Marvel Cinematic Universe, post-Captain America: The Winter SoldierPairings:
When an assassination attempt outs Loki as Odin's usurper, the Allfather decides not to waste his time harboring a wanted fugitive and simply banishes his rebellious Jotun son from Asgard. And Darcy Lewis just wanted breakfast, not for the psychopath who tried to take over Earth to come seeking refuge at the last place imaginable. Post-CA: TWS
. Tasertricks! Chapter 14
“Never have I ever . . . worn women’s clothing
,” Darcy said, smirking.
Loki shook his head. “I do not permit you to ask me that.”
” Darcy asked silkily, raising her eyebrows. “Well, sorry to burst your bubble, Jazz Hands, but the rules of I Never expressly state that one must respond to any statement, no matter how embarrassing or ridiculous it may be, by either partaking of one’s alcoholic beverage or by refraining from doing so. One may not simply ignore the statement. Unless, of course, you do not wish to play anymore?”
Darcy finished off her little speech by taking a long, carefree sip from her glass of wine. Loki glowered at her.
They sat on the balcony in chairs they had brought out from the kitchen, in what was likely the nicest night of the summer so far. The air around them was fresh, but not cold; it was windless, but not stuffy. The heavens were clear and starry, but with no visible moon, and with the hour nearing three o’clock in the morning, the sky was a baffling near-black shade of indigo.
At long last, Loki took a sip of wine. Even as Darcy opened her mouth to demand an elaboration, he said, “It is a long story involving myself, Thor, a wedding, and Thor’s blasted hammer. That is all that I will say about it.”
“That is all that I will say about it.
turn.” Loki leaned forward slightly in his chair and surveyed Darcy with utmost scrutiny, the forefinger of his right hand lazily caressing the rim of his wineglass. “Never have I ever been imprisoned,” he said finally, leaning back in his chair with a smug look on his face and taking a couple of sips of wine.
“You’re kidding, right?” Darcy asked, gaping. “How in the hell could you possibly have known that?”
“Intuition?” Loki suggested smoothly, shrugging.
Her mouth still open slightly, Darcy took a sip of wine.
Loki smiled at her, evidently self-satisfied. “Do tell,” he said.
“I spent a night in a holding cell at a local police station back in college,” Darcy said proudly. She considered this to be quite the accomplishment.
Loki leaned forward slightly in his chair again. “Go on,” he said to her.
“The full story?” Darcy asked excitedly. (It was a good one, and she enjoyed telling it.) “You sure?”
“Positive,” Loki said, taking his wineglass into both hands and intertwining his long fingers around the bowl, his ice-blue eyes fixed on Darcy.
“All right,” Darcy said, grinning. “I suppose I should start off by saying that this was all my dumbass college friends’ fault. Well, mostly their fault. Somewhat. Actually, mostly my fault. But anyways. It was the end of my second year, and my friends got in their heads this genius idea of daring me to break into the office of one of their professors to steal the answers to their upcoming final exam in that same professor’s class. And seeing as that sort of shit was what we did for fun back then, I agreed.”
Loki was grinning almost as much as Darcy was now. “I must say, you impress me, Miss Lewis,” he told her approvingly.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Odinson,” Darcy replied, trying not to dwell on how good getting complimented by Loki had just made her feel. “So anyway, it turned out one of the guys from our group had actually already swiped the key to the professor’s office on a dare earlier that year, so my dare was supposed to be practically foolproof. Keywords here: ‘supposed to
“It always is,” Loki interjected, smiling knowingly.
“I had to do it in the middle of the night of course, so I wouldn’t get caught,” Darcy continued. “But the university closes and kicks everyone out at eleven PM, and all the entrances get locked, so I had to plan ahead. Which actually turned out to be pretty easy. Turned out, the building where the professor’s office is has a basement, and I discovered a very dingy little restroom there with a small window just above ground level, opening out onto a thick clump of bushes. Very easy to miss, both from inside and out. So, I left it open. And just as I had hoped, the security guards totally didn’t notice.
“So when I returned in the middle of the night, all I had to do was kick in the bug screen, slip through, and I was in. Finding the right office in the dark was actually the most challenging part, but I was prepared for it, so I managed. The key my friend had given me also worked perfectly. What I wasn’t prepared for however was to slip into that office and discover that the package of exam answers wasn’t there
. Turned out this professor was one of the smart ones, who took their answer keys home with them, precisely because of people like me.”
“And that is when you were seized,” Loki concluded, looking highly amused by everything Darcy had told him so far.
“Nope,” Darcy said, smiling mischievously.
Loki looked quizzical. “You simply left? Returned home?”
“I left the university, yeah,” Darcy said, "but I couldn’t just go home empty handed—I would’ve failed my dare!”
“But you said the item you needed was—”
“At the professor’s house, yes . . . which I had found out, after a quick ruffle through the professor’s personal documents, was only four blocks away from the university,” Darcy finished smugly.
Loki’s lips parted slightly, and he leaned back in his chair. “Little Mortal, you are full of surprises,” he said to Darcy, definite praise in his voice.
Darcy felt her face flush and knew it was hardly because of the wine. “Yeah, well, here’s where the story stops being awesome and kinda just gets really embarrassing instead,” she said. “I was able to find the professor’s house all right, but I had absolutely no idea how I was supposed to get in. So, as a last-ditch attempt at completing my dare, I went and tried the front door. And you have no idea how surprised I was to find that it had been left unlocked.
