Continuing Tales


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 20 of 26

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"We should get married."

Loki's words are so out of left field that it takes Darcy a few moments to process them. She just stands at the kitchen counter, scissors on wrapping ribbon hovering in mid-air.

And then Loki smiles. "Well?"

She slowly puts the scissors down. She is struck by two conflicting urges, to run over, jump up, wrap her arms and legs around him and shout, "Yes, yes, yes."

The other urge is to cry. She just has this horrible feeling that he doesn't really understand what he's asking.

She stammers, "I...I..." .

"Didn't you tell me once you missed out not having a little girl?" Loki says. He winks. "We could try and rectify that."

And then she knows he doesn't understand what he's saying. "Loki, it would be too risky for me to have a baby."

His shoulders slump just a little, and his face goes slack. "Why?" There is an undercurrent of worry in his voice that is heartbreaking. "You're healthy..."

She hears the question in the last statement, and she is at first stunned. Loki is brilliant - Bruce, Tony and Jane say his understanding of quantum mechanics and astronomy are far beyond what they could hope to achieve in their lifetimes. How could he not understand...

But then she knows. He is from Asgard. Asgardians don't age. "I'm a perfectly healthy 44 year old, but if I were to have a baby the risk of chromosomal abnormalities is too high. I don't want to risk it. I won't risk it."

Straightening, his gaze turns calculating, for just a moment. His face goes hard, resolute. "I still want to marry you."

Darcy's heart beats faster and her blood turns colder. She realizes that there was a part of her that hoped, coming from a rather traditional culture, he would drop the idea of marriage if childbearing was an issue. But...he loves her.

She feels prickles at the corner of her eyes. "I want to say yes," her words are punctuated by hot tears spilling down her cheeks.

Coming forward, almost cautiously, Loki puts an arm around her waist. "But?"

"But I'm getting older, Loki, and you're not!"

He smiles, and it's a happy, playful, mischievous smile. "But I am getting older."

She smacks his chest. "Not that anyone could notice."

He pulls her close, and she can feel his long lean muscles beneath his clothes. She buries her nose against his neck and feels the tautness of his skin.

"I don't care," he says. "You're good for me."

She knows that's true. He woke up just this morning on his back and in a flashback. For a frightening five minutes he was unresponsive until Darcy pulled out her tablet and started showing him pictures and telling him tales of her experiences in Jotunheim. He explained later that he needed to know he wasn't in memories - and that Darcy, not a warrior, or bureaucrat like he spent the last two million years around, was better able to pull him out of his mind than anyone else. In his words she always surprises him.

"...and together we can be even better," he whispers, kissing her cheek.

And that is true, too. Loki is like David - Loki pushes her, exposes her to new ideas and new worlds. Loki will be honest about where her strengths lie. She remembers his 'talk' with her before she left SHIELD all those years ago. Painful as the conversation had been, if he'd spared her, he wouldn't have been doing her any favors.

"No matter what, I will always take care of you," he says.

And that's when Darcy really breaks down. He is the most beautiful man she's ever slept with, will ever sleep with again. But she knows in this moment that if her choice is between being the ward of a beautiful young-looking man and the lover of some old codger...she'll take the old codger.

Pushing away, nearly blind with her own tears, she says, "But don't you see, I don't want that! I want a lover...I don't want to"

Loki's face goes hard. "You aren't! You'll never be! Don't you get that? That's why I want to marry you!"

He's yelling at her.

She screams right back. "Yeah? Really? Well, then ask me that again in 20 years!"

The scowl on his face softens. "20 years?" He blinks. The fingers of a blue hand start thumping against his thigh. "Can we be engaged at least so your sons do not think I am intentionally dishonoring you?"

That was too easy. Darcy stares at him. "I'm not guaranteeing that I'll say yes in 20 years."

He scowls. "Well, of course not. During an engagement either party may decide to leave..." His eyes narrow. "But during the time we are engaged, I expect sexual fidelity..." He looks away, as though slightly ashamed and says, "I do not share...well." Swallowing, he says, "I am willing to offer you an oath of the same in return."

