Continuing Tales


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 11 of 26

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She puts a hand to her mouth to keep from laughing.

Steve and Loki are both wearing bathrobes and pajamas. Sticking out from below said pajamas are enormous, slightly moist, glistening frog feet. Loki's are actually a rather nice shade of blue. Steve's are the same color as his skin, and Caucasian coloring and frog feet are actually a rather bad combination.

"Don't asphyxiate yourself containing your laughter," says Loki dryly, looking very much the annoyed wet blue cat - even if besides his feet the rest of him is completely dry.

"Mmmpfff," is all Darcy manages. She closes her eyes to keep from crying.

"Since you're here, you might as well sit down and stay a while," says Loki his glowing-red-orange eyes narrowing, which might be threatening, if she didn't know him so well.

Biting her lip, Darcy lifts her camera. "I'm not sitting down, I need to preserve this for posterity."

Steve sits up straighter. "Uhhhh..."

"You're not taking a picture of me," Loki hisses.

Darcy grins at him and gives a wink. "Oh, no, I'm only paid to take pictures of the Avengers. Assistant Director Hill would be upset if I wasted my time on you."

Loki blinks, and then smiles.

"Hey, he works for us sometimes!" says Steve as Darcy goes and kneels down right in front of his enormous webbed feet.

"Not in the contract," says Darcy. She knows whose side she's on.

Loki snickers.

"If you take a picture of me like that, people will have a clear view of my face," Steve says.

"Setting the aperture to make your face a blur," says Darcy.

"Oh, I think you should get at least one for private consumption with his face in it," says Loki.

"Done," says Darcy, and Steve groans good naturedly.

"What happened?" Darcy says, snapping a few more pictures.

Sounding excited rather than put out, Steve says, "Loki took me to Alfheim!"

Darcy blinks. "Wow." Alfheim, land of the elves. She's actually a little jealous.

"I've always wanted to go and somehow he knew..."

"You've been hinting about it for nearly twenty years," says Loki.

Leaning forward, eyes wide, Steve says, "He even got me invited to dinner with the queen and everything."

"And he managed to get me banned for a century," says Loki darkly.

Darcy scowls a little. Normally it isn't Steve who finds himself banned from places.

"Tell her what you did!" says Loki.

Steve blushes all the way down his neck. "I commented on the queen's age."

Darcy's eyes go wide.

Steve fingers his feet. "For being 3,000 years old, she looks gorgeous! I mean, I would have thought she was 26 or something."

Darcy looks down at her camera, feeling a little empty. Hanging around ageless mutant super- hero types can be a little rough on the ego sometimes.

"And he told her," says Loki.

"I don't know what the big deal is," Steve says plaintively.

Loki heaves a throw cushion at him. "You failed to acknowledge her obvious wisdom and maturity!"

"Turning our legs into frog legs doesn't seem mature!"

Darcy stares at his feet. "I don't know. It seems like a teachable moment."

Loki snorts.

She blinks at the slight haze of green around their...flippers...and smirks. "How long will it take to fix?"

"Another few hours," grumbles Loki as Darcy takes some more pictures. Steve puts on a movie with a sigh and pretends she's not there.

She's wrapping it up when Loki swings his frog feet to the floor and pats the cushion next to him. Looking at the camera, he says, "Let me see," with a gleam in his eye. Darcy sits next to him on the couch and sets the camera to display.

Really, it's impossible not to sit close to him as they stare at the tiny screen. The room feels warm and she takes off the jacket she was wearing.

Loki makes snarky comments as they tab through frog-footed Steve pictures. Steve makes non-committal grunts on the EZ boy. And then they come to a picture of a tall thin black cat. Loki smiles, "Ah, and this must be Cock Block."

"Cock Block?" says Steve.

Darcy winces. "It's the name my boys gave to our part-time-sort-of-cat."

"Cock Block?" says Steve again and Loki grins.

Darcy sighs. "He came into our life a little after David died. Franz and I came home early from a chess tournament to find my second son with a half naked girl - and a hissing spitting cat in my bedroom."

Darcy finds herself heating up at the thought. She had never felt such revulsion. Max said that Darcy and David's bedroom had been the girl's idea since the couch and his bunk bed were too narrow.

"And you didn't kill Max, which is proof that you are a good mother," says Loki, his hand falling on hers.

"I still don't know what he was thinking," she says, closing her eyes.

"Probably not much," Loki and Steve say nearly in unison.

Thankfully, Cock Block had apparently slipped in the window that afternoon, made himself at home on Darcy's bed, and hadn't taken kindly to Max's amorous adventure either.

