Darcy finally closed the curtains as the sun dropped behind the mountains completely, casting the entire valley in shade. She’d gone back to her knitting while Loki trawled through Tumblr some more, frowning at post after post of cat gifs. He seemed to just be going through her list of tracked tags, which was kinda creepy in a way. Darcy tried to ignore it and worked on an avocado-green square.

He kept snapping his fingers, though. Not even loudly; more like he was just trying to give his fingers a work-out or something. Loki rooting through her Tumblr account, Darcy could handle. The snapping was starting to seriously get on her nerves.

“Why do you keep doing that?” she asked finally. “Because it’s really annoying.”

Loki stopped and looked down at his hand. “I’m trying to make sparks,” he muttered.

He’d mentioned the sparks before, and Darcy still didn’t understand it. “Why is that something you want to do?” she asked.

Loki looked up at her, giving Darcy the very strong feeling that he was trying not to outright glare. “What they have taken from me is something which they should not have even been able to touch,” he said. He looked down at his hands again, running his thumb over the fading cut on his hand. “They should be praying that I do not get it back, because when I do, they will beg for a swift death.”

Darcy moved as far to the edge of the bed as she could without falling off. She was glad Loki wasn’t even looking at her, because if he was, she probably would have pissed herself or starting crying or something. Luckily, she didn’t do either.

“Please don’t say things like that,” she said quietly, holding her knitting close to her chest like a shield. “When you say things like that, it makes me want to… not help you.”

Loki looked up at her, and something in his face changed. He was still pissed off, but he didn’t look quite so genocidal. It did nothing to calm Darcy’s nerves.

“You would not wish death on one who had so grievously violated you?” he asked. Not quite demanded, but close.

“No! Of course not. I don’t want anyone to die,” Darcy said quickly.

Loki didn’t look away from her, staring at her with a terrifying intensity. Like he was looking for something that was wrong, but couldn’t find it. Darcy shifted away again, nearly toppling over the edge of the bed.

“I mean. I don’t know. Probably not, but I’ve never had anyone do anything like that to me before. A guy at a concert grabbed my tit once, and I slugged him for it, but that’s it. I didn’t want him dead. I just wanted him to stop grabbing my tit.”

“But you carry a weapon,” Loki said, his eyes falling to her handbag.

Darcy looked over at it, wondering if she could reach it before he did. She was closer, but he was bigger, and probably faster.

“For self-defence,” she said. “Against creeps who think no means ‘take me, I’m yours’.”

Loki went quiet for a long moment, but he didn’t stop staring at Darcy. After a while she started to get the feeling he wasn’t even seeing her, and was just sort of staring in her direction while he got lost in his own head. Darcy stayed where she was, still trying to decide if she wanted to grab her taser and arm herself.

Finally, Loki looked away and nodded, conceding something he didn’t feel like vocalising.

“I wish to bathe and would like to not wear these same clothes,” he said out of nowhere.

Darcy wasn’t quite sure she’d heard him right, and took a few seconds to respond. “Uh. Yeah. Just…” She pointed over to the dresser. “Help yourself. The pyjamas are probably the only thing that’ll fit you, though. And there’s a clean razor in my lunch box in there. I mean, you’re getting kinda scruffy.”

Loki rubbed his cheek as he got up to dig through the dresser. It didn’t take him long to find something to wear and disappear into the bathroom. When the door clicked shut, Darcy slumped so hard that she did fall off the bed, but she didn’t care. She lay on the floor, feet still up on the mattress, and hummed nervously until her chest didn’t feel quite so tight. The worst part was that when he wasn’t actively trying to freak her out, he was almost kinda nice. He had to have been terrified. Maybe being a major dickmunch was just his way of coping.

No. She wasn’t going to defend him. He was a creep and he was dangerous, and she wanted him gone. And the sooner, the better.

She stayed on the ground, listening to Loki fight and swear at the shower (she assumed he was swearing, anyway. It sounded like swearing) for the next few minutes, not sure what to do next. Ultimately, around the time the weird Viking swearing stopped and all she could hear was the shower running, Darcy decided that what she really wanted was to sit in her pyjamas and eat left-over pizza while watching boring television. And like hell if anyone was going to stop her.

She got up, trying to balance moving quickly with moving quietly, and dug out the last pair of clean pyjamas she had. Damn. She’d have to worm her way into getting out to the laundromat too. Assuming it was even still open. Double damn. She pushed all that aside and changed as quickly as she could, never once taking her eyes off the bathroom door. The whole time, Loki didn’t seem to even think about coming back into the main room, but Darcy still couldn’t quite shake the feeling that she was being watched anyway. Or maybe that was just the paranoia speaking. Or the spooks across the street who had actually been trying to watch her all day.

Was it really paranoia when you had proof that someone was trying to watch you?

Whatever. She didn’t care. Or at least, that’s what she told herself. She didn’t care, and she was going to just pretend that this was all perfectly normal. She pulled the perfectly normal pizza from the fridge and put a few slices on a perfectly normal plate, and microwaved it all with a perfectly normal shot glass full of bottled water. Loki was still in the shower by the time the microwave finished, but he could stay in there all night, for all Darcy cared. She had everything-on-it pizza, and after flipping through a few channels, Judge Judy. It was almost a perfectly normal night.

Loki took forever in the shower, and had probably used up all the hot water for the entire hotel by the time he came back out again. But at least with him taking so long, it gave Darcy a chance to calm down and collect her nerves. She looked up at him as he wandered back out, looking far less scruffy and angry than he had when he’d first gone in there.

“Dude, you were in there for almost an hour,” Darcy said. She looked down at her plate, with the one room-temperature slice of pizza left on it, and slid it toward what was unnervingly becoming Loki’s side of the bed. “Hungry?”

