Howdy, Y'all! First off: Sorry for the long wait and thank you all for your patience. I have the rest of the plot for this story worked out in my head, only I started second-guessing myself and started wondering if it was too elaborate. On that note, if it is too elaborate please let me know and I'll trim it down. Also, if anyone has a request on how they'd like the story to turn out they can leave a message and I'll see if I can work it in. (No promises.) Anyway, I've decided to keep plowing forward with the plot I have in mind and to let the cards fall where they may.
I want to say thank you to LunarMn for adding me to their favorites, and to the Guest who left me such a nice review. Both of these things mean a lot to me.
General notice: I will be introducing a lot of Marvel characters. Not just from the TV shows, but from the movies, and from the comic books. I really love Marvel. Anyhow, if it gets overwhelming drop a comment and I'll . . . do something about it. If anyone's wondering, this story is listed as a ROTG/DW Crossover because that's where the primary antagonists originated.
I think I forgot to mention this before, but the way the Angels typically deal with their victims (when they're not snapping necks) is to send them back in time so that they can feed on the potential energy of all the days that person might have lived. Just trying to keep thing clear for those who haven't seen the show in a while.
On with the show!
It's so frustrating when no one else sees everything you see. So, for now it is just an illusion, confusion, unless you're someone who believes."
Believe; Finding Neverland
SHIELD Headquarters was truly an inspiring sight where it sat on the Theodore Roosevelt Island on the border of Washington DC - even at night when you couldn't see it that well. North's sleigh banked towards it as it came through the portal and landed on the roof.
"What's the official name for this place?" Jack wondered.
"The Triskelion." Sting answered as they walked towards the door. She pressed a button and a scanner came out and skimmed over her eye. The initials M. G. C. appeared briefly on a digital screen before they were replaced with the words:
"You work here?" Jack asked as they entered.
"Not really, I'm more of a consultant slash unofficial emergency field agent - I help with emergency situations that SHIELD can't get involved in."
They descended a flight of stairs and entered a hallway where lone bespectacled bald man was walking. When Sting greeted him, her voice became cool and detached.
"Hello, Agent Sitwell." Baba lowered his ears disapprovingly and crawled to Sting's opposite shoulder - away from the agent.
"Sting. What brings you here this time of night?"
"I need to talk to Director Fury immediately. Is he in?"
"No, but Secretary Pierce is in his office." Baba sniffed critically, and Sting pressed her lips together without meeting Sitwell's eyes. This was normal for her, so he wasn't surprised. When your eyes literally told everyone what you were feeling, visual contact could be dangerous.
"Alright, that works. Thank you." Sitwell brushed past her and continued down the hallway. The Guardians parted invisibly to make way for him. As he disappeared around a corner the lights flickered ominously.
"Pitch is here." North translated for Sandy.
"We'll take care of 'im, Shelia." Bunny said. "Go warn Pierce."
She nodded. "Alright. The stairs are that way."
Ten minutes later an announcement was broadcasted throughout the entire building.
"Howdy, y'all. Now, listen up because this is important. Some of you may be feeling rather confused. In fact, there's probably a handful of you staring at an Angel Statue that wasn't there five minutes ago. Step one is to keep looking at it – without looking at the eyes. They can't move if you can see them. Step two is to book the heck outta there as soon as possible. And, yes, I am 101 percent serious. These Angels are creatures from another world and they want to cripple the Triskelion. Actually, they want to bring down every Peacekeeping agency around the world, but they're starting here, under the cover of darkness, while there's only a relative handful of people. Don't try to take their pictures. If you capture their images, it will only increase their power. I've already instructed all technicians to kill the visual feeds. So, if you need help, you'll have to scream for it." She paused. "Final note: If an Angel hasn't moved from its spot since the last time you looked at it, it does not mean you're suddenly safe. It only means that someone else must be watching the Angel. So, take the advantage and as you do so, be sure to shout "thank-you" to whoever's helping you - even if you're not sure who it is. Credit where credit is due, after all."