“Now, that should’ve been a pretty conclusive sign that I should get out of there, but I was so damn excited that I swung that door open and marched right in. Oh—I suppose I should tell you that I was wearing a purple balaclava on my head against the security cameras in the university and gloves against fingerprints, so I must’ve been a pretty terrifying sight just then.”
“I can only assume that the professor was not asleep,” Loki said, looking utterly enthralled by the story at this point.
Darcy smiled fondly. “Nope. God knows what she was doing, but there she was, in the kitchen, at four o’clock in the morning, completely out of fucking nowhere. Guess she was a batshit-crazy workaholic even back then.”
Loki’s eyes narrowed suddenly. “This . . . ‘batshit-crazy workaholic’ . . . wouldn’t happen to be . . . Jane
. . . would she?”
Darcy grinned at him. “How many other batshit-crazy workaholics do you know?”
“By the Allfather . . . .” Loki muttered, laughing and shaking his head.
“I don’t know who screamed louder,” Darcy went on, still grinning madly. “Honestly, I was terrified. Which is why I panicked, and then, instead of doing the reasonable thing and explaining everything to Jane then and there, I hightailed it out of there. Jane was smart though. She called the police, and—just my luck—there was a patrol car cruising just a block away from her house when she did. Long story short, I was arrested before I could even make it off her street.
“That was when I became really
terrified. They told me I was under arrest for trespassing, so I was positive I was facing expulsion from university at best and jail time at worst. Not to mention an unavoidable criminal record.
“And that is how I ended up in a holding cell at the local police station for the night. They allowed me to call whoever I needed to call to inform them of my situation—under strict police supervision of course—so I ended up calling my best friend from the group and probably the smartest of us all, Gie. I briefly and in the vaguest of terms told her that I got arrested for trespassing, how it happened, and where I was now. Of course, I made sure not to mention the fact that I was at Jane’s to steal exam answers or
the part where I had broken into the university earlier that same night. No need to give the cops a reason to bump up my charges from mere trespassing to double burglary. Well, anyway, Gie asked me for Jane’s address and then told me to sit tight until they got there, whoever ‘they’ were. I was more than happy to oblige, and the cops didn’t seem to be in a hurry either. I think they had to wait for Jane to make an official written statement before they could actually process me.
“Now, little did I know, but my friends were currently hard at work trying to get me out of this mess. As I would find out later, they had actually stayed up this entire time waiting for me to get back from my dare, and when I called, they all piled into Gie’s car and drove straight to Jane’s. Some cops were there, and she was just finishing answering some of their questions, about to be taken to the police station herself, but recognizing her students, she agreed to their request to hear them out in private. And they told her everything
. Including that I had been supposed to break into the university first and
what I had been after. They also admitted to being the biggest dumbasses in the universe, apologized for their unparalleled dumbassery, and promised to never do something that dumb again. Then, they practically begged Jane to help them get me out of custody before I was officially charged with something.”
Loki, who had listened with undivided attention to Darcy’s every word, shook his head as if in disbelief and said, “If Jane agreed to help you then, she must be as mad as the rest of us.”
Darcy grinned again. “Well, at first she was just completely confused by why four of the top students in her class would wanna get someone to steal the answers to the final exam in the first place, and when my friends told her that they hadn’t actually been planning to use the answers to cheat, but had just dared me to steal them for the hell of it, well, she—my friends described it to me later—threw her hands up in exasperation, swore loudly, and then kinda just resigned herself to helping me get out of custody.
“But it wasn’t as simple as her simply choosing not to press charges. The police had enough evidence to book me for trespassing even without Jane’s statement. So, then, Jane did something for me that I still can’t completely believe she was capable of.”
“What?” Loki asked curiously.
to the police,” Darcy said, nodding gravely.
” Loki said, looking appropriately thunderstruck.
“Yes,” Darcy replied, continuing to nod ominously. “Well, more like stretched the truth in my favor. She and my friends drove to the police station and ‘explained’ everything to the officer in charge of my arrest. Basically, she told the officer that it was all just a stupid prank gone awry, that she actually knew me and my friends from the university at which she taught, and that the only reason she hadn’t recognized me at her house was because of my dumb balaclava. Once it had become apparent to the officer that Jane knew me personally, there was no longer a case for the police to make against me, and next thing I knew, I was being released from the holding cell and Jane was there, rubbing my shoulder and telling me what a silly girl I was.”
“Just like that?” Loki asked, a hint of disbelief in his voice.
“Just like that,” Darcy said, but then added, “Well, actually . . . not entirely. Jane’s help had come with certain . . . compromises. She might have saved us from some really serious consequences with both our university and the law, but she wasn’t about to let us get away scot free. She had her own punishment in mind for us.”
“Thought so,” Loki said, smirking.
“She told my four friends, the ones who had come up with the dare, not to bother showing up to their final exam in her course, which would cause them to flunk it, and to retake the course next year, when they had ‘matured into responsible adults’,” Darcy said. “As for me, since I wasn’t in any of Jane’s courses and since I was the one stupid enough to actually attempt
the dare, well, Jane had come up with something truly special as my
punishment: an unpaid summer internship in the middle of Buttfuck Nowhere, New Mexico.”
is how you came to work for Jane?” Loki demanded, looking, Darcy noticed smugly, slightly blown away.
