Hey everyone, I do not own Marvel or The Arcane Society series by Jayne Ann Krentz, only my OC (who is based out of the Arcane universe) and my individual plot twists. So this chapter covers the events of The Avengers (the first one) up to the end of the movie. I intend to continue it into Winter Soldier and I'm warning you it will go pear-shaped- for multiple reasons .
That said, I love reviews and I hope to hear what y'all think! Please no flaming and send me questions if you do not understand anything. Enjoy!
It all started with a call.
Not from her private phone, solely reserved for her family and the few friends she still has, her work phone. There are only three numbers on it: her boss, her coworker and her main client. With a long suffering sigh she flips it open.
"Pesadilla." She answers.
"Suit up, I'm sending you on an assignment- you're still in England, right?" A gruff voice, rough from a lack of sleep barks through the phone.
"Yes." She answers curtly.
"I need you to go to Stuttgard, Germany, asap. Rogue god named Loki is on the loose with a paranormal artifact in the shape of a spear. There is an eighty-three percent chance Loki will appear in Stuttgard in the next forty-eight hours to steal a sample of Iridium. Fury is calling in Jones & Jones's debt. Report to him when you arrive in Stuttgard, I'm forwarding his number to you now."
A ding from her phone confirms a text had just arrived.
"Copy that- what does Fury know about Jones & Jones?" Translation: what have you told him and does he know about our paranormal gifts?
"He knows we're capable of unexplainable- by modern science's standards- feats but he doesn't know the details. Fury knows you by your call sign Pesadilla. If he tries to grill you, say nothing. You're good at that." Fallon orders.
"Is Arianna coming?" She asks stoically.
"No. She's still recovering in the hospital. And pack for war, Inez." In true Fallon fashion, he hangs up on her.
Inez glares at her phone before groaning and grabbing her go-bag. Life is never boring with Fallon Jones as her boss.
When Inez arrives in Stuttgard, she dials the number Fallon had forwarded to her in a burner phone. After a single ring Fury picks up.
"This is Fury." A commanding voice, male, speaks on the other end.
"Pesadilla, on the ground in Stuttgard." She answers, her voice coolly professional.
A brief silence answers her before Fury answers.
"How the hell did-?"
"Boss is many things- a superior analyst is one of them." Inez replies, cutting him off.
"… Damn, I heard the rumors but I didn't think he was this good." Fury remarks.
Inez stays quiet- there's no need for her to say anything. Fury sighs gustily on the other end.
"Can you convince him to come work with us for this? We need someone like him."
"No. Boss does what he wants- although if the situation was dire enough he may assist." Inez amends, making her way towards the art museum.
"Hmm. Fine, where are you right now, Pesadilla?"
"At the art museum- a scientist who has access to Iridium is giving a speech tonight at the gala. Loki needs him to steal the Iridium." She answers in clipped tones, walking past the bustling gala.
"What the hell are you doing in there?!" Fury snaps.
Inez rolls her eyes.
"Getting into position for when Loki decides to be a dramatic bitch."
On the other end of the phone Fury blinks before staring at it and then returning it to his ear.
"Loki is a dramatic bitch; he's going to cause a scene to attract attention away from the facility storing the Iridium. I could go there, but odds are against me taking Barton down alive. Loki isn't an idiot, he would focus his troops on taking the Iridium and has set it up so they still have orders to follow even if he is apprehended."
Fury listens to Pesadilla's summary as he watches Rogers and Romanov's progress.
"Go to the facility and give them hell- I have another crew coming to handle Loki."
There is a pause on the other end and Pesadilla's smooth voice replies coolly.
"Copy that. Any preference on status of insurgents?"
"Dead, unless it's Barton." Fury states.
Hill quirks her eyebrow at him but he ignores her.
"Fine. Passcode is 'what a nightmare', counter code is 'it could be worse'." Pesadilla hangs up on him.
"Sir? Was that Pesadilla?" Hill inquires while Fury puts away his phone.
"It was. Pesadilla is going to deal with the thieves while Captain focuses on Loki."
Hill nods then hesitates.
"Should we inform the strike team of her presence, sir?"
"…" Fury contemplates it.
"Tell Romanoff. The others will find out when she reconvenes with the others on the flight back. Pesadilla will be using these passwords." He rattles off the ones he had received in an undertone.
"Sir." Hill nods and quickly hails Natasha.
"Romanoff, we have an agent on the ground at Stuttgard, code name Pesadilla. They will join you on the flight back to base."
"Copy that. Do we have a description?" Natasha says in an undertone.
"Androgynous, 5' 9'', black and grey tactical gear paired with a long coat, half mask and hood. Will be carrying gear with them, including a sniper rifle. Passcode is 'what a nightmare', counter code is 'could be worse'."
"Understood. I will let you know when they arrive." Natasha hangs up.
"Sir… was it really necessary to call in someone from that agency?" Hill finally asks.
Fury clasps his hands behind his back before responding.
"Loki's planning something big- and we'll need all the help we can get, Agent Hill. And let it never be said J & J doesn't pull its' weight."
Inez pulls on her mask, strapping it in place then tugs her hood up over her head, concealing her hair and eyes. She flexes her fingers before taking a deep breathe, scenting the air. Stuttgard is an old city, with layers upon layers of old psychic spoor from violence or negative emotions. Difficult to work with, but not impossible.
Her eyes partially close as she continues to shift through the cesspool of potential trails until a set in particular catches her attention. Five men, all saturated in an energy signature she recognizes from professional killers, moving together.
Not unlike mine. She thinks with dark amusement.
Silently she moves into position, crouched on the corner of a roof as she waits for Barton and his team to make their move. Inez is soon rewarded with the sound of an arrow striking its' target- briefly she feels remorse for the guards but refocuses as Barton walks up with his team. They surround him and cover all angles- except from above. She smiles chillingly as she preps to drop, her senses instinctively singing for the upcoming violence.
Once Barton opens the door and enters the building Inez pounces, slamming her feet directly onto one of the mercenaries' neck. It breaks with a sickening crack, drawing the attention of the others- Inez is surrounded on three sides but that doesn't bother her. Fluidly she throws the daggers she has in hand, hitting two of her targets directly in the throat. The last manages to twist enough to take it in the shoulder.
Inez springs forward, faster than most humans can move, and slams her open hand against the gun, redirecting it. Her ears, thankfully, are protected with special hearing aids so she doesn't suffer from vertigo caused by point blank gunfire. While she has the merc's attention on her right hand and his gun, her left unerringly draws another knife and cuts the major arteries under his right arm. Arterial blood sprays everywhere but Inez doesn't pause to admire her work- she ducks behind him and the man grunts.
