Inspired by a one-shot that TardisIsTheOnlyWayToTravel had over on Ao3. I just couldn't stop thinking about this! It was part of a story full of follow-ups to other stories, the one called 'The Avengers: Phil is the God of Badass Secret Agents'.
I couldn't let this go.
Features the stuff from that ficlet, as well as an odd mishmash of American Gods, Supernatural, and me taking mythology and running completely wild with it.
"You are Agent Phillip Coulson," he intoned seriously, "God of Badass Secret Agents. All hail Agent Coulson."
Phil had gotten used to it. Really.
It had been odd at first. He knew what agents were 'praying' - perhaps the quotation marks were no longer necessary - for before he even saw the shrine, he knew details of every agent's mission without looking at the files or reports.
The radio playing thematically appropriate songs every time he walked into a room, he could have done without.
Yet everything seemed to be going - well, not calmly, but at least without too many incidents cropping up. And most of those were related to the Avengers getting used to working with each other, which were most of the time easily solved.
So he was really not expecting to look up and find himself in an empty train car when a few seconds ago every seat had been filled.
Empty except for the seat directly across from him, that was.
The other man grinned when Phil didn't so much as jump. "Nice," he said. "Guess you ended up with your lot for a reason, huh?"
"I'm sorry?" Phil asked politely. There was something other about the other man, something Phil couldn't quite put his finger on. It was a kind of...it was indescribable, really. The closest Phil could get was that it looked as though the man was both more than he appeared and so insubstantial it was likely Phil was looking at some sort of illusion.
"Don't play like that," the other man scoffed. "I can see right through that sort of thing."
"What sort of thing?" Phil frowned internally. He felt about three seconds away from figuring something out about the stranger.
"Deception. Et cetera. It's sort of become my area over the years." The other man waved his hand vaguely. "Which lumps us sorta in the same category, newbie."
It was the 'newbie' that cinched it.
"You're a god," Phil said.
The other man grinned broadly. It stretched out the marks around his lips, which Phil had noticed before - like he'd been given a skeleton costume and someone had carved in the lines where the teeth would be instead of drawing them on, except they didn't quite match up with each other. "Give the man a prize!"
The grin turned into a grimace. "Generally, people call me Loki. Don't-" he looked exasperated when Phil stiffened. "Not the same idiot who came crashing in here a while back. Believe me, I'd do it better than that disaster if I did it at all."
"You're saying you're another Loki?" Disbelief dripped from Phil's voice. He had to stop himself from reaching for his gun - it wouldn't do any good.
"Hey, how'd you get here?" 'Loki' spread his arms. "Belief, right? People have believed in Loki and Odin for thousands of years. You seriously think there wouldn't be anyone down here?"
That gave Phil pause. "How do you know what happened to me?"
"Please," Loki scoffed. "Someone shows up calling himself Loki, you bet your ass I'm gonna be all over that. Saw the stabby thing, by the way. You look good for a guy who was dead, what, six months ago?"
"Eight," Phil said. "You wouldn't have happened to have anything to do with that?"
"Only observed." Loki made an x over his heart. "Someone did, but it wasn't me."
Phil shelved that nugget of information for later, but he reminded himself that a promise of sorts from anyone calling themselves Loki was definitely unreliable. "So all gods are created from belief?" He questioned.
"Shit, no," Loki said. "Someone was here first to give humans a reason to believe there was anyone to believe in in the first place. No idea who, everyone in this business is biased."
"Were you human, before?"
Loki shrugged. "You stick around long enough, you forget the unimportant stuff. Might've been, might've not."
Phil decided to change the topic. Loki obviously wasn't going to share any more on that end. "What are you doing here?"
"Like I said. Lies, spies." Loki gestured first at himself, then at Phil. "Similar areas. And you're the first newbie in a while."
"Something like that."
The train hadn't stopped in a while. They should have reached the next stop by now. Loki must have caught Phil's glance out the window, because he grinned again. "I called in a favor from Transit," he said.
"Transit. She's trains," Loki clarified, in the sort of way that made it sound like it should have been obvious. "Like how you're spies. Honestly, I'm surprised there wasn't anyone else who was spies before. Maybe there was and they just became you. Or would you have become them?" Loki mused. He didn't appear to be talking to Phil at all, anymore.
"There's a goddess of trains," Phil said, deadpan. He felt like he shouldn't be surprised.
Loki laughed. "You think you're the only New one to pop up? There's plenty of you guys. Don't even get me started on Internet. I hear there's Artificial Intelligence somewhere."
"Anyone who's popped up later than roundabouts the sixteen hundreds," Loki said. "Like you, newbie."
"That's not my name."
"I'm not gonna call you Spies, that just sounds weird."
Phil thought his official title was probably longer, given what Sitwell had called him originally. He was definitely blaming this on Sitwell. "That isn't my name either."
"Whatever you used to call yourself, then," Loki said, rolling his eyes. "I'm surprised you don't have more questions."
"I'm surprised you answered."
That made Loki grin. "Who said I told you the truth?"
Phil experienced a moment of intense disorientation, and he blinked and found himself back in the busy train car. Loki was nowhere in sight. There wasn't even anyone nearby with red hair.
Phil made a mental note to read up on mythology.
The next time Phil ran into the otherwordly, he was on the train again.
"So you're the one Loki was so interested in?" The woman next to him spoke up out of the blue.
Phil glanced at her, then at the people around them, who didn't seem to have registered her speak at all. The Chicago train system might be different than New York's, but train people were train people, and there was no way they were all politely ignoring the two gods. "And you are?" He asked, looking back at her.
"Ah." Phil gave her a closer look. Transit was a woman of an indefinite sort of age - the type of person who, if someone else was asked to describe her, would be summed up with a shrug and a comment of 'I don't know, she was just a lady on the train' or something along those lines. "And now you're interested in me?"
"Loki doesn't call in favors unless he's serious about something," Transit replied. "Besides, you are the newest. There hasn't been another who showed up like this since 2000."
"And who was that?"
"Internet," Transit told him. "Everyone avoids her, to be honest. She can be nice, but, well - she's the entire internet, she is a bit odd sometimes."
Transit studied him. "You really are unflappable. How long have you been with us, again?"
"A few months," Phil replied, "though I can't be sure. Mythology doesn't seem to be a perfect science."
"If only," Transit said long-sufferingly. "Some of the Old can be just plain stubborn at times. Tricksters like Loki usually adapt the best, but the rest of his pantheon - ugh. I'll leave them to him."
"Was there anything specific you wanted to ask?" Phil asked, heading off what looked like a spiel of complaining.
"Not really," Transit said. "Why?"
"I happen to be busy at the moment."
"Ooh, are you here with your followers? I wondered why you were in Chicago." Transit's eyes sparkled. "This I have to see."
Phil could feel eyes on him during the entire op, and it threw him off noticeably.
After it was over, Natasha's were on him, too.
He could tell she thought he owed her an explanation, but he had no idea what he was going to say.
Stop there? Stop there. I might do more with this, but idk.