Darcy shakes her head. After the girl had put on her clothes and Darcy had sent her on her way, Franz shouted at Max, "Who is she? Were you even going to use a condom?"

It turned out Max had just met her, and Darcy's straight-A, science fair acing son was going to trust her word that she was on the pill. What followed was a very painful conversation about how they'd been conceived on the pill. Ultimately it might have been a good conversation, because both managed not to get anyone pregnant in high school.

"Anyway," says Darcy. "Franz dubbed him Cock Block...I try to call him CB though." She scowls at the picture. "He hasn't been around for a few days."

Loki slides his fingers between hers and squeezes. "I've told you. He's a tom cat. They do that. You shouldn't worry."

"You should neuter him," says Steve from the chair. "It will keep him from spraying, too."

Loki tsks. "Barbaric Midgardians."

"He doesn't spray - he doesn't even use a litter box; he just slinks out the window," says Darcy. Which is kind of perfect actually. She never wanted a stinky litter box in their tiny apartment, which is why she'd never gotten a cat. "And every time the subject of neutering has come up, he's disappeared."

She doesn't like it when he disappears, sometimes for months at a time. He really helped her through those first really terrible months. She'd fall asleep with him clutched in her arms. Even now she still dreams a lot of David being alive sleeping next to her. When she realizes it's a dream she invariably wakes up. It's nice to have someone there, even if it is just a cat.

She frowns a little more. Sometimes she dreams of David sleeping next to her. Sometimes she dreams of Loki.

Loki flips to some earlier pictures of Cock Block, stretched out on her bed looking decadent and far too comfortable, and one of him sitting on the edge of the tub. Cock Block likes looking over her shoulder while she reads magazines in the bath.

Darcy tilts her head. "I think he is one of those cats that has a second family. He ignores the food we leave out. Unless it's smoked salmon, or expensive cheese."

Loki laughs. Steve turns his head and his brow furrows, but then he looks back to the movie.

"How are things otherwise?" says Loki.

His hand is still in hers; she's loathe to pull it away. She feels...she feels turned on. This is what happens when you haven't had sex in over three years and you sit next to an attractive man and he holds your hand - even if he has frog feet. She almost laughs at herself - the feet would be like clown shoes. She takes a deep breath to keep from laughing at the mental image. The horrible thing is, she is still turned on.

"Are Franz and his girlfriend still together?" says Loki, thankfully disturbing her very uncomfortable reverie.

Darcy blinks. "They haven't broken up...yet." But she knows they will. Melissa used to talk to Darcy like Darcy was her second mother. But now she and Franz are getting ready to go to colleges across the country from one another and Melissa has become distant and Darcy knows why. What she doesn't know is what to do.

At first when David died, Darcy had worried about Franz's lack of communication. It was one of Franz's chess buddies at Washington Square Park who alerted her to the fact that Franz had a girlfriend, Melissa. It turned out Franz was communicating with her. Darcy is terrified of what a breakup will be like.

"It will be alright," says Loki. "He isn't as fragile as he was before."

Darcy's not so sure. She feels her mood sinking.

Flipping back to the pictures of Steve and his frog feet, Loki says, "How big can these be? I want one for my wall."

He pulls her from her funk. Pretty soon she's telling him about a show she'll be having in the fall, just after the boys leave for college. Face going somber, he looks up and says, "I'll just make it..." And she smiles, happy to know he can come.

They talk on about random things, and she doesn't really notice that they're getting closer and closer, like two teenagers, until Steve says, "Hey, guys, get a room!"

Darcy sits up straight and her face goes hot. It's just...

She looks at her watch. "It's late," she says far too suddenly. Standing up, she makes some excuses and hurriedly leaves the room.

x x x x

Loki stares at Steve as the door closes and Darcy leaves the room. Steve is oblivious, his eyes focused on the television.

Almost against Loki's volition he imagines the molecules of the Midgardian chair Steve sits on vibrating, humming, and becoming quite hot.

"Argh!" Steve says, lifting his arm quickly. "What are you doing?"

Loki sits back in the couch and forces himself to relax. What did David once say? "If you killed all ze stupid people there would be no one left."

Steve does have redeeming qualities, even if at the moment Loki is having trouble remembering them.

Tilting his head, Loki says, "You humiliated and embarrassed her - and frightened her away." He tries to speak calmly and logically, but his voice sounds low and malevolent. He allows himself some small pleasures, Darcy's company is one of them.

Steve blinks. "I just thought..."

Loki narrows his eyes.

Steve's face hardens. "You don't have forever, you know."

The hairs on the back of Loki's neck stand on end. He suddenly wonders how much Steve knows.

