It wasn’t Winnipeg, but it was close.  Darcy hadn’t quite figured out what a kilometer was in relation to miles, but if she had to guess, she thought they were maybe ten miles from Winnipeg’s city limit.  And that was good enough for her.  She left the highway and found somewhere dark to park the car.  Looking around at everything, she sighed and grabbed one of the blankets before opening the door.

"Put your shoes on.  We’re walking from here," she told Loki.

"Where are we?" Loki demanded.

Darcy shrugged.  "I don’t know.  I need to find an internet connection so we can find out."

Sighing heavily, Loki got dressed against the cold, only looking more miserable for it.  He pulled on his boots, and reached behind the seat to grab the last of the snacks from behind him before getting out of the car.

They walked down the road, slowly making their way to a more populated area.  Darcy looked around them, looking out for anyone who might have been following them.  She didn’t see anybody, but knew that still didn’t mean there was nothing there.

As they came to a long park, Darcy noticed a younger guy with white earbud headphones walking slowly in front of them.  She had a pair of those headphones, and knew there was only one reason on the planet anybody would ever tolerate them.

"He has a phone that can get online," she said quietly.  She couldn’t believe what she was saying, or what she was subtly suggesting.  She’d actually become that kind of person.  But she also knew they didn’t have many other options.

"We need it," she said, defeat heavy in her voice.

Loki looked around.  It was dark and cold, and nobody else was on the street near them.  Loki handed Darcy the carrier bag and broke away, quickly catching up to the guy ahead of them.  He moved silently and swiftly, even in the snow, and caught up to the other guy in just a few seconds.  Darcy had expected him to try to pick the guy’s pocket, or maybe just rough him up.  But Loki didn’t even give him a chance to notice him.  He reached forward and took the guy’s head in his hands, twisting his neck so hard, Darcy could hear the crack from where she stood.  She covered her mouth with her hands to keep from screaming, but couldn’t look away as Loki let the guy drop to the ground, before digging through his pockets.  After a few moments, he pulled the square, black device from the guy’s pants and held it up.  Seeing the iPhone, Darcy nodded weakly.  Loki brought it back to her like a trophy, like a smug cat who just killed a mouse in the kitchen.  Darcy took it, feeling sick, and slid it into her pocket.  She looked at the lifeless body on the sidewalk ahead of them, and then at the footprints leading back and forth from him.

"Loki," she said, pointing down at their tracks.  "They’ll be able to find us."

Loki frowned and looked down at the tracks as well.

"Damnit," he growled, looking around.  Without warning, he grabbed Darcy and pulled her close against his chest.  Darcy knew what he was doing, and knew what it was going to do to him, but she didn’t argue.  She closed her eyes against the flash of green, only opening them when she felt the ground beneath her feet again.  Loki felt heavy against her, as he tried to stay on his feet without completely crushing her under his weight.

"Woah, easy," she said, trying to steady him.

They hadn’t gone very far; he’d only taken them to the far end of the long park, but even that had been enough to wear him down and make him look sick again.  Holding her hand flat against his chest, Darcy tried to lead him away from the park and into the parking lot nearby.  The parking lot joined with a second one for a hotel, just off the highway they’d driven into town on.  Darcy led Loki to a dark wall along the hotel and sat down on the ground, wrapping the blanket around both of them.  Biting her lip, she pulled out the dead man’s iPhone and pulled up Safari.

There were a few ways she could have got the attention she needed, but they were all dangerous.  SHIELD was probably watching all of them.  Knowing she didn’t have a choice, Darcy typed an IP address into the bar, and scrolled through the Reddit-style message board.  She started typing her message nearly half a dozen times, deleting it again and again before deciding on the best way to code it.

Our guide dog got taken in Alberta.  We made it to our next stop without her, but can’t see well enough without a new one.  Please help.

Darcy knew it was transparent to anyone reading it, but it was all she knew how to do.  She wasn’t a spy, or some master hacker who knew how to live under the radar.  She was just a college burnout, forced into a terrible situation she didn’t know how to get out of.

She kept refreshing the page, wondering how long the phone’s battery would survive.  When a comment appeared below hers a few minutes later, she almost jumped at the shock.

I have a spare.  I’ll bring him round tonight.

Darcy covered her mouth with both hands and tried not to cry.  The wave of relief that flooded over her was so powerful, she felt she might choke on it.  Getting herself together, Darcy tapped out a vague reply, hoping the person on the other end would be able to figure out where she was.  