An arrow is sticking through his chest and she can clearly see Barton staring at her with unnaturally blue eyes that don't match the photo she was given. He's carrying the Iridium under one arm, hindering his movements. Inez smiles behind her mask and lets her meat shield drop. Barton scowls and makes to set the Iridium aside: Inez is already in motion, dodging to the side as a knife flies past her head.
Inez rushes forward, her bloodied knife catching his attention while she palms a second, special combat knife. Barton fires another arrow but Inez cuts it out of the air easily, despite the short distance between them. Barton's eyes widen in surprise then narrow in concentration, blocking her first strike with his bow. He narrowly avoids her second knife, twisting his torso and bow at the same time. They exchange a few more blows before Inez finally has enough.
Inez narrows her eyes and pulls on her talent. Her senses are pushed to a degree where she can perceive every twitch of his muscles, giving away his next move. Inez ducks the horizontal strike with his bow and slams both knives into his left leg. With a harsh twist she tears the wounds open further, forcing him to drop. She slips behind him while he clutches his leg and takes the Iridium, kicking his bow away in case he decides to try his aim.
Not that he can really with the dose of paralytic she had stabbed into him. But caution is always a good idea with another trained assassin.
As she escapes over the rooftops, Inez calls Fury.
"Have Iridium in possession: engaged Barton but do not have means to extract him safely. Incapacitated Barton's left leg- dosed him with paralytic. The rest of his team is dead. Reconvening with extraction team now."
"Where is Barton?" Fury demands.
"By the facility with a lot of John Does." Inez deadpans, approaching the square.
"Fine- get to the quinjet, Pesadilla."
"Roger." She ends the call and strides across the square, approaching the SHIELD quinjet.
Iron Man, Captain America and Loki turn and raise their eyebrows at her as she walks up- the two heroes noticing the large amounts of blood on her clothes while Loki narrows his eyes at the Iridium she is holding. Natasha walks down the ramp and her mouth quirks in surprise.
"Wow, what a nightmare your job must have been." Natasha greets Pesadilla, eyeing the person before her.
Build is tall but lean- most likely female. Trained at combat and is unafraid of killing. She analyzes.
Inez inclines her head.
"It could be worse. Could have ruined my boots." She replies smoothly, keeping her voice neutral- might as well have some fun making them guess if she's male or female.
"I'm sorry, who are you?" Tony demands, eyeing the androgynous person before him.
He's good at reading people but this person doesn't give off any clues aside from a casual readiness Tony has seen in trained soldiers. Then again, the large amounts of blood splattered on their clothes indicates their combat skills pretty clearly. The stranger ignores him and walks onto the jet, still carrying a glass tube of some shiny mineral. Tony gapes at them and then at Captain America.
"Did a blood-soaked mystery killer just walk on the plane and we're all fine with this? Seriously?" He demands.
Steve frowns as he escorts Loki onboard.
"Romanoff wouldn't have let them on without a reason- they're probably another agent." He points out.
Tony frowns, watching the stranger sit down with the Iridium still in their possession. Loki also watches them, concealing a scowl at this unexpected hiccup in his grand plan. Several hours after take-off, the stranger is still completely quiet and unmoving, refusing to reply to any forays from Tony or Steve. Eventually they give up and start speculating about Loki.
Under her hood, Inez is lazily observing everyone in the jet, but mostly watching Loki. Her mouth quirks when she senses his bubbling frustration.
It must burn to have a crucial part of your plan fucked up. She thinks, smirking fully under her mask.
She turns her gaze to the redhead flying the plane and nearly twitches at the overpowering psychic spore of a killer seeping out of her. Mentally shrugging, Inez's eyes flicker to Captain America. He has less of a killer's scent than she expected for a war hero but frowns at the tones of exhaustion and grief. Inez doesn't bother to read Iron Man- she can see a playboy from a mile away.
No way do I want to smell the lust on that bastard. She thinks with a tiny shudder.
Abruptly thunder booms around them and Inez tenses, eyeing the clouds. The small hairs at the back of her neck are standing on end- Inez can sense a huge amount of power approaching as the weather worsens. Loki starts giving off anxious spoor, catching her attention. Inez tilts her head, watching him shift in his seat nervously. Steve notes his sudden anxiety too.
"What's the matter, scared of a little lightning?" He asks Loki.
"I'm not overly fond of what follows." Loki states.
Inez's head snaps up as she feels the source of all the energy around them slam into the roof of the quinjet with a clunk. Tony puts on his helmet and opens the back hatch.
"What are you doing?!" Steve yells at him.
Inez tenses as a buff blond man enters the jet- she can sense Loki's anxiety and fear spike when he comes into view. Tony makes to attack but Blondie hits him with his hammer, knocking Tony into Steve and grabs Loki by the throat before jumping out of the plane with him. Inez sighs in annoyance, looking at the two men at her feet before unbuckling and using her seat buckles to tie down the Iridium.
She grabs a parachute as Tony and Steve argue, ending with Tony's defiant exclamation of,
"I have a plan: attack." Before flying out of the plane.
Steve finally notices her fastening the last straps of the parachute.
"You too?" He asks with a glare.
"You both might want to sit out for this one, Cap, Pesadilla. These guys are gods, literally from legend." Natasha warns them.
"I only believe in one god ma'am, and I doubt he dresses like that." Steve tells her, tugging his own parachute straps into place.
"Stark and Thor are going to fight- so I'll watch Loki." Inez states before jumping out of the plane.
Steve and Natasha are pleasantly surprised by her common sense before Steve jumps out himself. Inez spots the battleground easily, but doesn't focus on it, keeping her eyes on the green-clad figure below her. She lands easily, slipping free of her parachute before silently approaching the God of Mischief.
Loki is amused by the spectacle the foolish mortal Stark and the bumbling oaf are putting on before frowning, feeling as if he is being watched. He spins and his eyes widen in shock as he beholds the bloodied warrior standing sentinel behind him, calmly observing him. His lip curls in disgust and grudging respect.
This mortal is dangerous- and not a fool it seems.
"Come to enjoy the spectacle?" He goads them.
They don't respond, merely continuing their watch over him. Not a single fidget gives away their thoughts- it's amusing to Loki that it took coming to Midgard to find someone who isn't an open book. Loki suppresses a growl at the infuriating creature before returning his attention to the battle below.
"Ah, the valiant Captain has stopped the fight- how boring. Well, shall we?" He stands, brushing himself off.
The grey-clad warrior escorts him back to the jet, not touching him or saying a word. It's aggravating how much of a puzzle they are- and what clues he has are scant indeed. Something to ponder until Barton comes to fetch him.
Inez sighs in relief once she reaches the rooms Fury had sent aside for her- no cameras or recording devices, as per her demands. She pulls off her bloodied clothes, setting them aside to be burned or washed, depending. The coat is easy to clean in the sink with the industrial soap she packs for that purpose.
