You couldn't believe it. You DIDN'T believe it.
"I'm what?" you exclaim. You laugh and try to pretend they were joking. "This is all a hallucination, isn't it? You're just messing with me, right?"
"Not at all," Banner says solemnly. "This is all real, I'm afraid."
You stand there, silent. Disbelief keeps you in place. Superhuman...? Do those kind of people actually exist..?
"...So, I'm a freak," you say finally. "I'm like those guys at the school in Westchester. Those mutants."
"Not exactly," Tony interrupts. "As far as we can tell, your powers don't come from your genetic code. Theirs does."
"Then where does it come from?" you shout frantically. You just want it to make sense. You want it all to make sense, or to go away.
"We don't know yet," Banner answers, raising his arms to try and comfort you. "But what's why I'm here. Tony and I are going to help you figure it out."
"What's wrong with me?" you say, your voice getting higher and your breathing faster. "Why am I different? Why does it have to be me?"
"Because it couldn't be anyone else," Loki says in a dark tone. His voice silences you instantly. Everyone looks to him, but his eyes bear down on you like lasers. "You are the best fit. Anyone else, and the forge would break. It has to be you."
"But why?" you demand. "Why me...?"
Steve walks over and pats you on the back gently. You try to pull away, but your body refuses to move. Or maybe Voodoo Master over there was using his powers to hold you still AND keep your mouth shut.
"We've all been like this before," Steve whispers to you. His voice becomes louder as he references to the others. "We all asked that question to ourselves. We all want to know why."
"But the thing is, we don't get a choice," Banner finishes. "We just have to live with it."
"And, if we can," Steve adds, "make the best of it."
You just stand there, the realization hitting you. Yeah, you always knew you were different. You could feel it down to your core that you were different. But you didn't know it was this much.
"We are all different," Steve says to you comfortingly. He gestures to everyone else in the room. "Every single one of us is different. We're all superhuman. We're all freaks."
You look around. It begins to hit you now that you've never seen these people before, except Banner and Tony. Tony is a billionaire, so that made sense. The police put a call out to find Banner dead or alive a couple years ago, and that was all you remembered. You aren't sure if that's still in place, since he's standing right there.
"Don't worry," Tony suddenly speaks up. "We're going to help you."
"Help me what?" you ask miserably.
"Help you develop your powers. And hopefully, into a person."
The next few days are eye-opening for you. You spend hours in some kind of special lab with a metal bowl strapped to your head, wires connecting you to a large computer that Banner monitors. Tony would ask you to perform certain tasks - usually involving your mind - and then Banner would record the brain activity. For whatever reason, they say this will help them figure out how your "powers" work. You just think you look ridiculous.
If you aren't in the lab, you're being dragged along whatever "mission" the other boys are up to. Sometimes this involves finding Loki and paying him back for a prank he's pulled, or helping Steve out in the gym. The man is set on becoming as built and toned as Thor, which you find kind of amusing, until Steve makes you carry his weights. Then it's not so funny.
Three days after you arrived at Stark Tower, Tony comes in while you are eating lunch in the kitchen.
"You're going to go shopping with Natasha today," Tony tells you. You finish chewing before answering, puzzled.
"Why?" you ask.
"You need clothes if you're going to be staying," Tony says. "I've already got Banner and Cliff going to whatever residence you previously had and grabbing some things, but that's not going to be enough."
You stare at him for a moment, then nod. He's right. "Okay, when?"
"Two PM," Tony says. "I'll send down Thor to remind you."
At two PM exactly, you hear a knocking on your door. You decided to just take a nap until it was time to leave, so you are ready when the rapping of the door wakes you. You walk over to the door and open it, your eyes looking high above you, expecting someone of Thor's height to be standing there. Instead, you move your eyes down a couple inches, looking into two brilliant green orbs. You freeze in the spot.
"Thor has to take care of some personal business of his," Loki says to you. "He has sent me to fetch you instead."
You nod, scared that if you say anything, he'll force your mouth closed again. He turns around and leads away, down the hallway and to the stairs. You follow silently, walking behind him. The walk is awkward with the silence between you both. You look around at all the high-tech rooms and appliances around you as you pass from floor to floor. A laboratory, a strange library-looking thing, a conference room, a party room with a balcony...
Desperate to break the silence, you decide to ask a couple questions. "So...Loki," you remember his name,"where are all of you guys from? Like, why are you here?"
Loki is silent for a moment and you think he isn't going to answer. Then,"Thor and I are from a realm known as Asgard," he says to you. His voice sounds sharp, as if speaking is torture for him. "Steve was frozen in an ice block for seventy years after falling into the ocean in World War II. Banner is an expert on all things radiation and quantum mechanics. Natasha and Cliff are both assassins."
Quite an eclectic group, you notice. "You guys seem to come from all kinds of places."
"...Yes," Loki says. "We do."
After a couple more flights of stairs, you both reach the ground floor - the lobby. Natasha, wearing a flowy black shirt with black slacks and high heel boots, looks at you and smiles. Her hair is brushed straight and her lips are a soft red. Loki stands and looks at you, tilting his head to encourage you forward. You don't look into his eyes...they kind of scare and mesmerize you...but you nod, walking forward to Natasha.
"You ready?" Natasha asks.
"You sound like it's going to be grueling," you tell her. She laughs. As you both turn and head out the door, you look behind you to see if Loki is still there. Surprisingly, he is, watching you with those eyes. Those predator-like eyes...
"Natasha?" you look up at your new assassin friend, still a bit surprised such a beautiful woman could be...you know, a killer.
"Yes?" she keeps walking forward, directing you around the bustling people on the sidewalk. You had finished shopping at Abercrombie, Black Fly and (much to Natasha's delight) Hot Topic, and had bought you a nice pair of baggy shirts, some tank tops, different jeans and a new pair of shoes. Most of it, Natasha picked out for you, and afraid she'd hurt you if you didn't, you obliged.
"Why are you guys...you know...together?" you ask. "All in that one place."
"We're a team," she responds. "We work together to save people and stop the bad guys."
She said it as if you were little. Eugh. "What kind of bad guys?"
"Oh, you know, genocidal military leaders, aliens that invade the planet, crazy genius scientists, the normal," she looks down at you. "Why ask?"
"Well, because I wanted to know. And Loki wouldn't tell me."
Natasha's face instantly becomes like the stone gargoyles you used to see on church cathedrals. "Loki is..." she bites her lip as she thinks,"...a piece of work."
"How so?" you ask.
"He's...been through a lot," your red-haired companion says slowly. "A lot more than the rest of us have."
"Look," Natasha pulls you aside, looking into your eyes. "I don't think you should be asking about our past. Especially Loki's."
"But why?" you whine. "You know all about mine. All my secrets and problems. Why can't I know yours?"
Natasha doesn't respond, stunned. She shakes her head a little. "Some of us have secrets that we just can't reveal."
"Loki told me you and Hawkeye are assassins." You tilt your head. "Is that true?"
"...Yes," she says finally. "Yes it is."
"So then Steve...he's actually from World War II?"
"And Thor and Loki are from Asgard?"
You stop. She's biting her lip again. thinking. Finally, she looks at you. "One day, maybe you can ask each of us, for yourself, what we've been through."
"But what if they don't answer?" you try to pull an answer out of her.
Her face darkens. "Then there's probably a very good reason why we don't."