Once they were out of the fjord, Kristján’s warnings became reality. In the open sea, the waves and wind picked up, knocking the tiny boat this way and that as they headed further toward the unknown. Darcy tried to look out the window and keep her eye on the horizon, but it didn’t work. The boat rocked so heavily that all the window showed was a rapid swap of sky, sea, sky, sea, sky, sea. Instead, she leaned against Loki, keeping her eyes closed and trying to pretend she was somewhere else.

“I’ve never been seasick before, but this is gonna do it,” she said against him, breathing slowly through her mouth to keep her insides as steady and calm as possible. It wasn’t working.

Loki gently stroked the back of her head, and she hated that it almost seemed to help. He held her close, and she took the comfort he offered, because the alternative was suffering alone.

“What do you need?” he asked.

It was the first time he’d ever asked after her own needs, and for a moment, Darcy didn’t know what to do with it.

“I don’t know,” she said.

Loki reached for their bag of snacks and pulled one of the bottles of radioactive orange drink out. From the edge of her vision, Darcy watched him frown at it for a moment before he broke the seal and handed it to her. One more foreign little thing he’d picked up along the way, knowing without having to test or struggle to figure out which way the cap twisted. One more little thing he’d learned, representing one more foreign little thing she’d be expected to learn in turn.

“Thanks,” she said quietly.

It wasn’t Sunny-D, but it wasn’t not Sunny-D either. A close cousin, perhaps. Thick and sweet and tasting like someone had had an orange described to them and then replicated it. She drank slowly, taking tiny sips and wishing it were colder. She wondered if Loki could do something about that, but didn’t want to ask.

As she leaned against him and tried to get air into her lungs, Loki calmly stroked her head, carding his fingers through her hair. Above them, someone said something in a language she didn’t understand, and a moment later Loki tapped his knuckle against the side of her face. Darcy opened her eyes and looked up, surprised to see him holding out a little white tablet. Assuming it was Dramamine, or something similar, Darcy put it in her mouth and washed it down with the orange drink.

“Thanks,” she said again.

She closed her eyes again and waited for the mystery drug to work while Loki spoke to the fisherman standing beside them. They both spoke quickly, having some secret conversation she wasn’t allowed to hear. Still, something about it stuck in her mind, but she couldn’t figure out why.

“Yow, yow, yow,” the man said quickly, followed by something else.

Darcy looked up at him. He sounded like Loki had, that first night right after she’d found him. Not exactly like him, but every now and then he would say something that sounded almost like the small amount of Asgardian Loki had spoken to her. A moment later, he walked away again, leaving the two of them alone.

“He sounds like you,” Darcy said through her headache.

Loki hummed. “Hardly surprising,” he said.

Erik had talked about growing up with these stories as a kid, but Darcy hadn’t even considered that more than just a few cultural elements would have made their way to Earth. Asgardians would have behaved like any coloniser, and brought their language and everything else along with them. Suddenly, Darcy wished she knew more about the Vikings. Then she might better know what to expect, and what Loki expected from her. Or, she might better know what fate awaited her if she failed to live up to his expectations.

Slowly, the drug took effect, and all Darcy was left with was the lingering headache that refused to go away. But it was better than having a headache and feeling like her stomach was upside down at the same time. As the sun began to set, plunging them into total darkness outside, Darcy could feel Loki start to grow tense beside her. They were getting close to Tórshavn, and they both had their own reasons to be nervous about what that meant. That Loki was letting his nervousness show was concerning. Even on that first night when Darcy had found him, bloody and broken, he was like an animal, hiding his fear behind aggression. Part of her still thought his worst behaviour was a manifestation of the same defense mechanism, causing him to lash out at whatever convenient target was closest.

But at the end of the day, their worst case scenarios started the same way, tied up and gagged in the back of some SHIELD van, taken away to each face a lifetime of regret. For Darcy, it meant prison. For Loki, it was more drugs, more experiments. If he was lucky, they’d kill him. Knowing they kept him awake when they fucked around with his insides was enough to remind Darcy why she was there in the first place, on a fishing boat headed to nowhere. The fact that he was afraid meant at the very least he wasn’t the wild, vicious animal he sometimes seemed to be. If he was afraid, it meant he knew when someone was stronger than he was. And that put them on the same page.

“Hey,” she said cautiously, reaching up to rest her hand on his chest.

He looked at her, and she could see just a hint of uncertainty on his face, letting some of that fear slip before he hid it again behind a mask of quiet concern.

“You okay?” Darcy asked, not sure what else to say.

