Her belly was definitely getting bigger, but loose hoodies still hid the problem from anyone who might have noticed. It wasn’t a permanent solution, but it was a solution for the moment. She’d got around the morning sickness and nausea by just not eating while her parents were around, and tried not to think about it otherwise. On weekends, she shirted by on snacks and nibbles, waiting until her parents went to bed before trying to eat anything substantial. She still hadn’t been able to tell Dr Taylor anything, and had even skipped her most recent appointment for all the good they were doing.

She forced herself to go out more, keeping a constant grip on her taser in her pocket as she walked to the store, or to the library. It started small, with little walks around the block, but eventually she found it easier and easier to venture further afield. Though, she always walked. The bus was too crowded, and going anywhere beyond her tiny neighbourhood meant taking a train, which still made her sick to even think about. Sometimes she’d go to the park and stare at the river, and Manhattan on the other side. More than once, she thought about walking along the bridge, and then climbing over the rail, but her feet never seemed to take her in the right direction. She wasn’t sure if that was her own doing, or Loki’s.

She leaned against the rail, listening to the sounds of birds in the water below, and cars driving by slowly behind her. In the distant haze, she could just see Tony Stark’s new building casting its bizarre silhouette against the skyline. Sometimes, if the light was right, and she was very lucky, she could see him zipping around in his psychotic flying suit of armour like he was a god amongst mere mortals.

He wasn’t a god. Darcy had met gods, and they were infinitely more horrible than even the most selfish of billionaires could ever conceive of being.

Watching the city move on around her, Darcy didn’t notice Solomon until she was right beside her, leaning against the rail as well in a parody of casual friendship.

“Have you thought about what I said?” she asked.

Darcy didn’t even bother to turn to look at her. “Nope,” she said.

She had. A lot. And every time the final conclusion was the same. SHIELD couldn’t have anything to do with Darcy’s little problem. Her problem wasn’t going to become their gain, even if it killed her.

“Have you seen a doctor, at least?” Solomon asked.

Darcy snorted, because there was nothing she could say. How was she supposed to see a doctor when she couldn’t even say out loud why she needed to see one? She knew she should have made an appointment weeks earlier, but it just wasn’t happening.

“It’s been, what?” Solomon asked, trudging on despite Darcy’s unwillingness to entertain this conversation. “Almost five months, hasn’t it? You should make an appointment for your safety, if nothing else.”

“I’m fine,” Darcy said.

She wasn’t fine. She was far from fine. She was alone and terrified, and her options ranged from horrible to unliveable. But she knew it was only a matter of time before she wasn’t fine. Before she could no longer ignore the problem. Weeks and weeks of thinking and stressing had led to the single option of just running away again, endlessly moving from place to place until she died. She couldn’t do that again. Especially not alone.

"Darcy," Solomon said, sounding like she was trying to be a friend.

Darcy finally looked over at her, too exhausted and run down to even want to try to run Solomon off. Because she wasn’t wrong. Darcy knew she couldn’t hide forever, pretending nothing had ever happened. Sooner or later, it was going to become a real problem, and she was no closer to having a plan. She knew she was soon going to start looking more and more unhinged by the day, but there was nothing she could do.

"I don’t want your help," she said finally.

That much hadn’t changed. No matter what happened next, SHIELD wasn’t the correct answer.

Without waiting around for Solomon to offer again, Darcy turned to head back home, walking along the boulevard for as long as she could before needing to head away from the river. She wouldn’t be able to hide beneath giant hoodies for long either. Not only would she soon get too big for it to hide anything, the weather would soon get too warm. Walking along the river at least afforded a cool breeze against the rising late spring temperatures. It was a long walk back home, taking her through the park and down narrow streets. It was a walk that had become comfortable and familiar, getting warmer as she made it farther inland. By the time she got home, she was exhausted and uncomfortably warm. She didn’t see either of her parents’ cars parked nearby on the street, but she entered the house cautiously all the same, not wanting to deal with the praise for leaving the house that was beginning to feel passive aggressive and scathing. Finding nobody home, Darcy took off her hoodie and shoes and went straight to her bedroom. Sitting in bed, her stomach wasn’t as visible, but that wouldn’t last forever either.

She poked around on her laptop, having long since given up on trying to find information or resources via the internet. She could do circuitous, roundabout searches, but making appointments or getting any kind of direct information was just as impossible as trying to dial a simple phone number. She didn’t bother looking anymore. There was no point in trying. As it was, her plan was to hide as long as possible until her parents noticed, and then try not to completely break down into a useless heap.

Instead, she scrolled through Tumblr and Facebook, not really interested in anything on her feed. As she scrolled, her mind drifted to the same thoughts they always did, full of what-ifs and blind speculation. She wondered, as she often did, where Loki was, and what he was up to. He hadn’t seemed to have shown any interest in coming back, and she hated the part of herself that was almost hopeful he would. She hated him, not just for what he’d done to her, but for what he’d forever taken away from her. She knew she’d never be able to trust or get close to anyone ever again. The last tender moments she had ever experienced, and likely ever would, had been with Loki. She still didn’t understand how he could have terrified her and made her feel safe all at once. Yet, that’s exactly what he had done. And she’d never feel safe again. She’d never feel wanted or loved again, because she’d never be able to let herself be that vulnerable again.

He had taken that from her, and she would never get it back. That part of her that hoped he might come back almost missed him for those tender moments. She knew that had she kept up with him, and hadn’t been left behind, he’d know all the right things to say to ease her fears. But as it was, nobody knew the right things to say. Darcy didn’t know what to expect, even if everything did go right. She could barely take care of herself. How could she take care of a child? Much less a child she didn’t even want?

She also wondered how far Loki’s magic went. She had all but given up on trying to figure anything out without being able to say or do anything relevant. But what if something went wrong? Would his magic still keep her from saying anything? Would she be unable to save her own life because his magic got in the way? She’d been lucky so far, in that as far as she could tell, everything was chugging along exactly as it should. But this was her latest what if. What if being pregnant with his child actually killed her?

Her roundabout, vague searches had given her plenty of ideas for what could go wrong, but if she couldn’t tell anyone she was in pain, or started suddenly haemorrhaging blood, what was she supposed to do?

He hadn’t any idea what Loki was thinking when he gagged her like this, if he was thinking at all. Thinking didn’t seem to be his strong suit at the end of the day. She’d been with him for two weeks, and in that short span of time, he seemed entirely content to fly by the seat of his pants and see where luck took him.

It had taken him to god only knew where, and left her alone, afraid, and without any kind of answers.