The second test was also positive, but Darcy knew that already. She tried a dozen times to call Planned Parenthood, and a dozen times could never get as far as connecting the call. If she tried opening the line first, she stalled at trying to dial the number. She knew that no matter what she did, she was going to have to go through with this. Whatever Loki had done to her was not going to allow her to go against what he wanted and do what needed to be done. It was, in his sick way, protecting his investment. An investment he wasn’t even present to see paid off.

She was home alone, failing to make a single call, when the doorbell rang. Darcy managed not to throw the phone across the room at the sudden fright, and walked over to see who it was, unlocking all the bolts, and replacing them with the chain. Pulling the door open, she was surprised to see Solomon and Barton standing on the porch outside.

"What are you doing here?" she asked flatly.

"Checking up," Solomon said. She nodded toward the black SUV double parked on the narrow street. "And making a delivery."

Darcy looked through the crack in the door for a long moment before closing it and unlatching the chain. She opened the door again, stepping aside to let both of them in. While Solomon carried nothing, Barton hauled in a large crate, scowling at everything as he made his way to set it down in the living room.

"Is that my stuff?" Darcy asked, looking at the crate.

"It is," Solomon said, stepping further into the house as Barton walked back outside.

"What about my car?" Darcy asked.

"We were instructed to have it delivered elsewhere. To an address in Queens," Solomon said.

Darcy nodded. Her parents must have been keeping in contact with SHIELD, if they knew to take the car back to her grandmother’s.

"Kay," Darcy said.

Solomon looked around the room, and Darcy saw where her gaze fell. The Planned Parenthood pamphlet sat on the table next to the phone’s charger, open to the number she’d been failing to dial for the last two weeks. They both stood in silence, staring at one another and daring the other to speak while Barton hauled in the mini-fridge. He dropped it down with a heavy thud, grumbling about not being paid for this sort of thing, before he walked back outside again.

"SHIELD can help," Solomon said once he was gone.

Darcy shook her head. "No," she said. She couldn’t even come up with a lie. She was too angry to even think of one. "I know what SHIELD’s idea of help looks like. Whatever help you think you’re offering, I don’t want it."

She was trembling, barely able to keep her voice level. Whether she was terrified or enraged, Darcy couldn’t even tell. All she knew was that whatever it was Solomon thought she was offering, Darcy knew better. Solomon was standing right there in her house because of SHIELD’s unique method of solving problems that involved letting them become problems in the first place.

“We’re not the bad guys,” Solomon said. “I promise.”

“Like hell,” Darcy said.

Before she could say anything else, Barton walked back in with the last of her things from New Mexico. He gave both of them a sour look as he set the crate down next to the other two, and started to walk back out again.

“Cool. Got it. Thanks for the help,” he said. “I’ll be in the car.”

He left the two of them alone again, and Darcy wondered how much he knew as well.

“I don’t want help from the people who put me here to begin with,” Darcy said. “You say you’re not the bad guys? I saw what they did. You can lie to yourself all you want, but I know the truth.”

Solomon had the gall to actually look hurt. “Miss Lewis—“

“Get fucked,” Darcy said.

She didn’t know why she said it, but she knew every word that came out of her mouth was her own. This wasn’t Loki’s meddling or influence. She didn’t need him to hold to her convictions. She didn’t need him inside her head to know that she didn’t want SHIELD anywhere near her ever again.

“And get out of my house,” she said.

She was trembling so hard, she thought she might puke. A moment later, Solomon nodded and finally turned to leave, neither of them saying another word as she saw herself out and closed the door behind her. Darcy rushed after her, locking everything up for that extra barrier of protection between them. When she turned back around, her eyes fell on the crates Barton had brought in, and for want of anything else to do, Darcy walked over to start going through everything. Her laptop was dead and needed to charge, so she plugged it in while she went through everything else. Clothes that she had forgotten about got stacked up. When she found bloodied hand towel, Darcy froze, her entire body locking up. She had thought SHIELD would have taken it, but apparently the washed out stains weren’t enough for them to want to keep.

Faded rust-coloured stains that she knew to be Loki’s blood, from that first night she’d found him. That night she picked the locks on his handcuffs and acted like a nurse to tend his injuries. The image was still burned into her mind, and would be until the day she died. He had looked so close to death, bloody and beaten. Coulson said he’d killed eight people before Darcy had found him, and she wondered when Loki had managed to do that. Part of her still thought Coulson was lying.

She knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he was the person she’d seen on the stretcher, getting loaded into an unmarked ambulance. She wondered if that’s when he’d killed the agents. Jane had told her about the way Thor tore through them, trying to get his hammer. She knew that Loki had been repeatedly experimented on, but not how he escaped. He was handcuffed when she found him, so she doubted that’s when he killed those people. More likely, she thought, he’d pulled his vanishing act, disappearing as far away as possible. He said he’d needed an anchor to do it properly, and she wondered if he was trying to get back to where he’d landed.

