|Sprint Customer Service|
|What: Loki tries to buy a phone, to disastrous results.|
It's a pleasant afternoon in midtown Manhattan. The weather has been a little strange for the last couple of days, but it seems to have finally settled on a mostly cloudy, but cool day. The lunch rush is in full force, and the crowds are fairly thick on the streets right now. Traffic is at a crawl, but when isn't it, and most people are going about their business.
It started out simply enough. Loki wanted a cell phone. Ingenious little mortal device, allows you to talk to people all over the world, so of course Loki wants one. He entered a Sprint store, and was annoyed by having to wait in line, but he is trying to follow the rules. When it's finally his turn, he's already selected the phone he wants, for no other reason that the case is electric green and the advertisement promised the phone was 'rugged'. They started the God through the sign up process, and everything was fine.
Then they asked for ID. And things quickly escalated from there. The Godling of course, gave his full name and titles. The sales woman of course, asked for proof. Well...how else does one prove they are the God of Trickery and Evil?
The police report went out a moment ago. A news chopper is already on the scene. Hostage situation at Midtown Sprint store. Perp is person of interest in the investigation to an attack on the Queen's bridge only days ago. Thirty people believed to be inside, along with...goats? Unconfirmed reports of livestock.
Anya was just grateful she'd been browsing Twitter on her phone on her way to the store. Someone had been kind enough to include a hash-tag when reporting the weirdness at the store -- if they hadn't, she would have waltzed right in to buy a new case for her phone and wound up another hostage, and that just wouldn't have been very heroic at all. Typical, but not heroic.
Instead, Anya took a brief detour to suit up, and it's Spider-Girl who swings into the area and takes up a perch on a building across the street. One hand comes up to shield her eyes from the sun as she squints towards the store, trying to get a feel for things. Hostage situations suck. So do goats. There was this one time at a petting zoo, okay, she's biased with cause.
It's a quiet day in the Fish Tank aside from something ugly brewing in Mexico, a spate of back and forth abductions that most recently ended in the parties skipping the ransom notes and simply sending body parts by parcel post. CMS has a few clients in the area so Beth is keeping a sharp eye out. She's filling in for Farah during a coffee break and sees the news go out. Does she get involved or not?
"Oh, -crap-. Farah! I need to go out." It's happening right under her nose, she can't look away.
Farah comes back in, danish clenched in her teeth, coffee in one hand, gossip rag in the other. "Mmph?"
"I have to go check in on that." Bethany points at the screen and then bolts. "SAAAAL!"
Moments later, a company Bentley is pulling out of the HQ, Sal behind the wheel. CMS agents are on their way by helicopter to do some surveillance at the scene as well.
"Don't ask," Bethany says without looking up from her tablet. She can hear Sal opening his mouth. "I don't know how I get myself into these things either."
Thor is drifting about the city, looking at the mess he's made of the weather. Happens every time, doesn't it? Mjolnir is in hand and the Lord of Storms is gently nudging the jet-stream back where it should be, helping Jord right herself from his near 24 hours of supreme and godly semi-rampage about the city and various places abroad, dragging weather from the wrong season and climate with him as he went.
It is from this vantage point that he spots the ensuing chaos of the Sprint store, and the slight black spider that perches across the street.... well, and the Bentley, but really, all these mortal modes of conveyance all look the same to him. Until they turn into giant robots and start stomping about, that is.
Thor lowers himself for a slightly better look, bringing him level with Spider-Girl, hovering just above the alley next to the building upon which she perches.
Sirens blare in the distance as the police fight with traffic to try to respond to the report in midtown. One of NYC's finest, Srg. Al Powell happens to be at a hot dog stand near by, and starts clearing people out of the way.
Good thing he does too. The large glass window of the store explode outward in a rain of glass as a powerful male voice yells. "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!?"
Peering into the windows, one might see a beautiful man, dressed in gold and green armor with black leather underneath. A pair of golden horns extend from the helmet on his head as he seems to be bearing down on a young woman in a Sprint shirt and khaki pants. Three goats wander around the middle of the store, oddly enough, and people are cowering against the walls. One large man decides to try and play hero. As he charges forward, Loki turns and waves his hands. Make that four goats. A fresh round of screams accompany the 'popping' noise of the transformation.