She turned away from the microphone and found Secretary Pierce watching her shrewdly.
"You didn't bring anyone else inside, did you?"
SHIELD policy forbade the entry of non-authorized beings. If you didn't have clearance, you had no business being there. In fact, it was flat-out impossible for someone to enter illegally without alerting security. The Guardians had all breezed past the facial scanners, and simply by allowing them inside Sting was guilty of assisting intruders with illegal entry. She played innocent.
"That's ridiculous. They'd never make it through the door without the sensors picking them up and denying them access. Besides, why would I do that? I'm a one-woman show."
This wasn't exactly a denial and Pierce knew it, but he decided not to press the issue for the time being. There were more important things at stake. It hadn't been an easy feat to make him understand exactly what was happening without telling him about everyone else who was involved, and Sting had barely squeaked by with marginally satisfactory explanation. Pierce was sharp. But, telling him the whole truth was out of the question. If she told him that the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny were there to help fight the Boogeyman, he would have tranquilized her on the spot and shipped her off for a psychological evaluation. And even if she could convince him she wasn't completely crazy, he would have wanted the Guardians brought in for an interrogation – forcibly if need be.
Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons, two of SHIELD top scientists, were working late in their lab when Sting's announcement came over the speakers.
"In fact, there's probably a handful of you staring at an Angel Statue that wasn't there five minutes ago. Step one is t–" The speakers cut off with a screech, and the lights flickered out.
Fitz looked around. "What just happened?"
Simmons's eyes flickered past his shoulder and she gasped in fear. "Fitz, look!"
Fitz turned and saw an Angel Statue standing less than five feet away. He quickly got to his feet.
"That must be what Sting was talking about." Simmons nodded nervously in agreement. "What did she say to do next?"
"I don't know." She whispered. "The speakers cut off."
Cautiously, slowly, they backed away from the Angel. Simmons's eyes wandered to the ceiling and she gasped a second time and tightened her grip on Fitz's shoulder. The speaker on the wall which had been broadcasting Sting's announcement to the room was disabled. Someone, or something, had shoved a computer monitor into it. Fitz took his eyes off the statue for the briefest of seconds to take in what had startled Simmons, but even that fleeting time was almost too much. When he looked back at the Angel its outstretched hand was inches from his face, and its teeth were bared in anger and hatred. The only barrier that had kept the creature from reaching them was a thick layer of ice welding its feet to the ground.
Simmons screamed, and Fitz stumbled back several paces before he regained his balance. Clutching each other, they still didn't dare to take their eyes off it a second time until a layer of frost spreading across a nearby section of wall caught their attention. And even though there didn't seem to be anybody there, letters began to appear in the frost, as though they were being written by an invisible hand.
R . . . U . . . N
That was all the motivation they needed. Without giving a second though as to who had written the message, Fitz and Simmons turned and bolted for the door. A loud crack told them that the Angel was breaking though the ice, but by the time they stumbled into the hallway a fresh coating of frozen water had been applied, preventing it from following them past the doorway.
Fitz and Simmons rounded the corner of the hallway, in their mad dash to escape, and ran directly into Sting who had come to evacuate anyone from the labs who might be in harm's way.
"M!" Gasped Simmons. "I mean - Sting! Oh, thank goodness!"
"Are you guys okay?"
"One of those Angels you were talking about caught us in the lab." Panted Fitz. "But this . . . ice came out of nowhere and stopped it."
"Ice? Cool. Okay, you two get out of here. If you meet another Angel remember it can't move as long as you're looking at it." Baba squealed from his perch on her shoulder. "Oh, right – and don't look in the eyes." Fitz reached over and ran a finger over Baba's fur. The rat emitted a blissful, purr-like noise, and affectionately arched his back under the motion. Sting smiled reassuringly then lightly shoved Fitz and Simmons behind her and ran past them.
