the staring.” He shoved his elbow into Sam’s side. “That goes for you too.”

       “Ow! Dean!”

       “Who are you staring at?”

       “Uh, Sherlock Holmes I think is his name.” He inclined his head toward the tall brooding man. “He just looks lonely.”

       “No, we can’t make friends here, Sammy. We don’t have a good streak with keeping them alive.”

       “These people are geniuses and superheroes, Dean. I don’t think we need to look after them quite like our other friends.”

       Dean scoffed and drained the last of the amber liquor in his on bottle. “Wait till they hear it was us who started the apocalypse. We’ll see just who is left in the end for us to be friends with.” He scowled.

       Castiel touched both brothers’ shoulders firmly, “If it’s any consolation, it’s really neither of your faults. Heaven would have made it happen with or without your cooperation.”

       “Sure doesn’t feel that way.”

       “Hey!” Sam called out, “Sherlock!” He held up a beer in place of a question.

       Sherlock sighed. He really didn’t want to socialize with any of these men. The little John inside his head reminded him he was going to be spending an undetermined amount of time with these people. This was the End of the World, it was probably going to take some time. The little John in his head urged him to take a chance and talk to the Winchesters…and their companion.

       Castiel. This was an interesting man. With a small nod, Sherlock answered Sam’s silent question and moved over to join them.

       Sherlock took the unopened beer bottle from Sam’s hand and with a swift turn of his wrist, uncapped the bottle and let the small metal disc clink to the floor. Dean nodded in approval and opened another for himself in much the same fashion.

       “I didn’t take you for a beer guy,” Dean said. He looked over the suit-wearing detective curiously.

       “Usually under disguise, John and I have to “get loose” and drink a few to blend in. John prefers light beer or scotch. You, I can tell, drink a lot. More than your brother, usually of a lower quality but you can appreciate a good whiskey or a quality microbrew. Sam prefers dark beer but likes wine as well.” Dean smirked at that and ignored his brother’s side glare. “However your friend here… He is not human.”

       The Winchesters tensed but Castiel regarded the man with curiosity, tilting his head to side. “Yes, how did you know?”

       “You are different. I see you are rather uncomfortable in your body, like it is not your own, and you seem newly acquainted to human society by your mannerisms. I just overheard Dean telling you about personal space, but a man of that,” gestures to Castiel’s vessel, “age should know about personal space to the point of not requiring to spare a thought for it. You had to be told not to stare, in fact you sometimes stare off, like you’re focusing on something far away, perhaps you are really feeling the area. You three both seem uncomfortable in this city scape. You’re used to the country and traveling. The way Dean always stands between Sam and present company implicates that not only in hostile situations but in everyday life you feel the need to protect him. You seem much more like a father protecting his child than an older brother. Your family is broken–”

       “Hey–!”

       “Dean.” Sam put his arm in front of his older brother. Dean sat fully back on his stool again, still leveling a guarded glare at the detective.

       “You are a gifted man.” Castiel was awed by Sherlock’s deduction skills, and took a step forward. “I’m pleased to know you are working to stop criminals rather than using your skills against your fellow humans.” The taller man was obviously surprised by the praise.

       “It’s much more fun solving puzzles than creating them. What are you?”

       “I am Castiel, an Angel of the Lord. This appearance is just my vessel.”

       Sherlock’s eyebrows rose and he gave Castiel a disbelieving smirk. “Really. An angel. Wings, halo, and all?”

       “I don’t know about the halo bit, but I’ve seen his wings.” Dean took a swig of his beer as Sherlock narrowed his eyes at Castiel in thought. “And I’ve seen him smite people. I didn’t believe it either at first, but he really is an angel.”

       “…It is not impossible for angels to exist, and if the Apocalypse is truly happening, that lends more credibility to Biblical folklore.” Sherlock pressed his hands together in front of his lips, gazing at Castiel thoughtfully. Dean almost thought he was praying, but it turned out he was mulling new questions in his head. “What is your wingspan? You will likely not show anyone you do not explicitly trust your actual wings, as they would be too vulnerable to injury if revealed, so I will not ask you to.”

       “Do you mean my wing span as I am contained within this vessel or my true form? In my true form my wingspan would easily be as long as the Avenger’s tower is high.”

       Sherlock opened his mouth slightly, his brain going into hyperdrive trying to remember classes of angels and any references to their size. Before he could fire off an inquiry, though, Thor came over and clasped Sherlock’s and Castiel’s shoulders. “Who is ready for a drinking contest? I am told you Midgardians do that to commemorate friendship!”

       Dean crossed his arms on the counter, leaning forward on them with a smirk. “Straight up drinking or a game?”

       “I have not played any of your kind’s drinking games, but I believe I could still defeat you lightweight humans in a such a contest,” grinned Thor.

       “I think your demigod metabolism might give you a little bit of an advantage there, buddy. Cas could probably take you on, though.”

       “Dean, I don’t like it when you volunteer me for things.”

       “Relax, Cas, I know you can totally win.” He fixed Castiel with a sly smirk. “Or can some pagan god defeat an Angel of the Lord in even as simple a contest as this?”

       Castiel huffed, but sat on the barstool on the opposite side of Dean from Thor. “How is this game played?”

       “Ohhhh, a game!” cried the gangly Doctor, who stopped by their group en route to the soda fountain.

