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The Third Option

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The desolate Chitauri rock dissolves in a whirlwind of sharp, electric blue. The chittering echoes from the grey creatures dissolves into a rush of sound that is not sound that Loki remembers from his fall. He bares his teeth at the energies ripping into him, trying to transport him to Midgard (anywhere is better than here though hatred churns in his gut at the thought of that place). The Tesseract is like a beacon, its power thrumming through his every cell, amplified by the spear he holds.

He concentrates, pulls on it. Power floods through him and he screams from the fire coursing through his veins (burning him away). He pulls in more than he needs to cross the distance. Far more. The universe around him is also screaming, the little speck of Yggdrasil he is trying to cross straining under the force of the energies barely under his command (not under his command at all, just a blind, reckless plunge, trying to hold onto the reigns of a wild beast).

There is another surge, his concentration slips and Loki sees the outline of an underground room. The brief, flickering energies of mortals are outlined against his retinas before rage consumes him. No. He pulls and pulls and reality tears around him.

Everything dissolves in a whine of white brilliance. Loki's feet hit dirt and he stumbles, blinking. Sound roars around him, different from the chaos of the Tesseract, but still there. His head feels strangely empty, for all that it pounds with agony (outoutouthe'sgonehe'sgonehe'sgone). Before the relief of that can hit him, something slams into him (dark and smokey, the taste of fire and brimstone in the back of his thoat) and he reacts. He turns, slashing the throat of the thing that looks like an ordinary mortal, but isn't. More rush at him.

He snarls and pushes the spear through one of them. Black smoke pours out of it, but he is already at the next one, firing a pulse at it, burning right through it. There are so many of them and he has no time to think, no thoughts to spare on the agony that comes any time he moves, the blackness edging on his vision, the blood coating the back of his throat or the wetness coating his lips.

He does not know how long it takes, but after he slashes another throat, there is an abrupt stillness. He has slain all of them. The sound of his breathing is harsh in his ears. Red catches his attention and he stares at his spear. It is dripping with gore, steaming from the still-warm blood coating it. He licks his lips. Blood.

Gravel crunches under someone's boots. Two mortals (they're odd as well, not right, nothing here isright) are approaching him warily. It feels like an eternity to muster the effort to turn his head to them. They look wary, but not afraid. The taller one is saying something. Loki can't catch the words; it is too much effort. But the tone is concerned. It drags a laugh out of him. He chokes on the flare of pain. The spear falls from his fingers, hitting the dusty ground with a dull clatter. He follows it a moment later.

The first thing he notices when consciousness returns is the lack of pain. He can barely remember a time when something didn't ache. He feels blessedly numb. Not safe (never that, not since -) though he cannot be bothered to care. If the fall through the Void, the Chitauri and the trip to this reality have not killed him, he doubts anything these mortals do can (he is not sure if he would even care if they did). It's just his luck that even when escaping to a different reality, he still lands among mortals. Truly, the Norns must be laughing at him.

Still, his reaction to the thought is muted, like everything else. He is just so tired. Tired enough to remember that once he had not hated so much, that it had not driven him with every beat of his heart (that made him want to hurt back) .

Voices drift to his ears. Rough and masculine, lacking the timber that laces races other than mortals. They are arguing about him. One seems to be convinced he is a demon, the others say he is some other form of creature or a pagan god (it does not amuse him as it once would have), though they cannot agree on what (a monster though, always).

"No way that was a demon, man," he does not recognize the voice, though it is presumably one of the men from before, "Why would a demon gank other demons? Never seen any arrive in a flash like that either. That was some freaky mojo."

"Ruby does," it is the taller man. his voice is tense, clipped. There is a 'tch' sound from the first.

"Whatever he is, we better be careful," rough and determined and older than the other two, "Never seen anything in my life move like that before. And whatever he is, he saved all our behinds with that stunt."

Do they believe he saved them? It inspires a trickle of amusement (he should feel more that than, but it is like he has been rung out, drained and hollowed out by the Tesseract). Loki is quite sure he would have reacted like he had even if it had been a friendly tap on the shoulder. For those first moments he had been blind and hurting, every nerve raw with the agony of transport. But he has had time to heal, to rest. He is not fully recovered, but it seems these men will do nothing to him until they know more. And without him awake, there is little they will find.

Their voices dissolve into a low murmur.

When he wakes the second time he is alone. Loki opens his eyes. A fan is lazily spinning overhead, the light bending and breaking with its motion. A primitive, but effective method of drawing in air to a room. He is likely underground then.

He grunts as he sits up. His head hurts, though he is glad for that pain. It means his plan worked. The link in his head with the Chitauri has been ripped out by crossing realities. They had not controlled him directly, but he cares little for them watching his every move. He is Loki and he is no one's puppet (he might even have gone with their plan for taking control of Midgard if it hadn't been for that link and the agony of its placement rippingtearingshredding through his mind with all the grace of a Bilgesnipe on a rampage).

Still, he is free of them. Free of all of them. This trip was always only ever going to be one way. There is little point in returning to face the rage of the Chitauri and their master (especially with no way to be rid of him). With any luck, they will simply think him dead, that he has made an error in his calculations and died in that Midgardian facility in his home reality.

He runs his hands through his hair and grimaces at the state of it. His clothes are a mess as well, though the outer armor has been taken off. He sees it piled neatly on a chair in this small, strange round room. His hands and face are clean. No doubt the work of the mortals. This small gesture of kindness disquiets him, though he does not know why.

