“Do you really think she´s all right Loki?” Clint asked with a worried frown over his face.
“I don´t know Clint, it seems that way. She´s better at least, I think she doesn´t has any more flashbacks. But I´m still worried of such a sudden change.” Loki confessed she had gone from totally messed up to reasonable fine in less than a day.
“Well, ASD only last a couple of days, maybe she is better. I guess we´ll just have to keep an eye on her to be sure.” Clint suggested shrugging his shoulders, neither of them were qualified to asses her mental health. His expression grew serious as he asked. “Are you really sure you want to fdo this now? We could still wait a couple of days.”
“No, we need to know where we are standing. Besides it will only take a couple of minutes, we don´t even have to tell her.“ Loki didn´t wanted to tell Leah, she would worry too much; she might even beg him not to do it.
“She will find out, especially if you find Tony.” Clint pointed out, he understood the reasons Loki had for not telling her, but he also knew she would get angry at both of them without a doubt.
“I´ll deal with her later, how does your midgardian saying goes? Better ask forgiveness than …”
“Ask permission” Clint ended his phrase. “All right but if you find any SHIELD agents in the Tower forget about Tony and come back right away.”
“I will, don´t worry.” Loki told him with a smile, humans worry too much he thought to himself.
“Do you remember all the places Tony could be at? Clint asked him.
“His lab, the kitchen, the research level, the bar, Bruce´s lab.” Loki answered quickly “Science, food or alcohol, he seems one mind kind of guy.”
“Not really, he´s just a bit focused” Clint smirked. “Luckily for us, do you have your gems?”
“Of course.” Loki took them off his pocket and showed them to Clint. “I´ll be back in 15 minutes top.”
“All right.” Clint nodded affirmatively.
As soon as he agreed Loki had disappeared, he walked through the paths of Yggdrasil better known in Midgard as Ley lines. Everything seems duller, opaque, dim; it didn´t took him long to get to the Tower.
“All right, no guards, no soldiers, no agents. So far so good. ” He thought to himself as he walked through the shadows trying to find Tony.
He looked for him in his lab first, then Bruce´s lab and research level. Fortunately he found him as he walked out of the kitchen along with Steve and Bruce. Taking advantage of a momentary distraction of Steve and Bruce he slid behind Tony and placed his hand over Tony´s mouth preventing him of alerting the others as he pulled him into the shadows. Within the next second they had emerged in Loki´s mansion.
Loki released his grip on Tony who turned around bewildered.
“What the fuck?” Were his first words as he turned around assessing his situation.
Clint welcomed him with a smug on his face. “Hi Tony.”
“Don´t hi me, what the hell is going on? How did I get here?” Tony snapped confused. “And where is here?”
“It’s my house” Loki answered, he had been busy replenishing his energies with the gemstones. “I´m sorry for the abrupt interruption but we couldn´t risk it.”
“Risk what?” Tony asked while admiring his new surroundings, he had to admit Loki had good taste.
“What’s all that racket?” A woman´s voice asked all of the sudden, it was Leah who had heard all the commotion and came to find out the source of it. “Tony?”
“Leah!” Tony called her with a big grin on his face, she looked all right. He walked right to her and huged her tight. “I´ve been so worried for you.” He loosen his embrace to take a good look at her, besides looking a bit surprised she seemed fine. “Are you all right?”
“Yes, I am now.” Leah volunteered still recovering from her astonishment. “But how?” She looked up at Loki and Clint and gave them a disapproving glare, she would deal with them later.
“What do you mean you are now? I thought you weren’t badly injured. But don´t just look at me, tell me what happened.” He snapped at her anxiously.
“No, I wasn´t. Loki healed most of my injuries, I just had some …. Issues.” She suddenly felt too exposed, realizing she really didn´t felt like answering his questions, she looked extremely discomforted.
Both Loki and Clint picked up on her mood change and quickly intervened.
“She had ASD” Clint told Tony quickly. “It strands for …”
“Acute Stress Disorder I know, in case you forgot I was kidnapped by a bunch of terrorists once, I know about ASD and PTSD.” Tony lectured them. “How bad was it? Flashbacks?”
“And nightmares.” Loki added.
“I´m all right now.” Leah interrupted them annoyed about becoming the focus of their attention so suddenly.
“Are you sure?” Tony asked while observing her attentively, she did look a little weary but having a newborn baby could easily explain her exhaustion.
“I … think so.” Leah answered, she hadn´t actually given it much thought. She had just assumed that having the flashbacks gone and her memories back meant she was all right. She didn´t felt so scared or angry any more, although she had started to worry about their current situation. Had she just changed one prison to another? What if SHIELD tried to take her away?
Tony saw for a moment the doubt on her eyes but he was interrupted by Clint asking. “What happened with SHIELD?”
“Fury made a big scene but in the end settled with taking Doom under his custody.” Next he turned his attention back to Leah. “Are you sure you are all right?”
“I´m fine! Will you cut it out?” Leah suddenly snapped.
