Danny barely had any warning at all this time. Just an electric tingle that ran down his spine seconds before he was pulled by his feet to destinations unknown. He barely had time to grab the towel he’d hung over the shower rod (for just this reason) and wrap it around his naked waist before the white walls of his shower disappeared and were replaced by what appeared to be the coldest, draftiest warehouse in existence.
Danny stood there stupidly clutching a towel to protect his modesty, and stared at the bubbling cauldron that was about five feet in front of him. To the left of the cauldron was a group of crazy people wearing matching uniforms. Crazy in that they’d attempted this so many times and still hadn’t gotten a clue that it wasn’t working. Also they were terrorists. To the right there was the group of people Danny had come to expect during these encounters.
“Hey Tony.” Danny said to the superhero who was currently tied up like a pig.
“Is that shampoo in your hair?” Iron Man asked.
“I was in the middle of a shower!” Danny defended. “I have to clean myself at some point you know!”
“We get that.” Captain America said, from his position chained to the wall. “And we’re sorry we weren’t here in time to stop this one.”
“Not your fault.” Danny sighed. “Although I do wish these creeps would get the message that this summoning magic they’re doing is totally bunk.”
“Impossible! We checked the tomes! We researched every possible iteration of the spell!” One of the creeps yelled. “Where is King Phantom?”
“Couldn’t possibly tell you.” Danny lied. “This is the 10th time you’ve tried this guys, maybe just give it up? Clearly whoever you’re trying to contact is…ghosting you.”
Three of the Avengers groaned at the pun while the Hydra goons began to argue between themselves about how the magic had failed again. The first time this had happened Danny had been freaked out and terrified by his forced magical summoning to a well defended Hydra base. Even more so when the magic around the summoning circle had kept him trapped until the Avengers had burst in and rescued him.
Each time after that had been less and less exciting. In fact, if Danny were to graph the amount of excitement he felt each time Hydra tried this, it would be rapidly approaching zero.
So far as Danny could tell, Hydra was trying to summon the King of the Ghosts and force him into slavery. Danny was incredibly lucky that these goons had managed to only summon him when he was in human form. He looked over at the heroes again and frowned.
“Where’s Thor?” He demanded. “He’s the only one who knows how to send me back!”
Thor, being a god who’d grown up surrounded by magic, knew enough of it to use a summoning circle. The god of thunder had sent Danny home using the unbroken summoning circle 9 times now and Danny was a bit upset he wasn’t here. How else was he going to get home? He refused to fly in nothing but a towel!
“Thor went to Asgard to get help, we need to figure out how to stop you from getting summoned kid.” Hawkeye said. “We didn’t think they’d try again so soon.”
“So, I’m stuck here? Naked?”
“You’ve got a towel at least.” Hawkeye comforted.
“I can’t miss class tomorrow.” Danny whined.
“Speaking of class, how did you do on your Algebra 2 exam?” Tony asked. “Did my tips help at all?”
“They did!” Danny said brightening. “I got a B+!”
“Hey! Congrats. Next time we’re going to get you an A.” Tony decided, still lying flat on his chest with his wrists tied to his ankles behind him.
“SILENCE!” The leader of the goons shouted. “You insolent little worm! You will tell us what you know!”
“I don’t know anything! Except Algebra, sort of.”
“This ritual should have summoned the King of all Ghosts! But every time we use it, you stand in our way! Tell us why or I will kill them.”
“Woah! Dude!” Danny said, lifting up the hand that wasn’t currently holding the ends of his towel to his waist. “Chill out!”
“No. You will tell me why the ritual failed, or I will shoot Stark in the head.” The guy, dressed all in black with a weird multi-headed creature painted on the arm, backed up his threat by cocking a large gun and pointing it right at Tony’s head. Danny sucked in a breath.
What did he do? What could he do? The magic of the summoning locked his powers away as long as he was inside the circle and so he was of no help to Tony. But could he tell the truth? That the ritual worked, and that it had worked every single time? They’d just had the worst timing of all never managing to snag him when he was a ghost? No. No he couldn’t say that.