       “Oh this will be even funner. The God, The Angel, and The Time Lord. It’s a drinking game called ‘Quarters’. It’s really quite simple. You’ll each have a cup representing you at the end of this table, and you take turns flicking quarters and trying to bounce them into the other person’s cup. Every time a quarter manages to get into their cup, they take a shot. Basically it’s a game to try to make your opponents get drunker, faster. Usually I play till I stumble down on my ass but that’s up to you guys.”

       “A feat of precision, marksmanship, and friendly competition, I like it,” declared Thor, popping his knuckles in each huge fist, eyes narrowed as he judged the distance between himself and the end of the counter.

       “What do I hear about marksmanship?” Clint came up and rested his elbow on the counter, “I can get behind a game of marksmanship.”

       “John,” Sherlock called out. The blonde man looked up from his circle of new comrades. “Come show these imbeciles a thing or two about marksmanship.” Sherlock’s mouth twitched up, knowing his dear blogger couldn’t resist a good challenge.

       John glanced at those gathered by Sherlock at the bar and rose from his place on the couch to join them. “Well, fellows, I’m going to try my luck at not getting my arse served to me by a couple of ‘higher beings’.”

       “Hey,” Jack lightly smacked John’s arm with the back of his hand. “Perhaps later I could show you my marksmanship skills elsewhere?” A coy light glinted behind his eyes, his eyebrows raised meaningfully.

       “I’m not–,” John glanced at the waiting Sherlock for the briefest of moments, “I’m not interested, sorry.”

       “Ah well, I gave it shot.” Jack laughed at his own joke and winked at the sandy haired man. Smiling gratefully at the understanding old soldier, John stood up and then joined Sherlock where a few others had flocked to join in on the fun as well.

       Give any of these people a gun, or a bow, perhaps a knife, or even a hammer and they could hit their target dead on each and every time. However, giving them a quarter and telling them to flick and bounce it across a table is equal to watching a sugar-crazed three year old trying to play ring toss when the target is 5 feet away. The only ones who could really make a decent shot were surprisingly Castiel and Thor. The angel was very well aware of the power and movement of his vessel and easily found the right amount of force to use after Dean showed him how to angle the quarter. Thor on the other hand found this to be similar to a more kid friendly game he played back in Asgard. They tag-teamed against everyone else. John and Clint were aiming for one anothers cup as well, but not faring as well in their aim, though Coulson was 99.99% positive Clint was losing on purpose, his quarters sailing perfectly between the slim spaces that separated the cups. The Doctor could hardly flick the quarter enough to get it to bounce a reasonable distance. Eventually Castiel and Thor turned on against the other and aimed with pinpoint precision for the other’s glass. They downed shot after shot of their choice of drink.

       Foreseeing his unavoidable loss, the Doctor conceded early and slipped away, once more heading toward the sodas at the end of the bar when a dim glow under the resident Iron Man’s shirt caught his eye. He approached the genius with a spring of curiosity in his step.

       “Now,” the Doctor spun in a circle and stopped gracefully at Tony’s side, “What is that faint glow under your shirt, Mr. Stark?”

       “I thought you knew all about us, Doctor?” chuckled Tony. He slugged back his own shot of liquor and leaned against the bar.

       “I know who you are, and what you do in general but not your precise history.”

       “Too much universal knowledge to hold in that head?” Tony held up a glass. “Want some?”

       Wrinkling his nose at the sharp-smelling liquor, he avoided both questions with silence. Bringing up his hand to accent his next question, the Doctor was cut short when Tony turned his back to the Doctor to fill a fresh row of shot glasses on the bartop in front of him, but with whiskey this time. Nimble on his feet, the Doctor quickly shifted to the other side of Tony. “I’m really interested, mostly for the well-being of yourself, and those present. ‘Cause the last time someone had a glow on their body, it turned out to be a nasty alien parasite, living off their–”

       Tony laughs. “It’s not an alien parasite; I can guarantee you that.”

       “How? How can you be sure, absolutely positively–”

       “Because I put it there myself,” stated Tony, catching the Doctor’s eye, effectively silencing his ramblings. The Doctor didn’t break Tony’s gaze, he merely tilted his head a bit and mimicked Tony’s resting stance, leaning on one elbow.

       “Yourself? You willingly put some glowy thing in your chest?”

       “Yes.” Tony raised the glass to his lips, hesitated and dropped his gaze. His glass came to rest on the counter with a thunk. “It protects my heart in more than one way. I call it the Arc Reactor. It’s an energy source, kind of like a mini fusion energy generator–” laughs at the Doctor’s surprise, “It’s completely stable. No radiation, different elements.” At this Tony did sigh and downed a shot. A familiar world-weary look settled over the Avenger’s face. The Doctor looked around the room once before looking at Tony again to continue. “It not only powers my suit, but the electromagnet that keeps pieces of shrapnel from damaging my heart.”

       “Brilliant. Though, I don’t think I want to know why there is shrapnel in your chest cavity.” He frowned. Tony laughed and nodded in agreement. “Can I take a look, if you don’t mind. That has to be one beautiful piece of technology. Oh, don’t worry,” he said, seeing Tony’s unease as he pulled his sonic screwdriver out from an inner pocket of his long coat. “I’ll just give your Arc Reactor a little scan, nothing too probing or potentially problematic.“

       “A scan? Really?” the genius raised an eyebrow.

       “Oh please, if you think I’ll steal your designs, have no fear. I have no need for any of your technology, advanced as it may be for humans. I just want to understand– this.” He gestured excitedly to the faint glow from Tony’s chest. "It’s absolutely fascinating.”

