On some level, Loki must have known that Darcy was too frightened to go anywhere. Too afraid of what he might do if he caught her. To afraid of what SHIELD would do if they caught her. He left her alone, wandering out to find them some food before they had to continue on their trip.
Darcy thought about showering, but didn’t know if that was allowed either. Instead, she finished getting dressed and waited quietly for Loki to return. She stayed on the bed, watching the morning light build slowly and ardulously as minutes ticked by. She had no idea where Loki had gone, or when their ride would return. She had no idea what she was supposed to do if the ride arrived before Loki came back. They were on a schedule, and he’d wandered off into an unknown city by himself. But it was different this time. He’d figured out basic things like money and which questions to ask. He’d worked out where food came from. The people here practically spoke his language, even without having to lean on whatever magic he had that made him able to understand everyone.
But still, she worried. She worried about what might happen if Loki never came back at all. If he’d been captured, or worse, if he’d left her behind. He’d already threatened to, and it was always those horrible, awful things he said that eventually came true. Never the soft words of quiet assurance.
When he finally came back, holding onto a paper bag from somewhere, Darcy could tell he was in a foul mood. Despite it, she couldn’t help but feel just a little bit glad that he’d returned. He hadn’t left her behind, or been captured. It wasn’t a problem Darcy would need to deal with on her own.
“I hate this place,” he said, making sure the door was locked behind him. “Everything has someone’s name on it.”
Darcy wanted to ask what he meant, but didn’t dare. She shrank into herself as he approached the bed where she still sat, having moved only to finish getting dressed. As he settled in, Loki turned on the lamp beside the bed, throwing the room into a harsh yellow light. Before he opened the bag, Loki handed Darcy a stack of cash that she did not dare ask about. She carefully counted it, finding about 5,000 of whatever it was, and once again wondering what that actually meant. As she tucked it into her pocket, Darcy watched as Loki pulled a few paper cartons from the bag. He handed her one, seemingly at random, and took the other for himself. Inside, Darcy found several slices of dark bread, topped with slices of boiled eggs and fish that didn’t quite look cooked. She looked up at Loki as he dug in, apparently finding nothing at all unusual about it.
She wondered if it was the sort of thing he was used to eating on his own planet, and if it was the sort of thing she had to look forward to for the rest of her life. Screwing up her courage, Darcy scrunched her nose and took a bite, trying not to gag at the strong flavours of rye and questionably-prepared fish together. She said nothing as she ate, knowing it was likely all she’d get for the day. She choked everything down, trying to ignore the assault on her senses, and struggling against gagging as her body tried to reject it.
As they finished whatever passed for breakfast, Darcy was startled by a knock at the door. She looked up as Loki rose to answer it, taking a long moment to listen through it, or whatever it was he did, first. When he opened it, the same man from the night before stood in the hall. Darcy quickly got to her feet and slipped into her shoes, not even bothering to ask where they were going next. If she didn’t know, she wouldn’t have time to worry about it. While Loki collected their bag, Darcy slipped into her enormous coat, wearing it like armour around her.
They were hurried out to the man’s car and crammed into the back seat, moving quickly to avoid being spotted. Darcy assumed Loki had done something to hide them, but still had not managed to find her voice, and didn’t want to speak to him to ask. They sat too closely to one another as they drove back through the city, which in the rising light of day, looked nothing like the other villages they’d been through in the previous days. The narrow streets were surprisingly crowded, with little space between buildings. They soon found their way onto a highway, and then out of the city entirely, travelling across an almost familiar snowy landscape. Darcy watched it all glide by, silently racking her brain trying to figure out her next move. But she didn’t have a next move, and her time to fix that was rapidly running out.
In many ways, her time had already run out.
They soon began to approach more signs of civilisation, and though the signs on the side of the road were completely unreadable, she still recognised one symbol on them.
They were once again heading to an airport.
She took a deep breath and dared to look up at Loki.
“I think we’re getting on another plane,” she said.
The look he gave her was nothing short of fed up. And she knew he wasn’t wrong. They didn’t seem to be going to some airstrip in the middle of nowhere, but an actual, factual airport, with people and security and untold dangers. If she couldn’t hold herself together, they’d be spotted and caught, and it would be all her fault.
It would also be a good opportunity to slip away, she realised. A real airport, with crowds and people and distractions. If she accidentally got on the wrong flight and went somewhere else, who would know?
If she got on the wrong flight and went somewhere else, what would she do when she wound up in Egypt, even more lost and isolated than she already was? What if they checked her boarding pass and realised she was not where she was meant to be? Her only way forward was with Loki, trusting that he would keep her safe as he promised.