Loki nodded, and then looked out around the small little room they were in. Then he looked down at his free hand below the table and snapped his fingers, drawing a bright green flash from his fingertips.

He’d said before that he couldn’t make sparks. Darcy hadn’t understood what that meant before, but seeing it with her own eyes she realised some of the deeper implications. He had zipped them form New Mexico to Oregon in the blink of an eye, and thoroughly exhausted himself in doing so. Darcy realised she had only seen Loki show any amount of confidence in his abilities after they left Mike, and even then he’d been hesitant to use any of them more than necessary. She wondered if he could have already taken them to Tórshavn without all the trouble, and if it would have left him sick and exhausted and vulnerable all over again. She wondered exactly how much energy he would have to use to take her with, and remembered what he’d said in that dark bedroom. How he had made a point to tell her he’d wanted something in return for all the energy he’d already spent on her.

If he could leave on his own, but hadn’t, what plans did he truly have for her?

“It’s coming back, but it’s not enough,” he said, turning his hand over to examine it.

He’d done other little things he hadn’t been able to do before too. Other things that spent energy. Darcy knew he’d made her sleep on the plane. He’d found other ways to hide them without having to smear blood around, and Darcy realised he’d probably been doing it the entire time since figuring out that he could. If he had to take something from her to fuel his own power, she wondered how many more times he would have to fuck her to have enough power. She wondered what other new things he gained back every time she lay back and let it happen.

The thought that there were countless other things he could do terrified Darcy. She’d seen Thor throw lightning around. She’d seen Thor fly and beat up a giant robot like it was nothing. If that was just something gods could do, she wondered what a god who did actual fucking magic could do at the height of his power.

“Not enough for what?” Darcy asked.

Loki turned his hand over again, still looking at it. “I could leave right now if they hadn’t taken everything from me,” he said. “I could go anywhere I wanted and take you with me. Instead I’m stuck in this realm, gambling on a Dragon Line that may not still exist.”

That was a complication Darcy hadn’t even been aware of. “That’s possible?” she asked.

“They form where the realms overlap. If the realms drift too far apart, the lines at the border will die,” Loki said. “And I’ve not used them to travel to this realm in centuries.”

Loki had said so much with so few words, and Darcy had no idea what to unpack first. She shook her head and sat up a bit more, moving as far away form Loki as he’d let her.

“What if it’s not there?” she asked, sticking with the current thread of conversation.

“We find another one,” Loki said. “Or pray this SHIELD does not find us before my magic fully returns.”

Darcy nodded, not liking the sound of either option. She was so tired already, she didn’t think she could handle more running if Tórshavn was a bust.

But he’d said something else as well. Something that could not be ignored, and which Darcy had completely failed to consider.

“How old are you?” she asked, once again afraid of the answer she might hear.

Loki didn’t respond right away. He seemed like he was going to for a moment, and then frowned and shook his head. “At least a thousand of your years,” he said. “Perhaps more.”

He didn’t look like he was a thousand years old. He looked like he was Jane’s age, at most. But that wasn’t the problem.

“You know I’m… not. Right?” she asked.

What did he think was going to happen? Was she supposed to be pregnant for the rest of her life? Or would her own biology override his?

What good was a queen if she was going to die of old age before Loki had his next birthday? What good was an heir that would grow old and die in the relative blink of an eye?

“It doesn’t matter,” Loki said. He took Darcy’s hand in his, running his finger over her knuckles. “As my queen, you’ll be entitled to all that is mine, including immortality.”

It wasn’t what Darcy had wanted to hear. She didn’t want him to have an answer cooked up and ready to go. She’d hoped to rationalise her way out of the whole ordeal, but he clearly knew something she didn’t.

“I don’t want that,” she said.

“You’ll learn to want it,” Loki said. “And to appreciate it.”

Darcy felt herself deflate. She looked down at their hands, hers trapped inside his, and reminded herself that as long as he behaved like this, she’d at least be safe from harm. But she didn’t want to live forever, trapped by his side for an eternity. He was a thousand years old, and still seemed so young. How many thousands of years would she spend chained to him, trapped in whatever hell he could build for her?

“I don’t get any say in this?” she asked.

“What would you possibly have to say?” Loki asked. He pulled her just a little closer to him, settling back in his seat so their bodies fit together as he rested her weight against him. “You have no place in this realm. Do you intend to flee forever, knowing that any day could end with you in a cage? Or worse? Wouldn’t you far rather prefer I take you far away from this place, where this realm’s thugs will never trouble you again?”

Loki was right. Darcy had nothing to say. The only thing she could do was accept her situation, and do everything she could to make the best of it.