She’d gone back to bed by the time her mom came home, hiding beneath the blankets like a child afraid of the monster in the closet. She just couldn’t face the reality of what was coming next. Maybe it had been wrong. She tried to tell herself that it had been wrong. That she’d misread it. That stress was getting in the way. That she’d wake up in the morning and everything would be fine.

As much as she knew it wasn’t true, she tried to believe it. But she had run out of the ability to tell herself any more lies. She was pregnant, and she knew it. She was pregnant with her rapist’s child. She was pregnant with an alien baby. And what the hell was she supposed to do about that? What the hell could she do about that? Her entire world was ending and there was nothing she could hope to do about any of it.

When her mom came to check on her, she pretended to be asleep. She didn’t know why, but at the same time, what else could she do? Cry, and not be able to explain why for the two-hundredth time? That had to be getting real old. It was definitely getting old for her.

Darcy stayed in bed until she heard her parents go to bed themselves. Only then did she get up to move around the house a bit. She wanted to go outside and breathe some fresh air, even if it meant only sitting on the porch. But the idea of being alone outside terrified her. She didn’t even have a good reason to be afraid of going outside, but it was there all the same, keeping her locked up inside her own home, unable to leave even to go as far as picking up the paper from the steps half the time.

Instead, she moved to the sofa and pulled the blanket around her, wearing it like armour against the rest of the world. The house was dark and quiet, cut through only by the light hum of the refrigerator, and in Darcy’s mind something was lurking in every hidden corner. Not something, but someone. Someone she never wanted to see again, but with whom she would be forever tied down to. Her mind was so full of uncomfortable thoughts and scenarios that she couldn’t even think about anything, consumed instead by an all-encompassing dread that threatened to suffocate her. The only coherent thoughts her mind could process was that her life was over. There was no turning back. No moving on. No matter what happened next, there was no light at the end of the tunnel. No rescue. No help. Just Loki, and the permanent marks he had left on her life.

Slowly, he invaded her thoughts even as she pushed against them. Memories of being held down by him mixed and jumbled with memories of her riding him, bringing with it the same wave of sour confusion she thought she might never banish completely. She’d seen him kill people, and knew he could have killed her, but chose not to. Even after she was no longer useful; even after he’d taken over, leading their journey, he’d kept her near. Now, sitting alone, isolated in her own home, part of Darcy almost wished he had killed her. She wouldn’t have to live with everything else if he had. She knew she would have tied terrified and screaming, but how much worse could it have possibly been, when the rest of her life would be filled with unending terror?

Eventually, she fell asleep on the sofa, exhausted from a fear that had never quite faded and never would. She woke again early in the morning to the sounds of her dad quietly getting ready to go to work, moving around the way a person does when they’re trying a little too hard to be quiet. Rather than say anything and draw attention to herself, Darcy watched him in silence as he filled his giant mug with coffee and screwed the lid on. She said nothing as he picked up his keys and walked to the door, disappearing from the house without a word. Listening to him lock the door back up behind him, Darcy wondered how much longer her parents would be able to keep going on like this. She wondered much much longer they’d wait before pushing her to go back to school, or getting a job. She wondered what she’d do when it came to that.

She wondered how long it would take before her denial and plain evidence became at odds with one another, and she was put in some hospital for being clearly insane, unable to cope with the world or be any kind of part of it.

When her mom came out of the bedroom to start readying herself to leave as well, Darcy sat up, finally calling attention to herself.

"What are you doing out here?" her mom asked, pausing at the fridge.

Darcy shrugged. "Dunno. Couldn’t sleep," she said.

Her mom stepped away from the fridge and walked over to sit next to Darcy on the sofa, pulling her into a sideways hug.

"What are you gonna do today?" her mom asked.

Darcy let herself lean against her, thoughts roiling around in her mind as she struggled to find words. "I don’t know," she said. "I’ll figure it out when I get there, I guess."

She knew what she needed to do. What she didn’t want to do, and wasn’t sure she’d be able to do. And even if she wanted to give voice to it, she knew she’d not be able to say it out loud.

