Darcy sensed, rather than felt, that she was next to someone. She tried to wake up, hoping she could make sense of what was going on, but every time she tried she drifted off again.

Someone was talking. Someone angry, and someone not angry. Whatever they were talking about, it was only making the angry person even angrier, but Darcy couldn’t hear any of the words.

They were moving. It wasn’t on rough ground, and it felt fast, but that didn’t give her much.

"We’re gonna stop off and hope," someone said.

Hope? For what? And why did they have to stop?

Slowly, Darcy became acutely aware of the chill. She was freezing, and still kind of wet, and not wearing anything aside from a scratchy blanket. The person next to her didn’t seem to be much better. Darcy tried to ask where their clothes were, but she barely got the first few sounds out again before falling back out of consciousnesses.

Darcy woke again to the sensation of someone messing with her hair. No, not just her hair. Her entire head. This time she managed to open her eyes to find her vision blocked by something over her face as she was being jostled about.

"What?" she asked.

She managed to reach up and tried to pull whatever it was off her face, which at the same time stopped her from being shoved around.

It was a towel, she realised. Loki was very roughly trying to dry her hair. Or possibly smother her.

"You stupid cow," he said, going back to his angry work.

Darcy wanted to be indignant, but barely managed a huff at him.

"Hey," she said. She managed to push him away again, realising as she did that she was still naked. Loki, at least, was wearing clothes again. "Why you calling me names?"

"How could you be stupid enough to let yourself fall in?" Loki spat.

He sat back away from her and glowered , still holding the towel that looked brand new. Darcy snugged herself up in the blanket and tried to remember what happened.

"What?" she asked again.

Loki rolled his eyes dramatically and threw his hands into the air. Darcy looked at him for a few long moments, not sure what to say. When she couldn’t figure it out, she looked past him and realised they were stopped in a parking lot.

"Hey, where are we?" she asked, hoping no-one got a look at her while she was barely covered up.

"I don’t know. Some horrible place called Hope," Loki grumbled.

For some reason, Darcy felt like she knew that already, but she wasn’t sure why. She looked around. They were outside a supermarket of some sort, the driver of the old SUV they were in nowhere to be seen.

"I’m really cold," she said, not having anything else to say. "Is there a heater?"

Loki sat up like he suddenly remembered something and reached over into the front seats to grab a shopping bag. He pulled two heavy pairs of pyjama pants out and handed them both to Darcy, followed by a long-sleeved shirt and a new hoodie, and a huge pair of wool socks. Darcy didn’t even have to ask. She managed to get both pairs of pyjamas on without flashing the world, but the shirt wound up being more difficult. And of course, Loki couldn’t even be bothered to look away.

"Enough of this. I’ve already seen it, and it’s nothing spectacular," he said as she tried to keep the blanket closed around her and pull the shirt on over her head.

He helped by grabbing the blanket. Darcy had just enough time to clasp her arms over her chest before he pulled hard on it and pulled it over her head so she had her own personal blanket fort.

"Thanks," she said flatly.

She got the shirt on and then came out from under the blanket so she could put the hoodie on as well. Even with the layers, she still felt chilled straight to the bone, so she wrapped back up in the blanket and pulled the hood over her head. While she sat and shivered some more, the front door opened and a woman sat in the driver’s seat before passing something back.

"Here, hold onto this, sweetie" she said.

It was a hot water bottle — the old, red rubber kind — and Darcy took it eagerly. It was too hot to hold against her skin, but felt amazing against her stomach with her shirt as a barrier. Next, she was handed a steaming paper cup, which she assumed would have coffee or tea. Instead, she found very hot chicken soup.

"Thank you," she said, daring to take a sip and burning her tongue. She decided she’d just hold onto it for a while.

"How are you feeling?" the owner of the car asked.

"Cold," Darcy answered honestly. She tried to take another sip of her soup, but it was still way too hot.

The helpful woman in the front made herself even more helpful by turning on the engine and starting up the heater again. Darcy let herself lean up against Loki, hoping to leech off some of his warmth as well, but he was still stone cold.

"You’re freezing," Darcy said, looking up at him. He wore only the new shirt he’d been given, and one pair of pyjamas. The rest was stuffed on the floor by his feet. He hadn’t ebpven put his socks on. "Put your sweater on."

"I’m fine," Loki protested.

Darcy was still too miserable to argue. She sat against him anyway and held her cup up to her face, letting the steam roll over her cheeks. As she enjoyed it, Loki suddenly pulled the cup away and took a drink.

"Hey," Darcy chastised as she took it back.

Loki had the sort of look on his face that gave away the scalding burns to his mouth, but he said nothing about it. "You’re not drinking any of it," he said.

"Yeah, because it’s hot," Darcy pointed out. She took another small sip and tried not to laugh.

"Have you eaten anything today?" the woman in front asked. Darcy wasn’t sure which one of them she was talking to, but the answer was the same either way.

"No, we got out of Seattle at like, five this morning," Darcy said. "We only stopped to pick up the boat."

"And the betrayer," Loki amended.

"Yeah, and him."

The woman put the car into gear and started to pull out of the parking lot and onto the road. As they drove through the town, Darcy looked out the windows at their surroundings. She couldn’t see any big black SUVs, but they were probably hiding. There was no way SHIELD didn’t know where they were. Even if they couldn’t cross the border, they’d have notified Canada’s Men in Black already, for sure.

The town was a small one, but not a desolate one. They found a McDonald’s close to the main road back out of town, where Loki tried to make the poor woman order everything on the menu. All he got was a Big Mac and a fish sandwich, much to his annoyance, and to Darcy’s amusement. She wasn’t even sure the bean pole could get all the way through his first meal, but then he inhaled both boxes of fries and both sandwiches in about five minutes.

"Jeez, you guys must have black holes in your stomachs," Darcy observed. She only got some fries to go with her soup, and was still working on both.

The driver, whose name turned out to be Lil, glanced back in her mirror as they drove down a tree-lined mountain highway. "You two are mutants, right?" she asked.

Darcy shook her head. "No. I’m completely boring ordinary, and he’s from outer space. I’m just the unlucky schmuck who found him."

There was a pause before Lil spoke again. "I was told one of you was given the cure." There was an odd, stiff quality to her voice, but it was a touchy subject.

"He was," Darcy said. She took another drink of her soup, now a suitable temperature, and continued. "They went all Roswell and shit on him out there. His people are like, super advanced, to the point that it looks like magic. They wanted to see what the cure would do to him, I guess."

"What did it do?" Lil asked, almost subdued.

"Fucked him up," Darcy said, wanting to laugh despite the topic. "He couldn’t even talk when I found him. Remember when they had that security breach at the White House? He can do the kind of things that guy could do. He tried it a few days ago to get us away from SHIELD’s goons, and it almost killed him. They’re really strong people too. I watched one of them get his neck broken and then just shrug it off."

Loki sat stiff beside her, looking straight ahead and not adding a thing to the conversation. Darcy felt kind of bad about giving so much about him away like that, but she also kept hoping that the next person she told would know how to fix it and make him better.

But no-one said anything. The car took on an almost oppressive silence, giving Darcy a sudden longing for her iPod.