Continuing Tales


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 10 of 26

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Leaning against the headboard, hands clasped over his stomach, Loki looks down at Darcy. Her eyes are closed, but her breathing is shallow and uneven. He recognizes the sound of sleeplessness. He has had trouble sleeping for years. He has nightmares about his time with the Chitauri - and of the faces of the frost giants he almost killed in Jotunheim, and the humans he did kill when he tried to take over Earth.

He looks out the window, cracked open to the night air, and waits. His heart feels heavy for her. The curse of being sane is empathy and pain.

Beside him he hears Darcy stir. He still says nothing, nor does he move. But then she speaks. "Loki, who did you lose?"

He startles at the question and looks down at Darcy. Her hair is a long dark tangle, nearly spilling over her eyes. She looks so young and so fragile in the dark. Uncrossing his hands, he almost reaches to brush back her locks. Resisting that impulse, he puts his hand on the bedspread between them instead. With the other hand he rubs his eyes.

He has lost many friends in nearly 2,000 years. Some have left the Aesir, some have died in battle. But he knows what she means. He blinks down at her. It was such a long time ago...

"My first wife, Aggie," he says softly. "And then our daughter."

He sees her brow furrow in the low light. "The Aesir don't die except by accident..."

Loki smirks a little. Amazed at how the truth still stings, despite himself he answers anyway. "My wife committed suicide." The smirk twists into a frown. "And then Helen was murdered."

Darcy's hand finds his in the darkness. Intertwining her fingers with his she squeezes. "I am sorry."

He stares at their fingers, his dark and shadowy against her pale flesh. She doesn't know what her simple gesture means. Neither did he, until his extended stay in Jotunheim. It's been his secret little cheat for so long. He squeezes her hand in turn and moves both of their hands to rest on his stomach.

She doesn't ask him how, or why, but he finds himself speaking anyways. "I think you know her in your myths as a troll woman, a bearer of monsters."

Squeezing his fingers, Darcy says, "I'm sure that isn't true."

"It wasn't," says Loki. "She was so very, very sweet." As sweet, as innocent, and lost as Darcy when Loki first met her. "And the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen." He smirks in the darkness. "She had the misfortune of catching the eye of my brother Baldur. He wanted her as his mistress; she was too low in station to be the wife of a prince."

Loki stares at Darcy's hand. "She refused him, and he did not forgive her." Loki remembers finding her fleeing the palace, drenched and alone in the rain.

"But you married her," says Darcy.

"Ahh...well, I was always one for chaos and mischief," says Loki. "It wasn't so much of a stretch for me."

"You're lying," says Darcy, squeezing his hand.

Loki smirks. "You're right. Odin was furious, I think he wanted a more advantageous union for his second pawn. But Mother supported me." Which is why Loki still doesn't understand how - or why - Frigga hasn't gotten Odin to accept Jane. He says nothing for a few long moments. He shouldn't be burdening her, but then Darcy says, "Keep going...if you want to. I don't mind."

He scowls for a moment; the words are at the tip of his tongue and they are begging to be released. He takes a breath and then he says, "We weren't as lucky as you and David. It took us decades to have a child." And there had been so many miscarriages over the years. "And Aggie bore the brunt of the blame of court for that..."

He takes a deep breath. That was when he started to lose her. Though he'd tried to help.

"Fenrir, I'm sure you've heard of him -"

"Your wolf child," says Darcy and he notes the lack of derision in her voice.

"Not our child. Just a puppy I brought home to lift Aggie's spirits. Without children of our own we perhaps doted on him a bit too much." He looks out the window. "I still don't know how we got to be rumored as the parents of the world serpent, Jormungand." He closes his eyes. "No, I do know. We were out on a boat one time, he poked his nose above the water and Aggie was delighted. She had the nerve to talk to the supposed-destroyer of Thor. He's not a bad fellow, actually. He is more ancient than Odin, I think...mysterious, and he talks in riddles, but good fun. We liked him, and saw him now and then, until Odin commanded he slink back to his depths." Loki's hand flutters. Why had Odin insisted on that?

He shakes his head. "In time we finally did have a child, Helen. She was, I suppose you'd say, physically handicapped. The midwives offered to 'take care' of her for us..."

Darcy's hand in his has become viselike. Ahhh...modern Midgardians of the first world countries - so soft. It is a welcome change, actually.

"...we kept her though, Darcy." He remembers screaming at the midwives, sending them from their halls in the middle of the night, his little girl tucked in his arms, her arms twisted at strange angles, like tiny delicate backwards wings.

