Her knitting had already been spread out over the bed, so the decision to ignore everything else and work on that came easily. All she’d brought with her from home was her scrap project—dozens of ugly garter-stitched squares in whatever colour she plucked out from the mess, to eventually be sewn together into an ugly mess of a blanket. But even that, she couldn’t focus on for more than a few seconds at a time. SHIELD were spying on her from every angle, Loki had locked himself in the bathroom and refused to come out, and she was still behind on her reading. Not even her distracting procrastination could distract her from everything. She was half starting to wish that SHIELD would just get it over with and arrest her already so she could stop freaking out about what would happen when they finally busted her door in.

After getting through ten stitches in about an hour, Darcy gave up on her knitting as well. She tossed it down to the mess of yarn tangled at the foot of the bed and got to her feet. The curtains were still wide open, showing no changes at all outside. Darcy looked out at the street, trying to ignore the big, burnt gouge running down the length of the pavement and the hollowed-out remains of Izzy’s diner. In her effort to ignore as much as she could, her eyes eventually slid over the smudges on the edge of the window. Now that she was actually looking at them, they weren’t random smudges at all, but writing. Runes, written in blood, and now dried to a sickening rust colour. She could see fingerprints in the writing, like he’d sliced his hand open and finger-painted with the result.


It must have hurt, though. She’d seen the cut on his hand, a long line across his entire palm. Darcy wasn’t even sure what he’d used to cut himself open like that, but she also wasn’t so curious that she felt a burning need to go looking. She began to wander aimlessly around the small room, looking for anything to occupy herself. None of her DVDs looked interesting, and even though the room was starting to become a bit cluttered and crowded, she wasn’t really in the mood to clean any of it up. She quickly found herself standing by the bathroom door, looking at the small sliver of yellow light that shone through the gaps along the edges.

“Hey,” she called out, tapping on the door with her fingers. “You okay in there?”

Loki didn’t respond. Darcy leaned closer to the door, trying to see if she could hear anything. But it was completely silent on the other side. She wondered if she should let herself in, but it was a fleeting thought. Who knew what she’d find on the other side. Or what sort of mood she’d find Loki in. It obviously wasn’t going to be a good one, either way.

“Do you need anything?” she asked.

She was still met by silence. The thought crept into her mind that maybe he wasn’t all right on the other side of the door, and Darcy had no idea how to deal with that possibility. What if he’d hurt himself in there? Deliberately? What if he still had whatever he’d used to slice his hand open?

“Say something. Please,” Darcy said. Loki said nothing. “If you don’t say something to let me know you’re in one piece, I’m coming in.”

“Leave me be,” Loki said stiffly.

Darcy couldn’t believe how relieved she was to hear him say anything at all. He sounded like he was right up next to the door, so even if she did try to get in, she’d have to push him out of the way.

“Do you want to watch a movie?” she asked, not particularly hopeful.

“No,” Loki said. Darcy had sort of expected as much.

“All right. Well. I reserve the right to kick you out when I have to pee.” She wasn’t sure why she was trying to draw him out in the first place, but it wasn’t working anyway. Loki didn’t even respond to her this time, giving a pretty clear signal that he was staying put. Darcy left him there and went back to the bed. Maybe if she was lucky, something else would fall out of the sky and distract SHIELD. Or maybe just crush the hotel. Either one would probably solve all her problems.

But nothing fell from the sky, and all her problems still remained, so Darcy turned on the television and started flipping through the eight channels again and again until she got bored enough to leave it in one place. The PBS show on painting and decorating wasn’t going to solve her problems either, but it was at least background noise. Something to drown out the paranoid buzz in her mind.

She got through two painfully slow rows on her square, at one point having to turn on the light. By the time Loki finally wandered out of the bathroom and sat down on the floor, the sun had gone down behind the mountains completely. Darcy expected him to be a mess, all red-eyed and sticky from having a silent, manly cry, but he looked almost scarily calm. He didn’t seem to really be interested in anything around him, and just stared out the window at the darkening sky.

“We need a plan,” Darcy said after a moment.

Loki shrugged indifferently. “Is it permanent?” he asked. He spoke evenly, like he was trying to keep all emotion out of his voice. Like he’d just been told he only had six weeks to live.

“I don’t know,” Darcy answered honestly. She put her knitting down so her attention didn’t seem quite so divided. “I’m not even sure that’s what they did. I mean. You’re talking fine. You’re hardly even code-switching. If they’d done that to me, what they did to you, I’d never recover. You don’t even have a scratch on you.”

He looked down at his hands again, frowning at them like something was wrong with them. From where Darcy was sitting, they looked fine. Just a long cut along his left one that was almost completely gone already. She wondered if that was a power, or just natural biology. But something about his hands was deeply interesting to him for some reason. It was like he’d never seen them before, the way he was looking at them, fingers held straight out as he examined ever inch of his hands and forearms. He seemed to almost get lost in concentration, until whatever he was looking for was clearly not to be found, and he gave up in frustration.

“You said you can’t make sparks. Do you mean like…” Darcy wasn’t sure what she meant, but Loki had made it sound like the most important thing in his life.

“Not anyone can learn magic. You must have an innate talent for it,” Loki said. He looked away, focusing on a point of the floor far to his right. “I once exhausted my magic entirely. I nearly met my death.” He inhaled deeply and grit his teeth so hard, Darcy could hear it from across the room.

