Darcy never once looked out the window. She tried to bury herself in her book, but every single time the plane rocked or dipped in the air, she felt her soul leave her body for a moment. Loki barely said anything on the entire trip, offering only quiet assurances and false promises Darcy knew he couldn’t deliver. She didn’t know why he was being so nice to her, and wanted to scream at him to stop, but she was too terrified to do anything but make herself as small as possible. The ancient aeroplane didn’t have anything resembling climate control installed, and Darcy understood why she was given a coat. She huddled deep into it, while Loki barely seemed to notice the chill as they sped over endless fields of ice.
Ken said something about a tailwind, whatever that meant, and then they were heading down again. Landing was no less terrifying than taking off, and Darcy endured all of it with her eyes closed. She yelped loudly as the tyres bounced off the tarmac, and then they were on the ground again, rolling instead of flying. Once they were stopped and Ken got up to let them out, Darcy wasted no time in unbuckling her belt and getting to her feet. She rushed to the back, past the crates and canvas bags piled up along either wall, and barely waited to be helped down onto the ground. As her she found her footing, Darcy realised she was trembling, and she could not stop.
“You did good,” Ken said.
He looked up as Loki landed on the ground next to her. Immediately, his hand was under her coat and on her back, and for the moment, Darcy let him be there. She let him stroke long trails along her back as she struggled to catch her breath right there on the tarmac. For a moment, she could forget who he was, and take the small amount of comfort he offered while she struggled to compose herself.
“Are you all right, miss?” Ken asked.
Darcy wiped her eyes and nodded, unable to find her voice.
“Well, that’s the end of that,” Loki said, like he thought he was being comforting.
Instead of doing anything about it, Darcy looked around at the snowy landscape around them. She had no idea where they were, or where they were going, or what lay ahead. When she spotted another man walking toward them, she was almost glad to get going again. She tried to catch her breath and offered the man a weak smile as he approached them.
“You the ones in a hurry?” he asked.
Darcy nodded, but Loki spoke before she could.
“We are,” he said. “I presume you’re taking us where we need to go next.”
The new man nodded. “Right this way,” he said, already turning around.
Darcy turned to give Ken a weak smile. “Thank you. Again,” she said.
“Good luck. Both of you,” Ken said.
Nodding, Darcy turned to follow their new guide. There were all sorts of trucks and snow mobiles on the other side of the tall fence blocking off the runway, but Darcy quickly realised they weren’t heading to the other side of the fence. They were going to the other end of the runway, toward another ancient-looking aeroplane.
“Oh my god, fuck no,” she said, struggling to keep her knees from buckling beneath her.
She stopped in her tracks, leaning heavily against Loki as he stopped behind her. If it had been one long fight, it might have been easier. But getting off a plane, just to be told to get onto another was too much. She covered her face with both hands and tried to keep herself from launching into all out hysterics, but wasn’t sure how long she could last.
“Come on,” Loki said, nudging her forward.
Darcy shook her head, wanting more time. More time to compose herself. More time to accept what was ahead. But Loki didn’t give her more time. He picked her up and carried her across the tarmac, and in that moment, Darcy lost her hold on everything. She had resisted crying in front of Loki after everything he’d done to her. But now, faced with another rickety flight on an ancient, war-era aeroplane, she cried into her hands as Loki held her in his arms.
“We’ve not had a break for days,” Loki said over her. “She’s exhausted. We both are.”
“I bet,” said the new pilot. “You came from Arizona or something, didn’t you?”
“New Mexico,” Loki said. “Whatever that is.”
Darcy was loaded onto the plane like cargo, and taken to an empty seat. Unlike Ken’s plane, this one hadn’t been stripped for mail and cargo, though. It had all its seats still intact, and Loki picked a row over the centre of the wings. As Darcy gained control of herself, Loki settled in next to her, once again taking the window seat for himself.
“Take this off,” he said, tugging on her enormous coat.
Barely thinking, Darcy did as she was told and took off the coat. Loki moved it aside as Darcy buckled herself in, her hands still shaking. One more flight. After everything, it was the thought of one more flight that had pushed her over the edge. She had no idea where they were, or where they were going, or how they even intended to get there. Tórshavn was on an island, she remembered. Maybe this would be the last bit of travel before they got there. Maybe when they landed, they’d be in Tórshavn and this would all be over.
“Where are we going now?” she asked, her voice still shaky and cracked.
“Greenland,” the pilot said as he got ready up front. “About four hours away.”
