Something woke Darcy, though she wasn’t sure what it was. She was bundled up in every layer of clothing she had available, under all the blankets they had, with Loki behind her, holding her close to his chest. She could feel his breath on her neck, and it took a moment to realise that he wasn’t actually squeezing her to death intentionally, but that his arm was just that heavy. She breathed slowly, wanting to close her eyes and go back to sleep despite everything, because whatever Loki had done the night before had already started to wear off. His magic hadn’t been as good as he’d claimed, but it had kept her alive through the night, without needing to run the gas tank dry to keep the heater on. She wasn’t exactly warm, but at least she wasn’t freezing, either. Just in danger of being squashed to death by Loki’s arm over her stomach. As she tried to wriggle away, something loud pounded against the window behind her, sending both of them into a shock. Darcy tensed and tried to sit up, but Loki fought against it, pulling her even closer and actually squeezing the air out of her. She slapped him a few times before he let go, and they both turned blearily and confused toward the knocking. A man stood outside, looking frantic and oddly relieved. Scrambling over Loki, Darcy reached over to unlock and open the door, wishing she’d slept in her shoes as well.
"Oh my god, thank you Jesus," she said, waving her hands around before shutting the door again to find her boots.
After pulling them on, she shimmied out of the car and through the waist-deep snow to meet the man out on what she assumed was the road.
"Holy shit, you just saved our lives, not even joking," she said, wondering if she should hug him.
"Yeah, no kidding. When’d you go off?" he asked.
Darcy looked around, not able to tell what time of day it was, other than day.
"Last night. We hit some wind, and some ice, and well." She shrugged and looked over at the guy’s empty flatbed truck. "We could kind of use some help getting out." She looked back at the car, noticing the lack of blinking hazards and cringing. "And maybe a jump."
The truck driver nodded and looked into the car again. "You two all right? Your fella looks like he’s not doing too good."
Darcy had to bite her tongue to keep from loudly insisting that Loki wasn’t her fella. She looked in at him, and realised the truck driver was right, though. Loki looked just as bad as he did when she’d first found him out in the desert. It occurred to her that she could easily cut and run, and leave him behind since he looked like he barely had the energy to even object, let alone fight back. He just sat there in the back of the car, having trouble keeping his eyes open and staying upright. She could just leave. Disappear on her own. And then–
And then what? Undo everything she had already gone through so much hell to do? Just leave him to die in the snow, or for SHIELD to find him and take him back and cut pieces out of him again?
Part of her said he deserved it. Another part of her thought that sounded like government spook rationale. She’d known the risks when she first let him into her car. You don’t take in a wild animal without expecting to get bitten, just like you don’t take in an alien fugitive without expecting… whatever. Taking a deep breath, and knowing she would come to regret it, she nodded.
"Yeah, he’s been really sick all week. I don’t think last night helped, either," she said.
Not for the cold. She was convinced Loki couldn’t even feel the cold. But whatever he had done to keep her from freezing to death had obviously set him back again. He’d sure seemed like he’d been enjoying himself the night before, but now it looked like he regretted it as much as she did.
"Well, let’s get you back on the road. Here, help with the chain."
Darcy knocked off as much snow from the back of the car as she could so she could find a place to hook the chain. She couldn’t see anything that looked appropriate, so she got back into the car to put it into neutral while the truck driver hooked everything up.
"Can you start it, sweetheart?" he called out.
Darcy shook her head and turned around to shout back. "No, my battery’s completely flat. I had the hazards on because I couldn’t tell how far off the road we were, and didn’t want someone to hit us."
The driver nodded and went back to his truck. Darcy couldn’t help with the engine, but she could make sure the wheels were at least turned the right way to try to make it easier to get pulled out of the snow.
"Loki, why don’t you come sit up here?" Darcy said as the car lurched from the strain of being pulled.
Loki shook his head and fell back over onto his side. Not sure what else to do about him, Darcy let him wallow in misery and focused on trying to get unstuck. She rocked back and forth in her seat as if it would help, but the car still only lurched and jerked. After a few more moments of it, the truck behind them stopped running, and Darcy watched in the mirror as the driver got out and reached into the bed. When she saw what he grabbed, she got out to help shovel as much of the snow away as possible. It took them almost an hour, by her reckoning, to get enough of the snow out of the way, or else packed into a hard ramp. This time, when they tried again, the car lurched and fought for a few seconds before finally being pulled loose and dragged back up to the road. Once they were on flat ground again, the driver got out to unhook his chain, and then turned around to get close enough for a jump. Between the cold and the utter flatness of the battery, Darcy half expected it wouldn’t start at all. She watched out ther window, hoping the friendly truck driver wasn’t paying too much attention to how she started the car. But he mercifully seemed too busy with jump leads and his own truck to notice he was helping start a stolen and hotwired car. They had to try more than a few times, before the Ford’s engine finally coughed and sputtered to life. Darcy breathed a deep sigh of relief and rolled down the window while the friendly truck driver retrieved his leads and slammed the hood down.