Steve gives him a sort of twisted half smile. "Or you may have forever, but she doesn't."

Ah. It is Darcy's impending end they are speaking of. He relaxes a fraction.

"She won't date until her boys fly the nest," says Loki. Darcy's children are what have kept her afloat these past few years - they've needed her, and consumed her. Her only other source of buoyancy has been her career. When the boys were small she'd built up quite a reputation as a portraitist. Now she's been working more abstractly. She says depression is good for art. Loki hasn't noticed her being truly depressed, slightly blue sometimes, but generally she manages to be her optimistic self. She pours her dark thoughts into into her work, he suspects.

Steve blinks. "Well, that time's coming up pretty fast." He looks slightly bashful and says, "She's still really cute, you know, for 44."

Loki doesn't roll his eyes; it takes effort.

"If you don't act fast, your window of opportunity will close," says Steve.

Loki glares, but he says nothing.

x x x x

The opening night for Darcy's photography show is almost over. The crowd is dwindling, and she hasn't seen Loki. She's trying not to be disappointed, and mostly she's not.

She knows he's been doing some work with the Avengers in the last few weeks. Another fire demon popped up on Earth. Loki helped send the monster back where it came from. His blue face is all over the news as the mystery new Avenger. Darcy purses her lip at the memory. He had on new armor in the news footage, more GI Joe than Asgardian. It protected him better, though - she'd texted him as she watched the news, a quick, desperate, Please tell me you're not cooked again. He'd responded touchingly quickly. I'm fine. Stark Industry's new battle armor quite effective against fire. If only it could protect me from dreary debriefings. :-P

She scowls. Maybe he's on a mission with them. Shaking her head, she does not sigh. she's been busy the whole evening smiling and answering questions. She wouldn't have been very good company anyway.

The gallery owner comes over to speak to her, and as she listens, she catches sight of one of Franz's friends from his Washington Square park chess matches. It's Mr. Sanchez, the retired school teacher Franz occasionally plays against. The same one who knew Franz had a girlfriend before Darcy did. He's not a real 'regular' at the Park, but she knows Franz enjoys his company. She's exchanged a few pleasant words with him this evening, but Darcy's been distracted with so many other guests. Franz must have told him about the show. It's nice that he came.

Sure that Mr. Sanchez wants an update on Franz's progress at MIT, she starts to walk in his direction. A girl standing in a group of other young girls dressed very fashionably says, "Excuse me, ma'am?" Darcy stops and blinks. They aren't young girls. They're young women. They look to be in their mid twenties.

Giving an apologetic look to Mr. Sanchez, she turns to the young woman - and finds herself telling her life story. When she finally leaves them - suitably awed by her worldly adventures at their age, she goes over to Sanchez.

He's maybe a little older than Darcy. He has wavy dark hair and a deep tan. He wears glasses with thick black modern plastic frames. He's not unattractive. Darcy has noticed him, but her notice has only been on an intellectual level. She hasn't been interested in dating...and even if she had been, her boys weren't ready for it. Last time one of Max's friend's fathers tried to chat her up in the kitchen. Max had scowled. Franz had suddenly decided to sharpen the knives. She smirks. Even Cock Block had sat on the counter, glared at the man with his yellow orange eyes and flexed his claws.

Smiling, Mr. Sanchez takes off his glasses and rubs his eyes. It strikes Darcy that he seems to have grown physically taller since the last time she's seen him. She looks closely at his face. There's a line of tension between his eyes, as though his skin is too tight. It almost reminds her of...she takes a breath, and he meets her gaze. His features seem to flow, the chin becomes a little narrower, the lips become thinner. She blinks.

"Loki?" she whispers.

A familiar smirk flashes across Sanchez's face, and Darcy finds herself smiling so much it's almost painful, but...

"Why aren't you blue?" she asks. He usually is in her presence now. Even when they are in public.

He looks in the direction of the young women. "Fangirls; don't ask me how I know. I didn't feel like dealing with it this evening."

Darcy follows his gaze to the women; they are so young and so beautiful. She'd rather Loki be blue, because blue is how he is her Loki; but she also doesn't want to share. She doesn't request that he change.

She tilts her head. "Did you just borrow this persona for the evening, or have you always been Mr. Sanchez?"

Loki-Sanchez smirks, and lifts his eyebrows. Instead of answering he says, "I'm starving. And I've noticed you haven't eaten any of the food put out. Want to go out to eat?"

No matter what the answer is to the first question, there is only one answer to that. "Yes," says Darcy.

