After years of riding the subway, Darcy could almost feel it in the air, before she ever even saw it.

Fare inspector.

They were about twenty minutes out of the most recent stop, but she didn’t think he would have got on there. He was probably the guy who handed out pillows or something. He was up at the front of the car, taking tickets and checking them against IDs and the passenger manifest. IDs which, even if she and Loki had, wouldn’t have matched the names on their tickets.

"Shit," she hissed, jumping out of her seat and back to Loki. At some point, he’d actually gone to sleep like a well-behaved child, and Darcy had to shake him awake.

"We got trouble. Wake up," she told him.

Loki blinked awake and glared at her, but at the moment, Darcy was more afraid of the fare inspector than of her deranged travel partner.

"We have to hide. Or something. I don’t know," Darcy said.

Loki looked up and finally seemed to notice their impending problem. He cast about almost as frantically as Darcy had, eventually setting his attention back on her.

"Something sharp. Now," he ordered.

Darcy hesitated, wondering if Loki’s plan was going to involve putting a knife to her throat like the hostage she was. She glanced up at the inspector, slowly making his way toward them, and picked over her backpack.

"Here," she said, pulling off one of the totally punk rock safety pins that decorated the front of the bag. "It’s all I have."

Loki glared down at it, and then up at the inspector. There wasn’t any time left to argue, and they both knew it. Without any warning, Loki jammed the safety pin into his wrist and jerked it around, making him start to bleed all over the place. There was less blood than Darcy expected to see, but still more than she wanted to see.

“Oh my god, what?” she squealed.

“Shut up,” Loki demanded.

He reached over and pulled down the neckline of her shirt to expose her neck and chest. Squealing indignantly again, Darcy slapped him away, but he responded by grabbing her wrist tightly enough that she knew it was going to leave bruises.

“Do not fight me, girl,” he said, and brought her hand up to her shirt. “Hold it down and help me.”

Some of the other people were looking at them again, and Darcy wondered why none of them were helping her. Not wanting to turn into a live snuff performance, Darcy pulled down the neckline of her shirt as he’d done. Instead of stabbing her through the neck, or pulling out her throat, Loki started drawing on her bare chest, using the blood from his wrist. It was warm, and sticky, and went against every personal health advice ever.

“Oh my god, gross,” she said. She covered her mouth with her free hand, hoping that she wouldn’t wind up vomiting all over her own lap. She couldn’t even watch what he was doing, but utterly and completely failed to ignore his sharp, pointy fingers jabbing into her chest. She turned her head away, staring at the seat in front of her and trying not to gag or cry or just collapse into a fit of despair. How had this become her life? Who the hell had she pissed off to deserve this?

Loki finished with one final, unnecessary jab and pulled her face so she had to look at him again.

“Me,” he said.

Darcy looked down at his bloody wrist and almost did gag.

“You want me to…” She couldn’t even finish the sentence, and definitely did not want to go fingerpainting with alien blood.

“No,” he said, once again grabbing her wrist and pulling his hand where he wanted it. Darcy got the hint and pulled down his shirt so the top of his chest was bared.

Loki cast a quick glance up to the fare inspector, now only a few rows away, before he started painting on his own skin. Watching him, Darcy noticed that when he’d grabbed her, he’d got blood on her wrist. Great. It would match the bruises.

Somehow, watching Loki paint on himself wasn’t as bad as watching him paint on her. How he managed to do it upside down, craning his neck in a way that looked like he was about to break it, Darcy had no idea. The design he painted on wasn’t like the ones he’d put on the window in the hotel room. This was more like a picture, with all sharp angles and pointy bits sticking out of it.

He finished and used the bottom of his shirt to wipe the blood off of his hands, but his wrist still kept bleeding. As the inspector came to the couple before them, Loki leaned close to Darcy, gripping hold of her knee as if to keep her from running away.

“Do as he asks. Say nothing,” Loki warned.

Darcy nodded, suddenly far more afraid of Loki than of getting caught with falsified tickets. As the fare inspector stepped up next to their seats, Loki’s grip on Darcy tightened, like he was trying to poke a hole straight through her.

“Tickets and ID please,” the inspector said.

Darcy looked over nervously to Loki. Whatever he’d done with his fingerpainting hadn’t work, because the inspector could obviously still see them. Loki nodded almost imperceptibly, so Darcy tried to smile as if Loki wasn’t trying to dislocate her knee, and handed over the tickets. She had no ID to hand over, but Loki gripped even tighter to her knee, so she sat back and stayed quiet.

The inspector scrutinised the tickets, looking back and forth between them and Darcy and Loki. Any minute, he was going to ask for ID, and then they’d really be in trouble. Darcy would be arrested and thrown in a SHIELD jail forever, and Loki would wind up strapped to some table in an underground lab, having bits of him cut out and turned into biological weapons or something.

And then, for no reason at all, the fare inspector nodded and handed the tickets back. He didn’t even say anything as he turned to the next passenger. Almost immediately, Loki released his grip on Darcy and collapsed against her with a sigh that could have either been relief or exhaustion. Darcy couldn’t tell.

“That was seriously close,” Darcy said, trying to shrug Loki off of her.

“I can’t keep doing this,” he said with his face pressed into her shoulder. “How long until we reach Tórshavn?”

“I don’t know. It’s on the other side of the planet,” Darcy told him. She wondered how big his planet was, and if something being on the other side of it was just a day’s drive or something. “It could be weeks, since we can’t fly there.”

Loki groaned.

“Hey, are you all right?” Darcy asked. She tried to nudge him so she could see his face, but he was too heavy, and resisted.

“I’m fine,” Loki said.

“You don’t look fine,” said Darcy. She looked over at him, covered in blood and trembling. Maybe once they got to Seattle, they could lie low for a few more days. Give him a chance to properly sleep, at least. And maybe eat something real.

“I’m not… I’m not going to go anywhere. I know that’s what you’re afraid of,” Darcy told him. “I don’t have anywhere else to go. Tina was saying I should go to England after we get you to Torshaow or whatever. And it’s still your fault that I have to make that decision, but you don’t deserve whatever SHIELD would do to you if you got caught. Which you totally would if I left you on your own.”

Loki sighed again. “Would you please shut up,” he said.

“Please. Wow. Did that hurt?” Darcy asked.

Loki finally looked up at her, his face weary and drawn. His raccoon eyes were worse, and now to go with it, he’d managed to give himself a bloody nose. Darcy cringed, knowing that he’d got it on her shirt.

“Yeah, go to sleep,” Darcy said. She settled back in her seat, this time ready when Loki leaned all his weight against her. It was uncomfortable, and she couldn’t use her right arm at all, but at least he was quiet.