Author Note: It will be necessary to read It's the End of the World as We Know It: In the Beginning to understand the premise of this story.
Rating: R to be safe
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the shows or movies and I'm not making any money from this fic
Warning(s): There will/may be spanking/discipline of adults. VERY AU (given that there is more than one crossover involved).
Verse/Setting: Post-Avengers (the movie). Pre-series finale for Voyager. Post-Angel series finale.
Lilah Morgan and Wolfram and Hart are from the TV series Angel.
Clint Barton, Loki, Odin and Heimdall are from Marvel’s Thor and Avengers. Information on Heimdall's abilities can be found at: Heimdall's Wiki Page
Tom Paris, and Chakotay are from the TV series Star Trek: Voyager.
IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT
IN THE BEGINNING - PART 2
July 2, 2013
Clint had subdued Loki much quicker than he would have thought possible. The alien demi-god didn't even put up a fight. Clint was a bit disappointed at that- he would have loved an excuse to hurt the bastard- but since Loki didn't fight, and Clint actually liked Thor and knew he would be upset if his adopted brother was hurt unnecessarily, Clint kept his cool. Once he had Loki's hands bound, he began his interrogation.
"Why are you here again? I thought you were being punished up in Asgard." He eyed Loki distrustfully, not hiding his irritation at the fact that Loki wasn't where he was supposed to be.
Loki bit his lip as he looked back into the archer's face. His expression was a mixture of fear, shame, disappointment…in short he looked like a kid who had gotten caught by an adult doing something he wasn't supposed to and was now afraid that the adult was going to contact his parents. Clint shook his head and snorted. Loki might be very young by Asgardian standards, but he was still a lot older than Clint was. Viewing him as a child would probably not be in Clint’s best interests.
"Answer my question," he ordered firmly when it appeared Loki was going to say nothing.
Loki swallowed hard then spoke so quietly Clint had to strain to hear him. "I wanted to do something for the Midgardians… to make up for all the harm I did." Loki eyed Clint nervously, not certain the archer had heard about how he had been a victim of sorts during the whole Chitauri incident. Did Clint know he had been controlled by the Chitauri's leader through the scepter? Would that matter to the archer, even if he did know?
Clint couldn't fail to notice Loki's nervousness. He decided to take pity on the man- after all, he wasn't fighting and despite Clint wanting to believe otherwise, he didn't seem to have any ill intent planned. "I know you were being controlled, too. Thor informed us of what was discovered. It doesn't mean I absolve you from any responsibility for what you did- but I know you weren't acting completely on your own when you attacked earth, so I'm willing to believe that you don't have plans to hurt us again. I'm willing to believe that- but you're going to have to convince me to do so."
Loki nodded. He let his shoulders slump slightly in relief, but mostly because he was disappointed and depressed at how his plans had failed. "I wanted to do something to help your world…to make up for the wrong I had done. I…made a spell…using one of Idunn's apples. It was to have enabled the Midgardians to live longer lives and to eliminate some of the health issues that plague your world due to old age."
Clint blinked. "You can do that?" he asked in surprise.
Loki couldn't help the small smirk, though he didn't gloat. "My magic is powerful and the spell should have worked…."
Clint slanted his head. "Should have worked…?"
Loki looked at the ground, disappointment at his failure assailing him again. "I do not know what happened. Something…derailed the spell. Made it disappear into nothing. Whatever made the spell fail is also what enabled you to see me. I had been using a spell for obfuscation until that point."
"Ah. So whatever you had planned didn't happen. Don't know if I should be disappointed at that or relieved. Since we don't actually know what your spell could have caused in the long run…" Clint muttered to himself, but also loudly enough for Loki to hear him.
"It would have helped your people live longer…possibly eliminating some of the diseases that plague you when you reach the end of your lives…" Loki defended himself weakly, but the slight confusion in his tone let Clint know that he hadn't actually thought past his spell working.
"Maybe my people weren't meant to live long lives…" the archer gently admonished. "We are already a very populated planet. In some places overpopulated. Your actions might have caused more harm than the intended good."
"I…I did not think of that." Loki admitted unwillingly. "Perhaps that is why it is forbidden to give Idunn's fruit to anyone who is not Asgardian... since Asgardian's do not tend to procreate at the rate of rabbits," he continued with a sheepish glance at Clint.
Clint’s eyes widened fractionally. "You did something that was forbidden, in an attempt to redeem yourself? Hate to break it to you, Loki, but disobeying direct orders or laws in an attempt to gain redemption seems a bit counter-productive." The archer couldn't help but chuckle at the rueful look Loki gave him for his words.
"What's the penalty for giving that fruit to a non-Asgardian, anyway?" Clint asked curiously.