"Now get going!" Simmons immediately started to run, but Fitz hung back long enough to hear Sting as she disappeared around the corner.
"Way to go, Jack!"
By the time Sting ran up, Jack had completely encased the Angel in a thick layer of ice.
"How'd you get them to leave if they can't see you?"
"I wrote them a message." Jack nodded towards his frosty patch on the wall. "They could see that."
"Nice. Now what do we do with this one?"
"I don't know. Any ideas?"
She scratched her head. "Yeah, but it's rather vague and involves-"
Her words were cut off as the ground at their feet exploded.
The overall goal of Pitch and the Angels wasn't exactly to control the world, but to instead throw it into a state of constant chaos by repeatedly striking key sources of power around the world. With any luck they could use the bedlam to hunt down individual threats to their power (Mr. Stark, Captain Rogers, and so on) and execute them before they had a chance to join forces and fight back. And once the people of the Earth had no one left to protect them, they would be a ready-made, all-you-can-eat buffet that the Pitch could terrorize and draw power from at will, and that the Angels could feast on. And by the time assistance for the humans came from somewhere off world (if any such assistance came at all), they would be strong enough to provide a formidable opposition.
When they had first arrived at Triskelion, four Angels had branched off with Pitch to scout out the building. The other three, accompanied by Nightmares to help darken the way, had hunted out the storage facilities to find weapons, explosives, or machines that might assist them in emptying the building. A few security guards got in the way, but they were swiftly dealt with. (In other words, those guards woke up and found themselves in the year 1920.) Meanwhile, the Angels loaded up on goods, and set off to rescue the one that had been captured. Among the weapons they took were a couple of (slightly outdated) bazookas and an experimental machine called the "Atmospheric Moisture Freezing Device" that had been designed to control the weather. It didn't work exactly like it was supposed to, but it was good for freezing objects, and the Angels decided that it might be useful in freezing the entire building to discourage further entries by unwelcome parties. And if they failed in their objective to capture the Triskelion, or if Pitch was somehow apprehended, they could use the machine to abandon him, freeze the surface of the Potomac River, and flee before dawn.
It was the missiles from the bazookas slamming into the ceiling of the floor beneath Sting and Jack and ripping it open that prevented the mutant girl from finishing her sentence.
The ice holding the Angel in place began to crack and break apart. Jack and Sting both stumbled, and before either one had a chance to lift off their feet and rise to a safer position a piece of rubble smacked Sting hard between the eyes and her mind fell into darkness.
By the time she came back to consciousness, someone had her by the arms and was dragging her away from the pile of wreckage in the middle of the floor. She opened her eyes only to find everything was a blurred, fuzzy mess. She squeezed them shut, then tried another look. A jagged hole leading to where she and Jack had been standing moments before gaped down at her from the ceiling. She twisted her head to the right - then felt her breath hitch in her throat as she caught a glimpse of a man escorting two injured people out of sight. The man turned and looked back, met eyes with someone behind her, nodded, and disappeared. Sting blinked blearily and squinted after him. The man looked almost exactly like Agent Phil Coulson, a friend of hers. But, he was dead . . . wasn't he? He'd been killed shortly before the Battle of New York almost two years ago. She'd seen his dead body wheeled past her on a stretcher - right before she ran away to a place where no one would see her punch a wall over and over.
"She's awake." Sting turned and saw Jack and Fitz working together to pull her to safety. Jack dropped her arm and knelt beside her as Baba scurried over from a piece of debris.
She put a hand to her head. "I'm okay." Then, after a glance at Fitz, "Can he, uh, see you?"
"Yep." Fitz answered before Jack could open his mouth. "Like I told him, I think his cloaking device is malfunctioning. I'd be happy to take a look at it at a later time if he likes."
Sting resisted the urge to facepalm. "Where did you come from anyway?"
"I heard the explosion and came back to find you." He looked around. "What happened to the Angels?"
Sting got to her knees and looked around the dimly lit room. There wasn't an Angel in sight. "They got away. Perfect. They're probably after some poor, unfortunate soul."
