Their room was small and only had one bed, but Darcy didn’t care. For a fleeting moment, she considered trying to sleep on the sofa, but she didn’t want to sleep on the sofa. She wanted to sleep in a bed. She took off her coat and dropped it onto the room’s single chair as she walked across the small space. She sat down on the edge of the bed, taking entirely too long to just breathe. She needed to take off her shoes, but taking off her shoes felt like effort, so she just sat and stared at the floor.

A moment later, Loki sat beside her, too close and all up in her space. She looked up to find him watching her carefully, like he wasn’t sure what he was going to do.

Darcy wasn’t even sure what she was going to do.

“How’s your…” Darcy said, reaching out without thinking about what she was doing.

Loki tilted his head, letting her card through his hair to see how well he’d healed. Somehow, she was completely unsurprised to find no evidence at all of what had been done to him. Everything had seemed clumsy and rushed when Darcy had seen it all fresh, but somehow it didn’t even scar. Whether it was his magic, or just part of being a space alien, she had no idea. She remembered the beating Thor had got up and walked away from, and wondered exactly what it would take to cause someone like them any permanent damage.

“How does it work?” she said, folding her hands together in her lap. “All of it.”

Loki made a face like he was contemplating her question, and then shook his head. “It depends on which part of ‘all of it’ you mean,” he said.

Darcy wasn’t sure what else she expected. Without knowing why, she took Loki’s hand and turned it over, expecting to see a mess of cuts and scars where he’d cut himself open to smear his own blood on everything.

“If I’d done that to my hand, I’d probably be fucked up for the rest of my life,” she said, letting him go.

Loki looked down at his hands, pressing his thumb against his palm where he’d cut himself. “An Asgardian can have his heart removed, and replaced again once the body is cold, and he would still get up and walk away,” he said.

Darcy thought he sounded almost bitter and resentful, though she couldn’t figure out if she was imagining it or not.

“You’re not really speaking English, are you?” she asked, wanting to find something slightly less gruesome to talk about. “How come I can understand you?”

“Because it’s the language you expect to hear,” Loki said. “I don’t know what your language sounds like. To me, you and everyone else on your realm sound Asgardian.”

She’d heard what Asgardian sounded like, and wondered what it would sound like in her own voice. Unsure how to get out of the uncomfortable corner she’d backed herself into, she finally bent to take off her shoes, tossing them carelessly onto the ground. As she tossed the second one down, she felt Loki’s hand on her back again, an all-too familiar weight that would not leave. A moment later, he kissed her neck, and Darcy realised she was too tired to do a single thing about it. But he stopped there and got up instead, moving across the small room to turn out the lights. When he returned to the bed, she could feel him arranging the blankets, but still she sat almost motionless at the edge of the bed, too tired to even move to lie down. When Loki tugged her back, she let it happen, moving only as much as necessary to get comfortable under the blankets as well. When he pulled her close, she didn’t fight it either. But instead of wrapping himself around her to trap her next to him, he changed up the script. He lay on his back, and guided Darcy so her head rested on his shoulder, with her arm draped over his chest.

It was entirely too intimate and too soft, and Darcy could not be bothered to care. Whether she was still tired from whatever Loki had done to her on the plane, or from the stress of the whole thing, she didn’t even care. She closed her eyes, trying to ignore the delicate circles Loki’s fingers traced on her back, and the way his fingers toyed with hers. In almost no time at all, her exhaustion won out, and she fell asleep sharing too much space with a man she wanted nothing to do with.

Darcy woke slowly, taking a long moment to realise she was alone in bed for what felt like the first time since Loki fell out of the sky. She had slept through the entire night, and could see the first traces of morning light through the window, where Loki stood, watching something she couldn’t see. She didn’t want to catch his attention, enjoying having the extra space for once. At some point, he’d stripped down to just his pants, and without his shirt Darcy could see that he had completely healed everywhere. Even in the dim light, it was obvious that nothing was left. Not even the smallest marks had been left behind. She wondered if that’s what they’d been testing when they were torturing him. She’d only caught snatches of the leaked documents, and even then knew they were still likely full of spin, entirely without consideration for Loki’s experience under their knife. Clinical language and detached perspective to make everyone involved feel more like they were dissecting a frog, and less like they’d been torturing a person.

“What all did they do to you?” she asked, regretting the words as they left her mouth.

Loki turned to face her, staying where he was by the window.

“You mean aside from treating me like a laboratory experiment?” Loki asked.

Darcy sat up, not sure what else to do. “Yeah,” she said. “Were you awake?”

She’d made a mistake in asking, and she could see it plainly on Loki’s face. This wasn’t a conversation he wanted to have, and she’d gone and opened her mouth about it anyway. It wasn’t a conversation she wanted to have either, but at the same time she had to know.

“Yes,” he said after a moment. “The first time. And the time after that. And each time after that.”

