Chapter 17: Promises to Keep
The low hum of the light in her room comforted Bella as she perched on the end of her bed, waiting.
Not long after they’d established she was well and truly not going to eat anyone, they’d also learned that she could at last be separated from Loki without any notable pain. Wasting no time, Fury had ordered Loki’s immediate incarceration, hauling him off while his one eye looked her up and down in calculation.
For his part, Loki had allowed Fury’s men to march him off, a small indulgent smile quirking his lips as he sent her one last part looking filled with a silent, mocking laugh of an inside joke. It made her want to slap him.
Then maybe kiss him.
Thinking of their one and only ill-begotten kiss had her lips tingling. Though it’d been nothing more than a dream really, the imprint of his lips remained like an aftertaste of icy peppermint leaving her equally refreshed and yearning for more.
Shaking those traitorous thoughts off, Bella turned her mind to safer avenues.
Tony and Bruce had fussed over her like mother hens clucking in amazement at what each new scan of theirs revealed. It wasn’t that she was unappreciative of what they were doing for her, but Bella was entirely underwhelmed by the fact that her DNA had somehow been altered. Frost giant, vampire, human… it all amounted to the same thing in her book. A freak of nature that rightfully shouldn’t exist but somehow did. When it came down to it, she was resolved to learn each new facet of her nature as it was uncovered but was ultimately just relieved she would not be going on some sort of blood drinking binge.
Perhaps sensing her stress and exhaustion, Natasha had whisked her away to a room for some rest as Tony and Bruce remained in the lab to further analyze each facet of their scans without an audience. Despite her tiredness, a corner of Bella’s mind was amused by the two of them geeking out together like a couple of science nerds starting a bromance. She was happy Bruce seemed slightly less of an outsider too but also unsurprised that Tony was forcing the quiet and cautious man to get involved. Tony had an affinity for drawing out the socially awkward, she thought fondly.
“Thanks Tasha,” Bella had smiled once they’d reached her room.
Natasha stared at her for a long moment. “When you’re ready to talk about what’s bothering you, come and find me,” she ordered, not unkindly.
She really was too observant for Bella’s own good.
Not bothering to give white lies, she simply promised, “I will.”
Nodding, Natasha ran an affectionate hand down her arm and gave her a small smile. Simultaneous guilt and comfort washed over her at the fond gesture and she stared at Natasha’s back as the woman walked away, hoping she would forgive her when all was said and done; hoping she’d be able to forgive herself for being so selfish.
Clint would be a lost cause – that boy could hold a grudge until the end of days when he wanted – but her brother was right pigheaded about his opinions regarding her safety. She knew the issue with him would be about her safety and her choice to put his welfare above her own. Damn hypocrite thought it was entirely fine for him to put her safety and wellbeing above his own but heaven forbid she return the favor, she thought with sad fondness. When she eventually had to explain her actions to him she’d just remind him that she’d inherited her self-sacrificing from him so he could just shut his face, thank you very much.
Not that that’d stop him from lecturing her. Right up until the day Loki had taken him Clint still reminded her of the time she’d ignored his warning and had tried to learn how to skateboard. As often as he teased her about her clumsiness he would go into a right foul mood when she knowingly endangered herself. She’d been seven at the time and thought she was invincible. In the end, her sprained wrist had healed fast enough, sure, but Clint’s ‘I told you’ so and constant lording it over her head was forever.
That instance had been nothing in the grand scheme of things, really. She couldn’t imagine what he was going to do when he learned of her newest brilliant plan.
Sighing, Bella glanced at the clock on the wall and continued to wait. It wouldn’t be long and despite her soul deep weariness, a slow hum of energy was buzzing along her arms and tickling her mind. She wondered if it was her new nature keeping her awake or just the fact she’d been unconscious for three days and was just too wired for sleep. Either way, when she blinked and glanced at the clock again, she wasn’t all too surprised too see that two hours had gone by.
The abrupt knock to her door, however, was surprising.
Frowning, she called out a polite, “Come in,” and was only half-surprised to see Thor’s wide-shouldered silhouette darkening her doorframe.