Once done with that, Inez pulls on her 'casual' clothes: dark cargo pants with hidden sheathes for her knives and a long sleeved v-neck in an olive green. The green tone warms her golden skin and sun-streaked mahogany hair braided into a crown at the top of her head. Inez surveys herself, amber eyes glinting in approval before pulling on her mask and a short sleeveless jacket in mottled black with a hood. She pulls out a pair of steel bracers, dulled black so they wouldn't give her away and slips in yet more knives.
Satisfied, Inez tightens her boots and goes to the door. Before she leaves the room she flips her hood up, concealing her identity. Then she makes her way to the meeting room.
When she arrives she hears a familiar voice- Loki.
"You summon such lost creatures to defend you- how desperate are you?" Loki jabs, his voice echoing.
"How desperate am I? You threaten my world, steal a force you can't hope to control, you talk about peace and you kill because it's fun. You've made me very desperate. You might not like that you did." Fury replies.
Inez steps closer, watching the scene playing out on the screen. Loki smiles mockingly at Fury.
"Ooh, it burns you to have come so close- to have the Tesseract, to have power, unlimited power and for what? A warm light for all of mankind to share? And then to be reminded what real power is."
Fury smirks at Loki.
"Let me know if 'real power' wants a magazine or something." He tells him before leaving the god alone in his cell.
The screen goes blank. Inez takes that as her cue to take her seat. Five sets of eyes lock on her as she pulls out a chair, angling it so she can stand quickly if she wants to. She leans back, relaxing her body as the other Avengers eye her curiously. Hill nods to her.
"Pesadilla, thank you for joining us."
Inez tilts her head and waves her hand in a 'not a problem' gesture. Hill's mouth quirks in amusement.
"I heard you are not the type to waste words, but I had thought Captain and Romanoff were exaggerating about how quiet you are."
Inez chuckles warmly, startling the group.
"I don't like talking in front of intelligent enemies- it merely gives them ammunition." She explains, keeping her voice low.
A nervous man with glasses speaks next.
"'Nightmare'- what kind of name is that?" He inquires.
Steve and Thor stiffen in surprise while Natasha and Hill merely watch her expectantly.
"An accurate one." She replies, letting her voice return to its' normal cadence.
Hill steps forward and introduces the group to her.
"You already know Agent Romanoff, Captain Steve Rogers and Thor. The gentleman with the glasses is Dr. Bruce Banner and I am Maria Hill, Fury's second in command. What would you like us to call you?"
Inez tilts her head and hums, thinking it over before shrugging.
It's not like grandfather will find out about this job unless Fallon tells him. She reflects idly.
"Sweetwater off-shift, Pesadilla in the field." Inez answers bluntly.
The group nods, though Thor still seems confused.
"Pardon me, but are you a man or woman?" He asks, befuddled.
Inez's eyes glint under her hood with mirth as she takes in the God of Thunder.
What a lovable dummy- he's like a static generating teddy bear with a hammer.
"I am whatever I want to be." She replies, deepening her voice to a rich baritone.
Natasha smothers a laugh as Thor and Steve stare at Sweetwater with wide-eyes. Bruce clears his throat, also amused judging by his expression as he gestures to the blank screen.
"He really grows on you, doesn't he?"
"Loki's gonna try and drag this out. So, Thor, what's his play?" Steve demands.
"He has an army, called the Chitauri. They are not of Asgard or any known world. He means to lead them against your people in return, I suspect, for the Tesseract."
"An army. From outer space." Steve clarifies with a 'are you kidding me' expression.
"So, he's building another portal. That's what he needs Erik Selvig for," Bruce deduces.
"Selvig?" Thor asks, concerned.
"He's an astrophysicist," Bruce starts to explain but Thor interrupts.
"He's a friend."
"Loki has him under some kind of spell… along with one of ours." Natasha adds, her worry showing.
Inez quirks her eyebrow at the first sign of real emotion from her fellow killer.
She cares about Barton. Is he her partner?
"I want to know why Loki let us take him: he's not leading an army from here." Steve points out.
"I don't think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy's brain is a bag of cats. You can smell crazy coming off of him." Bruce interrupts.
"Have care how you speak- Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard and my brother." Thor chides him, glaring.
"He killed eighty people in two days." Natasha retorts.
"He's adopted." Thor mutters and Inez finally decides to interject.
"Loki isn't mad- intelligent, yes, but not truly insane. As for his next move… he's waiting to be picked up by his allies."
Silence meets her words and she quirks her eyebrows at surprised faces.
"They need the Iridium we confiscated- and I highly doubt Loki will want to miss a major part of his plan by sitting in a cell. He's a drama queen- he craves attention and by flaunting hints of his plans he is calling attention to himself. He is also vengeful- look at how he is using Selvig, a known friend of Thor's and one of SHIELD's own agents as a pawn. Loki is certain he will win… and I have to guess that he rarely encounters opponents that can outthink him."
The Avengers stare at her wordlessly. Inez sighs heavily through her nose, leaning back in her chair as far as it will go.
"It's all there, if you look." She tells them, exasperated.
"Then why would he allow himself to be captured?" Steve asks.
Inez frowns behind her mask, thinking of potential reasons.
"To find our base, for one. Potentially sabotage, which I find likely given his actions so far. Psychological warfare- by showing he isn't afraid or worried we are all on edge and stressed out over his next move. A tired solder is easier to defeat. He would want to steal the Iridium we obtained- that will be one of his highest priorities. Gathering intelligence; who will be sent to fight against him, what are our capabilities and our weaknesses, are there flaws he can take advantage of…" She trails off, one particular scenario occurring to her.
Natasha narrows her eyes and leans forward to address her.
"Sweetwater, you thought of something else." She states.
Inez huffs in annoyance and glances at her fellow assassin.
"Killing the enemy commanders and main threats or, failing that, separating allies and making use of whatever chaos ensues from the attempts." She finishes coldly.
Natasha and Hill exchange glances while Bruce, Steve and Thor watch her warily. Bruce eventually asks another question.
"I've been thinking… what do they need the Iridium for?"
"It's a stabilizing agent." A cheerful voice announces.
Tony and another agent walk in, Tony chattering as usual.
"Meaning the portal won't collapse in on itself like it did at SHIELD. No hard feelings, Point Break, you have a mean swing." Tony smacks Thor's arm.
Thor merely glares as Tony continues his lesson.
"It also means that the portal can open as wide and stay open as long as Loki wants. Ah, raise the mizzen mast, jib the topsails!" Tony yells to the techs, who all stare at him blankly.
He suddenly points at one of the techies.