He holds out his arm and Darcy takes it. As they walk by the "fangirls," Darcy hears one say, "I swore I saw the blue guy walk in here earlier."

Her eyes meet Loki's and they both smirk.

Darcy gives a brief goodbye to the gallery owner, they step outside, there is a swirl of green and suddenly they're at a very nice restaurant.

There are no fangirls in sight, but Loki is still not blue. As soon as they sit down, Darcy says, "You look kind of uncomfortable as Mr. Sanchez. Are you sure you don't want to be yourself?"

Looking annoyed, Loki glances around the room. "No, I don't want to draw attention to myself. Ever since that latest video came out, I haven't had a moment's peace." Then he turns back and smiles beguilingly at Darcy. "And besides, I'd suffer far more discomfort than this for the pleasure of your company."

Darcy blinks and then grins. "Ah, so that time you were burned -"

"I'm a sentimental fool," he says with a shrug, but it looks like he's fighting to keep from laughing.

She narrows her eyes. "And the frog feet?"

Face going hard he says, "Let's not discuss that." And then his face softens. "How is Franz?"

Darcy looks down at her drink. "Well, the girl did break up with him. He didn't take it well." In fact, Franz had left his summer job, gone off for a walk in the pouring rain, and not texted or called. Darcy and Max were frantic. Max called all their mutual friends, and then took a cab to check out all Franz's favorite haunts.

Darcy had just gotten off the phone with the police - she knew they didn't respond to anyone missing for less than 24 hours, but it was worth atry, when Franz walked in the door. He was soaked and carrying a soaking wet Cock Block in his arms. By way of explanation Franz said, "I found him in the park. I think he was lost. I brought him home." Never mind that the park was not along the route to his job, or that he had been incommunicado for hours.

Darcy tells the story to Loki and adds at the end, "I don't think it was the cat that was lost."

"No," says Loki looking at his plate. "I suspect not."

Darcy stares at her silverware. For a part-time, never around for long cat, Cock Block does seem to turn up at the right times. She purses her lips. She's supposed to think of him as CB.

"But how is he now?" Loki says, and Darcy looks up. With a smirk and a wave of a hand he adds, "Franz, not Cock Block."

"He's doing well," she says, and tells him.

It's a nice dinner/ Darcy still doesn't think she's quite extracted all the details of the gopher story. Of course, trying to wheedle them out of Loki was half the fun. She doesn't want the evening to end, and as they're leaving the restaurant, it occurs to her that for the first time in years it doesn't have to end. She's free.

As the air of the warm fall night hits them, Darcy says, "Do you want to come over to my place?" They're arm in arm. She looks up at his human features and grins. "You could slip into something more comfortable." He lifts an eyebrow and entwines their fingers and she flushes. She hadn't meant it like that. Had she?

She shrugs and looks away. "I mean, you can be yourself...we can sit around and watch Star Trek, or the latest TED Talks, have a beer." She glances quickly at Loki-Sanchez. His brown eyes almost look sad, but there is a swirl of green and they're in her apartment.

She looks up at him again and he's blue; he has the starburst patterned raised striations on his cheeks, and the striations like a crown above his eyes. Are they more prominent now? She can't tell, really. She is immersed in those eyes that are now a warm orange red, and glowing. Darcy laughs, just because she's happy and he smiles. Arm still in his, she lifts herself to her tippy toes - even higher than the heels she's already wearing, and gives him a kiss on the cheek.. "It is you!" she says kissing the other cheek because she can't resist. And maybe she holds it too long. Maybe.

He doesn't say anything, which is strange, because quick quips are something of a sport to him. She drops down to her heels, looks up, and Loki is staring down at her. His smile is completely gone and he almost looks angry. Darcy swallows, suddenly very self conscious. Maybe she's like his mom to him now. Frigga's beautiful, but she's one of the only Aesir to allow herself to age - and he hasn't aged. Maybe she reminds him of his mother and maybe she's just made him very uncomfortable.

Unhooking their arms and backing up, she says, "I'm sorry, I..."

"Darcy," he says, and he does sound angry, but he isn't letting go of her hand. She doesn't have time to process it. He reels her in by their entwined fingers, his free hand drops to her lower back, and he pulls her forehead to his.

They stand like that for just a few heavy heartbeats; but it feels like an eternity. Darcy can't move. Can hardly breathe. She's frozen, even though she wants to kiss him so very badly. She closes her eyes and reaches blindly to touch the striations on his cheek.

He pulls her tight to him, and she can feel his body, lean and strong against hers. A jolt of electricity that could be magic even if it isn't shoots down her spine.

And then he kisses her.


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 11 of 26

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