Smiling in welcome, Bella said again, “Come in,” when he hovered at the entrance like an awkward doorman, his blue eyes scanning over her curiously.
“Forgive my intrusion,” he began, stepping into her room and closing the door behind him. “I realize the hour is late.”
The soft glow of the lamp made him look even more imposing if that was possible, highlighting his muscled frame and making him appear taller and wider. He filled the room like someone trying to cram ten pairs of shoes into one shoebox. He avoided looking directly at her at first, gazing around her room in a gesture she recognized as stalling. Still, she was aware of him glancing at her appraisingly from the corner of his eye. It made her smother a smile.
“You’re welcome to visit,” she finally responded. “I can’t seem to sleep and am grateful for some company. We didn’t really get the chance to introduce ourselves.”
Giving up pretenses, Thor brought the weight of his blue-eyed gaze solely upon her. He was rather handsome, she decided, in a classic romance novel cover sort of way. While she could appreciate the golden good looks he was blessed with – and blessed he most certainly was – she was underwhelmed by the pretty package. Beautiful he certainly was, but she beheld him like one would take in a painting at a museum. Admiring for sure but no substantial attraction.
A part of her had wondered, what with given her connection to his brother. With Thor, though, Bella felt her usual curious and friendly self. Refusing to analyze the relief trickling through her at the realization, Bella shook her head softly and smiled up at Thor in welcome again.
“You look as though you’ve been expecting me,” he noted, folding his large frame to sit on a chair a respectable distance away from her bed.
She hadn’t realized it until he’d said the words, but she rather had been expecting him.
“You’re Loki’s brother,” she said by way of explanation. “And I’m sure you’re curious, not to mention concerned.”
“Concerned?” Thor raised his brows. “For the man who has betrayed his family and people, bringing war upon those who are innocent merely for the sake of his pride?”
Smiling at the defensive tone and thinking he sounded a bit like the mad man he was describing, Bella said, “That man, yes. The one you still love as your brother and probably will no matter what atrocities he will commit. The one I’m sure you’re still hoping to redeem and save.”
Thor eyed her calculatingly though not unfriendly. “You speak as if you know me well.”
“Well, I know of you, of course. From not only myths but Loki really likes to trash talk you,” she gave a friendly laugh when his eyebrows shot up at her blunt statement. “But I’m also capable of reading between the anger and hurt he uses to slander you,” she continued. “So while I wouldn’t presume to know you, of course, I suppose I know enough to not suspect you to come calling at this hour hoping to accomplish anything but get some honest answers.”
“For a woman so close to my brother you are an oddly trusting sort, especially as I know he holds me in great contempt,” he said dryly.
Despite the humor, she could sense the same underlying hurt in his words that often tainted Loki’s venomous rants about him.
“Loki loves you Thor,” she whispered, not looking away when his heated gaze flashed to her. “If he didn’t then he wouldn’t be so adamant about hating you. He wouldn’t be lashing out at this world – the world he thinks you covet more than him – in order to hurt you.” She paused and smiled gently, confessing, “We always hurt the ones we love the most, be it on purpose or on accident.”
He looked away after she finished talking, eyes gleaming suspiciously. She allowed him the moment to compose himself, knowing that he had taken her words to heart and didn’t know her well enough to express the emotions her insight had ignited.
“You must know my brother very well,” Thor said lowly, his voice thick with emotion. “I’ve heard briefly of your history with him but will you tell me yourself how it was you two came to be?”
Smiling again and doing him the favor of allowing his emotional moment to pass without comment, Bella recounted the weeks she’d dreamt of Loki. She told him how she’d been hovering on the edge of his consciousness as he’d fallen through the void of space after he’d slipped from the Bifrost and how at first they’d both attributed the vision of the other to hallucinations. Eventually they’d acknowledged the truth of the other even as Loki so obviously resented her uninvited presence.
