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Cherry Bomb

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Darcy was given a month, they said. A vacation. A respite. First the whole "convergence" mess happened … then she didn't sleep for weeks during the rest of her stay in London, collecting and analyzing data with Jane … as well as trying to figure out what was going on with Ian, while Jane figured out what was going on with Thor.

It was a bit different for Darcy though. She liked Ian, and he was fun, in a goofy sort of way … but it was never going to last. For Jane, it was more like … how am I supposed to balance life as a famous scientist and a romance with a god? There wasn't exactly a whole lot of self-help books on the particular subject of dating alien royalty. There was no Sex and the City episode where Carrie Bradshaw muses … "Can you really date a guy ... when you're from two different worlds?" No, literally. Two different worlds. As in realms. Outer fucking space.

So after parting amicably with Ian, Darcy decided it was a good time to finally pick up her grad-degree and take some much-needed time off. Thor then went on to hunt HYDRA bases with the Avengers, and Jane attended various prestigious scientist summits in remote ski resort-type places. Her friend had asked Darcy to come with her, but she declined, saying that she needed a breather. Hanging around Foster had nearly gotten her killed … twice. Not that it all hadn't been fun, she just needed a little normalcy for a bit, whatever that meant. Then she'd return to Avengers Tower, and to Jane and her research, now funded by Tony Stark … and Darcy would be getting an actual paycheck. A very nice paycheck. Finally.

Unfortunately, the whole vacation thing was turning out to be a little boring. No, a lot boring. She'd gone home to visit her parents in upstate New York, and even though it was wonderful to see them, things were just not very exciting. She tried to hang out with friends from high school, but their conversations were totally inane, like they'd never left the small town they grew up in, which most hadn't. They were still gossiping about the same old shit. Still going to the same Applebee's for happy hour. And now, many of her former classmates were even starting to get married and have kids … and that was a whole new level of boring. She didn't care about the slight difference in color between "dusty" and "spring" rose for bridesmaid's dresses. She didn't care as she listened to her pregnant friend go on and on about how cloth diapers will save the planet. Darcy had actually literally helped to save the planet—scratch that—the Universe. Well … she stuck weird metal tiki-torches that Erik Selvig had made into the ground, and tried to not get killed by Dark Elves, but details!

So what Darcy had discovered during her little vacay, was that she was ruined. There was no more "normal" life for her, as she just couldn't bear the monotony. She needed to get back to work. She needed to get back to doing interesting science-y things … but she still had two weeks left out in the country. To alleviate the boredom, she started taking long evening walks from her parent's house to the school, thinking about things … like how close to death she'd actually come, twice. How she missed Ian pronouncing words like "basil" and "cornish pasty" with his accent. How she missed his cooking … and that he'd actually gotten her and Jane to stop eating a diet consisting of cereal and ice cream, and introduced vegetables and protein into their daily meals. He didn't look it, but Ian was actually very smart … though not exactly huge on common sense.

As she approached her old school, she shook her head, as she must have been truly desperate, to start thinking of Ian in such a way. Darcy sat down in a swing-set next to the baseball diamond, where she used to play when she was little. Everything just seemed so much smaller now, yet the grass seemed greener here. The air was easier to breath than it was in the big cities she was used to now, and it felt strangely foreign. She looked at her phone and realized how early it was … only 9 o'clock. Her and Jane would either still be pouring over charts in their makeshift office … or they'd be binge-watching something on Netflix, or teaching Thor about the nuances of football at the pub with Ian. She sighed as she realized that half of the people in this town were probably already asleep.

Darcy got up off the swing, wishing things were more interesting.

The last thing she remembered as a bright light blinded her … while giving her the strangest sensation of being weightless … was that wishing things were more interesting was a very very stupid thing to do … given what she knew about how things really were in the Universe.


~~*...*~~

Darcy woke up in a dirty cell that contained nothing but a bench. She immediately felt around for her purse … gone. Then she checked her pockets, the contents also gone. Her phone, wallet … everything had been confiscated. But by who? At least she still had her own clothes … her jeans, converse, and black Batman t-shirt were left intact. And she still had her glasses, thank God.

Still feeling a little woozy from her "trip", she tried standing up, to further inspect her surroundings, but a door suddenly slid open, and behind it was one of the strangest-looking men she'd ever seen. He looked as if he'd just walked off the set of "Mad Max".

Darcy stood there looking very confused. "Who are …" she started to ask.

But the man cut her off. "Captain wants to see you," he mumbled, before yanking her out of the cell by the arm, and leading her around what her mind could only register as a strange and filthy version of the Millennium Falcon.

Darcy tried to take back her arm. "You don't have to be so grabby … it's not like I have a lot of places to run," she growled, "what is this … some elaborate Firefly cosplay? Are you one of those browncoat weirdos?"

The man chuckled. "You act just like him," he said, only tightening his grip, before setting her down at a table, which looked to be in the main common-area of the ship.

Darcy was confused. Act just like who, exactly?

She then saw where all of her things had gone, as they were strewn about the table. Her iPhone with the earbuds still attached, her driver's license, her make-up, nail polish. Money. Debit Card. Her lucky ping-pong ball.

As her mind tried to make sense out of what was going on, a man stepped out of the shadows, or at least, he appeared to be a man. He had on men's clothing, leather pants, and a long leather trench coat … but he was also blue. Like, seriously blue. His skin. It was fucking blue. She tried not to stare … but he was fucking blue.

It's okay, Lewis … you've seen Norse gods, giant fire-breathing genocidal robots … and evil space-elves. You can handle a blue guy.

The blue guy looked down and grinned at her. "Now listen here, girly," he said. "I'm going to ask you a few questions, and you're gonna answer me, are we clear?"

Darcy looked up at him, wide-eyed … as all of the brief S.H.I.E.L.D. training she'd received before they "fell", went completely out the window.

Damn, it had been a tough year … convergence, Dark Elves, HYDRA, Republicans taking over the Senate, the Tories! … and Mad Men is ending! What's next? Daryl getting eaten by a walker on The Walking Dead?

Darcy shook her head out, trying to concentrate. Okay, what was she supposed to do in a hostage situation again? If she was being interrogated by an enemy … she was supposed to tell the truth, or as much as possible, without revealing anything too important. Less lies to remember later. Right.

She opened up her mouth to respond, but her voice cracked a little. "Alright," she said, before clearing her throat. "Mr. … what was your name again?"

His name might be important later … if you get out of this.

The blue man smiled with a set of uneven teeth. "Yondu … and you're Miss Darcy Lewis? Of Terra? New York to be exact, from the same town as an associate of mine, who I happen to be looking for."

"Yondu" then pointed to his left, and it was as if a computer screen, or a hologram, extended from his hand … like something Tony Stark would do. On the screen was a picture of a man … and a pretty good-looking one, if she was being honest. "You seen this man?" he asked, with a raspy voice.

Darcy frowned and shook her head. She would have definitely remembered him … though he did look strangely familiar, something around the eyes, perhaps.

Yondu then pressed on the hologram and the picture changed to someone who was younger, a boy. "Do you recognize him now?"

Darcy sat back and crossed her arms as the boy's story flooded her memory. He was definitely someone familiar, though he'd been a little older than her, a few grades ahead. It was the face of a boy on hundreds of flyers and milk cartons, talked about for weeks on the news, and remembered every year on the day he disappeared.

She nodded her head slowly. "That's Peter."

The photo of the boy then morphed back into the grown-up man. Yondu bent down and leaned right in Darcy's face. "Now, let me ask you again … is this man back on Terra? Have you seen him?"

Darcy was dumbstruck. "You've had Peter this whole time? Peter .. Quill?" She shook her head, as every implausible detail fell into place. "Peter was abducted by … aliens? I mean, there was that old janitor at the hospital who swore up and down that a spaceship got him, but no one believed the poor guy. Oh my god. I'm going to be sick …" She went to put her head between her knees.

The man didn't seem to care about Darcy's sudden case of nausea, because he reached down and took her by the chin. "So you have not seen this man back on his home planet? I can't seem to find him anywhere else. I figured he might hide on Terra."

She looked him in the eye and shook her head. It was the truth. There had been no sign of Peter Quill in years. "Everyone assumed he ran away after his mom died," she said. "Seriously, you kidnapped him? It nearly killed his grandpa."

Yondu let go of her chin and stood up straight, laughing at her. "We didn't kidnap him. We were sent to pick him up and deliver him to his daddy … never did though, and he should thank me! That man was a jackass! And what does he do to repay me? He steals from me, that's what. After all I did for that boy."

Darcy noticed that Yondu didn't seem particularly bothered by it, however … it was more like he was having fun. As if the chase was all part of an elaborate game.

She slowly reached for her iPhone and saw that there was no service in space. It wasn't surprising, but it was still disappointing, as her slight hope of texting Steve Rogers an S.O.S. fizzled. Fuck.

Smiling sweetly, she looked up at the blue guy. "So now that we've established that I don't know where Peter is, can you take me home now?"

Yondu eyed her for a few long seconds before speaking. "Now why would I do something like that? I think we'll take you to Knowhere and try selling you to Tivan. He's still got a big mess to clean up and is in need of slaves, since one of them tried to blow everybody up. It's a win-win," he said, smiling at his brilliant plan.

Darcy did a double-take. "Wait … what?! I'm not like … a thing. I'm not a piece of furniture. You can't just sell me. I have shit to do! If it's money you want, if you take me back home, you can have all you want." She picked up her debit card. "You can have everything on this," she said, pleading with him.

It only has $300 on it, but he doesn't need to know that.

The man laughed and pointed to her iPhone. "Girly, Terran money means nothing to us. If that's all technology has amounted to in the years since we picked up Quill, then nothin' Earth has to offer ain't nearly what we'd get for you in Knowhere." He raised an eyebrow and seemed to come to a conclusion. "You do remind me of him though, and I like that … so I'll tell you what. Peter's little music device was very important to him … so I'll let you keep yours too … but other than that? Sorry, honey, but we're going on a little trip."

He snapped his fingers and she could feel someone come up behind her ... and then she was out like a light.


~~*...*~~

"Where the fuck am I?"

It was all she could say, as a band of space-pirates led her and several other strange-looking creatures to a platform in the middle of what she could only describe as a Star Wars set. It looked like an open-air market on Coruscant, people sizing her up and down … though she didn't know if she could call them people exactly, as none of them seemed to be human. If she wasn't so scared out of her mind, she might actually be paying attention to things like the ships flying around, or the weird looking humanoids standing around her … in all different colors, shapes, and sizes. Collect the whole set!

In order to make peace with what was going on, she'd decided to come to the conclusion that she'd accidentally consumed some very bad acid … and all of this was nothing but the drug trip from hell. It must have happened at Applebee's with their damn half-price appetizers during happy hour. Someone dosed her cheesy potato skins. Fuck a cheeky Applebee's!

She looked down at her hands … they were bound together by some kind of mini force-field or a sphere of light, and she couldn't move them, though she could sense her phone in her jeans pocket. At least Yondu had made good on that. Darcy looked to her right and to her left … no one appeared to be human. One girl was pink ... not like a peach caucasian color … but fucking pink. She also looked resigned, stoic, unfeeling … as if this was just what happened every day. You were caught ... and you were sold. Darcy hadn't quite wrapped her mind around that fact yet, still in shock.

She saw out of the corner of her eye that Yondu was having an argument with one of his men below. One of the dirty browncoats. "We still never got to try no Terran. Let's keep her," he whined.

Heat flashed over her skin as she wondered exactly what was meant by that.

Try me?

But Yondu was having none of it. "If we eat her for dinner, we don't get paid."

WHAT?! EAT ME?

"Then we won't have to pay for no dinner!" his right-hand man said, sure that he was being reasonable.

Yondu tilted his head, as he seemed to consider the proposition for a moment … the proposition of eating her.

What. The. Living. Fuck.

But then the show must have started, as people started firing off bids in languages Darcy couldn't even begin to understand. Yondu quickly lost interest in turning her into a well-balanced meal for his crew after this, as he heard how much money was being offered and thrown around. The figures around her were sold off first, but then they came to the "Terran". It was a word she'd definitely learned the meaning of by now. Human. Earthling. Other.

A strange man with white curly hair and attire that would make any Las Vegas magician jealous, began to bargain with Yondu over her fate … until another man wove—no, glided— his way through the crowd, and stood between them. Darcy strained to look over, but he, or she assumed it was a he, was shrouded by a hood … like a Jedi robe.

Am I being rescued by Obi-Wan? Please let me be rescued by Obi-Wan!