Because so far, he had not broken anything that could be considered a promise. He’d kept even the horrible ones. Especially kept the horrible ones. And those that he hadn’t kept, he simply had not had the opportunity to make good on. Darcy knew that he was at the end of his rope with her, and that holding her down and raping her was meant to be his final warning to her. A final reminder to do as he said, because further disobedience would bring something even worse. If his idea of protecting her included slapping her and leaving her bruised inside and out, what would it look like when he stopped offering that protection? Would he kill her himself? Or would he just make good on his most recent threat, and leave her bloody and broken for SHIELD to find?
She wondered what he’d do without the privacy of a hotel room to shield them from the rest of the world. She wondered what he’d do if she disobeyed him in a crowded terminal, or out on the street.
Sure enough, they came to an airport, and the driver handed them another envelope—this one thicker and heavier than all the others they’d been handed. Loki quickly thumbed through it before handing it off to Darcy to deal with. Fake passports, IDs, boarding passes. Everything they needed to get on an international flight. She nodded and stuffed the envelope into her pocket, knowing it would be easier to keep everything in one place.
Without another word, they got out of the car and headed to the big red terminal. Once inside, Darcy pulled their boarding passes out again and read over them, trying to figure out where they needed to go. Loki was all casual touch beside her again, showing Darcy no concern for the pain that still coursed through her body. He hadn’t broken or dislocated anything, but Darcy knew she’d find blood in her pants. She knew she’d been torn and bruised, and it would still continue to hurt long after the marks faded. She tried to think through it all, pushing it aside as far as she could and just focus on what came next and doing as she was told. There were a few self-serve terminals nearby, but Darcy didn’t know how to use them, and worried that if she did it wrong, it would only cause more attention to them. Instead, she tried to match anything on their boarding passes to one of the signs above the ticketing counters.
“What’s taking so long?” Loki asked, glaring down at her.
“I don’t do this very often. I need to figure things out,” Darcy said, trying to keep calm.
She knew Loki was losing his patience with her, taking comfort only in the hope that he wouldn’t do anything that would draw too much attention to them. She’d got so used to travelling under the radar, being smuggled across borders and taking hidden routes that being in a crowd was starting to overwhelm her. She wondered if Loki had hidden them from view, or if those passing by saw the marks on her face where Loki had struck her. Part of her hoped someone did see them, and be the sort of someone who would try to take her away. The rest of her knew that it would only end in more death, and prayed Loki had already hidden them.
“Over here,” she said finally, finally matching up the airline with a sign above one of the counters.
Loki followed her to the counter, saying nothing as Darcy got them checked in. While the woman behind the counter checked their information and logged them into the system, Darcy was certain something would ping and alert everyone to the forgeries. She stood quietly, trying not to let her nerves betray her as it took what felt like entirely too long. But nothing pinged or alerted anyone, and she was handed back all of their documents, and directed to security, and their gate beyond. As they walked away, Darcy took a deep breath, surprised that it had worked.
As they walked, Darcy checked their tickets again. Their flight wasn’t for a few hours, and looking through the crowd, Darcy didn’t expect to have to spend much time in security.
“They have to check our stuff,” Darcy said, looking up to Loki. "They won’t let us on without doing it."
He still carried their bag, throwing more confusion over the situation. He said they were close, and they definitely seemed to be heading to the correct island finally. Did they even still need the bag?
They’d burn that bridge when they got to it, Darcy decided. She led them to security, and into the line. Rather than waiting until they got there, Darcy took off her coat and shoes. Loki followed her lead without question, saving her having to explain anything more. As they went through security, Darcy was certain they’d be spotted. Certain someone would have noticed and called someone. But they got through without incident, and were sent on their way through the terminal to their gate.
“Now what?” Loki asked as he bent to put his shoes back on.
Darcy sighed, hugging herself back into her coat. “We wait,” she said. “And hope we’re not seen.”
She looked up at Loki, knowing she needed to ask, and not knowing how. In the end, she didn’t need to ask. The risks were just as great for him if she were spotted, and he very quickly invaded her space again. He kissed her like he was making some grand, romantic gesture. After a moment, Darcy realised he thought it was. The taste of sulphur was absent from his tongue, so Darcy closed her eyes and forced herself to play along. She kissed him back, knowing he was getting some sort of sick pleasure from it. Finally, he worked his magic, and she could taste it on her mouth, burning her tongue as he forced that part of himself into her again. She hated it, and she let it happen, because the alternative was so much worse.
Finally, he backed away with a pleased little smile on his face, and Darcy knew he had found one more wall to completely break down between them.
“You should do that more often,” he said.
Darcy said nothing as she turned to find their gate.
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