His mind flashed terrifyingly towards what would happen if Hydra got their hands on him as Phantom. Would they put him under mind control? Who would he kill? What would he take? What would he destroy? It couldn’t happen. It couldn’t! Fear gripped his heart like a fist and his breath stuttered out of his chest. He froze, just as much as if he’d been hit by a bolt of ice, he couldn’t.
The choice was torn away from him by Thor bursting in from the roof of the warehouse, hammer flying directly into the hydra goon who’d been threatening Tony. Electricity skittered over Thor’s skin and made Danny flinch a little. Behind him there was a flash of green magic that sent a few of the other agents flying away. Danny watched as Thor and…was that Loki??? No. Yes it was! Loki, invader of New York and all around villain, was helping Thor save the Avengers.
Soon enough the goons had been knocked out and tied up and the Avengers freed. Danny stood there, still holding his towel and with suds dripping from his hair. The fear still lingered around the edges of his mind as he watched the Avengers interrogate Thor as to why his crazy brother was out of jail and on earth again.
Likely the last place Loki should ever be allowed to roam.
“Community service!” Tony shouted.
“Essentially.” Thor said. “My father is concerned about Hydra’s attempt to contact Hel’s king.”
“And why would he care?”
“King Phantom is spoken of even in Asgard.” Thor said. “We know little about him but he defeated Pariah Dark single handedly. That makes him incredibly powerful and dangerous.”
“World ending dangerous.” Loki added. “It’s my job to ensure that the King of Hel is never summoned to this realm, lest he lay waste to it and then every other living realm after. If I help you with your…summoning issue, Odin will lower my sentence.”
“I don’t know how I feel about this.” Captain America said.
“Could you guys discuss this after you’ve sent me back?” Danny asked. “This place is…really drafty.”
“And this is the accidental summonee?” Loki asked turning to look at Danny, amusement in his eyes.
“I prefer the name Danny, thanks.” Loki didn’t respond, far too interested in summoning the books Hydra had been using and studying the leftover liquid in the cauldron. Danny assumed Hydra used the cauldron to create the paint for the summoning circle, but he had refused to ask for details because if there was blood in there he did not want to know.
He honestly had no idea what it took to summon him. The Observants, when they’d told him he was king, had mentioned that it was possible but they hadn’t made it seem like a thing he needed to worry about. Sort of like how teachers used to tell you what to do if you fell into quicksand but no one ever actually runs into quicksand. At the time he had been far more concerned with asking questions like ‘Why the hell am I king?’ and ‘Why are you in my closet? Get out of there!’. So now Danny was stuck in a magic circle and he had no idea how it had exactly happened.
Ignorance, in this case, was certainly not bliss.
Loki hummed as he walked around the entire circle, studying the runes painted along the outside edge. He stopped right in front of Danny and then stared at him.
“This summoning circle is entirely correct.”
“Brother what are you saying?”
“What I’m saying is that King Phantom should be right there, not this human child.”
“Hey! I’m almost 18!” Loki ignored his protests. So, did everyone else.
“That doesn’t make any sense!” Thor said. “Loki if you’re lying…”
“I’m not. Hydra did the ritual correctly. Why Phantom didn’t show up…” Loki gave Danny a look that was far too amused. “I’ve not a clue.”
“Thor. Can you please send me back? My shower’s probably gotten cold by now.” Danny said deciding that retreating was the best option available.
“Oh I’ll do that.” Loki said, kneeling down and placing his hand on the largest rune. He gave Danny a smirk that made it clear he knew way too much. He spoke again as the ritual started up, quiet enough for only Danny to hear. “Till we meet again, your highness.”
The last word Danny was about to get out was an inarticulate squawk of protest before the circle lit up and sent him tumbling back from where he came. He landed with a thud in his shower and then slipped on the watery surface.
Danny laid in the shower, water pelting his body and mostly empty soap bottles lying on top of him, and he groaned.
Loki was going to ruin his life, wasn’t he?