"The punishment is exile or death. I make the final decision on which." Both Loki and Clint jumped when the voice came from behind them. No one had heard Odin's approach, but none could deny his presence once he made it known.
Despite his hands being bound behind his back, Loki managed to drop to his knees and lower his gaze to the ground within seconds of Odin's arrival. "All-father…" he whispered, a hint of fear in his voice.
Clint remained standing. Odin may be considered by some to be a god- but he wasn't Clint's god. And he might be a powerful king- but Clint had never been one to prostrate himself before any ruler- powerful or otherwise. He eyed Thor's father silently.
Odin smiled thinly at Clint's actions. He could have been offended at the human’s impudence- and forced obeisance- but he found he rather admired the man's pride. Besides, he was here about his wayward son. His gaze returned to Loki, who still remained on his knees and looking at the ground.
"You have broken one of the irrevocable laws of our land, child. What do you have to say for yourself?" Odin kept his voice emotionless.
He was irritated at Loki's actions- ever since finding out his true heritage, his son had been acting out- behaving irresponsibly and not thinking anything through completely before taking action. It was so completely unlike what he had been before finding out he was adopted. Odin regretted how the child had found out. He regretted a lot of things. Unfortunately, his position as ruler of Asgard, limited his ability to behave only as a father. Otherwise, he would have turned Loki over his knee- then taken him on a retreat, just the two of them, to repair their relationship. Their position as king and prince required harsher measures- if he did not want to lose the respect of his subjects.
Loki could have cried. He had only done what he did so that he could try and help the people who he had wronged. If it had succeeded, he would have been able to use it as proof that he was sorry and that he was trying to change. He might have been able to convince Odin to trust him again- and think of him as a true son instead of a disappointment that should have been left to die on Jotunheim. Now- he was positive Odin would never be able to want him as his son again- and he likely would lose his life soon for breaking the law regarding the apples.
Loki forced himself to speak- closing his eyes when his voice broke and came out hoarsely, enabling both Odin and Clint to hear how close to tears he was. He told of what he had done, how he had done it, and why. He left nothing out. If he was to die for his actions, he wanted it to be very clear what his actions were.
Clint listened to the kneeling man, only keeping himself from fidgeting uncomfortably because he knew Odin would notice. It grated his sensibilities- but he actually felt sorry for Loki. It surprised him, but if given the chance, he would plead for Loki to be exiled instead of killed. Loki might be known as the Trickster- but Clint could tell he wasn't lying. The Loki of before- even when captured- had never been this shamed with pride stripped away.
Odin waited until Loki finished reciting his tale, nodding in satisfaction when the youngster quieted. "It is exactly as Heimdall observed and reported to me. You have left nothing out nor lied. I am proud of you, child," the older Asgardian finally allowed some feeling to creep into his tone.
Loki hesitantly looked up when he heard the pride and sorrow in his adopted father's voice. The pride gave him hope that perhaps Odin forgave him- the sorrow made him think that his crime had been too great and he was to lose his life anyway. "Sir…?"
Odin closed his eyes briefly then became stern. "Heimdall not only observed your actions- but also the actions of others in this realm. He also saw the actions of a third party-one not of this realm but somehow…come to this realm from another time and place. It is this third party that was the catalyst for your spell's failure. Unfortunately, they were also the catalyst for something else that we are unsure of. Because your actions were not malicious in intent; and because Heimdall believes your abilities may be needed by the humans in the near future; and because you are my son and I will take every opportunity to save you from yourself if I am given the chance… you will be punished through exile."
Loki and Clint both let out a breath of relief. Odin smiled briefly before ordering. "Stand Loki, son of Odin, for my verdict."
Loki quickly stood, back straight. Clint found himself straightening as well. Odin continued. "For the crime of stealing Idunn's apple and transporting it to the realm of Midgard- against Asgardian law- you are to be exiled to Midgard until the time that you have learned the lesson you most need to learn. Discovering what you most need to learn will be part of the lesson." Odin turned to Clint.
"Will you, Clint Barton, accept responsibility for my child? Will you make certain that he receives guidance as he lives down here which will enable him in his effort to learn?"
Clint blinked, surprised at having been drug into the sentencing. He thought quickly. Why would Odin ask such a thing of him? Was he worried that Loki- if left to his own devices- might return to behaviors which were counterproductive to his rehabilitation? That was the only reason Clint could think of that Odin would make such an odd request of a near total stranger. Clint smiled faintly. He couldn't say that it was an unreasonable fear- and since he would really rather have Loki succeed than fail, he had no good reason to decline Odin's request other than him not being fond of Loki and the request being plain odd. Briefly nodding his head toward Loki's father, Clint agreed. "I will. As long as I have your permission to handle him however I feel necessary, should the need arise?"