It takes Spider-Girl a moment to realize Thor's there, but boy, he earns quite a double-take when she does. Sue her, the man looks impressive. The cape? Awesome. She starts to open her mouth when the front of the store erupts in glass and shouting, and it successfully steals her attention back /right quick/.
"Somebody racked up way too many roaming charges or something," Spider-Girl grumbles, weighing her options before she sighs, crouches back against the wall, and springs off to sail through the air and land in a crouch with the crunch of broken glass under her feet. Thank goodness for thick soles, amirite.
"I don't!" Spider-Girl calls, straightening up and raising her hand. "Know who you are, I mean. Aside from having a thing for goats, which, okay, not the weirdest thing I've seen in New York..."
Sal pulls up as close as he can and Bethany tosses the tablet aside.
"Hey, wait," Sal says, as she starts to get out of the car. "Vest? Gun? You can't go in like that." He gestures to her simple black street clothes.
"Vest won't help and I have my backup gun," Bethany says, escaping from the car. She can't miss the gun, it digs into the small of her back when she wears it on her belt like this. She can't explain, 'oh, I have a magic crystal in my pocket, it'll be more effective in a pinch!' "Don't worry, I'll be fine, though. Won't even need the gun." She slips into the crowd and works out her best chance at getting inside, then she sees some kid in a hero costume go whipping through the window. Oh boy.
"Loki," Thor breathes as the glass erupts and his brother's voice rings out clear and angry from the store. Thor watches the 'hero' as he gets polymorphed into a goat, and a frown crosses his face. He's just starting to fly forward, to go have a word with the Trickster when the Spider-girl near him -- who had barely gotten a single side glance from the Thunderer (No offense!) -- leaps off the building.
"Mortal, no!" Thor calls, left right reaching forward, as if that would stop the girl. Blue-gray eyes watch as she crunches upon the glass. ('This will not end well for the girl,') he thinks to himself, following after as Spider-Girl stands to confront the God of Mischief.
Thor, not seeing Bethany get out of the car, fling/drops himself down just behind and to the right of Spider-Girl. With any luck, the trickster's brother can grab the girl and toss her behind him and out of the polymorph spell Thor assumes his brother would seek to cast upon her. This, while the Prince of Asgard calls out to Loki.
"Enough of this, Loki! I will not allow thee to terrorize the mortals in such a fashion! Thy pranks have gone too far as of late." Because Loki's got a bad rap, dude. Oh, and Thor's eyes? Yup, they've got electric blue right now, and the rune etchings upon Mjolnir are glowing the same hue.
The young woman who made the honest error of asking Loki for ID faints, falling in a heap behind the counter. This does not appease the God. Loki points a finger at the large customer service desk and then points at Spider-Girl. The large desk flings itself through the open bay windows, trying to smash into the hero.
"I will have a cellular phone mortals! There is not a force on this planet that will keep me from one!"
The civilians inside cower, and the goats start to chew at the carpet. Sergent Al of the NYPD takes cover behind a car, and starts talking frantically on his radio, yelling something about a mutant freaks, and calling the SWAT team. He pulls his side arm, and starts yelling at the people of the street to get back. The people on the street really don't need his advice, and they start to clear out pretty quick.
When Thor lands and starts to chastise, Loki does something he almost never does. He stops smiling. The god reaches to his waist and draws his sword.
Spider-Girl can honestly say that she has never been addressed as 'mortal' before. Or, she would say, if she wasn't busy dodging a flying customer service desk by springing back into the air, latching herself onto the signage on the front of the storefront. After a moment, she glances first to Thor, then inches down far enough to peek upside-down through the broken windows.
Suddenly, Spider-Girl has the distinct feeling that this is not only above her paygrade, but a really, really awkward situation for all involved. Nobody likes getting stuck in the middle of some other family's feuding.
