Fandom: Highlander/Avengers movieverse
Disclaimer: not my characters; title from Sara Teasdale
Warnings: future!fic for Avengers and Highlander
Point of view: third
Prompt: Any, any, white horses in the night
"Come, little god," the stranger says, from atop the back of a tall horse.
"Who are you, that I should let you take me?" Loki demands, trying to stifle his gasps. The All-Father had made it truly difficult to escape his cage, but escaped it Loki had. For the moment.
And now he is back on Midgard, the last place anyone would expect him to run.
"I know what hunts you," the stranger says, one hand holding the reins, the other petting the horse's neck. She dances in place, ears flicking between listening to the stranger and out at what might be coming. "And I know how to kill it."
Loki's mouth falls open. "That… what?" he asks, getting his feet under him and staggering up, trying to disguise how hard it is to stay there.
The stranger tilts his head, giving Loki an unimpressed look. "Pride goeth, little god," he quotes from somewhere. It makes no sense to Loki, but he will only be on Midgard until his strength is fully returned, and then he's going to find a hole somewhere else, somewhere far away, and wait until – after.
Another horse steps out of the darkness. "Come, little god," the stranger repeats. "You're a masterful manipulator, I'll grant you that, but you need better allies, and actual friends, before you can get anywhere worth your talent."
"I…" Loki is at a loss. He'd expected that anyone who recognized him would attempt capture or execution. But offering aid? No. Surely a trap.
Loki will never be trapped again.
"I thank you for your kindness," he grits out, pain stealing his renowned silver tongue, "but, please, take your leave."
"Yeah, no," the stranger says. "I know you for what you are, and I know what hunts you." His smile seems kind, and his eyes as all-seeing as Heimdallr's, but Loki will not be tricked, Loki will not be caught, he will survive and endure, and he will not-
"Oh, child," the stranger whispers, dismounting and catching Loki as he collapses.
I know what you are, Loki hears, distantly, echoing around him, in him, through him. You are mine.
Who are you? Loki asks, all the fight gone out of him. In the stranger's embrace, he is warm. Sheltered. Maybe Frigga had held him like this, once, but it is long enough ago to be a faded dream.
The stranger laughs. "Your kind once called me Hel, ages and ages hence. I go by Ben now."
Hel. Goddess of those who died away from battle – goddess of the old and the young, of the cowards or accidents. Hel, a legend even to the aesir. And, apparently, not a goddess at all.
What will you do with me? he mutters, sleep coming the easiest it has in decades.
I need a student, Ben says, standing, cradling Loki in his arms. Loki feels small, and young, and so much relief it floods him. You need a teacher, little chaos-maker.
And they are on the horse, though Loki knows not how. The horse, a magnificent creature, pale as Jötunheimr. They are on the mare, Loki with his back to Ben's chest, still bracketed by his arms.
"Rest," Ben murmurs into Loki's ear. "You've lived, Loki. Now you must grow stronger. And when what hunts you arrives… I will show you how to kill."
Loki surrenders to sleep. Either this is a perfectly woven trap – or Loki has been found by someone even more powerful than Odin, someone who (so far, at least) is on his side. And that…
Oh, that is something he so dearly wants.
You are safe with me, Ben promises, as Loki's nightmare changes to nonsense about Thor and a dress and the days when things were good. I take such good care of that which is mine.
And the little god of trickery and lies, he is such a find.
That which hunts the child seeks Death.
Ben clucks to his horse, and Loki's unused mount follows, and Ben's laugh echoes through the night, because it is Death the child's once-master will find.
He, however, will not be glad of it.
Title: even the blind, sometimes, can see the sun
Fandom: Avengers movieverse
Disclaimer: not my characters; title from Emmylou Harris
Warnings: mentions of violence; made up timescale for Steve and his team; possibly AU for Winter Soldier’s backstory – I learned about it from Wikipedia and fics
Point of view: third
Prompt: Any, any, you are the life I don't deserve // but you love me anyway
Even when he didn't know anything, he knew about Steve. Not Steve's name, or their shared history - but the important things. The curve of Steve's smile. Steve's inability to back down, no matter what he was up against. Steve's laugh, and the strength of his fingers, even when nothing else about him but his will was strong.
Even in the dead of winter, when there was nothing else he could claim, he knew he would die for Steve. And when that order came, when his masters panicked and let him off the leash to kill a nation’s spirit, when he woke again and traveled to a place that meant nothing to him, when he had Captain America in his sights…
What did the Winter Soldier care about Captain America? Nothing. One more target. The Winter Soldier was the perfect weapon, and Captain America just another body on the ground.
