With a Grain of Salt

It's been only a year or so since Loki's war on New York. But a year is a long time. A very long time. And Mia has found he attack hard to forget. Now the Asgardian has returned to finish what he started and is planning on enlisting the help of Mia, whether she likes it or not.

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1. Involving Panic

It was the end of the world in New York again. This time, however, it was Mia Grayson who stood from Stark Tower, bringing hell. As the bodies below her gradually dropped, she could feel a strange sensation starting in the wrists of her clenched fists and traveling the length of her outstretched arms. The power was supposed to feel good. The force of life was flowing within her, yet she had never felt so weak in her life. She wasn't a person with immense power; she was a person being controlled by it. She stood there, mesmerized by her own power, watching her own city die slowly.

Mia woke suddenly to unfamiliar surroundings. Air entered her lungs in quick, shallow breaths. Her hair clung to the cold sweat on her chest and back. She exhaled strongly, as if trying to push the details of the nightmare out of her mind with that breath. It was the fourth time that week she'd had the recurring nightmare, however, and the details were difficult to erase. She attempted to keep her mind occupied by examining the area around her. She was in a highway overpass. She noticed suddenly that she was laying on hard concrete. There were puddles of rain around her in spots where the ground was not level. She sat up. Her back didn't particularly favor that action, and it scolded her by sending a sharp pain up her spine. She winced, but didn't make any noise. After running from SHIELD for weeks, hiding in strange places, and forgoing sleep and meals for long intervals, she had grown accustomed to the lack of comfort. She twisted her back slowly, leaving time for each individual crack to echo before turning a degree more. She turned and looked behind her in search of her bag. Nothing. She sighed and began crawling out of the small space she had hidden in. Of course her bag was gone. That's the kind of luck she seemed to be having lately. Her throat burned with thirst and all her remaining drinking water had been in that bag. She had to keep moving. Something had been happening to her recently that she struggled to control. People died because of her. Though it wasn't intentional, she couldn't help but feel the weight of guilt over her. Everything she had done was an accident. How all those people just instantly died... Mia shook her head and forced herself to focus. Dwelling on the past wasn't important. Walking was important. She used her powers to hurt people and SHIELD was after her. She looked at her surroundings. There weren't any lights for miles- a huge disappointment for her. Mia was parched. Maybe, with luck, there would be a house nearby with a hose outside.

After a few short seconds of walking, however, Mia began hearing noises behind her. She wanted to pause and look but resisted the urge and walked faster. The noises followed her, even growing louder with every step. By the time she had reached a full sprint, she could clearly hear someone running behind her. Of course, there was no need for whoever this was to be subtle. If she was running, she knew she was being followed. She took a moment to look behind her. She stopped. There was nothing there. The sprint she maintained slowed to a jog, then a walk. There was a brief pause before she simply stood there and laughed. Dehydration must have gotten the best of her, she supposed. She turned and continued in the direction she had been going, now walking instead of running. She still couldn't see any lights, but continued. Standing still wasn't an option, being as dehydrated as she was.

"Need this?" Her bag was held out to her from over her shoulder. She ripped the bag away from the hands that held it and turned. She cringed when she saw him. That monster who had destroyed half of her city in a matter of hours. She turned back and began to run but was held back. Within an instant, the strap of her bag had been moved from within her hands to around her neck. Loki's tight grip on her forearm was beginning to drain the sensation from her right hand.

"Let go of me," she said. The words were meant to sound fearless, intimidating even. But between the hoarseness in her throat and the panic in her heart, it only sounded like a shy whisper.

"Or what?" he said. Just the sound of his voice and that flippant comment had made her unbelievably angry. Still, she couldn't come up with an answer to his question. She settled on an angry growl.

"What do you even want?"

"In a word, Mia, vengeance." Never had the sound of her own name been so frightening. "And you, with your extraordinary gifts, are going to help me attain it." She felt so lost. She had no idea what he was planning on doing with her and yet he knew so much about her already. He resumed her fruitless struggle against the restraints. He tightened his hold on her and she fought back hot tears, not out of pain, but frustration. It felt as if he was surrounding her and trapping her. And if there was one thing that made her panic, it was feeling trapped. A familiar, hot, crawling sensation began under her skin.

"I'm not doing anything for you," she said, this time sounding a bit more firm. She was admittedly a little proud of herself.

"Should I let them find you then? Make all the running and hiding worthless?" More panic. She couldn't recall ever speaking a word about SHIELD to anyone. Why would she? She wanted to forget it herself. "I don't threaten you; I offer mercy. You and I know what the alternative could be." She paused and, despite her better judgement, entertained the thought. She was desperate. But torn, as well, unfortunately. The burning under her skin was becoming much more than uncomfortable. It was impossible to ignore. She clenched her fists, trying to shake the sensation from her arms. The burning exited her arms and manifested itself in the form of black smoke. Her captor released his hold on her and she took off, not wasting a moment on hesitation. Curiosity got the best of her, though, and she took a few looks behind her as she ran. He wasn't following her as she expected. He was just...standing there. As she continued checking behind her, she saw his dark features fade into the night. It confused her to no end. She really shouldn't have been getting away this easy. She wasn't curious- or stupid- enough to stop, though. The burning under her skin had built up again. She could actually feel blood traveling through her body. A strange feeling was growing within her. She quickened her pace and attempted to use the growing, new, power. She jumped and let the burning take control once more. The dark smoke returned, swallowing her, and ascending.

Mia tried relaxing in the airy state. She repeatedly told herself that she was safe. Loki was gone. She was probably hallucinating. She hadn't had anything to drink in a while. Perhaps it was dehydration. And she had been having the nightmares more recently; this was probably just an extension of them. The lies were a temporary comfort, but in the back of her mind, she knew that's all they were. Lies. And if he had let her get away that easily, she knew it meant this was far from over.

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