       Tony eyed the Doctor skeptically. “Alright, well, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

      ”Sorry?

       Tony pointed at the Doctor’s screwdriver. “I’ll show you the reactor but only if I can look at your Sonic doohickey.”

       "Oh, well, yes, I suppose that would be fair…” The Doctor looked between his sonic screwdriver and Tony apprehensively before nodding once, his eyebrows drawn down a bit. “Yes, alright. You first?

       Tony smirked, “Deal.” Pushing away from the bar counter, he tugged the bottom of his shirt up.

       The Doctor’s smile turned to confusion. “Whoa!” He exclaimed and looked away from Tony, bringing his hands up and looking around. He loudly whispered “What are you doing?”

       “Stripping. Goodness, who knew the ancient Time Lord was a virgin.”

       “I am not–finishing that sentence.” He ended slowly. Tony just laughed, tossing his shirt aside. “There are people around!”

       “Yes, and?”

       The Doctor blew out all the air in his lungs, slumping slightly. “I know who the promiscuous one is in your group.” He muttered under his breath. His eyes caught the exposed arc reactor and the light drew him in like a moth.

       “What was that, beanstalk? Like what you see?” mused Stark.

       “Shush.” The Doctor’s curiosity grew stronger the longer he eyed the Arc Reactor that rested in the center of Tony’s chest. Leaning in closer, he started to change the setting on his sonic screwdriver, his eyes never leaving the soft blue light. “Does it hurt?”

       “No, not anymore.”

       “Anymore?” Tony could feel the breath of the word on his exposed torso.

       “I kind of got palladium poisoning. That was the first element I used in my original arc reactor. Now it’s replaced, and I haven’t had issues with this one. Hey–” the Doctor retracted his hand that had been tracing the edges of the arc. “I thought you said just a scan!”

       “Hmm? Oh, yes.” The Doctor abruptly stood up and stepped back to a more acceptable range. “Right, sorry. That is a marvel right there in your chest, Mr. Stark.” With a final adjustment to his sonic’s setting, he moved in closer once more. He brought the glowing tip to the rim of the reactor and paused when he noticed Tony stiffen. He flicked the sonic screwdriver around the edge of the reactor and snapped it up to his own face for examination of the analysis.

       The Doctor looked up to ask Tony a question and saw him trembling, grasping the bar counter. His face was pale and his eyes were wide, nearly bulging. The trembles quickly turned into shakes, running up and down the man’s body. His breath escaped him in a shuddering, painful sounding gasp. This gained attention from Tony’s teammates almost instantly. Tony thrashed, lost grip of the bar counter, and fell to the ground in a fit.

       “Tony?!” Steve ran over from overseeing Thor and Cas’ drinking escapade and cradled Tony’s head, attempting to prevent brain damage. Seconds after Steve had stilled Tony’s head, the genius went completely limp, previously flailing limbs dropping to the floor. John and Bruce were running to aid the unconscious man, a frayed medical bag slung over Bruce’s shoulder. A distinctive click resounded in the new found silence and a gun pressed to the back of the Doctor’s head. He raised his hands up slowly.

       “What did you do?” hissed the Russian spy.

       “I–I just scanned his arc reactor! I swear! I don’t know what happened to Tony! He shouldn’t have had a reaction, it was just a five dimensional scan!”

       “Natasha,” Bruce said in his warning voice; he sounded strained and looked rather green around the gills. “I can’t predict what the other guy will do if he hears gunshots right now.” Both doctors were checking Tony’s vitals and the rest of the room’s activities and conversations had ceased. “Please, put the gun down. I can’t guarantee anyone’s safety if you don’t.”

       “His pulse,” interrupted a confused John, “Seems–”

       “Normal?” spoke a voice from below. The surrounding company looked down to where Tony Stark was lying awake and grinning like they had all fallen for an elaborate joke on national television. His face looked normal again, not a hint of strain on it. “I was acting. Didn’t think it’d stir up such ruckus.” He winked at Bruce, who proceeded to slump back against the bottom of the bar and repeatedly bang his head against it.

       “Tony.” Bruce breathed out, raking his hands over his face.

       “See? Fine! He’s fine! I didn’t do anything,” exclaimed the Doctor.

       “He really didn’t, Tash. Sorry for the worry.” Tony grinned back at her. Her glare caused him to visibly flinch. Clint shot a glance back at Tony before following Natasha as she stalked off toward the elevator. Steve held Tony’s head a bit more firmly for a moment before he finally let go with a restrained huff. He refused to look at Tony when the shorter man apologized to him.

       “It’s not funny, Tony,” snapped Steve. “Don’t ever joke about something like that again.”

       “Aw, come on, Cap, it was just a joke.” Tony whined. Steve’s knuckles creaked as he clenched his fists.

       “It was not a very good one,” was his clipped, forcibly calm response. A glance down at Tony had Steve tightening his jaw as well and he headed for the stairs, his destination the gym where he could work off his worry and frustration. “Your health and safety should not be a laughing matter, here or in a battle.” It was muttered to himself, and those that had hearing sharp enough to catch it were either too focused on getting each other completely smashed or chose to keep quiet. The bang of the door behind him was like the final say in the matter.

       “Sheesh, our Star-Spangled Man sure has his stripes twisted up in a knot,” Tony quipped as he stretched like a cat on the floor.