Not for the first time, Darcy wondered what would have happened to Thor if SHIELD had found him first. If Jane hadn’t have run him over and imprinted on him like a lost puppy.

She knew she would not be going through her clothes and books, boxed up by SHIELD, if that had been the case.

She slowly took everything to her room, moving it all to a pile against the wall to be dealt with later. It wasn’t what she wanted to mess with. The fridge, she managed to at least move out of the way, putting her DVD player on top of it so it didn’t get hurt if it fell to the floor.

And then she fetched her laptop. They had the desktop for basic internet stuff, but Darcy hadn’t felt the desire to touch it once since getting home. Her laptop was hers though, and somehow that felt safer. Less likely to end with her parents finding her search history. Sitting on the floor by the sofa, Darcy went looking for something she wasn’t even sure would still exist. But apparently SHIELD had run afoul of Streisand, and the thing she was looking for was mirrored everywhere. The full document leak pertaining to New Mexico was an enormous download, but Darcy had to know. She’d only skimmed it before, getting bits and pieces as the screen scrolled by. Now, she wanted to read as much as she could.

She found the section of the report that started with Loki’s arrival out in the desert, not too far from where they’d found Thor. Thor had arrived through a conduit of light and magic, but Jane hadn’t picked up any energy readings matching it the day Loki arrived. And neither had SHIELD. By all accounts, Loki seemed to have fallen straight out of the sky, and was barely breathing when they found him. So that hadn’t been when he killed the agents Coulson had mentioned.

It turned out SHIELD didn’t have the resources to deal with it, so Loki was immediately transferred to a SWORD facility. The location had been redacted, but Darcy had a good reason to suspect it was some forbidden part of the Nevada desert. Wherever it was, that was where he woke up and apparently panicked. He tried to leave, but they had him restrained, and he didn’t take too kindly to it. The report documented Loki doing things Darcy couldn’t even imagine, conjuring weapons and blowing things up with his mind. He’d killed five people by the time they got close enough to stick the cure into him, and he killed three more before he went down.

The cure worked for a few days, but when his magic started to come back, that’s when they started digging around to see what made him tick. That’s when the scalpels and IV drugs came out. Darcy was almost sick reading it, but she couldn’t tear her eyes away. She’d known, on a deep level, that all of this had happened. It was obvious from just the way he looked. She knew even before she’d ever seen a report that his stitches weren’t sewing up accidental injuries. Every cut had been deliberate; some new experiment for no reason other than selfish curiosity. He was a living, breathing person, and they’d kept him tied up and drugged, each day bringing some new horror.

It had only taken a week for Loki to escape, by all accounts disappearing when someone turned their back. A week that must have felt like it had dragged on for a century, until finally an opportunity presented itself. She remembered how for those first few days, Loki didn’t understand a word she’d said. She knew he’d been scared and confused with no idea what was going on, and no way to find out.

Darcy could relate, and it made her sick.

But she knew he wouldn’t have done any of what he’d done to her if SWORD hadn’t done what they had to him. She’d seen it written plainly across his body. They terrified him, and every single thing he did—to her and everyone else—was in an effort to get as far away from the people who had done that to him as possible.

He had done horrible things to her in turn. He had raped and beaten her, and dragged her halfway across the planet. And once again, she could only react with confusion. Confusion because she knew, somehow, that’s not who he really was. He had done horrible things after horrible things were done to him, but she’d also been there when he was scared. She’d been there for the kind words and gentle touch. And he only became truly horrible once he thought she’d turned on him.

All she had wanted to do was help him, and all she had done was create so many problems for everyone else. And yet, she found herself once again struggling to blame him. Struggling to hold him accountable, because SWORD had hurt him first.

She should have kept up. She should have kept going. Things would have got better. But she’d betrayed his trust, and now she was pregnant with his child, and alone. And now SHIELD and SWORD were going to conspire to take back what they’d lost. If they couldn’t get Loki, they’d take the next best thing. Because to them, Loki wasn’t a person. And his child wouldn’t be either. To them, Loki was a lab experiment, dangerous and exciting. To them, Loki was something they owned, and Darcy had stolen it from them.

Darcy knew that Loki had made her unable to do anything about the fact that she was pregnant with his child, even if she hadn’t quite managed to accept it yet. But now there was a new objective. She had to make sure that whatever came next, SHIELD or SWORD or whatever didn’t take it away from her. Once again, she had to figure out how to get away. And she had to do it while being too afraid to leave her own house.

She choked on the irony of it. If Loki hadn’t gagged her with whatever magic he’d used, it wouldn’t be a problem. He’d thought she’d betrayed him, and had done everything he could to keep her from doing it again. Now, alone and afraid, she had no power to protect herself or his child from the very thing that had terrified him so badly in the first place.

Unable to read on any farther, Darcy closed her laptop and got up, finding the Planned Parenthood pamphlet on the table. She snatched it up so no one else would see it and went to her room, wanting nothing more than to hide away from the rest of the world. She didn’t know what she’d do next, but she had plenty of time to figure it out.