Darcy was surprised that she had managed to fall asleep. When the bedroom door opened and woke her up, she looked around, taking a moment to remember where she was. Loki still had his death grip on her, but he was in a deep enough sleep that she was able to shove and poke him into letting go.
"Get off of me," she grumbled, managing to move his arm off of her stomach so she wasn’t being uncomfortably suffocated.
She shoved him hard a few more times until he started to wake up. "And move over."
Loki grumbled and started to sit up, but stopped still when he saw they weren’t alone in the room. Darcy held her hand against his chest, hoping it was enough to keep him from springing up and ringing their host’s neck.
"All right?" he asked, still standing in the doorway. He held two plates of dinner, which both Loki and Darcy noticed at the same time.
"Yeah," Darcy said, sitting up a little better.
Loki followed suit, trying to look dignified while his dinner was served to him in bed. They had fish, and some pasta, and some salad that looked like it came out of a bag.
"Oh my god, salad," Darcy said, stabbing it greedily with her fork. She hadn’t realised how much she’d been missing fresh, green vegetables in her life until that moment.
"Thanks, uh… dude," she said as she ate.
"Mike," he answered.
"Mike," Darcy repeated. "I’m Darcy. The bitchy one’s Loki, but he probably won’t respond. He doesn’t really like people much." She shrugged apologetically, having a good idea why he tended to not like people.
Almost to prove her point, Loki was too busy stuffing his face to even bother paying attention to the conversation. For a moment, he reminded Darcy of Thor, the first time she’d met him – stuffing his face with pancakes at a New Mexico diner. That seemed like it had been years ago, but in reality, it had been little more than a month past.
"He seems to like you," Mike observed, leaning against the doorway.
Darcy looked over at Loki again, but didn’t notice anything that looked like "like." He looked hungry and exhausted, and those black circles were under his eyes again.
"Because someone needs to put up with him," she said.
Mike laughed. Darcy hadn’t meant it as a joke.
She glanced at Loki again, wondering if he could even understand her. Sometimes, she thought when he got sick enough, he stopped being able to. He hadn’t been very talkative all day, and had even less to say after they left the park. Darcy didn’t want to think about why they had left the park.
"You heard what they did to him right?" she asked.
Mike nodded. "I saw the reports, yeah. You probably haven’t seen yet, but they’re getting out there. A couple of news stations have even started running them."
Darcy blinked. That wasn’t at all what she’d expected to hear. "What? Then why is SHIELD still chasing us, if everyone knows what’s going on?"
"Because they’re also saying he blew up an entire town," Mike said.
"Thor’s the one who created the giant tornado," Darcy said before she could stop herself. "I mean, it was nuts. Don’t get me wrong. But the town is very much still there."
"You were there for it?" Mike asked.
Darcy nodded. "Yeah. He wasn’t the only one from his planet that was there. He’s just the only one who got caught."
"I was the only one to get thrown back," Loki corrected menacingly.
"Is that what happened?" Darcy asked, looking back at him. He was glaring at his plate and clutching his fork so tightly, Darcy expected it to bend.
"My brother hurled me into an abyss. It was my own bad luck to end up back here," Loki said.
Darcy couldn’t argue with him on the last point. She wanted to reach out and try to comfort him, but she didn’t dare. Not when he looked like he might actually bite her hand off if she tried to touch him.
Mike also seemed able to take a hint, and reached for the door again.
"You guys need anything else, or do you just want to finish eating and go to bed?" he asked.
Darcy considered asking for a second bedroom, or at least for the sofa, but she knew Loki wouldn’t let her leave. And if she did, he’d just follow her wherever she did go. So she shook her head.
"Just bed, I think," she said. "And thanks. Again. I seriously thought we were fucked for a while, there."
Mike nodded. "I’ll keep my ear to the ground. Next train out of town is the day after tomorrow. Hopefully, we can put you on it."
"Okay," Darcy said, wondering where the train was going to take them next, and why it didn’t run every day. "Thanks."
Mike shut the door and left them alone. With him gone, Darcy became acutely aware of how close to Loki she was. The bed was big enough for two, but Loki still managed to take up most of it. But at least while he was eating, he kept his hands to himself.
"How you doing?" Darcy asked hesitantly.
Loki responded with a grumble as he finished off his pasta.
"That bad, huh?" Darcy said. She looked down at her own plate and realised that she had not eaten a proper meal in days. Before she knew it, she had cleared her plate, and was vaguely wishing for more. Sighing, she took Loki’s empty plate from him and started to get up, but he grabbed her wrist again and tried to pull her back down.
"Ow, no!" she snapped, pulling against him and struggling to keep her balance. "I’m just taking these out to the kitchen. I’ll be right back."
Loki reluctantly let go, watching her intently as she left the room. Mike had disappeared into another part of the house, leaving the kitchen empty. Darcy put the plates into the sink, and vaguely considered trying to sleep on the sofa anyway. But she knew Loki wouldn’t like it, and didn’t want to deal with however he decided to manifest that, so with a sigh, she returned to the bedroom to find him still glaring.
