Darcy checked on Loki one more time as she went to put her bag away again. He was still next to dead, barely breathing, without having moved an inch since she’d left him. That was good. It meant Loki might be able to heal, and maybe even be able to whip up some of that kooky-ass magic of his to make their life a little easier.
It also meant she wouldn’t have to put up with him for a while longer. She needed some space away from him. Every time she let him cross a line, it was like that line had evaporated completely, free to cross again and again at will. And she had let him fuck her—to make the magic work, he said. But she’d let him do it once, and she knew that meant he was going to think he could do it again.
A big part of her didn’t even believe him about the magic thing.
She left him to his nap and went back out to the front room to join Mike. He was still fiddling on his laptop, but she didn’t stop to see what exactly he was doing. Trying to do anything but think, she sat back down on the sofa and stared at the TV without really watching it.
"You were right," Mike said. "They knew."
Darcy looked up quickly. "You found it?" she asked. "In the leak?"
Mike nodded. "This thing is huge," he said. "I don’t know what they think they’re getting away with, but they’re about to start several wars if they keep this kind of thing up."
Darcy considered that for a long moment, trying to find the meaning in what wasn’t being said. "Wars with who? Asgard?"
"Asgard, other nations. Ourselves," Mike said. "They knew exactly what they were doing from the very beginning, and they did it anyway."
As he shook his head at the screen, Darcy got up to see it with her own eyes. The dense, plaintext document was a lot to skim through, but she was still able to get the gist relatively quickly. SHIELD had figured out who he was before he’d even arrived at their facility. Which meant they knew exactly who he was when they’d tied him up, stuck a needle into him, and interrogated him.
And they’d done it in that order. Without realising she was doing it, Darcy reached out to scroll further down the page. Everything she knew about what had happened, Darcy had pieced together from the scars and marks on Loki’s body. She had assumed the cure had come later, after he’d given them a world of trouble. But SHIELD apparently hadn’t taken any chances with him, and by the time they thought to interrogate him, they’d missed their chance, and out came the knives. If they couldn’t understand a word he said, they’d apparently get information in other ways.
Darcy had thought it was the other way around; that whatever digging around they’d done in his head had made him unable to understand her. It was the cure that had done it. Something about Loki’s magic itself was responsible for his ability to speak English. Suddenly, his mood swings were brought into an entirely new light. Every time he exhausted himself, he stopped understanding anything that was said to him.
She remembered what he’d said while they were on the train, heading to Seattle. That he’d been through something like this before, and had slept for a week after. He hadn’t been allowed to do that. And he probably wouldn’t be allowed to do that until they reached Tórshavn.
She also remembered the rest of what he’d said, and tried to ignore it. She’d let him cross that line already, and it hadn’t done him an ounce of good. Maybe that alone would be enough to keep him from crossing it again.
"He hasn’t said anything about any of this," Darcy said as she read over the terrifying report on the screen in front of her. "When I found him, he was in rough shape, but how is this something they’re allowed to even do?"
"Anything’s allowed if you don’t get caught," Mike said. He looked up at her, his thoughts plainly written across his face.
Darcy looked back up at the TV, where some pundit at a desk was recapping SHIELD’s international manhunt. The story had been spun in so many different directions already, that even the people reporting on it hardly seemed to know what was going on anymore.
"They must have seen this already as well, right?" she asked.
"Who knows? There’s so much to unpack here, they probably don’t even know what they’re looking for," Mike said. He watched the TV for a moment as well, and then turned back to his laptop to screenshot the page he was looking at. "Let’s give them a little nudge."
Darcy watched as he opened the screenshot in some cheap Photoshop clone and highlighted relevant sections in bright yellow. As he opened up Twitter and tagged various news outlets, Darcy wondered what good it would ultimately do. If Asgard was watching, they would have done something already. That, or Loki was right, and Asgard had thrown him to the wolves. If Thor already knew Loki was here, why hadn’t he come back? Or was Loki right about that too? Had Thor been the one to cast him out? Was Loki completely on his own, without any backup from people who were supposed to be his family?
He wasn’t even trying to get home, Darcy realised. So much had happened in such a short span of time that she’d barely been able to keep track of it all. But Loki was trying to go find some elves. He had allies on some other world. Allies that would help him do who knew what, but allies all the same apparently.
The full scope of what she was doing suddenly hit her so hard, she could barely stand. Darcy took a big step backwards to regain her balance, and quickly sat back on the sofa before she fell over. She still had no plan for what came after Tórshavn. Loki was going to go off to live with the elves, and Darcy would… what? Just keep running forever? Her life was over, and for what?
"You okay?" Mike asked suddenly.
Darcy looked over at him, trying to stay calm. Freaking out wasn’t going to do her any good, however much she wanted to do it.