Because he doesn’t know Captain America’s face except from the propaganda, and he wouldn’t recognize the man’s real name, even if he heard it, and the man looks awfully young to be the legend Winter Soldier’s masters fear. But he knows the man’s smile. The steel in his spine. The force in his voice as he hands out his own orders, to the local police and his team. The strength of his fingers, on his shield and the gun he grabbed off the ground.
His orders are clear. His target acquired. What does Winter Soldier care about Captain America? He’s never hesitated before, not even when sent after begging women or sobbing children. But his finger won’t tighten on the trigger, not even one iota, and his chest hurts. He can’t catch his breath.
Black Widow is beside Captain America. Winter Soldier shifts his scope. That traitorous child, he could kill easily.
… no. She is one of Captain America’s teammates, and he would mourn her. Captain America should never hurt.
What does Winter Soldier care about Captain America? Nothing, nothing at all. Winter Soldier has no thoughts regarding his targets. He is the perfect weapon. He is remorseless and merciless. He is fearless. He feels no pain and never hesitates.
Captain America is nothing. Black Widow is nothing. Winter Soldier will put them both down and return to his masters until the next mission.
… no. He cannot leave. Captain America is nothing, but that smile. That smile. There is something about Captain America’s smile.
And Black Widow is looking right at him. Captain America follows her gaze, and his eyes widen, and he drops his shield and the gun, and Winter Soldier reads his lips - Bucky.
Steve’s smile. Steve’s determination. Steve’s laugh and Steve’s hands, and twenty-five years as Steve’s protector, and seven months as Steve’s second-in-command.
Even in dead of winter, he knew Steve.
Winter Soldier closes his eyes, and Bucky opens them as winter thaws.
Title: kids from Brooklyn
Fandom: Avengers movieverse
Disclaimer: not my characters; quotes from Captain America: The First Avenger
Warnings: (brief) character death; mention of scientific experimentation and brainwashing
Point of view: third
Prompt: Avengers (movieverse), Steve/Bucky, We Were Soldiers
Bucky went to war, aced the physical training, realized it wasn't just luck he had with guns but an inborn skill, got captured, expected to die, and then wound up on a table and being injected.
Steve did everything backwards.
I thought you were smaller.
Bucky tried to hide the way he looked at Steve, like he'd been hiding it since they were twelve and he realized that as pretty as girls were, as soft and as warm, it wasn't them he dreamed about. It was the middle of a war. They had a crusade. He couldn't get distracted, because that might get one of the team killed.
He tried to hide it, but the only one who didn't notice was Steve, and it was Dum Dum who was elected to tell him to quit being stupid and go for it because they could all die tomorrow.
He damn well must've thought you were worth it.
Winter Soldier woke up.
Captain America was pulled out of the ice and no one alive knew Steve.
Don't win the war till I get there.
A year after the Battle of Manhattan, when the whole world learned about not being alone in the universe (and hopelessly, hilariously outclassed), a man with no name (going by John Smith) sauntered into the gym Steve Rogers frequented whenever he couldn't take the Tower and Tony's jokes anymore.
The name Steve Rogers meant nothing to him. Nor did Captain America. The national icon was nothing but a target, and those were something he knew how to deal with.
But Steve glanced up, met his eyes, and froze, mouth open.
And the man with no name, the assassin with the highest kill count on record (well, if such things were kept on record) recoiled, his eyes widening, too, in the greatest reaction he'd had to anything since he woke up, flinching from the cold scientists with cold hands.
"Bucky," Steve Rogers whispered.
That little guy from Brooklyn who was too dumb not to run away from a fight... I'm following him.
Winter Soldier hit his knees, head in his hands, and lunged back from Steve's grip. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't think.
"Bucky, Bucky, oh god, Bucky," Steve said, crouched next to him, and he had no idea who Bucky was, except now he was keening and everything hurt, and there was roaring his ears, adrenaline spiking –
Bucky fell. Bucky died.
Bucky opened his eyes in a gym in Manhattan in 2013 with a cybernetic arm, decades of memories that weren't his, and Steve crying in front of him.
I'm just a kid from Brooklyn.
Bucky went to war and Steve followed him.
Captain America went to war and Winter Soldier covered his back.
Title: a sacrifice of blood and flowers
Fandom: Greek mythology
Disclaimer: not my characters; title from Denise Levertov
Warnings: incest, kidnapping
Warnings: spoilers for mythology
Point of view: third
Prompt: Greek myth, Demeter + Persephone, queens
Let Zeus have the sky and Poseidon the sea - Demeter has the Earth and the people there. Hestia has the home (every home, yes, the hearth and the heart) and Hera the marriage bed and the children. Hades has the dead.
