Darcy woke before the sun rose, which was becoming an irritatingly common occurrence. Less common was the realisation that she’d been allowed to sleep through the night. She didn’t feel like she’d moved an inch all night, and Loki was still entirely too close to her, one arm over her waist while his breath ghosted over her neck. Her back ached from being on her side, but it was better than what could have been. She’d take the stiff back and the feeling of being lightly crushed over anything else Loki could have done to her.
There was a clock on the table on the other side of the landing, and when she twisted, Darcy was just able to see the time, barely past five in the morning. Trying to move at all burned and sparked the beginnings of a headache, but she held onto that, knowing it meant she had been allowed to sleep unbothered. She tried to slip away, but Loki’s grip on her tightened, pulling her closer to his body.
“Let me up, please,” she said.
She waited in a moment that hung forever while Loki decided on what to do. He dragged his hand over her belly, and then rolled over, letting her go. Darcy wasted no time in getting up to lock herself in the bathroom, where she stayed for far longer than she needed to.
When she finally dared to venture out to the rest of the suite, she found Loki had already got up and wandered away again. She was half tempted to fall back into bed again, but her back and hips were so stiff her body almost physically rejected the idea. Instead, she headed down the stairs to the main room, finding Loki already fiddling with the TV. Watching him mess with the remote, Darcy wondered what other hidden pieces of knowledge he’d picked up along the way.
Darcy considered finding some breakfast, but she was still too tired and too on edge to deal with it. Instead, she folded herself into the chair, keeping as much distance between her and Loki as she could manage without making it obvious.
“We might want to have breakfast soon,” she said, pausing halfway through to yawn. “They told us to be up early, but didn’t say how early.”
“Where next?” Loki asked, not looking away from the TV, and the reality show about buying a house.
“I don’t know,” Darcy said.
“How long until we reach Tórshavn?” Loki asked.
Darcy shook her head. “I don’t know that either,” she said. “It’s a big planet. We’re still in Canada.”
“How can you be sure?” Loki asked. Darcy could hear him straining to keep his patience.
“Because the flags outside all had giant, red maple leaves on them,” Darcy said. “When we start seeing another flag, we’re in another country.”
Loki seemed to accept this answer. He nodded and sat back into his seat, apparently content to wait until it was time to go. He didn’t stay on any one channel for long as he flipped through, cycling through mostly news and reality TV. Darcy watched him flip through channels until she thought she was going to go insane, and got up to make them breakfast before it was time to leave. The only other thing in the fridge was the vegetable tray, and all that was left in the freezer was a bag of something that looked like French fries, but also really didn’t. Not knowing where their next meal would come from, Darcy pulled both out. She pulled the plastic film off the vegetable tray and pulled out a few carrots for herself, setting them aside. She took the rest back out to the front room and handed it to Loki.
“Here,” she said. “Probably better than anything you’ve had all week. Might help you feel better.”
Loki took the plastic tray and frowned at it, making Darcy wonder what vegetables on Asgard looked like. But whatever reservations Loki had faded quickly, and he started eating as she returned to the kitchen to figure out what had been left for them. She opened the bag, and found something that was almost definitely fries, but also two more plastic pouches full of what might have been gravy and chunks of cheese. Entirely unconvinced, she tried to find the instructions for what to do with it. It had oven instructions, which seemed like it might take too long, and microwave instructions, which seemed like it might come out gross. Erring on the side of caution, Darcy leaned over to start figuring out the microwave.
It turned out, “early” meant something entirely different to people who hadn’t been dragged all over hell and creation. Darcy had time to make their weird breakfast, and eat it, and clean the kitchen, and the bathroom, and tidy up around the bed, and still the sun had not risen, nor anyone come to fetch them. Out of options, she sat back down and tried not to go insane from constant channel flipping.
“The idea is to find something and stick with it,” Darcy said.
“You actually enjoy this?” Loki asked, stopping randomly.
Darcy shook her head. “I don’t even know what this is.”
More reality TV, by the looks of it. But at least she wasn’t being tortured by the constant flipping of channels from one thing to the next. Without that to occupy him, Loki began to grow restless as well. Darcy watched him get up to peer out the window as the first traces of dawn began to reflect off the endless blanket of snow. Apparently not seeing what he wanted to, Loki began exploring around the small suite, opening up cupboards and fiddling with whatever he found in drawers. Eventually, he disappeared upstairs again to mess with whatever he could find up there, giving Darcy space she didn’t think he’d ever allow her. With the distance between them, Darcy almost thought she could relax. She let herself get lost in bad reality TV, not really understanding what was wrong with the kitchen that was being remodelled, but watching all the same.
She’d barely had the chance to start enjoying herself when someone knocked on the door so loudly, she thought she might jump out of her skin. Darcy turned around in her seat to look at the door as Loki quickly dashed back down the stairs. He threw a harsh glare at her as he reached the landing, and Darcy shook her head. She stayed where she was and watched Loki walk to the door, moving carefully and utterly without sound. He reached the door and placed a hand against it, leaning as though he were listening to whoever was on the other side. A moment later, Loki fussed with the locks, taking a moment to figure them out before throwing the door open.
“Woah!” the guy on the other side said, taking an audible step back.
Darcy cautiously peered around the chair to see a younger man in a heavy coat standing in the hall.
“I’m supposed to give you a ride,” he said, not taking his eyes off Loki.
Loki looked back at Darcy, accusation still in his eyes even as she nodded.
“Put your shoes on,” Darcy said, getting up. She picked up their bag from the floor beside her and stood to wait just outside of grabbing distance from the door.
She didn’t know if this guy was SHIELD, or if he was there to help. He didn’t look like SHIELD, and she didn’t think they could have followed them up already, if the train only ran every few days. But they were SHIELD. They didn’t need the train. As soon as they’d figured out Loki and Darcy were on it, they could have found their own way up. For all Darcy knew, there was a helicopter waiting outside to whisk them away.
“Just a minute,” she said nervously, pulling the bag more tightly over her shoulder.
If something went wrong, she wondered if Loki would protect both of them, or if he’d cut his losses and run. She wondered if he’d leave her behind to fend for herself with whatever torments SHIELD could throw here way.
She dared to turn to watch him finish getting ready, slipping into the hoodie she was pretty sure he didn’t actually need. But it was good camouflage. Or, it had been, before they’d come so far north, Darcy wondered if it stayed frozen all year round. Now, he stood out as not belonging at all, entirely too under dressed for the weather. She looked at her own clothes, equally inappropriate for the cold, but her only option. She’d just have to hope that their next leg of their journey would come with a heater.
Put together, Loki was beside Darcy once more, his hand on her back as he led her toward the door. Darcy tried to squirm away from his touch, but he was on her like glue, matching her every movement as they walked into the hall.
“That all you got?” their latest guide asked, looking at Darcy with open concern.
She nodded. “We started in New Mexico,” she said.
The guy nodded back. “I have a spare coat in the truck. You’ll need it.”
Taking a deep breath, Darcy started following him out toward the lobby, already dreading whatever was coming next.
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