“He’s kind of a dick, y’know?” she wryly said, laughing when Thor sputtered a shocked laugh at her apt description. “But,” she continued softly, her smile turning small and sad. “We have more in common than we both would like to admit, I suspect. I suppose I can relate to how he feels – abandoned, forsaken…” she trailed off quietly, her mind flickering to the Cullens, Victoria and her parents.
Clearing her throat, she forced those tangled thoughts away and said, “It’s why we always end up arguing more often than not. Neither is willing to back down from our perspective. There’s no compromising with him and whatever decision he makes has to be on his own terms.”
“You know my brother very well,” he reiterated with a commiserating grin.
Returning the wry smile, she continued to explain the pull she’d started feeling in her waking hours and the utter pain that’d ripped through her when they’d finally met only to be separated. She even confessed to feeling the connection still, his presence like a splinter embedded into her heart – healed, but with the splinter sealed within her, now a part of her in every way.
When the last word fell from her lips and hovered between them for a moment, Thor finally spoke.
“What you speak of,” he began, tone thoughtful and confused. “It sounds very much like a Soul Bond.”
Keeping her face carefully blank, she asked, “A what?”
“It is a union between souls,” he said, then offered, “I believe the term you use here is marriage. A union between two people, joining them forever. Though a Soul Bond seals the union with magic and is a more literal union; an unbreakable vow once pledged. But I am confused,” he frowned, tilting his head as he studied her. “A bond like you describe cannot happen subconsciously – it is far too powerful and frankly has fallen to disuse given its permanence. It has to be instigated consciously and agreed upon willingly. I am not as familiar with magic as Loki and our mother, but though I know it to be sentient, it is impossible for him to form a bond on his own side without conscious knowledge of it.”
“So someone – or something – created the bond that brought us together? That started the dreams?”
“Yes, there had to have been a catalyst for the connection. And even so, the connection should have dissipated without the acknowledged consent of both parties involved. It cannot be sustained otherwise.”
“Hm-m,” she hummed noncommittally.
Eyes narrowing at her as he took in her distraction, Thor studied her carefully. “Isabella?”
“Loki is not the type to instigate such a bond,” she pointed out the obvious.
At her evasion, Thor eyed her even more closely. “That he is not. But he would’ve recognized it for what it was at some point early on, clever as he is. Perhaps not a first since it was not of his own making but he knows more of magical bonds than I. If I have made this leap, I am certain he has too and that it was some time ago.”
“Hm-m,” she murmured again, her hand distractedly lifting to her heart and rubbing. There was an underlying amusement throughout the entire conversation, an emotion she knew not to be her own.
The silent amusement trebled when she acknowledged it and her eyes narrowed.
“Isabella?” Thor prompted again. “Has Loki made mention of such a connection to you?” he paused and eyed the hand at her heart with even greater suspicion. “Have you entered and sealed such a bond willingly?” he asked, an edge of urgency to it.
Glancing at him, she quickly looked away.
Lie, a voice slipped into her mind, a sibilant whisper of a command.
I’m a terrible liar, she thought as her cheeks already heated up in a blush that would tip their hand.
Remember your vow. Lie, the voice urged again.
Damn you, Loki, she thought back at him, knowing he was taking great amusement at her distress.
Yes, I have damned you, Loki’s voice whispered to her in dark satisfaction. She shivered, hearing him in her mind and heart as surely as if he was standing behind her leaning down and breathing his velvet words into her ear. She hated the way his voice flowed over her like a satin sheet caressing her naked skin. Hated how she desired the feel of it and how it left her hungry for more.
Giving herself a bracing mental shake, Bella glanced at Thor, positive he could already read the lie in her eyes as she opened her mouth to speak and…
The helicarrier gave a jarring rumble, the distant sound of an explosion vibrating the walls as Bella tumbled forwards towards the ground.
Thor caught her with ease, hauling her up to her feet and bracing her against him as he tilted his head to the door, frowning.
Saved by the explosion, she thought wryly.
“What is this – what is going on?” Thor asked.
There was another booming roar, the sound of metal and plastic crackling as the sparse items in her room flew to the ground, glass shattering. The lights flickered and in the next instant, an alarm sounded.
