Continuing Tales

The Blood-Dimmed Tide

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by ofravenwings

Part 14 of 33

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The Blood-Dimmed Tide

Darcy runs through the city.

It is something that she has always wanted to do - to be one of the people who ran. Not the idiots who power walked, the people who did a shuffling jog. She always wanted to run, to push her body to its limit, to fly over the ground.

She had walked at first as she moved away from the park, that twist of unease still moving through her. The further she moved away from the place where the labyrinth had been - assuming it had actually been there at all - the more that heavy unease lightened. Three blocks away, and she was fairly skipping down the street.

It didn't matter if the labyrinth had been there or not, she decided. It didn't matter if it was some kind of weird drug trip or what kind of person Ozy was or if any of it was real or not.

Because right here, right now, was the first time she'd been able to think of her father without her whole body turning to concrete. It was the first time she'd been able to think of her mothers, her brothers, without guilt rushing up to swallow her.

It is the first time that she has ever felt free.

And so her walk had become a skip, her skip a jog. And then she'd been running. Her body working the primal way it had always been meant to work. Muscles contracting and relaxing, joints swinging and sliding, heart pumping and air rushing in and out of her lungs. And she feels like she could just run forever, just keep going faster and faster until she is going to fast that she has to take off and fly into the sky, shuck her skin and flesh and be free from everything, forever.

When she finally slows, it is because she wants to, not because she has to. She finds herself in a street she has never been in before. There's a line of bars and clubs, all of them with the doors open, windows smashed. Someone has tagged the pavement with a series of red and blue stars, over and over. Every third one has been crossed with black paint, and the same black paint has been carefully applied to the jagged edges of the broken windows.

Darcy has gone to more bars and clubs than she can remember. Has had boyfriends, has hooked up with random guys, a few girls even. And has never really been there in her body once. Her entire life has been going through the motions of what Darcy Lewis should do, who Darcy Lewis should be.

She wishes suddenly that at least one of these places was still up and running. That she could just walk in, order a drink, hook up with someone. Find out what sex felt like when you were actually there. She takes a step towards the closest bar. A wave of warm air washes out, fetid and close. It smells as though something or someone has died in there. She hastily turns back.

Her skin is hot and damp, her hair tangled with sweat, a sensation that had always been repulsive to her in the past. Right now, as she begins walking again, a breeze brushes against her, cooling her skin, and it feels good. It feels like being alive.

She grins, and she begins to run again.


Darcy half walks, half skips down the corridor leading to the guard room. She is at least an hour late for her shift, she thinks, give or take, but she doubts that anyone will notice or care. It's not like Loki actually needs real looking after, anyway.

Two large boxes await her outside the guard room, as well as two meal trays. At the last, she does a double take. Breakfast and lunch meant that she was away - that she was running - for all of the morning, and who knows how much of the afternoon. A week earlier, and she would have been wrecked from just running for a few minutes. Not to mention very sore unless she was wearing at least two sports bras layered on top of one another, she adds, looking down. Right now, she feels no soreness, no tiredness. She feels brimming over with energy. Light. Free.

Grinning, she hauls the boxes and trays into the guard room. Figuring that Loki has already waited, and that he won't eat the food anyway, she set the trays aside and plunks the boxes down next to the couch.

There is a note taped to the topmost box. Jane's neat handwriting tells her that there's formula, nappies and clothing for Ravi in one of the boxes, along with some basic medication he and his mother might need. The other box is for Darcy.

Darcy peeks into the topmost box. It's crammed full of baby things, just as Jane said. Including what looks like red onesie emblazoned with the Stark Industries logo. She doesn't even want to think why that piece of clothing exists, or why baby items were stockpiled here. Sometimes, with Stark, it was just better not to know.

Darcy sets the box for Beth next to the door, then turns back to the one for her. She realises as she's moving that can't sit still. She's tapping her fingers against the side of the box, bouncing her knee when she sits back down. She feels as though she's had a dozen cups of strong black coffee, with none of the edgy wiredness or heart palpitations that usually went along with that.

