And now, it’s here. Two-thousand-plus words of world-saving and humor, for your enjoyment! (Also, I think the Avengers already know that Coulson’s still alive in this one… um, I don’t know why, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Tony’s doing.) Just in time to make the deadline for proverbs31teen’s Super-Duper Fanfiction Crossover Challenge! :-D
Hours of Men and Monsters
“Mycroft, you know I always hate you, but today I want to murder you even more than usual.” Sherlock glared through the frosted glass in between the living room and dining room-cum-kitchen at the Avenger sitting uncomfortably on a couch that was not designed for a man his size. Fortunately, the man couldn’t see him. What really got to Sherlock, though, was how much Mrs. Hudson seemed to appreciate the superhero’s manners. No sooner had he walked in the door than he proceeded to charm the landlady.
“Sherlock, perhaps next time it would be better if you were to simply not interfere in my business,” Mycroft scolded. Sherlock heard it and promptly decided to ignore it. “Fury is a law unto himself. If I had my way, the men assigned to your detail would be much less… conspicuous.” Much as Sherlock disdained most of Mycroft’s associates, this Fury character must indeed be quite daring to cross Mycroft in one of these subtle ways. And it was only according to the man’s abominable sense of humor that he assigned this particular Avenger, Mycroft didn’t add, but it would have not taken a Holmes to deduce that he was thinking it. Apparently, Fury, whoever Fury was, had been making a point to Mycroft.
“I will do all in my power to break custody, Mycroft,” Sherlock vowed and cut Mycroft off, deciding as an afterthought to lock Mycroft out of his mobile for a while as a further precaution. That done, he re-entered the living room and stalked across to his pile of case files, pointedly ignoring the man on the couch. This didn’t seem to bother the superhero; not that it would. This man had been fighting off what was apparently an alien invasion mere months before. That said, it seemed like overkill to dispatch him for a simple protection detail.
Mrs. Hudson came back with tea, serving Sherlock as well as the American despite Sherlock’s patent displeasure with her usual impossible calm. After she had gone, Captain America spoke up suddenly. His voice was a low baritone, with the startling quality of an unusual pitch range and a flat Yankee twang. “I don’t trust your brother, Mr. Holmes.” Sherlock rolled his eyes.
“Does anyone? I’m not to be trusted, either,” he added for his bodyguard’s benefit. The captain coughed noncommittally.
“Noted.” He continued to work carefully on a drawing. It was only Sherlock’s boredom that made him curious about the artwork, but he reined in his curiosity, determined not to show any interest whatsoever. He was Not Pleased.
A moment later, the superhero’s head came up, as if in response to some sound that, Sherlock noted with displeasure, was inaudible to him. A second later, the front door opened and shut and John’s awkward, still-slightly-lopsided-on-bad-days walk was heard coming up the stairs. The superhero appeared relaxed on the surface, but he was posed in the peculiar stance of a soldier ready to leap into action at any second. Sherlock had seen John adopt that posture any number of times. A moment later, Sherlock’s flatmate and assistant in all criminal investigations opened the door. John took it all with his usual calm. “Did one of your nonexsistent friends finally turn up or do we have a client?” he asked, shrugging out of his coat, but not setting it down or hanging it up. Sherlock frowned.
“Neither. Mycroft seems to think I need protection.”
“Last night was a bit much,” John said, remonstrating with him.
“Mycroft has no respect for me,” Sherlock announced.
“You refer to him as your ‘archenemy,’” John remarked. “I think he’s entitled.” He turned to the superhero. “I’m John Watson,” he said. Rather than shaking his hand right away, the tall man saluted.
“Steve Rogers, sir,” he said. “Captain.” John blinked and saluted back.
“I’m retired,” John said. “You knew I was a soldier.” Rogers shrugged, awkwardly.
“I’ve been in London before, used to spend quite a bit of time around your special forces and SIS… I mean intelligence…” He stammered slightly at the end. “It’s just been… a while,” he concluded, lamely. Sherlock made a face at the superhero’s back.