"She was also half blue." Loki rubs his eyes. "Everyone knew that meant Jotunn blood, and of course Angrbooda got all the blame for it. To say it came from me, well, that would be to blame our abomination on the royal family." He shrugs his shoulders. "There were wars going on at that time - I was abroad a great deal. I wasn't there to protect Aggie from the gossip, or the got to be too much for her."

There's hardness in Darcy's voice when she speaks. "All your parents had to do..." Her voice drifts off, and she stirs a bit under the covers.

All they had to do was tell the truth. But evidently the shame of raising a Jotunn was at least half as wicked as being one.

"It is better not to think of it now," says Loki. Even Frigga hadn't protected Aggie - but then Baldur was alive, and he warped everyone's perception of everything with his words that no one could - or would gainsay.

"I'm sorry," says Darcy again, as is the Midgardian custom.

Loki tilts his head. For a long moment he says nothing. These are not things he speaks of. But even as he closes himself off he feels the words building up behind his lips as though they are water caught behind a damn. And before he knows it they spill out again. "You would have loved Helen, Darcy." Darcy loves Loki; he knows it though they have not spoken of it, and despite the fact that years have gone by without them exchanging words. If she can accept Loki, of course she would be able to see the beauty that was Helen, his tiny little girl with warped bones as delicate as a bird's, a body half pink and half the color of the sky.

"She was the most magical of all my children. At least as magical as Baldur...And her magic was a beautiful blue color."

"Like your skin?" says Darcy.

Loki actually laughs, low quiet, and bittersweet. "Around her, my skin would look blue and I used to attribute it to her magic rubbing off on me. But it wasn't that. Her magic, her natural magic, was to reveal the truth of people and things - not just of appearances, but what lay in people's hearts. Even I couldn't lie around her." He stares down at their joined hands and says, "It makes no sense that a God of Mischief and Chaos would have a daughter who could have been the goddess of truth..." He shrugs his shoulders. "But so it was."

When Helen was alive was the only time he'd been on remotely good terms with Heimdall. Though they were so different, Heimdall and Loki worked for the same thing, the benefit of Asgard. Heimdall was a slave to order, and duty, and would do anything to fulfill his obligations - even terrible things, like murder. But he did not relish death. Loki looks down at Darcy. Was Heimdall watching now? Did he appreciate the irony of the trickster comforting the wife of the slain?

"What happened to her?" says Darcy, her voice pulling him out of his reflections.

Loki smirks. "She was murdered. Truth is inconvenient, especially in a court. And especially if you have a reputation for being brave, beautiful and wise - and that reputation is nothing but twisted magical glamour."

"Baldur?" whispers Darcy.

Loki squeezes her hand. "Always perceptive my dear." Too quickly he says, "I didn't kill him." Which is the truth, but not quite. Loki consulted on the death of Baldur - at Odin's behest. Even the All Father had seen the danger of a prince who was exalted as the purest expression of the beauty and wisdom of the Aesir - and who was a complete lie. Baldur could have been the God of Narcissism. Loki smirks again. "But I found it impossible to cry at his funeral."

He looks away for a moment. In a way those old wounds, the deaths of Helen and Aggie, hurt more than the memories of the Chitauri. The Chituari never claimed him as their own. They used him, he was their puppet, but they did not betray him.

There is a long moment of silence and then Darcy says, "The godz suck," mimicking a German accent.

Loki raises an eyebrow and looks down at her.

Not meeting his eye, she says, "Sorry, that is something that my husband says."

He doesn't correct her use of the present tense. Instead he smiles. "What gods?"

She looks up at him and actually smiles back, but her face is wet with tears.

Loki isn't sure if he is precisely a god, but he is more than a being that bends magic to his will. He is, at some level, chaos incarnate. But whatever he is, he does not feel that he is superior to the human beside him. That illusion fled with his madness, and left guilt and grief in its wake. They are equals, at least in grief.

He raises an eyebrow. And in some ways she is actually his superior; she is a far greater artist than he. It took a long time to convince his friend Erik that judging mutants or magic wielders above ordinary humans was folly. It wasn't a mutant that discovered the theory of relativity, or a magic wielder who painted the Mona Lisa. Superiority is circumstantial.

The Aesir don't know that. Someday Loki will ensure they do, out of penance to Earth, and Jotunheim. His face goes hard.

"Loki?" Darcy's voice is a choked sob.

Again he resists the urge to wipe her tears away. "Yes?"