"Well, then we'll need to draw them out again. What if we gave them another poor, unfortunate soul to chase?" Jack and Sting turned and stared at Fitz like he had suggested base jumping with only a plastic bag for a parachute.
"Fitz," said Sting as a hint of grey crept into her eyes "What on earth are you talking about?"
"Of all the stupid idea he could've come up with! All I'm saying is that if he gets himself killed it won't be my problem!"
Jack nodded absentmindedly. "Uh-huh, yeah. How come he can suddenly see me?" The two of them were flying downstairs seemingly with the intent of hunting Pitch.
Sting shrugged. Apparently, just believing that a Jack Frost existed was enough for Fitz to be able to see him, but it was still doubtful that Fitz truly believed that Jack was the real deal.
"Fitz is a very smart man. He probably heard me call you Jack, saw the frost you put on the wall and put two and two together."
"Yeah, but . . . a cloaking device?"
"He works in tech, not magic."
A tall, dark haired man who had just entered the stairwell gave Sting a strange look as they passed him.
"Talking to yourself again?"
Sting slammed to a halt and half turned around. "Well, how else am I supposed to get any intelligent conversation?"
"How about just trying to work on not bringing us a hoard of crazy Angels?"
She rolled her eyes and glared irritably. "Beat it, Ward." Baba grunted his approval as they continued onwards.
"He doesn't like anyone here, does he?" Jack observed, referring to the rat.
"Baba? Oh no, he likes a lot of people. He just has very particular tastes." She didn't say anymore than that on the matter because she couldn't quite explain it. Baba himself couldn't explain it either. He would only say that something felt "off" about certain people. His judgements in character had been well proven over the years which is why Sting trusted his word, but sometimes it was hard to be suspicious of certain people. Agent Sitwell, for instance, repulsed her because there was a smug, self-satisfied air about him that she detested; while Agent Ward (despite his tendency to be humorless and cynical) was a fairly nice guy when you got to know him.
Fitz barreled through the darkened hallways. He could sense them just behind him. He was sure that they were toying with him (otherwise he would have been caught by now); what he didn't know was how long it would be before they tired of the game and finally ended him. He needed tools from his lab - in fact, that was the only reason he was in his current position in the first place, but events had escalated much faster than he had expected.
After what seemed like an eternity, he found the lab, edged around the hole in the floor, and ducked inside. He rifled through his notebooks, snatched up a couple of devices that he and Simmons had been working on from his workbench, and turned around right as a shadow flickered across his ceiling.
A winged shadow.
Fitz slowly turned his head. An Angel stood to his right. He backed toward the door, but another Angel was blocking the way. He changed course and found himself backed into a wall, noticing that the first Angel had moved significantly closer. Now he knew beyond a doubt that they were playing with him. Either one could have single-handedly ended him by now. They were purposely drawing out the torture.
"Hello, fellas." He whispered nervously. They were on either side of him now, positioned so that he couldn't possibly keep both in sight at the same time. One stretched out its hand - and Fitz vanished . . .
. . . Only to reappear safely out of the Angels reach with Sting holding his hand. Jack quickly swung in the doorway, staff at the ready, but his precautions were unneeded. They Angels, caught unawares by Fitz's premature disappearance, found themselves staring at each other and unable to move.
Sting wiped her forehead with her wrist as Baba poked his head out of her pocket. "Well, that idea worked out better than I expected."
"You and me both." Agreed Fitz. "Now what?"
Jack heard Simmons' voice down the hallway calling for Fitz. "I'd say your escort is on its way."
Sting flew to the door and peeked around the corner. "Huh!" She smiled at Fitz. "Look at that! Your girl brought a small platoon just to come find you!"
Fitz blushed. "Sh-she's not . . . we're just friends."
Sting's grin only got wider. Her mouth said "Okay," but her twinkling eyes declared we'll see.
Fitz looked back at the Angels.