“Attack,” Bella mumbled, gripping Thor’s forearms as the helicarrier jolted again. “We must be under attack.”
The sounds of shouting and harried footsteps as people jolted into action passed her door sounded.
“Stay here,” Thor ordered, his tone brooking no refusal. “Take cover.”
Screw that noise, she internally balked. While talking to Thor had been comfortable and she already felt a sort of kinship to him considering his reluctance to doom his brother no matter what crimes he’d committed, it was all too clear that he knew nothing about her.
“No,” she defied him. “I may not have had much training but I can help.”
“Isabella,” he frowned, her name sounding like a distant rumble of thunder across his lips. Clearly he did not appreciate being back talked.
STAY WHERE YOU ARE! Loki’s voice crashed into her mind with a sudden ferocity that brought her to her knees.
Wincing, she brought her hands up to her head with a hiss, vaguely thankful there’d been another crash against the helicarrier to cover her abrupt collapse.
“Son of a bitch,” she grunted, knowing she’d have to stay where she was for the time being.
Thor caught her up and moved her to a corner of the room where she could brace herself against the sudden and random abrupt crashes. “Stay here,” he said through tightly pressed lips. “If not for yourself, then for the others. Do not forget the ordeal and strain your body has recently sustained. I commend you for your bravery but you are not fit for battle, young warrior maiden.”
“Please,” she gasped, frowning as she felt Loki’s presence in her head as though he was looming over her with a glare, daring her to defy him. Her hands snaked out to grip Thor’s forearms, desperately tightening on them as if to imprint her words upon him. “Please help the others – help my brother if you find him. Please.”
Thor’s stance softened at her pleading. “I give you my word,” he said solemnly.
Placing his hand on her shoulder he squeezed once in reassurance before he whirled around and left her there without a glance back.
Giving herself a mental shake, she eased slightly as Loki’s overbearing presence in her mind lifted slightly, apparently reassured she would not be entering the foray.
“I’ll remember my vow,” she said lowly, speaking to him as though he was but mere inches away from her and not just a casual resident in her mind. “But you better make damn sure you remember yours.”
A wave of amusement hit her but underneath that there was a tenor of acceptance. He would honor their agreement to the letter… she just had to hope she’d read all the fine print right and he hadn’t managed to sneak in some hidden clause.
The next moments passed like molasses dripping off a tree branch. Time crawled and was measured by the shouts of those running passed her room and the random crashes hitting the helicarrier. Worry plagued her mind as she wondered how much damage they could sustain before they inevitably took a large enough hit in just the right area that would take out an engine and send them hurtling to the ground.
But all of that worry and the battle ruckus seemed to fade away as she heard a faint but impressive roar.
It was a roar she recognized and had her heart freezing in fear. When she’d first been brought to the helicarrier and Fury’s plan was roughly sketched out to her, she’d made it a point to access the files for the so-called Avengers Initiative. There wasn’t much she’d had access to, but then in a particularly devious move, she’d texted Tony.
She knew he was busy doing his own crash course and making plans. He’d been quick to reach out to her when he’d first learned of Clint; quick to reassure her that he was on the case and had her back. Eventually he’d make a grand appearance and she’d see him again and that thought had been very comforting. As much as she’d come to care for al of Clint’s co-workers, it was Tony who lightened her heart the most. Even knowing their differences, she recognized they were still very much the same and she was therefore not alone.
So when she had the distinct impression there was more to this whole Avenger Initiative thing than what Fury was telling her, she texted Tony asking for his help. He’d replied in less than a minute, eager and entirely too supportive of her breaking the rules. Following his instructions to the letter, she’d gone to the nearest computer and had plugged her phone into it with a random USB cable she’d managed to find.
Having no clue what he was going to do, she’d startled when her phone’s screened brightened to life. The computer’s screen simultaneously flickered until a HTML dialogue box opened and what looked like mumble-jumble appeared along the cursor’s path. While her computer skills were terribly rusty, Bella couldn’t help but smirk as she recognized what Tony was doing even if she didn’t know how he was doing it.