"All right," her mom said. She kissed Darcy on the forehead, in a way that reminded her all too much of Loki, and then got up. "I need to do some shopping this evening. Want to go with me?"

Darcy shrugged. "Maybe," she said.

Getting out of the house seemed like a good idea. Something she hadn’t done in far too long. She watched her mom go back to the kitchen, pulling out a Tupperware from the fridge. Once she had her lunch and coffee settled, she made her way to the door.

"Love you," she said, getting her keys ready. "Be dressed when I get home if you want to go shopping."

Darcy nodded. "Love you too," she said, making no promises either way.

She waited for a few long, tense minutes after her mother left before getting up and returning to her bedroom. The folder was in her sock drawer, full of all the various resources a college student might occasionally need. She thumbed through all her FAFSA and loan paperwork until her fingers found the pamphlet buried in with the rest of it. Without even pausing to look at it, Darcy pulled the pamphlet out and took it with her back out to the front room. She picked the phone up from its charger, looking at the little LED screen on the front. With a deep breath, Darcy opened the pamphlet and found the phone number printed inside. One digit at a time, she dialled the number.

All that was left to do was pressing the little green call button. The little, innocuous button that would open the line and connect the call. The little green button that stared back at her, as though judging her.

She couldn’t press it. She wanted to. She tried to. But she could not force her thumb to move that extra inch. Without pressing the button, the line wouldn’t open and the call wouldn’t connect. She had to do it, but found herself completely and totally unable to act.

Instead she dropped the phone to the floor and collapsed on the sofa, too tired and hollow to do anything at all. She looked at the Planned Parenthood pamphlet in her hand and dropped it as well, knowing it wouldn’t be able to help her now that she actually needed it.

This was it. She knew it. Sooner or later, there would be no hiding it, and she didn’t know what to do. She knew that whatever Loki had done to her would prevent her from ever saying anything, or doing anything about it. Sooner or later, she’d be visibly pregnant and still denying it. She’d be denying it even as she gave birth, and that wasn’t a good look for anyone. Even without SHIELD running her life, this ended with them getting a shiny new toy. One snatched from her at the first opportunity.

She sure as hell didn’t want to have Loki’s baby, but she didn’t want them to have it either. This was why he kept her around, and she knew it. Rather than wondering what if, she found herself wishing she’d managed to keep up with him. Because then, if his intent was to truly make her a queen, she could do what any queen does with the children she never wanted to have after being raped by her husband, and let the nursemaids raise them. At least then she wouldn’t be complicit in SHIELD’s disgusting ideas of scientific research. At least then, she’d know at least in part what to expect.

He’d rape her again, get her pregnant again, and the whole thing would start over. But if it was heirs he was after, he’d have an interest in keeping them safe, and by proxy, her as well. But she hadn’t kept up, and so he’d left her behind. Because she was human, disposable, and not worth the energy when he could no doubt find someone else once he got to Alfheim.

He had done this before. She had ignored his words at the time, but now she knew. He had done this before. She wasn’t the first woman he’d kidnapped and raped, and she wondered how many got dragged away to some other planet with him, and how many vexed him enough to be left behind, fending for themselves. She wondered what had happened to the women he did take with him; if she had escaped being another woman in a long line.

Her hand fell to her stomach again, though there was nothing there to feel. No swell, or movement beneath her skin.

She wished she had kept up. Because maybe then she could have managed to gain some trust back and ask questions no one on Earth could expect to answer. Maybe then, she’d at least know what was going to happen to her body. She knew how to keep him happy, and to do the things he liked. Maybe it would have been worth the price of knowing what came next. It almost certainly would have been worth the price of knowing she wouldn’t be complicit in whatever SHIELD would do once they found out.

And maybe, just maybe, she could have learned to control him. Maybe, without the constant threat of a lifetime of torture, Loki wouldn’t be so cruel. Maybe without the paranoia of Darcy having turned him in, that other Loki—the one who was soft words and gentle touch—would have come back.

Or maybe she could fling herself into the East River, and never have to think about any of it ever again.