The man with the white hair and Obi-Wan seemed to argue for awhile, too quiet for her to hear … until Obi-Wan finally said something that made everyone standing within earshot gasp. Yondu started laughing. "One million units? For a Terran? She's all yours."

Yondu's space-pirates then escorted her off the platform and suddenly she was standing in front of Obi-Wan, but she still couldn't see his face. The only thing she could make out was that he was quite tall.

He reached out and touched her light-cuffs that bound her wrists together. His hand was large and human-looking, his nails looking perfectly manicured. "Remove these," he said, in a deep and quiet voice.

Yondu reached over and deactivated her cuffs. "I'll also be needing all of her belongings," Obi-Wan said, a bit louder, in a satiny baritone. Darcy squinted, trying to see his shrouded face … trying to see the man that belonged to that voice.

One of the space-pirates then shrugged and threw over Darcy's small purse. The hooded man easily caught it and handed it to her. She almost said thanks, but then remembered that whoever the man was, he had just bought her … so she kept her mouth shut, while trying to remember that she was only on an acid trip. These particular hallucinations were only manifesting because she'd just watched Return of the Jedi again, as the new trailer had come out for "The Force Awakens" and she was so fucking excited.

Yeah. That's all this is. A bad acid trip … pretty soon I'll start seeing wookiees. Where are the wookiees?

"Come," Obi-Wan said, breaking her from her train of thought. He put his hands on both of her shoulders, though she still couldn't see his face. "Steady," he said, before another bright light blinded her and she felt weightless yet again.

Darcy blinked and then realized he'd teleported them to somewhere else. Tele-fucking-ported.

Everything was now eerily quiet, and the absence of the noise made her realize just how loud and chaotic the crowd at the platform had been. She could still see the alien city, but it was now behind a pane of glass, and she was up higher. Much higher. There were stars and beautiful formations in the night sky, along with bright lights and flying objects buzzing by ... things she never thought she'd see in real life. It was something out of a space opera. She then looked around the space that she was in … and the only way she could describe it was as a luxurious intergalactic hotel room.

She started to get very nervous, the physical and mental shock of the past several hours was threatening to wear away. It was the only thing keeping her together up until this point.

What did this guy buy me for, exactly?

She turned around and realized the man still hadn't said anything. "So," Darcy began to say … "am I on Coruscant?"

The man took a small step forward. "I'm sorry?"

She took a step back. "Coruscant … I'm obviously on some kind of acid trip. Where's the Jedi Academy? I'll just hitch a ride back to Earth with Han Solo and be out of your hair," Darcy said, her voice shaky.

The man finally reached up and lifted off his hood to reveal his face. He wasn't like any of the other people she'd seen thus far. He didn't look like a dirty space-pirate. He looked … almost regal. Black hair, that she couldn't tell the length of, because it was pulled back … strangely bright blue-green eyes. Pale and perfect skin.

"I'm sorry," he said, raising an eyebrow. "But I know nothing of this Coruscant you speak of, or Han Solo … and I also must inform you, that unfortunately, you are not on any type of hallucinogenic substances. This is all very real."

"Bummer," she whispered.

Darcy frowned. As she kept looking, he became more and more familiar. She'd seen his picture … somewhere. It was after the whole Malekith-in-Greenwich incident, and when she and Jane had become acquainted with S.H.I.E.L.D.'s clean-up team. Thor and Coulson had had a meeting, and she'd seen files. This man's picture was in one of those files … a file marked "deceased."

Thor had been pretty broken up about it, after he was given a moment to breath.

Darcy couldn't help it, she began to laugh. Hysterically. Blame it on the shock.

The man frowned, not seeming to like being laughed at.

"I'm sorry," she said, shaking her head and holding up her hands in the universal "I surrender" sign. "Now I know I'm tripping …"

"I assure you, you are not," the man said, haughtily.

Her laughter began to wane and she took a deep breath. "Loki?"

His lips turned upwards into a small smile at being recognized.

"But you're dead," she said, her laughter having died down.

"I'm not," he said, solemnly.

At that, her emotions then turned around completely. The realization that she had been kidnapped from her home planet by aliens started to sink in. The fact that she had been sold, as if she were a thing and not a person. It all started to sink in very fast, and very hard.

Shock. It picked a hell of a time to fade away.

She began to cry all of a sudden, as she realized that the man who stood before her was the brother of a person she called a dear friend.

At that moment, she wasn't thinking about the circumstances surrounding Thor and Loki's relationship … she wasn't even thinking about the state of repair that New York was still in, years later. She didn't care.

Loki, at the moment, was her best friend in the universe. He was her only ticket home, as far as she could see.

But she obviously wasn't seeing clearly through all the tears, as she walked up and threw her arms around him and hugged him. She could feel his muscles tense in surprise, but she didn't care.

"Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi," she whispered between sobs. "You're my only hope."

It was all she could think to say.

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Chapter Text

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Darcy realized what she was doing.

I'm hugging Thor's dead brother. Why isn't he dead?

Her sobbing started to diminish as her mind started coming back to her.

Fuck. All of this is real.

She then abruptly unwrapped her arms from around Loki's torso, noting that he stood frozen like a statue throughout the whole ordeal, not hugging her back or offering her anything in the way of comfort.

Darcy stood back, seeing that he looked more surprised and confused than anything … not stoic and unfeeling, just unsure. He quickly righted himself, his face smoothing into something more neutral and confident.

A total mask. Interesting.

"Sorry about that," she said, wiping tears from her cheeks with the back of her hand. "Everything just kind of … hit me all of a sudden." She turned her back to him, looking out the window again, at the stars, at the alien scene outside, quite unsure of what to do next.

"I understand," he said, quietly.

"Do you," she said, sardonically.

"Yes," he said, not skipping a beat. "I know what it's like to suddenly find yourself in a place you never intended to be, and without any options … and I am never without options." Darcy suddenly found him standing next her her. "Please," he said, extending his arm. "Sit."

He was pointing towards a small round table and two chairs. Very space-chic. "Um. Sure … sitting sounds wonderful actually, but is there maybe a ladies room around here?" Darcy didn't want to have to spell it out to him, but she seriously needed to use the facilities, as it was like she'd drank a large coke and sat through a four hour movie with no bathroom breaks … or like waking up from a night of drinking mai tais.

Loki seemed to understand. "Of course, forgive me … just through there," he said, with his almost tangible voice, pointing to a softly lit hallway.

As she walked to her destination, she almost commented on how much like Thor he sounded with his manners, but kept her mouth shut, as she had no idea what kind of reaction he'd have to that. What she did know, was that he wasn't at all what she'd expected. Not that she'd ever really expected to meet Loki—he was technically dead after all—but she figured he'd be more … well, not nice.

After she shut the bathroom door behind her, she quickly looked around and saw there was no other way out … not that she'd have any clue as to what to do after an attempted escape. Darcy figured that her options were either a.) escape and still be lost in space, or b.) get caught and make the guy who just bought her angry. All very bad things. So she decided to go with option c.) put on a show … something she was pretty damn good at.

It usually worked. Her mind briefly went to the "sea-bass guy". She'd put on a show in order to get Jane out of her date, and it had worked like a charm … though their little exploration that day had certainly gotten them into a little bit of trouble.

Ah well. I'm used to trouble.

Darcy looked around and found that space-toilets were very similar to Earth-toilets, and it gave her a bit of comfort to think that even if everyone in the universe wasn't human, everyone still needed to use the bathroom. Perhaps beings across the galaxies were more alike than she realized … and she certainly hoped that Loki was like most of the men she knew in her particular galaxy … suckers for a crooked smile.

She looked at herself in the mirror. Hours in a dirty space-pirate cell and being sold as a slave (that actually happened?) hadn't exactly done much for her appearance, so she took her small purse that Loki had gotten back for her, and took out some of the make-up. Nothing too fancy … she didn't want to seem like she was trying too hard.

Darcy looked around for a shower, anything with a spray of water, but couldn't really find anything familiar, though she did find a pad of strange buttons on the wall. Fancy.

She started pressing a few, and they didn't really do anything but change the lighting, so then she became a little braver and pressed the biggest button. It took a few seconds, but a strange mist started to fill the room.

Darcy started to panic, almost running out the door to alert Loki

Oh fuck. Shit! Fuck! Space-mist! I just activated space-mist! I just gassed myself! Good-bye cruel world …

But after a minute, she realized that the mist was the shower, as she could practically feel it cleaning her skin, and her hair was dampening as well … though she still had her clothes on. And holy shit, it smelled good. Then, as the mist dissipated, a strange but pleasant whirlwind began in the room, and she could feel herself, her clothes, and her hair being dried.

She stared at herself in shock in the mirror, instantly refreshed. She didn't even need to dig through her purse for her small comb, as her natural waves were perfectly tamed, shiny and full, tumbling over her shoulders. She started posing in different angles in the mirror.

Whoa. Instant space-shower. I need to get me one of these!

It had only been a few minutes, but Darcy didn't want to seem like she was taking forever in the bathroom, so she just applied some tinted moisturizer for a nice dewy glow to her skin, and then just a little mascara and tinted chapstick. Simple, not trying too hard … yet totally irresistible. She smirked at herself in the mirror.

Darcy then took a few seconds to think about all the things Thor had told her about Loki over the past few months … usually after adding a few drops of his hard-core Asgardian magic liquor into his lager. She thought about Loki's relationship with Thor … his closeness to his mother, the dynamic with his father that turned poisonous, the isolation, the shadows cast by Thor and Odin … how his older brother wished he could go back and do things differently. All the longings of a grieving sibling.

And here is Loki, very much alive. What in the world would that do to Thor?

She shook her head. One thing at at time. One foot in front of the other … and then she found herself sitting right across from Loki, at a table with the strangest view she ever had. Stars. Like, billions of them … not the three or four you can see while having dinner at the top of Avengers Tower. And there were flying car-like things. Ships? Crazy lights. It was even more of a culture-shock than the week she spent in Hong Kong. Like, 100 times the culture shock.

And Loki, he'd gotten rid of the Jedi cloak and seemed to be in relaxed attire. A green tunic, no surprise there … and from what she could tell, leather pants and boots. She imagined it was something that Legolas might chill in while drinking Mirkwood wine after a hard day of shooting giant spiders with a bow and arrow. It was a bit different from the big armor, horns, pomp and circumstance from the pictures she'd seen of him. Even his hair … it seemed more relaxed, pulled back loosely, the ends caught in the tie to form a bit of a man-bun. Darcy had grown very fond of those ever since bearded hipsters had started sporting the look. Needless to say, it was a good look. A very good look.

She took a deep breath to steady herself, as she'd already compared this guy to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan, of course) and Legolas (those cheek-bones!), two huge nerd-crushes. She needed to cut it out. "Sorry it took me so long," she said, chewing on her lower lip to appear nervous. "There were a lot of buttons in there … and I have a weakness for pushing buttons."

"Hm," he seemed to regard her with suspicion for a moment, then held out his hands about a foot apart for a second and conjured up a bottle of amber liquid out of thin air. "Would you like a drink?" he asked, handing it to her. "It is a custom on Earth, is it not? To offer one a drink?

Darcy frowned as she took it … and as she looked at the label, she realized that it was a bottle of bourbon worth at least several hundred dollars. She looked up at him with a smirk. "Where did you get this?"

Loki gave a slight shrug and conjured up two tumblers as well. "I suppose you could say that I procured it from The Man of Iron's Midgardian spirits collection. He did offer me a drink, after all."

She laughed, inspecting the seal, which was unbroken. He seemed to notice. "That is not my style," he said.

"What's that?"

"Poison," he said, frowning.

"Ah," she said, shrugging. "That's not exactly what a girl worries about these days when accepting drinks from men, but thanks for letting me know." She broke the seal and poured two glasses. "No. I was just wondering how you've not broken it out yet, seeing as this is probably one of the best bottles of bourbon in the world." Darcy then took a healthy sip. "Damn. That's good. Thank you, Tony Stark," she said, toasting to no one.

Loki then raised his glass, knowing what to do, and seemed to relax a little before taking a drink. His lip reluctantly curled up in a smile.

Darcy grinned. "See? It's good. You just don't want to admit it." He only slightly tilted his head in answer. "So what else do you have up your sleeves? she asked.

"What do you mean?" he asked, narrowing his eyes.

Darcy noticed that he seemed to be going into the whole conversation very cautiously, and not like a person who knew they had all the cards. Interesting.

She leaned forward and took another small sip, making sure to savor it. "I mean … where the bottle came from? Do you collect bits and pieces from around the universe and keep them in some magical pocket or something? A magical satchel? Like … Mary Poppins?"