       “He’s right though, Tony,” came the soft voice of Dr. Banner, still finding his zen against the bar wall, “you shouldn’t make us worry like that for shits and giggles. We honestly thought the Doctor had hurt you, and upsetting delicate team dynamics is not good for the…other guy, or me for that matter.”

       “Well, that–” John grunted as he stood up, “was enough excitement for me today. It’s late. I’m retiring for the evening.” Joints popped as the old soldier straightened and stretched his back. “Goodnight all.” Sherlock was almost instantly by his side and the pair walked out.

       “Me too.” Rose yawned as she stood from her spot. She gently took the Doctor’s hand in her own and led him away from the tense group.

       Dean had Cas propped up, one of the angel’s arms slung around his shoulders. “I have a drunken angel to put to bed. Sammy.” Automatically, the younger Winchester came over to support the other side of Castiel.

       “I can fly to bed,” Castiel insisted, a slur the only audible indication of his intoxication.

       “Negative, ghost rider, flight pattern is cancelled, you are officially grounded. We don’t want you halfway inside walls or something.” They led him away, Castiel mumbling something about references to things he didn’t understand. After muttering half-hearted goodnights, everyone wandered to the elevator to head to their respective rooms. Tony stayed on the ground until Bruce stood and offered him a hand. Grunting, Tony pulled himself up and was assaulted with a face full of his t-shirt.

       “Seriously, Tony, must you push buttons?”

       “I’m the master of button pushing, Bruce.” He pulled the shirt off his face.

       “You came far too close today with me and I think you went too far according to Steve.”

       “He needs to loosen up.”

       “Tony,” Bruce intoned reproachfully.

       Tony looked down at his shirt for a moment, before hastily putting it on. “I’m gonna work in the lab tonight. Care to join?”

       “We’ll probably have a briefing tomorrow morning. I’m going to bed. You should too.”

       “Yeah, I probably should.”

       “…but you won’t. Somehow, I’m not surprised.”

       Tony flashed Bruce his trademarked megawatt smile. “You know me well enough by now, Brucey. Sleep is for normal people.”

SWVTL Part 6: Let Them Know

       Loki walked around the loft aimlessly. Lucifer had gone off on another drafting mission, leaving Loki alone to wander. He’d been through every room at least twice; each one was just as bleak and empty as the one before. Under Lucifer’s orders, all the curtains were drawn and the door bolted shut, not to be opened for any reason. Before he’d gone, he had drawn some curious symbols on the wall and the floor, wards in a language Loki didn’t recognize.

       Despite Lucifer’s explicit instructions, Loki couldn’t help peeking through the curtains at least once. Through the maze of skyscrapers, he could just see the beacon that was Avengers Tower. It was different than he remembered it, obviously. The city was still recovering from his last encounter in some ways but many things had already been rebuilt. People were walking along the streets below, going about their business as usual as if their entire world hadn’t been shaken only a few short years ago.

       Loki shut the curtains at the thought. Perhaps for them it was only a few short years ago. People had moved on, buildings were reconstructed, and life returned to the city. This was New York after all; the people were renowned for being strong and able to survive. Perhaps they hadn’t forgotten but they had certainly put it behind them.

       Four years. In the grand scheme of things it didn’t seem that important. Humans lived for a long time, gods for even longer. But four years had stretched into an eternity in the cave. Every second chained to that rock felt like days. Each scream that tore from his lungs lasted months. The echoes rang in his ears and Loki felt the trickle of venom on his face once again. His heart started pounding and his breath grew shallow as he clawed at his cheeks, trying to rid himself of the phantom memory.

       He collapsed onto the couch, curling in on himself and shutting out the dark, empty room and willing his mind to bring him somewhere warm and full of light. He pictured one of the spots he and Thor used to visit when they were younger. It was away from the city, secluded but open allowing light to flood in. The grass was green and lush, the rumble of the nearby waterfall creating a soothing background noise, and they could see the colors of the Bifröst burning in the distance. The memory brought simultaneous comfort and a different kind of pain as Loki’s stomach clenched with thoughts of Thor. The face of his brother permeated his vision, images of his near expressionless face as he stood at Odin’s side during Loki’s sentencing.

       Then he could see him laughing. He could see him drinking and joking with the other Avengers. His new family.

       A wave of betrayal washed over Loki and any thought of his suffering in the cave was replaced with anger. Thor had taken him back to Asgard in chains, hadn’t said a word against the verdict to lock Loki away, and as soon as Loki was gone he had disappeared back to Earth to be reunited with the team responsible for his brother’s demise and that woman who had turned him soft to begin with.

       Loki rose off of the couch and whirled around. He reached down and grabbed the underside of the couch, yelling as he flipped it across the room. It crashed against the wall, causing the room to shake and splinters to fly.

       "Well, what do you expect us to sit on now?“ An unfamiliar voice dripping with sarcasm and an Irish lilt sounded behind him. Loki turned sharply, his green cloak whipping behind him. In his fit, he didn’t hear the whisper of Lucifer’s wings as he reappeared, accompanied by a shorter man in a suit.

       "My apologies,” Loki growled. He straightened his garments as Lucifer looked between him and the couch with a raised eyebrow. The Devil walked over to inspect the damage, tracing the cracks in the wall.