Using her phone, he’d somehow opened a backdoor into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s system and was sifting through files until he found what she needed.
It took all of five minutes until the flowing codes stopped and a classified folder appeared on her screen.
Her phone chimed with a text message.
Smiling, she read, No need to thank me, you little browncoat you.
Rolling her eyes, she’d replied, Hack the planet, Tony.
She had a feeling Hackers was his kind of movie.
From there, she’d read everything she could about the Avenger Initiative. She was surprised to see her name amongst the others but hadn’t the inclination to open that Pandora’s box so she ignored her file for the moment.
It was Bruce’s file she was most intrigued by. His mild mannered demeanor so at odds with the rage and fury of the Hulk. It was fascinating even though her heart sympathized with the poor man. To carry around that kind of anger at all times – to walk around like a nuclear warhead armed and ready to go – it was no small burden.
Unstable, his file read. The Hulk could not be contained even though his presence among the other candidates was a clear indication that they wanted to contain him. Control him.
When she’d seen the video file, she’d hesitated a moment before clicking and watching as a massive green beast bounded off a building, swatting at bullets fired at him like mere flies. In his annoyance and anger, his lip had curled back in a snarl and a roar of rage released that had her heart hammering nervously even though it was just a video clip.
It was the same roar she had just heard – faint, but lacking the watered-down consistency of a computer audio file.
The Hulk had been unleashed.
“Oh no,” she murmured, rising to her feet.
Vow or not, she couldn’t hide away in her room any longer. She had to try and help her friends.
Bolting to the door, she threw it open and charged out only to take two steps and run smack into a broad chest.
The chest moved forward and ushered her back into her room, slamming and locking the door behind him. Once she’d caught her breath from the impact, Bella looked up and her eyes widened.
“Clint?” she breathed, afraid to hope that her big brother had finally come to his senses and was there to help her.
His head cocked down at her, the ice blue veil of Loki’s spell still clouding his eyes. Disappointment crashed into her as she backed up a step, studying him in caution.
“Ah,” he mumbled. “There you are.”
And before she could react, his hand had flashed out and his fingers curled around her throat. Hauling her up, he casually tossed her across the room, her head hitting a nearby wall with a nasty crack.
Groaning, tears pricked her eyes, not entirely from the pain of impact. “Please Clint, don’t do this,” she wheezed, scrambling to her feet as she tried to dodge his searching fists again.
In the corner of her mind, a concern bloomed and spread over her like a cup of warm water thawing her out from the inside. Loki was aware of Clint’s appearance and it was clearly not part of his plan.
Distracted by Loki’s emotions, she didn’t dodge fast enough and Clint’s fist caught her along her chin.
“No,” she gasped, her desperate eyes boring into his vacant stare as she searched for some vague sign of her brother. “Clint – you’re stronger than this. Don’t let whatever this is control you.”
His hand twitched a moment but then snaked out and caught her up by the throat, squeezing painfully.
“Please Clint,” she forced out as his grip tightened.
“He doesn’t want you around,” Clint intoned. “You are interfering with his plans.”
Loki’s confusion and urgency flooded her and she knew without a doubt that Loki wasn’t who Clint was referring to.
Prying at his fingers, she managed to wheeze out around a gurgled sob, “Clinton Swan – you are stronger than this. It’s me… it’s your Eyas. Please…”
A kaleidoscope of black dots tainted her vision. She fought against the darkness coming to claim her, her eyes piercing her brother’s cold stare. She could no longer speak but she used her eyes to tell him – order him – to fight against whatever was making him do this. Her eyes told him she loved him, no matter what, and that together there was nothing they couldn’t overcome.
Her limbs went limp as Clint maintained his strangle hold and she heard Loki’s cry of rage grow faint, like their connection thinning, causing a well of fear to bottom out her stomach.
Clint’s gaze flickered, his fingers loosening a fraction. Sensing a toehold of awareness, Bella’s hands tightened around Clint’s as she sucked in a breath of air.