Loki smirked, seeming to relax a bit more. "Mary Poppins. Does she know Han Solo or Obi-Wan Kenobi? I might have some knowledge of Earth, most of it ancient … anything recent, any of the tiny details, I have trouble remembering. But I do not know of these people. Should I?"

Darcy blinked at him, thinking that if his voice were a touchable thing, it would feel like the finest silk. "No, sorry. Not unless you were a Midgardian film buff while you were there," she said, wondering how Peter Quill dealt with no one ever getting his references. She all of a sudden felt very bad for Steve Rogers as well. If she got back, she made a quick promise to make it a point to stop teasing him.

"Hey Cap, what year did we land on the moon?"

"Err, early 70's?"

"1969. Dude. You're Captain America. It was one small step, one giant leap for AMERICA!"

"Mankind, Darcy," Jane would correct.

"Details!"

"But to answer the other part of your question," Loki said, breaking her away from Earth. "No, I do not have nearly as much tucked away as I used to. And I was never a collector. That man resides here."

"A collector?"

"Yes. Taneleer Tivan … but before we go any further, I must ask … what were you doing in the company of that Ravager?"

Darcy gave a harsh laugh. "In the company of?"

"Very well, how did you find yourself captured by him?"

"Why?"

He leaned forward. "Why? Because when an associate of my brother's ends up in a remote and unregulated colony like Knowhere, with a Ravager … the same Ravager who had been searching the galaxy for a very specific object … I start asking questions."

She shrugged. "What if it was just a coincidence?"

"There are no coincidences in the universe, Darcy Lewis, only synchronicities."

She raised an eyebrow in surprise. "So you totally know who I am."

Loki gave a quick nod. "Yes, you are a member of my brother's Midgardian entourage. And you know exactly who I am … which makes you the only person in the universe to recognize that I am alive. I am trusting you with that knowledge, so that perhaps we can come to a bit of an understanding. We can help each other, as you seem to have a realm to get back to, and the Gods know I have other matters to attend to. Now, why were you with the Ravager?"

Darcy took a sip of her bourbon, not ready to start talking yet, not quite believing his story. "Maybe I just like hanging out with blue guys," she said, demurely. "I've always had a strange crush on Dr. Manhattan."

"And that is?"

"He's kind of a god. And blue."

"I do not know this god, Dr. Manhattan."

She took another sip. "No. You destroyed Manhattan," she smiled.

He only blinked at her, unmoved by her accusation.

"Why did you buy me?"

"Why were you with that Ravager?

It seemed as if they were caught up in a sort of battle of wits, each sizing the other up. Evading questions. Dancing around more important things. Darcy looked down into her bourbon. He didn't seem hostile … he seemed calm, almost friendly in a way, which honestly kind of freaked her out. Was it all part of a game?

"Yondu. That was the Ravager," she finally said.

"Yes. Yondu Udonta, this I know."

"He's looking for an old friend of mine, who disappeared when he was little. Yondu said that he's now an associate of his."

"A human?"

"Well … it was mentioned to me that Yondu was sent to deliver him to his father, who obviously does not live on Earth, so make of that what you will."

"Hn. And what was his name?"

Darcy looked up at him. "You'll actually help me to get back home ... if I help you?"

He nodded. "I will."

"But then won't I know too much? Aren't you worried that I'll tell Thor you're alive?"

Loki evaded her question. "Let me ask you once again, your friend's name?"

Darcy rolled her eyes. "Fine. Peter Quill."

He nodded, sitting back, recognizing the name. "Yes, Peter Quill … likes to call himself Star-Lord. He's in a lot of trouble. He has a travel companion who is also in a lot of trouble … as I too would be in trouble, if it is found out that I am alive. So I would rather you not toss my name … or Peter Quill's around, while talking to anybody. On any planet."

She shook her head. "I wasn't of any help to the Ravagers. I don't know where Peter is."

He shook his head. "Yondu now knows that he is not on Midgard. It's not a lot of information, but it is still information. And when dealing with these kinds of threats, even the slightest bit of knowledge counts."

Darcy smiled. "No, he doesn't know anything. Peter could be chillin' in the Bahamas with a pina colada for all I know. All I told him was that I haven't seen him. Yondu was the one who came to the conclusion that Peter would only show up in his hometown … but Peter wasn't stupid."

Loki's lip turned up in a slight grin. "And neither are you, apparently. Tell me, how close to Peter were you?"

She shrugged. "It was a long time ago … but we hung out. We got into … trouble, I guess you could say."

Loki raised an eyebrow, looking almost impressed. "Trouble?"

Darcy took her iPhone out of her pocket with the earbuds still attached. She remembered Peter's cassette player that he took with him everywhere … and according to Yondu, he still had it. Darcy had liked listening to his mom's old favorite songs with him. It was actually another thing he was made fun of for. Other kids would be into rap music, and Darcy and Peter would shout to each other in the hallway at school … "IF YOU LIKE PINA COLADAS!" She never really understood why the teachers didn't like it until she grew up a little, and figured out what the song really meant.

After Peter and his mom were gone, she had been distraught, but then again … so had the whole town. Darcy took a sip of bourbon and swirled the amber liquid around in the glass, remembering. "Peter got into fights … he was always a bit eccentric I suppose, and kids are mean, they made fun of him for not having a dad. And me? We were alike in that we definitely marched to the beat of our own drums. My older sister was perfect. And I would rather play with firecrackers with Peter and come home with scraped knees and grass stains on my clothes, instead of acting like a proper young lady. "

Loki inclined his head. "Are you trying to relate to me by having a perfect older sister."

She frowned. "What? I wasn't aware that Thor was perfect. I mean, I've played darts with him, and without mjolnir, his aim just isn't what I thought it would be. He's terrible. But anyway … you asked about the nature of my friendship with Peter, and I told you … and besides, no one stays perfect forever."

He let his mask fade away just long enough to look amused. "And so you now hold the rank of the good one in your family?"

Darcy laughed. "Me? Never. I believe my little bro has that title now, as he is my mom's baby boy, and can therefore get away with anything. I am the middle-child with classic middle-child syndrome. Also, almost getting myself blown up a few times isn't exactly what my parents had in mind for a career-path when they agreed to pay for college," she said, before taking a drink. "Thanks for that first one, by the way."

Loki looked down into his glass. "You speak of the destroyer."

"Yep."

"And the second one?" he asked, looking up at her.

"Dark Elves. That was much worse, honestly," she said, taking a gulp of bourbon, beginning to get tipsy, which in turn made her a little braver with words. "So we can wax nostalgic about all those times you blew shit up Loki, or we can get to the point. How in the world can we help each other? I don't know where Peter is."

Loki regarded her for a few seconds. "You are already familiar with what I need help with, actually."

"What's that?"

"The Aether."

"The Aether?"

He nodded. "Yes. I had it sent here for sake-keeping. Hidden in plain sight, if you will. But it was the wrong move, apparently."

Darcy was confused. "How did you have it sent here, if you were dead?"

Loki waved the question away. "That doesn't matter. What does matter is that I find it. The Tesseract is on Asgard, the Aether could not also be on Asgard … the Orb is safe elsewhere, and the gem in the scepter is on Earth. They all need to stay very far apart from one another, but the Aether has been compromised. It is unsafe with Tivan. He was trying to procure every stone, and when a second one was delivered to him, it blew up in his face, quite literally. He cannot be trusted with even one stone."

"And you can be trusted?" Darcy asked, though she didn't really know what he was talking about. Orbs? The fuck is an orb? "And besides," she continued, "the scepter probably won't be on Earth for long. Thor … well, the Avengers are searching for it, and it's only a matter of time until it's found, and he plans to bring it home to Asgard."

Loki shook his head. "He cannot do that. He must secure it, but he cannot take it to Asgard."

"Why?"

Loki poured himself another glass of bourbon, as he'd drained his. "Without going into too much detail, the gem in the scepter is an ancient relic. An "infinity stone". There are five others. All with great and terrible power … and if brought together, it would be catastrophic … especially if the one who seeks them, finds them all," he took a drink, looking a bit spooked, which scared Darcy a little, quite honestly. He looked into her eyes. "The hallucinatory substance that you thought you had ingested when you arrived here … what is that?"

Darcy sat, transfixed by his story. "Acid?"

"What does it do?"

She pursed her lips in thought. "Um, well, I guess it depends. I only tried it a few times in college … and it depends on your state of mind. It can be a lot of fun, it can open your mind, I guess … but it can also be very scary, if you're not comfortable. You can have a bad trip. And then you feel like shit after coming down, all strung out for at least a day, and you realize how many brain cells you just killed. I'm not planning on ever doing it again … too much of a gamble."

Loki gave a nod. "And that is exactly what the mind gem can do to you, once you are in possession of it, only so much more than you can know."

Darcy sat back and crossed her arms. "So your attack on New York was basically fueled by some big crazy acid trip?"

Loki downed his bourbon. "Yes. And that's all I wish to say about it."

She narrowed her eyes. "Who controlled the would-be king?"

He set his glass down a bit forcefully. "What?"

She shrugged. "It's something Thor mentioned a few times, that he thought you were being controlled."

Loki didn't seem to like that, frowning, as he poured himself more liquor.

Darcy took the bottle from him and topped her glass off as well. "You don't like being so obvious?"

He tried to shrug it off. "I must have been quite transparent, if he picked up on it."

"Thor isn't stupid."

"No, he isn't, but he was never exactly one to think things ahead. And perhaps he's graduated to thinking two or three steps ahead, but not quite as many as ten or twenty."

Darcy wondered if the Midgardian spirits were getting him just as tipsy as she was. "Okay, so you're saying that some super-evil dude is looking for these stones … and you don't think Thor would help you with that?"

Loki shook his head. "I don't want Thor punching his way through the universe, making a spectacle of himself. I'd rather try to do this quietly. I do not want him involved."

Darcy squinted her eyes, as though he'd just become blurry and she needed him to come back into focus. There was something very interesting there. "You want to keep Thor out of it to protect him."

Loki said nothing.

"I think you underestimate him, Loki. And I don't think you understand how much your death devastated him."

"It's easier this way."

Darcy had so many questions, but figured that whole thing was a rabbit hole that she wasn't sure she wanted to go down, and it didn't seem as if Loki wanted to either, as he was letting the mask fade more at this point than it had the entire evening. His iridescent blue-green eyes were practically glowing with emotion.

"So you're being an actual good guy here?

Loki chuckled. "A good guy," he repeated. "Do not think in such black and white terms, Darcy Lewis … like your Peter Quill, the man was a Ravager, a trained thief, and a very good one if half the things I've heard are true … and even he knew that the stone he found himself in possession of, needed to be in a safe place, and not in the hands of the highest bidder. Or in the hands of Yondu Udonta … as he saw that it had the power to ultimately destroy a whole planet."

"Damn."

So Peter has turned into an actual Han Solo? Niiiiiiiice.

Loki leaned forward. "You've never seen me as anything other than a villain, I understand that …"

"No," she cut him off, leaning forward as well. "That's not completely true. I know that you saved Jane. I know that through everything, Thor loves you. I know the part you played in saving the universe from darkness, or whatever it was that Malekith was obsessed with. I mean, there was obviously more going on there, with you not being dead and all … but no, I don't see you as just a villain. I understand gray areas."

He inclined his head. "Do you."

Darcy shrugged. "Most people now see Tony Stark as a hero, but I know there are people out there who see him as a villain."

"The Man of Iron," he said, with quite a bit of disdain.

Darcy smiled … so Loki wasn't a fan. She was pretty sure that Tony would feel quite the same way. "Yeah," she said. "He's Iron Man now … but he's developed weapons that have killed how many people over the years? But that's his thing now, he wants to use his whole genius-billionaire thing for the good of mankind, or whatever."

Loki practically rolled his eyes. "Yes. I'm not so concerned with the good of mankind, I'm more concerned with the universe staying in tact … so then I can continue on with my schemes for thousands of years to come, undeterred."

Darcy didn't quite buy that, but she let it go. "So what you're saying is that it would be bad if this other guy got ahold of these stones?"

He sat up straight. "Darcy Lewis, imagine your worst nightmares coming true, along with many other scenarios that you're mind simply cannot comprehend, because it isn't nearly as twisted and malevolent as the one who wants the type of power that would exist ... if all stones were brought together. Omnipotence. In its most terrible form."

Darcy stared at him for a few seconds. "Gotcha. Bummer." She knocked back her drink. "So ... what do you plan to do with the Aether once you get it back?"

"Bury it deep in an icy grave on another realm, where no one will find it."

Seems pretty legit.

"Alright. So what do you need me for?"

He smirked. "I need you to create a diversion."

Darcy smiled. "Well you're in luck, I'm very good at those." She then shrugged. "I just don't understand why you even need me though … can't you just do some kind of magic thing?"