He seems suddenly so vulnerable. Stepping forward, she puts a hand on his hip. "Loki, you're more than enough man for me." Really, if things keep going the way they have been, she won't have time for another man. Or even sleep.

Turning to her, he beams. "Then it's settled. A 20 year engagement."

"Settled?" says Darcy weakly.

Raising his eyebrows, he tilts his head, smiles rakishly, and runs his tongue across his teeth.

Darcy's breath catches and she goes hot. God help her, he's delicious, and worse - she loves him.

She swallows. She gives it five years, tops, ten. "Okay," she says.

Pulling back, he studies her a moment, and then his arms go around her back and he lifts her up onto the counter. Taking a deep breath, he presses the side of his head against her chest and closes his eyes as though the motion wore him out. Considering his overall state of health, it probably did.

"It's not the answer I expected," he says at last and Darcy bites her lip. "But it seems fair, and if it puts your mind at ease..." His voice drifts off. "And it's really no time at all."

Darcy blinks at that. 20 years is nearly half her life. This really seems too easy...

Later, she learns from Jane that Sif and Thor were engaged for a century after they were betrothed as children by their parents. And after she approximates Loki's exact age with help of Thor, she puts together that 20 years for Loki is like one year of her life time. Not that long of an engagement at all for an Asgardian.

Still, she gives it ten years tops.

x x x x

"I thought you needed something besides socks and underwear," Loki says. He's sitting in front of the Christmas tree. He's wearing jeans so dark they're almost black, and a muted green knit short sleeve shirt that's casual and yet somehow screams expensive.

Darcy, Franz and Max are wearing sweaters.

Franz looks up over the last present in his hand at Loki. The present is still wrapped, but it is obvious it's a video game cartridge of some kind. Not just because of its shape, but because of the new 50" flat screen TV and video game paraphernalia lying around them.

Franz gives Loki a cautious look and opens the package. "Battlefield Earth 900 AD: Frost Giants Versus the Aesir," he reads.

Franz and Max love video games, but they both look distinctly uncomfortable. It may be the choice in games...All-in-all she thinks they're taking the whole, "Yes, I'm dating a sort of substitute Avenger. It's Loki. He was brainwashed when he tried to take over the Earth, don't bring it up, it's still a sore spot. He's on our side now, but not a friend of Asgard, but a friend of Thor, it's complicated" thing kind of well.

Darcy's father died a little before she met David, and her mom takes turn coming to see her for Christmas and spending the holiday with Darcy's brother and his much younger children. For once, Darcy's a little relieved that it's her brother's turn to have their mom over for Christmas. The conversation with Franz and Max was awkward, and she's not precisely looking forward to doing it again.

Darcy's eyes go to Loki now. Grinning like a madman he says, "It has very good reviews. And you can choose if you want to be an Aesir or Jotunn - I know what team I want to be on."

Max looks down at the cartridge. "If we win, you're not going to turn us into frogs, are you?"

Rolling his eyes, Loki says, "Of course not."

Both Max and Franz visibly relax.

"I can't stand frogs," Loki says. "Now rabbits -"

Darcy hurls a couch cushion at him and he groans. Franz and Max seem to have picked up that he's only joking though; their lips are quirked upwards.

They're setting up the gaming equipment when Max looks down at the new diamonds on Darcy's left hand. "That's a nice ring, Mom."

Darcy's other hand goes to her throat. She put the diamond David gave her for their engagement on a drop pendant. It was at Loki's suggestion. One of the nice things about being with Loki is that he doesn't begrudge that David is still part of her life. Probably because he lost someone, too.

From where's he's helping Franz hang the flatscreen, Loki gives a snort. "It's only a placeholder ring until we go to Svartálfaheimr. Dwarf craftsmanship still can't be beat."

Darcy suppresses a smile. At first she was nervous about going to Svartálfaheimr. That is where Odin sent him for his punishment, but Loki insists that they'll only go to the dwarves who owe him allegiance - and anyway, the dwarves didn't know he was there since he spent the whole time on the surface. Now she's just excited. She could care less about a ring, but the chance to meet dwarves...that's awesome.

Connecting a wire with the wall, Loki mutters. "There would be a wedding band next to that engagement ring too, but your mother insisted we wait a while. If you feel your family honor is being besmirched, look to her."