The cloud of ice started to bloom in his gaze again so she steeled herself. Gritting her teeth, a sudden burst of strength filled her and despite his hold, Bella surged to her feet. Knocking his arms back, she gave him a swift kick in the gut that had him hurdling into a wall on the opposite side of the room, crashing through a table with unnatural speed and force.
Gasping for air, she stared at her hands – hands that had committed an act humanly impossible – as though they belonged to a stranger.
“Where the hell did that come from?” she mumbled to herself.
But her mind was already working out an answer to that.
Frost giant, vampire, human… she was a bit of all three apparently and who knew what she could do now.
Fearful and confused thoughts halted when she heard Clint’s groan of pain and she dropped her hands to her side while rushing over to him.
“Clint? Clint? Are you okay? I’m sorry – I swear I didn’t mean to hurt you!” she stumbled over her words, horrified to see the remnants of the table smothered underneath him.
“That’s gonna hurt in the morning,” he coughed, rolling over onto his hands and knees.
Hearing the familiar tone in his voice, Bella’s heart froze – almost afraid to hope. “Hawkeye?” she whispered, her hand hovering over his shoulder wanting to touch him but afraid to. “Is it really you now?”
“Eyas,” he groaned, flipping over to look at her.
Her heart started racing when she saw the clear blue of his natural gaze.
“Clint,” she sobbed, the days of his absence crashing through her as she launched herself at him, wrapping her arms and legs around him as she cried into his shoulder.
“Ow,” he mumbled with a small chuckle. “Sh-h, c’mon now. It’s okay – I got you, little bird.”
The familiar, soothing words had her crying even harder. She’d tried so hard to be strong and patient, but a part of her had already accepted that she’d never have her brother back no matter how hard she fought for him. A part of her had already curled and shriveled up in defeat, thinking Clint lost to them all for good.
Shame welled up, a lump in her throat she choked around her tears. It had been a small, insecure part of her that had given up. The part of her that still carried the pain from the Cullens abandonment and the loss of her parents like raw, weeping wound that refused to heal. In her mind, though, it didn’t matter how small that part of herself had been. A part of her had surrendered and she was ashamed of herself for it.
Clint never would’ve entertained such thoughts of defeat had it been the other way around which was exactly why she’d made her vow to Loki. Her brother would find her again; wouldn’t rest until he did so – she was sure of it.
Slowly her tears abated and she simply basked in the feel of Clint’s hug, feeling like she was whole again.
He pulled back from her slightly, frowning as he took in the red welts around her neck. They weren’t as bad as they should’ve been but the sight of them there, knowing it had been his own hands that had left them, had him swallowing compulsively. “Jesus, Eyas. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” he murmured and she was horrified to see his eyes welling up.
“Shut up, you idiot,” she smiled reassuringly through her tears. “It wasn’t you – not really.”
“Eyas,” he began again but cut off as the locked door slammed open, splintering against the wall behind it.
Clint tightened his hands on her, sitting up and quickly placing himself in a defensive position in front of her.
Bella clutched at his back, not in fear, but with regret, knowing who it was that had come upon them. She’d just got her brother back and she was going to have to leave him again.
“Well, well,” Loki taunted, each booted step as he entered the room sounding unnaturally loud. “Isn’t this a touching reunion.”
Clint stiffened, his arms locking like a vice around her when she went to move beside him.
Glaring at Loki, she hissed, “What the hell are you playing at, Loki – the Hulk? Really?”
A vain smirk curled his lips upwards as he leaned towards her conspiratorially. “Now that was a clever bit on my part, you must admit.”
“Have you lost your mind?” she surged to her feet, breaking Clint’s hold as easily as if she’d been wrapped up in silly string.
“Eyas?” Clint gasped in shock at her strength.
She ignored him and marched straight up to Loki, jabbing her index finger into his chest. “You swore to me, Loki. Have you forgotten our deal already?”
In a flash, Loki wrapped his cold hands around her wrists, pinning her hands between them as he pulled her to him, one hand slithering to the small of her back and trapping her in his hold.