Loki nodded. "Yes. And I have been conserving my magic as of late, in order to ensure the task's success … but the ruin of Tivan's collection has made him even more paranoid than ever, and he's an ancient being, much more so than I, or anything that you can fathom … he has measures in place that can sense magic … or the latest in any type of weapon technology."

She was trying to keep up with what he was saying, but she was confused. "So what … he has like, ultra-advanced metal detectors? Like at the airport?"

Loki frowned. "This is a Midgardian safety tactic?"

Darcy nodded.

"Then yes."

"So he can detect weapons, like lasers and fire-breathing robots?"

Loki looked up in a slight eye-roll at her Destroyer reference. "Yes."

Darcy glanced over at her purse that she'd set on the floor. "Can he detect rudimentary Midgardian technology?"

"What do you mean?"

Darcy picked up her purse and removed a satchel that she always kept with her. It contained a ping pong ball, a nail, string, and tape … then she found a seam in her purse, and ripped it open, revealing a vial of powder that she'd sewn inside. "I'm kind of like a non-magical Mary Poppins," she said. "I can put lots of things in small spaces. I'm a very good packer … it comes from following Jane around, making sure she has everything she needs." She held up the vial. "This is gun powder. Will Tivan detect gunpowder?"

Loki took it, inspected it, and smiled. "No," he said. "This is something only still used by Midgardians."

"Well then," Darcy said. "It looks like Peter will be helping us after all, because he's the one who taught me how to make this."

"And what is that?"

Darcy grinned. "A cherry bomb. We used to set them off in the bathrooms at school … but they've come in handy in other situations, so I usually keep ingredients with me, not the bomb. Simple ingredients don't get noticed, because they don't look like anything special, except for the gunpowder."

Loki narrowed his eyes. "Did the Ravagers know you had this on you?"

"No, they never looked that far. I also usually keep a taser on me, but I didn't think I'd need it walking from my parent's house to my old school. A mistake I won't be making again."

"How loud will the bomb be?"

"Loud. And if I paint it with my nail polish, there's a chemical in it … it'll make it louder."

Loki nodded his head, thinking. "Perfect. Tivan will be beside himself thinking another bomb has gone off … and then I can locate the Aether in the confusion … and we can disappear undetected." He set his glass down. "Taneleer Tivan ... brought down by rudimentary Midgardian technology ... that children use. There is so much poetry in that, I can barely stand it. See, I told you, Darcy Lewis … there are no coincidences in the universe, only synchronicities."

"Darcy."

"I'm sorry?"

"Just Darcy. If we're setting off cherry bombs together, it means we're friends now, you can be a bit less formal."

"Friends?" He looked baffled, but not in a bad way … more like, an unsure way, as if he didn't want to hope he had a friend.

Darcy found that very sad.

"Friends," she said, raising her glass.

He frowned as he tentatively clinked hers with his … but then his features softened after they both took a sip of bourbon.

She savored the flavor again, closing her eyes. "Thanks for the drink, Loki," she said, opening them back up … and finding him staring at her with a very peculiar look on his face.

"What?"

He shook his head. "It's nothing, It's just … no one has called me by my own name in quite some time."

Darcy tore her eyes away, not wanting to think about that particular bit of sadness for the moment, and took her glasses from her pocket … placing them on the bridge of her nose so she could see up close and get to work.

"Alright, Loki … hand me that ping-pong ball?"

He gingerly picked it up and handed it to her, as she eyed him from over her glasses.

At this point, she wasn't sure if she was playing Loki, playing herself, or just being totally fucking sincere. Perhaps all three?


~~*...*~~

The plan had actually gone down without a hitch, much to Darcy's surprise. Well, except for in the aftermath.

Even making the bomb had been very easy, seeing as she'd done it so many times … except she seemed to piss off Loki (though she didn't really care) by insisting that she listen to her iPhone at maximum volume while constructing it, even though it wasn't that loud.

"What is this … noise?"

"It helps me think," she'd said.

"I do not see how."

"You're not Midgardian, you don't understand. Everything has a soundtrack."

"And what is this occasion?"

"I'm trying to psyche myself up. Listening to punk music helps. Like getting ready to go out on a Friday night. You listen to music, put on your lipstick, and go out and conquer the world." Darcy smiled, batting her eyelashes. "Figuratively. You know, not literally."

Loki had only smirked. "Of course. And what shall you listen to after?"

Darcy had smiled. "I don't know yet. I guess we'll find out."

"If this is what Gamora goes through, traveling with Peter Quill, then I actually feel very sorry for her."

"Whatever. Loki."

And so they'd gone to what looked like a space-casino, that seemed to be under construction. They were both cloaked in Jedi-looking garb, which excited Darcy more than it should have, seeing as they were going to be in great danger … not going to Comic Con.

Loki needed to sneak up to a higher floor, which is what the diversion was needed for. He stood back as she inconspicuously lit the fuse with her lighter and rolled the cherry bomb under a table full of people arguing over an alien game of something that looked like craps … and then stood back. Waiting for it to go off was almost as painful as waiting for water to boil.

Please go off. Please go off.

BOOOOOOOOOM.

SCORE! She gave herself a fist-bump. In her head.

After the big boom, people understandably started going crazy … and suddenly guards and even Tivan himself, came to inspect the scene, trying to make sense of the chaos. Loki then shoved her in a corner and told her to stay put, before taking off into the shadows and disappearing.

After awhile, she started to get nervous, thinking that he'd abandoned her in the midst of the huge mess they'd made, and started to think of something to say if she happened to be questioned by any of these strange-looking people. But just as she thought someone was about to approach her, she felt someone take her by the hand … it was Loki, under his Obi-Wan hood. She breathed the longest sigh of relief ever.

But then just as they were about to exit, they seemed to be surrounded by guards searching the crowd, though there were still people and chaos everywhere. "Teleport us out of here," she whispered heatedly.

"I cannot inside of here," he said. "There are wards against such things."

As she saw guards coming towards them and looking around, she pulled on his arm and backed herself up against a wall, thinking fast. "Kiss me," she demanded.

"What?" He said, acting as though she was speaking a different language.

"Kiss me! Public displays of affection make people uncomfortable … it's something I heard one time, it doesn't matter, just do it!"

Aliens kiss, right? I mean, Thor and Jane kiss … so kissing isn't just a human thing … right?

It was the last coherent thought she had for a good minute or so.

Darcy pulled on his robe until he was pressed up against her, his arms leaning against the wall, and his hands on either side of her head … and she got up on her tip-toes and kissed him, the last thing she saw before closing her eyes, being a surprised and strange desire in pools of bright blue-green.

And it was a dangerous game to play … as he was pretty much every fantasy wrapped into one. He was Ewan's Obi-Wan, mysterious underneath his hood, fighting for the greater good, forbidden to fall in love … and yet he was Legolas, with the impossible cheekbones, tall and graceful in his green shirt with the drawstrings at the neck undone, revealing the slightest bit of chest hair … and his leather pants. Holy shit, the leather pants. And then he was that irresistible archetype that girls fell in love with in countless books, shows, movies … the misunderstood bad boy. All that ... and he smelled so damn good.

Yes, quite the slippery slope. As their lips touched, Darcy felt waves of heat in her chest, a delirious heat, that made her weak in the knees like in the damn movies … and then the heat traveled down. As they moved their mouths together, testing the water, she noted how natural it felt and then opened her mouth slightly to allow for … oh, yessssss. After they tentatively touched tongues, he seemed to lose a little bit of his carefully crafted control, and he pushed his hips into hers … and since she was already backed up against the wall, that added bit of friction made her moan unexpectedly. The muffled sound must have made the little bit of control he lost, turned into a lot … as his kiss deepened and their tongues slid together, in an almost frantic need to explore each other.

Oh, yes. Aliens kiss. Oh, fuck yes … do aliens kiss.

Loki then broke the kiss, leaving smaller ones at the corner of her mouth, and then down to her neck, while he sneaked a peek to see if the coast was clear, and she saw out of the corner of her eye, that his hands, still by her face, were balled into fists. After sighting a safe pathway, he stood up straight, his jaw clenched ... and they stared at each other for several long seconds, out of breath, and under hooded eyelids.

"Come," he said finally, before leading them out of the establishment, the guards having been made uncomfortable by the kissing couple, moving on to question other people … every part of the plan having worked … and then some.

As soon as they were out, he placed his hands on her shoulders again and teleported them back to their safe haven above the city.

~~::::::...::::::~~

Chapter Text

~~::::::...::::::~~


Darcy stood with Loki, back in the space above the city, with his hands on her shoulders, well after he had teleported them. She thought maybe he'd kiss her again, but eventually he stepped back. His face carefully blank and completely neutral.

In order to break the awkwardness, she grinned and nodded to him, pulling back her hood. "We did it? You got it?"

Tension seemed to fade away from his face at her choice in subject-matter and he grinned back, a grin that told her everything she needed to know about why he was called the "God of Mischief".

He held his hands out again, like he'd done for the bottle of bourbon, and conjured up the case that held the stone, then set it down on the table. It looked like a golden lantern, with an eerie red glow, like lava, emanating from the middle of two dormant rocks.

"Nice!" She jumped and gave a quick twirl in her cloak, liking how it floated around her. She then stopped in front of Loki and held out her fist, but then when Loki looked confused, she realized that he didn't know what a fist-bump was. "Fist-bump, Loki. Bump my fist!"

He awkwardly reached out his hand, barely turning it into a fist. She bumped it with hers, then splayed out her hand. He blinked at her, looking thoroughly amused.

Darcy was way too excited. "We did it! We came, we saw, we kicked it's ass!" She leaned down to take a closer look "So that was inside of Jane," she mused.

"Yes," he said, casually. "it's baffling how she survived it, quite honestly."

She looked up and frowned. "Jane's hard-core, Loki. Her fragile mortal state wasn't about to ruin all her plans, not when she's made up her mind … and not when she has a Nobel Prize to win."

"Of course," he said, the corner of his mouth almost turning up into an apologetic smile ... but not quite. He snapped his fingers and the lantern with its contents disappeared.

"And as you seem to be quite resourceful," he said. "I have no doubt that you would have survived as well, and probably in a much better way, in all honesty."

She was confused by the compliment.

In all honesty? Is this flirting?

"Where did you put it?" she asked, changing the subject.

"Somewhere safe for the time being."

"Cool," Darcy said, chewing on her lip, suddenly very nervous. She was seriously giddy from the successful mission, and felt like Yoda should be coming around at any time, saying something along the lines of "a wonderful job, the two of you did."

She was also flying high from that kiss … ho-ly shit. She needed to calm herself down … either that, or burn off the strange energy buzzing in her muscles. Darcy then realized that she could only think of a few ways to do that … and one of those ways, she made up her mind to absolutely not entertain.

She then thought about his hips pressed up against hers, as he kissed her … like he never needed to breath.

Oops, too late.

Darcy stood over the table, poured herself a celebratory glass of very expensive bourbon, and knocked it back.

If I can't fuck it out … I'm gonna dance it out.

She took her iPhone out of her pocket and started searching around for the perfect post-Aether-mission song.

Loki sat down and poured himself a drink as well. "So this is going to happen? You're going to play some more of your noise?"

"You mean the soundtrack to our awesomely successful mission impossible?" She looked at him and playfully raised an eyebrow. "Hells to the yeah."

He couldn't seem to help it, he laughed. It made her smile.

She then landed on the perfect song and picked up her drink. "Alright Loki, this is what we on Midgard call a 'summer anthem'. Will you dance with me?"

Loki looked genuinely curious, but shook his head. "If it's the same type of noise you were listening to earlier, then absolutely not."

Darcy shrugged. "Alright … brace yourself, you're about to see some fly moves."

"Fly moves?"

"You'll see. Some Uptown Funk moves."

She pressed the play button and the beat instantly started … Darcy pressed her lips together to keep from laughing at the look on Loki's face. He'd obviously never heard anything like it.

She clapped along until the singing started … and then, well, she got down … and sang along.

This hit, that ice cold, Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold

This one for them hood girls (Darcy put her hood back up like a boss)

Them good girls, straight masterpieces

Stylin', whilen, livin' it up in the city

Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent (Darcy of course, pointed at her Chucks)

Gotta kiss myself, I'm so pretty

Darcy snuck a glance at Loki. He was wearing the same look Steve Rogers gave her and Jane, when they started dancing at various Avenger functions. It was a very "kids these days" sort of look … but also, "hot damn".

Say my name, you know who I am.

He raised an eyebrow at that.

