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A Lullaby For Gods

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There was a time when humanity used to fawn over deities and write ridiculous stories and offer their children to them. Not that those were ever needed, but bloodshed was always a symbol of power. The more your people were willing to shed blood for you, the more revered you were supposed to be. Which is probably why Asgard is the way it is. Honestly, Loki doesn’t understand it.

Nowadays, humans fawn over illustrated cats in phone games and coffee. Mrs. Harrison says as much, and then proceeds to lecture him on how there were plenty of types of coffee. So much it makes his head spin.

“Do they have coffee where you’re from, dear?”

Where you’re from.

None of the Midgardians ever need to ask. He is Loki; humans have stories, and he knows that stories of him and Thor are some of the most circulated, but still, he appreciates that none of them actually walk up to him and ask if he really was from Asgard, or to confirm a few things.

He still doesn’t know how they’re so accepting. From what he’s garnered from a few months of walking around Midgard – Earth, Earth – is that skeptics abound.

“No,” Loki says, “The only things they find beneficial to grow there is alcohol.”

Mrs. Harrison makes a face. “Somehow, that sounds unpleasant.”

Loki blinks. Then smiles. Well, he’s not the only one who thinks so, apparently.

There’s two pairs of rapt footsteps and Loki easily identifies them. Seconds later, the older Palmer is in the kitchen and hovering over the island, where the numerous mugs of coffee that Mrs. Harrison has prepared are set. He looks over all of them before spotting what Mrs. Harrison had called a latte.

“Be careful, dear,” Mrs. Harrison says, not even looking towards him, as she’s still setting down the empty pot on the island. The last brew she made was the easiest, she’d told Loki. It was black.

Kevin extends his arm and almost bumps into the other mugs, but plucks the latte up and sniffs it. He grins.

Cecil enters the kitchen and stops by the doorway. “Ooh! Ground?”

“Always,” Mrs. Harrison says, looking up and smiling. “I never touch the instant stuff.”

Both Palmers shudder in unison. Loki makes a note to ask Mrs. Harrison about it if it makes the wondertwins (the name a courtesy of John, who had been ignoring the fact that he is a twin, and so are Dave and Rose) disgusted.

“Expresso!” Cecil pumps a fist in the air before running over to the island. His brother picks up the drink and hands it over to him.

Loki watches as they simultaneously sniff, let out a satisfied sigh, blow on their drinks and take a sip. A bit of milk clings to Kevin’s mouth.

Loki picks up the mug of black coffee and gently presses his fingertips to the porcelain. The coffee finds itself at just the right temperature. When he takes a sip, he makes a face. He swallows anyway.

“What is that?” Cecil asks.

“Black,” Mrs. Harrison says.

That earns him twin looks of pity.

“Ooh, bad,” Cecil says, “Sweet things are easier to drink when it’s your first time trying coffee.”

“You want a latte?” Kevin hands over his mug in an offer to share. Cecil slaps his arm gently.

“Hygiene, you dork.”

“I brush my teeth!”

“No, you – ” Cecil sighs and forces his brother to lower his arm. “It’s a drink. Do you know how easily that mixes with saliva – ”

“Listen, you hypochondriac – ”

“Boys, aren’t you late for school?” Mrs. Harrison asks, smiling.

Both Palmers stop bickering and turn to her, suddenly realizing that they are, in fact, late.

Cecil fidgets. “Um, the coffee.”

“Oh, love, give them here. I’ll put them in cups.”

The Palmers nervously move to lean on a counter as Mrs. Harrison picks out coffee cups from the nearest cupboard. There’s an entire box of them there, coffee cups and covers and everything, clearly from this being a regular occurrence. Loki wonders exactly how long the Palmers have been here; how long they have been setting up this little makeshift family with the landlady until Loki and the god-children intruded.

“Loki.” Cecil has an arm like he'd been about to grab the god’s sleeve and tug when Loki turns. “Can you take us to school?”

Loki tilts his head down with a curious look on his face, an invitation for Cecil to explain.

“As you know, we’re kinda late,” Kevin says.

Cecil's actually trying to twist his own fingers in a show of nervousness. “And…you can skywalk, and Jade’s not here, so…um.”