       Loki eyed the newcomer with apprehension, looking the man up and down and trying to figure how someone so unassuming fit into Lucifer’s master plan. He was clean-cut in his suit and neatly combed hair, but short and slight in stature. On the surface, he wasn’t much to look at. But the second Loki looked him in the eye, he understood exactly why Lucifer wanted this man on their side. This outside projection was utterly deceptive; inside he was cold and dark, ruthless and cunning. It wasn’t his strength Lucifer needed; it was his mind that was dangerous.

       He watched Loki look him over, rocking back and forth on his heels with his hands in his pockets. His eyebrows tilted slightly and he smirked. “If you’re trying to deduce me, I wouldn’t get your hopes up. I’ve gone up against the best and even he came out surprised.”

       "You also came out dead so I’d be careful what you’re bragging about,“ Lucifer said, stepping back into the center of the room. "This is Jim Moriarty, self-proclaimed consulting criminal. And this is Loki Laufeyson, god of mischief.”

       "And this is it, then?“ Moriarty said, pulling a hand out from his pocket and gesturing between the three of them. "The three of us are going to take over the world? Someone thinks a lot of himself, doesn’t he?”

       "Perhaps you should remember that we have power that extends beyond the capabilities of your mortal form,“ Loki jeered, taking a step toward Moriarty. The man looked unimpressed, simply raising his eyebrows as if inviting Loki to continue.

       "Boys, boys. Put the rulers away; we’re all on the same side here. And as it happens, Jim,” Lucifer began, giving Moriarty a disapproving glare, “there is someone else I have in mind who will be joining us later. But for now, I believe the three of us are more than enough to cause a little mayhem, wouldn’t you agree? Besides, I have the entirety of Hell at my disposal and with people these days, we’ll never be shorthanded.”

       Moriarty shrugged and ambled off to inspect the room. “If you have the armies of Hell at your fingertips what do you need us for? I was quite content torturing souls in the Pit. What’s so important that I had to be interrupted?”

       Loki followed him with his eyes, crossing his arms. Although he didn’t particularly like Moriarty, even after meeting him such a short time ago, he had to admit he was interested in hearing Lucifer’s answer to his question.

       "Demons are dispensable. With a few words they can be thrown back to where they came from and they can’t even cross a line of salt. They have their uses, of course, but they’re a temporary fix. Powerful enough against the general population but we’re going up against the Winchesters. I needed something more long-term, more advanced. The two of you are special. I’ve chosen you to carry out incredibly important tasks,“ Lucifer said. Moriarty continued to look unconvinced but Loki felt all the more driven. Lucifer’s words to him in the cave came to mind, "I can bring you justice and give you peace but I need your help as well.” This was more than a simple order, this was a partnership.

       "What would you have us do?“ he said.

       "Not exactly playing hard to get, are we?” Moriarty muttered from across the room, inspecting one of the light fixtures.

       Loki turned to face him, the scowl on his face growing even more. “You can feign disinterest all you like but if this didn’t intrigue you, you wouldn’t be here, would you?” Loki stalked over to Moriarty, looking down on him. “You can pretend to be bored, but the truth is the prospect of this is so tantalizing you can hardly bear it.”

       Moriarty smirked and cocked an eyebrow. “Clever…now we’re getting somewhere. There might be some potential in you after all.” Loki narrowed his eyes and the two of them tried to stare the other down until Lucifer cleared his throat.

       "Great, now that we’re all friends, perhaps you’d be interested in hearing what I have planned.“

       Loki ripped his attention from Moriarty and refocused on Lucifer while Moriarty lolled his head to the side so he could see.

       "Anyway, a Time Lord called the Doctor is amassing his own forces and he means to foil us in our Apocalyptic endeavors. As far as I can tell, he’s yet to reach his full strength,” Lucifer explained, perching precariously on the arm of the upturned sofa. “I know he’s already managed to sway the Avengers and he’s brought Sherlock Holmes stateside.” Moriarty bristled. “But he still has a few other groups to convince. The Winchester brothers are notorious for working their own agenda and without them, they have little chance of succeeding.”

       "So why don’t we attack now while they’re divided?“ Loki asked, leaning his shoulder against the wall.

       "Because we’re still divided ourselves. And I’d hate to have do introductions twice. No, for now we wait.”

       "So every possible barrier to our victory is congregating in New York and you’ve brought us right to their doorstep?“ Moriarty said, slinking around the perimeter of the room.

       "Well, I didn’t bring us here because I enjoy the cheesecake.” Moriarty rolled his eyes.

       "Who is this fourth member you mentioned, when will he be arriving?“ Loki asked.

       Lucifer brought a finger to his lips. "Now that part is a secret. He’s got his own grand entrance to make.”

       "So until then, we’re on our own. You said the Time Lord still had people he had yet to employ. What are we going to do once this Doctor has brought everyone together?“

       Lucifer smiled, a devious, cunning grin that made even Loki slightly uncomfortable. "We let them know we’ve arrived.”

SWVTL Part 11: Come and Play
          Lucifer stood on top of their building, watching the city transition from day to night. The city that never sleeps, they called it. He smiled to himself at the thought. It made New York a fitting place to begin his crusade—waking nightmares were all the more inescapable.
           The sun was just disappearing below the horizon and Lucifer watched it creep lower and lower, leaving Stark Tower glowing like a beacon over the city. Tonight was the night. Tonight, everyone would know just who they were up against. Tonight, they would strike fear into the hearts of millions. Tonight, the Apocalypse began.