Tórshavn was not on Greenland. It was on some other island she’d never heard of. Instead of thanking the man, Darcy covered her face again and tried very hard not to cry. A moment later, Loki draped her coat over her like a blanket, letting him pull her closer against his side. Instead of fighting it, Darcy let it happen. When the plane began to taxi, she held onto him, burying her face against his shoulder and praying he’d take her with him if anything happened and he had to pull his disappearing act again.
Nothing happened. They made it into the air, and were once again flying into the unknown, over what she imagined to be endless miles and miles of open sea and ice. As they climbed ever higher, the plane dipped and rocked in the wind, each time drawing a little squeak from Darcy.
“You should sleep,” Loki said, reaching up to brush Darcy’s hair from her face.
Darcy almost laughed. “Yeah, right,” she said.
Loki stroked her head in a way that was almost comforting. “You’ll feel better for it.”
She could tell Loki was doing something to her. She wanted to tell him to stop. She wanted to shove him away and get as far away from him as possible. Then the plane rocked again, and she held on tighter. Whatever Loki was doing to her, she let him do it, knowing she couldn’t fight it if she tried. Somehow, she did manage to fall asleep, despite the noise from the engines and the plane’s precarious position in the air. She didn’t wake again until the plane jolted at touchdown, sending a bolt of shock straight through her.
“You’re all right. We’ve just landed,” Loki said, still holding onto her as she rested against his side.
Darcy nodded and sat up, wondering where they were. She slowly worked on freeing herself from her seatbelt as the plane rolled to a stop, and leaned over to look out the window, utterly unsurprised to find more snow and desolation. The sun had set, plunging the snow and desolation into darkness, and giving Darcy an odd sense of hope. Hope because she knew they weren’t likely to be going anywhere in the dark. She had a little bit of a reprieve, at least until morning.
She managed to walk off the plane under her own power and stepped out onto the tarmac without waiting for help. Wherever they were, it was cold and a wind had kicked up, so she huddled back into her coat, grateful it had been given to her. The pyjamas she still wore left her lower half a bit too cold for comfort, but at least it was something.
“We all good?” the pilot asked as he closed up his plane.
“Yeah,” Darcy said weakly, still not entirely feeling better from their ordeal.
“I don’t suppose you know who we’re meeting next?” Loki asked, looking around the dark airport.
“No, but they’re probably inside,” the pilot said, pointing at the tiny little terminal.
With a hand on Darcy’s back, Loki nudged her toward the building. Her legs still felt shaky beneath her as she walked, numb to everything else around them. As they stepped inside the quiet little building, they found a woman sitting in a seat, reading a magazine. Spotting no one else in the building, Darcy gathered up the initiative to approach her.
“Hi,” she said, assuming the woman wasn’t a SHIELD agent who had somehow beat them to the middle of absolutely nowhere.
The woman looked up, studying them with a serious expression Darcy didn’t like the look of. After a moment, she nodded and stood up.
“This way,” she said, her voice heavily accented.
Darcy looked up at Loki nervously, and having no other options, followed after the woman.
“Where are we going next?” Darcy asked as they walked across the small building to a door on the opposite side.
The door opened to a small lot on the base of a hill, where a pickup truck and a small car sat.
“Hotel,” the woman said, leading them to the car.
She said something else Darcy didn’t understand, and which she assumed wasn’t directed at either of them. When Loki responded, it was in the same language. The two spoke briefly, until they reached the car, and they were let into the back seat.
“When did you learn that language?” Darcy asked quietly as they got settled.
“The same time I learned yours,” Loki said.
Darcy didn’t know what that meant, but she realised she had no idea how Loki had even learned English in the first place. Thor spoke it too, she realised. And all his friends. And they certainly wouldn’t have had time to have learned it naturally.
They started driving down the bumpy road, another trip to an unknown location. As they drove, Darcy realised exactly how sick and exhausted she felt from their trip from Canada. The drive wasn’t long, and soon they turned of the road toward a long, red building. Once they parked, the woman turned to speak to Loki, and handed him an envelope that seemed all too familiar. A moment later, Loki got out of the car, and Darcy followed.
“Thank you,” she said as she stepped out into the small lot.
“Yes,” the woman said.
She wasted no time in pulling away, leaving the two of them once again alone. A familiar dread built up inside Darcy’s chest as she looked at what was apparently a hotel. It was a dread mixed up with exhaustion and fatigue and anxiety from the rest of the day, and she simply did not have the energy to even think about it. The last thing she’d eaten was a few carrots and whatever the weird fries were they’d had for breakfast, and somehow Darcy didn’t expect to find anything to eat at whatever dark hour they’d found themselves in. Sighing, she headed toward the hotel, wanting nothing more than to go back to bed.
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