"We'll deal with them." Assured Jack. Fitz nodded and briefly clasped him on the shoulder.
"It was great meeting you. I'll see you both later when this is all over." And with that, he disappeared through the doorway. Jack waited until he was out of sight before he pulled the snow globe from the pocket of his hoodie.
"Where should we send them?" He asked referring to the Angels.
Sting shrugged indifferently. "Somewhere definitely off-world."
Jack though back to all tales of different realms and dimensions he'd picked up during his many travels.
"I hear Jotunheim is nice this time of year."
She smiled deviously. "Brilliant!" Then she addressed the statues. "Yo, Angel Kyle? I want you to know that I remembered where I've seen you before. New York in 1906. I protected a small town from you until you sent me back in time to the Salem Witch Trials. But after the stories I spread, I imagine you still didn't have much luck hunting any future victims."
"Yeah, sending you away was extremely disappointing." Kyle's voice spoke on behalf of the Angels. "Especially since you were rescued by your time-traveling friend before they could feed on you or anything. But, they want you to know that they picked out that era just for you and that they hoped you enjoyed it."
Sting's eyes turned green and her face turned crimson. "You sent me there on purpose?!"
Jack winced. Knowing Sting, she'd probably had the entire town in an uproar – and not in a positive way.
"Here's a little something to return the favor." He brandished the snow globe and threw it at their feet where the portal exploded into being. Jack quickly "welded" their hands together with ice so that they'd be forced to keep each other in sight, then he and Sting worked together to push the pair through the portal which closed behind them. Ordinarily, they might not have been able to manage it on their own as neither one was very strong physically, but North had increased this snow-globe's gravity field, so they managed it easily.
As soon as they were gone, Sting rubbed her hands together and cracked her neck. "Two down, five to go."
"C'mon." Said Jack. "Let's get moving."
North was waiting for them on the forty-first floor.
"Did it work?" He asked as Jack and Sting flew up.
"Like a charm." Jack answered.
They turned into the hallway, planning their next course of action. A torn piece of paper on the ground, one out of dozens scattered about, caught Sting's eye and she picked it up. It took her a moment to realize that the words on it were Russian. Without warning, North noticed the paper and grabbed from her hand.
"What do those words say?" Sting asked, not minding in the least so long as North was willing to translate.
Confused, he stopped in his tracks and stared at the paper. "Zey are meaningless. Unconnected."
"That's not the answer I was hoping for. Spill the beans."
North let out a sigh and pointed to the first word on the page as Jack looked over his shoulder. "Look. That is Longing." He pointed to the next. "That is Rusted." More words. "That is Furnace, and that means Seventeen."
"Huh?" Jack reached for the paper at the same time as Sting, but her hand was faster and she snatched it first.
"What the heck is Longing, Rusted, Furnace supposed to mean?"
"Is it a code or something?" Jack asked.
"It's like no code that I've ever heard. What-" She froze as she felt Baba crawl onto her shoulder, his fur prickling and standing on end. And like something from a horror movie, a low groan came from the room immediately to their left.
As one, Jack, North, and Sting slowly swiveled their heads toward the noise as a voice croaked:
"I-Is s-s-someone out there?"
North grimaced. Sting swore. This smelled like a trap.
Peering into the dim room, they could just make out the silhouette of a man sitting motionless on the floor propped up against a table.
Jack leaned over to Sting. "You're going to be the only one he'll be able to see."
Baba crouched uncertainly next to Sting's neck. "We'll go in together and get him out." She whispered. "North, will you follow behind us?"
Sting carefully reached through the doorway and felt for the light switch, but as she'd expected, the power had been cut off. The only light that would be available would be that which came in from the hallway and the moonbeams coming through the window from the full moon outside. As they proceeded through the entrance, Agent Sitwell stepped out from another doorway where he'd been hiding and hurried towards the stairwell, stopping only to scoop up the paper that had fallen forgotten to the floor. Sting sensed his movement and glanced toward the doorway as he went by. For the briefest of seconds, their eyes met, and Sting got the fleeting impression that she now knew something she shouldn't.