—–

           Loki shed his Asgardian armor and traded it for something less conspicuous. The suit was expensive, made of fine material and fit him rather well but somehow it didn’t sit right. He assumed that wearing Midgardian clothes would be liberating but somehow the absence of all the leather and metal was uncomfortable.
           With his new outfit on, he walked out into the living room where Moriarty was already waiting, dressed similarly. He was sitting on the couch, drinking a cup of tea and didn’t look up when Loki came in. Ever since they met, the tension had stretched tighter between them.  It was almost childish the way they treated each other over the last few days. Loki would play his tricks and in return Moriarty would mess with his mind and they fought back and forth, trying to gain the upper hand.
           Lucifer mainly stayed locked in his study or perched on the roof, deep in thought so he rarely interfered in Loki and Moriarty’s disputes.
           Loki eyed Moriarty carefully, sitting down on the opposite end of the couch. Neither of them said a word; Moriarty sipped his tea and Loki watched him suspiciously.
           “Don’t stare too long,” Moriarty said, setting his cup down on the saucer. “You might give me the wrong impression.” He finally turned his gaze on Loki, his deep brown eyes glinting with a spark of madness. Loki pursed his lips but kept himself from looking away, not willing to let Moriarty win out so easily.
           “Whatever impression I give must be interpreted by you. If that’s the first conclusion you draw, I’d say that speaks more to your character than mine.”
           “That’s assuming the impression—”
           The door to the study swung open and Lucifer strode in, interrupting Moriarty. “I think we’re going to skip the clever chit chat this evening, boys. We have an awfully big night ahead of us.” He adjusted the cuff link of his suit and smiled another one his haunting smiles.  “Shall we make our debut?”

——-

           The three of them stood outside the entrance of Stark Tower, necks craned back trying to see the top.  Other people brushed past them, some going in and some going out of the building but all of them in hurry. The rush of New York streets clamored behind them, every passerby unaware of exactly who it was they were shoving past.
           “Are we ready, then?” he asked, looking from Loki to Moriarty and then back up at the tower.

Loki nodded but Moriarty only shrugged. “I’m certainly prepared. It’s him I’m worried about.” He jabbed a thumb at Loki. “Last time you were here things didn’t exactly pan out for you, did they?”

Loki bristled but Lucifer held his hands out to quiet them both. “You have exactly fifteen minutes. I suggest you be ready when the time comes.” He disappeared with the soft whistle of wings, every person on the street too immersed in their own business to bat an eyelash at the spectacle.

Moriarty and Loki glanced at each other before walking through the double doors and into Stark Tower. The main lobby was mildly busy; there were a couple receptionists on duty and a steady flow of employees filing through, going about their business as usual.

“Best of luck, mate,” Moriarty said, flashing Loki a smile before continuing on his way. Loki gritted his teeth and watched him walk past the front desk toward the elevators.  He bumped into a security guard, apologizing profusely as he pocketed the officer’s key card.

Loki turned away and inspected the lobby. Of course, with Stark, everything was lavish. The building was decorated smartly and the whole thing breathed efficiency. The room had a cavernous ceiling, extending into two floors with a massive chandelier hanging from the center providing an elegant ambience to the lobby. Loki identified the camera nestled in the corner and looked back and forth from it to the room, estimating its scope.

His fingers tingled with prospect of using magic and he stuck them in his pockets in case anyone happened to be paying attention. He took a seat in one of the chairs in the waiting area and checked the time. Nine minutes left.

—-

Moriarty rocked on his heels as he waited for the elevator to arrive, humming the Bee Gees. When the doors opened he stepped inside and pressed Floor 88. A ping sounded, requesting clearance to reach the top floors. He swiped the card he’d just stolen and the elevator began to rise.

The doors slid open, revealing an expansive laboratory filled with pieces of unfinished inventions and broken equipment. A hum of electronics buzzed in the room, and bits of technology whirred. Moriarty picked out the location of the security camera almost immediately, before turning his attention the frazzled young man approaching him from across the room. He was alone in the workshop, probably an intern finishing up some odd jobs before going home for the night.

“Sir? I-I don’t think you’re supposed to be in here. I d—”

Moriarty held up his hand, showing him the security clearance card, and cut the intern off. “I’m guessing you didn’t get the memo.”

A look of horror crossed the man’s face, his eyes flicking back and forth trying to remember when or where he might have misplaced such a thing. “Um, no sir, I don’t think I did.”

“That’s alright,” Moriarty said, patting his shoulder. “I just need to see a couple of things and I’ll be on my way, no harm done.”

The man nodded, heaving a sigh of relief. “What is it you need to look at?”

“Just a few blueprints if you don’t mind.”

           The intern dipped his head, turning around to lead Moriarty back to a cabinet full of rolled up papers. Moriarty quirked a devious smile at the camera before following the young man back to the cabinets. He pushed his sleeve back to look at his watch. Four minutes to go.

—–

           Lucifer appeared in a hallway below ground, several levels below the main lobby. No one was there, not even a security team. Apparently, they figured anybody who had made it this far down either belonged there or would have been turned away already. Lucifer walked down the empty hall toward the solitary door at the end.
           It was unlocked, not that it would have mattered either way, so Lucifer walked right in. The computer mainframe lined the walls, little blinking lights penetrating the dark room.
           Lucifer raised a finger. “Now, before you set off any alarms, I’d like a few words. JARVIS, isn’t it?”
           There was silence for a moment. “Yes.”
           Lucifer smiled. “Nice to meet you, JARVIS. My name is Lucifer and I would very much like to meet your boss. Do you mind pulling up the security footage for him? I have a feeling he’d like to see this.”

