Matt felt a slight whisper of cold across his forehead, like a breath of freezing wind. His eyes jolted open. Out of the indistinct haze came the dull grey metal of a gun muzzle, just scraping his skin. He blinked, trying to clear his vision, and when he opened his eyes again the fiery – haired agent was already sliding the pistol back into its place on her hip. She turned back to the controls of the jet with a grimace as the radio crackled.
"Agent Romanoff, what is your situation?" The iciness of Fury's voice was audible even through the radio. Matt chuckled a little inside as he imagined the Director's furious anger. He just hoped he didn't punish whichever Agent had been assigned to trail him too much for not finding out about his ability. He'd done his best to keep it quiet.
"Thor has just made his appearance. As far as I know, Loki is still ours," Natasha reported coolly.
"He's here." She glanced levelly at Matt.
"Keep me informed. Fury out." The radio fell silent with a pop.
"Fury's called in the cavalry, huh," she said, her tone distinctly unimpressed.
"Yeah, hi to you too," Matt scratched his head. "Was the pistol really necessary?"
"Materialising like that really doesn't help you relax when you're trying to fly a plane," shrugged the agent, not bothering to take her eyes off the controls.
"Fair point," Matt levered himself up from where he was slumped against the hard metal wall. He looked around in confusion. "Err... where is everyone?"
Natasha said nothing, just jerked her head sideways as she concentrated on keeping the unruly Quinjet level. Matt went over to the window.
The forest below was lit up like a scene from Dante's Inferno. Streaks of lightning shot across the clearing, setting branches and leaves ablaze to send dirty black smoke spiralling up into the heavens. Hammer blows smashed trunks and boulders apart like tearing paper, rocks and great clods of Earth spinning across the open space. Repulsor blasts ricocheted around creating huge scorching craters in everything they impacted on, while the Captain's shield clanged and clattered like a gong under gunfire as he blocked near-deadly blows from the superhuman combatants.
"Holy shit," he murmured, watching as Thor swung his huge hammer around with a roar to smash into Iron Man's chestplate with a crack and a huge flash of light, making the ground shake beneath their feet. Stark was sent flying back, ripping through several small trees and sending them crashing to the ground.
"The Captain jumped down to try and stop them a few seconds before you... showed up," Agent Romanoff said calmly, seemingly unaffected by the scene below.
"It's not going too well for him, huh?" Matt looked down to see the Captain duck under a repulsor blast which passed millimetres above his head to blast his sheltering rock into smithereens.
The agent raised an eyebrow. "I'd like to see you try," she muttered, easing the battered jet through the sky.
"Well, get us in closer then." Natasha shot Matt a look.
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure, I'm not jumping down after them." Natasha rolled her eyes in exasperation.
"I meant, are you sure you want to do this?" She gestured outside, the cockpit of the plane lit up starkly by the flashes of lightning streaking down from the sky.
Matt glanced down, suddenly unsure of himself. He took a deep breath, his heart in his mouth. "I might as well, since I made all this effort to get here," he said with a smile which rang slightly hollow. Natasha turned back to the controls, looking unconvinced.
"Well, alright then," she said, "hold tight!" She gritted her teeth, manipulating the VTOL jets to send them drifting closer to the battle.
Matt stared down through the loading door he'd just arrived through, wind whipping his hair up into his face. Below him the battle raged as fierce as ever. He suddenly felt intensely stupid; how was he supposed to stop a God or a supersoldier, let alone a man quoted in official files as 'a volatile, insufferable egotist'? He let out a breath, looking back at Romanoff on the controls for some kind of guidance but could only see her back, hunched unhelpfully over in the cockpit.
Even as the self-doubt manifested in his mind, a huge crack jerked him out of his reverie. His head snapped around to see Thor standing commandingly in the middle of the improvised clearing over Iron Man, who was struggling to get up over a large tree trunk which had fallen over his lower body. As for the Captain, the only thing visible was the distinctive shield poking out a pile of debris.
Thor seemed to prepare himself for a second, then thrust his hammer up at the sky. Matt got the distinct feeling the fight had come to a head.
"Oh shit," muttered Natasha from the cockpit. The storm clouds lying low overhead suddenly starting roiling, lit up from the inside by sparks and flashes of electrical discharge, winds whipping up around the clearing as if nature itself was in turmoil. "We're far too close to that thing, it'll knock us out of the sky!" the agent shouted. "If you're going to do something Lynch, do it now!"
