Loki dozed and napped through the afternoon. Those moments were the easiest. He slept quietly, his weight resting against her without actively holding her down. But he never seemed to completely let himself fall asleep. Every time he woke, he seemed determined to make sure she knew. He would start to trace little lines and circles on her leg through her pyjamas, and for the moment, it seemed like all he was interested in doing. There were no boundaries for him to push anymore, because he’d crossed them all. But as much as Darcy wanted to remove him from her lap, she didn’t dare. As soon as she tried, she knew he’d remind her who was in charge. And it wasn’t her. Loki was in charge. Loki, who was bigger and stronger than her in ways she hadn’t ever thought were possible before letting him into her space. Loki, who could do things to her she couldn’t even imagine.

So she let him rest his head in her lap, and touch her with his hands if he kept him happy.

But as the sun began to set, Darcy needed to get up. She hadn’t eaten since the train, and sitting down with his weight on top of her for so long was beginning to make her hips hurt. If nothing else, she needed to get up and move around.

“Are you hungry?” she asked.

“Do you know how to prepare food?” Loki asked.

Darcy wanted to scream. Somehow, she resisted the urge. “Yes, I know how to cook. It’s not hard,” she said.

Darcy was surprised when Loki sat up. She watched him stretch his back, wincing at something popping loudly, no doubt from all the time he’d spent lying down. Eager to put distance between them, Darcy got up and headed toward the small little kitchen to see what else had been left for them. There were a few small plates and bowls, and a single saucepan and frying pan in a cupboard, which would have to do. Taking the saucepan, Darcy put it onto the stove and turned to fetch one of the bags from the freezer. One of them was some sort of not-so-instant pasta, and being the most recognisable thing in there, Darcy grabbed it. The instructions called for items the kitchen lacked, but she figured she could improvise.

Even the simple task of trying to cook frozen pasta was enough of a distraction from everything else. She upended the entire bag into the pan and poked the frozen lump with a spoon, understanding suddenly why it wanted a lid. But there was no lid, so she’d have to babysit it, poking and stirring to make sure it cooked evenly, without being frozen on one side and burnt on the other.

As she poked and prodded what would eventually become their dinner, Loki had managed to sneak up behind her. She hadn’t heard him get up, or noticed him walk across the room until his arms were around her waist. He leaned his body against hers, watching over her shoulder as she froze up completely, momentarily forgetting all about her task at the stove.

“Not now. It’ll burn,” she said.

Loki pressed his mouth against the side of her neck in a way that wasn’t entirely a kiss, but was still entirely too close for comfort. Taking a deep breath, Darcy tried to ignore him as she brought her attention back to the stove.

“What is it?” Loki asked. His breath was hot on her skin as he stayed in her space, unmoving.

“Really lame pasta,” Darcy said stiffly. “It’s probably not going to be very good, but it’s what we’ve got.”

Loki stayed where he was as Darcy tried to coax the lame pasta into becoming edible. Remarkably, he kept his hands to himself aside from holding onto her as he did. Pressed against him, Darcy was acutely aware of how much bigger than her he was; how easily he could decide to change the entire situation if he wanted. But he stayed still and let her cook, for a given value of the word, and she let him stay where he was. Being stuck up against him took all her concentration to just remain calm, but she knew what would happen if she tried to fight him.

She’d always thought she’d be the sort of person who would fight back no matter what; that she’d kick and scream and bite and scratch until she won. She hadn’t done any of that. And she wasn’t doing it now. Even as Loki pressed a kiss against her neck in earnest, Darcy bit her lip and let it happen. She knew what he was trying to do, and she wasn’t going to let it work. He didn’t get to suddenly be the good guy. He didn’t suddenly get to be tender and gentle, like he was her boyfriend. And yet, it was exactly what she was letting him do. Because telling him no would make him mean again, and at least when he was pretending to be nice it didn’t leave marks and make her scream.

He only backed off when Darcy needed to start moving around the kitchen to fetch the small bowls from the shelf, and forks from the drawer. She set everything out onto the counter, and then picked out a carrot from the pan and ate it to make sure it was hot enough to be properly cooked. Aside from not wanting to eat half-frozen food, Darcy wasn’t sure they’d be able to survive getting sick from whatever nasty bugs lived inside frozen food. But it it was hot enough to be cooked, but not so hot that it burnt her mouth, so she considered it good. She divided the pasta into both bowls, avoiding looking at Loki as she handed him his.

There was a small dining table between the kitchen and the sofa, but Darcy took her bowl over to the big leather chair instead, hoping it might afford her a little bit of space. She was almost disappointed it didn’t recline, so she tucked her feet up under her instead. When Loki took the entire sofa to herself, Darcy finally felt like she might be able to breathe. Neither of them said anything as they ate and watched terrible reality TV, because there was nothing to be said. Instead, Darcy focused on eating bland pasta that tasted vaguely of soap, and tried not to think about what would come after.

When she finished eating, Darcy couldn’t tell if she was still hungry, or just tired from losing any semblance of a schedule in her life. She had no idea when she’d get to sleep all night again, in a proper bed without someone taking up all of her space. A tiny voice in her head told her it would never happen again. Another one told her she’d get all the solitude she wanted once SHIELD caught up with her.

Pushing it all from her mind, Darcy got to her feet and picked up Loki’s bowl where he’d left it on the table. He seemed like he’d gone back to sleep again, but Darcy didn’t hang around long enough to find out. She took everything back to the sink to clean up, utterly unsurprised when the noise of it woke Loki back up and dragged him back to the kitchen after her, heralded by the sound of the TV turning off. This time, he at least stayed back, watching her clean up as he leaned against the fridge. He may not have been touching her, but somehow it wasn’t any better knowing he was just a few feet away.

She turned to find him waiting for her, his expression completely unreadable. Darcy tried to ignore him and walk past to head to the sofa, but he caught her by the arm instead and pulled her close. For just a moment, Darcy resisted before remembering Loki’s warnings against fighting him. She expected him to trap her with his body, pinning her against the fridge, or even the floor, and was surprised when instead his hand moved from her arm to her back.

“Bed,” he said.

Darcy realised he had probably exhausted himself again, hiding them both as they travelled from the train to the hotel, and tried not to let any nervous little sounds escape from her throat. She let herself be led to the stairs instead, and then up toward the only bed in the room. The kitchen light had been left on, letting an orange glow creep up the stairs, just bright enough to see by.

She stalled at the bed, not even able to force herself to sit down on it. She watched as Loki got comfortable, and then let him pull her down next to him. Darcy closed her eyes against the small amount of light, so she didn’t have to see what came next, and was surprised when it never happened. She dared to roll over onto her side, putting her back toward Loki, and was not surprised when he cosied up close, pulling one arm around her. But his hands didn’t wander, and he didn’t try anything with his mouth, and Darcy hated how much she was grateful for it. There was a time just a few days earlier when she would have fought against even this, but Loki holding onto her while he slept was the least horrible thing he could possibly do to her, so she took it.

And somehow, even despite the light from the kitchen bouncing up the stairs, Darcy managed to fall asleep too.