“Take them, dear boy, it’ll be a second,” Mrs. Harrison says. She hands Loki the paper bag with the coffee cups. “You’ve been to their college when Rose and Jade were visiting.”

Before he can even say anything – not that he’s planning on refusing, because, really, he needs to stretch his legs and Mrs. Harrison is very hard to say no to – Mrs. Harrison is pushing him towards the Palmers, who are righting the straps of their bags. He doesn’t sigh. He very much wants to.

“Do not be sick,” Loki warns them. Both of them nod.

He places his hands on their shoulders and takes a step; they move with him –

In the next second, they are right in front of the college building. A few people whip their heads at their direction. Someone squawks and falls into the fountain they'd been sitting on the edge of.

“Thanks, Loki,” Cecil whispers the last part, as it’s been a rule that he is to be addressed by his alias when there are others around. Cecil though, whenever he’s thanking Loki, always calls him by name. It’s new. The thanking, and the thanking by name. They never thanked him. His acquaintances on Mid – Earth always do.

Kevin takes the paper bag from him and takes out his coffee cup, his name neatly scrawled on its side. He hands the bag to Cecil so his brother can take his cup.

“Do you have work today?” Kevin asks.

Loki accepts the bag as Cecil hands it over to him. It’s still heavy. “No,” he says, “I suspect it’s why Mrs. Harrison has chosen today to educate me further on caffeine.”

Kevin giggles.

Loki lifts the bag and sees one more cup. When he pulls it out, there’s his name scrawled on the side, still Loki, with the word macchiato beneath.

“Good choice,” Cecil says.

The bell rings. All three of them look up and a few students behind them grumble as they start to make their way inside. Loki lowers the coffee cup back into the bag before they can see his name.

“Thanks again!” Kevin calls out as he and Cecil turn to get inside the building, both waving enthusiastically.

Loki watches them disappear inside before he smiles to himself and turns back. He’s in Sunny’s on his next step, and the girl behind the counter isn’t even surprised to see him.

“Hey, Mister Winters,” she greets, grinning.

“Hello, Sunny,” he says. The display is filled with an assortment of pastries. On the blackboard behind Sunny is a colorful menu written in chalk.

“What will we have today?”

“Scones, please. Mrs. Harrison is fond of them,” he says. “And…a bit of cake, I suppose. That one.” He points to the black and white cake that proclaims itself made of Oreos. He’d liked the biscuits.

Sunny rings him the total and he hands over his card – an actual one. He’s been making good on actually paying with money. When she hands him his bag, she smiles and says, “Thank you and have a good day, Mister Winters.”

Loki smiles back. Thank you. There it is again. Humans were always so quick to thank.

When he gets back home, Mrs. Harrison has just finished the dishes, although the mugs of coffee are still steaming on the counter.

“You brought scones!” she says, ecstatic. “Oh, dear heart, you’re precious. Thank you!”

“The Palmers did say it was best to sample sweets first,” he says, “Perhaps these will make up for more disagreeable coffees.”

“These will do nicely,” Mrs. Harrison says.

Loki places them on the island. Mrs. Harrison grabs a stool and sits, watching as he decides to sample one of the coffees on the island. He pulls out the macchiato from the bag and uncovers it. Takes a sip. It’s nice.

He sets it down, picks up a scone and takes a bite, then hovers a hand over the numerous mugs, trying to choose.


 

When Mrs. Harrison asks him if John is going to be put on the lease if he's staying, he says that he doesn’t even know the boy. She snorts unelegantly and says, “Well, he looks like he wants to stick around, and while you can entertain friends, if they’re going to be living here, I’d appreciate it if we put it on paper, young man.”

And Loki blinks because this little Midgardian woman actually has the nerve to talk to a (former) prince of Asgard that way. He bristles when he catches himself using the title, of course, and that’s the only reason he agrees to talk with his visitor, to prove that he is not a prince of Asgard, and if he is not a prince of Asgard then…

Well then, his landlady has every right to talk to him like that. She has authority over the building anyway.

When he somehow adopts three other kids, he doesn’t even argue with her and says, “Yes, they’re leasing.”

When they propose renovations to her, she asks, with a raised eyebrow, “Is it safe?”

