This is part IV of Birthday Honours, a sequel to London Calling, both Buffyverse / Marvel Cinematic Universe crossovers.
Both stories can be found here:
On Twisting the Hellmouth - http://www.tthfanfic.org/Series-3037
On Archive of our Own - http://archiveofourown.org/series/212399
Note - Spoilers for earlier parts immediately below the cut!
Previously - Shortly after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. Steve Rogers is invited to London for the Queen's birthday honours ceremony, to collect medals that should have been awarded to Peggy Carter many years earlier. Thor, Jane Foster, and their associates are also to be honoured for their part in defeating the Dark Elf invasion. Meanwhile Xander Harris, Caridad the Vampire Slayer and Andrew Wells are investigating an old Hydra base on the Channel island of Alderney, and have made an unexpected discovery; what appears to be a forcefield containing something they have only seen as a vast reptilian eye...
Marcus L. Rowland
Alderney, Thursday Evening
“Okay,” said Xander. “We’ve got one vote for it being the dragon Fafnir, one which we’re not counting for it being the Eye of Sauron, and two for it being this Jorm-thingy.”
“Jörmungandr,” Giles said over the Skype link. “The Midgard Serpent.”
“Can’t be a serpent,” said Caridad, “it has eyelids. Snakes don’t.”
“The term ‘serpent’ was probably used very loosely. And there is no reason to believe that it has much to do with normal biology as seen on Earth.”
“Loki’s supposed to be its dad,” said Andrew.
“There’s more than one Loki in Norse mythology, and in any case we can’t rely on anything the myths tell us, there are too many discrepancies.”
“Which of them is more dangerous?” asked Xander.
“Jörmungandr is supposedly destined to kill Thor and poison the sky during Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods,” said Giles, “But my impression is he’s not interested in humanity. Fafnir is a transformed wizard, but he’s supposed to be dead. If not, he’s thousands of years old and incredibly powerful.”
“Something like the Mayor if he’d got away with Ascending?”
“That sounds about right. I really wish I’d asked Thor a few more questions about his family when he visited us in May. A lot of our stories are obviously wrong, it would be nice to know which ones.”
“Can you get hold of him?”
“As I understand it he’s not contactable today, but ought to be back in London tomorrow afternoon. He and Captain America are supposed to be visiting Bath on Sunday; I think we might change the venue to Alderney, if Willow can arrange transportation. At the very least we can discuss things with Thor.”
Xander rubbed his temples. “Okay, bearing in mind that our access to the cave is currently a hole two inches wide drilled through more than a foot of concrete, what did you have in mind for me to do while we’re waiting?”
The Bus, Over Germany, Thursday Evening
“…while we’re waiting?”
“Keep recording their communications,” said Phil Coulson. “It sounds like they’ve found an 084. A big one.”
“These are supposed to be the good guys, right?” asked Skye. “Can’t we let them deal with it?”
Phil continued to listen to the sat-phone tap as he said “If this really is Jörmungandr it’s supposed to be a monster powerful enough to destroy the world. I’m not entirely happy about leaving them to deal with that.”
“It sounds like it’s contained down there.”
“I think you should wait for Thor,” said Giles. “In fact I’d sooner you didn’t even try to open up the well until he’s there.”
“Even if it’s trapped inside the sphere, it may have magical or hypnotic powers. Thor should be able to advise us.”
“I’m not so sure,” said Xander. “Maybe we shouldn’t even tell him unless we know what it is.”
“If Thor’s supposed to fight it and end the world, the last thing we want to do is get them together.”
“Put together everything we know about Alderney,” said Coulson. “And try to find somewhere secluded for us to land the bus, or at least a quinjet.”
“Won’t be easy,” said Skye, “it’s a pretty small island. There’s an airport, but it’s basically a couple of short landing strips for light aircraft. There are houses and farms everywhere, the population is a couple of thousand people on three square miles of land. If you want to be inconspicuous it might be better to go in by boat. Don’t we have a Zodiac in the cargo bay?”
“Odin sent the eye, and that led us to the cave,” said Giles. “There must be a reason.”
“Doesn’t necessarily have to be a reason we’d like,” said Xander. “Never met a god yet that had all its marbles. Just look at Loki. Or Glory.”
“I like him,” said Coulson.
“Who’s Glory?” asked Skye.
“A god. They killed it a couple of years before Sunnydale sank.”
“Talking of gods... Spoken to Illyria recently?” asked Xander.
“Xander, I hope you aren’t suggesting…?”
“I wish they’d be more specific,” said Coulson, “I have no idea who that is.”
“Can’t hurt to ask her. Show her the video, maybe she knows what it is. Same for that Randolph guy, he might see something we’ve missed.”
“It’s certainly worth a try. Meanwhile please keep me informed if the serpent or whatever it is reappears in the sphere, or there is any other change.”
“Okay, let me know if you have anything.”
“Of course. Good night.”