"No, not really," she said, shaking her head. "I mean, I’m… I’m fucked."
"There are places you can go," Mike said. "Places that will take our side on this, because their governments aren’t entirely corrupt."
"Yeah and I’ll never see my family again," Darcy said. "Any of my friends. Is that really any better? Spend the rest of my life in some foreign country, or jail. Those are my options."
"Who knows?" Mike said. "Maybe we can give them enough geese to chase that you’re the least of their worries. If anyone should be arrested, it’s these clowns."
Darcy nodded. She wanted to believe him, but she’d seen the amount of money and resources SHIELD were willing to throw at problems. And if they were international, like Mike said, then where would she even be allowed to go that would keep her beyond their reach?
There were too many questions, and not enough answers. Before she could dwell on it much longer, the woman on the television started talking about a new discovery. Darcy already knew what was coming next, but she sat forward in her seat to watch anyway, nervous and anxious to see how they were planning on spinning it. Never in her life had Darcy expected to hear the words "Intergalactic diplomacy" uttered on the news, but there it was, all out in the open. Soon, the entire world would know that SHIELD had played with fire by using an alien prince as a lab rat. And now the question on everyone’s mind was how much Asgard already knew.
As the report played on, Darcy heard the bedroom door open, followed a moment later by Loki walking out to the living room. He gave everything a suspicious look from the hall, with his attention finally falling to the television.
"Get rid of this," he said.
Darcy picked up the remote and turned off the TV, watching Loki try to decide what he wanted to do. He didn’t look any better than he had the night before, though he was speaking so that was apparently a plus.
"Do you want to take a shower?" she asked.
For a moment, he seemed to contemplate the option. Instead of taking up the offer, he shook his head and walked into the living room instead.
"Later," he said.
Loki sat on the sofa, putting himself between Darcy and Mike. He crowded in on her, leaving no space between them. Darcy tried to shift away, but before she could manage, Loki grabbed her wrist with that vise-like grip of his.
"Let go of me. I’m not going anywhere," Darcy said, trying to pry herself free of his grasp.
As Loki loosened his grip, Darcy caught Mike looking at them with an open concern that made Darcy want to scream. If he tried to do anything, she knew Loki would obliterate him without thought. And then they’d be super fucked.
"It’s fine," she said, not sure who she was trying to convince more. She managed to pry her wrist free and put some distance between her and Loki. "They don’t have personal boundaries in outer space, apparently."
Loki glared daggers at her, but she ignored it. He could be angry with her all he wanted. He’d ruined her life, and she wasn’t going to put up with his bad mood on top of it.
"Are you guys hungry?" Mike asked suddenly.
It was enough to shift Loki’s attention back over to him, which didn’t seem to do anything to ease the tension.
"A little bit, yeah," Darcy said.
Mike nodded and sat his laptop aside before getting up. Darcy watched as he disappeared into the kitchen, unsure if he meant to cook something, or order. Either way, she hoped that maybe with a couple days of rest and food that didn’t come from a drive-thru or a gas station might help improve Loki’s current state.
She hadn’t seen him before everything went to hell, so she didn’t have much of a frame of reference, but Darcy was pretty sure that he didn’t normally look like he’d gone ten rounds with a bear. Even with the amount of rest they’d managed to get, he seemed like he was barely able to keep his eyes open, managing only through the power of spite. Darcy reached out for his hand, acutely aware of the fact that he let her touch him at all, and turned it over so she could see where he’d kept cutting himself open. All but the most recent of marks had completely disappeared, and she wouldn’t be surprised if the faint mark that remained was gone by the end of the day.
"I hate to ask, but is this something we should be doing here?" she asked.
She looked up at him, knowing that every time he did something to keep them from getting caught, it whammied him all over again. He couldn’t get the rest he needed as long as they were in danger.
And he knew it too, judging from the way he closed his eyes and sighed.
"Perhaps," he said.
He took his hand back and rubbed his thumb against the bottom of his palm. His exhaustion was so plain, it felt contagious. He hadn’t asked for any of this either. Despite everything that had happened before SHIELD got his hands on him, Loki was every bit as much of a victim on their bullshit as Darcy was. And Darcy at least knew how the world around them worked. Loki had been thrown into something entirely new and terrifying on top of everything else.
And his freaky, unreliable magic was the only thing that seemed to be keeping both of them safe from whatever SHIELD had planned for them next. Freaky, unreliable magic that would only put him in an even worse state once he used it.
Finally, he got up and walked toward the kitchen. Darcy watched him, not entirely sure what was going on until Mike shouted loudly.
"Jesus, what the fuck are you doing?" Mike said.
After a pause, Loki walked back out from the kitchen holding a steak knife. Something inside Darcy broke at the sight of it, and she suddenly found herself laughing, and unable to stop.
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