"That man is playing Galaga! Thought we wouldn't notice, but we did~! The rest of the materials Agent Barton can get his hands on pretty easily. The only major component he still needs is a power source of high energy density. Something to kick start the cube." Tony concludes, messing around with the screens.
"When did you become an expert in thermonuclear astrophysics?" Hill demands, watching him.
"Last night." He replies smugly.
Hill raises a disbelieving eyebrow while Inez chuckles. Tony's attention snaps to her and his expression becomes comically frightened.
"Ah, the crazy ax-murderer, how nice of you to join us- I see you do have a healthy sense of humor aside from your more questionable tastes."
Inez grins beneath her mask, watching him lazily.
"Takes one to know one…" She purrs.
Hill gives her an annoyed expression, which she ignores. Tony smirks, nodding to her.
"Point, ax-murderer. But seriously, the packet, Selvig's notes, the extraction theory papers- am I the only one to do the reading?" He demands dramatically.
Lovely, another drama queen- a match for our godly one. Inez thinks wryly.
"Does Loki need any particular type of power source?" Steve asks Tony.
"He'd have to heat the cube to a hundred and twenty million Kelvin just to break through the Coulomb barrier." Bruce replies quietly.
"Unless Selvig figured out how to stabilize the Quantum Tunneling effect," Tony challenges him.
"If he could do that, he could achieve heavy-ion fusion at any reactor on the planet."
Tony waves his hands excitedly as he moves towards Bruce.
"Finally! Someone that speaks English!"
"Is that what that was?" Steve wonders as the two men shake hands.
Inez shakes her head, leaning her chin on one palm as she observes Tony simultaneously compliments and insults Bruce.
"Doctor Banner is here only to track the cube- I was hoping you might join him," Fury hints heavily to Tony as he enters the room.
"I'd start with that stick of his. It may be magical, but it works an awful lot like a HYDRA weapon." Steve adds his two cents.
"I don't know about magic, but it is powered by the Cube. I'd like to know how Loki used it to turn two of the sharpest men I know into his personal flying monkeys," Fury growls.
Thor frowns quizzically.
"Monkeys? I don't understand-"
"I do!" Steve yells excitedly.
He blushes when everyone gives him a judging stare, or just a stare in Inez's case.
"I recognize that reference," He finishes, almost mumbling.
Tony turns to Bruce and grins at him.
"Shall we play?" He invites.
Bruce shakes his head, clearly amused as they leave with Natasha. Inez yawns and stands up, ready to head out herself when Fury stops her.
She turns and gives him her attention, her body language relaxed. Fury walks over to her and gives her a stern stare.
"You seem to understand Loki rather well for someone that's never met him before."
Behind her Inez can sense Steve and Thor listening in awkwardly to Fury's interrogation. She shrugs at Fury.
"I know psychopaths and sociopaths." She says coolly.
Fury eyes her for a moment before asking the question she had been waiting for since she was assigned this job.
"Can you make him talk?"
She plays dumb, not liking the cameras and video feeds around her.
"Perhaps." Inez hedges.
Fury glares at her.
Inez's eyes blaze amber as she unleashes some of her talent- not enough to stop his heart but enough to cause dry sweat and instill unholy fear in him. She steps closers to whisper in his ear.
"Be careful what you say- loose lips sink ships." Inez murmurs in what Arianna dubbed her 'nightmare voice'.
She steps back and dampens her talent, giving Fury a reprieve from her oppressive killing intent. He glares at her but heeds her warning.
"Your employer informed me you are the best at finding, analyzing and outmaneuvering twisted bastards like Loki. He also heavily insinuated that you had other capabilities that you could use to gain information you need."
Inez hums before nodding.
"I could and I can- but I think Romanoff stands an equal chance of doing so, if not better."
Fury's eyebrow shoots up.
Inez leans against the table as she talks.
"Loki thinks he understands her- and she can use that. He considers me dangerous and is far less likely to open up in any manner. Romanoff, on the other hand, he underestimates as a person. He understands her worth but not her character and that is how she will win."
Fury is quiet as he contemplates what Inez is telling him before nodding brusquely.
"What is your assessment of Agent Barton?"
"Brainwashed. He can still react logically and creatively to threats- his morality is gone. If something gets in the way of his mission he deals with it permanently."
Fury nods slowly, his expression betraying a brief flash of pain before he focuses on Inez again.
"What did you do to him when you encountered Barton in Stuttgard?"
"I stabbed him with a paralytic in the left leg and made sure it got into his blood circulation before leaving. It lasts twelve hours with about another two of weakness in the limbs. If Barton comes here he will be easier to take down without killing him."
Fury nods and Inez takes that as her cue to leave- staying up for thirty-six hours is draining. She goes to her room, locks the door and let's herself collapse.
Four hours, then check in with the team. She reminds herself before shutting her eyes.
Inez blearily opens her eyes, rapidly adjusting to the darkness in her room before sighing and getting up. After making sure she has her gear in place, Inez follows the psychic trails her 'team' had left behind. She tilts her head when she notices the heightened alarm, anxiety, fear and anger.
What happened while I was asleep? Inez wonders, unease raising the hair on the back of her neck.
Shaking her head, Inez steadies herself before entering the lab. She almost staggers at the sheer volume of wild emotions she is sensing.
Anger. Hate. Jealousy. Fear. Disgust. Betrayal. Spitefulness. Aggression. Contempt. Doubt. Disappointment.
Inez nearly vomits at the overwhelming emotion pouring from all of them. She staggers before catching herself on the door frame and finally pulls on her talent to fight the wave of emotion.
"ENOUGH!" Inez roars, hitting all of them with her killing intent and drowning out their negative emotions.
The room stills and Inez is breathing hard as she glares at all of them, furious.
"… I don't know what happened in here. I don't care. But if you want to continue behaving like children throwing a tantrum, feel free. But don't expect to be able to stop Loki while you're at it." She hisses.
The Avengers all glance at each other and Fury before looking at her. She scans the room and notices the spear in Bruce's slackened grip. Her hands clench as she marches over to him and pulls it out of his grip to slam it on the table. They all jump at her aggressive behavior and instinctively take a step back when they catch a glimpse of her eyes: predatory and angry.
She glares at them all then freezes, canting her head and sniffing. Her eyes widen at the familiar spoor.
"The enemy is onboard." She states, quickly moving for the door.
"What-?" Steve starts to ask before a massive explosion hits them.
Inez's head is ringing as she adjusts to the sudden noise and pain, groaning. Dragging herself to her feet Inez races for one place she knows the enemy will have to go: Loki's cell.
She slows down once she is within thirty feet of the cell, purposefully slowing her breathing and regaining control of herself. Silently, she awaits her prey- soon she is rewarded as a trio of solders in SHIELD gear head for the cell. All of them are high alert, practically oozing sickening excitement and bloodlust as they race past her. Casually she taps into her talent, instinctively softening her steps and smoothing her movements to avoid detection.