To Darcy's mortification, Franz and Max both do look at her. Darcy glares at them and then sighs. "Cohabitation is done here, Loki."

Loki says something that sounds like a swear in some guttural language that reminds Darcy of Jotunn. He isn't taking the whole not married thing as gracefully as he could. It took her awhile to convince him that he doesn't have to sleep on the couch while they're here. As it is, Darcy and Loki haven't had sex since the boys' arrival. Loki's convinced they'll hear, or the floors will vibrate even if he manages a silencing spell, and then her sons will become enraged and they will all be forced into "an unfortunate confrontation."

On the one hand, Christmas nookie is nice. On the other hand, Darcy's catching up on a lot of sleep. Also, the way she catches Loki looking at her - as soon as the boys are out of the house they'll make up for lost time.

At the moment though, there is an awkward silence in the room.

Clearing his throat, Franz says, "I'd like to go to Svartálfaheimr..."

Loki blinks up at him, a game console in his hand.

"Me, too," says Max.

Pursing his lips, Loki looks at them. And then he grins. "You know, I think I can manage that. After your mother and I go. Maybe about the time of your spring break. I wasn't planning to take a Stark craft -" He throws a console at each of them. "I was actually planning on world walking..."

What follows is a conversation on the theories of quantum physics as it applies to interstellar travel and magic interspersed with video game blood and gore, and Loki's cries of, "This is not historically accurate! Thor and I weren't even born yet - and I resent the game's developers make me fight for the Aesir!"

It turns out to be the best Christmas Darcy or her boys have had in a long time. Maybe since David died. And they're all going to get to world walk...just because Loki has an overdeveloped sense of familial obligation and romance.

World walking to Svartálfaheimr isn't that much easier than taking a Stark craft - but since the Stark craft aren't going to Svartálfaheimr yet, it's their only choice. To world walk they first have to travel to a place where the fabric of space time is weak between Svartálfaheimr and Earth. It turns out that place is the caverns of Dan yr Ogof in Wales...which may not be convenient, but is certainly scenic.

Loki and Darcy follow a tour group into the caves. Loki is in his Asgard form to discourage curious looks, and they hang back from the tour group. Since the tour is in Welsh, Darcy isn't missing much.

They enter a cavern with a wide walkway and waterfalls tumbling from the walls. Turning to Loki, Darcy says, "It's beautiful." Not answering, his hand tightens on hers, there's a swirl of color, and suddenly she's in another, even grander cavern. This one has gems of all colors glowing in the ceiling. Darcy automatically lifts her head to look and her mouth drops in wonder. She takes her first breath of this new world's air - it's warmer, thick with unfamiliar smells, and she feels heavier.

She drops her eyes. They're on a narrow street. On either side of them are little dwellings and shops built into the walls. Stalagmites and stalactites form marbly looking columns. A few short, squat, muscular people stand around them - all staring at Darcy. Darcy blinks. Not people. Dwarves. None seem bigger than 4 and a half feet. There are no bulbous noses or long drooping beards in sight, but they have wide pale faces, and wide eyes that seem to glow in the low light - not like Loki's eyes, more like cat eyes. The few women she sees have their hair braided and pulled back. There is not a mushroom cap in sight.

She turns her head to Loki - he's blue again and smiling smugly. Evidently her excitement is written large on her face. Before she can say anything he leans in and says quickly, "The gravity here is stronger. That is why you feel so heavy."

He reaches behind her as though to give her a hug - and then drops his hand and gives her bum a pinch. Yelping, Darcy glares at him.

Opening his eyes wide, he blinks innocently. "What? It's a sign of affection here!" Turning around, he says, "But humans ordinarily aren't here...let's go find Svartálfar, Sindri's great grandson."

Darcy peeks to the side. Sure enough they're attracting a crowd and she hears whispers that remind her of the buzz of bees. Smiling anyway, she waves at a very, very small child as Loki takes her hand and drags her down the lane.