But Demeter – Demeter has the world. She lies down in a field, with a lioness curled at her side, cubs nursing, and a lamb in her arms. Demeter is the harvest; she is life. Without her, her siblings would have nothing.
She laughs as one of the lion cubs bats at the lamb because everything is so alive.
Demeter only ever has one child of her body. She teaches her daughter everything, shows her the world and the brilliance there. Let Hera have Olympus; the mountain has long grown cold. Let Hestia rest in fireplaces, let Poseidon brood in the deep, let Zeus run from his wife and curse women, if that is his wish –
Demeter is a mother and a queen; where her daughter steps, flowers bloom.
She should have remembered Hades.
Persephone sits on the throne of the dead and does not weep. Nor does she smile, or laugh. She never dances.
She calls her husband lord and never speaks his name.
Her father, king of the gods, has spoken.
Her mother, queen of the earth, has defied.
She, queen of the dead, holds her head high.
Let Zeus have the sky and Poseidon the sea, Hestia the hearth and Hera the marriage bed. Let Hades sulk in his cold realm, barren when Demeter's daughter walks free.
The earth is hers. And without her, the gods' worshipers would starve.
Demeter lies in a field, her daughter curled with her, and flowers bloom all over the world.
Title: Remember how hungry you are
Fandom: The Covenant/Avengers movieverse
Disclaimer: not my characters; title from Donald Platt.
Point of view: third
Prompt: The Covenant, Chase/Any, it's fun being bad (with you)
Note: So, uh, in a world where Winter Soldier broke himself out of the programming. Somehow. *handwaves* Also, bad for a given value thereof? I dunno. Maybe Bucky and the Winter Soldier integrated, so his moral compass is skewed. *more handwaving*
"You look like someone I used to know," the guy with the metal arm says.
Chase blinks at him, confused. "Wasn't I dead?" he asks. He's pretty sure he was. Caleb's power doubled and Chase had been too slow, too overconfident, and it burned-
The guy chuckles. "I'm pretty sure we can't die, actually." His grin is dark and dangerous. "Believe me, kid. I'd know."
Chase just shakes his head. "Whatever," he mumbles. His head hurts. His whole body hurts.
"Well, now that I found you," the guy muses, settling back in a crouch, tilting his head to study Chase, "what do I do with you?" He chews on his bottom lip for a moment.
It's only then that Chase realizes what he's been seeing for the last minute, since his eyes opened and he was alive.
"Holy fuck, you're me," he says, sitting up, power thrumming through him in a panic.
And the guy is. Older, darker hair, and a gleaming metal arm – but Chase's eyes, and Chase's smirk, and his goddamned cheekbones, what the fucking fuck.
"Calm down, punk," his double-with-the-metal-arm says. "You're not crazy. I'm pretty sure my dad was your great-uncle or something." He flicks his non-metal hand in a dismissive wave. "Not what's important right now." He stands up smoothly, like a cat uncoiling, and Chase swallows his fear. "C'mon," the guy says, holding out the non-metal hand. "Let's get out of the rain before that punkass comes back."
Chase is pretty sure he's hallucinating. He's also pretty sure he was dead, so he has no idea what's going on.
What the hell. Someone who looks like him but older and with a thousand miles of bad road behind him is smirking at him, that smirk he was wearing when he beat the shit out of Caleb. But he doesn't feel like a threat. Not to Chase.
"And if Caleb does come back?" he asks, meeting those eyes he knows, inside out and all the way down.
The smirk darkens, like a wolf baring his teeth. Chase's power thrums, deep in his bones, purring. "Then I'll kill him and it'll be a shame because you'll never get what's rightfully yours."
Chase reaches up for his hand. "What's your name?"
"James," he says, pulling Chase to his feet. "And you're Chase, unless you'd like a new name for a new life."
"Can we worry about that after the world quits shaking?" Chase mutters, because the change in altitude really didn't help anything.
"Yeah, kid," James says, laughing softly. "We've got a lot to talk about, but it can wait till after you've slept."
Chase doesn't want to fall asleep. He'll wake up and be dead, and a failure, and so fucked up…
James scoops him up, holding him bridal-style, and Chase is so tired, so worn-out, he doesn't have anything in him left to protest with.
So he rests his head on James' shoulder and lets it all go.
Chase wakes up in a bed and a guy with a metal arm, who looks likes him plus half a decade, is smirking at him, chair tilted back on two legs.
He's not dead, and he feels completely rested, and his power is still purring.
"James," he says, sitting up.
"Chase," James says back. "Or, kid-formerly-known-as-Chase. Whichever."
"Chase, for now," Chase told him.
James smirks, a darker, far scarier version of his own smirk, and Chase feels the world looking up.