But as Darcy kept on with her fly moves, which were pretty impressive, if she said so herself … she realized that it just wasn't working. For one, it was kind of awkward, dancing alone … and for two, having Loki stare at her the way he did … well, it just ended up making her more nervous, and making the pent-up energy worse.

She then suddenly ceased dancing, handed Loki her glass and pointed at it.

Stop! Wait a minute … fill my cup, put some liquor in it.

He set the glass down and put his face in his hands … as if he didn't want to show her that he was laughing.

Darcy picked her iPhone back up off the table and pressed the stop button. "Fine," she said. "Grandpa."

"Are you accusing me of being old-fashioned?" He asked, feigning being scandalized.

She shook her head, concentrating on her playlists. "You're dressed like Robin Hood, and he was around in what, the 12th century?" She looked up at him. "So no, not old-fashioned at all," she teased.

Darcy looked around the room and tried to think about what kind of soundtrack would go along with the decor. Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars? Nah. Scrolling through her iTunes, she finally settled on her "Mad Men playlist", finding just the right song, as "space-chic" also kind of reminded her of sleek and eclectic interior design from the 1960's.

"Alright," she said, satisfied. "This can be your song, Loki. It's older and more mellow … and since this room totally reminds me of Roger Sterling's office, I'm pretty sure it's perfect."

Loki took a healthy sip of his drink. "Roger Sterling?"

"He's friends with Mary Poppins and Han Solo."

He shook his head, smiling. "And is this too, a summer anthem?"

Darcy smiled. "No, it's a James Bond song, very apt. He's a super-spy with like, forty movies full of successful missions."

He cocked an eyebrow. "And why is this my song?"

"It's called 'You Only Live Twice'," she grinned. "Get it?"

He gave her a sardonic look. One that said "really?"

She put the iPhone down on the table and pressed the play button. Then, what she did was a bit inexplicable … as she wasn't sure if it was the nervous and giddy energy that was running through her veins, the bourbon, Loki's insane attractiveness, or the fact that she felt as if she did more of the saving that night than he did (making her feel like quite the badass). Yeah, it was probably a combination of "all of the above", but she did something either very brave or very stupid, and just sat in his lap.

Anyway, it wasn't as if there was no room for her there, with the way that he sat, with his long legs splayed apart … so she perched herself on one knee, like he was Santa Claus, only you know, unfairly gorgeous.

He looked at her in shock, but made no move to separate.

"Come on," she said, laughing. "Dance with me. We can chair-dance. It's easy."

Darcy picked up his hand, and he flinched at first, but then he slowly gripped hers back, tight. She then took his other hand and put it around her waist. She regarded him with caution, as he seemed uneasy, but she soon realized that it wasn't her exactly … but that he was simply unused to being touched. She wondered how long it had been since someone had given him even the slightest bit of affection or attention. As Loki.

As the intro to the song began to play, she started swaying to the music, slow dancing in the classic pose … just sitting in a chair. He didn't need to know that it wasn't really a widely-accepted way of dancing on Earth.

Wait … am I giving this guy a secret lap dance? She grinned at the thought.

He looked up at her as the words began, listening.

You only live twice, or so it seems … one life for yourself, and one for your dreams ...

"Is this okay?" she asked. "Can you handle a little slow dancing?"

Loki cleared his throat. "Em, yes. This is much better … and the song is much more pleasant."

She laughed. "Thought you might like it."

You drift through the years, and life seems tame … till one dream appears, and love is its name.

Darcy looked down at him, hoping he wouldn't read too much into it.

And love is a stranger, who'll beckon you on … don't think of the danger, or the stranger is gone.

She then closed her eyes, just listening to the music.

That's when she felt Loki's grip on her waist tighten as he brought her in closer, and felt her hair being swept to the side, right before his lips were on her neck. At first it was just the lightest of touches, but then his mouth traveled down, and the kisses became much more deliberate. She arched her neck in consent, and the grip on her waist traveled lower, to her hips, pulling her even more against him. She felt his tongue on her pulse point, and then the slight scrape of teeth. It sent her reeling, and soon she was searching for his lips, so she could put her mouth on his … and no longer just sitting on a knee, but full on straddling him.

They kissed passionately with open mouths and tongues, pulling at each other's lower lips, making little noises of pleasure, and starting to rock against each other. Darcy put her hands on his chest and untied the strings of his cloak, letting it fall back across the chair. She tasted the skin of his neck, kissed the skin just behind his ear, and he gasped. She breathed in his scent, very male, and very rousing. So good.

Loki suddenly took her by the shoulders and pulled her back, breaking himself from the comfort of their lips on each other. He was breathing heavily. "Forgive me, Darcy," he said, with dark eyes, nearly black. "I cannot continue this … without …" He didn't finish the thought.

She knew what he was talking about, and was in total agreement. She couldn't keep making out with him like a teenager in the backseat of a car, without taking it further … much further. And yet, she was honestly surprised that he appeared to be such a gentleman about the whole thing. Loki was strangely full of surprises. If she wasn't sure if it before … she was certainly sure of it now. She wanted him. She got off his lap and slowly stood up.

He looked up at her, disappointed for a moment, yet resigned, as if it was what he expected. That she would prefer to stop.

Ha! As if.

Darcy picked up his hand … it was so large, and warm. She slid her thumb across his palm. "Where to?"

He frowned, not understanding … and she figured he must have thought she was asking to go home now. Back to Earth.

Not quite yet.

"A bedroom?"

He blinked at her as if he didn't quite believe what she was asking. "Are you …" She didn't let him finish, tugging on his hand. He seemed to finally get the hint, as he stood and then led them down the familiar hallway that contained the fancy space shower, going further and standing just outside of a room that featured a giant bed.

He bent down and gave her a quick kiss, lacing his fingers through his. "You want this?"

In answer, Darcy let go of his hand and untied the strings to her cloak, letting it fall to the floor. She then walked into the room, pulling the white tunic he'd given her for their little operation, up over her head. Once she reached the end of the bed, she turned and faced him, clad only in her lacy black bra and jeans.

Do I need to spell it out anymore?

He slowly walked into the room, with a look on his face that said he couldn't quite believe what was happening. Maybe it was from being practically invisible for so long, what with people thinking he was dead … or perhaps it was that he was receiving respect and affection from her … not disdain and horror.

She didn't quite understand all of it, but Darcy knew that he'd spent a lot of time not being in full control of himself, or what was going on around him. First with his fall from the Bifrost, then the mind gem, his time on Earth … being imprisoned on Asgard, unable to help stop his mother's death … and then going into hiding, being himself no longer. She made the decision that she would let him have the control in this room.

Loki walked closer to her, pulling his green tunic over his head and letting it fall on the floor next to her discarded shirt, and then he was standing right in front of her, in nothing but leather pants, but not touching her. Her heart may or may not have skipped a beat as her eyes roamed across the skin of his upper-body.

Holy fuck, he's a Michelangelo statue. He's motherfucking David.

"Okay," she said, trying to remain steady, and not jump him on the spot. "So you've asked me about three times if this is something I want to do … but let me ask you. Is this something you want to do?"

He gave her a sad smile, his eyes filled to the brim with emotion, another thing that she didn't quite understand. "More than you can know," he said softly. "But I am a ghost … and I fear that at some point, my hands will pass through yours … and you will be here no longer.

Darcy reached over and took his hand. "I'll tell you what you told me … this is all very real. And if it's not, fuck it … we're having one hell of a shared hallucination … but I don't think it is." She put his hand on her chest. "It's okay, you can touch me. I'm not going to fade away. You have control here … you are Loki with me, not a ghost. I see you."

At that, his reservations seemed to melt away, and the look in his eyes became one of adoration, as his hand moved up to her shoulder and tugged her bra-strap down, then the other one … and soon his hands were cupping her breasts through the fabric. She closed her eyes and sighed, as being touched … finally … felt so good. He bent down to kiss her again, while putting his arms around her and pulling her tight against him, the feeling of his skin on hers intoxicating, his hands roaming everywhere, trying to feel everything, and his fingers trying to smoothly figure out how to take her bra off. She reached up and unclasped the hook for him and as it fell to the floor, he stood back to admire her curves. "You are beautiful," he said, then groaned as he took her breasts in his hands, kneading gently. "Unparalleled." He then dipped his head to explore with his mouth and tongue, his hands pressing into the small of her back, arching her towards him.

Darcy threw her head back and moaned as his teeth gently brushed over a nipple, her hands holding his head, fingers threading through his hair … the tie holding it back long gone, so that it fell in loose black waves to just below his shoulders.

They soon found each other fumbling with how to get the other's trousers off … as the Asgardian was probably unfamiliar with Midgardian jeans, and Darcy had no idea what to do with the laces on Loki's leather pants ... so they kissed frantically, as they helped one another out by doing it themselves, and sliding them off.

She looked down briefly and saw that—no surprise—Loki was a commando kind of guy.

Did they have boxers on Asgard? Probably not. She'd never thought to ask Jane.

He also happened to be quite gifted, you could say, in that area as well, as she could feel him hard and pressed against her belly. Damn. Her body began to hum with need, every breath she took was telling her that she had to have him all over her, inside her, above her.

Loki picked her up by the backs of her thighs and gracefully carried her to the side of the bed, still holding her, as he crawled his way to the middle, gently laying her down, kissing her neck, her breasts, his weight above her, his lips, a comfort, a balm … after the events of the last day or so. He then slid down her body and removed the last bit of clothing either was wearing, the black lacy panties that matched her bra.

With no more barriers, they didn't mess around, they couldn't … every pulse in Darcy's body was screaming now. His fingers grazed between her legs, softly at first, as if asking permission to touch her there. When she arched her neck and moaned, he grew bolder, exploring, and he growled when he found just how wet she'd become. At this point, she'd had enough of the opening-act and wanted to get to the main event, her body screaming for it … so she ran a hand down the firm muscles of his stomach and wrapped it around his cock.

Hard as fuck. And gifted. Gif-ted. Her mind was about to explode.

He made a low and gravelly sound at her touch, and she ran her thumb gently around the sensitive skin at the base of the head. "Please," she whispered, and spread her knees wide for him. He gave her a look that said he either wanted to murder her or fuck her brains out, and either way, it was nearly heart-stopping in its hotness. He grabbed the back of one of her thighs, spreading her further, and he began to push inside.

"Ho-ly …" she cried out, holding on to his shoulders, as he rolled his hips, sinking further, stretching her and burying himself all the way. He then held himself there for a moment, allowing her to adjust. "Darcy," he groaned into her ear. "How is it that you feel like this?"

He gasped as she wrapped her legs around him, urging him to move … she really needed him to move. Her mind was going shatter into pieces if he didn't move.

"Feel like what?" she said, her voice breathy.

He then began to thrust very slowly, and they were both very vocal about how good it felt. "You're so warm, so … exquisite."

Darcy slid her hands down his back to grab his ass and urge him on. "You feel pretty fucking amazing too."

They moved together, slow and steady at first, deliberately, wanting to feel everything, savor every second of the climb to the peak … but soon they built up momentum, losing control, and giving all of the pent-up energy a way to burn, a way to release. For Darcy, it was from the last 24 hours, but she was pretty sure that for Loki, it was from a much longer period of time. He began to move faster and she happily kept up … marveling at how intense he was, as of course, he was fucking her, but it wasn't just that … as there was never a disconnect, every thrust, every kiss, every bite, was with passion and intent, as if he wanted it to be for her pleasure first, and then his own.

She gasped when he suddenly switched positions, lifting her as if she weighed nothing, so that they were both sitting, her legs wrapped around him. Loki never kept his eyes off of her, while he pushed his hips up and she grinded down against him in a perfect rhythm with one another. As Darcy got closer, Loki buried his face in her breasts and pressed on the small of her back, adding pressure … making sure she was being stimulated in exactly the right spot. With every push, she gave a little moan, as it became more and more inevitable. He made his way to her neck, giving her another playful bite.

Right there … it's right there.

Loki knew. "Yesssss, Darcy. Break apart. Break apart all around me."

One more thrust, two more … and she obeyed, breaking thoroughly apart. She came hard and she came loud, every cell in her body vibrating, to the point where she felt like she was floating. Loki then grabbed her ass and pushed his hips up in one final thrust to release himself, coming inside of her, and then seemed to hold on for dear life as his orgasm shook through his body, and sounding like years of pain was leaving him, seeping out of his skin and being replaced with pleasure.

They both held each other, panting, enjoying the feel of each other's skin, slick with sweat and heat. Eventually they collapsed, and Darcy found that the bed might have been the most comfortable thing that she ever lay on.

"Holy shit," she said, still out of breath. "I needed that."

He looked over to her and grinned. "I did as well. It's a very common thing."