He says yes. Jade explains, casually mentioning her space-bending capabilities. Mrs. Harrison nods and says, “Just show me the finished rooms. I’ll have to make sure it’s up to code when we have inspections.”

Everyone just stares at the closed door when she leaves. Rose says, “Well, that went better than expected.”

Loki is of the opinion that if anyone in this building holds the title unflappable, it’s not him or Dave Strider, it’s Elizabeth F. Harrison.

The neighbors – their first neighbors, not post-expansion neighbors – give them shifty looks and start whispering about ‘mutants’. Dave had a very adverse reaction, but after a few google searches and trips to the library, he’d learned that apparently, this realm and universe had humans who had evolved past the usual genetic code and developed unnatural abilities. Another way the word mutant can also be applied is in terms of physiology. Exempli gratia, Dave Strider’s red eyes and Rose Lalonde’s violet ones.

Loki thinks they are a bit like mages, like him, seen odd by the society they had grown up in.

While a good part of the world had accepted them, a good part also opposed them, calling them abominations.

Once, they’d caught one of these neighbors in Mrs. Harrison’s kitchen (not their kitchen, not yet), saying that he didn’t feel safe with these mutants in the building. She’d glared at him over her cup of tea and said, “Young man, I’d like you to kindly get out of my house now.”

Dave had looked at her like she’d hung the moon for days.

When they decide to ward up the house after they notice that New York is a magnet for narcissistic geniuses who either have their sanities dancing on the edge of a cliff or are just really, really ambitious, they get Mrs. Harrison’s permission. She gives them the floor plan.

She congratulates them on a job well done when their building is untouched despite it being in the line of fire. She makes them cookies and hot chocolate. John weeps over the fact that it’s not cake.

It happens again and again and again, and soon the other residents of the building notice that their home is unscathed, even when the other buildings are fried to crisps when they get hit by fire or are rocked in the explosion a few meters away. Rumors spread.

They get their first refugees in a week. It’s a little girl with her even littler brother in her arms, yelling, “Help! Help!”, running down the street.

To everyone’s surprise, she’s not just running down the street, she’s running towards their building. Jade is the first to point it out, and when John goes up to the window to stand by her, he disappears in a flash of blue and a gust of wind, reappearing right beside the little girl and taking her in his arms, shooting up into the air when the metallic spider-dog-alligator thing on her heels stabs a very sharp leg onto where she'd been standing a few seconds ago.

Loki feels his hand twitch.

The spider-dog-alligator thing rears its ugly, many-eyed, fur-and-scale covered head to screech at John, who sticks his tongue out at it while the children in his arms shiver. It tries to jump.

Loki takes one step and is suddenly outside, drop-kicking the goddamn thing into the opposite building. John immediately flies towards their own building, just in time for the door to smack loudly as Jade slams it open. The boy hits the floor back first and rolls, having flown too fast.

But the children are safe.

The children aren’t the only ones in the area, and the few people hiding in the shadows of the nearby buildings sprint to the door of the building as fast as they can. A few of the slower ones catch the attention of some of the unholy machineries and Loki pulls out daggers from his pocket space, feeling the hilts of the blades he hasn’t held in a while and throws them rapidfire towards the things. They drop quickly.

That’s how they spend the rest of the attack, with the Safehouse door open, and the five of them – him, John, Jade, Dave and Rose – at the steps of it, ready to take in anyone who needed shelter and to fight off whatever needed to be fought off.

It turns out the kids who had run towards them were set on getting to the building, as opposed to just suddenly deciding while they were being chased by a death robot to duck to the little flat. Their parents – very much dead – had told them, before they were very much dead, to go a certain address, because they would be safe there. According to their parents, their coworkers lived in the building, and apparently a few mutants who lived there did things to the building that rendered it invincible.

Loki had sat quietly through the entire discussion and watched when the girl cried, while her little brother stared blankly at the floor. Mrs. Harrison had stayed with the kids until they’d both calmed down enough that something could be done about their situation.

Afterwards she tells all of them that they did a good job. Plenty of the refugees are still in the building, too fearful to go out, and Mrs. Harrison doesn’t shoo them out, although the front door is now closed to keep the cold out.

Loki feels something in his gut, a sense of pleasure, as he sees the humans in the room, all alive because of what they did. Someone tugs on his pants and when he looks down, it’s the little brother they first saved.