“Sherlock, have you done anything productive today?” John asked, ignoring the stranger for a moment, taking it in his stride, like he normally did.
“There’s nothing productive to do,” Sherlock complained, throwing himself on the couch. He watched with interest for a moment as Rogers flinched involuntarily and reached, inconspicuously, for one ear. Barely touching it, he reached into his pocket instead and hurriedly sent off a text.
“Mr. Holmes, I hope you’ll pardon the profanity—” John snorted—“but what the hell have you been getting into?” As if in response to the sudden words, a gun went off in the street below. Sherlock’s head came up. Before he could do anything, though, Rogers flinched again and actually touched the concealed earpiece this time. “Barton, speak clearly. I can’t tell what you’re trying to say.” Both Sherlock and John froze. John looked both irritated and dismayed, as if he’d been hoping for a peaceful evening, for once. Sherlock was more curious. “All right, all right! Stop shouting!” Listening again. Then, Rogers hissed an imprecation through his teeth. He turned to Sherlock and John. “Gentlemen, it seems my backup has found trouble more quickly than I gave him credit for. We’re going to have to go take care of it.” Sherlock brightened up. John shook his head, but went for his sidearm all the same. Rogers lifted a large, circular—was that actually a shield?—from behind the sofa. Sherlock had thought, hearing about the Battle of Manhattan, that the shield was just a gimmick, but now it was clear it wasn’t so. From the way the superhero held it, it was actually a weapon, and one he knew how to use. It looked slightly out of place, the silvery red and white bands and blue field with its star, with his civilian outfit of mostly navy, white and gray, but it looked anything but silly. Sherlock moved toward the front door, but Rogers caught the sleeve of his coat and pulled him with almost gingerly gentleness toward the fire escape instead. The next several minutes were a rapid journey through the alleys and back-streets of London. Rogers’ knowledge of London’s backways seemed to even rival Sherlock’s. Not long later, they arrived at a run-down district. Rogers slipped his phone out of his pocket and nodded, once, grimly. Any trace of the slightly-awkward young man of only minutes before was gone; now, he was a soldier, entirely focused on the mission. He looked at Sherlock.
“In a few minutes, we’re going to go in there, get Hawkeye, and blow those scum to kingdom come,” he said. “I’d ask you to stay back, Mr. Holmes, but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t listen to me, and I generally make it a point not to give orders when people are just going to disobey them.” There was a brief flash of humor in the American’s gray eyes, then he walked briskly toward the entrance to the empty warehouse.
“How cliché can they make it?” John muttered. Rogers cocked his head, as if listening to something on his earpiece. Then he reached down, grabbing the padlock and slipping two fingers on each hand into the metal loop. He pulled straight out and the loop bent, then simply shattered. He slid the door open a crack, looking in.
“Let’s move,” he said.
It was eerily silent inside. The warehouse was almost entirely empty, gutted. It had been recently swept and dusted, though, as if waiting for sale to a new owner. For such a big man, Captain Rogers could move with astoundingly little sound. They kept to the shadows, hoping to remain undetected, as Rogers scanned the area.
“Five men on the upper level. Two below. The two down here are supposed to be keeping watch. If we can slip past them, though, we’ll have the upper hand. We’ll get to the upper level, free Hawkeye, and then take them out.” That said, he shot off into a flat run, entirely silent and completely unnoticed by the men who Sherlock could just barely make out. He sprang to the upper level, using hand- and foot-holds that most people would not have been able to find or utilize. Tucking into a tight roll, he flipped over the bannister and slammed the shield into the back of someone’s head. Sherlock sprinted to the stairs, followed by the doctor. Rogers had grabbed a knife from someone else’s sheath and cut up through the cuffs on the man kneeling on the floor. The blade snapped with the strain, but it did the trick, freeing the other man, who leaped to his feet, swiping the legs out from under one of his former captors. Sherlock swept out the gun and shot one of the men in the shoulder; John’s revolver cracked and another fell, clutching his leg. All the hits were non-lethal, through unspoken consent. If Mycroft chose to clean up the mess later, that was his affair.