"Look, uh -- Loki?" Spider-Girl calls, her eyes on the sword. "If you turn the goats back and put that away, I will help you get a phone. Spider's honor." Sure, they can refuse service to anybody, but in this case... just get the guy a Nokia and be done with it.
Bethany discreetly busts in a window several shops down and rolls in, then boots it over to the Sprint store. She tries the door and it's not locked but she's not stupid enough to just barge in. It's really hard to negotiate as a goat. From here, she can hear that things inside are tense. If Thor and Loki start going at it, things are going to get bad. She clutches the stone and thinks really hard.
-It's me. I'm outside and I'm coming in.- She pushes the door open just enough to slide inside. -If you need something, I can help you get it.-
Thor is but a heartbeat too slow. The Spiderette is gone before his fingers can close about her arm. ('Another mortal, fleet of foot,') he marvels silently, just as the customer service desk shatters against his out stretched arm. Thor's eyes slide to his brother.
"A blade, brother? Thou wouldst draw a blade against me? Thy own kin?" Thor's eyes glitter and he turns to face the slimmer aesir. In his grip Mjolnir twirls once. Bring it.
Loki suddenly looks distracted and looks towards a door marked 'employees only' as Bethany slides in. His face softens for a moment, before he looks back at his brother. He points the sword a Thor, eyes narrowing in hatred. "I am no brother of yours." he hisses. "Leave now, and you may keep your life. Approach, and die this day, along with every mortal here."
That's when Sgt Al finds his courage, popping up and pointing his gun at Loki. "EVERYBODY FREEZE!" he yells, his gun shaking.
"A nice, shiny new smartphone," Spider-Girl calls hopefully, waving a hand to try and get Loki's attention. "With all the apps you can --" And then, Sgt Al finds his courage. She whips her head up to give him a look that is almost certainly wide-eyed under the mask. Oh, honey. No.
Bethany's voice is totally calm and comforting. "Sergeant, that's not going to help. Someone's going to get hurt and it might be you." She puts her hands up to show that she's not armed as she steps between Loki and Thor, her eyes on Sgt Al the whole time. "This is a misunderstanding and I'm sure we can clear this up so that we can all go on with our day." This planet needs an Asgardian Time-Out Corner or something... though maybe it IS the time-out corner and that's what's wrong.
"It'd be a good idea if that window there were closed somehow," Bethany adds, glancing up at the kid in the spider costume. "So no one outside gets hit by any flying... goats." The absurdity of the situation makes a giggle bubble up in the back of her throat but she manages to stifle it.
Thor's eyes narrow at Loki's claim, a flicker of god's honest /hurt/ works its way across his face. He doesn't advance - oh no - as that would put his precious mortals in danger.
"Not my...? Loki, of what does thou speak? We are broth-" He's interrupted by the brave brave Sgt Al. This is when Thor moves, a half step away from Loki, and a full step in front of the Sergent. The officer's gun is now all but pressed against his back.
"Stand back, mortal," is all the prince from Asgard says to the man before his eyes go to... Bethany?
Poor Al. He's never even drawn his pistol ever since that incident so many years ago. He falls back when the heroes all interfere, and resumes clearing the area with a pale pale look. "I need a twinkie..." he mutters.
When Thor starts to back off, a sneering, cold smile slips onto his face. He still stands stock still, holding the sword pointed at the larger man's heart. He does wave his free hand, and the goats all start bleating in pain for a moment before shifting back into humanoid forms. One starts hacking and spitting carpet fibers from his mouth.
Loki glances at Bethany, and sighs softly. "Get them out." he states before looking to Spider-girl as well. "You too. This is between me and my brother, and has been a long time coming."
"Hey, I'm happy to go," Spider-Girl says honestly, carefully dropping back down to the pavement with another quiet crunch of glass. Getting the hostages (and former goats) to safety is higher on her priorities list than joining the SCA. She moves (slowly!) to help one of the de-goated people to their feet, keeping a wary eye on the trickster. "Though... could you two maybe do this outside? If you break the phones, we can't get you one." And she wouldn't be able to get that new cover. Help a girl out.
