Continuing Tales

The Blood-Dimmed Tide

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by ofravenwings

Part 7 of 33

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The Blood-Dimmed Tide

Darcy runs.

She keeps her Stark phone in hand as she moves through the streets. The feed from the cameras in Loki's cell is broken up, eaten by static. She catches occasional glimpses of the furniture, of the floor and ceiling, but she does not see Loki. It is impossible for her to tell what is happening in the cell. If he has broken out.

The city around her is completely silent, the only sound the uneven echo of her boots against pavement. A part of her mind wonders at that: New York, the city that never sleeps, silent as the dead. That same part of her wants to stop, to glory in the brightness of the stars above. It's almost like home, without the city lights bleeding into the sky and blotting out the night.

She keeps running, glancing down at the phone every few seconds. She ignores the heaving of her breath, the sweat sliding down her spine. Ignores, too, the rush of adrenaline. There is something freeing about this, running through the empty city. It is the first time since the attack that she's gone out at night alone.

Finally, she reaches the tower. Outside the main entrance, she doubles over, gasping for breath. The foyer and tower are dark, the only lights a faint glow on the topmost floor. Probably Stark working on something, she assumes.

"You'd better be working on something that'll fix the world," she mutters through gasps.

Probably not, she adds silently. The very existence of Stark's Iron Man suit was one of the factors that had led to the first series of wars. Then, and now, it reminds Darcy of a school playground, the way the nations fight. You have a shiny toy, I want it, no, I want to make one bigger and better than yours so I can destroy your toy. And so on and so on, until we all fall down dead, and the victor gets to rule a pile of ash.

"It's okay for you, though, isn't it, Stark?" Darcy asks, digging in her pocket for her security pass. "You get to live safe in your tower while the rest of us live with the shit that you began."

When her breathing has finally settled down, she moves around to one of the side entrances. During the day, there is always a guard here to check her ID and buzz her in. This is the first time she has been here at night, and the guard station is empty. There is an ID scanner next to the door, and a camera blinks its red light at her above it. She guesses that J.A.R.V.I.S. watches the entrances at night. She suppresses the urge to wave to the camera as she scans her pass. A moment, and the LED blinks green.

It's cool inside, and the lights flicker on as she steps over the threshold, the door closing behind her. The lights are set to half illumination, a warm amber light that follows her as she walks, lights flicking on and off as she moves down the corridors. She keeps checking her phone, but all the feed shows now is static.

She is in elevator before she realises why her footsteps sound uneven. Though she'd changed into a clean pair of jeans and a fresh t-shirt, the boots she had fished from the wardrobe were mismatched. One was black, the other red, their heels mismatched in height.

"Classy, Darce," she says to the boots. "Real classy."

Though, she realises, as the elevator dings and she gets out, she also didn't brush her hair or do anything but shove her glasses on her face. She probably looks amazing, and there will be guards and who knows who else here, now that Loki has woken up. Probably Pepper, she thinks sourly, as she scans her pass outside the guard room. Who probably sleeps in a suit with her hair in a French twist.

At least this means that she'll probably be off guard duty. An awake Loki would take far more than her to watch him.

To her surprise, the guard room is empty. It is also cold, the sweat on her skin turning to ice. She pulls her coat closed, but it does little to stop the shivering that grips her.

The only light in the room comes from one of the monitors, currently displaying a rotating screen saver of the Stark logo.

Her shivering intensifies as she moved around, presses a key to activate the monitor. A moment of black, and then the feed from the cameras comes up.

Loki is sitting in the same position he seems to have always been in. One leg outstretched, one arm propped on that knee. Eyes closed.

She scrolls back through the stored feed. He hasn't moved all night.

It only takes her a second to slam her hand down on the gate control, tumble through into the hallway outside the cell.

The lights blind her for a moment, and she blinks frantically until her eyes adjust. When they do, she turns away, slumps against the perspex wall. Something tingles across her skin from the contact - part of whatever spell keeps Loki's magic leashed, she supposed.

Loki hasn't moved. And yet she saw him on her laptop. Standing up, reaching out.

She presses the heels of her hands against her temples. Is she going crazy?

Dreaming of Loki would probably be enough to confirm that hypothesis, she thinks. Not to mention the kind of dream she had. Even the memory brings a heavy pulsing between her legs.

She is at the closed gate before she realises that she left the remote on the desk in the guard room. She bangs a fist against the gate, succeeds in nothing but gaining a bruised hand.

She sinks to the floor, her back to the gate. From here, she can see only a narrow slice of the cell: one chair, the edge of the table. Do they leave the lights on all the time, she wonders? She's pretty certain that's actually a torture method. Maybe that's the point.

Her phone is still in her pocket, at least. She has the screen activated and is scrolling down her contacts before she remembers what Daniel Blackwood told her. All of her calls would be routed through him. And she absolutely does not want to have to call him to come and save her from her own stupidity.

According to the clock on her phone, it's just past 3am. At 7am, someone will come by with Loki's food tray, and they will let her out. All she has to do is wait.