Odin narrowed his eyes as if really paying attention to the human for the first time. "You have my permission so long as your methods do not do permanent harm to him- either to his body or mind."
Clint smiled at that. "They won't." He frowned slightly then asked. "If Heimdall feels Loki's abilities will be needed by my people in the near future- are you able to tell me why he feels that way? Is there something I should warn my people about?"
Odin shook his head regretfully. "Unfortunately, while he has his suspicions- there is nothing that can be warned about just yet. By the time there is something to be warned about- any information I can give you will be useless."
Clint sighed. "Was afraid you’d say that."
Odin turned to Loki. "Learn your lesson well, child." With that final admonishment, Odin disappeared, leaving Loki and Clint standing and staring at the spot where he had been.
# # #
Tom was frustrated. They had been walking for nearly 30 minutes and Chakotay had yet to release his arm. Tom had attempted several times to pull free of the older man's grip, but every time he succeeded, Chakotay would just reach over and take a firmer grip on the arm in question. Tom grimaced. As a result of this 'tug-of-war' with his appendage, Chakotay's grip was a bit tight, bordering on painful.
"I can walk on my own, you know…" he finally said with a huff.
"Yes. But are you able to walk where you are supposed to without throwing a hissy fit and defying me?" Chakotay asked calmly.
Tom winced. OK. So this was about his insubordination. He supposed he should have expected his blatant disobedience toward the older man to provoke a response that he wasn't prepared for and disliked intensely. Oddly, he hadn't thought the response would be in the form of treating him like an errant child.
"I'll go where I'm supposed to…" he said with a sigh. "I'll obey you like a good little star-fleet officer. I'd be rather stupid not to when we don't have any idea where we are or what we might be facing…" he said in a subdued tone.
Chakotay glanced at him briefly, then apparently deciding that Tom was being truthful, let go of the imprisoned arm. Tom quietly continued to walk beside the man, rubbing out the soreness as much as possible. Chakotay eyed him thoughtfully, thinking about the events of the day that had led up to this moment.
It was frustrating, irritating…confusing. He and Tom had been getting along- or so he had thought. Until this morning when his subordinate's behavior had taken a turn back to what it had been like when the surviving crew from the Maquis ship had joined with Voyager's crew. He wasn't sure what had caused the abrupt behavior change, and he knew Tom wouldn't tell him, but the fact was he couldn't allow the younger man to get away with the poor behavior.
"I could have had you put in the brig." Chakotay finally said in a matter of fact tone. Tom darted a questioning look towards him. Chakotay continued, "Disobeying a superior officer in such a blatant and disrespectful manner deserves to be addressed and punished, wouldn't you agree?"
Tom swallowed hard. "Are you planning to have me put in the brig then, when we finally get back?" he didn't answer the question of what he might have deserved.
Chakotay stopped walking and it took Tom a few seconds to realize and also stop. He turned to face his commanding officer, prepared to hear a resounding yes.
"No. We have more pressing matters to think of at the moment- and I have no wish to punish you for your childishness when we finally get back- as it could be days if not months after the fact." Chakotay ignored Tom's disgruntled look at being called childish.
Tom opened his mouth to say something, but the older man continued before he could get a word out. "No. I won't have you thrown in the brig- but you will be punished for your blatant disobedience. And from here until we finally are able to get back to where we belong- anytime you disobey a direct order from me, you will receive the same punishment. I'm just giving you fair warning."
Tom blinked uncertainly, taking a tentative step away from his companion. He didn't step far enough away. Before he could protest, he found himself tightly tucked under his commanding officer's arm with the man's hand rapidly warming the seat of his pants. At first he didn't say anything because he was in shock at being in this position. When he finally overcame the shock enough to protest, he found himself wishing he hadn't said anything. "Stop! You have no right!" he'd attempted to say it in a forceful and demanding manner- but unfortunately his voice hadn't cooperated. Instead he'd sounded whiny and a little frightened. He bit his lip in mortification as Chakotay continued landing smack after smack on his arse. He shifted from one foot to the other in an attempt to alleviate the pain, but it wasn't working.
"I have every right to punish you for insubordination. The methods I would normally use aren't available or feasible at the moment, so I'm going to take care of it as quickly as possible in a manner that is always available and is very feasible. Keep this in mind if you think about disobeying me again." Chakotay spoke calmly and reasonably even while adjusting Tom so that the painful smacks could land on the younger man's upper thighs and sit spots.
If Tom hadn't known better, he would have thought the man wasn't upset about what had occurred that morning- Chakotay's tone was so even and almost placid. It rankled Tom's pride that Chakotay could do this and be so unaffected while Tom could feel his eyes watering with unshed tears and knew if it kept up he would begin begging the man to stop. Just when Tom let out a choked breath and opened his mouth to do just that, Chakotay gently straightened him up and taking both of Tom's arms in his own hands, turned Tom to face him. Tom looked at the ground, flushing in embarrassment.