“I just want to make sure, you don´t have to bite my head off.” Tony complained irritated.
Leah felt trapped, unconsciously she placed one of her hands over the scar of her chest as she nervously fiddled with her clothes. Why did he had to keep pushing?
“Leah!” Loki snapped her out of her thoughts, concern could be heard in his voice.
“What?!” Leah asked annoyed.
“Leah, you are shaking …” Loki informed her concerned.
“I …” Leah raised one of her hands to test his claim, her expression changed from angry to surprised, she hadn´t even noticed. “I … I need a moment.” She told them as she walked away in a hurry.
“Why did you do that?” Loki inquired Tony furiously.
“I´m sorry. I just had to make sure.” Tony apologized.
“Make sure of what?” Clint asked intrigued.
“That she was well enough.” Tony answered with a sigh. “After everything settled Bruce and I took in the task of reconstructing Doom´s stay in the Tower, we wanted to make sure he hadn’t left any surprises behind. Unwillingly that also lead us to find out everything that happened when Leah was alone with him.”
“What do you mean? What happened? She claims he didn’t raped her, that he just … touched her.” Loki inquired anxiously, had she being lying about that?
“And that’s the truth, but it wasn´t just that he touched her, it was about the way he did it, the look in his eyes while he did it. I can´t tell you how relived we were when the taped showed us she managed to escape. And afterwards … I don´t care if she explained you what he did to her while they were fighting … it was just plainly vicious. I can´t explain it you would´ve had to see it. I am glad she is feeling better but I don´t see how could she be totally recuperated after that.”
“She´s stronger than you think.” Loki told him dryly.
“Maybe, but I had to make sure before …” Tony started to say.
“You keep saying that, make sure before what? Clint asked annoyed.
“Before I tell you the truth about what really happened with Fury.” Tony confessed.
Leah muffled a gasp, she was coming back after debating with herself; she had realized that the reason she had snapped was because she didn´t wanted to explain everything again, not what happened in the Tower, nor what happened in the Mansion the following days. She couldn´t help to feel her feelings and memories stirred again. She had grew comfortable around Loki and Clint, they already knew everything and they didn´t made her explain anything more than once, and because they knew everything that had happened they knew exactly what topics to avoid. She noticed they hadn´t heard or seen her and quickly hided inside one of the many rooms in the corridor, she was close enough to listen.
“So I take Fury didn´t go away as peacefully as you just told us.” Clint told him plainly.
“No, he didn´t.” Tony confessed. “He did took Doom which kind of surprised me with his diplomatic immunity and all, but not before biting Steve´s head off for letting the two of you leave. As he walked away he told us that it was far from over. The next day we found out what he had meant; he had issued a warrant against Leah.”
“Don´t tell me he charged her for stabbing Doom.” Loki grumbled visibly irritated.
“No, he drop it. He probably knew he wouldn´t be able to make a case against her based on that. Sadly Leah gave him a better excuse when she raised her bow against him; the charge is assault on a federal officer with a deadly weapon.”
“Fuck!” Leah reprimanded herself mentally, why did she had to do that?
“He´s just making up things, what the hell does he wants from her?” Loki was already pacing up and down the corridor crossed.
“I don´t know, but he left you a message.” Tony informed him.
“What message? Now, don´t tell me he issued a warrant against me for aiding a criminal” Loki snorted.
“No, he didn´t; surprisingly he has agreed to accept you as an active member of the Avengers. In his own words he told us. –Tell Loki my door is always open in case he wants to talk.-“
“That manipulative son of a bitch!” Loki spat enraged. “He knows I can´t let him arrest Leah”.
“I´m afraid he is counting on that. I know you won´t listen to me, but just drop it Loki. It sounds like a trap.” Tony volunteered.
“He´s right.” Clint agreed. “Capturing you is the perfect way to draw Leah out.”
“She won´t hesitate to deliver herself to SHIELD in exchange for you and Eerika walking free.” Tony told him with a stern look. “She didn´t even blinked when she mad eteh same offer to Doom.”
“She did what?” Both Clintg and Loki asked surprised.
“She didn´t told you that …” Tony said feeling uncomfortable, Leah would be furious at him for telling them.
“For God´s sake Tony, just spit it.” Clint raised his voice vexed by his revelation.
“He offered freeing Loki in exchange of her and Eerika going with him willingly.”
“We know that part.” Loki told him anxiously.
“But what apparently you don´t know is that she agreed to do so if he excluded Eerika from the deal.” Tony raised his gaze wary of Loki´s reaction; he looked shocked, he couldn´t help to imagine what could´ve happened if Doom had agreed.
“No, she couldn´t had said that.” Loki nodded negatively in disbelief. He knew she loved them, but to be willing to sacrifice herself like that … he had never imagined she would reach that far to keep them safe. And as a reward she now had a warrant issued against her.
“She did Loki. I don’t think I fully understood how much she loves both of you until I saw her doing it.” Tony confessed.