They open the cell block ahead of her and she waits until all of them make it through before slicing the first one's throat. She lays him down easily, still undetected as she prowls behind her next target. He is busy scanning the room while the other man is holstering his gun.
I need to work fast.
Inez rips open the closer one's throat and throws a dagger through the back of his teammate's neck, severing his spinal cord. Both men collapse in a bloody heap and Loki eyes her warily from behind the glass. She spreads her senses out, checking to see if Loki is still in his cell.
She whirls and blocks the blow that would have decapitated her had it landed. Loki quirks his mouth into a sneer as he presses against her combat knives with his glowing spear. Inez sneers back under her mask and disengages, leaping backwards. They stare at each other, assessing.
"I must say, I am impressed to see that you found out I was outside my cell. I wonder how you did that..?" Loki muses aloud.
Inez stays quiet, stretching her senses as she watches his micro-movements. Loki whips the spear towards her head, which she dodges and lunges in close with him. Loki fluidly blocks her first blow but hisses as she kicks his knee viciously. He retaliates with a fast blow to the face, using the butt of his spear. Inez forces herself to flip, absorbing the energy and spins to avoid his throwing knives. Loki frowns as they continue to fight and Inez can't help but agree with his dissatisfaction.
Time to tear him open another way… She thinks, flipping a dagger into her hand.
"Not much of a god if you can't beat a mere mortal." Inez chuckles, her voice amused and low.
Loki flinches in surprise then his eyes narrow.
"Not much of a- we'll see about that, quim!" He snarls.
Loki stabs for her chest but Inez dances back, amber eyes glittering with malice as she parries his next blow. Inez snaps her wrist forward and slams the knife into his elbow, weakening the joint. He swears, swiping and successfully slicing her chest open. Inez hisses at the pain but continues forward, pressuring his bad arm as she forces him to lock blades with her.
"Still struggling so desperately- I wonder whose attention you are trying to attract. Midgard's? No, you don't care about Midgard any more than you care about an ant. Thor's? Potentially; finally showing up your big brother and gaining the recognition you deserve. Or perhaps it's Odin's? Your father figure, finally seeing you and not his precious Thor overshadowing your every move…" Inez whispers in his ear.
Loki roars and blasts her violently against the far wall- Inez hacks up blood as Loki heaves for breath, staring at her murderously. Inez laughs though her mask, sitting up as Loki struggles to control himself.
"Pathetic…" She murmurs, her voice echoing eerily with multiple tones as she drags herself onto her feet once more.
"You can't even acknowledge your own faults… The fear in your heart and the lies you tell yourself to avoid feeling anything: it's pitiful. How sad is it that the God of Lies has to fool himself just to make it through each day?"
Loki starts to shake, staring at her with wide-eyes as her voice rolls around him, taunting him. But Inez isn't done with him.
She can smell his fear, the sour tang of confusion muddling his fury and battle lust.
He is prey. Her talent whispers to her, revealing his inner flaws and fears as she gathers her strength for a final clash.
"But you know what, Loki? No matter how much blood you spill, how many lives you take or worlds you conquer- he will never look at you as anything more than a MONSTER."
Loki's eyes flash and he bellows, blasting her with magic, no longer content to use a tool lent to him from another. Inez survives the first blast and dodges the second- only for the third to corner her. Grimly, knowing she has only a second, Inez flares her talent and pulls on all the available energy she has to pull off a miracle.
She barely makes it into the other corridor before the blast strikes her in the chest. Inez tumbles like a broken doll and vaguely she wonders if death is supposed to hurt this much. Loki looms over her, his form blurry in her eyes but she can clearly see his power with her psychic senses.
Barbed green energy flares around him- but there is something foul around the edges. A disgusting bright blue taints his aura and makes her want to recoil from how wrong it is. She hacks up a cough as Loki lifts the spear, idly watching his emotions roll from hate, desperation, rage, loathing and a sickening excitement.
"… You… poor… puppet…" She whispers and she can sense Loki's sudden hesitation.
"… must be… sad… to be… kept… dancing… on strings…" Her voice fades as she passes out.
Loki stares down at Pesadilla as she slump into unconsciousness, blood pooling from the cuts and burns that clearly reveal her gender. He raises the spear to deliver the death blow- only to pause, her words ringing in his mind.
'No matter how much blood you spill, how many lives you take or worlds you conquer- he will never see you as anything more than a MONSTER.'
His teeth grind forcefully and he spins on his heel, determined to not give the woman a second thought.
I will show her- I will show them all! He vows, walking away and setting his trap for Thor.
Pain is what brings her back to consciousness.
Groaning, Inez covers her eyes as light blinds her and she blearily tries to focus on her surroundings. Two blurry figures hover over her and Inez winces as they jabber nonsensically. Gradually, she starts to make out words until she can understand what they're saying to her.
"- she's lucky to be alive." Steve's voice says.
Inez rolls her head in his direction and snorts.
"Injured, not deaf." She grumbles.
Steve stiffens in surprise and determinedly doesn't look at the bandages around her chest.
"What were you thinking?!" He demands, glaring at her.
"You ran off and fought the enemy alone! That's not how a team works!"
Inez gives him a death glare, shutting him up.
"Don't lecture me about teamwork when the last time I saw any of you, you were all ready to rip each other apart." She snarls, effectively silencing him.
An awkward silence falls and Steve builds up the nerve to ask the important questions.
"What were you doing near Loki's cell? Fury found you bleeding out and a bunch of dead guys in the actual cell bay."
"… I knew if the enemy had infiltrated the ship, one of their missions would be to reconnect with Loki. I went to head them off and succeeded in neutralizing them, but Loki had already escaped his cell. We fought. I shook him up psychologically. He blasted everything with magic and I blacked out." She summarizes.
Steve blinks before whistling.
"Damn, I didn't even think about-"
"Don't." She cuts him off.
Steve gives her a confused look.
"Don't play the 'what if' game. It sucks. So don't do it." She orders, scowling at him.
Fury clears his throat and Inez switches her scowl to him. He seems actually pained as he holds out her work phone.
"I had to call him." He tells her.
Inez rolls her eyes at him.
"Wimp." She scolds him before accepting it.
"What the hell happened to you, Sweetwater?!" Fallon roars at her through the phone.
Steve and Fury jump at the sheer volume while Inez remains indifferent.
"I pulled the tiger's tail."
"… Please tell me you got a piece of him." Fallon growls at her.
Inez snorts wondering where her mask went.
"Of course I did- who the fuck do you think you're talking to, Boss? Anyway, as for info on the a-hole… whoever recovers that damn stick of his needs to get it shipped off to Asgard, asap."
