Loki slept through the day, and Darcy was happy to let him. Every hour he slept was another hour he wasn’t grabbing her or acting like he wanted to murder someone. But with each hour she stayed in a strange house Darcy felt more and more trapped. It was one more hour SHIELD had to track them down. Sooner or later, someone would make a connection between them and the stolen phone. She’d crushed it, but maybe she should have kept it. It would be covered in fingerprints, and if the memory hadn’t been completely destroyed, they might have been able to figure out why they’d stolen it.

She couldn’t think straight. Everything was such a jumbled, horrible mess and it all kept bubbling up to the surface all at once. She tried to watch the news, but it just pissed her off. She tried to turn it off, but it just made her anxious. There was no winning.

While she shuffled around, Mike spent time on his laptop, talking to people halfway across the planet and trying to formulate a plan. Darcy wondered if he’d still be helping if he’d known what they’d done to get where they were. If he’d still be helping if he knew how many people had died or been injured. But maybe he would. Darcy was still trying to help. But she’d seen more than just pictures and lab reports. She saw the aftermath. The result. She saw a man beaten and bloody, cut open like a middle school science experiment and stitched back together. She’d seen him terrified and vulnerable, unable to even communicate with the world around him. And they had done that to him deliberately. She knew that beyond a single doubt. Someone knew he was dangerous, and their solution to it was to cut him open and poke around and take things as souvenirs.

And now he slept in some strange house in Canada, sick and broken and just trying to get home.

"You know he’s a prince?" Darcy said suddenly, looking over to Mike has he sat hunched over his laptop.

Mike looked up, and then pointed back toward the bedroom Loki slept in.

Darcy nodded. "Yeah. Nobody’s talking about that though. I just realised that. I have no clue how to get in touch with Asgard, but man. I don’t think I’d want to be around to find out how they react when they find out how we treat their royalty."

Mike looked at the TV for a few long moments. "Do you have any proof?" he asked.

Darcy knew exactly what he was thinking, and shook her head. "Just what he and his brother said." She tried to think about what she did have in the way of evidence or proof. "Thor, that’s his brother, got sent down here for some kinda timeout or something. I guess his friends didn’t agree, so they came to bust him out or something. And that’s when the robot showed up."

Darcy frowned, hearing the words that came out of her own mouth. She’d liked Thor. He was polite and kind of funny, in this gruff sort of way. But somehow when she told the story herself, saying the words out loud, he sounded almost like the bad guy.

That wasn’t right.

"I’m not going to pretend to know what was going on there," she said. "I’m going to school for politics, but alien monarchy politics is a whole other barrel of monkeys."

"Do you think SHIELD knows?" asked Mike. "Or SWORD?"

"I don’t know. If they did, wouldn’t it be in the leak?" Darcy asked.

"Yeah," said Mike, quickly opening another window on his laptop. "It probably would be."

Maybe if nobody wanted to admit Loki was a person, they could at least admit he was an intergalactic diplomatic fiasco waiting to happen. It also might mean SHIELD would be even more eager to catch up with them, to keep Asgard from finding out what they’d done. Thor didn’t exactly seem like the kind of person who would take this information lightly. Darcy suspected Thor would come in swinging that hammer, and not care who it hit.

Or maybe she was completely wrong about him. She didn’t know anymore. Her own thoughts confused her, twisted up and tangled with her confusion and fear over what was going to happen when they reached the end of the line. Or what might happen before they reached that point.

"How much of a difference do you think it would make, really?" Darcy asked. "Enough to get SHIELD off our ass for a while?"

"Maybe," Mike said as he scrolled through an endless page. "You’re going to be here for a few more days, so that might be enough to throw them off as well."

Darcy had expected to be on the move again soon. Sitting still seemed entirely too dangerous. "What? Why?" she asked.

"The train only runs every few days. Next one goes out tomorrow," Mike says.

"Well, crap," Darcy said.

So they were stuck, hiding out in some random house in Canada, unable to go anywhere. But maybe it was a good thing. Maybe that meant Loki could get the rest he needed, and recover. He hadn’t been able to get the sleep he kept demanding the entire time he’d been with her.

"I’m gonna go check on him," she said, getting up.

She walked back to the bedroom they’d been given and slowly opened the door. With the curtains closed and the evening approaching, the room was almost dark. From where she stood at the door, Darcy couldn’t even tell if Loki was breathing or not. He looked almost dead, lying sprawled out and taking up the entire bed. Taking a deep breath, Darcy slowly walked toward him, listening for any sign of life. She knew if she got too close and woke him, he’d strike out; hit her, or choke her. Or worse. She tried not to make a sound as she crouched down next to the bed. Up close, she could see he was still breathing, but not very heavily. It was almost like he was in a coma, but he seemed otherwise fine. If not for the dried blood under his fingernails, he didn’t even look like he’d spent the last week going through hell.

Seeing the blood under Loki’s nails, Darcy realised she hadn’t had the chance to bathe since the last time he’d used her as a canvas. Nor had she been able to bathe since they’d spent the night in the car. She quietly got up and fetched her backpack with the rest of her new clothes. Quietly closing the door behind her so the noise didn’t wake Loki, she poked her head back out to make sure Mike was still where she’d left him.

"Hey, I’m gonna take a shower, if that’s cool," she said.

He looked back up at her and nodded. "Yeah, go ahead," he said.

Darcy turned to the bathroom, locking the door behind her. Somehow over the last week, locking doors behind her had become habit. One that kept her safe, but not necessarily one she was comfortable having picked up. But she didn’t exactly trust Mike either, and with Loki comatose, she’d lost the only protection she had.

As she undressed, she caught herself in the mirror and almost jumped at the sight. The blood, the bruises, the dark circles under her eyes from constant stress and no good sleep were expected. But her hair, her natural brunette colour once more was not expected.

"When the hell?" she said to herself.

She had no idea when Loki had done that, though she knew it was him. What else would have caused it? But she hadn’t exactly been going out of her way to look at herself in the mirror lately. Entirely out of energy to think about it, she finished stripping and started the shower. The first thing she focused on was the blood on her chest, trying once more not to think about how nasty it was. But he said it worked, and she’d definitely seen the results herself, though it didn’t make it any less gross. Once she felt like she might begin to scrub off layers of skin, Darcy moved to her hair, keeping her hands busy so she didn’t have another shower breakdown she didn’t think she could handle. All she wanted to do was get clean. And once again, she didn’t even feel like she’d got close by the time the hot water started to fade. Not wanting to freeze, she turned it off, but didn’t step out. If she stepped out of the shower, she’d have to get dressed. And if she got dressed, she’d have to carry on with this stupid, horrible task. And if she carried on with it, Loki would grab her again, hold her down, and…

And she didn’t want to think of what else. Even though she did not think the situation could possibly get any worse than it already was.