“I want to see that tape.” Loki told him with a stern look.
“I really don’t think you should.” Tony advised him.
“He´s right Loki, it serves no purpose. Besides think about Leah, she already have had a hard time telling us what happened; imagine how she would feel if you saw the tape.”
Meanwhile in the next room Leah was sitting crouched against the wall, her hands were over her head. Why did Tony had to tell them that? She had yielded even before the fight had started. If Doom had agreed everything would´ve turned very different.
“I´m so death” She mentally told herself, she was sure Loki would definitely have something to say about it and he would be right; she really didn´t had time to think her offer through. What indeed could´ve happened if Doom had agreed? He would´ve had his way with her, that for sure. But they would´ve been able to rescue her before she got pregnant again, wouldn´t they? What if they rescued her too late? What could´ve happened? She would never agree to lose the child, no matter what he or she would still be hers, what would that make Loki feel? Would he accepted the child? “No Leah stop; you are giving yourself a headache” She sighed; why did they kept feeling they had to hide everything from her? “Because they don´t believe you are all right” She answered herself. “Maybe I should prove them I can handle this. If I´m going to get hell for offering Doom such a deal I rather it be now and I can´t let Loki accept Fury´s deal either … I got to tell them” She stood unwilling fully, it didn’t mattered if she was prepared or not; she just had to do it before she lost her nerve.
She walked in just as Tony was telling Loki “You can´t tell her, she will kill me if she knows I told you.”
”No, I won´t kill you but I wished you all stopped treating me like I´m going to break. I´m not as messed up as you think.” She dryly told them, she felt as if she was walking into her own execution.
“We are not …” Tony began to reply when Leah interrupted him.
“Yes you are. I understand why but you all need to stop, how can I get my confidence back when you don´t trust me?” She reproached them.
Suddenly Loki asked. “Leah, why you did it?”
“Offered myself to Doom?” She shrugged her shoulders. “Because it was the best alternative I had to make sure we all walked alive from it. Doom wouldn´t kill me, at least not while I was useful to his plans. On the other side you wouldn´t had stand a chance if he got you to Latveria; sooner or later he would´ve killed you.”
“What if he had accepted? Did you even thought of that?” He reproached her.
“Eerika would probably got a half-brother or sister.” She replied without looking him in the eyes.
“That´s not funny.” Loki scolded her.
“And I´m not laughing.” She replied as he looked up at him with a stern look in her eyes. “That´s the worst case scenario I can think of … nevertheless it wouldn´t matter if that meant both of you were safe.” She looked down again, Loki probably wasn´t done scolding her; she was desperately trying to steady herself for it when out of nothing he embraced her tight, she hadn´t expected that and stayed still as he pleaded. “Don’t do anything like that ever again.”
“I can´t promise you that.” She told him remaining still.
Loki broke up his embrace to look into her eyes, there was a sense of sadness in them but there was also determination. He sighed, he would do the same if he were able to save them even at the cost of his own life. “Then you understand why I need to talk to Fury.”
“Please don´t.” She raised her head instantly. “We already knew SHIELD was after me, that they have a warrant doesn´t change anything. Whatever Fury wants is more dangerous than SHIELD itself.”
“What do you mean?” Clint asked her, did she had an insight on what Fury wanted?
Leah bit her lips, she felt like a trapped animal, finally she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “If they had a recording form he stabbing Doom it can only mean they were watching the whole time … they seemed willing to let my die just to prove something. Whatever they wanted to measure me against is far more powerful than Doom. You can´t go Loki, I´d rather live within the walls of the mansion for the rest of my life.
“This house is meant to be a refuge, not a prison.” Loki told her “You will go crazy if you are forced to stay here.”
“Then patch things with Odin and take us to Asgard.” Leah told him with decision.
The three of them were shocked to hear her suggestion.
“But Leah, you hate the idea of going to Asgard.” Clint spat.
“I hate the idea of losing my family even more.” Leah answered.
“But you escaped being four months pregnant and with no money because you thought we would send you there.” Tony interjected.
“I know what I did Tony, it doesn´t change what need to be done now.” She told him.
Loki hold her by her shoulders and told her. “Leah, you begged me not to let them take you to Asgard, why would you change your mind now?”
“Because you need me to.” Leah answered with sincerity, even if she still hated the idea it would be safer than going to SHIELD. “If you could convince Odin I would go.”
“It´s not that easy.” Loki replied.
“I know it’s not, but maybe if Thor talked to your mother, maybe … maybe they could convince him, and if they can’t this house will be enough. We can come up with a believable explanation about why I don´t leave the house when Eerika starts school. Or maybe Tony can invent a camouflage device, you don´t need to go to Fury on my account.” She pleaded.
Loki looked at her still bemused by her suggestion; she kept offering herself in exchange for them, he just couldn´t allow her to do that anymore. But he knew that if he refused her plea that instant she would find the way to surrender to SHIELD herself. “I can´t promise you anything, but I´ll think about it.” It was the best he could offer her without lying.