"Look at me," Chakotay quietly ordered. Unwilling to disobey again so soon, Tom reluctantly looked up. His eyes were red and watery and his face was bright red. Chakotay gave his arms a gentle squeeze. "You have now been punished for your insubordination. We will not need to address the matter again when we finally are returned to our ship."
"Yes sir…" Tom whispered, quickly reaching up and rubbing his eyes as soon as the older man released his arms.
"I hate to do it," Chakotay had turned forward and begun walking down the road again. Tom quickly turned and jogged to catch up with him, falling into step with him. "But we are going to need to…obtain some clothing and other necessities. And since we have no currency from this time or place- where ever this time or place is- we are going to need to obtain it using less than honorable methods."
"Yes sir. I…had expected as much." Tom responded quietly, continuing to walk beside the other man.
The air having been cleared between the two, and the expectations made clear- the tense atmosphere that had been clinging to the men dissipated into companionable silence.
# # #
July 3, 2013
"Have you found any further information on what Ibersole and Mahoney were working on before their little accident?" The voice was deep, resonating, and a bit otherworldly.
Lilah would have shivered at it if she had heard it years before when she'd first started working for the firm. Now, she just sighed and placed the file down on the desk before answering the question. "No. In fact, what information we did manage to salvage indicated that they weren't even scheduled to work on any experiments. They were just supposed to be doing tests on the blood of employees to make certain no one was doing anything they weren't supposed to be doing There is absolutely nothing they were supposed to be doing that could have resulted in both of them becoming walking corpses."
The voice chuckled meanly. "Some would accuse you of being a walking corpse Ms. Morgan."
Lilah bristled, but managed to keep her tone calm and polite. "The firm's obligatory perpetuity clause may have technically made me into walking dead- there is a difference between myself and … them." She said diplomatically. "I am still able to think, after all."
"True," the voice chuckled again. "Were the remains disposed of as ordered?"
"We sent four vampires in to subdue the zombies. None of the vampires turned to dust or began to exhibit strange behavior- for a vampire- so we can only assume that whatever changed Ibersole and Mahoney, it doesn't affect vampires. Either that or it would take more than being in the vicinity of the virus to do harm to them." Lilah shrugged. "The vampires insured that the corpses were incinerated with as high a heat as is possible for the furnaces to create. They also incinerated everything that was in the room with the two scientists and every scan we've run on the area indicates that the virus has been eliminated from that lab. We don't have to worry about any of our other workers suddenly becoming walking dead."
"Very well." The voice became dismissive, alerting Lilah that she should leave to do her other assignments. "If you discover anything else about this virus, you will of course alert me."
"Of course, sir." Lilah smiled thinly and left the office.
# # #
Prescott Clemons had been a vegetarian when he had been human. He hadn't liked the idea of other living creatures having to die just so that he could eat- not when it wasn't necessary for him to eat them. Being changed into a vampire had of course changed that. It was now necessary for him to gain his sustenance through other living creatures- humans preferably. However, he still had that old conviction that something living did not have to die to feed him. It was why he tended to get his meals from willing donors at underground bars.
Today had been a rather nasty mess all around. Working for Wolfram and Hart wasn't necessarily all that nice on the best of days- but days like today made him wonder if he wouldn't be better off just stealing and living off the homeless. Being bit by living corpses wasn't very much fun if the corpses weren't of the vampire variety.
He and his buddies had gotten the two zombies taken care of fairly quickly- and the giant furnaces had taken care of the rest. Any wounds he may have gotten had disappeared with his vampire healing shortly after receiving them- and he wasn't entirely certain any of the wounds had been significant enough to notice anyway. However, they had been bothersome enough that he was very hungry and since he didn't want to kill his food, he would need more than one to sate his hunger.
It ended up taking five donors before he was full. Carefully withdrawing his fangs from the neck of his last meal, he licked the wound closed, licked his own lips, then changed from game face back to his 'normal' face. "Thanks doll," he said with a wink. "I'll see you again next week, OK?"
"Sure thing, Mr. Clemons," the bubbly redhead smiled back at him before heading over to the bar to order herself something to eat and drink with the hundred dollar bill he handed her.
Prescott Clemons wasn't expecting to find a slayer waiting for him outside- stake ready. And sadly, a pile of dust is unable to explain what it did a few hours before; just as a pile of dust is unable to realize that those irritating but non-worrisome wounds were actually worrisome- since they contained a deadly virus that was mutating very rapidly. And since a pile of dust is unable to do any of those things, no one was able to make a connection between five people of various ethnicities, ages, sexes, and races- and a strange illness they all began to develop over the 4th of July.