They haven't walked more than a few minutes when Loki pulls Darcy into a small building with a door tall enough they don't have to duck. On one side are cases of jewelry. On the other side are weapons. A little bell tingles as the door shuts and a dwarf woman looks up from where she sits behind a counter. She has a monocle on one eye. Whatever she has in her hand she drops, and the monocle drops, too, with a loud clang. Not seeming to notice, she gapes at Darcy.

"Is this the shop of the family Svartálfar?" Loki asks.

Eyes glued to Darcy, the woman says, "Yes."

Gesturing towards Darcy, Loki says, "I come for a ring for my intended."

From behind the counter where the woman sits a dwarven man pokes his head. "Well, you've come to the right place, friend Frost Giant." His eyes are on Darcy, too. She blinks. The height of the ceiling, their ability to speak all tongues - they receive customers from many worlds. Why are they staring?

The woman begins to stammer. "Are you...are you...are you...human?"

"Gilda," snaps the man. "Don't embarrass our customers!"

"It's okay," says Darcy, stepping forward and grinning ear to ear. "Yes, I'm human."

The woman puts a hand to her mouth. "Oh, I never thought I'd live to see the day! My goodness! My goodness...from Earth?"

"Where else would she be from?" the man snaps.

"Yes," says Darcy.

Loki clears his throat. Darcy feels a light prickle of electricity and turns to see Loki pull his hands apart as though he's clapping. The bag she usually carries her photography gear in materializes in mid-air and she catches it before it hits the ground. He folds his hand together and pulls them apart again and a large wooden trunk appears. He deftly catches it. Darcy saw him pack it with little wind up watches and clocks. He said the dwarves would find them quite interesting and wanted to use them to barter for her new ring.

"Darcy, darling," Loki says raising an eyebrow. "Why don't you have a look around, while I attend to the unpleasant business of haggling with Mister or Mistress Svartálfar." He looks between the two questioningly.

"I'm the one who handles the haggling here," says the man, looking Loki up and down and stepping around the counter. He turns to the woman, "Gilda, why don't you show this nice human around while I take master Frost Giant to the back."

Beaming, Gilda comes around the counter and bounces on her feet. "I would love to."

Rolling his eyes, Mister Svartálfar gives Gilda a pinch on the bum, and then gestures for Loki to follow him.

Darcy smiles so wide and so genuinely at Gilda that it hurts.

Loki stifles a grin at Darcy's obvious happiness as he carries his trunk into the back of the shop and lays it on a low table. He is going to get so many points for this.

Svartálfar closes the door behind them and says, "So what have you got for me?"

Loki opens the trunk revealing the collection of antique wind-up clocks and watches.

Svartálfar says, "Hmmmm...timepieces of some sort. I might be able to get you something small for those."

Loki chuckles. "No, no, no, those are just to put the heart of my intended at ease." He presses a lever concealed within the trunk's lock and a drawer pops open at the bottom. Pulling the drawer, he lifts out the first of the real goodies.

"This," he says, "Is an M16 rifle - a human weapon. It fires 700-950 shaftless arrows a minute, at approximately 940 paces a second. Its effective range is about 548 paces - if you're shooting for accuracy, but it can be deadly to as much as 770 paces."

He kisses the barrel affectionately and waggles his eyebrows at the dwarf.

The man's eyes widen for just a moment. But then the dwarf crosses his arms over his chest in a fair impression of indifference. "What are these shaftless arrows you speak of?"

Loki expected this question, and he pulls out a bullet and hands it to the dwarf.

Svartálfar scowls at the pointed metal cylinder between his fingers. "Interesting, but this will never penetrate magical armor. Humans still haven't got the magic it takes to fill a thimble apparently." Despite his words, Loki notices the dwarf's hands are trembling in excitement.

Loki purses his lips. "It will not pierce magical armour, it is true, but with a modified dwarven silver tip..."

The dwarf meets his eye. "I suppose I could get you a fairly nice ring for the...bow...and the shaftless arrows. After a suitable demonstration."

Straightening, Loki narrows his eyes. "I will, of course, demonstrate a soundproof room. But it is worth more than a fairly nice ring." He tilts his head. "Mister Svartálfar, long ago your great, great, great grandfather crafted the finest weapon in all the universe, Mjolinar."