“Yup,” Darcy said, with a strong sensation of awesomeness. “That thing Jane always tells people about my being the only applicant is bullshit. She had no applicants. Besides, why would I, a Political Science major, apply for an internship in Astrophysics
“Good point,” Loki agreed, looking out at the stars somewhat longingly. His uplifted eyes reflected that stupefying indigo of the sky like minuscule lashed mirrors, and in this moment, to Darcy, he looked utterly human. She couldn’t help but smile.
“You know . . .” she said slowly, “. . . us playing this game, telling each other these stories . . . it technically makes us friends
Loki looked at her, blinking rapidly, clearly called out of a reverie. He then half-smirked, half-smiled at her. “Whatever you say, Little Mortal.”
Darcy continued smiling to herself, swirling the white wine around her glass. Loki could sass her all he wanted, but that wasn’t a denial she’d heard . . . .
“It’s your turn, in case you’ve forgotten,” Loki said suddenly, calling Darcy out of her own reverie.
“Wha-?” she said.
Loki tapped Darcy’s wineglass with his fingernail. “To come up with an I never.”
“Oh, right,” Darcy said quickly and began racking her brain for ideas.
But truth be told, they had now been playing this game for so long that they had long since exhausted their supply of straightforward I nevers such “Never have I ever been off planet” or “Never have I ever battled a Jotun ice beast” and have since then entered the land of far more obscure, far more difficult-to-think-of questions. Darcy was therefore currently finding it extremely difficult to think of an acceptable I never.
The idea came to her so suddenly, she had to mask the spontaneous giggle that it elicited from her with a cough. The I never she had come up with was probably as far from acceptable as one could get, but she had a feeling Loki would find it funny. As long as she could keep a straight face while delivering it.
Darcy allowed her facial expression to darken into one of sudden gravity. She scooted forward in her seat and leaned as closely as she could toward Loki while still remaining seated in her chair. She looked the mischief god dead in the eyes. Then, in a low, quiet voice, she whispered, “Never have I ever . . . killed someone.”
For a moment, Loki just stared at her. But then, he leaned forward as well, until his and Darcy’s faces were less than a foot apart. His eyes had turned stormy, and his face had paled, and he whispered back, in a voice that shook slightly, “Do you not think, Miss Lewis, that you have finally crossed a line? That this is one subject simply too dark and painful for me to discuss?”
For several long seconds, they struggled to unwaveringly hold each other’s gaze. But the mirth inside Darcy was becoming so difficult to restrain, she could hardly breathe and her eyes were beginning to water. Loki, too, appeared to be having trouble, and had developed a persistent twitch in the corner of his mouth. Soon, Darcy was biting down hard on her lower lip, Loki’s whole body had begun to physically shake with concentration, and then, finally, they found themselves unable to hold back any longer, and both positively roared with laughter.
There were tears running down Darcy’s face when she and Loki finally finished laughing. Both drained their glasses, and Darcy proceeded to replenish them with the remainders of the white wine from the bottle from which they have been partaking all night. She placed the empty bottle down on the floor of the balcony, and when she looked up again, she found Loki looking at her rather peculiarly.
She had seen him look at her this way before, with such a strange expression, like he was seeing her for the first time or something. Normally, however, he’d snap out of it a second later, but this time, he just kept watching her, looking like he was genuinely surprised about something. Darcy tried to think of something to say or do that would bring him out of this strange trance.
“Uhhh . . . .” she began awkwardly. “For my real I never though . . . .” She cleared her throat, thinking hard. Come on, Darce.
Anything will do, really.
And then she had it. And it was a good one too. How had neither of them thought to ask this already? “Never have I ever been in loooove
, Jazz Hands,” Darcy cooed at Loki, grinning mischievously.
Loki jumped so hard at her words, his wine sloshed out of his glass and onto the floor of the balcony, but he appeared to have hardly noticed. Instead, he continued to simply stare at Darcy, looking even more dumbfounded than before, his eyebrows knitted together and his mouth hanging open slightly.
“Jazz . . . you okay?” Darcy asked, feeling genuinely worried now.
Loki shut his eyes and breathed in deeply, and by the time he had opened his eyes again, his expression had thankfully returned to normal.
Darcy breathed a sigh of relief and, remembering the I never she had just given Loki, drank once from her glass. Loki meanwhile remained quite motionless, discounting a small smirk beginning to curve the corners of his mouth.
“Do I need to repeat the question, Lokes?” Darcy asked, after several seconds of this.
“Not at all,” Loki answered, his smirk becoming more defined.
“You can’t be serious . . . .” Darcy said, in utter disbelief.
“I am,” Loki replied simply.
” Darcy demanded.
“But . . . you’re a goddamned prince
!” Darcy spluttered. “And you’re . . . well . . . hot!” she added, suddenly feeling disinclined to meet Loki’s eye. “Surely there’re chicks all over the Nine Realms who had been in love with you, before you, you know, went crazy and evil and stuff!”
Loki actually chuckled as he shook his head. “I’ve had many a suitor in my days of glory, yes, all of whom professed their eternal and undying love for me. But to mistake their infatuation for real love would have been foolish, so no, Little Mortal, I have never been in love.”
“But you’re like . . . a thousand,” Darcy said quietly. “That’s . . . a bit depressing.”