Her breath caught as she felt the hard line of his body against hers, thawing her even as she shivered at the chill of his embrace. Her wrists began to tingle in his hold and she broke his heated gaze to stare at where he held them, watching curiously as his skin tinted blue where it met hers. The color spread out from where they touched and she was spellbound by how the blue-kissed snow swept across her own skin.
“I have forgotten nothing, little siren,” he breathed down at her, dropping his his head so that the words kissed her forehead.
“Eyas?” Clint’s confused and concerned call broke the spell that had fallen over them.
In a telling move, Loki pulled her to his side before sidling ever so slightly in front of her. He stared Clint down, cocking his head to the side thoughtfully.
“Eyas,” Clint frowned. Bella pressed her lips together, remaining stubbornly silent. The horror of realization begin to dawn across her brother’s face and her lip quivered precariously. “Isabella, what have you done?”
Before she could react, Loki swept forward, his hand curling around Clint’s shirt, lifting him up in the air as if he weighed nothing.
“I believe the question here is what have you done?” Loki hissed, eyes roving along Clint’s face as he studied him. “You should not have been drawn to attack her – why did you?”
Bella’s heart tightened as she stepped closer to the two but wisely hovered just behind Loki. Her heart yearned to intervene but logic stayed her hand. The two of them were quite volatile and in all probability she’d make things worse.
“I – he told me to,” Clint stuttered, looking like a confused, lost little boy. She’d never seen her brother look so young before. Young and vulnerable.
Loki’s back stiffened. “Who told you to?” he bit out, giving Clint a violent shake that had Bella’s breath hiccuping.
The helicarrier thudded with another explosion and the three of them faltered before bracing themselves as they started pulling to the right… An engine had blown.
“WHO?!” Loki thundered, shaking Clint again.
“The giant purple monkey looking dude,” Clint bit off, glaring at Loki.
Bella watched as Loki’s eyes widened in recognition before they narrowed, a cold fury igniting behind them.
Without a pause, he lifted his ill-begotten scepter and brought it to Clint’s chest.
“No!” she gasped, rushing forward and pulling uselessly at his arm. “You promised me, Loki – you swore you’d set him free if I agreed. You can’t, you can’t do this!” she ranted and sobbed.
Glaring at her pathetic attempt to pull him away from her brother, Loki hissed, “Don’t be a fool, Isabella. You may have knocked him out of the mindspell but it is still within him. Do you want me to remove it or not?”
Her hands fell to her sides as though burned. She watched silently as the tip of the spear rested against Clint’s heart and a blue light swirled out from Clint and traveled back into the scepter.
Her eyes caught Clint’s, relief and exhaustion marring her small, relieved smile.
“You brave little fool,” Clint muttered in realization, shaking his head at her, eyes both begging and demanding that she tell him it wasn’t true.
Her eyes fell to the floor in admittance. He knew her better than anyone, maybe even better than she knew herself. She wasn’t surprised he’d realized she’d made some sort of deal with Loki for his safety.
“I love you, big brother,” she whispered, turning her head away as Loki brought the blunt end of his scepter down to Clint’s right temple, his body collapsing like a sack of bricks.
She brought a shaky hand to her lips. Fine, she reassured herself. Clint would be fine now.
“Isabella?” Loki prompted in a quiet murmur.
Glancing up from Clint’s unconscious form, her eyes caught on Loki. She was surprised by his quiet tone and neutral but soft expression.
He extended his hand out to her.
“Come,” he said. “It’s time to leave.”
Glancing at Clint again, Bella steeled herself.
It was worth it, she said over and over again in her mind. She would do anything to set her brother free…
Even chain herself to the man that had imprisoned him.
Slipping her hand into Loki’s, she allowed him to pull her out of the room, the blue tint sparked from their grasp traveling up both of their arms as she spared one last, yearning glance back at her brother.
(A/N): Again, thank you all sooo much for your patience with this chapter. I hope you enjoyed it!
Be on the look out within the week for information about the return of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Spook Fest 🙂