The child puts a hand to his chin and angles it outward, a sign that Jade later explains to Loki means Thank you.

When they build the Safehouse, living up to the urban legend that New York seems to have made for them, Mrs. Harrison is always present in the drafting plans, because it’s her building after all. They get new people in, all of them paranoid from villain attacks, and Mrs. Harrison welcomes them.

When the building is finished, they build the Safehouse itself – the people that run it. Mrs. Harrison stops making them pay rent, because they're responsible for the internal expansion of the building thanks to Loki and Jade, and the whole protection bit had been a joint effort.

She doesn’t ask when actual introductions are made – that he is Loki, god of mischief, and that the children are gods in their own right too, from something called a game that they choose not to disclose, because it’s inconsequential to their working relationship. She only nods and accepts and introduces herself, and she barely bats an eyelash whenever magic is demonstrated around the house.

They get themselves a common living room and kitchen on the first floor, and whenever something has to be discussed, Mrs. Harrison’s usually around, a silent overseer, even though the position of captain has been delegated to Loki by default. They share grocery and utility expenses. They look out for nosy Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D agents and somehow make it their mission and vision to protect anything that lives under their roof, be it humans or animals.

And Mrs. Harrison is always there, telling them it’s a job well done, and bringing in cookies and tea. And coffee.


 

When Loki meets the Palmers, it goes like this:

John is outside is flat, leaning against the door and Loki has just opened it to tell him off. Cecil, or Palmer #1, as he would be soon nicknamed, opens the door of his flat and walks down the hallway, looking asleep on his feet. He is wearing black pajamas with prints of eyeballs on them and a dull grey-purple sweater that’s rolled up to his sleeves. He has a stack of papers in his hands.

When he spots John, he stares, and stares long enough for it to be uncomfortable that John and Loki actually stop arguing to stare back. Cecil, who still looks like he was better off snoring, blinks blearily and says, “Wow.” Then, “That is one fucked up life. I’m too sleep-deprived for this.”

Then he yawns, raising his head in the process, and when he opens his eyes, he’s looking at Loki and he nearly drops his papers. Loki focuses on the startled squeak he makes. “Holy shit,” Cecil says, “Um…”

Loki frowns at him, confused and…just wanting for Cecil to go away so he can continue his argument with Egbert.

“I’m just…” Cecil points back to his flat and then awkwardly scratches his head and turns back. He looks at them one last time before he goes inside and closes the door behind to a very confused, “I thought you were going to get that thing faxed.”

“Yeah, I was going to, just – nothing. There’s something weird. Don’t go out.”

“Is there a realtor outside?”

“What? No. There’s – weird timelines. Weird…experiences.”

“You’re one to talk.”

“Oh, shut up and take photos of these. I’ll send them to Dana by email instead.”

That had pretty much ended John and Loki’s discussion for the day, since it was too weird to pick up after that.

The second time they meet, it’s not even Cecil, but Kevin, who is a carbon copy of his brother except for the more tamed hair. John is already rooming with Loki, and they’ve both just come back from a supply run, and they’re wet from the rain outside.

Kevin is in black pajamas with prints of yellow triangles on them with a yellow-vested white-sleeved sweater, and when he sees them on the welcome mat from where he is on the stairs, he nearly drops the books he’s carrying.

John and Loki look up. John says, “Oh hey, it’s you.”

Kevin is looking at them like he wants to run, but when John speaks, he turns confused. “I’m sorry, have we met?”

“Uh,” John says, “That one time – when you were like, half-asleep?”

“What?” Kevin asks, and Loki takes the time to actually observe his face to notice the very minor differences between him and his brother. Honestly, they should have known that the most obvious indicator of the Palmer’s difference was their fashion sense.

Before John can say anything, Kevin’s eyes brighten, like he’s seeing something of interest. “Right,” he says, adjusting the books in his arms. “I’ll just be, um, going.” He turns back up the way he went before stopping and saying, “You might want to try those scratch cards.”

John perks up and yells, “Psychic!” as Kevin retreats and happily chatters about telling Loki so.

When they meet both, it’s midnight and it’s John who answers the door, grumbling. Loki is on the sofa, still reading.