“Not at all,” Loki said brightly. “After all, love is not prerequisite to pleasure. And pleasure is something I have never had trouble acquiring. Speaking of which, my next I never: Never have I ever been with a woman.”
Darcy was surprised to find Loki looking at her with obvious expectation on his face, and raised her eyebrows at him, her wineglass immobile in her hand.
“Really?” Loki asked, sounding genuinely surprised.
“Sorry . . . to disappoint?” Darcy began uncertainly, furrowing her eyebrows. “I mean sure, women are hot as fuck, but that doesn’t mean I wanna be inside one.”
Loki shrugged. “Suit yourself.” He then proceeded to down his entire glass of wine in one go.
“That’s disgusting,” Darcy said, fairly certain she knew what Loki was implying. But then again, she realized, two could play at this
game. “Fine, God of Putting Out,” she said, glaring, “here’s one for you then: Never have I ever been with a man
.” Keeping her eyes defiantly on Loki the entire time, she then brought her wineglass to her lips and drained its contents with gusto, before bringing the empty glass down onto the parapet with a loud clink
and exclaiming, “College, baby!
Loki just gazed at Darcy amusedly, completely unperturbed.
Disappointed at having received such an underwhelming reaction to her own admission of promiscuity, Darcy sought other ways to unsettle Loki. She nodded down at his wineglass, which had not been drunk from. “You know, I’m actually totally surprised you didn’t drink,” she said casually, and then eagerly awaited Loki’s reaction.
The corner of Loki’s mouth quirked. “I suppose now I have no choice but to point out that we are out of wine.”
“What are you . . . ?” Darcy began, but then remembered: She had emptied the bottle of wine when she had topped up her and Loki’s wineglasses a few minutes ago, and now she and Loki have drained their glasses. They really were
out of wine. “Oh, shit, you’re right,” she said disappointedly.
“I suppose it is for the best,” Loki said dismissively, placing his empty glass on top of the parapet. “It is quite late, and we have a challenging day tomorrow. Deciphering our newly acquired Aether data will not be an easy task to tackle.”
Loki’s strange and unprecedented desire to get to bed made Darcy immediately suspicious. And then she realized something. “Hold on . . . .” she said slowly, as Loki picked up the empty wine bottle and got out of his chair. “What if we had
had wine left? Would you have drunk then?”
Loki smirked at her mysteriously. “I am under no obligation to answer that,” he said.
Darcy jumped out of her chair too, trying to think of some loophole that would force Loki to answer her, her curiosity killing her. “Oh, yes, you are! My I never was perfectly valid, and as the rules of I Never expressly state, you must either provide a response to it or suffer the shame and cowardice of forfeiting!”
“Oh, but you are wrong, Little Mortal,” Loki said sagely. “Because, as you must surely recall telling me, the rules of I Never also expressly state that a game is considered finished when all, or all but one, participants have entirely consumed their supply of alcoholic beverage. I no longer had a supply of wine when you gave your I never. Therefore, your I never was not
valid, as it was given after the game had already finished. And one cannot forfeit a finished game.”
For a good several seconds, Darcy was speechless. She had no idea how she was supposed to argue with what Loki had just said, but simultaneously, she just could not allow him to simply walk away, and never know whether her occasional Loki-Fandral fantasies could actually have happened in reality.
But Loki was smirking at her and turning for the balcony door. If Darcy didn’t think of something now, her opportunity might be lost forever.
“Wait!” she called at the back of Loki’s head.
Loki stopped and turned back around to face her, his eyebrows raised expectantly.
“There is . . . an extended version of the rules . . . which I’ve failed to mention to you,” Darcy said, hoping Loki wouldn’t realize she’d kind of been making these rules up as she’d gone along.
“Go on,” Loki said, looking amused.
“Well . . . you see . . . the game doesn’t necessarily have
to end when the alcohol runs out,” Darcy said, trying her best to sound like she hadn’t just come up with this a moment earlier. “If the players so wish, the game may alternatively be placed on hold long enough for a booze run to be made.”
“Oh?” Loki said, his eyes twinkling in the starlight. “And are you offering to embark on said ‘booze run’ yourself?”
“And what if I am?” Darcy said defiantly, sticking out her chin.
“Well, then I must ask you where you plan on buying alcohol at such an hour,” Loki said, his eyes continuing to twinkle in amusement.
“The supermarket’s open twenty-four seven,” Darcy said, remembering this fact very suddenly. Holy shit, this might actually work.
The twinkle in Loki’s eyes subsided slightly. “And is it safe to go? Alone? At this time of night?”
Darcy’s eyes widened in surprise. Somehow, this was not the reaction she had expected to hear. “You know, if you’re worried
about me, Loki,” she said sweetly, batting her eyelashes, “you can
just come with me.”
Loki snapped out of it immediately. “You fate does not concern me, mortal,” he said disinterestedly.
Darcy smirked. “That’s what I thought. But I’ll be all right—I’ve done this before. You just stay on the main streets where the lights are. Even in the dead of night there’re normally people and cars passing by all the time. And I’ll bring my Taser with me, just in case,” she added with a wink.
“Do as you please,” Loki said, proceeding into the apartment with the empty wine bottle. “But know there is no guarantee that I will still be up by the time you return.”
“What?” Darcy exclaimed, hurrying after Loki inside the apartment. “That’s not fair! Promise me you’ll stay up until I get back!”