Bethany waits until the shop is cleared before she turns to Loki, looking up at him. "I'll go if you want, but are you sure you want to do this here and now, in front of all these eyes? What's going to happen if you win? Are you ready for that?" She reaches out to put one hand on his chest. "We can leave together instead."
Thor, so ready to do battle against his brother, blinks twice as Loki's expression softens at Bethany. Thor's head tilts. Yes, this has been a long time coming and yet... there are eons left before the cycle ends in Ragnarok. Right? And so, it's Bethany's words to his brother that stays the Thunder God's hand. She had been the one talking about the significance of a ring, a meaning he has yet to fully understand, and now she speaks to his brother in the familiar, she begs of him temperance, touches him in so light and tender a manner. Thor's eyes lift from Bethany's hand to his brother's face, not sure what he'll see.
At Thor's side, Mjolnir lowers an inch.
Loki looks down at Bethany, his expression changing slightly as her words echo in his brain. "Yet again...your logic is impeccable." he says softly to her, reaching up to place his free hand over hers. "Another time...Thor." He says his brothers name oddly. It's the first time he's ever addressed his brother with it.
Then he vanishes. The observant might notice that Bethany's hand is still against /something/, but the trickster is no longer visible.
Normally, Spider-Girl might notice, but she's busy helping people across the glass. She's gonna need to fix her suit. Again. Ugh.
"Worst case of the Mondays I've ever seen," Spider-Girl says lowly, shaking her head before looking towards Thor. They said they were brothers, right? "Is he always like that?"
Bethany exhales slightly and murmurs into her comm, "Pick me up at the west entrance, Sal. We'll be going back to HQ." She looks over her shoulder at Thor. "It's good to see you again, Thor. Please excuse my intrusion into your family affairs." She pats the air gently, then lets her hand drop. "Let's go."
Thor's brow knit, lips parting in question at Loki's softly spoken words. Blue-gray eyes narrow, worried that his brother was trying something on the mortal so near to him, but there is no flicker in the tricksters gaze that Thor can see, no glimmer to hint that Loki is casting anything. Not that Thor is the best person to realize when his brother is trying to do anything, but this... lack of tricks, in this moment, is baffling. More so when Loki calls him by his princely name. Thor's eyes lose the electricity, the blue-gray depths of his gaze as clear as a summer sky after a storm.
"Loki," Thor asks as his brother vanishes, his voice soft and questioning. The sheer expression on the god's face is clear: What, by Hel's name, just happened here? He turns to look at Spider-Girl, and he gives a single, confused, shake of his head.
Troubled, Thor moves to clip Mjolnir to his belt, clearly not noticing that Loki merely went invisible, and thinking that the trickster vanished and teleported away fully. It is when Bethany speaks his name that Thor looks up to her.
"Thou art not the first. I fear thou shall not be the last," says the aesir, bowing to Bethany slightly and so misses her patting the air. When she says let's go, Thor nods faintly, almost to himself, and turns away to leave out the window. He must ponder this odd shift in his brother, for it is most ...confounding.
The police are finally starting to approach the area, and Al is doing his best to maintain a perimeter on his own. The hostages in the store all seem to shake slightly, as if getting hit by ice water, and a few fall over, clutching their chests and breathing hard. Others get up and move out of the store as quickly as possible. It seems some sort of magic might have been keeping them from fleeing.
Loki glances around, and shakes his head. Damn these mortals are confusing. He follows Bethany out of the store however, remaining invisible to the naked eye.
Bethany gives Spider-Girl a quick--if stressed--smile and a wave, then departs. She ushers the invisible Loki into the cool, dark back seat of the Bentley, then slumps into the seat beside him. She reaches over and pats his knee.
"I have a phone with your name on it back at the office." They really need to work on their timing.
As Spider-Girl helps another hostage to their feet, the sound of approaching sirens manages to catch her attention. Oh. Ruh roh. Really, she's never had as much trouble with the NYPD as Spider-Man has -- nobody's decided to dub her a menace or nothin' -- but she's not too keen to start. Besides, they probably know better first aid than she does.
