Darcy had expected Loki to fall asleep on the job, but not quite as quickly as he did. Luckily, she spotted the sign that said Winnipeg was about 200 kilometers away. Which, she realised, told her exactly nothing, because she had no idea how long a kilometer was. The sun was still in the sky, although quite low on the horizon, and she definitely was not looking forward to another night on the side of the road.
Making up her mind, she nudged Loki awake again. "Hey. Wake up," she said.
Loki grumbled at her and tried to stay asleep, but she wouldn’t let him.
"Hey, so. It’s still a long-ass way away, I think. I’m gonna keep going until I start getting tired or the weather turns to shit again, and then I am finding a hotel and pulling over," she said, hoping she sounded like she wasn’t about to take any of his shit. She wasn’t sure what she’d do if he made them camp again.
"No," Loki said. "No stopping."
"Yes, stopping. I don’t want to freeze to death because you want to camp," Darcy said. "And then where would you be? You’d stranded, with nobody to take you to fucking Norway or whatever, that’s where."
Darcy decided she really enjoyed seeing him sulk, even if she could only watch it out of the corner of her eye.
"Fine," he said finally.
Darcy nodded and checked the map again, making sure she stayed on the right road and didn’t make any stupid wrong turns that would take her to the North Pole or something. She tried to hold the map against the steering wheel, so she could see both it and the road in front of her, but she wasn’t as good at dividing her attention as she thought she’d be. Darcy hadn’t realised how difficult going on the run was without having someone else do all the driving. She would be very glad to ditch their stolen car and hand the reins over to someone else again. Just being the passenger in all this drama had been stressful enough, but she was pretty sure she might actually die from the stress if she had to do another day’s driving in Canada.
"Okay, I need you to keep watching out for signs again," she said.
"You said it was still a long journey," Loki argued.
"I said I think. I don’t know," Darcy told him. "It’s all in kilometers up here, whatever the hell a kilometer is. Two hundred could be another two days, or twenty minutes, for all I know."
Loki looked out the window, and then snatched the map away.
"No, hey. I need that," Darcy said. "Unless you want to tell me where to turn as well?"
He looked down at the map, frowned at it, and tossed it back. Trying to keep control of the car and pick the map up, Dacy nodded over her shoulder. "I got you some chips and some juice if you’re hungry," she said, knowing he would be.
"Got them where?" asked Loki suspiciously.
"At a gas station. You were asleep, and I didn’t want to wake you up."
Loki watched her suspiciously for a moment, but it was rather undercut by how sick he looked. Darcy was starting to think that if she was going to get Loki to Norway or whatever alive, that they’d have to be more careful. Every time he used his magic, it nearly killed him. Like he was using it faster than whatever made his magic work could heal; like going out to play football on a broken leg. Darcy wondered if his magic came from part of whatever they’d hacked apart in his brain, or if it was in any of the other cuts she’d cleaned up. As if, without knowing it, she’d cleaned up the wounds from some sort of experimental organ removal, with government scientists trying to see which pieces of himself Loki could live without.
Darcy remembered those cuts, and where they all were. And she knew that was exactly what the government scientists were doing. They’d try couch it in terms of trying to find a new medicine, but that new medicine would be thirty years off and $200 a pill.
As Loki turned to reach over the seat for the carrier bag, Darcy couldn’t help but see the hurt, terrified person she’d brought into her hotel room. The person who had no idea where he was who was immediately locked away and treated like an animal. The person who had been hacked apart and vivesected alive, and managed to escape from it.
Darcy suddenly realised that any lead they’d gained in Calgary would be lost by now. SHIELD were still hunting them, and they wanted Loki back. They wanted to put Darcy in a cage for helping him escape. And if SHIELD caught them, they’d finish what they’d started with Loki, and tear every last part of him out. Probably, Darcy thought grimly, while he was still alive and conscious. She wondered how many mutants had disappeared off the streets to be cut open and dissected in the name of scientific research. And even though she’d always been inclinded to dismiss it as urban legend before, she was certain Loki wasn’t the first alien to have crashed on Earth to be cut up and studied. They probably already had pieces of him growing in a jar somewhere.
"The first thing we’re going to do is ditch the fuck out of this car," Darcy declared firmly. "Then I need an internet connection so I can figure out what to do after that."
"A what?" Loki asked around a mouthful of Pringles.
"It’s like, computer magic," Darcy said.
"It isn’t magic. Your race hasn’t the knowledge," Loki told her with an irritating amount of certainty.
"I said it’s like magic. I don’t know how to explain it. A series of tubes. Whatever." She shruged and peered out into the distance to see if she could find any road signs. She couldn’t.
Loki acted like he had no idea what she was talking about, which Darcy realised probably wasn’t an act. She tried to remind herself that Loki wasn’t from Earth, and needed even basic things explained to him. And probably not because they were such complicated concepts, but because his planet was so advanced, it would be like Darcy trying to finish her math homework with an abacus instead of her TI-84.
"It’s so I can get back in contact with the people that are supposed to be helping us. It’s a communication tool," she explained.
If Loki cared, he didn’t show it.
"You looked at porn on it," Darcy reminded him.
Still, he remained more interested in pizza-flavoured Pringles than anything she said. Sighing, Darcy shook her head and drove on, watching the side of the road for any more signs. As the sun sank below the horizon, the wind began to pick up again, but it was still light compared to the night before. Nothing felt like it was going to shove the car into the next lane. Trying to remain calm, Darcy remained mindful of the wind, but didn’t focus on it.
Once Loki was done devouring the entire can of Pringles, he reached over and snatched up the map again. This time, he actually took the time to look at it, squinting at it in the dark for a few moments before looking out at the white landscape around them.
"This is the road we’re on?" he asked, glaring at the map again.
Darcy didn’t look away from the road. "The pink one? Yeah," she said.
Loki glared at it a moment longer before looking back out at the terrain again. Darcy kept waiting for him to magically figure out how much longer they had before they got to Winnipeg, but he said nothing. They both stayed quiet, neither saying a word after that.
"One hundred fifty," Loki said flatly after about a half hour.
Darcy had seen the sign, but she hadn’t paid enough attention to it to read it. After the night before, she was too busy focusing on everything else.
"Seriously?" she asked. "We’ve done fifty kilometers already?"
She had to fight the urge to turn around, knowing that the sign wouldn’t have anything written on the back of it. Instead, she looked at the blinking clock on the dash, trying to figure out what time it really was. The early sunsets so far north kept confusing her, but she didn’t think it could be much later than 6pm.
"If the weather behaves, we should be able to get there in like, two hours," she said hopefully.
Loki kept his attention out the window and sighed.
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