On top of the second box's contents is an envelope. When she opens it, a small electronic pass key falls out. There's a note from Jane informing Darcy that the key is for a gym area in the basement. No one else has access to it, so Darcy can treat it as her own personal space. Jane has even drawn a map so Darcy can find it in the maze of basements.

"Subtle hint, Jane?" Darcy asks. She twirls the key around her fingers, pausing to admire the way the black tattoo on her wrist undulates with the movements of her tendons. "Well, booyah, Jane, because I just spent the entire fricking morning running."

She loops her key onto her ID, then turns back to the rest of the box's contents. There's more food - all freeze dried stuff and military rations, by the looks of it. Darcy casts a baleful eye on Loki's trays, which seem to be including even more fresh food. She wonders why anyone is even bothering to feed him.

There are clothes in the box, too. Jeans in several sizes, sweaters, underwear, socks, a waterproof coat. Gloves, knitted hats, and, at the bottom, a pair of boots. All of the latter look to be military in origin. There's another note from Jane tucked into one of the boots, letting Darcy know that she can change the size if she needs to.

Darcy looks down at her own mismatched boots. The leather is scuffed on both, the soles worn down, though she only bought both pairs within the last few months. "I was getting kind of used to you." She looks at Loki's trays again. "Guess it's time to earn my keep. Time to feed the monster."

She picks up the lunch tray, and promptly almost drops it as she passes before the monitors for the first time since entering the guard room.

Loki is pacing his cell, his hands clenching and unclenching. As though he knows that she is looking, he pauses, stares straight up at the camera. He says something, his hands moving in sharp gestures, long fingers splayed. She can't tell is he'd angry or pleading.

She set down the tray in order to slide the gate remote into her pocket. She gets caught in admiring the tattoo on her wrist again, turning her hand around and around, the black marks moving like waves over her skin. She is about to pick up the tray again when she pauses, some instinct making her pull down her sweater sleeve to cover the mark. She picks up her headphones and plugs them into her ears, tucking the loose end into her jeans pocket so it looks like she's listening to music. Only then does she pick up the tray and go through into the cell.

Loki has stilled. He stands next to the intercom, his hands fisted by his side. His hair is tangled and damp, as though he's been running his hands through it over and over. His cheeks are flushed.

Darcy deliberately affects a kind of walking dance, as though the music she's listening to is so good that she can't stand still. Which, at least, is truth, at least for the latter. Dancing feels good, as though she's never been aware of her body and how it can move before.

She dumps the tray into the slot, sending a silent prayer for whatever Asgardian magic they used to make it so no sound could be heard through that space. She tries not to look at Loki, but she can see him in her peripheral vision. As soon as she begins to turn away, he's pounding on the perspex barrier so hard that she can feel the vibrations through the floor.

She turns her back on him, still dancing. And though she is nowhere near the intercom, and though the intercom cannot be activated from within the cell, its speaker crackles to life.

"-Darcy! What happened-?"

Her name on his lips is almost enough to make her turn. As it is, she feels something twist tight in her, remembers the dreams: his body on Yrsa's, his body on Bera's. How beautiful he had looked, with the hardness stripped away.

She forces the memories away, opens the gate, runs through it.


Darcy turns off the shower reluctantly, steps out of the steam-fogged stall.

When Jane's note had mentioned a gym room, she had expected some tiny little room with a couple of ellipticals, maybe a treadmill. She should have known better.

The gym room itself is larger than her apartment, and filled with what looks like the highest quality equipment. There are free weights, treadmills, ellipticals, and more machines that she doesn't have the faintest idea of their use. Including several that she suspects were not actually designed with exercise in mind.

As well-appointed as the gym is, it is the bathroom that transfixed her.