"I feel like...I feel like...that as painful as this is, I'm glad, I'm glad it wasn't Franz or Max." The words come out fast and he can hear the tears and the shame in them. But he does understand. He looks out the window. "Losing a spouse is like losing half your life. Losing a child is death of hope." He had such hopes for Helen. When he discovered the extent of her abilities he imagined her becoming a great ambassador, a seer who could expose the lies of Asgard's enemies. Sadly she exposed the lies Asgardians told themselves.

"It. Still. Hurts." Darcy says through gritted teeth. "How did you do it? How do I get through this?"

Loki takes a breath. "You get through because you have to."

Darcy lets loose a long sigh. He doesn't see her cry but feels it in the way her body trembles. She keeps his hand clutched tightly in her own, pulled close to her face. When she finally falls asleep he closes his eyes for just a moment.

x x x x

Loki opens his eyes and find himself staring at an unfamiliar ceiling. He has one arm splayed out to the side, and he's laying on top of the covers, and yet he feels more comfortable and better rested than he has in a long time. The room smells familiar, and good; there is sunlight all around. He hears Max and Franz's voices and suddenly remembers where he is. Turning his head, he looks to where Darcy had lain the night before. She's not there.

"Good morning," says a soft voice. He blinks, his vision clears, and there is Darcy standing just in front of him. She's still wearing the robe that might be David's. She looks uncomfortable.

And then he remembers his words to her the night before, "I'll stay just until you go to sleep."

Rubbing his eyes he says, "I'm sorry, I -"

"No, no, no, don't apologize," says Darcy. She closes her own eyes and nods, "I have the feeling nights will be the worst, and this...this...this..." She waves her hand.

And Loki knows. It was a reprieve for her. But uncomfortable just the same. It must be disorientating to have another man in her bed so soon, no matter how innocent.

"Mom!" someone says outside the door.

"I have to..." she starts to say.

"I know," he says.

"Can you?" She waves her hand.

He smirks. "I will disappear."

"I'm sorry, but -" she waves her hand in the direction of the door.

Her boys would want to skin him alive if they knew he was here - blue or not, innocent or not. "I understand," he says.

"Thank you." Her eyes go to the sketchbook at the side of the bed.

"I already ripped out the relevant pages," he says.

Her eyes go wide, her nostrils flare.

His jaw tenses. "You can't afford to put yourself in danger."

"Mom?" says a voice outside the door.

Darcy's expression softens, but only a little. "It was important?"

From what Loki can tell, David divined the true destinations of the 'shuttles' and realized there was a design flaw. He has saved them a lot of work, and caused Heimdall and Odin to show a little of what they know; they realize the Vault is dangerous. It also shows how much they don't know. Some human engineer was bound to find the problem, but Odin and Heimdall don't understand the strength of the decentralized information. They think by killing one they've derailed the whole scheme. Loki will have to move the Vault, but the scheme is hardly over.

"You married a smart man," he says to Darcy.

She swallows, and nods her head.

"Mom, are you alright?" says another voice.

"I'm coming," says Darcy. "Just a minute."

Loki disappears. But he doesn't leave. As Darcy goes into the living room he walks over to the ancient window that Darcy has partially open. He doesn't envy the journey before her. The nights will be the worst, and he can provide no comfort. Which is a shame because he likes this place that is so small and smells like her.

He looks out the window. It swings out over a ledge about 5 inches wide. Loki peeks out and sees an alley cat walk along the ledge. He blinks. And smiles.

x x x x

"Hi," Darcy says to the young man who is standing in front of her in the Avenger's Mansion kitchen, "I'm here to photograph your boss." It's been nearly four years since David died, and Darcy does more abstract photography than portraits now, but she still keeps some of her best clients - the Avengers, and Erik Lehnsherr among them.

The young Avenger who might be Billy or Teddy, she has trouble remembering, scratches his mop of blond hair. Steve's putting together a younger team to follow in the footsteps of the original Avengers. Clint and Bruce are retired, and Tony works almost full-time for Stark Industries; their older bodies aren't able to handle the strain anymore. Natasha hasn't aged - turns out she was the recipient of a modified version of the same Super-Serum Steve got, but she's on other projects. Thor is still around, but he's in Asgard today. Apparently Earth and Asgard are still trying to come to some diplomatic closure to the Prometheus incident.

A girl with long dark hair says, "Oh, you're the photographer." She blinks. "Haven't you been the official photographer since the Avengers were first founded?"

"Yes," says Darcy brightly. "That's me."

The girls' eyes go wide. "Wow, that must make you..."