——–

           “So what did you do?” Dean asked, taking a swig of his beer, looking to Tony to finish his story.  The team of allies was gathered around the table for dinner. Even those like Sherlock and Castiel who didn’t really see the point in eating had found it in themselves to sit in on the occasion for the sake of solidarity. Everyone was still getting to know each other but most of them had fallen into an easy banter.
           Dean found himself enjoying the company of some of the others, despite his earlier reservations about joining a team. They had only been there a couple of days so he wasn’t sure he could quite label anyone ‘friends’ yet but he felt like it was on its way. He knew his and Sam’s track record for friendships was very sparse and marred by tragedy but this felt like an exception. He felt comfortable here. The weight of everything wasn’t solely placed on his shoulders and even after only a few nights, some of the exhaustion had lifted.
           “Well, I kicked the little bastard down the stairs, of course. What choice did I have?” The majority of the table laughed uproariously, Tony’s story even drawing smiles from the stony faced Natasha and ever serious Castiel. Everyone took the lull in conversation as an opportunity to eat more of their dinner before someone else branched into another anecdote.
           “Sir?” JARVIS’s voice sounded from above them.
           “Yeah?” Tony replied around a mouthful of steak.
           JARVIS’s voice was hesitant and guarded. “There’s someone in the mainframe room. He says he’d like to talk to you.”
           Tony wiped his mouth with his napkin. “What? How’d he get down there?”
           “I…don’t know, sir. He’s asked me to pull up the surveillance feed for you.” The table was very quiet, not even the clanking of silverware broke the silence; they all waited on the edge of their seats for whatever they mysterious stranger had for them to view.
           “Well, go ahead, then,” Tony said, keeping the nerves out of his voice. JARVIS pulled up several screens in the middle of the table, various rooms of Stark Tower on display. Tony’s eyes darted around until he spotted the computer mainframe footage.

A man in a suit stood by himself in the middle of the room, his hands clasped loosely in front him, looking like he all the time in the world. Jarvis turned on the audio and they could hear the hum of the computer banks before the man spoke. “Hello, there. I’m assuming JARVIS has done what I’ve asked and that I’m speaking to Tony Stark and Co. I would introduce myself but I have the feeling some of you already know who I am. That’s right, Sam. Dean. I see you’ve enlisted a little help,” the man said, grinning up at them.

Sam and Dean tensed. “Lucifer,” Sam hissed, clenching a fist. Heads whipped toward him and questions flew from all sides of the table.

“Lucifer? You mean like…Lucifer, Lucifer? As in the Devil?” Jack asked, incredulously, his eyes wide.

“I told you this would be Revelations, Jack. Who did you think would be leading the charge?” the Doctor said quietly, a finger on his lips as he watched the scene in the mainframe room unfold. They all quieted down as Lucifer continued to speak.

“Unfortunately for you, I’ve made a few friends as well. Take a look around, you might recognize a few faces,” he said, pacing back and forth in front of the camera as he spoke to his invisible audience.

The allies looked at each other trying to figure out what Lucifer meant. They all scanned the security footage, looking for anyone out of the ordinary but John spotted it first.

“No. No, it can’t be. Sherlock, is that…” He trailed off, unable to form the word. Sherlock had paled and John saw his body go rigid. The others looked at the pair of them, wondering what drew such a reaction. Sherlock’s jaw clenched as he watched Jim Moriarty wink at the camera and walk away as if he hadn’t shot himself through the head all those years ago.

“That’s–he’s in one of the restricted access labs,” stuttered Bruce, following John and Sherlock’s eyes.

“Now, I know what you’re thinking,” Lucifer continued, drawing the attention back to him. “‘Why, you’ve just offered yourself up on a plate for us. You’ve walked straight into our base.’ True, but tonight we’ve only come to offer an invitation and let you know that this?” He gestured around him. “This is only the beginning.” An intense bright, light bloomed from Lucifer’s hands, enveloping him on the screen before everything went black. The entire tower shut down. The allies were still quiet, digesting what happened, no one daring to breathe in the crushing silence that followed.

—–

Lucifer hadn’t completely destroyed the system; after all, for the effect to work, he was relying on JARVIS being able to recover power. But the blackout gave them time to act and Lucifer didn’t waste time. He approached the camera and reached up to touch it. Ice radiated from his fingertips and he froze over the lens. He wrote in his message before teleporting away.

          ——

           As soon as the lights went off, Loki sprang into action. He leapt from his seat and let loose the pent up energy in his hands. People screamed and panicked, ducking behind desks and cowering low on the ground. The green light burning from Loki’s hands cast an eerie glow over the lobby, illuminating his eager grin. He directed the beam at the floor, felt the power rushing through him, and did as Lucifer asked. He had just finished and quelled the stream of magic when he felt a hand on his arm and was taken away.

——-

           Moriarty trailed after the intern who knelt down by the stock of blueprints, muttering about organization and a better filing system.
           Moriarty checked his watch again, only a few more seconds. He reached behind him and pulled the gun out of the back of his pants and held it at his side, waiting for the right moment.
           “So which plans did you need to look at?”
           “I think I’ll handle it myself, thanks very much.” The power died and Moriarty lifted the gun, emptying the clip into the unfortunate young man. He tossed the gun away and dragged the body over to the corner. Pulling a chair over, he dipped his finger into the pool of blood surrounding the corpse and stepped up on to the chair, spelling out his assignment on the wall. When he was done, he hopped off the chair and wiped his hand on a stray cloth before finding his way back to the blueprints and scooping up as much as he could carry.  He felt the hand on his shoulder and the room fell away.