Matt stared up at the clouds now crackling with pent up energy, with a shrewd idea what was about to happen. "Don't worry, Agent Romanoff," he said. "I've got this."
The sky directly above Thor's hammer seemed to split apart, a white – hot bolt of energy streaking directly at the prone body of Tony Stark.
Matt closed his eyes and concentrated.
The crackling bolt of light swerved suddenly, drawn unerringly to his body like a moth to a flame. It struck him dead on in the centre of his chest with an echoing thunderclap, a shockwave of sound which stripped the leaves off the trees for several hundred metres around and shook the Quinjet like a rowboat in a hurricane.
There was a sudden darkness, the whistle of the jet's engines fading into the background as the combatants stopped dead in their tracks and stared. The electrical energy coursed through Matt's body, the bone-jarring pain accompanied by the thrill of stored power. He slowly opened his eyes. He felt alive, really alive. It had been many months since the last time he'd really used his abilities, and he'd forgotten just how heady, how addicting the rush was.
"Hey! That's enough!" he yelled, his voice seemingly amplified. The Captain used the opportunity to dig himself out of his pile of rubble.
"Well said," he said, brushing the dust from his uniform. He turned steadily to Thor, "Now I don't know what you're doing here-"
"I am here to put an end to Loki's schemes!" Thor boomed.
"Then prove it," The Captain challenged, stepping up to look Thor in the eye. "Put the hammer down."
"Oh no, bad call, he loves his hammer-"Mjolnir struck Stark in the breastplate, sending him crashing back out of sight.
"You want me to put the hammer down?" Thor raged, his hand tightening on the grip. Matt's eyes widened.
"Romanoff, get out of here!" he yelled, lurching towards a harness seat. Natasha immediately yanked at the controls and the jet hammered upward, engines screaming.
Matt stumbled backward into the fuselage, trying to find something to hold onto as the deck under his feet pitched upward and he started to slide back towards the open doors. His grasping fingers scrabbled along the wall, finally finding a cup holder and gripping on tight.
Almost directly underneath him a couple of hundred feet below, Thor leapt at the Captain with a startling suddenness, time almost seeming to slow down at the apex of his leap. The legendary hammer of Asgard, held high above his head, came crashing down onto the Captain's shield.
The jet was hit by a wave of power, completely knocking out the machine's electrics and plunging the cabin into darkness. Matt lost his tenuous hold with a yell and was thrown helplessly around the fuselage as it juddered and shook, the jet accelerating toward the ground. Natasha cried out from the cockpit as unsecured military hardware tumbled around the cabin, a stray helmet thumping into the back of her head. She tore at the controls through the pain and the stars, the auxiliary generator finally starting up with a whine and restoring enough of the tumbling Quinjet's systems for Natasha to bring it back under control.
The damaged jet floated back down towards the battle scene, sweat pouring from the redhead's brow as Matt scraped himself from the floor for the second time in half an hour. He chanced a look back down.
The blast had swept a circular crater completely clean, felling whatever trees remained and snuffing out the fires leaving a sudden silence in its wake. The superheroes struggled up, regarding each other warily.
"Are we done here?"
"I hope so," muttered Natasha, bringing the plane down to land in the convenient clearing. The three superhuman started toward the plane in silence, like they'd just been caught fighting in a classroom. Tony scowled, slyly aiming a glowing repulsor at Thor's back.
Matt spotted him from the plane's entry ramp. He concentrated, sucking a little power from Stark's arc reactor and triggering several alarms inside his suit.
"I see what you're doing, Stark," Matt said, wryly.
"Just a tiny blast?"
"Don't even think about it."
"Where are you keeping Loki, then?" asked the Captain, like he'd just remembered him.
"I-" Thor looked around wildly – in the fight he'd lost track of the rocky outcrop they'd been on.
"Can't be that hard to spot a demigod chained to a rock," commented Tony, stripping off his scuffed helmet. Thor fixed him with a stern glare.
"He is an Asgardian, not a pet to be leashed," he admonished. Matt couldn't believe his ears.
"Wait. So you left your supervillain prisoner unattended and completely unrestrained?"
A/N: OK, I made it a bit more dramatic, but I feel a fight between three superheroes really should be.