Cecil looks like he really needs a good night sleep, but his eyes, although tired, are bright with swirling lights. Loki can see blue, pink and purple from where he is. In the dark patches left when the lights move, Loki thinks he can see a partial view of stars.

“You again,” John says, pointing out the obvious due to fatigue.

“Don’t worry, John Egbert,” Cecil says, voice airy. Loki raises an eyebrow at how it echoes despite the surroundings. John flinches and takes a step back, suddenly wary. He has never told either Palmer sibling his name. “Your friends will be here soon.”

“What?”

“I see Space and Time and Light,” Cecil says, “And Heart and Void and Hope and Life. I see children spilling their blood on their crests and I see them ascend. I see children playing at becoming gods – ”

Cecil stops speaking when someone barrels right into his side, wrapping arms around him. John blinks. Loki’s other eyebrow joins the first. Cecil is in a purple sweater with a white moon-eye. Kevin, in a yellow one with an orange sun-eye.

Cecil! Fucking hell you scared me. Sorry – um – ” Kevin turns back to John. “Sorry. Don’t mind us. My brother just sleepwalks sometimes.”

“There’s two of you?” John asks, processing, then, “Oh, twins! Sorry. Wait, he was saying something about…that sounded like aspects – ”

“Don’t worry about it.” Kevin smiles uneasily. Cecil, in his arms, blinks, and when Loki looks at him, the lights in his eyes are gone. He looks like he’s waking up from something.

“Hhnngh. Kevin…?”

“Ceec! We’re going to bed. We have work to do tomorrow.” To John: “Sorry, again, for disturbing you.” He starts to drag his brother away and then, “You know, I’d pick the red toaster instead of the blue one. You’re right, the blue looks a little shifty like they dropped it during delivery.”

John makes a strangled noise of excitement, another ‘I told you so!’ at the tip of his tongue that he doesn’t really get to vocalize because he’s spazzing out too much. The Palmers disappear from their doorway as Kevin carries his brother back to their flat.

Loki stares at the emptied hallway. Völvur. How interesting.

When he meets the rest of John’s friends, he takes note: Space and Time and Light, and has a little revelation at their dinner table.

“Witch of Space.”

“Knight of Time.”

“I am a Seer of Light.”

Another völva. How curious. He wonders if the building is some sort of secret holy temple. Three of them in such a space, and not even planned.

Cecil had listed off others though, and Loki keeps them in mind for future reference.

When Rose meets them, another chance meeting in the hallway, it’s ‘the awkward stare-off to end all awkward stare-offs’, in the words of her brother. Neither Palmer actually looks like they want to flee this time, but is instead staring at all of them, and then fixating on Rose, mesmerized.

Then the three of them gather by the window and whisper at each other, to the confusion and curiosity of everyone else. Loki catches bits of the conversation: “…it like? Having them under your skin?” “I don’t remember much but…powerful.” “How long were you all in the void?” “We – we were?” “Yeah, I can see it – ”

When they’re done, they part with smiles, before Kevin again gives one last advice, going: “Not today. Go tomorrow. There’s going to be a sale tomorrow.”

They go to the store anyway, just to see prices.

When they come back tomorrow there’s a huge 80% drop in prices and they’re absolutely gleeful.

When they get their first refugees, the brothers don’t come down until evening. They’re carrying trays and plates with them, and they silently pass them around. The refugees give them thankful looks.

When they run out, Mrs. Harrison points them to her kitchen.

Cecil puts a hand on her arm and lowers his head. “Sorry we took a while, Mrs. Harrison. We only had one oven.”

“If you’d told me you were baking, Cecil, I could have lent you my kitchen,” she says, then motions for them to get going. They end up cooking for the entire building, and for Loki and the children when they get back inside the house.

The children are ravenous. The Palmers look like they’re worried that Mrs. Harrison would be eaten out of house and home, but she waves them, saying, “They did good, they deserve it.”

She smiles at them. “You two did good too, boys. Job well done.”

Twin smiles look back at her. “Thank you, Mrs. H.”

For the next few attacks, they do the same thing, making sure everyone has food (although eventually they had to make their money back because feeding a third of New York was hard) and knowing who had what allergies.

John, although not allergic, was very ambivalent towards cake.