Stark probably considers it small, she supposes, but it's still at least four times the size of her bathroom in her apartment. Everything is tiled in white, and there are stacks of white towels and robes emblazoned with the Stark Industries logo. Two large shower stalls, and a jacuzzi large enough for two people. When she pressed a button by accident, a panel slid back on the wall above the jacuzzi, revealing a television screen.

All this for a gym room in a basement that no one ever used.

Jane had evidently been down here, because there was another box waiting for her. This one contained shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hair products, even some unopened boxes of makeup. Clearly Tony Stark had stockpiled everything for the end of the world.

"Can't have your girls looking anything but pretty when the world's falling apart, right?" Darcy reaches for a towel and dries off. "And by the way, Darce," she adds as she grabs a robe, "you might want to talk to someone about the habit of talking to empty rooms. Or does everyone just go crazy by default in an apocalypse?"

She shrugs into a robe, wraps a towel around her hair. The room is warm and fragrant, scented with the cinnamon and ginger body wash she'd used. Her skin is warm, too, and her muscles relaxed, and she doesn't want to leave this haven. There's a remote control slotted next to the television, and for want of anything else to do, she turns on the set.

Most of the channels are showing static, something that sends a cold sliver of ice into her heart. All this time, she'd been so wrapped up in what was happening to New York, she'd forgotten about the rest of the world. There were the wars, sure, but there were always wars these days. They'd be fought, and people would die, but one side would win, and everything would return to normal.

She didn't even want to think about what was happening elsewhere to stop so many channels transmitting.

Finally, she finds a channel with a shaky signal, though the image flips in and out and is swallowed by intermittent static. She doesn't recognise the channel, and the man talking looks like he's in a basement of some kind.

He looks young, barely more than a teenager, his shirt and tie sitting awkwardly on shoulders not fully into their adult growth. She can just see a laptop in front of him, as well as a scattered pile of papers.

She watches him for five minutes. By the time she turns the television off, unable to listen any more, her hands are shaking, all of the warmth gone from her body.

More wars have been declared. A terrorist attach on Washington, with rumours of biological weapons being used. The White House in flames, the President's whereabouts unknown. Canada's borders closed indefinitely, no communication from beyond them for the last week. England declaring nation-wide martial law. All of Australia, completely silent on all forms of communication, and no one knows why.

"The world really is fucking ending." Darcy's voice echoes, hollow, in the bathroom, her own voice the only thing that answers her.

She's shivering now, so she shucks the robe. She brought some of the clothes from Jane's box with her, and she pulls on fresh underwear, new jeans. Her usual size is too large, the jeans bagging at her hips and thighs. She's forced to put her dirty bra, since that was apparently one garment Tony Stark hadn't stockpiled. That still fits, typically. She pulls on a clean t-shirt, then her glasses, then turns to look at herself in the mirror.

Her reflection stares back at her solemnly. Her hair is drying in a mass of waves, emphasising the new thinness to her face. There are circles beneath her eyes, and lines of strain at the sides of her mouth. She looks sick. She looks as exhausted as she feels.

Even though she mocked the cosmetics earlier, she reaches for them now, hands moving in a familiar, and comforting dance. When she'd lived at home, makeup had been forbidden to her. Only once she was out in the world had she learned the mysteries of powder and lipstick, learned how to construct her own mask, her own image of how Darcy Lewis should appear to the world.

When she is done, the girl in the mirror looks more like her. Or maybe less like her. She doesn't know, but she knows that some of the coldness is gone, at least.

Along with the jeans and shirt, she had brought a loose sweater and a knitted hat into the bathroom. Part of the usual Darcy Lewis uniform: loose clothes to hide her chest, hat and glasses to hide behind. Her message to the world: don't look at me, I am no one.

She looks in the mirror again. The shirt is fitted, with a v-neckline and a Stark Industries logo embroidered over her left breast. There's no doubting where someone's attention would go when they looked at her.

"But there's no one here to see me," she says. "And it's warm enough in the guard room that I don't even need a sweater."