Loki placed the wine bottle into the box of recyclables in the kitchen and turned to face Darcy again, contemplating.
“Half an hour,” he said finally. “I suppose I can stay up and do some work on the Aether for half an hour.”
“Half an hour?
” Darcy began confrontationally. “But that will definitely not be enough—”
“Clock’s ticking,” Loki said happily, his mouth twitching as he failed to conceal a smirk.
Darcy glowered at him, but, recognizing the futility of her continuing to argue, turned on her heel and dashed off to her bedroom nevertheless. Once there, she pulled an old shoebox from under the sofa bed and opened it to reveal a very dusty loaded black Taser gun and a spare Taser cartridge, equally dusty. Of course, she knew full well that simply possessing, let alone using
, a Taser without a permit was illegal in this country, but she figured that a fine and/or jail time would be a welcome alternative to what could otherwise happen if she ever found herself in a situation warranting the use of the gun. So, taking both the Taser and the extra cartridge, she shoved them in her purse, swung her purse over her shoulder, and then ran back out into the main living area.
Loki had already settled himself at the S.E.E.R. computer and was typing up what looked like lines of code. “Twenty-eight minutes,” he informed Darcy without looking up.
Darcy scoffed at his back and then dashed into the hallway, threw on a pair of running shoes, and flew out the door.
The walk to the supermarket wasn’t a long one, even without cutting through alleys, as Darcy normally did during the day. Ten minutes there, ten minutes back, with eight minutes to spare for the actual store. And unless there was a freak middle-of-the-night lineup at cash, Darcy did not see how she would spend eight minutes there.
Feeling quite confident that she would be able to get back on time now, Darcy walked briskly down the brightly lit London street. A few familiar faces passed her, some she knew to be avid night owls and others she was pretty sure were drug dealers, but all of them completely harmless.
“’Ello, Darcy,” said a familiar raspy voice as she passed the entrance to a subway station. A long-haired homeless man stood leaning comfortably against a lamppost beside it. He looked uncannily like the lead singer of U2.
“Oh, hey, Bono!” Darcy said brightly, smiling. “Didn’t see you there!”
“All good, milady,” the man called Bono said. “Now, listen,” he continued, stepping toward Darcy. “Just got an order in yesterday, you see. Very good stuff, I heard. Could give you a discount, you know. Sweetest girl this part of town, you are.”
“Aw, thanks, Bono,” Darcy said sincerely. “But I’m in a bit of a hurry, so not tonight, okay?”
“Very well, milady,” Bono rasped, inclining his head toward Darcy in a reverent bow. “You have yourself a g’night, eh?”
“Thanks, you too, Bono,” Darcy said, and then continued on her way.
No one else stopped her to talk to her as she walked down the street toward where it intersected a larger street that would bring her to the supermarket, but she did pass a group of rather disgruntled looking, loudly swearing teenagers heading in the opposite direction. As they shoved past her, hands deep in the pockets of their baggy sweatshirts in true moody-teenager fashion, she thought she heard one of them mutter, “Bloody construction,” angrily to his buddy.
The next moment, Darcy found herself thinking the exact same thing. Having cleared the throng of teenagers, she had come face to face with a tall orange fence, barricading the street from one side to the other. Beyond it was an overturned mess of pavement and sidewalk, a parked excavator, and a large pyramid of sewer-pipe segments. And just on the other side of the blocked-off portion of street, Darcy could see the traffic lights of the intersection that she needed to get to.
“Well, fuck,” Darcy said. She spun on the spot, looking about for the shortest way around the construction area, but it appeared that all the possible detours would take her at least a block out of her way, and she just wasn’t sure if she had that kind of time to spare. There was another option that was available to her however: a long and rather shady-looking alley between two warehouses on her right, which would bring her to a parallel street and would allow her to reach the supermarket in even less time than the main streets would.
If it were daytime, there would be no question for Darcy if she should take the alley or not. But it was night, and the alley was poorly lit and deserted, and a small voice inside Darcy’s head was already reminding her of what her mother had once said about what happened to young ladies who chose to stray down dark alleys in the middle of the night.Oh, please,
Darcy thought in response to the little voice, and was somewhat surprised to realize that her own inner voice sounded slightly drunk. She only said that because she didn’t like me going out with my friends in the evenings.That doesn’t mean it’s not true!
said the first voice affrontedly.Uhuh,
Darcy thought, unconvinced. Like something’s
actually gonna happen to me if I walk down that alley.You never know!
the small Jane-like voice exclaimed desperately. Is that a chance you’re honestly willing to take?Uh, yeah,
Darcy thought impatiently. Or are you forgetting that a certain gorgeous alien prince might be
the little voice said strictly. You’re not thinking clearly.Yeah, well,
Darcy thought, feeling severely annoyed by her pesky conscience by now, who needs clear thinking when you’ve got a Taser in your purse?
And with that, she held her head high and strode into the mouth of the shadowy alley.
Like seriously, her conscience could be such a nag sometimes, Darcy thought to herself grumpily as she marched along the grimy, litter-strewn alley. Like walking down a dumb old alley was going to put her in mortal danger. She’d done way more dangerous stuff than this before. Like broken into a school, broken into Jane’s house, tased Thor, been there when Loki had torn Puente Antiguo a new one with his metal rage monster, been there when the Dark Elves had attacked Greenwich, put glue in Loki’s hair, impaled a—
It happened so quickly that at first Darcy didn’t even know exactly what had
happened. All she knew was that one moment she had been walking down the alleyway minding her own business, and the next she had been shoved aside unceremoniously and there was now a man sprinting away from her, carrying her purse.