Cecil had given him a look of disbelief for three full seconds before walking out to the front and yelling, “Who wants cake?”

They talk. It’s hard not to, when these two were on kitchen duty during the attacks. Eventually, Cecil starts pulling Loki aside (which will never be not weird, but Cecil’s always been straightforward, which is better than beating around the bush, it’s just that anyone who’s ever talked to Loki back on Asgard either treated him with respect from his rank, or prejudice from him being a seiðmaðr) and tells him, eyes bright from Sight fugue, “There’s going to be an attack today. But thunder will arrive.”

And it’s a warning for him to stay out of sight as possible when ushering people inside if he doesn’t want Thor to see him.

It helps that the twins just know that they’re not from here. Not just New York, but from this reality, from this realm, from this universe. And they were both incredibly accepting about it.

Actually, they ask the twins this, and it gets them laughter and Kevin saying, “We would have to be so narcissistic if we believe we’re the only universe in existence.”

John throws his head back and laughs.

Any questions they had about this universe were answered happily, as the Palmers had somehow become their guidebook. When they build the Safehouse and establish the people participating, it is unanimous decision to bring the twins in, because it would be stupid to not let the resident psychics in the effort.

It helps that Kevin constantly gives them advice on when sales and coupons are being given out.


 

Loki may have been a magic-user, but he was still learning the magics of the kitchen. Jade knows how to cook, mostly from raising herself for majority of her life; John knows how to bake a bit; Dave knows how to make a mean pancake and cook ramen.

Graham shows him how to work with fish.

Fish on Earth are starkly different from those of Asgard. For one, less monstrous and more scaley. And Loki, who is used to jumping into lakes to save Thor from being drowned by his latest conquest, is quite surprised when Graham takes all of them on a fishing trip one day. The kids all bring their swimwear. John tries to catch fish with his bare hands.

Graham shows Loki how to set up the entire thing – from the bait and fishing rod and the sitting down and waiting. It’s…relaxing. It’s something that he feels slots right in to how he usually does things, dangling a reward for prey to lunge at, and waiting, and then reeling them in before the realization that they’ve been had hits them. Asgard always did value charging headfirst. Waiting had no place in their battles. From Loki’s experience, waiting had saved more lives and garnered more victories.

Rose is busy reading a guide on the local fishes of the lake while Loki and Graham sit on their recliners on the edge of the dock. Jade is sitting cross-legged in midair, hovering over the lake, with her fishing rod in her hands, hook sunk deep in the water. Every now and then, she reels in a fish and teleports it in the cooler right beside Rose. Then she moves to the next spot where she knows a fish is currently staying at. Knowing exact coordinates had its advantages.

Mrs. Harrison is talking with Kevin, who is grilling the fish they’ve caught so far, while Cecil is asleep right beside his brother.

Neither he nor Graham talk as they wait for their fish, and when Loki catches one sizeable fish, Graham grins at him. (And suddenly Loki remembers being young, presenting his mother with his first illusions, and remembers how she’d praised him. He remembers showing his father, but not quite catching Odin’s attention, because Thor had brought in scabbed knees and a very busted staff – the telltale signs of a warrior in the making.) It makes Loki chuckle, because all he did was catch a fucking fish, and it’s not even the type he regularly has to stun and injure because some musclehead thought it was a good idea to wrestle with it when it was as big as ten men and had three rows of sharp teeth in its expandable jaw.

When they get home, and everyone else is too tired from swimming or teleporting all over the place, Graham shows him how to scale and gut the fish, how to remove its internal organs, how to clean it, how to slice it just so; tells him about all the ways it can be cooked. It’s a cooking lesson he hadn’t thought about receiving, but Graham has a way of being inconspicuous, and he shares this knowledge simply because he wants to share this knowledge. Because fishing is something he loves and he wants other people to know about it. It brings Loki back to his early days, when sorcery was everything to him, and he wanted to share it with Thor and his friends, until he figured out that Thor and his friends weren’t interested and found it ergi, and thereafter Loki instead learned to smile blandly and tell them that what he was up to today was nothing interesting.

Everything about Graham is like looking into a mirror, and it unnerves him. Rose had told him about this, of course, that Graham was the equivalent of a human mirror. It’s fascinating and disturbing to see it in action.