Fallon doesn't say anything while Fury voices his protests before Fallon eventually growls,
Inez winces as her ribs protest but she doggedly continues on.
"It warped Loki's aura in a bad way. I couldn't stand being near that thing to begin with but after seeing what it did to Loki I'm dead certain that thing needs to go off-planet. If Asgard wants it, fine, let 'em have it but Earth doesn't need that shit."
The receiver buzzes before Fallon speaks again.
"Fury, you heard that?"
Fury watches her warily as he replies.
"I did, what of it?"
"Listen to her advice- Sweetwater is many things, but she doesn't exaggerate. If she says get something gone, odds are her instincts are on the money." Fallon tells him.
"… I'll keep that under advisement." He says finally while Inez narrows her eyes at him.
"Liar." She growls.
Steve winces while Fury's glare grows colder.
"Excuse me?" He drawls.
"You're not even considering it- you want to use it, despite not knowing the dangers. Well, good luck with that. I'm four percent certain it's not going to bite you on the ass." She snarks.
Fallon barks out a laugh.
"Make that three percent, Sweetwater. I have to go but your partner wants to let you know 'it's unbelievable that you ended up in the hospital after me and you still are getting discharged first.'"
Inez snickers, imagining her partner's face all too easily.
"That's what she gets for breaking both legs~! Tell her I said hi, still alive."
"I'm not a goddamn postal service!" Fallon snaps at her.
Inez rolls her eyes.
"Love you too, Boss. Bye Boss." She hangs up to ringing silence.
She glances over at her audience of two and raises her eyebrows.
"Unless you want a show, out. I'll be ready in twenty." She says dryly.
Steve blushes and hurries to the door, Fury following him but pauses.
"Your contract is up, Pesadilla. Consider J & J's debt paid in full."
She waves a dismissive hand at him.
"Good, I'll let Boss know later- meanwhile I have a drama queen to harass."
Fury nods, closing the door. Inez stands and checks the damage- the burns are nasty but the cuts are stitched closed.
Grabbing her tactical gear and her now dry trench coat, Inez pulls everything on before replacing her knives with a specific set. A pair of kukri blades she slides into place along the outside of her thighs, concealed by her coat but still accessible by cleverly hidden slits. Satisfied, Inez grabs a case containing her sniper rifle, hefts it over her shoulder and makes sure she has spare ammo before leaving.
Her hood is up, her mask is on and Inez is ready to kick godly ass.
It's remarkably easy to find Steve and Natasha- so many volatile emotions, honestly. She does pause when a familiar scent registers.
Inez deliberates for a moment before shrugging and entering the room: she's not one to run away from conflict. Natasha and Steve both glance at her before cautiously watching Barton, who narrows his eyes at her. Inez's eyes flicker down over his left leg and then back to his face- normal not glowing eyes. She waves a hand in greeting.
"Good, they straightened you out. Ready to make Loki into a pincushion?"
Barton stares at her before barking out a surprised laugh, shaking his head. Inez makes a show of pointing to where her mouth would be with her index finger before snapping decisively.
"Oh! Right, we should just make him our bitch, good call."
Natasha's mouth quirks into a smile while Steve frowns; Barton continues to laugh, wiping away tears.
"Damn, I needed that." He wheezes, grinning at her.
Inez waves it off, eyes twinkling merrily
"Any time- sorry about stabbing you." She says nonchalantly.
Natasha and Steve's faces snap towards her in shock while Barton nods.
"No, thanks for that- if you hadn't I might have seriously injured Nat before she brought me back to my senses."
Inez nods in understanding and sticks out her hand.
"Friends?" She asks.
Barton grabs it and shakes firmly.
"Friends." He agrees.
Steve watches them weirdly before glancing at Natasha.
"What just happened?" He wonders while Inez leans against the door.
"Don't worry about it- we were just conveying our mutual respect for one another. Anyways, you got a bead on Loki?"
"What, you don't know where he went?" Natasha teases semi-seriously.
Inez snorts, shifting her sniper rifle.
"I'm good but I'm not all-knowing… but if I had to make a guess, probably either a place of iconic importance or of personal importance to one of us."
"… Hot damn." Steve mutters.
Inez tilts her head at him.
"Was I right?"
Natasha smirks at her.
"Dead on- he's at Stark's tower."
Inez's mouth opens into an 'oh' then she snorts.
"Figures the godly drama queen would go for the Avenger's equivalent's shit. Talk about a power move."
Barton rolls his eyes as they all troop out to the flight deck and commander one of the quinjets. Inez chuckles at the poor pilot trying to stop them.
"Aw, so adorably awkward," She remarks as they take off.
Ahead of them she spots a badly damaged Iron Man.
"Do I even want to know what happened to Mr. Playboy?" She asks, tilting her head.
Steve shakes his head.
"Stories can wait until later."
She shrugs, unruffled, and goes through a maintenance check of her weapons, despite checking them less than three days ago. Steve notices at one point and wordlessly examines the fourteen knives she has laid out neatly before raising his eyebrow at her. Inez laughs softly before replacing them all, making his eyes widen at some of the creative places she hides them.
He looks away, blushing scarlet- it's so cute she can't help but take a picture, grinning madly behind her mask. Soon enough they are in New York and Inez allows her humor to fade away, stillness taking its place. As they approach Stark Tower Inez catches a glimpse of red and gold flying straight up before the jet jolts. Inez quickly grabs the nearest object- which just so happens to be Steve as they plummet wildly.
Barton somehow controls the jet enough not to crash them and they all disembark swiftly, taking in the scene. Inez glowers at the ugly ass aliens flitting around like flies.
"What a pain," She sums up, aiming with her sniper rifle and shooting one of the drivers of the flying vehicles.
It crashes spectacularly, to her satisfaction. Then everything is practically a melee of shooting and dodging as the Avengers fight Loki's forces until Thor joins in. Inez grins evilly as she avoids an energy blast and shivs a Chitauri in the throat, kicking the dying alien into the pavement. Tony flies in, giving air support while Steve, Natasha and herself fend off ground forces.
"This is like Budapest all over again!" Natasha yells next to her.
"You and I remember Budapest very differently!" Barton replies, shooting another Chitauri.
"Let me guess, it went pear-shaped but neither of you can agree on whose fault it is?" Inez asks, nailing a Leviathan's eye with her rifle.
"How'd you guess?" Natasha demands sarcastically.
Inez opens her mouth to reply and snarls as Loki flies by with his army, targeting the civilians. Quickly she starts shooting, aiming for the drivers. Five of the vehicles crash and burn as Loki sweeps past.
"They're fish in a barrel down there!" Steve yells, panic showing.
"Not if you can get me to a vantage point," Inez growls, reloading her rifle.
