The mile-long hike wound up being a mile uphill on loose gravel beneath a growing layer of snow. Darcy hated the snow back home, she hated the snow in New Mexico, and she hated the snow in Washington or wherever the fuck they were. The cuffs of her jeans were soaked, with the ice cold water seeping further and further up her legs. No-one told her there would be snow or hikes or freezing lakes. By the time they reached the dam, Darcy started to wish the Feds would show up, because their prison cells were probably warm and dry, at least.

When they got to the next boat launch, Loki made Dennis and Paul put the boat where they wanted it while he started to wander off. He sat in the snow, looking off into the distance with those dark circles under his eyes again. Darcy stood in one place, huddling in on herself to try to stay as warm as possible, and really not looking forward to getting back in that boat.

"We should camp," Loki said suddenly.

"We don’t have the time," Dennis said.

"She’s freezing. We need to camp." It took Darcy an embarrassing few moments to realise Loki was talking about her. He hadn’t shown a single hint of caring, but apparently he drew the line at watching her freeze to death. That was good to know. Kind of.

"We don’t have the time," Dennis repeated as he reloaded the boat. "We have to go now. If we light a fire out here, someone will see the smoke and call border patrol."

Darcy wanted to say that it was fine, and that she didn’t need a fire anyway, but she couldn’t even find her voice. Loki sighed and muttered something that was probably a space swear as he got up out of the snow. As he walked over to Darcy, he pulled his hoodie off and roughly put it on Darcy, trying to force it over her arms. She tried to complain and fight him, because he really would freeze in just a T-shirt and wet jeans, but her body wanted the extra layers more than she wanted to argue.

"It’s fine," she finally managed to stutter out.

Loki didn’t argue with her. Instead he just picked her right up off the ground and carried her over to the boat, seating her toward the back. He sat down next to her and glared at everything while Dennis and Paul got everything sorted and pushed off from the bank.

This lake was bigger than the first, wide and long like a gigantic river, with mountains on either side. The wind was getting even worse, blowing snow everywhere and making the water so rough, Paul couldn’t even run the boat at full speed. They never got a good rhythm, with the boat constantly being thrown up by a wave, and then crashing down on another one.

All the while, Loki held Darcy close to him and glared at the other two, never saying a word along the entire ride. Finally, after what might have been years, the boat finally slowed and they moved closer to shore. Darcy could feel Loki tense next to her, but she was just glad they were finally done.

"Hey, fuckwit. What are you doing?" Dennis asked suddenly.

Darcy looked up, not sure who he was talking to. She followed Loki’s glare to Paul, wondering what she was missing.

"It’s another mile north," Dennis said.

Paul turned the boat against the waves. "Not this time. We’re getting off here."

Dennis nocked an arrow and drew back the string. Darcy knew for sure she was about to die, and couldn’t do anything about it. Every muscle in her body seized up, and all she could do was stare at the arrow pointing at her.

Loki shoved her toward the front of the boat and Dennis, prompting her body to finally react. She was surprised when Dennis didn’t keep his aim on her, and only realised once she was clutching to the prow that his aim had been on Paul the entire time. She was just in the way.

"How much did they offer you?" Dennis asked. "Last I heard, the bid was half a million."

Paul looked over his shoulder at the bank and frowned impatiently.

Loki didn’t wait for an answer. He grabbed one of the oars and slammed the handle into Paul’s face. Paul reeled back and landed on the outboard, gunning the engine and pulling on the prop. The entire boat lurched awkwardly as a giant wave struck the side, throwing Darcy overboard.

"Damnit to hell!" Loki shouted.

He jumped in after her, struggling to keep her head above the surface even in the shallow water. The waves came one after the next, and even though Darcy knew that she had to start swimming and get to shore, she couldn’t. Nothing about her body worked, and she couldn’t even breathe the air that was right in front of her face. Everything was starting to go grey around her, and even after Loki somehow got her back into the boat, she still couldn’t breathe or move. Somewhere in the distance, she recognised more fighting and splashing, but she couldn’t see what it was.

"We need to camp. Now," Loki demanded.

The boat started moving again at full speed, despite the waves.

"There’s a car waiting for us at the border," Dennis said.

Loki started trying to pull off both the hoodies Darcy was wearing, which she really knew she should have been fighting against.

"She won’t survive that long, and I need her alive. If she dies, she’s useless to me," he said.

"Let me try something," Dennis said. "We might get arrested."

The boat slammed hard against the water, and if Darcy’s jaw hadn’t already been clamped shut, she knew distantly that she would have probably bitten off her tongue by now. Even through the numbing cold, she could feel every impact in her chest and spine, like she was going to explode from the inside out.

"She’s like me, right? Human?" Dennis asked.

"Is all of your race this fragile?" Loki asked in return. He pulled Darcy’s hair away from her face and wrung it out.

Suddenly, the boat turned again and everything slammed forward. Loki picked her up and carried her to shore. "Bring the bags," he commanded before carrying her across ground that didn’t feel level or solid.

"Thought you were coming from the other way," a new voice said. Darcy tried to look up, but Loki was holding her so she faced his chest. All she could see was wet T-shirt.

"She fell in. We couldn’t make the hike," Dennis said, panting.

"We need to get all that off her. There are blankets in the back," the new voice said. Darcy thought it sounded female.

She was put in the back of the car as she fought against the urge to drift off to sleep. She was so tired and so cold, and all she wanted to do was sleep, but her creepy pet space alien was undressing her and she didn’t want him too, but she couldn’t do anything about it.

"No, I’m cold," she complained.

"Did you fall in too?" the new person asked as Darcy was covered in a heavy wool blanket.

"I’m fine," Loki said.

"He went in after her," Dennis said.

Darcy could hear some more shuffling around as she tried to wrap the blanket even closer to her, but it didn’t have any warmth in it anywhere. Blankets were supposed to be warm, but this one was cold, like everything else.

Suddenly, there was a lot of rocking back and forth and doors slamming, followed by the very distinctive feeling of tyres failing to get traction on loose sand, before finally finding grip and lunging everything forward. As they bounced down the road to the sound of the car heater, Darcy was manhandled again until she was sitting up and leaning against someone. She fell asleep before she found out who it was.