He thinks Graham can sense it too, but the man is keeping silent, instead continuing his task and showing Loki how to fry the fish. When they finish, they make a small meal, and Loki feels some accomplishment from the fish he knows he’s caught, cleaned and cooked.


 

Professor Graham aka Alexander Graham Bell aka Graham Crackers aka I-Am-Not-A-Psychic-For-The-Last-Goddamn-Time aka Mr. G arrives at the Safehouse not looking for a Safehouse but a flat. An honest to goodness flat. It’s not that everyone thinks that the Safehouse is famous enough that anyone who rents is looking for a bunker, but Mr. G arrived when everyone who rents was looking for a bunker.

(It should be noted that the above nicknames for Graham are not of Loki’s devising, but John Egbert’s and Dave Strider’s.)

He’s not from New York. That explains it.

Upon seeing him, however, all three Völvur agree that he gets to stay.

“Is he psychic too?” Jade asks.

All three of them share a smile that says, we know something you don’t, and by this point, everyone’s too used to it to question. Also, everybody loves them too much and knows they’re not going to spill even if they were bribed.

“Ask him if he likes dogs,” Cecil says.

Jade does. He perks up almost immediately.

He’s deadly good with a gun, even though he has shoulder troubles. And once, he shoots a bat-spider-goop thing, the latest uninspired laboratory mishap the villain of the week dished out, with a flare gun while Jade saves three children and a dog. They learn quickly that the goop things are combustible. Rose and Loki ready their fire while Mrs. Harrison discourages other residents who decide to make Molotov cocktails.

(“Those are dangerous. Do you know how to shoot a flare gun? I’d think those were better.”)

(For future reference to any aspiring New-York-city-dominator, Mrs. Harrison knows how to shoot a flare gun. She knows how to shoot.)

When Graham starts to unconsciously copy speech patterns and body language, Loki gives him a look and spends a few days observing him. Rose says it’s just “Empathy,” and leaves it at that.

“Exactly what does that mean?” Loki asks, “Anybody can have empathy.”

“True empathy. Not as in feeling sorry for someone if you were in their shoes. I mean he can truly figuratively put himself in their shoes. He can…his thinking can assimilate,” Rose says. “He was a teacher at the FBI. And is currently a consultant. Criminal Profiler.”

Graham takes to the whole ‘New York under siege on a weekly basis’ and ‘We are magical people running a bunker thing’ very well. In fact, every time animals duck in for shelter during attacks, he attends to them. He ends up adopting several of the dogs. As for the cats, Cecil gets one. The rest just decide to pop in when there’s an attack and get lost when there’s none. Cats were apparently like that.

Mr. G observes all of them long enough that he actually feels a little uncomfortable about what he sees. Kevin confronts him and Loki and the children eavesdrop. They hear him hiss: “Never in my life do I want to see child soldiers. Fucking hell. World’s dark enough.” And then, “Also…uh, Winters reeks of daddy issues. Is that – is – I should shut up, shouldn’t I? They’re fucking eavesdropping.”

And then Kevin laughs, loud and boisterous. He and Mr. G keep in touch with whatever Mr. G’s observations are, which, since this is Graham, are scarily close to the truth, and he figures out that they’re not exactly mutants, but something else. He doesn’t know what, but something else.

Graham sees Thor on the television once and it clicks. On the next attack, he asks Loki, “Is Thor your brother?”

Loki doesn’t answer, but that’s enough of a confirmation for Graham. Loki decides then and there that humans are strangely talented. Or at least, this one is.

He’s earned his right to be part of the Safehouse crew since he shot that first bat thing, and his unnaturally keen abilities for observation make him indispensable for weeding out any agent of S.H.I.E.L.D that might be posing as a resident in the Safehouse. They brief him and make him join the War Council.

He spends the entire meeting drinking, but agrees. Also, he’s got a liver of steel.

Within his first week of being a part of crew he weeds out three agents that are posing as residents in the surrounding buildings. Thankfully, there’s still none inside, and anyone who even tries to get near is immediately spotted. S.H.I.E.L.D is good. A natural empath is better.

He also is good at cooking fish. And taking care of the dogs. And putting up with all of the Safehouse’s bullshit with a straight face.