——-

           “JARVIS?” Tony asked, standing up from the table and hurrying over to a port on the far wall. No one else moved. Tony pressed some buttons but it did no good. “Come on, JARVIS, talk to me.” He pulled out one of the smaller tablets from his pocket and scrolled through it frantically.
           After several minutes of scrambling, the Tower hummed back to life. The lights flickered back on and JARVIS’s voice came from overhead once again. “We’re back online, sir.”
           Tony didn’t acknowledge him. Everyone was focused on the surveillance feed that had reappeared over the table. Even among the hundreds of cameras in Stark Tower, the words stood out. It was short but the message was clear. Etched in ice, scorched onto the floor, and smeared in blood: COME AND PLAY.
SWVTL Part 7: Men Out Of Time

       "Ianto? Come take a look at this,“ Gwen called, a troubled but curious look on her face as she tried to make sense of the readings in front of her. Ianto came down the steps, a mug of coffee in his hand. He took a sip as he looked over her shoulder at the computer screen. His brow furrowed deeper the longer he stared.

       "Where’s Jack?” he asked, setting his cup down and reaching around Gwen to press a few keys on the keyboard.

       "Dunno. Haven’t seen him all morning.“ Ianto let out a frustrated breath and put his hands on his hips. They both whipped their heads around as the door rolled open and Jack stepped through, a smile on his face like always.

       "Can’t leave you alone without this place falling apart, can I?” he said, leaping up the stairs to join them at the computer stations.

       "Jack, there’s been massive rift spikes in the past few hours. We can’t figure out what’s causing it,“ Gwen explained, pointing at the readings on the screen.

       "All we know is that there have been abnormal waves of temporal energy being picked up, not just here in Cardiff but everywhere. Whatever is happening, it’s big,” Ianto said.

       Jack’s smile faded a little as he rubbed his jaw. “Well, this is going to be fun, just the three of us, huh?” Ianto and Gwen exchanged glances. “I wonder if the Doctor knows about this. I would certainly appreciate his company right about now. Well, not that I wouldn’t any other time, I mean—”

       "Jack,“ Ianto interrupted, "the Doctor hasn’t been seen since we put the Earth back in its place. As much as we’d all like his help right now, we can’t count on it.”

       No sooner had the words left his lips when a breeze picked up inside the Hub and a light started flashing. Jack’s smile returned instantaneously and he laughed, “Speak of the devil!” When the vworps subsided and the blue police box had materialized fully, Jack dashed down the stairs to greet the Doctor as he emerged. Jack caught him up in a hug, still laughing as he said, “Doctor, am I glad to see you. No doubt you’ve seen what’s going on with the rift. That’s why you’re here isn’t it?”

       The Doctor pulled away, a strange look on his face. “Yeah…it is, but how’d you know it was me? Well, I suppose the TARDIS is a bit of a giveaway but I haven’t seen you since…uh, since I left you on that ship in 200,100.”

       Jack tilted his head to the side, confused. He waved his hand behind him, motioning for Gwen and Ianto to back up. “You’re not…the right Doctor…”

       "Am I not? Ah, yes, I may have jumped a little ahead of schedule but the Apocalypse sometimes calls for drastic measures. Besides, if anyone is a man out of his own time, it’s you, Jack.“

       "Wait, did you say Apocalypse? That’s what all this rift energy is about?”

       "Yup. Revelations, the Devil, seven seals, the whole nine yards. Should be a great time, you coming?“ He whirled around and opened the TARDIS door, stepping inside and peeking his head out, one eyebrow raised in question.

       "You know me, always up for an adventure with the Doctor. If this is really Armageddon, you could probably use a guy with nothing to lose, huh?” One side of the Doctor’s mouth twitched up in a smirk. “Let me just grab a few things.” The Doctor disappeared inside his police box and Jack rushed around the Hub, grabbing things and stuffing them into a duffle bag.

       "Jack, what’s going on? What did you mean he wasn’t the right Doctor?“ Ianto asked, following Jack around the room, handing him things as he packed.

       "He’s not the Doctor you met when the Daleks took over, at least not yet.”

       "You mean he’s from the past?“ Gwen leaned over the railing and watched the two men scramble to get Jack ready.

       "Yeah, that’s why it was probably best if he didn’t see you two yet. Crossing timelines is dangerous enough, if the Doctor’s doing it this is definitely some serious business.” He pulled on his great coat and threw the duffle over his shoulder.

       "You will come back, won’t you?“ Ianto said, his voice dropping slightly. Jack pulled him into a one armed hug and kissed his forehead.

       "I always do.” With one last wave at Gwen, he stepped into the TARDIS and it began dematerializing, leaving Torchwood Three short of yet another member.

Posting Announcement

So this excuse is probably getting old but school is really kicking our asses right now. We’ve run out of pre-written material and we’re having trouble keeping up. So, after some discussion, we’ve decided to go on a short hiatus. We’re not quite sure how long we’ll be gone but we’re just trying to get a good chunk of the story down so we’re not scrambling to post every Wednesday. Rest assured, we will be returning to continue the story (we haven’t even gotten to the good part yet!) but it’ll be a little while. We hope you stick around to find out what happens; thank you for your patience!