Her reflection smiles. She pulls on socks, laces up the new boots. Tosses the used robe and towel into the bin provided.

Walks down the hallway, head held high.


Loki's dinner tray is waiting outside the guard room.

She wonders, for the first time, who actually delivers the trays down here, since no one ever seems to come down to these levels.

Her answer comes as she picks up the tray. A small bot comes whizzing past, the laundry bin from the bathroom held on its back. Darcy grins, because the tiny thing is kind of cute. She gives it a wave as it rattles away. To her surprise, it beeps cheerfully back.

She's still smiling as she goes back into the guard room. Only one more hour of her shift - the time allocated for Loki to eat his dinner, and for her to collect his tray, and then she can go home.

Home. For the first time in her life, that word brings with it a warmth, a feeling of safety. Beth will be there with Ravi, and maybe she can get to know more of the people she'll be spending the apocalypse with. Maybe, in the midst of all of this, she will have an actual family.

Her iPod has charged up, and she delivers Loki's tray to the strains of Moonlight Sonata. He's sitting on his cot now, head in his hands. He doesn't look up as she dumps the tray into the slot.

Her headphones still in, she occupies herself packing up the untouched food from Loki's other meals, setting some aside for Vinh, some for Beth. She eats some protein bars and dried fruit, drinks coffee, takes a multivitamin.

Still twenty minutes of her shift to go.

She stretches out on the couch, her headphones still in, Moonlight Sonata playing for the tenth time. Her body is heavy and warm again from the movement, and she feels as though she's melting into the worn cushions.

She's thinking that she should actually load up the new iPod Jane got her with music from the Stark library, Moonlight Sonata looping again, when she slides into sleep.


At first there's only the darkness again. Velvet, living darkness that creeps over her skin, dips into the hollow of her throat, slides against her lips as though it seeks entry.

And she knows that she is dreaming. Knows it instantly, as certainly as she knows her own name.

The darkness moves against her, silent and questioning.

"So, do I get to choose this one?" she asks. The darkness hovers an inch from her lips as she speaks. "Lucid dreaming, then? I always wanted to be able to do that." She smiles. "I know exactly what I want to dream."

She breathes in, inhales the darkness. It uncoils inside of her, and everything falls away.


Darcy begins to open her eyes. She has a glimpse only of fractures light, and then gentle hands press her eyelids closed again.

She smiles, and the fingers ghost against her lips, tracing their curve. She can see that caress, bright as sparks in the darkness behind her eyes.

More hands join the first pair, undressing her, then lifting a gown around her. Heavy skirts are draped from her hips, a bodice laced up along her spine, the fabric cupping the curve of her ribs and breasts, as intimate as a caress. The hands move higher, dusting fragrant powder over her face, touching her lips with a salve that tastes like peaches. Her hair is last, fingers training it into curls, fastening ribbons and pins and combs.

Last of all comes the heavy necklace and earrings. The crystals are cold, but warm quickly against her skin.

The hands withdraw one by one. A touch against her cheek, and she knows that she is allowed now to open her eyes.

She knows, even before she sees, what this dream will be. It is a familiar one, a fantasy lived over and over when the real world became too difficult to bear, too dark.

The great wall of concave crystal acts as a mirror. The dress is a perfect replica: yards and yards of silk and tulle, puffed sleeves, tight bodice.

Darcy grins, twirls around to make the skirts flare out. She gets a glimpse of her crystal-studded slippers, and then, just as she's spinning faster, she promptly steps on the hem and almost trips.

"The things the dream doesn't tell you," she says. She steadies herself, readjusts the bodice where it had begun to droop. "Dresses like this are not easy to wear."

Instantly the dress becomes lighter, as though those invisible hands are supporting it from beneath. The bodice tightens just enough to keep it snug around her.

"Helping hands." Darcy giggles. "Thanks."

