Darcy’s fish was perfectly mild and bland, making her feel a little bit better about whatever was coming up next. The entire ordeal had got so far out of her control that there was nothing else she could do but let the rest play out around her, and try not to get in the way. Across the table, Loki ate quietly, paying more attention to the few people who came and went around them than to anything that went on at their table. The spice in his food didn’t seem to bother him, which was a good thing, mainly because it was one less thing for him to blame on Darcy at the end of the day. She knew she’d been wearing on his patience with each flight they took, so having that break that kept him from losing it even further was the best thing she could have hoped for.
Being in public, around other people should have put her on edge. She should have been nervous about being spotted, but that fear sat further back in her mind. Being in public put Loki on his best behaviour and kept him out of her space. Darcy knew that somehow, he was keeping them from being seen, but she didn’t know how. Nor did she know how strong or effective the new magic he was using would be. While she appreciated not having blood smeared all over her, that had at least felt tangible and real. The way even Loki behaved, Darcy couldn’t help but feel like this new magic was weaker somehow. Like they could still be seen if they drew attention to themselves. And it should have terrified Darcy. Instead, she was glad that it meant Loki wasn’t grabbing her and pulling her around. He wasn’t going to grope her or leave marks on her skin the way he did when they were alone.
She liked this Loki better.
As they ate, a man walked into the café and seemed to zero right in for them. Darcy froze, having no idea who he was, or whether they should be running as he walked up to their table. She looked up at Loki, wondering if his magic had failed, and wanting to ask how they’d been seen. She wondered if he’d even been bothering to hide them at all.
“New Mexico?” he asked, even those two words heavily accented.
Loki looked at the man, something harsh and critical in his gaze. “Yes,” he said after a moment.
“Good,” said the man. In a welcome change of pace, he spoke English, and seemed willing to do so. “I was sent to fetch you. There’s time, but not much.”
Darcy nodded, still watching Loki carefully, and stuffed some fries in her mouth. “Where are we going next?”
“There’s a boat in the harbour,” the man said. “We’re getting on it and going to Reykjavík.”
Reykjavík, Darcy knew, though it took her a few seconds to catch up through his accent. She watched Loki for any kind of reaction, vaguely remembering seeing Iceland nearby on the map when she went searching for Tórshavn. But apparently it wasn’t close enough, because all Loki did was nod.
“I guess that means we’re getting close,” she said, feeling a giddy tightness build in her chest. It wasn’t a good feeling. It meant her life was that much closer to effectively being over.
“SHIELD knows you’re here,” said the man. “Or, they know you were. Two people matching your descriptions took a flight from Nuuk to Raufarhöfn yesterday.”
Whatever roy-var-howf was, Darcy wasn’t sure how close it was to Reykjavík. For all she knew, it was the name of the airport itself.
“Isn’t that going to put them one step ahead of us?” Darcy asked, casting a nervous glance to Loki.
“It would, if you were going to Raufarhöfn,” said the man.
“They know where we’re going anyway,” Loki said, sharply reminding Darcy how she’d told everyone they’d crossed paths with where they were going. “Perhaps we’d benefit from lagging behind. Let them think they missed us, and slip through in their confusion.”
Darcy nodded. “Right,” she said.
She quickly finished her meal, no longer hungry, but not wanting to waste a scrap of it. Once she was done, she pulled the cash from her pocket and counted it again before handing it across the table to Loki.
“Go pay, and see if you can use the rest to get anything we can take with,” she said. “Might as well spend it now, because it’s no good where we’re going.”
Loki hesitated for a moment, and Darcy couldn’t shake the feeling he didn’t like being told what to do. But he nodded and took the cash as he got up. She watched him walk up to the counter, and then flashed a weak smile to the guy standing over her.
“So what’s your name?” she asked.
“Kristján,” he said. “Which one are you?”
“I’m Darcy. That one’s Loki.” She pointed to where he spoke to the woman who had acted as their waitress.
Kristján turned to look at him as well. “They say he fell out of the sky. Came from space?”
Darcy nodded. “He did. We’re trying to get him home.”
“Unfortunate name,” he said.
Darcy almost laughed. “He’s an unfortunate guy.”
Loki returned with a paper bag, handing it off to Darcy. Inside, she found a few spring rolls and buns and a couple of bottles of something that resembled Sunny-D. It wasn’t quite what she’d had in mind, but it would work. She closed the bag back up and stood, ready to face the next part of their trip. A boat, she could handle. Boats didn’t fall out of the sky.
Kristján led them along a road, and down a path to another part of the harbour where a few bright red boats were waiting. They weren’t the giant monsters she was expecting, ready to sail across the open Atlantic, but fishing boats rigged up with nets and scary-looking machinery. They still weren’t small, but for some reason, Darcy had expected something much, much bigger.