He stands and is glad there is no one in the room to see him stumble. His arrival has sapped much of his strength, though he feels it returning with every step he takes. Curious about this place he ended up in, he heads for the door. He leaves his armor where it is; a simple spell will summon it to him when needed (he doubts he will need it among these mortals).

The room beyond is mostly bare. Mortal tools and shelves are arranged along the walls, dimmed by the shadows in the room. But there is a stairway leading upwards.

It leads to the first floor of a rickety mortal dwelling, old and crumbling to his eyes. Books litter almost every available surface and he is almost overcome with the desire to read them all (he had thought that part of him died in the Void). As it is, he just slides his fingers along the spines and lets the books lead him into a larger room. A study from the look of it.

Though the place looks neglected, the books are well-cared for even though some are dusty. Mostly, he notices, those without the thick leather bindings.

He makes his way around the room, finally stopping at the wooden desk in the center. Papers are strewn haphazardly on it, books open on various pages and a notebook filled with writing next to them, as well as a knife intricately carved with symbols. Loki does not recognize any of them, though he canmake out the patterns of enchantment. There are drawings of a gun on the papers as well. He flicks past them until the words "can kill anything" register in his mind.

"Hold it right there."

Loki does not react to the voice at first. It would not do to startle like a fool in possession of a guilty conscience. He turns to look at the speaker. It is the older mortal, looking tense and wary. He is also armed, though the gun is not yet pointed in Loki's direction. A part of him sneers at that. Sentiment. Loki could kill the old mortal before he has time to even lift the useless weapon.

"I presume you are the one who brought me here and...tended to me?"

"That's right. I'm Bobby Singer. Pleased to meet you on account of you saving all our asses back there."

The mortal still hasn't relaxed. Wise of him. Loki doesn't think he can abide fools at this particular moment. As it is, these mortals are fortunate some of his anger and blood lust had been sated when he had killed those creatures. He still feels drained, unwilling to muster much emotion now that he is (finally, truly, completely) away from the things that can rile him up, whether he wills it or no. He feels in control again.

He smiles, a little jolt of satisfaction rising when he sees Singer's fingers clutch the gun tighter.

"Do not look too much into it. Had you approached me at that moment, I think I would have slain you just as easily."

Paradoxically, that seems to loosen some tension in Singer. He is obviously not someone who trusts in good intentions. It intrigues him.

"Yeah, didn't look like you were thinking all that much right then."

A sneer pulls at his lips. Loki would like to see the mortal having all his faculties straight after crossing over into another universe.

"If you had gone through what I had, neither would you," he says and turns his attention back to the room, eyes flicking back to the papers with the drawing of the gun. The possibilities of it press on his thoughts.

"Mind giving a name to go with that face?"

"Oh, I do apologize," Loki smiles, absolutely insincere, "I am Loki, of Asgard."

The way the mortal draws in a breath and aborts a backwards step is very satisfying. It seems that even in this realm, the legends exist. Though in what form is yet to be seen. So far, other than the mortals' strange awareness of what they call the supernatural, this universe seems remarkably similar to his own.

"You're a goddamn pagan god?!"

Loki lets out a short, sharp bark of laughter. But the mortal's hostility has risen, for all that he has not moved. Loki's eyes narrow and flick back to the pages on the desk. Weapons, books of lore, the wariness of the three mortals. These are not scholars he has fallen in with. He does not wish to provoke their ire. He has no wish to tolerate what would be their doubtless pitiful attempts at killing him. At the moment, their cooperation would be more useful to him (a weapon that can kill anything, can endThanos).

"Not in the way you would think it," Loki says, his posture deliberately relaxed, "My people," (not his, never his) "were hailed as gods when they first visited Midgard. But we were never divine. And this is not the Midgard of my realms."

He smiles again, more for the way this unsettles Singer than any true amusement.

"But come, tell me what were those creatures I killed? I must confess I have never seen their like."

Singer still looks skeptical. He is also willing to play along for now. Good.

"Demons. 'Bout ten of 'em got the drop on us. You went through them like a wet paper bag."

Demons? How very curious. They had not looked all that different from normal mortals. Their difference was in their essence, reminiscent of Muspelheim and yet ridiculously weak compared to the inhabitants of that fiery realm.

"If those are what you consider demons, I would not like to consider how lowly you must think of me to call me a god."

Singer shrugs, deliberately belligerent. His eyes are fixed on Loki. This one is shrewder than he expected.

"You said yourself you weren't one."

"Indeed I did. Yet I defeated your enemies all the same."

Singer's eyes narrow.

"You're after something."

Loki feels a genuine smile of amusement cross his lips.

"Aren't we all? But yes. I am stuck in this realm until I can find another way out." Let them think him stranded. "I am unfamiliar with the ways of this place. You are not."

Singer shifts carefully, though the gun is still not pointed his way.

"Forgive me if I don't think that's the entire story. You don't strike me as the type who asks for help much."

"From where I am standing, we are both in need of the other's services," Loki lets his fingers trail over one of the pages on the table. One that is labeled with 'Apocalypse'. He does not miss the sharp inhale from the mortal. From the corner of his eye, he can see Singer tuck the gun away into a belt loop. The mortal also moves to grab a bottle of something and two glasses.

"Alright," Singer says, and puts the glasses down on the desk with a clink, "I'm listening."

Loki smiles. The mortal approaches him, fear present, but well hidden behind his bluster and is now staring at him in challenge. If he does not tire of this, Loki thinks he may grow to like this little ant.

He now has a place to fully recover, some work to amuse him and a chance to obtain a weapon that could utterly destroy the being that had thought to play him like a puppet. The game, Loki thinks, is on.