“Skye, as soon as you’ve located a good landing point see if you can find out anything about Illyria. May, I need you to set a course for Alderney; Skye should have a landing point for you shortly. And Trip, see if you can find out why the SRI never raided Alderney during the war.”
“What do you mean, they’re staying out of the cave?!!” shouted Loki.
Part of Ethan’s brain imagined Loki’s rant as the subtitles on the Hitler video that kept turning up on the internet, and he suppressed an urge to giggle, instead going for as much sorrow as he could convincingly fake. “My lord... My lord, it appears that they are being cautious. Harris appears to have matured, and shows little of the recklessness he displayed as a youth. They’re going to wait for your… for Thor… to arrive before they open the shaft.”
“And when will that be?”
“Two days if all goes well, your Majesty. If they wait until Rogers leaves it might be four or five.”
“I weary of these delays!”
“Might it not be better if Thor is there from the outset?”
“On a tiny island fifty leagues from his lover? Who will even notice?”
“If all goes as planned, the whole world will know. He is, after all, considered a hero. If he dies there they will have time to fear the devastation that follows. If Rogers is there too…” Ethan trailed off, preferring Loki to fill in the gaps.
“Perhaps. Yes. Perhaps there is something in what you say.” Loki settled Odin’s appearance around himself like a cloak, and swept out of the scrying chamber. In an hour or two, Ethan suspected, he would probably think that everything was going to plan.
Ethan turned his attention back to the bowl, and wiped a few beads of sweat from his forehead. He needed a new plan, and fast.
London City Airport, Friday, Noon
“That’s the plane landing, I think,” said Ian, looking out of the arrivals lounge window.
“Really?” Darcy asked sarcastically. “What gave it away, the huge Stark Industries logo?”
“That and it’s exactly on time.”
“You’re right,” said Jane, looking at a small instrument. “The ambient electrical field spiked as it landed, Thor’s on board.”
“We shouldn’t have to wait too long,” said Darcy, “somehow I can’t see anyone asking Thor or Captain America to go through a cavity search.”
“I wonder why they needed the plane,” said Ian. “Couldn’t Thor just fly them in by himself?”
“If you’d ever flown with Thor you wouldn’t ask,” said Jane. “I love him, but that hammer was designed for Asgardians to use, not us. There’s no windshield, the acceleration is brutal, and it gets pretty damned cold after the first couple of minutes. And no, Darcy, we did not join the mile high club when we tried it.”
“The fact that you thought I might ask that is just a little… accurate,” said Darcy. “Another illusion shattered.”
“If that turns up in Thor fanfic we’ll know who to blame,” said Ian.
“Don’t be silly, it’s the second or third most common trope in Avengers RPF, the ficcers are way ahead on this one.”
“People write fanfic about me and Thor?” asked Jane, horrified.
“You’re celebrities, of course they do. Not so much as Tony Stark or Black Widow, to be honest most people seem to see you two as kinda vanilla, but it’s there.”
“Never show Thor!”
“I’m pretty sure he’d go berserk and smite a few authors.”
Ten minutes later Thor and Steve Rogers came out of customs, both wearing civilian clothing and carrying their own luggage. One of Thor’s bags was exactly the right size for Mjolnir, while Steve had an oddly sized satchel on his shoulder which Darcy suspected held his shield. Thor dropped his bags and swept Jane into a hug.
“You wouldn’t think he’s only been gone a week,” said Darcy. “Hi, I’m Darcy Lewis, that’s Jane Foster sucking face with Thor, and this is Ian Boothby, our intern and my boyfriend. Need a hand with your luggage?”
“That’s okay,” said Steve. “It’s not very heavy.”
“For you, maybe,” said Ian, eyeing the bulky bags. “When they come up for air we’re parked just outside.”
“Important question,” said Darcy, “Do you prefer Indian or Thai food, or are you more of a pizza guy? I have to warn you, British pizza isn’t wonderful.”
“Anything’s fine,” said Steve, “don’t go to a lot of trouble.”
“Okay, I’ll interpret that as Indian, they give bigger portions so it usually works better for Thor. We figured you’d probably want to take it easy for a few hours to get over jet lag. Jane thought you’d probably eat on the plane, but I’ve got some snacks ready back at the flat if you want them. Vi ought to turn up about six-thirty, and we’ll head out to a restaurant about seven.”
“A friend of ours. She’s in the superhero business too.”
“The Lady Violet?” said Thor, finally paying attention to his surroundings. “This is excellent news. She is a vampyrjeger, and capable of wielding Mjolnir.”
“Vampires are real?” asked Steve, working out the meaning almost instantly.
“Never met one personally,” said Darcy, “but there are girls like Vi with super-strength and they’re called vampire slayers, I’m pretty sure it isn’t a hoax. They helped us out big-time when Hydra tried to snatch us a few weeks ago, and again the other day. Car’s this way.”
