Darcy was more than a little surprised when they pulled off the main roads and started heading down a poorly-lit and badly-paved side street. She looked out the car windows, wondering if she and Loki hadn’t taken a ride from the wrong person. Without meaning to, or even realising it, she moved a bit closer to Loki. He looked over at her, and maybe she was just imagining it, but he looked wary and suspicious, even in the dim light.

“Uh. Where are we going?” Darcy asked. She could feel Loki tensing beside her, like he was ready to jump out the door at any moment.

“You guys are staying with me tonight,” said Dennis, turning onto an even shadier street. “We’ll go up to Ross tomorrow to get you over the border.”

Darcy looked nervously up to Loki, but he seemed suddenly preoccupied with the arrow he’d taken from her.

“What kind of bird does this come from?” he asked as he ran his finger along the fletching.

“Bird?” asked Darcy. She reached out to touch it, confused why he thought it came from a bird. “No, that’s plastic. The whole thing’s like, plastic or fibreglass or something.”

Loki didn’t seem to like that answer, but he didn’t seem to like anything. That was just kind of his perpetual state, really. Annoyed and unimpressed with everything around him. It was no wonder his space pals flung him off the ship like they did Thor. That was probably their people’s way of dealing with the ones they didn’t like. They’d taken Thor back after a serious attitude adjustment. Maybe they’d take Loki back as well. Darcy could only hope.

She looked back out the window as they pulled into an unlit car park. They might have been outside an apartment building, but it was hard to tell. Between the rain and the darkness, all Darcy could see was that she did not want to be there. She nudged against Loki and nodded out the window when he looked at her. He looked out as well, turning a familiar frown at what he saw.

“This is where you live?” he asked.

Darcy wanted to start counting down before Loki called Dennis a slave and got them murdered. She found herself hoping that she was still useful enough to Loki that he’d want to defend her. Then she found herself realising how fucked they were if she was starting to look to Loki for help.

“Yep,” said Dennis as he got out of the car. He didn’t wait around for them, so Darcy hurried to grab their bags and try to push Loki out of the car.

Loki hesitated more than what was becoming usual before finally stepping out into the rain as well. Darcy tried to hand him his bag, but he ignored it, making her carry both. Slinging both over one shoulder, Darcy reached out to grab onto the hem of Loki’s T-shirt, just in case he did try to run off and leave her with Dennis. Loki looked down and scowled at her, and reached down for her hand. At first, she thought he was just going to pull her off of him, but he held on, and didn’t even act like he was trying to break her hand this time.

Dennis’ apartment was small and kind of dingy, in a way that clearly suggested he lived very much alone. There was a tiny couch in the middle of the room, with tables on either side. They were both covered in old beer cans and food wrappers, with some of the mess spilling over to the floor. What little she could see of the kitchen was in the same state.

“You guys want anything to drink?” Dennis asked. “Or smoke? I don’t have much else.”

“Clearly,” Loki said, picking through the mess by the television.

“Actually, I’m kind of tired,” Darcy lied quickly, hoping to distract Dennis from Loki’s scathing comment. “It’s been a long day, and we could both use some sleep, if that’s cool.”

Dennis nodded slowly, but brought over three cans of Bud anyway. “You sure?” he asked, offering them out.

Loki looked at it and leaned away warily. At first, Darcy wondered if he thought it might be poison, until she remembered his terrifying coughing fit after trying Pepsi.

“No, we’re just gonna go to bed,” she said. She looked over at the tiny couch, not really looking forward to sleeping on it. There weren’t even any blankets, but she didn’t want to ask for one either.

Dennis gave them both a squinty look before nodding and stepping over to the bedroom, taking all three beers with him. “All right. Suit yourself,” he said. He disappeared into the bedroom, leaving Loki and Darcy alone.

At once, Darcy claimed the couch, stretching out along it. It was short, but it was wide, more like a giant chair than a couch. Loki tried to crawl up alongside her as well, but she blocked him and shooed him away.

“No, girls get the couch. You sleep on the floor. That’s the rules,” she said.

Loki glared at her.

“Whose rules?” he demanded, towering over her in a very real reminder of just how big he was.

“Everyone’s rules,” Darcy said.

“You’re lying,” Loki said.

He looked like he was about to pull her right off the couch, but Darcy was not even about to sleep on the floor. “Prove it,” she said.

Loki grit his teeth and sat down heavily on the floor. It made Darcy wonder just how old he was. He was obviously pretty damn ancient, as far as Earth was concerned if he really was that Loki, but he really acted like a grumpy teenager who wasn’t getting his way.

“This man means to betray us,” Loki said suddenly. It wasn’t at all what Darcy expected to hear, but for some strange reason, she felt a little better for it. If an impending sense of doom could be described as better than rising panic.

“You think so too, huh?” she asked.

“We should go. Now. We shouldn’t be here,” Loki said. He reached down to scratch off the dried blood from his chest, frowning at it when it caught under his nails.

“Loki, if we leave, I have no idea where we’d go. I don’t know this area, or anybody in it. We need someone to get us into Canada,” Darcy told him. She knew he was right, though. She’d had a strange feeling about Dennis ever since they got into his car.

Loki sighed deeply and lay back on the floor. He looked up at the ceiling, silent for a long while. Long enough that Darcy thought he’d fallen asleep until he spoke again.

“If this realm doesn’t kill me first, I’m going to raze it,” he said with a steady calm that could only mean he was completely serious.

“Please don’t say things like that,” Darcy said. “You’re scary when you talk like that.”

Loki lifted his head just enough to cast her a curious glance.

“You would rather have me lie than face an unpleasant truth,” Loki said. It wasn’t a question at all, and he didn’t even try to make it sound like one. “Do you not think it would be better if the cruelty of this world were wiped out entirely?”

“You can’t erase cruelty with cruelty,” Darcy argued.

Loki made a sound that almost sounded like a laugh. “So what? You intend to erase it with kind words? Empty platitudes? Your race has forgotten its place.”

“And you’re going to what?” asked Darcy, unable to believe she was even having this conversation. “Put us back where you think we belong? Is that why we’re going all the way across the world?”

Loki thought on that for a moment. Or at least, pretended to. “No, we’re going to Tórshavn to get me off this festering realm.”

Darcy wanted to gag. “I can’t believe I’m helping you.”

Loki smirked. “As you’ve made a point of so frequently reminding me, you haven’t got a choice,” he said.

Darcy fell back onto the couch. “But why destroy an entire planet just because a few people are assholes?” she asked.

“If it’s only the work of a few, then why has the rest of humanity not stepped forward to put an end to it?” Loki asked calmly. “Are you certain it’s not the other way round? An entire race of cruel, savage beasts with few exceptions?”

“Well. I mean.” Darcy didn’t have an answer. Suddenly all she could think about was every time she’d ever heard about some young kid killed by police because he was black, or a mutant, or holding a candy bar. And there would always be the memorial ceremony, and promises to fix a broken system, but then a week later, it all happened again in another city.

“You know it just as well as I,” Loki said. She could hear the smugness in his voice, and wanted to hit him for it.

Darcy sighed deeply, resisting the urge to grab a lamp and break it on Loki’s face.

“Go to bed,” she said instead. “You need the rest.”

She thought she heard Loki laughing again, and rolled over to put her back to him. Maybe if she was lucky, she could get a bit of sleep as well.