“Okay,” she said slowly. “Well, even last night, you didn’t seem like you were gonna die. Pass out, maybe, but…” She shrugged, not really sure where to go with that. It seemed like there was more to it than he was telling her, but she wasn’t going to push. She wasn’t even sure why he was telling her this much. She wasn’t sure she even wanted to know.

“We still need a plan,” she said. “They’re getting really antsy, and it won’t be long before they find you.”

Loki buried his face in his hands, breathing slowly and deeply. After a few moments, he looked back up at her thoughtfully. “Can you get me to Torshaow?” he asked.

Darcy shook her head slowly. “I don’t know where that is. I’m sorry.”

Loki frowned. “Well. Where are we now?” he asked.

“New Mexico.” Darcy felt like she was about to repeat her very first conversation with Thor. Surely, Loki at least realised he was on Earth, right?

Judging by the way his frown deepened, maybe not.

“Where’s Old Mexico?” he asked.

Darcy tried to stop herself from laughing, but didn’t quite succeed. “A few hours to the south. If you’re looking for like, Norway or whatever, that’s way on the other side of the world.”

Loki threw his hands up into the air and leaned against the wall. He looked like he was about ten seconds away from giving up and just turning himself in. Maybe if he did, SHIELD or SWORD or whoever wound up with him would actually treat him like a person.

Or maybe she was completely delusional. She quickly reached back for her Laptop and pulled up Google.

“Okay, let’s see if we can find it,” she said. She typed in Torshaow and got nothing but Twitter accounts and German soccer videos on Youtube. That probably wasn’t it. Humming to herself, she highlighted the last two letters and replaced them with a U. This time, the results were social media and white pages matches.

“Do you know how to spell it?” she asked.

Loki shook his head and shrugged. “With your writing? No.”

Darcy backspaced on the U, not sure what else to try. After a few seconds, Google loaded a pull-down menu of possible search queries and brought up the results for the first one on the list.

“Wait. Hey, come here. Is this it?” she asked. She waved Loki over and pointed at her screen. She didn’t understand some of the IPA symbols, but some of the vowel sets definitely seemed like the rounded ones Loki used.

Loki stood up and leaned over the bed to look at the screen, with a small map of Tórshavn and the relevant Wikipedia page linked at the top. She clicked on one of the images, filling the screen with a small city nestled against a harbour with rolling green hills in the distance.

“Yes!” he said, sounding almost excited.

“How the fuck does that spell Torshaow?” Darcy wondered aloud. She started clicking on the other images, mostly interested in the brightly-coloured little Viking houses.

“Can you get me there?” Loki asked.

“That’s still on the other side of the world,” Darcy told him. “Thousands of miles away, on the other side of the ocean.”

Loki glared down at the screen. He chewed on his thumbnail and sat down, suddenly way too close to Darcy to be comfortable. She shifted away, but he just leaned in again.

“Get me to Tórshavn. There is a path there that leads to Alfheim,” he said. He took the laptop from her and moved away so he could click on the pictures he wanted to see. Darcy took the opportunity to breathe.

“What’s Alfheim?” Darcy asked.

“It’s where the elves live. I have allies there.”

Darcy was torn between moving away and leaning closer to see which images Loki was clicking on. Ultimately, she decided on moving away, but also scooting back against the headboard so she was more or less behind him. He seemed more interested in the landscape photos, but Darcy figured that made sense. He probably wanted to make sure it was the same town he remembered.

“I think you could probably get into Canada. It’s an unguarded border, because no-one suspects Canadians of trying to sneak into the country. You might have better luck getting across the Atlantic from there.” Darcy couldn’t believe what she was saying, but she couldn’t stop herself either. She wanted him gone, and not condemned to some lab somewhere, so getting him into Canada was probably the best thing for everybody.

“Where’s Canada?” Loki asked.

“A few days to the north, if you drive,” Darcy said.

Loki looked over at her expectantly.

“Oh, hell no. I am not driving you to Canada,” Darcy said. She did move away from him now, as if he would grab her and make her drive him to Canada right then and there. “Are you nuts? You saw how much of an ordeal it was to just go to the store. I’d never get onto the highway.”

Loki shifted his attention back to the laptop. “Perhaps not,” he agreed. He went quiet for a few minutes while he clicked on more pictures. “No, I think I should stay here for a while. They’re bound to lose interest eventually, and then you can take me to Canada.”

Darcy frowned, feeling not for the first time like she was going to cry. “I am not taking you to Canada.”

“Well, I don’t know where it is,” Loki pointed out.

“So look it up.” Darcy leaned over and Googled Canada for him. “The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Canada is north. I think you can find it on your own.”

“You’re very disobedient for a slave,” Loki said, now clicking on pictures of Canadian wilderness.

“I’m not a goddamn slave. Quit calling me one,” Darcy snapped at him. She was tempted to snatch the laptop away, but decided to sulk against the headboard instead.

“I suppose it doesn’t matter. I can’t leave until the guards are gone. What do you call them?” Loki looked out the window, setting an annoyed glare on the people who were presumably still up on the roof.

“SHIELD,” Darcy said. “They’re kind of assholes. My life was a lot less weird before they showed up.”

Well. Before Thor showed up, but he was at least weird in a harmless kind of way. SHIELD were just menacing and intrusive.

“When SHIELD leaves, so shall I,” Loki said. He clicked on a picture of a moose and frowned at it. “And not a moment sooner.”

Darcy was starting to see the appeal of locking herself in the bathroom. At least if she did that, she wouldn’t have to face a constant reminder of her own idiocy.