Darcy frowned. "What do you mean?"

He reached over and brushed her hair over her shoulder. "Not you. Never you. You are anything but common," he smiled. "It is just that after battle, a successful one, or an undertaking such as the one we pulled off ... it can leave one feeling a little, well …"

She grinned back. "Amped up? Like, to maximum volume?"

"Em. Yes. Something like that." He raised a brow. "How do you feel now?"

She knew he was trying to covertly ask if she had any regrets about sleeping with him, now that the deed was done.

Darcy stretched, feeling a delightful pulse and soreness from between her legs, and it would have made her want to jump him again … if she didn't feel so totally boneless. "I feel good. No, amazing. Also … so relaxed, I can't move."

He gave a low and satisfied male chuckle. "Rest, Darcy … and then I will take you home."

"Sweeeet," she managed to say, before falling into a deep sleep.


~~*...*~~

Going home wasn't exactly what happened, however, as they both kept finding excuses to stay, or to be in one another's company. At first it was because when Darcy woke up, she found that she was absolutely ravenous, as she hadn't eaten in over a day ... so Loki had food delivered. Turned out, they really were staying in a super-luxurious space hotel, and Loki being, well … him, he was basically able to conjure up whatever kind of currency he needed somehow. She figured he still must have had means of wealth on Asgard.

The food was brought to them via robot, and was of course, completely foreign to her, but actually tasted pretty good. Loki had to explain everything to her, and she made him go into great detail, as she refused to eat any alien meat, and wanted to make sure. Darcy told him that she was a strict vegetarian in space. He laughed, but made sure to select things that he thought she might like. It only endeared him to her more.

After eating, more sex just sounded like a good idea … and then shower sex (or space mist sex), which could actually last a lot longer if you knew what settings and buttons to push. Having sex in space-mist turned out to be a lot of fun.

And they would talk, of course … but not about anything intense. They made sure to not bring up anything that would break the strange spell they were under. The spell of an unlikely companionship. They talked about the difference between Midgardian and Asgardian music (of which the latter sounded pretty boring, quite honestly) … and she told him about movies and pop culture. They told funny stories from their childhoods, and were amazed by how different, and yet how similar it seemed to be, just being a kid from two different backgrounds and from two different realms.

And the sex … it was nothing short of mindblowing. Darcy was pretty sure that any dude she had sex with on Earth would now be a big whopping disappointment. Loki had a way of making everything startlingly passionate. Even when he was fucking her from behind, in front of the giant windows, and she had her hands on the glass, looking at the view of outer space … he still somehow made it seem reverent, consuming. It was in how he looked at her, the things he said, the attention that he paid to every tiny detail … like kissing the back of her neck, telling her how sweet she tasted.

There was no coming back from this. It was going to be like Italy all over again. She'd spent a month in Italy as an exchange-student, enjoying the food, the wine … and the food. And then she went home and had to go to the fucking Olive Garden.

Earth dudes were destined to become the Olive Garden.

At one point, she woke up from sex-induced sleep, to the sound of Frank Sinatra coming in from the other room. Darcy had been trying to teach him about Midgardian music, and starting out with the mild stuff, as opposed to death metal and gangsta rap.

Regrets ... I've had a few

But then again, too few to mention

I did what I had to do

And saw it through, without exemption

I planned each charted course

Each careful step, along the byway

And more, much more than this

I did it my way

She wouldn't have thought much about it, except she noticed that Loki kept playing the same song over and over again. My Way.

I've loved, I've laughed and cried

I've had my fill, my share of losing

And now as tears subside

I find it all so amusing

Darcy slipped on Loki's green tunic and walked over to where he was, sitting at the table, staring out of the window.

For what is a man, what has he got

If not himself, then he has not

To say the things he truly feels

And not the words of one who kneels

The record shows I took the blows

And did it my way

She bent over and slid her hands down his shoulders, embracing him from behind, and he took her hand and held it to his chest. "You're awake," he said.

Darcy stood straight and walked around him, sitting in his lap. "And you're wearing my shirt," he grinned.

She shrugged. "Looked comfortable."

"And you look delectable in it," he said, as his hands slid up her thighs and under the fabric to her hips. He nodded to her iPhone on the table. "Tell me about the man who sings this song."

"Frank Sinatra," Darcy said, smiling, not wanting to dive in too deep as to why the song resonated with him. "Rat Pack member. They called him 'Ol' Blue Eyes' … he was a singer and a movie star."

"Was?"

"He died a few years ago."

"Hn," Loki frowned. "Was he revered? Mourned?"

Darcy gave him a kiss on the forehead. "He's a legend. One of those guys who will always be mourned."

"And yet he was not a hero."

She thought for a second. "Hm, not really. He definitely wasn't perfect, but people loved him. He had charisma."

"And that emblem on your shirt … is that a hero's emblem?"

"My Batman shirt?"

"Batman," he laughed. "There is someone called Batman?"

She smiled and shook her head. "No. He's fiction, from a story that's been going on for decades ... and it's told over and over again. He's called 'The Dark Knight'."

"Why do you wear his shirt?" Loki seemed genuinely curious.

"On Asgard, you don't really wear anything like that?"

He shook his head. "If one wears an emblem, it is a small family accent. A piece of jewelry, or a pin. Or colors. Nothing like that."

Darcy nodded. "It's common on Earth to wear t-shirts like that, representing something you like, something you relate to. A team you're rooting for. People wear band t-shirts and sports jerseys, and that kind of thing, all the time. But my Batman shirt … I haven't worn that one in a long time. It was in the closet of my old room ... at my parents house."

He gave a nod. "And why do you like his story enough to wear his shirt?"

How do I explain my Christian Bale obsession from years ago?

Darcy frowned. "I suppose I always liked Batman because he turned one of his fears into his strength, and made it his identity. Or another identity, I suppose. He's not like Tony Stark, no one knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman. He has two identities. That, and you should see how he does a pushup, I mean … I can't explain it."

He laughed, as his hands slid up her hips and then her sides, in order to slide his shirt off. She raised her arms to help him. He held it up for a second before throwing it on the floor. "I'll give you that shirt to wear on Midgard … there is no emblem on it, but you'll know it's mine."

"Okay," she said, smiling down at him, before attacking his mouth with hers, and finding yet another place to have sex. The chair.


~~*...*~~

Later on, who knows how much later on, as time didn't seem to exist for Darcy in this space, they were wrapped around each other in bed. Loki then suddenly shot up, shocked and visibly spooked.

Darcy reached over to him. "What's wrong?"

"Something's happened," he said, looking of into a distance that wasn't in the room.

She sat up and took his hand, he was trembling. "What do you mean something's happened … like you felt a great disturbance in The Force?"

He looked over to her, coming back to himself a bit. "What?"

Darcy shook her head. "Nevermind. What's wrong … a nightmare?"

"Possibly," Loki frowned. "The mind gem. Something has happened to it."

~~::::::...::::::~~

Chapter Text

~~::::::...::::::~~


Darcy watched, perched on the end of the bed, as Loki paced around the room, clad in nothing but leather pants … her attempts at calming him down, not working.

"Thor could already be back on Asgard as we speak," he said, to no one in particular, "with that blasted gem."

"Can you sense where it is?"

"No," he stopped in his tracks, turning to face her. "And I can only sense it at all, if I let myself fall into a deep sleep … which I never do anymore." He began to shake his head. "It's left some kind of … mark, or brand, I know not what."

"Hm. That happens to Jane too."

He stared at her, instantly captivated. "Does it?"

Darcy nodded. "She said it felt like the Aether left a sort of fingerprint in her mind somewhere, and she hopes that it'll fade away eventually … she said it gets easier."

He gave a bitter laugh. "I am sure that Jane Foster sleeps much easier than I do, Darcy."

She laughed right back at him. "Oh, that's where you're wrong. Jane rarely sleeps, more like small power naps … and usually I have to remind her to take them. When Thor was with us all the time, it was different, of course ... but normally, she's the first one up and the last one to go to bed."

Loki frowned. "And what does the Aether tell her?"

"That's between her and the Aether."

"Really. She's never told you?"

Darcy shrugged, looking down. "She had a vision when Malekith drew the Aether out of her … about how he planned to bring darkness to the universe, destroy Asgard, turn it into a wasteland." She looked up at him, curious. "Do you think that any of these stones could ever be used for something good?"

He gave her a sad smile. "It depends on who wields them. Most cannot, I am afraid."

She chewed on her lower lip, thinking. "Is there a way we can find out what's going on … like, can we get news from Earth all the way out here?"

Loki shook his head. "Midgard is too far out of reach, too cut off from the galaxy. It's like a remote island in a vast sea.

"Well shit. I wish my phone worked out here … but even if I did get wifi, it's almost dead anyway."

Loki's face all of a sudden lit up. "Darcy Lewis. You never cease to surprise."

"What?"

He walked off into the other room and brought back her phone. He then sat on the bed beside her, and Darcy watched as a golden glow emanated from his fingertips. He handed it to her.

The battery had been completely recharged. "Whoa." She looked up at him. "But I'm still not getting service out here."

He frowned. "Perhaps there is a way. If we can hook your phone up with one of the Knowhere communication ports, with some magic … and luck, of course, we could make a connection."

Darcy nodded. "Okay. One practitioner of magic and one hacker … not a bad combo. Groovy."

"Hacker?"

She laughed. "One of my unofficial titles, very on the down-low." She put a finger to his lips. "Shh. Don't tell anyone."

Loki grinned. "What does a hacker do?"

"They hack into things."

"Darcy."

She raised an eyebrow. "You had to have had at least one, while you were on Earth. You know, people who can get into computers, bypass the security and find information … and if they're any good, leave without any trace that they were there."

He seemed intrigued. "And how good are you?"

She smiled at him. "The best. Well, one of the best."

He nodded with a wicked grin. "I hate to say this, as your naked body happens to be one of the most delectable things I've ever seen in the nine realms," he said, before kissing her bare shoulder, "but we need to get dressed."

She sighed. "Fine. But I'm doing my hair in Princess Leia buns first, so it might take a few minutes."

"What?"

"Nothing."


~~*...*~~

Darcy sat while Loki stood beside her, as she tried to get a feel for the alien technology. At first, she was in awe of how advanced it was, but then started to see similarities to what she was familiar with … it was just years ahead of anything she'd seen. Even StarkTech. But once she got used to it, it was even easier to navigate … Loki just had to do a lot of translating for her. They'd gone back down to the "main plaza" of the colony, the only nice way she could think to describe the area, full of dirty transient aliens … and found an outer-space internet-cafe. She shook her head at how everything was so different, and yet so similar.

Loki had paid for a private booth so they would not be disturbed. At first, she tried a wireless connection, but couldn't get anything … but then she started reorganizing the system, or okay, more like tearing out wires, and putting things back together … and soon she started making headway. With a little bit of Loki's magic, they were able to make the connection work … although it was sort of like trying to watch an old TV by putting foil on the antenna, while having someone hold it at an exact angle ... and standing on a chair.

Loki seemed to have a mix of emotions going on at once, ranging from being extremely nervous about the mind gem, to being strangely proud of his new Midgardian paramour. "If someone taught you the arts of battle, you would be positively lethal," he said while grinning.

"How do you know that I'm not?" she asked with a wink.

"The fact that Yondu Udonta was able to capture you."

She shrugged, looking back down at her work. "Ah yeah, well … he had an element of surprise, I'll give him that. I wasn't expecting to be abducted by aliens while hanging out on an old swing set. But you're right, I'm not 'trained in the arts', or however you put it … though I have taken self-defense classes. I know how to take down a human man if I need to."

Loki laughed. "Oh, I have no doubt.

"I took down your brother," she said, while trying to make the connection stronger.

"What?" He was stunned.

"Granted, at the time, he was earthbound, or in a 'mortal form' or whatever he called it."

"How?"

"With my taser. It shoots out a volt of electricity."

Loki started laughing. "Thor was taken out by a Midgardian weapon that dispenses small bolts of lightning?"

She grinned. "I suppose you could say that. I also had the element of surprise going for me though … he didn't think I'd do it."

"A mistake I am sure he wouldn't make again. Tell me, why did he warrant this in the first place?"

"Well … we found him alone in the middle of the dessert, after a light-tornado hit the ground, and he was yelling for his hammer and screaming at the sky. We thought he was loony tunes … plus, it looked like he was about to beat up Erik, or beat up someone, so I tasered him."

He seemed mystified. "Right after he was banished to Midgard?"

"Yep. And Jane hit him with our truck of course, twice."