Her giggle becomes a laugh then, the sound bouncing off the crystal and cascading like silver around her. Her head is swimming, as though she has drunk at least two glasses too much of champagne. Or bitten into an enchanted peach.

Her first viewing of Labyrinth as a girl had been during a stolen night. Darcy had been maybe eleven or twelve, and both she and her best friend at the time had told their parents that they were staying at a church camp for the night. Their alibis secure, they had snuck over to her friend's then-boyfriend's house, hid in the basement, ostensibly to watch Labyrinth. The boyfriend had declared the movie too babyish, and had spent the night seeing how far he could insert his hands beneath his girlfriend's sweater. Darcy had barely noticed, she had been so immersed in the movie.

They had fallen asleep and been discovered in the morning. The friend had blamed Darcy, claimed she was the one who had planned it, she who had the boyfriend.

Prickling electricity runs down Darcy's back in the exact pattern her mother had striped into her flesh when she found out. Even now, she considers the strapping worth it, for from that night on, she had a fantasy world she could always retreat to. A place where she could imagine that someone would want her, would love her enough to alter time, to change the world for her.

She turns away from the crystal wall. While she had been facing the mirrored surface, everything had been silent, but as soon as she turns, the air is filled with music and laughter.

The ballroom is filled with masked people, their gowns and masks a riot of colours and fabrics. Most of them are dancing, and all are chattering or laughing. Beyond them, Darcy glimpses candelabras dripping with hot wax, and above, the ceiling is draped with strings of crystals that catch the light, spin it to rainbows.

Someone hands Darcy a mask, a gorgeous thing suggestive of the features of a delicate bird, all made from twisted wire, white pearls and crystals. She slips it on, and it sculpts itself against her face like a second skin. It flutters against her, pulsing as if with its own heartbeat. Her vision sharpens slightly, everything she sees thrown into sharp relief.

Because it is what she is meant to do, she threads her way through the dancing crowd, looking for him.

As soon as she sees him, all awareness of dreaming fades away. This is reality. This is the only reality there has ever been. This is the only reality there will ever be.

Her skirts sway around her, making her aware of the movement of her hips as she crosses the ballroom. The scent of musk is heavy in the air, more intoxicating than any drug she has ever taken. She is aware of every inch of her flesh, the tightness of the bodice against her breasts, the warm air caressing the tender skin at the nape of her neck, intimate as a kiss.

He does not move, just waits for her to come to him. Tall and slender in black, his eyes glittering behind his black horned mask. His hair is black, not blonde, a fact that strikes her as odd, though she cannot place why. The musk grows heavier, uncurling like smoke inside her, and then she thinks nothing at all, just knows that she has to go to him.

The corner of his mouth curves up, and she feels warmth rising in her, her breath quickening. She has almost reached him when the crowd shifts, and he is lost from sight. When the dancers part again, he is gone.

An almost physical sense of loss aches within her as she searches the crowd. Catching a glimpse of him dancing here, lounging there. Every time the crowd moves, and he is gone. Every time, she moves on, keeps searching.

There are flashes of gold in her peripheral vision, like silent fireworks. Each time she turns to locate their source, there is only the dancing crowd, the crystalline wall beyond.

Suddenly there are too many people, the air too warm and close. Dizziness begins to wash over her, grey eating at the edges of her vision. She tries to gulp in deep breaths, but her bodice is too tight, and all she can manage is a shallow heaving of air. She sways, and her knees begin to crumple, and she knows that the crowd will not stop, but will keep dancing, crushing her bloody beneath their feet…

…And then there are firm hands are her waist, and she is drawn into the hard warmth of his chest. The rise and fall of his ribs is a metronome for her to steady her own breath, the thudding of his heart a focus to stop the world spinning.

She leans against him, all too aware of his hands on her waist, fingers splayed over her lower back. The music has faded away, and she cannot hear the crowd at all now. The whole world is filled with his heartbeat, with the tide of his breath. She presses her hands against his chest, closes her eyes.