Svartálfar mutters, "Aye, and assured we'd stay under the yoke of the Aesir."

Loki smirks. "I'm giving you the opportunity to create weapons just as powerful that will help dwarves cast off that yoke..." He raises an eyebrow. "I could take this opportunity someplace else."

"No, no, no!" says the dwarf. "You can have anything, anything in my shop!"

Loki smiles. "I'll want a little more than that."

The dwarf's eyes go wide.

Loki smiles happily and reaches back into the drawer. "But first let me show you the other goodies I have."

"This," he says holding up a beautifully crafted piece of synthetic polymers and metal, "is a Glock..."

x x x x

Loki isn't whistling as he walks into the kitchen of Avengers' mansion. But he is suppressing a happy whistle. His visit with the dwarves went much better than he anticipated. The haggling went about as he expected, and he is pleased enough by it. But what was really pleasing and surprising was what happened afterwards. Gilda invited Darcy and Loki to dinner with the Svartálfar clan. Oh, Mister Svartálfar had been upset. He'd taken his wife to the side and tried to convince her that Loki was too dangerous to invite to dinner.

"Oh, pshaw," said Gilda. "He must be a good man, coming all this way for a ring! And his intended, she is lovely; and as harmless as a glow worm - but less magical, I don't know how her kind survive. Oh, the children will be so excited to see a real human like in the stories!"

It had been a lovely evening. Darcy taken lots of photographs, and then brought out a digital tablet and shown everyone pictures from Earth and Jotunheim. Loki had mostly sat back, enjoyed dwarven ale and the ambiance as his intended be the goodwill ambassador for all humankind.

It had been...He tilts his head...a very happy experience. And definitely his best trip to Svartálfaheimr in two thousand years. The first time he hadn't been a wanted man, a criminal, an aggressor, or a prince confined to stiff functions of state.

Loki leans against the counter in the Avengers' kitchen and looks at the clock on the microwave. Steve is late. They were going to go out for lunch - and then maybe go back to Loki's and Darcy's place to play Battlefield Earth 900 AD. He likes it much better since Franz discovered that the Loki character in the game can switch sides.

Darcy's busy with the final stage of her book, and she's putting together an essay of her trip to Svartálfaheimr. Loki's under strict orders to stay out of her hair...or rather to stop pushing her into bed.

He smiles. It's nice that a new relationship can be so predictable after all this time. It feels exactly like those early days with Aggie or Sigyn when he couldn't get enough of them, when every time he laid eyes on them he wanted to devour them. He knows it will slow down, that the first flash of heat will transform to warm embers. That does not trouble him. He has been married before, and he knows how sustaining warm embers can be. But he'll take advantage of the heat as long as he can.

His stomach rumbles and he looks down. Although, all the romance can make one forget to eat. He looks at the refrigerator. Well, no harm in a bit of an aperitif before lunch with Steve.

He's just finishing the last stages of a Nutella-Peanut butter sandwich, thinking how much dwarves would love chocolate and how he must bring Nutella next visit, when he hears footsteps behind him. Smirking as he imagines exchanging chocolate goods for Asgard armour piercing ammunition, he turns. He expects to see Steve. But it's Fandral.

Fandral scowls. "What are you smirking about, trickster?"

Slightly affronted, Loki tilts his head. "Nothing that has to do with you, do not fear." The words come out too caustic, simply out of habit.

Loki bites his tongue. He needs Fandral on his side. "Really, Fandral. You don't."

Swallowing, Fandral says, "Not yet, anyway." His eyes narrow and his fists clench at his side.

There are words that are reassuring, and Loki should be able to use them. But the topic is...difficult. Instead Loki rolls his eyes in frustration.

Fandral scowls and then spins on his heel and leaves the room.

For a moment Loki is still, but then he takes off after him. He needs Fandral if he is going to slip into Idunn's orchard - even in the wrong season.

"Fandral, wait!"

Fandral doesn't turn around, even when he knocks into Steve coming down the hall.

"What is his problem?" Steve whispers as Fandral disappears down a long another corridor.

The word me, is on the tip of Loki's tongue. He scowls and his stomach constricts with thoughts of what he may have to do to fix this.


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 20 of 26

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