But the man ahead of them moaned, and the moment passed. Turning her mind to the situation at hand, Sting lit up her hand just enough to generate a weak glow and hurried forwards with Jack just behind.
"Please help me!"
"We're almost there. Hang on." Sting reassured him. She knelt next to him and reached a hand out.
In one smooth motion, the man vanished. All three of his intended rescuers blinked in astonishment: One second, he was there and the next he wasn't. Then something caught Sting's eye. A stone hand poking out from behind the table, right where the man's elbow used to be. A stone face next to the hand eyed her with a triumphant smirk.
That realization was what finally snapped the girl out her stupor. She choked on her frustrations and began ranting in Yiddish so that her present company wouldn't understand what she was saying. This might have been Fitz's fate if she hadn't arrived in time to turn him invisible and pull him away from danger.
Suddenly, Jack gurgled out a choking cry, and when Sting spun around he was nowhere to be seen. She whirled back around and caught sight of him in the grasp of an Angel standing by the window, confined in a headlock. One wrong move, one blink, and the Angel would snap his neck like a twig. Sting didn't dare to even try to blast the Angel in the face - she might hit Jack instead. Instead, her energy hit the Angels arm and shattered it into pieces.
Another choking gurgle came from behind her and she turned to see North in a similar condition, only held by two Angels. A quick movement of her hand, and one Angel was rendered headless while the other one lost an arm. The older man quickly freed himself and snapped off the remaining arm with a twist of his wrist. Baba squealed a warning, and Sting turned just as one of North's huge swords flew past her and obliterated a Fearling that had been about to football-tackle her to the ground. The creature died with a screeching howl and the sword embedded itself in the floor.
And right when things couldn't seem to get any tenser, the room was plunged into shadow.
"You?" Pitch's voice was frustrated and annoyed, as though he grew weary of having wrenches constantly thrown in his plans. "How did you get here?"
Sting took the question for herself.
"Uhhh . . . I flew? I can fly y'know."
Pitch scoffed. "Yes, I know." His voice gained a devious edge. "But you'll find that even flying can only carry you so far."
There was a hard thump, a short cry, and a loud crack.
Sting spun around.
Jack lay unconscious on the floor where the Angel had thrown him hard against the window. The glass hadn't broken completely yet, but it was close to it. Sting and North both dove to save him, but with a wave of his hand, Pitch threw the room from deep shadow into, well, pitch blackness. The glass shattered completely, and when Pitch lifted his hand all that remained was a jagged hole, and no Jack.
Sting screeched with horror and rage. Her eyes burned such a mixed shade of grey and green that they nearly lit up the room like torches.
"Pitch Black, I swear if I ever see you again I'll club you so hard your brains will bleed out your ears! North, I'll meet you in the sleigh." And she dove after Jack. She didn't let gravity simply help her but instead accelerated with it, shooting down like a torpedo and slamming to a halt merely fifteen feet above the Potomac River - only to find the Angels had already made use of the weather device they had found. The machine had once frozen an entire swimming pool solid in a matter of seconds, so freezing the surface of a river for short ways was child's play. The ice wasn't thick enough for the Angels to walk on yet, but that would be remedied soon enough with the passing of time.
The only thing marring its flawless surface was the jagged hole directly beneath where Sting was hovering.
If this plotline is starting to feel a bit random, I swear it's not. I bought in the Weather Device from the AoS episode Seeds, because I thought it would be too late in the year for the river to still be frozen. (I don't actually know for sure because I don't live in New York.)
Also, if anyone notices some slight inconsistencies between this timeline and MCU Timeline, just ignore it, and take it for granted that SHIELD hasn't fallen to HYDRA yet (but is about to). Constructive criticisms are appreciated, but please nothing nasty or mean-spirited.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this didn't disappoint!