Darcy smiles tightly. "44."

"Oh," says the girl. "I hope I look as good as you when I'm 44."

Darcy does not sigh at the sort-of-compliment. "Thanks," she manages to say. She is actually in the best shape of her life. Part of it is coincidence. After David died, she stopped eating for a while. Food lost all of its flavor. And now she has two teenage boys in the house, the only things she can keep in the fridge are nonfat plain yogurt and vegetables - everything else disappears as if by magic.

But part of it is by design. Or rather a happy side effect of her becoming an exercise addict after David died. It was one of the ways she tried to stave off depression without relying on chemicals.

She puts a hand through her short pixie cut hair. "So Steve?

A wiry young guy with dark hair tilts his head. "No one told you?"

"No one told me what?" says Darcy.

The big blond boy grimaces. "He's kind of laid up right now."

Darcy blinks. "Well, I'm an old friend. I'd at least like to stop by." And a photo of Captain America in a cast would be super humanizing.

There are winces all around, and the dark haired boy says, "No, I don't know if you'd want to do that. He's with the Big Blue, and the Big Blue issuper cranky."

Darcy purses her lips. "Big Blue?"

Blond guy nods. "You know. Loki. And you don't want to be around him when he's cranky."

The dark haired boy slips closer to the blond. "Yeah. Stay away. Among other things, one time, like eons ago, he turned some guy from SHIELD IT into a gopher."

"IT...go fer.." says Darcy.

The girl nods vigorously. "Yeah, it turned out okay, the guy turned back, he's actually head of the department now. Patrick someone..."

Darcy remembers Patrick of the inappropriate pick up lines, and her brain does a little hiccup. "He had Patrick from IT demoted?"

The boys blink at her. "No," says the smaller one. Very slowly as though talking to a child he says, "Gopher, as in a small furry rodent."

"Oh," says Darcy tapping her camera. She smiles. "But it's okay. Loki is a friend of mine. Where are they?"

At the word "friend," the body language around her changes subtly, and they all start slowly backing away. "They're in the media room," says the small dark haired boy. Maybe he's Billy.

Darcy sets off with a wide smile. "Great," she says. She actually saw Loki about a week or so ago. They aren't in constant communication. He has been 'out of town' a lot over the years, but when he is in New York he checks in on her from time to time - though he calls it spoiling himself with her company. He's a liar, but a sweet one.

They usually meet up during the day, for lunch or tea. Darcy likes to be there for her boys during the evening. At first just because they needed her so much - and now because they're just weeks away from going to college.

As she walks down the second story hallway to the media room she notices the air getting warmer, and wetter. She's wondering about that when she hears Steve's voice, "Well, it is reversible, and it's actually kind of neat. Are you sure we can't go in the pool."

"It would kill us, you oaf, or at the least make us very sick! Don't you realize chlorine can cross mucus membranes?"

Darcy purses her lips. Yep. That's Loki. And he is certainly cranky.

There is a moment of silence, and then Steve says, "I really did have a good time though, Loki. And I'll never forget it. That was really the best birthday gift anyone has ever given me."

Darcy steps up to the door of the media room. She feels warm humid air near her feet and squints down at the floor. She can see moisture droplets rising from beneath.

As she raises her hand to knock, she hears Loki say, "Well, I'm glad someone had fun," and Darcy finds herself smirking. He doesn't sound glad about anything.

She knocks at the door, only to have it swing open. Two heads immediately swivel in her direction. Steve, ever youthful, looks over his shoulder from where he is sitting in an EZ boy next to a humidifier at full crank. Looking incredibly bashful he says, "Uh, hi, Darcy."

Loki is sitting sideways on the couch. The back of it is blocking everything but the view of his Jotunn face - now a deep shade of ultramarine. Loki's told Darcy he is excluded from the yearly harvest of Idunn's apples, but if he's aging, Darcy doesn't see it. He's as handsome as ever, but normally, Loki smiles when he sees her. At the moment, he looks positively humiliated. Or annoyed. Darcy blinks. Or both. She and the boys have sort of adopted a stray alley cat. Once the cat slipped into the sink when Darcy was washing some dishes. Loki has the look of an annoyed, sudsy, drenched cat right about now.

Stepping into the room, far warmer than the rest of the house, Darcy says carefully, "What happened?"

Glowering, Loki says, "It's all his fault."

Steve bites his lip and says, "It really is all my fault." He looks at Loki. "But I had such a great time."

Coming forward Darcy says, "What, what is your fault?"

And then she sees.


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 10 of 26

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