“How are you on the water?” Kristján asked as they approached the larger of the fleet.
“Uh. Well. Last time we took a boat somewhere, I almost drowned. Don’t let that happen, and we’ll be good,” Darcy said.
“It’s going to be a rough ride. Stay inside, and you should be fine,” Kristján said.
Darcy nodded, and took his help onto the boat. Even moored, it rocked gently on the water, but it wasn’t an aeroplane, and that made it automatically better. Once Loki was on as well, Kristján led them into a part of the boat that reminded Darcy more of an RV than anything, with old panelling on the walls and a little table tucked against the wall, with benches on either side. She assumed it meant they were in for a quick ride, and somewhat less eager to get to the end of the line, she slid into one of the benches. Rather than sitting opposite her, as he did at the restaurant, Loki sat next to her, trapping her against the wall. She knew she should probably resist, but she didn’t have the energy to keep fighting him. Instead, she put their snacks on the table in front of her and leaned against the wall to look out the window at the sea. Loki’s hand fell on her thigh, and she didn’t have the energy to resist that either. She doubted he’d try anything with other people so close, and tried to just relax. If she could manage to relax, she might be able to think. And if she could think, she might be able to figure out her escape plan.
She spotted three other people, including Kristján on the boat as everyone got ready to cast off. She figured they’d probably crewed up to make it look like a normal trip, to avoid looking like they were sneaking a couple of fugitives across the border. She wondered if everyone on board knew what was going on, and whether they’d all get in trouble if they were caught.
It didn’t take long before they were unmoored and heading out to the water. The seas didn’t seem as rough as Darcy had come to expect, even as they left the harbour. But they were still in a fjord, dodging around big chunks of ice that floated loose in the currents. Darcy wondered what would happen if they hit one. Tired, despite a full night’s sleep before, Darcy leaned against the window and watched the white hills across the water glide past, trying not to think of frigid water just inches away.
Beside her, Loki shifted his weight a bit. His hand disappeared from her thigh and moved to pull her close to him instead. She let it happen, not wanting to deal with what might happen if she resisted. He was becoming a familiar weight at her side, something sturdy and real to rest against when nothing else made sense. And she knew she’d have to get used to him. She didn’t want to. She didn’t want anything to do with him. But she didn’t have a choice unless some miracle escape plan presented itself, so she’d just have to make the best of it. And when she kept him happy and didn’t argue or fight back, he was almost sweet. He could almost make her think he actually cared. If she could keep him happy with her, she thought she could almost get used to him.
Not for the first time, she wondered what would happen if he did get her pregnant. If he only suddenly cared because he thought he had. If he’d get mean again when he realised it didn’t work that way. She wondered how he might treat a child; if he’d be just as cruel to his own kids as he was to her. Darcy knew that people like him didn’t change for the sake of their children. If anything, she worried he’d become even worse somehow.
But he wasn’t being his usual awful self as held onto her in a tiny galley on a boat heading toward the open sea. In fact, he’d been suspiciously pleasant ever since they got off the train, and Darcy couldn’t even begin to puzzle out why. Except, she knew why, which made it all the more confusing. He was being nice so she’d forget how horrible he was. And then she’d get used to it, and she’d say or do the wrong thing again, and that mean, cruel Loki would come out and remind her how he wanted her to behave. He didn’t want a queen. He wanted someone he could boss and bully around, and she was letting it happen, because it was easier than what happened when she resisted.
Darcy sighed as she watched the same endless landscape drift past, knowing that this was the best her life was ever going to get going forward. There was no getting better. But as long as she could placate and stay out of the way, she could at least hope for relative peace.
“What’s your plan after we get to Elfheim?” she asked quietly.
Loki took a deep breath, and Darcy wondered if there was a plan.
“I have allies there,” he said. “Some who owe me favours. I should be able to raise a small army with the right words.”
It still wasn’t what Darcy wanted to hear. She wondered if maybe he’d calm down on raising an army once he had everything behind him, and had the chance to cool down a bit.
“I mean. Me,” she said, forcing the words out. “Us, I guess.”
She looked up at Loki, hating the satisfied smirk that played on his face.
“We’ll wed, of course,” he said. “And when our son is born, it will be a time for great celebration.”
Darcy regretted asking. She felt sick just at the thought, and looked back the window again. And yet, she couldn’t seem to keep the words from falling out of her mouth.
“What if that doesn’t happen?” she asked.
Loki held her tighter, in what she was certain he thought was something reassuring. “Let’s not worry about things that won’t happen,” he said.
He sounded so certain about it, and she wanted to scream. Instead, she bit her lip and held back from asking another question she didn’t want to hear answered.
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