Several thoughts now flashed through her mind in quick succession: She’d just been mugged. But hey, at least no stereotypes had been promoted, as, judging by the exposed back of the mugger’s shiny, bald head, he was very much white; but why was she even thinking this now anyway? Oh, Christ, her purse was gone. But—she checked—her phone was still in her jeans pocket, thank God. Her purse was gone!
What did she have in her purse? Tampons—an umbrella—a pack of gum—lots of wrappers and other nondescript garbage—her wallet
. Shit. What was in her wallet? A twenty-pound bill. Her debit card. IDs. Well, she didn’t care much about losing the twenty pounds, and her debit card could be deactivated and her IDs reported stolen. Now that she thought about it actually, the skinhead hadn’t really lucked out in mugging her at all. OH, FUCK, HER TASER!
No, no, no, no, no
! By far her favorite, and currently irreplaceable, object she possessed, gone forever? She could hardly believe it. Suddenly, a powerful and uncontrollable anger filled her, and then, Darcy Lewis said by far the stupidest thing she would ever say in her life:
” she screamed after the mugger. “MY TASER IS IN THERE!
She immediately realized her mistake, but it was too late. The skinhead stopped in his tracks, and Darcy saw him ruffle around in her purse for a moment. When he turned to face her, he held her Taser in his hand.
Darcy watched his eyes dart over and over between her and the Taser, clearly contemplating, and she was sober enough to know exactly what he was thinking of doing. Young as she was, she knew perfectly well what men thought of her in regards to her looks, even as she was now—no makeup, worn-out jeans, and a simple T-shirt. She recognized the need to remain stock still, willing the man to turn around and walk away, to not make this the night when he would ruin both her life and his, knowing that any sudden movement on her part could startle him into attacking. But even as she stood frozen, hoping beyond hope, she saw the skinhead’s lips slide open in a sickening, twisted grin. He was now watching her with an inhuman, maniacal hunger in his eyes. He had made his decision.
As he took his first step toward her, Darcy turned around and bolted the other way.
But she hadn’t even taken three steps when, with a startled shriek, she was forced to come to a halt again, because, appearing as if from behind a dissolving, invisible wall and coming at her at a swift, forceful march, was none other than the God of Mischief.
Darcy could do little more than gape at him, her mind reeling, while he appeared to not see her at all. With his eyes frightfully emotionless and his face a grayish paper white, Darcy recognized an expression she had seen him wear once before—that of purest rage.
“Move,” Loki growled, thrusting out his hand at her. He did not touch her, but Darcy felt an invisible force pushing her to the side, as if she and Loki’s hand were similarly charged magnets. It had not been a hard push at all, but Darcy, being Darcy, stumbled over her own feet and came crashing into a pile of garbage and empty cardboard boxes that lay against the side of the alley. Her glasses went flying off her face and landed she could not see where.
Loki came to a stop in front of the skinhead, who appeared to have chosen to fight rather than flee. He had dropped Darcy’s purse to the ground, and, holding her Taser in both hands, pointed it at Loki’s chest.
“Eaaaaasy, mate,” he cooed at Loki. “See what I’ve got here?” He brandished the Taser slightly.
Loki raised one entirely nonplussed eyebrow at the skinhead and took another step forward. Without a moment’s hesitation, the skinhead pulled the trigger.
“No!” Darcy yelled, springing to her feet just as the two electrodes collided with Loki’s chest. If Loki was going down, there was no way in hell she wasn’t putting up a fight.
But oddly, Loki didn’t go down. In fact, he appeared to be quite unbothered by the strong electrical current presently surging through his body. Both Darcy and the skinhead looked on in utter amazement, though an undeniable shadow of fear was now crawling across the skinhead’s face.
Apparently having had enough, Loki tore the electrode darts from his chest and, wrapping the wires that still connected them to the Taser around his hand, yanked the Taser from the skinhead’s grip. The gun landed on the asphalt with a clatter of plastic.
The skinhead was now staring at Loki with a mixture of awe and terror on his face, backing away toward the closest wall, but there was no escape for him. Shaking his head in what looked like disgust, Loki took a final step toward him and then delivered a rib-crushing punch to his chest, sending him flying into the wall behind him. The back of the skinhead’s head collided with the solid brick, and he slid to the ground in a limp, motionless heap.
“Loki!” Darcy cried out, waving her hands frantically at the scene that had just unfolded before her. “What? What?
me? Who are you, Edward Cullen
“No, I am your friend
, remember?” Loki replied calmly. “Meanwhile, this man is a pig, so please excuse me while I gut him like one.”
Loki flicked his wrist, and this time, Darcy could just make out the small dagger slipping out of the sleeve of his tunic. Loki crouched before the unconscious mugger and raised the blade above his belly, and Darcy sprang forward and seized hold of Loki’s wrist before he could deliver the blow.
“‘No’?” Loki asked her in a dangerously quiet voice, looking up into her face. But he did not attempt to free himself of her grip. “I am sure you know what he would have done to you had you been unable to get away.”