His breath is hot against her ear as he speaks, his voice a half whisper. "I think we can manage better than this fairytale, don't you?"

She pulls back from him. The dancing figures, the ballroom, everything has become vague shadows, gold glittering here and there amongst the shadows. The fabric of his suit changes beneath her hands, velvet becoming green and black leather with scrollwork of gold along the collar. His mask alone does not change.

His fingers dance up her spine, sending shivers through her. He does not miss the slight shudder; his lips curve again as he moves his fingers up over her shoulders, then down to rest lightly on her collarbones. He waits, as though considering, and then she feels her own gown shift.

Gone is the vast skirt, the lace and ribbons. Now she wears a gown cut from velvet so deep green it is almost black. The bodice is even tighter, thrusting her breasts up and out, the skirt softly draped around her hips. Air against her thigh tells her that the skirt is slit, though the fullness of the skirt would hide that unless she were to spin. Her necklace has become a heavy curve of gold that rests in the hollow of her throat. Matching wide cuffs clasp both of her wrists. The gold is engraved with the same scrollwork as his collar.

He touches a hand to her hair, and she feels the ribbons fade away. The curls are drawn up and gathered to fall loosely down from matching combs. By their weight, she suspects that they are gold, and she just knows that they bear the same scrollwork as the jewellery.

He steps back from her, his fingertips trailing down her arm. When he stops moving, his fingers still rest lightly on hers. He keeps his eyes on her as he bows, presses his lips to her knuckles. His lips curve against her skin, then she feels the heat of her tongue press between her knuckles, just for a moment. He stands again, formal.

Music swells around them. It is like nothing she has ever heard, played on no instruments she can identify. The shadowed figures around them begin dancing again. They move in a formal, orchestrated dance, men leading the woman in steps both graceful and full of strength.

He has not moved, the only contact between them his fingers, still resting loosely on hers. He watches her. Waits.

Her body wants to move, wants to experience dancing, wants to experience everything.

She curls her hand into his.

They begin to dance.

At first, she fumbles the steps, half trips when she tries to turn. There is a thought in the back of her mind, the knowledge that she has never been a good dancer. A memory floats up: a woman with tight hair standing over her, telling her that she isn't even present in her own body.

He pauses in the dance, draws her in close to his body. Heat rolls off him in waves, and she can smell leather and smoke, a kind of deep, heady musk. He curls a hand around her waist, and his other hand cups her chin, one long finger tracing the line of her jaw.

"Here, your body knows the steps," he says. "Just dance, let it flow through you."

Behind his mask, his eyes flick to her lips. Warmth uncoils in her at the thought of him kissing her. She even begins to move towards him, inviting the kiss, but he steps away again, his fingers resting loosely beneath hers. Waiting again.

Waiting for her to lead him.

She bites her lip, glancing at the shadow dancers. He gives her a tiny nod.

She closes her eyes. Focuses on the sensation of his fingers against hers. There are miniscule trembles running through him with each beat of his heart, and his hand sways ever so slightly with every one of his breaths. The flow of blood and breath, the tides of life. Flow.

The music rolls over her, through her, and she is aware of every inch of her skin, every bone, every muscle. She is liquid, she is the ocean itself.

She begins to dance, the steps flowing from her feet like music themselves, like poetry. She circles around behind him, trailing a hand along his arm, up to his shoulders. His eyes follow her, his lips parting slightly as she dips her fingers beneath his collar, runs them around the back of his neck. She feels him shudder as she continues her path down his other arm, circles around in front of him.

His eyes glitter, and then he is circling around behind her, his hand trailing up her arm to her neck. He leans close enough that she can feel his breath against her skin, and then he is moving away again, coming around to face her.

The invitation has been offered, received, and now the dance begins in earnest.

It is a slow thing: almost, but not quite, a waltz. Their bodies do not touch, but his hand lingers on her waist, fingers dip low on her hip. Once, his eyes intent on her, he brushes his thumb against the underside of her breast, drawing a gasp from her lips.