"Seriously, though," Spider-Girl calls over her shoulder, sending a line of webbing from her wrist to latch onto a streetlight with a quiet *THWIP*, "Get that guy a phone. And never, ever beat him to an ATM." God, what a nightmare that would be. With a shudder, she takes a running start and pulls on her line to slingshot herself up into the air, and sets about the tiresome task of webswinging across town, to the *other* Sprint store.
What? Her phone still needs a new cover.
Sal is the consummate driver. He doesn't say a thing about Bethany's guest, or the fact that he didn't see the guy get in the car, or anything. It's too not long a drive back to the office, even in the New York traffic. Bethany sends a message to Farah via tablet--can you get that phone finished up, fast, and have some food and drinks sent up to my room?
The door rolls up and the car rolls in, staff are there to open the car doors. There are agents about, looking casual. Nothing to see here, just the boss coming back with... possibly the guy who just trashed a mall and turned people into goats--or that's what the news is saying. Everyone's trained to be neutral. Farah hands Bethany a box with the CMS logo on it when she gets out of the car and gives Loki a quick but genuine smile.
"There you go, Ms. Cabe," she says briskly. "Everything you asked for is ready.
"Come on," Bethany says to Loki, gesturing for him to come upstairs with her. She looks a little tight around the eyes but she's not upset.
Loki follows, that beautiful smile of his never slipping as he looks over the coworkers. It's not until he reaches the sanctuary of Bethany's office that the illusion on his face fades. He lets out a deep breath, closing his eyes and just sort of standing there. It's almost like the anger melts off him, its that close to being visible. But as he relaxes, that aura of 'I will f* you up' fades as well.
"I...didn't handle that well at all." he states.
"It could have gone better." Bethany puts the box and her tablet down on her desk. The filing cabinet has been cleared off to make room for several trays with an assortment of food and drinks, some alcoholic. "But you're out of your element and things are obviously bothering you--and dealing with the phone company makes everyone crazy, I promise. You're just better equipped to do something about it, for better or for worse. Do you want a drink? Wine, scotch...?"
"You wouldn't happen to have mead by any chance?" he asks, lowering himself into a chair. "I'm still not entirely sure what that mortal was asking me for. How does one prove who they are? I assumed a display of power is exactly what she meant."
"Perhaps I was wrong." he jokes softly. "It was not my intention to hurt anyone today. My brother....complicates things."
"No mead, I'm sorry. I'll try and find some and keep it around, though. I have a very good Pinot Noir from Santenay." Bethany pours two glasses. She's relieved that Loki's clear on things not having gone well. She brings him the wine and sets her glass down on her desk so she can take off her gun and put the crystal back in place under her old desk lamp.
"We have a fairly elaborate system of identification here," she explains. "It's also inefficient and easily circumvented if you have enough money and know the right people. Basically, most of us carry government documents that affirm who we are. Because you weren't from here you haven't got any but I'm working on getting you a set--and a documented history. It'll be lies, mostly, but it'll be accepted where you need to pass among us."
Loki accepts the glass and takes a sip, listening to the explanation of the ID, before shaking his head. "You'll have to forgive me if I sound ungrateful, but why help me for free? This is completely contrary to what I've observed as the human norm.
"Especially after I offered to hire you for almost exactly this." he finishes, leaning back in the chair and setting one foot on his knee again. Purple socks today.
"Because I don't want money from you. I don't need it, for one thing. For another, I rarely lie about my business income on my taxes--another government inconvenience that you can partially avoid if you do the dance right. It's not convenient for me to have you on the books as a client." Bethany sits down in the chair next to him instead of going around the desk and gets comfortable, her feet tucked up under her. "And lastly, I think what you really need is a friend here. Not an employee, not a servant, not an adversary. I'd rather leave that door open instead of locking myself into a simple exchange of service for money. This way, you know you are getting just me. Not the company. Not the answers you want. Me."