“Of course I know!” Darcy said impatiently. “But you can’t just go and butcher an unconscious man in a dark alley, Jazz Hands!” And then, having said it out loud, she felt the full gravity and horror of the present situation descend upon her. Had she not stopped him, Loki would have murdered this man just now . . . . Suddenly repulsed by contact with him, Darcy let go of Loki’s wrist and took a step back from him.
Loki rose, slipping his dagger back into his sleeve, and there was now an expression of dark amusement on his face. “Very well, Little Mortal. How will you have us handle this?”
“Call the police, of course!
” Darcy said, whipping her phone out of her jeans pocket. “Give a statement? Testify? Let him go to court and get sentenced the lawful way?”
“Hm,” Loki said, rubbing his chin pensively and beginning to pace back and forth. “And what do you think he
will say when he gives his
Darcy blinked at him. “What? I don’t know! That he’s a sick, twisted son of a bitch?”
“Really?” Loki asked, coming to a stop in front of her and looking quite surprised. “You do not think he might mention a strange man in strange clothes, possessing inhuman strength and the ability to withstand the power of whatever mortal weapon that was with which he attempted to defeat me? And let us not forget the strange man’s name that you so cleverly uttered in his presence.”
“He’s out cold
!” Darcy retorted immediately.
“Are you certain of that?” Loki asked.
“Even if he’s not, I don’t care
!” Darcy cried heatedly in response. “Don’t you understand? No matter what you say, I am simply not letting you murder this man, Loki!”
For a moment, Loki’s expression became rather pained. “Funny,” he then said. “You appeared to have no qualms about murder when you chose to impale that Dark Elf.”
” Darcy hissed, not quite able to believe that Loki had just brought her killing the Dark Elf into this. “This is a completely different situation! This is just a helpless, unarmed man, whereas that Elf was a—”
“Monster,” Loki finished for her, his face darkening suddenly.
Darcy had been about to say “psychopath who would’ve killed me had I not chosen to fight back”, but now decided that “monster” was also a fitting description. “Yes, exactly,” she said to Loki, relieved that she was finally getting through to him.
But her relief was short lived, because Loki’s expression continued growing darker and darker by the second. Finally, he spoke, in a voice barely above a whisper: “It makes me wonder, Little Mortal, if Thor did not look so perfectly human
, would you and Jane still fawn over him so?”
As Loki spoke, Darcy could swear that she saw his eyes momentarily flash crimson, and in that moment, understanding washed over her. Understanding that was instantly replaced by acute frustration.
“That is not what I meant,” she said, perhaps a little too harshly. “That Dark Elf wasn’t human, no, and he definitely didn’t look
human, but that is not what made him a monster and it’s not why I killed him. So don’t even try
“Try what, Little Mortal?” Loki asked, his hands balling into fists.
“Try passing me off as some heartless hypocrite who only cares about saving lives if they’re human!” Darcy spat.
“You said it, not I,” Loki stated.
Darcy groaned loudly, threw her hands to her head, and turned away from him. She could not believe how utterly insufferable he could be sometimes. It was as if he wanted
her to hate him. Twisting her words like that, especially when—
“Hey!” she yelled, turning back around to face him. “It was you who said “monster”! Not I! You set me up, didn’t you? You wanted an excuse to get mad at me! Why?
Loki’s fists were trembling slightly; he looked on the verge of attack. “Your lightning weapon, can it be fired more than once?” he asked, his voice discomfortingly steady.
“Yeah . . . ?” Darcy replied slowly, not sure if she trusted this sudden change of topic. “I have an extra cartridge in my purse . . . .”
“Good,” Loki said. “You wish to take the swine to your mortal law-upholders, you are perfectly capable of doing so yourself.” And with that, he strode past her and toward the mouth of the alley behind her.
Darcy whipped around in his wake, feeling her temper rise to heights she hadn’t imagined possible. “Don’t you dare
leave me here alone!” she bellowed. “Loki!”
But this achieved nothing. Without a backward glance, Loki disappeared around the corner of the building at the end of the alley.
Darcy turned and gave the closest bag of garbage a furious kick. She was fuming. Of all the dick moves Loki had pulled on her in the time they had known each other, this was by far the most horrible one, and she didn’t think she could ever forgive him for it. But at the moment, she remembered grudgingly, she had more important things to worry about.
She looked at where the mugger lay, still unconscious, and then down at her phone, and then cursed Loki for having been right about calling the police not being an option. As he had said, what would stop the mugger from blabbing to the cops or his lawyer or the judge about the man in medieval clothing who withstood a shot from a Taser and then sent him flying into a wall with a single punch? If the case went public, who knew who’d hear about it? Tony Stark? Any one of the other Avengers? And how long would it take for them to make the connection, what with Thor living in London? No, Darcy had to think of an alternative course of action, and she had to think of it quickly.
Thankfully, it didn’t take her long at all to realize what the only acceptable alternative was. Pocketing her iPhone, she picked up her Taser from the ground and hastily replaced the wasted cartridge with the new one from her purse. All she had to do now was wait for the mugger to regain consciousness.
She attempted to look for her glasses while she waited, rummaging indiscriminately through the pile of garbage into which they had fallen, but unsurprisingly, looking for a small object in a collection of other small objects in a dimly lit alley all while not being able to see properly proved impossible. Giving up, Darcy picked up a large, relatively clean-looking bad of garbage, dropped it on the opposite side of the alley from the mugger, and sat down on it with a sigh.
