"I was expecting somebody, but I must say this is a surprise." The words echoed through the room, rebounding off of hard corners of glass and steel. Everything stood centered around a circular cage at the room's center, where a man stood leering from behind the clear prison walls.

Even behind bars, figuratively speaking, Loki bore an imposing figure: tall and pale, black hair and flashing green eyes, decked almost gaudily under layers of green cloth and black leather. Despite cloaking himself in condescension, he stood tensely against the unseen weight of his mind.

In contrast, the figure on the other side of the glass relaxed, almost slouching into the large pockets of his oversized SHIELD standard coat. Golden hair and golden eyes watched while an easy smile pulled at the edges of his lips as the caged god spoke. He said nothing as wariness danced fleetingly in his eyes.

"Has SHIELD truly sunk so low as to send suckling babes to wage their wars?" At this, a sudden fire sprung into the young man's eyes, a pride so achingly familiar that Loki felt something tug inside. He pushed it aside, choosing instead to revel in the feeling of power gained from eliciting this reaction. Only for a moment, for the man—no, boy, pretending to be a man—shifted from his relaxed position and met Loki's eyes squarely.

"Careful not to underestimate me," the young man warned, confidence keeping his voice firm. Loki almost laughed at this boy, so foolish to think he could challenge the God of Lies and stupid enough to feel no fear. But his visitor continued, the irritating firmness holding. "Besides, I'm not really with SHIELD."

"Of course not," Loki nodded, voice almost betraying a hint of curiosity. Almost. "But do enlighten me. I grow weary of this cell and could use some entertainment." The boy let out a mirthless laugh that echoed all around him.

"It's a pleasure, Prince Loki of Asgard. I went through hell just to meet you, and I've got a few questions." He noted the condescending smile on Loki's face that said I don't have to tell you anything, but continued without a hitch. "Some people regard you as a god, you know."

"And you do not?" replied Loki. This was already a rather boring game, but he was curious how the boy had infiltrated SHIELD's security. That intelligence alone was worth scoping for, even if he did not need it to accomplish his goals.

"Nah," the boy laughed again, "You don't look a thing like him. Or it."

"It?"

"Yeah. Creepy white guy that guards the gate to all knowledge. You know the one." The last sentence was a challenge. To most people, it would have sounded like the boy spouted nonsense, but not to Loki. The tall, dark man, already tense, stiffened almost imperceptibly. His green eyes, before dulled with the potential boredom of the conversation, sharpened to razors as he regarded his visitor in a new light. The boy only grinned in his infuriating, nonchalant way. "Apparently you do."

"Indeed," Loki conceded, a grin now creeping onto his own face. The boy did not back down from the challenge, his smile never slipping. "This does not do for the grounds of friendly conversation, I'm afraid. You know my name and origin, but I know nothing of you."

"That's valuable information," the boy replied, shoving his hands deeper into the pockets of his (definitely stolen) SHIELD jacket. "And everything comes at a price."

"Of course. That is the Law of Equivalent Exchange, is it not young alchemist?" The boy's grin broadened, if that were at all possible at this point. "Very well, if you wish the dance with the God of Lies, then let us begin. What is your name, boy?"

"Edward," came the solid reply, "Edward Elric."