Barton sends her a glance of understanding: both of them are essentially long-range support so being on the ground with aerial enemies is aggravating for both of them.
"What's the story upstairs?" Steve interrogates Thor as everyone makes an outward-facing circle.
"The barrier around the cube is impeneragable."
"Thor is right, we need to deal with these guys first." Tony chimes in on the radio.
Inez sighs loudly.
"Dammit, if my partner were here the barrier wouldn't be a problem," She grouses, lifting her gun.
She pointed ignores the wide array of questioning looks.
"How do we do this?" Natasha asks, cocking her gun.
"As a team." Steve answers.
"I have unfinished business with Loki," Thor comments.
"Yeah? Get in line," Barton snarks, arranging his arrows.
"Save it. Loki's gonna keep this fight on us and that's what we need. Without him, these things can run wild. We've got Stark up top, he needs us too-" Steve starts to break down strategy when the puttering of an old motor cuts him off.
Inez grins as Bruce rides up on an old-fashioned motorcycle. She waves at him before shooting a Chitauri flying by, while everyone else gathers around Bruce.
"So… This all seems horrible." He states, surveying the chaos around them.
"I've seen worse," Natasha tells him, her voice catching for a moment.
Inez frowns at her sudden spike in anxiety.
What the heck happened between those two?
"Sorry." Bruce tells her, apologetic.
"No, we could do with a little worse." Natasha assures him awkwardly.
"Stark, we got him." Steve tells Tony.
"Banner?" Tony questions and Inez chimes in.
"Yup, my favorite non-narcisistic scientist."
"Tell him to suit up, I'm bringing the party to you." Tony commands, ignoring her comment.
Tony whips around a corner near the end of the block and a Leviathan is chasing after him, scraping the street as Tony baits it lower.
"I-I don't see how that's a party." Natasha stammers as it flies closer.
Inez rolls her eyes, aiming her rifle. Bruce starts walking towards the Leviathan and Inez can smell his anger, always burning under the surface of his other emotions, growing more intense.
"Dr. Banner, now would be a really good time to get angry." Steve tells him.
"That's my secret, Cap. I'm always angry." Bruce tells him before suddenly transforming, his skin darkening and muscles swelling.
Inez nearly staggers as his anger, to her senses, physically manifests overpoweringly.
Damn… that's trippy. She has time to think before watching the effects of his power up.
With a roar, the Hulk punches the Leviathan in the face, crushing it. The back end of the monster starts to fall towards them but Tony tags it with a bomb, blasting it the other direction. Steve covers her and Natasha with his shield before they all circle up. Hulk bellows at the aliens while the rest of the Avengers ready their weapons.
The Chitauri send reinforcements through the portal, to Inez's annoyance.
"Guys?" Natasha calls, drawing their attention to the new threats.
"Call it, Captain." Tony tells Steve, hovering close.
"Alright, listen up. Until we can close that portal, we're gonna use containment. Barton, Pesadilla, I want you on those rooftops, eyes on everything. Call out patterns and strays. Stark, you've got perimeter. Anything gets more than three blocks out, you turn it back or turn it to ash."
"Wanna give me a lift?" Barton asks Tony.
Inez huffs in amusement.
"Or both of us, if you can handle it," She teases Tony as she walks over.
"Sure, buckle up Legolas and Annie Oakley." Tony tells them before taking off.
Inez lets out a whoop of laughter as Tony deposits first Barton, then herself on their respective rooftops.
"Thanks for the compliment, Playboy!" She retorts, giving him a sarcastic salute.
Inez grins when Tony throws her the finger and starts his patrol. After Steve gives the rest of them their marching orders Inez settles down and finds her inner calm, slowing her heartrate. Then she starts hunting.
In all honesty, Inez doesn't remember how long she stayed perched on that rooftop, sniping aliens out of the sky and off Barton's building. Suddenly Inez's hair stands on end and she quickly scans for the other Avengers- all of them are being screwed over. Setting her teeth in a grim smile Inez starts protecting her teammates. An alien about to stab Natasha loses his head; a Chitauri commander is executed mid-command near Hulk; a pair of Chitauri are driven away Steve… Inez doesn't let herself feel fear as she aims, shoots and fires over and over again.
When the immediate threats are handled, Inez wipes sweat out of her eyes and glances around- the aliens are very focused on her more colorful teammates, luckily. Silently thanking whoever made silencers, Inez opens her rifle. Rolling her shoulders, she slaps another set of bullets in the chamber and cocks it before scanning for more targets. That's when she spots Natasha driving one of the flying vehicles and unfriendlies swarming towards the redhead, led by Loki.
"Barton, you got it or me?" She murmurs in her com, shooting a sneaky bastard about to stab Steve.
"Oh, me, definitely." Barton purrs through the mic and Inez can't help the answering feral smile as Loki is blasted out of the sky.
"You and me need to share notes later," Inez tells him, nailing a Chitauri harassing Hulk.
"Oh yeah, definitely." Barton agrees.
Thor flies down to assist Steve and Inez groans when she realizes how low her ammo is.
"Ya know, I didn't think I would spend my entire fucking arsenal of bullets in less than a day." She complains through her com.
"You and me both," Barton grumbles, drawing one of his last arrows.
"Will you two stop flirting? It's very distracting!" Tony complains loudly.
"Oh please, if I was flirting Playboy, you'd know it." Inez shuts him down.
"I can close it! I can close the portal, does anyone copy?" Natasha's voice crackles over the coms.
"Do it!" Steve exclaims.
"No wait," Tony interjects.
"Stark, these things are still coming!" Steve protests.
"I've got a nuke coming in, it's gonna blow in less than a minute. And I know just where to put it." Tony says seriously and Inez starts feeling very uneasy.
"Stark, you know that's a one-way trip," Steve protests.
"No it isn't- just make sure it gets in and stay out of the damn portal, Playboy." Inez interrupts, eyes locked on Iron Man as he flies past with her with the nuke.
Tony doesn't reply and Inez can only watch as he pushes himself and the nuke through the portal. She slams her fist into the cement, swearing profanities when Tony doesn't return.
"Mother fucking son of a turtle's egg-!" She rages through the coms, shooting Chitauri recklessly.
"Dick-swallowing cocky asshole with the morality of a goddamn tom cat-!" Inez roars as Natasha closes the portal.
The warp in reality disappears and all the Chitauri collapse, like puppets with cut strings. Inez feels the urge to scream at them to get up so she can keep shooting them, but barely contains it. She looks up at the sky and feels a burning in her eyes.
"Shitty little bitching whore's son." She whispers as a red and gold suit falls from the sky.
"Son of a gun!" Steve exclaims over the mic in relief.