Not much else happened during her wait, with the only exception being the cameo of a scruffy-looking black cat, which dashed across one end of the alley and disappeared behind a pile of cardboard boxes on the other side. Just as Darcy was beginning to wonder if the mugger had hit his head so hard that he had slipped into a coma, he let out a low groan and began to shift about on the pavement.
Darcy was on her feet and pointing her weapon at him before he had even had the chance to open his eyes. “Hands where I can see them, asshole,” she said, and was relieved that her voice was quite steady.
The skinhead quit his shifting around at once and looked up, appraising both Darcy and her Taser. Slowly, he lifted his hands in the air, showing Darcy his palms.
Darcy swallowed. If she was being perfectly honest with herself, she had no idea how to begin a conversation with the man who had wanted to rape her. She was therefore somewhat relieved when, after looking around nervously, the skinhead spoke first:
“Your superpowered boyfriend, he’s not still around, is he?”
It took Darcy everything she had not to cringe at “your boyfriend”. But with the skinhead having just confirmed that he definitely did remember what happened before he got knocked out, Darcy supposed that she could use his assumption about her relationship with Loki to her advantage.
“I dunno,” she now said to the skinhead, shrugging casually. “You saw how he appeared out of thin air, didn’t you? Maybe he is
still here. Just invisible.”
To her satisfaction, this appeared to perturb the skinhead greatly. He looked around the alley again, his eyes popping in a clear attempt to make out whether an invisible Loki was really there or not. When he looked back at Darcy, he raised his hands a little higher in the air. “Please . . . . Don’t hurt me . . . . I’ll do anything you want . . . .”
Darcy clicked her tongue and crossed her arms, regarding the skinhead contemptuously. “You don’t want to die,” she stated.
The skinhead shook his head frantically. “No . . . . Please . . . .”
“But if I simply turn you in to the police, what will stop you from telling the whole wide world about my ‘superpowered boyfriend’?”
“I won’t tell a soul, I swear
Darcy clicked her tongue again. “That’s not good enough, I’m afraid.” And she pointed her Taser at the skinhead once more.
The skinhead whimpered, drew himself into a poor imitation of a ball, and covered his face with his arms. It was a sight so pathetic that Darcy was barely able to hold back a derisive snort.
She allowed the skinhead to remain in that position for a good several seconds. Then she sighed, lowered her weapon, and said, “Well, I suppose I have no choice but to let you go.”
It took a moment for the skinhead to register what she had said. “Wh-What?” he stammered finally, peeking out at her from between his arms.
“You heard me,” Darcy said, adding a note of impatience to her tone. “Go. Before I change my mind.”
The skinhead stared at her incredulously for a few moments. Then, all at once, he scrambled to his feet.
“Whoa, not so fast,” Darcy said, raising her gun suddenly and pointing it directly at the skinhead’s face. He squeezed his eyes shut and plastered himself flat against the wall behind him. “If I let you go,” Darcy continued threateningly, “there will be conditions.”
The skinhead nodded blindly. “An-Anything you want.”
“Firstly, you won’t tell anyone about what happened here tonight. Anyone.
Do you understand?”
“Yes—Yes, of course.”
“And secondly, you will make sure never to be seen in this neighborhood again.”
At this, the skinhead half-opened one tentative eye and looked at her pleadingly. “But . . . But I live here . . . .”
Darcy raised an eyebrow at him. “If you’d rather die than move, then by all means, that can be arranged . . . .”
“No, no, no!” the skinhead exclaimed immediately, his eyes snapping open in shock as he threw his hands up in compliance again. “I’ll move, I’ll move! Please . . . .”
“I’m glad we have come to an understanding,” Darcy said in the matter-of-fact tone of a lawyer who had just made a deal with the opposition and had therefore avoided taking her touchy case to court. “Now get the fuck
out of here.”
The skinhead didn’t need telling twice. Stumbling and tripping, he tore himself from the wall and hurtled down the alley. Darcy kept her Taser on him until he had disappeared from sight.
She arrived back at the apartment feeling murderous, a sensation made doubly worse by the discovery that Loki, shockingly, was still awake. He had been sitting at the computer bar working on the S.E.E.R. computer when she had stepped through the door, and now turned around in his seat and looked at her. Without her glasses, Darcy couldn’t see his face properly at this distance, but she couldn’t care less if he still looked resentful, or relieved or apologetic. So she simply glowered at him, daring him to say something.
But Loki didn’t say anything and merely turned back around and resumed his work on the computer. Before she could really think about what she was doing, Darcy had kicked off one of her sneakers, picked it up, and, aiming carefully, thrown it with all her might at Loki’s head. The heel of her shoe collided with the dead center of the back of Loki’s head with a very sound, satisfying clop
Loki spun around immediately, his hand on the back of his head. Darcy still couldn’t make out his facial expression, but she imagined that he looked furious and therefore continued shooting daggers at him.
“I’m sorry, but have we suddenly become five years old?” Loki asked then, and to Darcy’s disappointment he sounded perfectly unbothered for someone who’d just had a piece of footwear thrown at his head.
“Dunno,” she replied airily. “Do five-year-olds leave their so-called ‘friends’ alone with mugging would-be rapists in deserted alleys in the middle of the night?”
Loki remained categorically silent at this.
“That’s what I thought,” Darcy said with a bitter smile, and then kicked off her other shoe and stormed off into her bedroom, slamming the door behind herself.