The music ends, and he steps away, his hand in hers, dips into that bow again. She slides her fingers against the inside of her wrist, feels the drumming of his pulse.

She feels amazing. She feels free.

And if dancing had felt that good, then…

She smiles, and tugs on his hand. Behind his mask, his eyes widen, but he allows her to lead him.

The shadows move around them, and they are in a bedchamber. All obsidian and gold, with a massive bed carved from dark wood. At another time, she knows she would be fascinated by the carvings of animals and woodland scenery on the posts of the bed, but right now, her fascination lies elsewhere.

He hesitates when he sees the bed, but she's not letting him call the shots. She pulls on his arm, half leads and half pushes him onto his back on the bed. His breath hitches in his throat as she pushes him down, straddles his hips.

She presses her weight down for a heartbeat. He is hard already, and when she rises back up, his hips arch, and he mades a small, needy sound, his hands grasping at her hips. She grabs his wrists and moves his arms above his head, presses his hands down onto the bed. He utters a small, involuntary moan, deep in his throat, and she can't help rocking against him again.

"You're going to keep your hands here," she says. "Until I ask you not to."

He swallows heavily and nods, almost imperceptibly His eyes on hers, he tilts his chin back, baring the long line of his throat. She rolls her hips on him again, is rewarded with another one of those hitching moans. His muscles grow taut, and his hands clench into fists, but he keeps them on the bed.

It's like the dance again, and she is leading. She traces the edge of his mask, lets her fingers skim over the line of the artery in his throat, pressing hard for a moment against the place where his pulse beats. His hips arch up again at that, and he bites hard on his lip.

She lets her hands trail down the leather of his tunic. There are so many straps and buckles that it seems too much like a puzzle, too difficult. She settles for moving her hands lower, pushing up the hem of the tunic so she can hook her hands into the waistband of his trousers. There's no finesse now, just pure need, her body following the movements of a dance she has walked through many times, but never truly felt.

Sliding her fingers over the skin she's bared, she glances up at his face. Something in the tilt of his head, the shadows and angles of cheek and jaw tug at her memory, something like a warning tolling deep within. Then he cants his hips towards her, and she cares about nothing but unlacing his trousers, tugging them down just enough to free him.

She runs her fingers up his shaft, wraps her palm around him, squeezes lightly. He moans again, his hips lifting from the bed, thrusting against her hand.

She gathers her skirts, realising somewhat belatedly that she is not wearing any underwear beneath. Straddles him again, holding herself close enough that he would be able to feel the heat of her, but nothing more.

"We should-" he begins.

She cuts him off by the simple act of grasping him, tilting her hips to find the right angle, and sinking down. He is large, forcing her to take him in slowly, circling her hips as she slowly moves down. Finally, he is in her to the hilt, and she closes her eyes, just focusing on the feeling of him inside her.

There is something that feels completely and utterly right, as though he was made just for this. As though she was made just for him.

When she opens her eyes, she sees that he's clenching his hands so hard that his nails have drawn blood from his palms. His entire body is taut, shaking with the effort to keep himself still.

She smiles, and she begins to move.

His eyes are shadowed behind his mask, but she can see them glittering, watching her as she moves. Her body fairly aches with the need to have his hands on her, but she cannot stop herself. Being in control right now was too intoxicating. There would be time for more, later.

Despite himself, his hips are thrusting up into her, his rhythm matching hers. Every time he sinks deep, he utters a small, soft sound of need. His voice, even in this fragment of sound, is like velvet. That sense of familiarity tugs at her again, but she pushes it away, moves faster.

He's not going to last long, she can tell. She doesn't care, because neither will she. There's no thought in any of this, just her body, and him inside her, and the rightness of it all.

And then her climax is rising within her, crashing over her like a wave. It is like nothing she has ever felt, and she swears that even her vision goes black for a moment. He comes a moment later, his hips jerking up hard against her, his seed spilling inside her.