"Oh my god. Thank you so much," she said.
The truck driver nodded, and then pointed into the back of the car. "You two get somewhere warm. You might want to think about stopping in a hotel, if you’re going too much farther."
"Yeah, I think we might. Thank you again."
She waited for him to get back in his truck and turn to head back toward Calgary or wherever before she put the car into gear and continued on eastward. As soon as they were moving again, she turned on the heater and cranked it to its highest setting. Even if it did blast out cold air, she knew it was only a matter of time before it started heating up, and that alone brightened her mood.
She drove in silence for a few hours, ignoring Loki in the back until she realised how hungry she was, and that he was probably starving again. Having no idea when the next town would be, she just pulled over to the side of the road and kept the engine running while she grabbed the rest of their very cold pizza. Acutely aware that she was doing something potentially stupid, she popped the hood and took the pizza outside and set it on the engine to warm up. Afraid that the box would catch fire before too long, or that she might get poisoned from eating the fumes, she only kept it on for a few minutes. It no longer seemed frozen, so it would have to do.
"Hey, breakfast," she said as she got back into the car. She turned to shake Loki awake, making sure he actually sat up a bit before stopping.
Taking the first slice of pizza for herself, she offered him the box, and was strangely glad when he sat up the rest of the way to take it. The pizza wasn’t freezing anymore, but it was still cold and tasted like car. Darcy was at least hungry enough to ignore both disgusting qualities. As she ate, she watched Loki scrunch up his nose as he pulled all the green peppers off the pizza before he ate it. When Darcy finished hers, she sighed deeply and started to put her thoughts together. There were a thousand questions she wanted to ask, but none she dared even try to vocalise. She was pretty sure she didn’t even want answers to most of them anyway. The rest, she thought she might already know the answers to. Like how someone had seen their supposedly-invisible car, even when it was half buried in the snow. She could ask Loki to fix that, but something told her it might actually kill him. If not for as far as they’d already come, she might have said he’d deserve it.
"So. I don’t know how much further we have to go, or how long it will take. And when we get there, there’s a whole other problem," she said, thinking out loud.
Loki grunted, which Darcy assumed meant he was listening.
"I don’t know how to get in contact with the people we’re supposed to meet. I don’t even know who we’re supposed to be meeting," she said.
Loki quit eating and sighed tiredly. "How much further to Tórshavn?" he asked.
Darcy shrugged uselessly. "I don’t know. We’re still in Canada. We’ve still got days left, probably."
"Can you get me to Tórshavn?" Loki asked, sounding both hopeless and impatient at the same time.
"Yeah. Probably, if I can get back in contact with the people," Darcy told him. She looked out the window at the already darkening sky and silently despaired. "I kind of want to stop if we don’t get there soon. In a hotel, if we can find one."
"No," Loki said sharply.
"Yes." She turned to look at him, able to see the dark rings under his eyes and his utter lack of complexion. "You’re sick. I don’t want to freeze to death. If I don’t see signs that we’re almost there by the time it starts getting dark, I’m going to start looking for a hotel."
Loki didn’t say anything, which Darcy figured was his version of relenting. She gave him a few more minutes to sit and sulk while she pulled out the map and traced their path along the marked highway. Using one of the highlighters to rougly measure the distance, and going off of the odometer on the car, she figured they had to be getting close.
"Well. Can you read, at least?" she asked. He didn’t seem like he’d been able to before, but Thor had been able to read English while he was on Earth, and Loki seemed like he’d at least healed from his time with SHIELD or SWORD or whatever.
"I don’t know. Maybe," Loki said after a moment.
"Kay. Because if I had someone to read out the signs for me while I’m paying attention to the weather, I might be able to go a little more quickly," Darcy reasoned. It was difficult enough to see the signs as it was, and keeping an eye out for them while also watching for ice was not the easiest thing she had ever done.
To her surprise, Loki nodded and brought the pizza with him to the front seat, and even buckled up without being told. He batted at the deflated airbag for a bit while Darcy pulled back onto the road.
"Do you see the one that’s circled in pink?" she asked. "Winnipeg?"
"Uh." Loki picked up the map and glared at it, like he was trying to force his brain to work after spending two straight days writing a midterm paper. "Yes," he said finally.
"That’s what I’m looking for. If you see any signs that say that, tell me the number that comes after it," Darcy said.
Loki nodded slowly, still glaring down at the map. "Fine," he said.
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