Darcy looked away, too frightened to face the wrath on Loki’s face as he spoke. She couldn’t fault him for being furious and wanting revenge. But she didn’t want it directed at her.

“That’s why I wanted to help you,” Darcy said. “Because they didn’t do that before. To… any of the others. But you were the first one they caught. And they thought they could get away with it, because they always get away with it.”

She dared to look back up at Loki, unsurprised to see the anger and rage still written across not just his face, but his entire body. But he hadn’t moved from the window either, keeping a safe distance between them.

“The drug they gave you. They call it the Cure,” Darcy said, looking down so she didn’t have to see the look on his face. “It wasn’t meant for aliens with magic powers though. It was meant for humans. Mutants. Enhanced. Whatever you want to call them. When I was a little girl, there was a campaign to start rounding them all up and taking away everything that made them special. That’s why these people are helping us. This isn’t their first rodeo.”

She fussed with the hem of the blanket as she spoke, picking her nails at the seam along the edge.

“And what about you?” Loki asked. “Is this your first rodeo?”

Darcy took a deep breath. “I’ve done some hacktivism and a few protests. But nothing like this before. And now…” She trailed off, not wanting to give voice to the thing that had been worrying her.

When Loki stepped over and sat beside her, Darcy flinched away. But instead of grabbing her, or hitting her like she expected, Loki turned a softer expression to her.

“And now what?” he asked.

She dared to look up at him, struggling to maintain what remained of her resolve.

“And now there’s nothing for me to go back to. I can’t go back home,” she said, shaking her head. “SHIELD. They’ll follow me until the day I die. They’re not going to just forgive and forget that I helped their new toy escape. They’re bad people.”

She sniffed, resisting the urge to cry in front of him again. He already knew how isolated and hopeless she was, but he didn’t need to see exactly how much it hurt. She almost lost it completely when he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close against his bare chest. It was one more thing that was too intimate for comfort, and yet comfort she craved all the same.

“I told you,” he said, his voice unnervingly soft. “Stay with me, and I’ll keep you safe. I owe you a great debt, and mean to see it repaid.”

Darcy held her tongue against the words she wanted to say. She wanted to ask if he intended to repay her for everything he’d done to her as well. But she was sure he did, and she was sure she wouldn’t like his idea of repayment.

She wondered if the same things went through Thor’s mind when he was being all lovey with Jane. If it was some fucked up alien thing, or if Loki was just the one who was fucked up. Thor had only been around for a few days. Those first few days with Loki had been scary, but he hadn’t been cruel or violent with her then. She wondered if Thor would have turned cruel and violent if given enough time.

Darcy pulled away, and was surprised when Loki let her.

“Are you going to take me to Elfheim?” she asked, still not wanting to know the answer.

“That is the intent,” Loki said. “As you said, you’ve nowhere else to go.”

Hearing him say it hit Darcy like a ton of bricks to the chest. The last bit of her resolve crumbled, and before she could stop herself, she started sobbing into her hands, loud and ugly and unable to stop. Again, Loki pulled her close, petting her on her back as she cried against him. He kissed her on the forehead, and Darcy wanted so badly for it to actually mean something.

“I’ll take you with me and make you my queen, and give you everything you’ve ever wanted and more,” he said.

His words did nothing to bring her comfort, and she cried all the harder for it. Being his queen, tied to him forever was no better than being locked in a concrete box for the rest of her life. And yet, as he held her, he was soft and gentle, and spoke with such care in his voice that Darcy couldn’t help but believe him on some level. But he couldn’t give her everything she wanted, because what she wanted was to go home, as if none of this had ever happened.

She cried until she couldn’t anymore, and still didn’t want to stop. As she sobbed he held her, running gentle hands down her back and whispering his quiet assurances that did nothing to help. She felt disgusting for it, having broken down so completely in front of him twice in as many days. Having let him seen exactly how far he had dragged her down. She wanted to believe him and to take the comfort he offered, and felt even worse for it.

This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. She was going to let him get better and send him on his way, never to see him again. Now, she was stuck in a tiny hotel room with him in Fuckoff Nowhere, Greenland, where other people probably stayed on gorgeous, once in a lifetime vacations. It made her all the more jealous and bitter for what she’d lost because she’d tried to be kind.

As she finally began to wind down, Loki moved his hand to the side of her face, tilting her head up so she looked at him.

“Once we’re away from this place, you’ll feel better,” he said. “You’re exhausted and starving, and it’s made you unwell.”

Darcy nodded and wiped her eyes. He was right. She’d slept, but sleep didn’t cure stress. They hadn’t eaten anything since their breakfast the day before, and had no means of getting anything where they were at. Darcy realised she had a headache, and whether it was from crying or from hunger, she had no idea.

“Put yourself together. Our ride should be here soon,” Loki said.

He kissed her again on the forehead and got up to take his own advice, finding the shirt he’d been wearing the day before and putting it on. Darcy looked at what she was wearing, and decided it was fine. She put her shoes on instead, and waited to be told what to do next.