Loki leans forward, placing an elbow on his knee and resting his chin in his hand. "A friend." he states, almost savoring the word. It's easy to almost see memories swirling in this man's eyes as he slides forward in his seat, to close the gap between himself and Bethany. "And knowing what I am. Who I am. This is something you wish, or something you feel you need to do?" Loki brings the glass to his lips and takes another drink, finishing off the alcohol.
"I want to," Bethany says firmly. That doesn't require any thought, she's already been over this in her head. He hasn't crossed any lines that are deal breakers, not yet, and maybe he won't for a long time. "I need to. I need to because it's who I am to do so. I want to because I'm insatiably curious about how this story ends. I know who and what you are, what you can do. I know I'm basically just a mote of dust. I don't expect to change the course of things. Still, I want to make the attempt."
"If you're thinking of yourself as a mote of dust just to flatter me, don't." Loki starts, setting his empty glass down. "I doubt there is another mortal on the plant that could have talked me down in that moment. I'm still not sure why. There is something about you Bethany Cabe. I can't quite put my finger on it just yet."
Loki relaxes, that easy smile of his, that looks so much better that the illusion that he normally wears, sliding onto his face. "Are you considered beautiful among mortals?"
"In this culture and time, yes." Bethany tilts her head and gives Loki a curious look. "Not exceptionally, I think, but enough that I receive consideration for it. Why?"
"Curiosity, mostly. You are very very different from the women I have known on Asgard. Your hair, your build. You are not repulsive, as I originally thought most mortals to be. But then...from Asgard all I could see is the minds of the wicked. And while you are not pure...neither are you wicked." Loki comments.
"We have a saying here, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Bethany shrugs and takes a drink of her wine. "The other saying is that beauty is only skin deep. I find both to be accurate in their way. I try not to worry too much about it. We all end up in the ground. It's good, though, that you find me tolerable. That makes spending time together easier." She's not perturbed or flattered by his observation, though she is a little amused, the same way she would be if he were newly arrived from China.
"End up in the ground?" Loki asks, a little confused. "Why would you all end up in the ground?"
"Oh, it's a colloquialism." Bethany finishes her wine and leans forward to trade her glass for the box, which she puts in her lap. "The same as referring to myself as dust or ash. It means I'm aware of my mortality." She looks over at him as she settles back in her chair. "There's no sense focusing on something as fleeting as appearance when I'll be past the standards of beauty within two decades and nothing but an empty shell in five decades, if I don't die at my job before then, which is not improbable in the least."
"Fifty years?" Loki blinks, disbelieving. "Is that truly all you have? How....brief."
Loki shakes his head. "No wonder so many of you seem so concerned with breeding all the time. It must be all you have time to think about. I would...spare you this if you would allow Bethany Cabe. I do not have many...friends...and would hate to think that we had a scant handful of decades where I must watch you age."
Bethany takes this in. Maybe she should have gone with the scotch. A nice big, big glass of it. "That's very generous of you." She reaches out to put her hand on Loki's arm. "I'd like to think on the offer before I answer. There are many factors to consider and it's unexpected. But, truly, I appreciate the thought."
Loki nods his head a moment. "Don't think too long. You don't have much time left." he jokes softly. "Oh, before I forget." the god starts, reaching into his jacket and coming up with a small green vial. "These are for your flowers."
Loki holds out the tiny bit of glass. The liquid inside looks a little like some kind of sap, and has the consistency of blood.
"Thank you." Bethany takes it from him. "To go in their water? And before I forget, your phone." She hands him the box and flashes him a grin. Inside He'll find a sleek, black phone with no brand, engraved on the back with a scrolled 'L'. It looks something like an iPhone but has an almost stubborn air of sturdiness. Also in the box are the appropriate accessories and instruction booklet.
"Yes. A drop or two when ever they start to appear droopy. It will perk them right up. Though I suppose next time I could just enchant some flowers to bloom forever for you." he says casually.
Loki takes the box with an excited little jump forward an a sparkle in his eyes. He smiles, before pulling it open. "Excellent." he says softly, picking up the phone and running his fingers across the touch screen.
"Thank you." he says, delighting like a child when the screen lights up at his touch.