Loki couldn't contain his mirth. "Thor. Humbled as soon as he stepped foot on Midgardian soil. I used to wonder what it was about Earth that turned him into such a different person, full of sentiment … and I still do not understand all of it, but perhaps I am beginning to."

She looked up and frowned. "What do you mean?"

He shook his head. "Not now."

Darcy turned back to her phone. "Yeah. One of these days, when you take me out to dinner first, then we can talk about the real shit."

"Dar-"

"Anyway. Can you do the charge thing like you did the last time? That seemed to work … and maybe I can get a signal."

"Of course," he said, quietly.

She had decided that calling Jane would be best, so that was the first person she tried. When the phone actually started to ring, she gave Loki a smile so big, that it practically took up her whole face … and then relief started to flow through her body, as if she'd been holding her breath for hours, and was finally able to push air through her lungs. She held her fist out to Loki, who by this time, knew what a fist-bump was. She giggled at how natural it had become.

"DARCY WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?!"

She lost her smile.

Her mind tried to think quickly, weaving together a story that didn't sound like complete bullshit. "Jane! Dude. I went up to a lake house with an old high school friend. I didn't realize there wouldn't be any service there, or I wouldn't have gone. So tell me what's up!"

"YOU COULDN'T HAVE TOLD SOMEONE? Your parents are worried sick! It's like Tromso all over again … and that's what I told them, to calm them down!"

Darcy shook her head. She didn't have time for this. "Yes, yes, I know. I'm an irresponsible idiot, but I couldn't take being in that town one more second, so I went to the lake. Very hippie kinda place. Nudists 'n shit. Now Jane, I don't know when my phone is gonna die … so just tell me what's going on."

"Haven't you seen the news?" Jane seemed baffled.

Fuck. Shit. Fuck. Shit.

"No! That's why I called you … because I know that if I turn on CNN, about 20% of what they say will be true. Probably less."

"Fine," Jane huffed through the phone. "Okay, so I've talked to Pepper and I've talked to Thor on the phone, and they both said that everyone we know made it."

Darcy started to panic. "Wait … WHAT? People died? Where are you?"

"Yes, people died! What the hell, Darcy. I'm in Switzerland … I was here for a conference and was told to stay put."

"Alright," Darcy said quietly, as she looked up at Loki. He looked very nervous, and was chewing on a fingernail. "Start from the beginning."

He watched the phone conversation, and Darcy's eyes got bigger and bigger, listening to the story. He then began to pace around when she started saying "NO!" over and over again. He tried to ask questions when she stood up and yelled "SHUT UP!" ... but then she promptly sat back down once she realized that the connection had almost been lost, and she waved at Loki to stop talking.

"Okay. So. That happened," Darcy finally said, in a daze.

"Yep. That happened. And Bruce has disappeared, but he'd probably be arrested if anyone found him."

"What? But no one could hold him even if they tried."

Loki mouthed to her, "Who?" Darcy only shook her head and put her finger up, telling him to be quiet.

"I know," Jane answered. "That's why he's gone. Listen, I'm coming home tomorrow. Everyone will be going to the Upstate New York facility, even Erik. Will you meet me there? I'm going to say goodbye to Thor before he leaves."

She looked over at Loki. "Thor is leaving tomorrow?" He seemed visibly relieved by that particular piece of information.

"Yeah," Jane croaked.

She all of a sudden felt for her friend, and now had a new understanding of her predicament. "I'm sorry. I'll be there as soon as I can. I'll bring the ice cream."

"Thanks. See ya soon Darce."

After she hung up the phone, Darcy shrugged at Loki and gave him a flimsy smile. She wasn't even sure how she was going to explain it all. "Okay. So. Let's get out of here and talk."

"Is the mind gem secure?"

"They think so."

"They think so?"

"Yeah. Like I said, let's get out of here. I think you're going to want to sit down."


~~*...*~~

"So I've sat down, Darcy … will you please now tell me what has happened?"

It was Darcy's turn to pace around the room while Loki sat at the table, his hand around the glass of bourbon that she'd poured for him … the bottle beginning to get precariously low.

She decided to start from the beginning.

But should I leave anything out? Am I committing treason by telling him? Fuck it.

"Do you know what HYDRA is?"

He gave a quick nod. "They are an enemy of S.H.I.E.L.D."

"Right. And your scepter was with them … they got ahold of it when S.H.I.E.L.D. fell. The Avengers have been taking out HYDRA cells all over the world and finally found the main one, apparently. The one with your scepter. They had a bunch of Chitauri wreckage they were working with … and experimenting with artificial intelligence. They were also experimenting on humans," she said.

"Mind control?"

Darcy shook her head. "No. Well, maybe, but the humans that survived, twins … they became something else. One became inhumanly fast … and the other, I don't understand it all, but apparently she can infect your mind, along with telekenisis. I'm not sure of the extent of it."

He looked up at her, hoping that was the end of the story. "So this is what has happened to the mind gem? It created a pair of humans with extraordinary powers?"

She nodded slowly and grimaced. "Yeah. But there's a little more."

"A little?"

"Okay. I'm just gonna spit it all out."

He made a welcoming gesture with his hands. "Please do."

Darcy reached over, picking up the liquor, and took a swig of bourbon straight from the bottle. "Okay, so this girl, the one with the new powers, gave Tony Stark a vision about the Earth being destroyed … so he took your scepter, motivated by this dream, or whatever, and decided that he wanted to save the world. So he took the mind gem and tried to take HYDRA's plans one step further, to develop his own artificial intelligence, something he called the Ultron Program. He'd been working on it for awhile, but thought it might be a good time to get with his mad scientist buddy, Dr. Banner, and use the gem to do his own thing, without consulting any of the others."

Loki nodded, not surprised. "That. Man. And how did Thor react?"

"Not well, but that's beside the point now."

"Is it?"

"Yeah, um … with the gem, they created Ultron, who ended up being a genocidal regenerating robot who tried to annihilate humanity and create an immortal body for himself."

"What?" He narrowed his eyes, leaning forward.

"I know, right? If it makes you feel any better, Pepper is pretty pissed off at Tony."

Loki only shook his head, not understanding.

"That's his girlfriend."

Things you probably should not be telling him, Darcy. Only the necessities.

"Anyway," she said, continuing the story and the pacing. "So Ultron got his hands on a bunch of vibranium, which is the strongest metal on the planet, to make a new body for himself … but the Avengers were able to somewhat thwart that plan, and they made something new. With the mind gem." She paused.

"Go on."

Darcy took a deep breath. "Tony wanted to try to put J.A.R.V.I.S., which is his A.I. butler computer program, into the body that Ultron was making with some crazy-advanced 3-D printer … because it worked out so well for him the first time. He also somehow got Bruce on board, again … because Bruce can't seem to tell Tony "NO" for some reason. So Steve tried to stop him and then Thor came flying in and struck the 'cradle', as they were calling the case holding this new body, with lightening from mjolnir … and they created this new guy. Anyway, the mind gem is inside of him." She shrugged. "He seems nice."

"WHAT?" There might have been a vein popping out of Loki's forehead.

She tried to smile, to stay calm, but she knew it wasn't working. "Let's look on the bright side. Um, he uh ... he's a cross between J.A.R.V.I.S. and energy from mjolnir ... so Tony and Thor are like, his two dads. Sorta. Congrats! You're ... an uncle?"

"WHAT?!"

Darcy had never seen him so mad, not that she'd known him that long … but still, he seemed mad. "I know! That's when I was like … Jane, SHUT UP!"

"THEY MADE AN ENTIRELY NEW IMMORTAL BEING?" He was seething.

"Yeah?" She didn't know what else to say, as she was still trying to wrap her brain around it herself. "He seems okay. He's apparently a very pretty magenta color. And," she held up her finger to make a point ... "he helped the Avengers save a city that Ultron had lifted up in the air, to turn into a meteor and wipe out all humans. That was Ultron's plan … peace through the eradication of humans. Our extinction."

Loki stood. "A fine plan. If it meant THE EXTINCTION OF TONY STARK!"

Darcy nodded and sat down. "Yeah, and that's what Thor's first reaction sounded like when he found out about Ultron. He apparently tried to choke him."

He shook his head, in shock. "It was not safe on Asgard. And even LESS SAFE ON MIDGARD."

Darcy raised her hands. "No, but this new guy. Vision."

"VISION?"

She shrugged. "Yeah, that's what he calls himself, I don't know … who am I to judge. He's apparently A.I. Gandhi."

Loki just looked confused, along with being about as irate as irate gets.

"Robot Jesus?"

He flinched, as if what she said had burned him. "An artificial god? Blasphemy!" he hissed.

"But let's focus on the positive," she said, nodding. "He can lift mjolnir!"

"WHAT?"

She gave him a lame smile. "Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that. Thor seems to think he's worthy enough to hold onto the stone ... since he can wield mjolnir."

Loki only stuck out his chin and sat back down, pouring the rest of the bourbon into his glass and drinking all of it in one gulp. He then conjured up another bottle.

Darcy reached over to inspect it. "This is a bottle of scotch that's over a hundred years old. This is priceless."

He shrugged. "Open it."

"Tony Stark again?"

Loki gave a quick nod.

"How many drinks did you procure, Loki?"

He gave her a sardonic smile. "I also have very nice bottle of wine that you and I can break out, at a later date."

"Um, alright," she said, opening the new bottle. "With pleasure."

He took the glass she poured for him and held it up slightly. "So the Earth now holds a benevolent immortal being who is in possession of the mind gem ... and can wield mjolnir?"

Darcy nodded slowly, taking a sip of insanely expensive liquor. "Fuck, that's good," she said, her eyes growing wide. "But yeah. And he's at least partially made out of the strongest substance on the planet."

Loki took a minute to let it sink in. "And what of this city that was … lifted into the air?"

The utterly insane idea of a floating city was a bit much for either of them to fathom, it seemed.

"Destroyed," she said. "But they evacuated it the best they could ... before it went kaboom."

"Kaboom," he repeated, eerily calm.

"And one of the twins died. The fast one. At first they were working with Ultron, but became Avengers, once they figured out his plans."

"The only Avenger fatality?" Loki seemed sad about that piece of information.

Darcy nodded, scowling. "You wanted there to be more?"

"You mistake me, darling," he said, before taking a healthy sip of scotch. "Only Tony Stark."

She tried to be careful in the next thing she said. "I think he knows that he fucked up."

"Does he?" Loki tilted his head, looking dangerous, serpentine. It was the first time since meeting him, that she saw something very scary in him.

She gave him a piercing stare. "It could also be blamed on this new girl for giving him that damn vision in the first place."

He looked down into his glass. "So ... The Man of Iron tried to save Midgard ... by destroying it?"

"Well, when you put it that way …" Darcy was about to say that it sounded like Loki, but cut herself off. Probably one of the only times she kept her mouth shut.

"I know what you're thinking."

She frowned. "Can you read minds?"

He smiled, his face softening for the first time in what seemed like hours. "No. Not from over here … but it's written all over your face."

Darcy shrugged. "The line between hero and villain is often blurred, it seems. No one is perfect, unless you're Steve Rogers, or this new Vision guy, apparently. And even Steve, I mean, he's notoriously bad at pub trivia. You definitely don't want him on your team."

Loki couldn't help it, he laughed. Maybe he's getting drunk? "And what does Midgard think of Tony Stark now?"

"I'm not sure. I guess I'll find out. He's going to lay low … him and Bruce."

"Bruce?"

"Hm. Yeah. You've met him. The big green guy. He hulked out during one of those visions the new girl gave him … and he pretty much destroyed a city in Africa."

Recognition passed over his features, a ghost of a memory, and she realized that Dr. Banner was probably one of the only beings on Earth that Loki truly feared. "And he is your friend?" he asked.

Darcy shrugged. "He's a good guy. A brilliant scientist … he didn't …"

He didn't mean it. She shook her head. That's what they say about abusive people.

"He didn't what?"

"He wasn't in his right mind."

Loki sat back, regarding her with a raised brow.

"I know."

"Do you?"

She took a drink. "I know that most of us are trying to do our best with what we've got, and the knowledge that we have at the time. It's just that some of those people happened to be infected with gamma radiation … or a mind gem."

He laughed. "And what would you say of Tony Stark? What is his excuse?"

Darcy shook her head. "Thankfully I don't have to worry about him."

"Really."

"Yeah. Pepper gets to deal with him."

"And is she a giver of Midgardian justice?"

"Oh, you have no idea. I wish I could have seen the look on her face ... when he told her that he turned J.A.R.V.I.S. into a magenta robot Jesus."

He nodded. "And this Ultron … has been eradicated?"

"Yeah. Vision destroyed him."

"And Thor leaves for Asgard tomorrow?"