Between the four of them, they took down all but one of the seven men. The last of the enemy footsoldiers stood awkwardly, half-on and half-off the stairs, one leg over the banister in his nervousness and eagerness to escape. “Sir, please dismount the banister,” Rogers shouted at him. John cleared his throat, to cover up a laugh. “Last warning.” The man pulled out a gun, shakily. Hawkeye had a bow now, an arrow on the string.
“Want me to put one through his eye, sir?”
“I’d prefer the hand, but he’ll get a concussion either way,” Rogers said. The man on the railing tried to bring the gun up, but Rogers threw the shield in a single smooth, powerful motion. It ricocheted off the man’s chest and knocked him from his perch. Without batting an eye, the soldier caught it easily. “Idiot.” John snorted again. Rogers glanced at him. “What?”
“You know, you sounded exactly like Coulson for a moment there,” Hawkeye remarked, quietly.
“Are you sure it’s not the other way around and Coulson sounds like me? Because that might make more sense, considering the time displacement.” Hawkeye scowled at him. Rogers gave the other superhero an innocent look. “What? You said you liked mind-benders.”
“It’s a wonder the Avengers ever get anything done,” Sherlock mumbled as he fired off a text at Mycroft. John cleared his throat and shot him a meaningful look.
“We’ll probably end up hanging around for a few days, but that’s only a formality,” Hawkeye—or Clint Barton—informed the detective and doctor over tea, later. “And to assuage your brother’s paranoia.”
“You do realize that Mycroft probably has the flat bugged, right?” John said quietly. Rogers shrugged.
“I refused to turn up at my own Medal of Honor ceremony last time I was in London, despite all the brass and politicians who were planning on coming. I don’t care what they think or want to hear, I’m always going to stick with the honest truth, no matter how much they hate me for it. And Clint would prod them just to see them fume. Trust me, doctor; neither of us cares who overhears what we say. While SHIELD sponsors the Avengers, we’re technically independent, which means that the WSC doesn’t have us in their pocket. I’m sure that doesn’t bother Mycroft Holmes, because he can predict us, but it does rather put a nettle in the trousers of certain of the other members.”
“It’s almost frightening how good a judge of character you are,” John remarked. Rogers made a face.
“It’s a necessary part of being a leader.”
“Hey, at least he won’t tell you where you’ve been just by the pebble stuck in your shoe,” Barton chimed in. “Though he is a pain at other times. He tries to make the rest of us eat—” he shuddered—“healthy food. And exercise. And do stuff like that.”
“You’re just a lazy donkey, Barton,” Rogers teased. Barton leaned back, lacing his fingers behind his head, and whistled.
“I’m good at what I do,” he said. “I don’t care about what I don’t.” Rogers looked at John.
“I think you know what I have to put up with. I stepped into their last handler’s place as the official babysitter for five superheroes.” John gave him a conspiratorial look.
“I’m surprised you don’t have gray hair lurking somewhere,” he said, obviously actually directed at Sherlock.
“It might be hard to find,” Rogers mused, tongue in cheek, as he ran a hand through his dirty-blond hair. Barton poked his team leader in the side.
“You’re only twenty-six,” he accused.
“Almost twenty-seven,” Rogers protested.
“Details, details,” Clint waved his hand airily. “You’re still the baby of the team.”
“I am not!”
John grinned. Sherlock gave him the not-quite-smiling look that said I’m-actually-laughing-now-but-you’ve-never-heard-me-so-you-wouldn’t-know.
Later on, when John typed up this strange case of the globetrotting supervillains, he posed the question on everyone’s minds.
In the time of gods and monsters, what is the worth of a man?
Whatever he makes it.
What say you, readers mine? Did it make the cut? Would you like to see an expanded version? Please tell me in the comments. :-)
Thanks for reading, and God Bless!