"Move over," she said tiredly. "I don’t want to fall off."
She shut off the light and walked over to the bed, trying to encourage Loki to move out of her way by shoving him. Eventually, he got the hint and moved to the other side of the bed. For a moment, Darcy hesitated beside the bed. She didn’t really want to sleep wearing multiple layers of clothes, but she felt like all the clothes were protection; like maybe if she wore enough, she’d actually be able to get some sleep. Knowing that what would really happen would be that she’d wake up in the middle of the night, feeling like she was sleeping in a furnace, she stripped down to her T-shirt, and sat down to take off her shoes and socks. She still felt weirdly exposed, but it still seemed like the more immediately comfortable option.
"Stay on your side," she grumbled as she climbed under the blankets. Realising that Loki had stayed on top of them, and probably would, she felt a little more relaxed. But that relaxed feeling evaporated immediately, when Loki rolled over and pulled her into another death grip.
Darcy reminded herself that he was scared, and that if he lost her, he was stranded and screwed. He didn’t know where he was going, or how to use the most basic technology, or even have the patience to talk to most people. He’d probably just assume everyone was SHIELD and leave a trail of bodies circling the globe, if SHIELD didn’t catch him first.
"Not so tight. I can’t breathe," Darcy complained, trying to push his arm away.
To her surprise, Loki actually moved his arm, so his death grip circled her hips instead of her stomach. Even though he still held her tightly, he at least wasn’t squeezing the life out of her in doing so. Sighing and knowing that it was the best she was going to get, Darcy tried to go back to sleep.
Loki slept well into the day, but Darcy had managed to slip away and wander into the living room late in the morning. She watched the news channels, flipping through them to see what was being talked about. The guy Loki had killed had been found, but police had no leads or suspects, which Darcy figured was a good thing. They didn’t need another reason to be chased. She ignored the guilt, even as it tried to overwhelm her. Loki did what he had to do to keep them from getting caught.
Eventually, she found a cable news channel, and was surprised to find a panel of angry correspondents arguing about the definition of human rights. She didn’t have to stick around long to figure out what they were really talking about. She recognised one of the correspondents – a bespectacled black man – from similar segments about mutant rights, and his stance here was the same. He struggled to maintain his composure as he ranted about the US government taking liberties they had no right to take, while at the same time stripping them away from those deemed not human enough to count.
Darcy watched almost eagerly, remembering that this was why she had gone in for a PoliSci degree in the first place. That this had been happening for decades, and people – herself included – were finally getting fed up with it. For a few brief moments, she had even forgotten that this wasn’t a debate about mutant rights at all, until one of the women on the three-way split-screen brought up the leaked SWORD documents, using them to point out that the person in question wasn’t even a person at all. Human rights, she argued, only applied to humans.
"He is a fucking person, you dumb cunt!" Darcy shouted at the screen.
The outrage that someone would actually take SHIELD’s side on this actually burned. Darcy could feel her skin grow hot and her stomach turn sour as the television debate raged on. People were actually taking SHIELD’s side, and believing the spin they were told, even with everything Kevin had stolen, highlighting in black and white what they had done. When the debate circled round to what had happened in New Mexico, everyone ignored the official report entirely, focusing only on Loki’s involvement. No mention of Thor or his friends was made. It was as if everybody, regardless of what side they were on, wanted the world to think Loki had just come down in his giant death robot to lay waste to humanity. Darcy covered her face with both her hands and screamed at it all. Everyone was lying, and nobody cared about the actual truth.
Able to take no more of it, Darcy picked up the remote and slammed her thumb into the power button. She had to get away from aliens and political correspondents alike. She picked up the blanket she was huddled in and wrapped it around herself before walking to the back door. She stood out on the porch, looking at the undisturbed snow covering the yard, and wondered what she was even going to do. SHIELD had caught up with them and Loki was still sick, and not getting better. And now, there was no doubt in her mind that if they were caught, Loki would be locked away in some cage until he became more useful to them as a collection of body parts in jars. She hated him for everything; hated him for coming into her life and taking her away and everything he had done to her. But she hated SHIELD even more. She hated SHIELD because even with everything Loki had done, both to her and to everyone else, they’d never put him in jail, where he probably belonged. They’d take him to a lab somewhere, deep underground.
Loki did deserve to be in jail. Darcy knew that. He’d killed people. But if she let him be taken by SHIELD, she thought she might as well just give up on everything she believed in. The only way she could ever live with herself would be to help him leave this planet, and hope he never returned. And maybe, wherever he went, the people there would know him for what he was and lock him in one of their prisons.
She stood where she was, her thoughts going in circles like this, just waiting to hear the wail of sirens signalling they’d been caught. But the sirens never came. The sun continued to drift across the sky, climbing ever higher behind the thin, grey clouds. Darcy had always wanted to visit Canada. She just never thought it would be like this.
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