Celebration changes to concern as Tony continues to fall, not stopping. Inez grabs her gun, secures her belay rope and rappels down the commercial building she had been using. She hits the pavement, unhooks and races over to the rest of the Avengers hovering around Hulk and Tony. Hulk roars abruptly and Tony spazzes, freaking out.
"What the hell?! What just happened? Please tell me no one kissed me!" He gasps.
"Aw, don't you love us, Playboy?" Inez teases, hiding her agitation.
Tony gives her a look as he lays there.
"Don't think I didn't hear what you were calling me when I entered the portal," He threatens.
"Oh honey, you haven't even heard me get started." Inez tells him sweetly.
"Guys, we won." Steve reminds them.
"Oh, yey~! Alright, good job guys, let's just not come in tomorrow. Let's just take a day. You ever tried shawarma? There's a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don't know what it is, but I wanna try it."
"We're not finished yet," Thor reminds everyone.
Tony looks put out before perking up.
"And then shawarma after?" He demands, looking at everyone.
Inez rolls her eyes before marching into Stark Tower, sliding her rifle over her shoulder and drawing her kukri knives.
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!" Tony yells, catching everyone's attention.
"We just fought off hundreds of aliens, we're all bleeding and tired- we're taking my private elevator, c'mon." He beckons.
Inez shrugs and walks over to… a life-size painting of Tony. She deadpans.
"Are you fucking… never mind." Inez grumbles as the painting splits in two.
They ride up to Tony's penthouse and Inez grins at her fellow assassins.
"Nice to see you made it." She quips.
Natasha rolls her eyes, holding Loki's spear. Inez eyeballs it and moves to the other side of Hulk, her hair standing on end just from being near it. Then the Avengers all turn to Loki, who looks awful. Inez quirks her eyebrow at the violent spoor on him and glances up at Hulk.
"Your work, big guy?" She asks him.
The Hulk looks down at her and grins broadly, nodding. Inez laughs and pulls out her phone to memorialize this moment. The other Avengers give her a look and she shrugs.
"What? It's too good not to take a photo."
Loki winces as he drags himself sort of upright.
"If it's all the same to you… I'll take that drink now." He tells Tony, wheezing.
Hulk growls while Inez laughs chillingly as Thor slams the handcuffs on Loki's wrists before dragging him out into the elevator.
"Hey Playboy, mind if we have some victory booze?" Inez demands, grabbing an unbroken bottle of scotch.
Tony nods absently as he follows Thor- but when Hulk tries to enter the others all tell him to walk down the stairs. Inez snorts and walks over to Hulk, nudging his arm.
"C'mon, I'll be your buddy." She tells him.
The Hulk huffs before punching the elevator doors and follows Inez. As they descend, Inez glances up at him and sighs loudly.
"I need a fucking nap." She complains.
The Hulk grunts agreeably, watching her curiously. Inez notices and tilts her head at Hulk.
"You no scared." He tells her, frowning.
"Why should I be? We worked well together and everyone covered everyone else's asses."
"No, not scared of ME." He corrects her, thumping his chest.
Inez hums, nodding.
"Well, the way I see it is, I can be scared of you and be a fucking hypocrite like all the other assholes who think I'm a monster needing to be locked up- or I can look at you and say 'huh, that's cool,' and let it be."
The Hulk grunts, thinking it over as they near the bottom when Inez gets a wicked idea, sensing the maelstrom of emotions beyond the exit. She looks up at him.
"Say, you want to freak out the business suits on the other side of this door?"
"Did you have to smash the wall?!" Tony demands at lunch, pointing at Inez and Bruce.
Bruce shifts uncomfortably in his borrowed clothes while Inez smirks around her food.
"What, you didn't like how the suits got distracted, allowing for a slick getaway?" She asks innocently.
Tony glares at her before a tiny smirk crosses his face.
"Point, ax-murderer, point."
Inez laughs and sends the group the photo she took of ragdoll Loki and the video she taped of the upper-level members of SHIELD freaking out over the Hulk. Natasha snorts when she sees what Inez sent her while Tony snickers loudly.
"You taped that? That's evil genius!" Tony exclaims, chortling.
Thor and Steve focus on finishing their food while Bruce winces at the reminder of Inez's bad influence on the Hulk. Inez swallows the last bite of her food before standing, stretching and slips her mask back on.
"Time to go." She says simply.
The Avengers blink in surprise as Inez gathers her things and starts for the door.
Inez pauses, glancing back at them. Barton is glaring at her.
"That's it?" He asks, eyes hard.
Inez tilts her head before replying softly.
"Seriously, after what we pulled, you think you can just walk away like it's nothing?" He demands.
"Yup." She tells him, popping her p.
Barton stares at her like she's crazy before grumbling loudly,
"At least give us your damn phone number! And not the burner one!" He snaps when Inez opens her mouth.
The rest of the Avengers nod, agreeing with Barton. Inez huffs before marching over, grabbing his phone and typing it in.
"This is my private phone number- I don't usually share it but since we literally went through hell together oh what the fuck, might as well. I am trusting you numbskulls with it- don't abuse my trust or I will get even." She warns them before shoving the phone back into his chest.
"Hey Pesadilla, I have a question for you!" Tony yells suddenly.
Inez grinds her teeth before looking at him.
"What." She asks frostily.
"Why does SHIELD have no files on you?" He asks quietly.
The others jerk in surprise and look at her expectantly. Inez folds her arms, mentally groaning before walking over and murmuring in a low voice so the staff doesn't hear.
"That's the deal Peggy Carter made with my boss's predecessor- one favor for SHIELD, doesn't matter what it is, completely off the books. If any information is gathered during the interim of the favor on the agent sent, it's destroyed immediately. Failure to comply means SHIELD's secrets from WWII to present day are exposed to the public scrutiny." She explains simply.
Steve is stiff in shock while Tony, Natasha, Bruce and Barton gape openly at her.
"… Who the hell do you work for?!" Tony whispers.
"A friend of the family." She tells him and Steve before nodding goodbye.
Once Inez is gone Natasha turns to Tony expectantly.
"Pay up, Tony." Natasha demands, holding out her hand.
Tony grumbles but does as she says, slapping a twenty into her palm.
Later, as per the long-standing agreement between SHIELD and Jones & Jones, Nick Fury erases all traces of Pesadilla from the media, letting her fade into an urban myth.
Tony spends his free time trying to hack Inez's phone- which doesn't work out, surprisingly.
Natasha and Clint develop a strong comradery with Inez, chatting about weapons and tactics for dealing with difficult targets.
Bruce occasionally receives funny texts and reminders to take care of himself and the 'big guy'.
Steve receives an invite to come visit the west coast if he wants and be prepared for 'fun times'.
Pesadilla will appear with the Avengers again.