"Dude, what the fuck are you doing?" Mike asked. He stood in the middle of the room, gaping helplessly as Loki smeared blood all around the door frame.

It was no less gross than the first time he’d done it.

"Just be glad he’s not doing it on you," Darcy said.

Mike shuddered violently. "Ew!" he shouted.

Loki ignored both of them as he painted his blood runes all over Mike’s house. Every few minutes, he had to fuss with his hand to get it to bleed again, and every time he did it, Darcy was certain she could see him getting nearer and nearer to falling over where he stood. But she didn’t think it was the blood loss itself that drained him. It might have been part of it, but she was fairly certain it was whatever magic he was doing with the blood. She still didn’t understand a thing that he did, or how it worked, but knew that somehow it kept them from being seen.

"Somehow, this makes us invisible," Darcy said, watching as Loki finished around the door and moved to a window. This time, he at least painted on the glass, where it would be easier to remove.

"And it fucks up the paint," Mike said.

"I know," Darcy said. "But it’s better than prison, right?"

Mike sighed, exasperated but beaten as he turned to disappear back into the kitchen. Long after the sounds of digging through the freezer and fussing with the oven ended, he stayed hidden away from the lunacy he had invited into his home. Darcy watched while Loki ruined the resale value of the house, getting up to move with him as he moved from room to room. She wasn’t sure what she’d do if he suddenly fell over, but somehow it didn’t seem wise leaving him alone. He smeared his magic on every window and door that led outside, and by the time he was done he looked like he hadn’t slept in a week.

He looked like he had the night she’d picked him up, only marginally cleaner.

Cautiously, Darcy reached out for the knife, and was surprised when Loki let her take it. She looked down at it, its blade still smeared with his drying blood, and wondered how much of it SHIELD or SWORD or whatever had in their labs somewhere. Worse, she wondered what they’d do with it. Trying to push it all from her mind, Darcy reached out to pull Loki away from the window.

"Come on. Let’s go sit down."

She couldn’t tell if he stared blankly back at her because he was too tired to do anything else, or because he’d once again run out of magic and couldn’t understand her. But he let himself be led away until they reached the living room again, and then quickly pulled away again and collapsed on the sofa, leaving little room for her. Rather than taking Mike’s seat, Darcy sat on the floor next to the coffee table, spending a long moment just listening to Loki breathe. She looked at the knife again, and unsure what to do with it, put it down on the table. After everything Loki had done, she still couldn’t help but worry about him, and didn’t want to leave him alone. But most of what he’d done wasn’t even his fault. He wouldn’t have done most of it at all if SHIELD hadn’t taken him and cut out pieces of his insides like he was some kind of high school biology experiment.

"Hey," she said quielty, tugging on his fingers to get his attention. "We’re gonna get on that train tomorrow, and it’ll start getting easier from there. They won’t be able to follow us as easily once we get out of here."

Loki didn’t answer. He didn’t even seem to respond at all, making Darcy suspect all the more that he couldn’t understand her. She wondered how many times he’d exhausted himself like this already, and she just hadn’t been paying enough attention to notice. She half expected him to fall asleep where he was, but when his attention was drawn to a noise in the kitchen, Darcy realised that was never going to happen. He put up a front of being the big tough guy, but in the state he was in at that moment, a kitten could have overpowered him. When Mike walked back out to the living room holding a couple of plates, Loki grabbed onto Darcy’s wrist like an all-too familiar vise.

"Ow," she said sharply, trying to pull his hand away.

She wasn’t quick enough. Mike saw, and the look he gave her as he sat the plates down on the table was less than subtle. The look he turned to the blood-stained knife was somehow even less subtle. Loki didn’t have to understand words to see and understand what Mike wasn’t saying, and hauled himself up so he sat between Darcy and Mike.

"Everything okay?" Mike asked cautiously.

"We’re fine," Darcy said, moving up to the sofa now there was room for her. "You just spooked him."

She resisted rubbing the spot on her wrist where Loki had crushed her bones together. She’d been offered a plate of something that was probably fish, and some fries, and she wasn’t going to let uncomfortable conversations get in the way of enjoying what might be her last real meal ever again. It was enough to distract Loki as well, even if just for a few moments at a time.

He still hadn’t figured out utensils and ate with his hands, apparently not caring that his fingers were still smeared with blood. Darcy tried to ignore that as she ate, but it was too much. After a few moments, she got up and went to the kitchen to find a towel, taking the knife with her to drop into the sink. A roll of paper towels sat on the counter, which would work perfectly. She tore a few off and got them wet, hoping she could get her point across to the space alien sitting on the sofa.

"Here," she said, shoving it into Loki’s hands as she sat back down. "You’re ten kinds of gross right now."

He stared at it for a long moment before getting the hint and cleaning himself off. It wasn’t perfect, and still left dried blood under his nails, but at least it was easier to ignore. They both ate quickly, and by the time Loki had cleared his plate, he seemed ready to fall asleep where he sat. Darcy took his plate away before he could smash it on the floor or do anything similarly stupid, and took them back to the kitchen.

"I’m gonna take him to bed," Darcy said as she returned to the living room.

Mike looked at her with that same nervous gaze he’d given her before. "All right," he said stiffly.

"It’s probably best if we’re left alone for the rest of the night." Darcy looked down at Loki, watching him fight against falling asleep right there. "He’s scared, and on edge. And just needs to rest."

"What about you?" Mike asked.

Darcy didn’t answer right away. Instead, she took a deep breath and tried not to say the wrong thing. There were so many wrong things to say. Things that in any other situation would have been the right thing. But not here. Not now.

"I’m gonna stay with him," she said.

She didn’t want to. She wanted to run. She wanted to tell Mike that she didn’t even want to be there. That he’d been holding her hostage since the moment she found him.

She didn’t say any of that. Because if she did, everything would have been for nothing.

So she nodded, and Mike nodded as well, neither of them entirely okay with this situation. But Darcy ignored it, and reached down for Loki’s hand again.

"Come on," she said, giving him a little tug. "Let’s go to bed."

Loki looked up at her for a long moment before getting to his feet and following her back to the bedroom they’d been given. As she closed the door, she braced herself for the worst, but apparently Loki wasn’t in the mood to play games. He walked straight to the bed and collapsed. At least this time, he’d left enough room for Darcy to stretch out and read one of her books until she fell asleep as well.