Loki sat down on the edge of the bed and picked up the plate. He kept watching her, in that way that people do when they’re trying not to let on that they’re watching someone.

“Thank you,” he said quietly. Darcy was almost surprised he knew how to say it.

“So, I was thinking. You know, while you were in there draining the desert of all its water.” She looked over, but didn’t seem to get any reaction from him. “You made it so those guys across the street can’t look in. Why can’t you, you know. Just do that to yourself and walk out?”

Loki stopped picking off all the peppers from the pizza and looked up at the window and the oppressively-patterned curtains that covered them. “It doesn’t work that way. Some runes can be drawn on a person and have minimal effect, but something that complicated…” He frowned and bit into his pizza.

“What?” Darcy asked.

Loki said something that sounded suspiciously like, “I’d need a very sharp knife.”

Darcy didn’t want to know. Either he’d suddenly grown attached to her tiny hotel room, or he’d already run through every possibility for escape about eight times over. And he didn’t exactly look thrilled to be there. She was pretty sure that if there was anything they could agree on, it was wanting him gone as soon as possible. So there was that, at least.

“Okay. Well. If you’re still hungry, there’s a bunch of stuff still in the fridge. I have a mountain of homework to get through, so. I’m gonna do that.” Darcy sighed, not really in the mood to do her homework. But it needed to get done, with or without her little Norse problem.

She stared at her feet, in her polka-dotted socks, for far longer than necessary before reaching over to pick up her laptop to start working on her essay that was due in two days. Whoever decided that twelve credits were required for her loans and grants to go through deserved to be kicked in the face.

The course was at least an easy one. Two short essays a week on random-ass subjects, just to make sure that she knew how English worked, as far as she could tell. It wasn’t that she didn’t know enough about the subject to even bullshit her way through—she just didn’t care enough about family holiday traditions to write anything.

Slowly, she started pecking out words at a snail’s pace about how Christmas worked with her family, and how uneventful and predictable it was every year. She never got any hilarious stories about that time Auntie Marge dropped the punch bowl on the turkey, or when Cousin Jackie got drunk and threw the tree outside, or whatever. Wake up, breakfast, presents, and a day at home with her parents until Christmas dinner. So boring.

She’d actually got so caught up in writing her thousand words about Christmas that she didn’t even notice Loki moving around the hotel room until she heard him laughing.

“What?” she asked.

She looked up to find Loki by the dresser with her frigging vibrator in his hands. He flicked the rabbit ears a few times before turning it over in his hands to examine the rest.

“Oh my god, no!” Darcy said. She tried to put her laptop off to the side and get out of bed, but didn’t exactly manage to do it as quickly as she’d have liked. By the time she got to her feet, Loki found the power switch and just started laughing all over again.

“Not for you!” Darcy snapped as she snatched it away and turned it off. “Oh my god, what is wrong with you?”

Loki kept right on laughing. “What’s the point of the rabbit?” he asked.

Darcy grit her teeth and shook her head, not sure if she should be pissed or humiliated. She was doing a pretty good job at being both, really.

“If you can’t figure that out on your own, then you’re not old enough to be having sex,” she said.

She stuffed the vibrator back into her underwear drawer, trying to ignore the fact that Loki had been digging around in there. She was starting to think that if ignoring things were an Olympic sport, she could win the gold at this point.

“Unless I tell you it’s all right to go digging through my things, you are not allowed to go digging through my things. Got it?” she said, rounding back on Loki. The son of a bitch was still giggling to himself.

“All right,” he said, wandering back over to the fridge. He didn’t sound terribly honest, but Darcy wasn’t in the mood to get into it with him.

“Now, I have to do this stupid-ass assignment and I don’t have the time to be babysitting you. I know you’re bored, but you’re also an adult. You can have my laptop back when I’m done, but until then just. Stay out of my stuff.”

She sat back on the bed and picked her laptop back up. Of course, she’d completely lost her tenuous grip on her train of thought, and couldn’t conceive of a way to squeeze another eight hundred words out of her damned essay.

“It occurs to me that we are both adults,” Loki said, clearly thinking it was the smoothest line he’d ever delivered.

Darcy grit her teeth and tried not to scream. Whether she wanted to scream at him or because of him, she wasn’t sure. But with that single sentence, he’d gone from being almost bearable to completely out of line all over again.

“Nope,” she said stiffly. “And just for that, you’re sleeping on the floor tonight.”

She realised she should have made him sleep on the floor the night before, but he’d looked so pathetic and broken. It was hard to believe that was only a day earlier. And now here he was, being the biggest creep ever.

“No, you’re not an adult?” Loki asked.

Darcy didn’t look up from her computer screen. “No, you’re not coming anywhere near me.”

Just to make her point clear, she picked up the pillow next to her and threw it onto the floor.

“Do not touch this bed,” she said, finally looking up to meet him in the eye. He didn’t look nearly as happy as he had a few minutes ago, but she didn’t care. “My house, my rules. Fucking capiche?”

Loki grit his teeth so hard, Darcy swore she could hear it. He stepped forward, and Darcy was certain she’d done the wrong thing, but it was too late to take it back now. She sat stiffly, not sure what to expect. But the only thing he did was snatch up the pillow from the ground and took it over to the far corner, where he sat and glared at his knees.

Darcy breathed in deeply as all the tension slipped away from her body, leaving a nervous relief in its wake. Loki could still do anything, and him being on the other side of the room didn’t necessarily mean anything. But it was kind of comforting anyway, just having that little bit of distance between them. She just hoped SHIELD would get bored and go away very, very soon.