He goes utterly limp, completely relaxed. She wants to lie down on his chest, but something keeps her upright. She braces her hands against the bed, her body shaking with the aftershocks of her climax.

"You can move your hands now," she says.

He does. He rolls his shoulders once, and then, tentatively, he reaches out. His fingers rest on hers, and she feels something clench in her chest. And she can't stop herself from curling her fingers into his.

He moves his fingers up her arm, his touch so light that he is barely in contact with her skin. She closes her eyes, sees his touch, a green light that delineates the limits of her body. He traces the curve of her shoulder, rests in the hollow of her throat, and then moves down over her other shoulder, down her arm. When he reaches the gold cuff that encircles her wrist, something like an electric shock spears through her.

She opens her eyes to see his fingers resting against the edge of a black tattoo that had been concealed by the cuff, the bracelet having shifted during her exertions.

He traces the lacelike edge of the tattoo, and a series of shocks, each more intense than the previous. It feels as though he's touching a live wire to her skin. She tries to snatch her arm away, but he is faster than she is, grabbing her wrist and wrenching the cuff off. He closes his fingers around her wrist, and a deep burning twists in her bones.

"What is this?" he asks. "What is this?"

This time he lets her pull away when she tries. The burning ceases, leaving her with just a faint throb deep in her wrist.

"What the fuck?" She rubs her aching wrist. "That's worse than being tased."

He stares at her. Raises his hand, fingers shaking. He touches the edge of her mask, and it shimmers away to crystalline dust. "Darcy?

Recognition clicks, then, and does not fade. Loki.

A second realisation comes heels on the first. She just fucked Loki.

Loki is, in fact, still inside her.

For one, insane moment, she has the urge to move her hips. Better sense prevails, and she pulls away, ungracefully tumbling from the bed in her haste.

He manages, of course, to look regal, even as he is tucking himself away and straightening his tunic. She's the one lying in a pile of velvet on the floor, blood rushing to her cheeks.

"That mark," he says. "From whence did it come?"

"From whence?" She half spits the question. "Who the fuck says things like that?" She pulls herself up off the floor, wincing when her wrist takes her weight. When she touches the tattoo's raised lines, they feel hot. "And it's none of your damn business."

"Where. Did. You. Get. It?" He grinds out each word through gritted teeth. As he speaks, he stands, moves forward so he is standing directly above her.

She scuttles back across the floor. She can't help it. She can't remember why, she just know that getting away is imperative. She has to run, she has to hide. He keeps advancing, and she keeps backing away. Finally, she comes up against a solid barrier, and can back away no more.

She presses her hands against the barrier. It is like velvet, warm and yielding. As soon as she touches it, the pain in her wrist is gone, soothing coolness flowing through the lines of the tattoo.

Loki reaches up and flicks his mask away, impatiently scattering it to black dust. "You should move away from that," he says in a low whisper. "Slowly."

Darcy glances over her shoulder. She sees only darkness. "Scared of the dark, Loki?"


That makes her look up sharply. Please is not a word she ever expected to hear on Loki's lips. She begins to move forward, but there's something wrapped around her wrist, holding her in place. When she looks down, she sees something like a living tendril of darkness has coiled around her wrist, covering the tattoo entirely.

Loki holds up a hand. Light gathers around his fingers, and he presses it down against the dark tendril. Something snarls behind her, and the tendril tightens, her bones grinding audibly together.

Loki draws back, his lips curling back from his teeth.

Panic spears through her as the dark tendril begins to spiral up her arm, following the path that Loki's fingers had taken. Everywhere it touches, she grows cold. More tendrils spring forth, curling around her waist, her throat, her ankles.

The last thing she sees before the darkness swallows her is Loki's face, his lips shaping her name.

The Blood-Dimmed Tide

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by ofravenwings

Part 14 of 33

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