Steve looked around as she led the way to a battered silver eight-seater Skoda people carrier, covered in dust, in which someone had used a finger to write ‘WASH ME!!!’ “It isn’t pretty and it handles like a pig, but it’s got a ton of luggage space and enough leg-room and head-room for Thor so it ought to be okay for you.”
“It looks fine. I was just thinking, the last time I was in London the Nazis were still bombing the docks and warehouses around here. There’s been a lot of changes.”
“I’ve got some books about the history of modern London aboard my boat,” said Ian. “I can bring them round tomorrow, if you’d like to borrow them that’d be cool.”
Darcy climbed into the driver’s seat and waited while they loaded their luggage and climbed aboard. “Buckle in. Do you want the scenic route near the Tower of London, or the boring one that only hits half as many traffic jams?”
“Let’s go with avoiding the jams,” said Jane, “we’ll do some scenic stuff when we go to Buckingham Palace tomorrow.”
“My lady Jane is ever wise,” said Thor.
“Works for me,” said Steve.
“Aww, and I was all set to give my lecture on the Princes in the Tower and how badly historians screwed Richard…”
Alderney, Friday Afternoon
Xander, Andrew and Caridad were eating kebabs and French fries when a vintage red Chevrolet Corvette drove onto the camp site and stopped near their tent. A curiously bland-looking man in his forties climbed out of the driver’s seat, the passenger was a brunette woman in her twenties with a hint of Asian features.
“Nice car,” said Andrew. “Collector’s item.”
“They’re not setting up a tent,” said Xander. “Is it just me, or does she look a little like Faith?”
“I can see it, I guess.”
“Headed this way,” said Caridad.
“Who’s asking?” said Xander.
“My name’s Phil Coulson, this is Skye. I’d be grateful if you could contact Rupert Giles and let him know we’re here.”
“SHIELD. The real thing, not Hydra.”
“And exactly how do you plan to prove that?”
“You can check with Giles, and I understand that Mister Wells can cast a truth spell. I’d suggest that he do so.”
“Okay,” said Andrew. “Who are you?” said Andrew, “and what do you want? I compel thee, answer!” He traced a glowing symbol in the air.
“Philip Coulson, acting Director of SHIELD. We’re here to keep an eye on your activities and try to stop anything catastrophic happening.”
“And I’m Skye. I used to be a hacktivist with the Rising Tide but I’m working for SHIELD now. My real name is Mary Sue Poots. Wow, that was weird, I never use that name.”
“Know the feeling,” said Xander.
“Are you evil?” asked Andrew.
“I don’t think so,” said Coulson, “but I’m probably biased.”
“Likewise,” said Skye.
“And what is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?” asked Xander.
“African or Indian?” Coulson asked with a small smile.
“Good answer,” said Xander. “Okay, what exactly do you mean by catastrophic?”
“I’m sure our definitions are similar,” said Coulson. “Anything likely to end the world, anything that aids Hydra, that sort of thing.”
“Also a good answer. I’d offer you some kebabs, but we’ve pretty much demolished them.”
“We already ate in one of the pubs in the town, but I have some steaks in a cool box for later, if we can use your barbecue to cook them?”
“Works for me. Let me talk to Giles first.”
London, Friday Afternoon
“This is a nice apartment,” said Steve Rogers.
“It’s Erik’s place but he’s out of the country right now,” said Darcy. “Okay, this is your bedroom on the left, it has its own bathroom, the kitchen’s through here, and the lounge here, with a little roof garden outside. I wasn’t sure how well they’d feed you on the plane so I’ve got some snacks and cold food ready in the kitchen, but leave some room for dinner tonight. I’m guessing Thor and Jane will be busy for the next hour or two” she added, gesturing towards their bedroom door. “Don’t worry, the walls are thick, you won’t hear too much.”
“Pleased to hear it.”
“Give me a shout if you need anything, Ian and I will be around. We’re moving to New York with Jane at the end of August, we still have a ton of things to sort out.”
“Thor mentioned it,” said Steve, moving his luggage into the bedroom. “If you run into problems getting apartments talk to Clint Barton, he has friends that live in Hell’s Kitchen, one of them might know of a place.”
“How far is that from the American Museum of Natural History?” asked Ian.
“A couple of miles,” said Steve, “I doubt you’ll find affordable apartments anywhere closer.”
“Thanks!” said Darcy, “Thor ought to have his email address.”
“I’ve got it on my phone if he doesn’t,” said Steve. “Okay, I think I’d better rest for a couple of hours, the food can wait. I’ll see you a little later.”
“Right,” said Darcy, once Steve had gone to his room, “let’s grab some lunch before the ravening hordes surface.”
Beyond Normal Space and Time
For now the green light is gone, but a faint red glow remains. Not warmth, exactly, though he could see that if it were there, just light that he knows humans would be unable to see. He remembers those who came before, bearing their banners of the skull and the tentacles. Could they be stupid enough to disturb his rest again?
He hopes so. He feels like a snack…
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