"Yeah," she said, a strange sadness filling her.

He stood, holding his hand out to her. "Then we only have a matter of hours, Darcy. Let's make them good ones."

She took his hand, standing up as well … and he picked her up and carried her to the bed.


~~*...*~~

It had been a short time that they were together, only days, a collection of hours that they found solace in each other, but they'd become near experts in the language of their bodies.

And it was in these moments that she knew the truth about him. Perhaps there were not many throughout the universe who could trust Loki, and for good reason … but she wasn't one of those people. He reserved loyalty to a precious few, and he told her this with his body. The things she had revealed to him, about her home, about her friends … normally she'd feel a twinge of guilt, but not in this space … in this space, it was a confidence between lovers.

They held back in speaking to one another, of what was really going on beneath the surface, in their hearts … but they held nothing back while showing, immersed in the act of love. He would bring Darcy to the brink, with his hands, with his mouth, his tongue, so many times, and then back away, as if he didn't want it to end … the swan song in this strange journey.

He lay soft kisses on the swollen flesh between her legs, and though she wanted it to last as well, her body was nearly shaking with need. She took her hands from where they were, entwined in his hair, and brought them to her breasts, kneading them the way she liked, touching her own nipples, the way she liked. He growled as he saw this, and the vibrations from his voice sent her further to an edge … an edge that she just couldn't quite spill over.

Loki climbed up her body and entered her, finally … as he replaced her hands on her breasts with his mouth, and bit down, causing them both to moan. He then rolled them over, without losing connection, so that she was above him.

"I want to watch," he said, his eyes pleading. "Bring your body pleasure, on top of me, all around me."

She gave him a grin with darkened eyes, her hair flowing down past her shoulders, mussed from various bedroom activities. "You want me to ride your dick?" she asked, nearly breathless.

He brought his hand to her cheek, sweeping his thumb across her lower lip … and she gave him a playful bite, causing him to groan. "I love the things that come out of your mouth."

Darcy began to move fluidly on top of him. "So you love it when I say … how good your huge cock feels ... inside of me?"

Loki gave her a wicked smile as his body, his neck, arched in sensation. "Yessss. Almost as much ... as I love the feeling ... of being inside ... of your impossibly warm and tight ... sweet quim."

He watched, memorizing her, as she took pleasure in massaging her own breasts and teasing the tender flesh around her clit. Loki held onto her hips like someone who was drowning, and his grasp was the only thing keeping him afloat.

She bent down, ghosting her fingers across his mouth, leaving traces of herself across his lower lip, and he ran his tongue along it, before she kissed him … angling herself and grinding against him, now holding nothing back, finally able to come. Finally able to find release.

He seemed to delight in her orgasm as much as she did, loving the feeling of her trembling around him, though he wasn't finished himself. While she lay boneless in his arms, he lifted her from him, placing her on her stomach. He then positioned himself above her and penetrated easily from behind, as they were both slick and warm, dripping from sex.

Darcy loved it like this, pinned underneath him, barely able to move herself, as he thrust in and out, the angle intense, reaching things inside of her that she rarely felt. He had all of the control, going deeper, faster … and all she could do was moan and clutch at the sheets.

As he neared completion, she felt one of his large hands press against the small of her back, and she began to feel a pleasant warmth throughout her hips and belly, magic from his fingertips, flowed and vibrated through her skin, and then concentrated right where she needed it … and since she was still sensitive from her release, it became almost too much.

"Loki."

'I have you," he panted. "Just let yourself feel it."

She closed her eyes and let go, freely giving him every ounce of control, and this time he came with her, almost violently, spilling everything over the edge. Every last drop.

When he was able to move again, he spent some time hovering above her, kissing the back of her neck, and down her spine, before finally laying beside her, running his fingertips over her skin.

"Damn," she said, smiling lazily.

"Yes."

Darcy began to laugh softly.

He tilted his head in question. "What is it"

"Nothing. You don't need an even bigger ego."

Loki gave her a sly grin. "Really. Now I simply must know. I insist."

"You'll just laugh at me."

"Probably."

She pushed herself up and onto her side, facing him, and smiled. "You're the most cliterate guy I've ever come across. The most cliterate guy I've ever heard of, actually."

"Cliterate," he repeated. He then collapsed onto his back, laughing, taking her hand as he went, kissing her fingers. "I am not sure what I did, to warrant these past few days of happiness, though I will not question it. And I wonder if there is anyone who has ever made me laugh as you do."

Darcy then lay on his chest, in the nice and cozy crook near his shoulder, with his arm around her, wanting to enjoy it all for a bit longer. Just a few more minutes. Because even though their cocoon had become familiar and safe, the world just outside was still very alien and very scary, and she needed to go home. She wanted to go home, to her family, her friends … her world.

She just couldn't shake the feeling that she desperately wanted him to come with her.


~~*...*~~

"Loki?"

"Hm?"

They had both nodded off for a few moments, and they were now stirring and stretching, awakening.

"How exactly are you going to take me home? Like … are you going to teleport us there?"

She could feel his chest rumbling with soft laughter. "No darling, if only it were that easy."

Darcy sat up and looked down at him. "So what then?"

He took a deep breath, and she knew she wasn't going to like what he was about to say. "I know of a passageway. There are many of these passageways across the universe, if one knows where to look."

She narrowed her eyes at him. "What … like wormholes?"

"Yes. But we'll need a certain velocity to be able to access it."

She was confused. "Like … you have to get us up to 88 miles per hour and be in possession of a flux capacitor?"

"I'm sorry?"

Darcy shook her head. "Nevermind. How do we get speed?"

"We'll have to jump … from a certain height."

"WHAT?"

He tried to look reassuring, but he wasn't cutting it. "I promise you, it'll work. Crossing between the realms isn't easy … if it were, everyone would do it. Luckily for us, we have my magic."

Darcy was visibly freaked out. "I've heard about you jumping off of things before, Loki … this does not make me feel better!"

"You talk of the Bifrost."

"Duh!"

He slowly reached a hand up to her cheek, his emotive eyes filling with sadness. "Darling. I was never looking for a passageway through the realms then, or using my magic. I only wished to fall."

She stared at him for a few seconds, letting it all sink in. Her chin began to quiver and suddenly her eyes welled up with tears. "Oh, Loki," she said, the tears spilling. Darcy bent over and kissed the skin of his chest, over his heart, holding onto him.

His hands came to the sides of her head, threading through her hair. "Stop. Stop this Darcy," he said, his voice on the verge of cracking … "or I may beg you to stay with me … and I am a faceless man. I have nothing to offer you, as Loki."

"That isn't true," she said, sitting back up.

"It is. I am a shadow."

She shook her head. "But I don't see a shadow. I see something very solid in front of me ... and I'm sure that if you stood out in the sunlight, you wouldn't fade away."

"One day," he said clearly, his eyes watery. "But I do not have the luxury of sentiment on this day. There is too much …" his voice trailed off. "One day."

She nodded, closing her eyes, trying to stop the tears. "That'll be a good day."

"Yes."


~~*...*~~

She found herself standing on the tallest point in the colony of Knowhere, about to jump into the abyss of fucking space.

Darcy had her eyes closed, close to tears, for many reasons … fear being one of them. But she refused to cry.

She had on Loki's green tunic over her Batman shirt, wearing her purse across her upper body, so she wouldn't have to hold onto it … as she had to hold onto Loki the whole time.

He put his hands to her temples for a moment. "Now, this is very important, Darcy. I can only go to places I know of, and I doubt you want to go underground in the desert or to Scandinavia, and I cannot go to Stark's Tower. So think about where you are taking us."

Darcy's eyes flew open. "What? You can't leave that up to me!"

"Yes! I am trusting you … as you are trusting me. It works both ways."

"YOU DIDN'T MENTION THAT EARLIER!"

Loki gave her a reassuring look. "It will be fine, darling. Just think of the place … your parent's home? Or perhaps where you disappeared. Somewhere sparse. Unpopulated. Alright? We must go."

He stook a few steps and stood at the very edge, holding out his hand. "Do you trust me?" His eyes were pleading.

There were probably so many people out there in the galaxy, who would tell her to never to trust this man. With anything. Let alone her life.

But she listened to something else instead.

Darcy took his hand. "I trust you."

As they were falling, traveling, through a space that she couldn't even begin to understand, with his arms wrapped around her … she let her mind tell him exactly where she wanted to go. All of his energy, his magic, his mind, connected them, and focused on their intention … and she could feel exactly how much it meant to him. That she trusted him.

That's when she decided to tell him one more thing.


~~*...*~~

They landed with a soft thud in the grass. Darcy instantly knelt down and felt it with her hands … in all her life, she'd never been so fucking happy to see fucking grass.

"Where did you take us to?" Loki was still standing. She looked up to see that the sun was setting, casting orange rays throughout the trees. The light was soft, but it was there, shining on him … and yet he was not fading away into shadow.

She stood up to face him. "These are the woods outside of my old school. My parents house is just down the road over there. This is where I disappeared."

He nodded, looking down at her. "Darcy."

She shook her head. "I know you're not telling me everything. I could see it back there, when we were connected. I can't explain it, but I could see it." She put her hands on his chest … he was still in his Jedi-ish garb, for now. "You have blocks … or wards, or whatever, all over you."

Loki only nodded once, taking her hands.

"And I don't care. I get it. I mean, I don't understand everything, but I get it. You can't have people finding you. But I have to tell you something."

He looked as if he was trying to hold himself together by a thread. "No sentiment … please," he whispered.

"Alright." She took a deep breath, gathering courage. "Thor knows about the stones. He had a vision. He knows that the mind gem, the Aether, the Tesseract, and the Orb all showing up … that it isn't a coincidence, and he's going to find out why."

He nodded, understanding. "I suppose it was bound to happen, he's not exactly being secretive about it any longer."

"Thor?"

"No. The one who seeks the stones. I cannot speak his name."

Darcy shrugged. "That's cool. I don't think I want to hear it." She took his face in her hands. "Loki."

He took one of her hands and held it to his heart. "Please. No goodbyes. No tears. I will return. I promise."

She nodded. "I believe you." Darcy gave him a quick kiss. "But can you do me a favor?"

"Anything."

Darcy reached into her back pocket and took out her phone with the earbuds. "If you ever run into Peter Quill, can you give this to him?"

He took the phone from her. "Of course … but will you not need it?"

"Nah. I erased all the apps, they'd just confuse him … and I erased any incriminating photos," she grinned. "I'll just say I lost it … my contract is up anyway. I'm due for a new one."

"Very well." He then ghosted his lips across her cheek and to her ear. "I will return," he repeated, a promise in his eyes.

Darcy nodded. She did believe him, but she also knew that Thor had said the same thing, and it took him two years and several gallons of ice cream later, for him to show back up.

She smiled up at him. "I'll be here. Thank you. For saving me."

He smiled back. "Thank you. For saving me."

Loki gave her one last kiss, much like their first. In the beginning it was chaste, tentative, his fingers tilting up her chin … and then grew in heat and vigor, his arms wrapping tight around her. But this time, he let himself fade away … into the shadows, leaving her a whisper in her mind.

Before walking back to her parents house, and before trying to come up with one hell of a good excuse for her absence, she leaned up against a tree to catch her breath, wrapping her arms around herself, and Loki's green shirt.

She took a moment to think ... and to cry her eyes out.


~~*...*~~

Loki shut himself in his rooms on Asgard, already feeling Darcy's absence, and awaiting Thor's return. The trip to Knowhere had been fruitful and unexpected … in so many different ways. He was able to bring back much, but also felt as if a piece of himself, a piece that he'd blocked long ago, had been ripped away, and he'd left it behind on Midgard.

He put the drinking glasses they had used together on his writing desk, one still holding an imprint of her kiss, from her lip stain. Or lip stick, as she had called it. Loki felt his magic relax, and he began to put things away into their usual spaces, taking them out of their metaphysical pocket. He put Darcy's cloak and white tunic that he'd made for her, in his closet, as he couldn't bring himself to dissolve them.

He then put soundproofing wards in place, so no one would hear as he took out Darcy's device, and looked for the song he wanted. He wanted to hear the song that she played while he held her ... that first time, in his lap, swaying to the music. When he could no longer contain himself, as her intoxicating scent and soft sweet skin at bewitched him, and he couldn't go one second longer without tasting her again.

He scrolled through the files she called "playlists" and landed on one called "Loki's Mix-Tape". He grinned as he realized that she never meant for him to give the device to Peter Quill, but knew that he would have refused it, if she'd offered it to him … calling it sentiment.

Loki would have never given it to Peter Quill anyway.

He smiled, playing the song. He would return.

~~::::::...::::::~~