"Hey," she said, nudging Loki with her elbow.  "Someone’s gonna come get us.  But do you think you can get us out of here in a hurry if we need to?"

Loki swallowed heavily and stared at the snow in front of them, staying silent.  Darcy figured that probably meant he couldn’t, and didn’t want to admit it.  She didn’t want to think about what that would mean for them if the person who responded to her message wasn’t their next point of contact.  She knew there was every possibility that it wouldn’t be; that SHIELD was listening in, and rather than following them in their big, black SUVs, tracking them down online.

They waited in the dark for what felt like hours, listening for any sound that might be someone approaching them.  At one point, Darcy could hear distant sirens.  She tensed knowing they were coming for her, but the wailing only grew more and more faint until it faded completely.  Every car engine, ever footstep was someone coming to arrest her and throw her in jail forever.  When a little red 4×4 slowly turned around the hotel and stopped and rolled down its window about ten feet away, Darcy grabbed Loki tightly, ready to run.

"Alberta?" the guy behind the wheel asked.

"Yeah," Darcy said hesitantly.

"Get in.  Quick," said the driver, looking around the parking lot nervously.

Darcy pulled Loki to encourage him to get to his feet and nudged him toward the little jeep.  Loki climbed in, but Darcy hesitated at the door.  Thinking for a moment, she took the iPhone back out of her pocket and put it on the ground in front of the rear tyre before getting in beside Loki.  She could hear the phone crunch on the ground as they started to move forward, and was surprisingly glad to be rid of it.

She was surprised when they turned back onto the highway and started heading the way they had come.

"Uh," she said, looking out at the street.

"SHIELD knows you’re here.  We’re leaving town for a little bit.  If we’re lucky, they’ll think we left the other way," the driver said.

A few minutes later, they got off the highway and onto another, heading north.  Darcy watched as the little city disappeared, replaced by open land and snow once again.  Beside her, Loki slept quietly, still wrapped up in the blanket.  Unable to help herself, Darcy reached out and felt his forehead.  Even though by now, she knew it was normal for him, it still worried her to feel his cold skin against hers.  

"He needs to eat something," Darcy said, still watching him.  "All he’s had since I found him is junk food.  That’s probably not helping him."

She could see the driver nod.  "He’s the one who escaped, then?" he asked.

"Yeah," Darcy said.  "I still don’t know how."

She could see the guy watching them in the mirror, but she couldn’t see enough of his face to know what he was thinking.  

"How does SHIELD have jurisdiction up here?" Darcy asked, looking out the window behind her, in case someone was following them.  

"Because it’s not an American organisation.  It’s run by the World Security Council," the driver answered.  "They’re just headquartered in America."

"Huh," Darcy said, wondering how that even worked.  "Do you guys have your own branch, then?"

"No, we just use yours," the driver said, sounding weirdly bitter.  Darcy realised the bitterness probably wasn’t about having to share, but rather about SHIELD being allowed into Canada at all.

The highway took a wide turn toward the east, but they didn’t stay on it long after that.  They took a long offramp onto another northbound highway, which eventually took them to a small town out in the middle of nowhere.

The two of them helped Loki out of the car and into a small house, leading him to a bedroom in the back.

"I’ll let you get him settled," their rescuer said, staying in the doorway while Darcy tried to keep Loki on his feet long enough to get to the bed.  "I’ll try to find you guys something to eat."

"Thanks," Darcy said.

She got Loki to the bed, knowing once he got there, he probably wouldn’t move.  As she got up to go help in the kitchen, Loki grabbed her wrist and pulled her down to sit on the bed.

"Ow, stop ow!" she said, fighting back against his inhuman grip.  "Fine, I’ll stay here."

Loki loosened his grip on her wrist, but he didn’t let go.  Sighing, Darcy looked around the room, trying to assess her options.  Finding none, she shoved Loki closer to the centre of the bed.

"Move over at least, so I can lay down too," she said.

To her surprise, Loki did.  He still held on to her, as if afraid she was going to abandon him, but didn’t fight against her at least, as she was trying to get comfortable.  She was acutely aware of how close to him she was again, and how he held onto her to keep her from getting away.  But Darcy tried not to think about it.  Instead, she reminded herself that he was sick and scared, and tried to convince herself that he just didn’t want to be left alone.  He didn’t have the energy to do anything, she told herself.  But she only started to believe it when she heard him start quietly snoring again.