She slides further down, pulling her coat around herself as tightly as she can. She curls her legs up to her chest, locks her hands around her knees. Suddenly, she's exhausted, and very much reminded of the fact that she should be at home sleeping right now. She is freezing, her shivering slowing, then vanishing altogether.

When you stop shivering, that's when the danger of hypothermia sets in. It's an echo of her mother's voice, of course. Who else? Her mother's memory would probably even harp at her when she was on her deathbed.

She is sliding into something deeper than sleep when the gate slides open.

The air that rushes in from the guard room feels warm, which scares her, because she remembers how cold that had felt when she had come in.

What scares her more is that, when she rolls over, she sees that there is no one in the guard room.

She stares into the empty room. A tingling warmth moves against the skin between her shoulder blades, flowing down her arms to wrap around her wrists. She smiles, still half dazed from the cold, because it feels almost as though someone is cradling her. A deep ache slides through her, and the smile dies as she remembers how long it has been since someone actually did hold her.

The warmth continues to move through her, her head clearing and her pulse increasing in speed. She begins to shiver again, and this time it is only partially due to the chill.

Someone opened that gate.

And suddenly, she knows that when she turns, he will be behind her, awake.

She feels the ghost impressions of his hands, his body, against hers, and her breath comes fast and uneven as she turns.

He has not moved.

She exhales sharply, the sound something like a laugh, something like a sob.

The red LEDs on the cameras blink, and she laughs again. J.A.R.V.I.S., of course. There's probably some failsafe system making sure that idiots like her don't get locked inside.

And what about that dream? About the fact that you saw him awake?

Darcy goes into the guard room; the gate closes behind her. "It was just a dream. Stress, maybe just the biological fact that I haven't gotten laid in far too long. Hormones, all that good stuff."

What about the scar?

Her heart pounds as she pulls back the sleeve of her coat. The skin there is smooth and unscarred. She holds it up to the empty room.

"See? Just a dream."

She sinks down into the chair at the desk. According to the computer screen, it's coming up on 5am. Somewhere between too late to sleep and too early to begin her shift. She sighs, moves to the couch, lies down. It's lumpy, and she longs for her bed, but it's better than the floor.

Better than where Loki is sitting.

Darcy rolls over, presses a hand to her ear, as if that could silence the voice. "The idiot has got a bed, he just chooses not to use it. It's not my problem what he chooses to do."

The voice, for once, does not answer.


Darcy yawns as she slumps down the hallway of her building. Her shift passed with nothing to report, apart from her bone-deep desire for coffee. She'd even caught herself contemplating taking the coffee maker apart to see if there were any fragments of grounds caught in the piping.

Her pockets, at least, were heavy with packets of food that she had wrapped up from Loki's untouched trays. Her own stomach had cramped as she had portioned out the food, but stubbornness had kept her from eating any of it herself. Other people needed it more, she had reminded herself over and over. And she still had food at home. Pop-tarts, even.

She yawns again as she reaches her apartment door, sliding a hand into her pocket for her keys. All she wants right now is a shower, some food, and bed. Her eyes are watering, and it takes her a moment to register that the door is standing wide open.

She slides her other hand into her pocket for her taser. It isn't there.

She half-stumbles, half-runs into the apartment. All of the rooms are empty of intruders. It doesn't take her long to tally what's missing. All of her food stash, including the parcels she had set aside for Vinh. Even the rat bait is gone.

Also missing is her iPod, her taser, her old phone. Most of her clothes, including her warm coat, her boots. Someone has neatly lined up the mates to the mismatched pair that she's still wearing, and that makes her laugh.

The Stark laptop is still there. It's closed, a series of what look like armoured plates closed over it. She touches one softly, and the plates recede, sliding back into hidden compartments. Some kind of tech that recognises her, she thinks. She wonders what it did to the person who tried to steal it. There is a scorch mark on the desk that she doesn't want to think about.

A quick examination of the door reveals that none of the locks have been forced. She is forced to conclude that, in her haste to get to Stark tower, she simply left the door open or unlocked.

Though she doesn't want to, she turns on the feed from the cameras in Loki's cell. The bastard is still just sitting there doing nothing. She stares at him, rubbing her wrist - the one that was scarred in her dream - as though she can just will him to wake up. Nothing happens, of course, the bastard stays sleeping, or comatose, or catatonic, or whatever it was.

Oddly, someone has left an old iPod next to the laptop. An exchange for what they took? She picks up the iPod gingerly. It is battered and beaten, the screen so scratched that it is barely readable.

"Not really a fair trade," Darcy mutters.

But she can't help herself. She rummages in the drawers until she finds an old pair of ear buds, discarded because one of the tiny speakers had taken to hissing static along with music. She plugs them in, turns on the iPod. Discovers quickly that there is only one song on there. Classical, and maddeningly familiar. She squints at the screen until she is able to make out the title: the Adagio Sostenuto from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

Her mother had liked to listen to the Moonlight Sonata, when things were better.

Darcy sinks to the floor, presses her forehead to her knees. The door is still wide open, but she doesn't care. She lets the music fill her, each note sinking down into the abyss within.

The Blood-Dimmed Tide

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by ofravenwings

Part 7 of 33

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