Of Fire and Ice

I’m taking it slow
Feeding my flame
Shuffling the cards of your game
And just in time
In the right place
Suddenly I will play my ace

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10. Chapter Ten

Loki awoke to a gentle rocking. He struggled to move but his wrists were bound uncomfortably tight behind his back. His mouth was locked shut in the same metallic muzzle that had held his tongue when Odin banished him. Bridget was at the wheel, wearing the face of the Black Widow, but there was a manic smile on her face. And despite the familiar features, the smile didn’t fit her face.

“Good morning, Prince,” she said, driving faster over the bridge that led to the buildings he had seen from the hill. He struggled to move but she lifted her fingers from the wheel and waved them toward him. He froze against the seat. She laughed again. “We’re almost there,” she sang. “SHIELD is looking forward to having you in their hands again. Fury himself is going to see you to your prison.”

He had played with the idea of killing her before. He had imagined her body burning in flames, or the feel of her bones snapping, or her struggled breath beneath his hands. But that was the moment he decided those deaths were all too kind for her. He was going to open her chest. Slowly, so she could feel it. He was going to stare into those black eyes and laugh as he squeezed her heart in his hands.

He had been foolish. Ignorant for trusting her. Ignorant for not killing her while she slept. A fool for doing what he was told like a servant instead of a king. She called him Prince, like he was nothing but a silly piece in her game.

A man at the gates waved them through at the sight of Agent Romanoff behind the wheel. Her manic smile grew wider.

“I love wearing this face!” she exclaimed. “It gets me wherever I want to go! And I love when you’re so silent! No snide remarks or complaints! I was going to go about this much later, but when those agents found us in the woods I knew my time had come. I should have done this the moment I had you in my grasp. Silly of me to want to gain your trust.”

He cursed her silently as the car turned into a parking garage. She shut off the engine and left the vehicle, coming to his side to open the door. He was still frozen by her magic, and yielded to her touch as she yanked him from the seat and onto his feet. He tried, again and again, to be free of her. But she held him in place.

“Just cooperate, Prince,” she whispered as she led him to the assembled group of agents that were waiting for him. “This’ll be much easier if you do everything I say. Answer every question.” He had no choice at present. Perhaps she could sense him fighting against her enchantment, but to an outside eye he appeared perfectly compliant. He marched along with his hands bound behind his back, his mouth secured by the muzzle, and his eyes blazing with wrath.

“Agent Romanoff,” the man standing at the head of the team spoke as they approached. Loki flicked his eyes to the familiar face.

“Barton,” Bridget replied, dropping her accent and sounding more like the woman she was pretending to be. “We found the markings just like you said. The woman was with him. She took down a helicopter and one of our teams. We weren’t able to apprehend her.”

Barton motioned for the others to take Loki. They came out from behind him and grasped his arms roughly. They pulled him away as he shot the woman another glare. She smiled in response, following his journey with her cold black eyes. Barton kept his gaze on her. His spine was tense and his arms were crossed over his chest.

“Quick flight from Alaska, don’t you think?” he spoke as the god disappeared with his men.

“I was in a hurry to be rid of him,” she replied as her accent returned. In an instant, all guns were drawn on the woman with black eyes. She took a few steps backwards and lifted her hands. Her laugh echoed through the garage. “It doesn’t have to be this way, Barton. You got your guy, didn’t you?”

“How do we know he’s not one of your tricks?”

“Last I checked, my illusions weren’t susceptible to bullet wounds.” She took another step back, rolling on her heels as if about to step into a dance. “You might want to mend that. His brother won’t be too happy to find him dead in your care. But as for me—I’ve got more important things to do. It was good seeing you again, Barton. Send my love to Romanoff and tell her I said thanks for the face.” Then she disappeared in a shimmer of green light.

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