Continuing Tales


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 21 of 26

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Untitled Document

The sun is warm on Darcy's back as she rolls up her yoga mat in Central Park and the members of her yoga group disperse, except Jane, of course. It's been one year since Darcy's engagement to Loki. She's just become closer to Jane in that time.

"You're quiet today...and scowling," says Jane. "Yoga is supposed to make you relax."

Darcy sighs and looks to her friend. Jane is the most beautiful 50 year old woman she knows. There are some tell tale signs of age, the way the bottom lids of her eyes and the skin under her chin sag just a tad. But Darcy heard one of the dermatologists that works out with them once exclaim, "You have no sun damage at all! How do you do it?"

Jane had smiled and said, "Magic."

Of course she meant it literally. Jane explained to Darcy that Thor can't reverse the pull of gravity, but sun damage he can fix. Jane says he does it because seeing herself age makes Jane sad, but Jane thinks seeing her age makes Thor sad.

Loki has told Darcy he can't really heal her aging. He could transform her into a young woman for limited periods of time, but the telomeres in her cells, her body's own clocks, would make her revert rapidly. He's thinks such a transformation would be dangerous if done repeatedly, and moreover, has told her that transforming her now would be pointless because she's "still stunning."

He's sweet. And not.

She's been with Loki for just over a year, and she'd recently found out all was not as it had seemed. Time to eat humble pie and 'fess up to Jane. They begin to stroll over the park's lawn. "Remember how I bragged about Loki doing housework -"

"I am so jealous! I can't even get Thor to do dishes! He's so clumsy. He always winds up breaking them!"

"Um, yeah," says Darcy, turning a little red. "Well, Loki doesn't actually do housework, either."

Jane blinks.

Darcy scowls, "He doesn't do dishes. He's been pushing our dirty dishes into random alternate universes and snagging clean dishes from the same universes..."

When Darcy asked him which universes, he'd snapped, 'Hopefully the ones that are stealing my socks from the dryer!' Which, actually, she thought was funny, but two wrongs really didn't make a right, and really, since there was no guarantee that was where things were coming and going, she didn't think his methods were ethical.

Jane makes a little gasp.

Taking a deep breath Darcy says, "...and I don't even think I really want to know where all the dirt went when he swept. He's wasn't sweeping it under the rug, he was sweeping it into another apartment, in another universe, where there is probably another me drowning in dirty dishes and dust bunnies!"

Jane snorts. She doesn't sound that sympathetic. For a moment Darcy thinks about telling her Loki informed her Thor doesn't break the dishes because he's clumsy - he breaks dishes because he knows it is a way out of doing them. But that seems mean.

"So what are you doing?" says Jane.

"Getting a maid," says Darcy. She actually feels really weird about that. It always seemed like a needless extravagance to her. Also, she's not sure she likes someone going through her stuff.

Jane nods sagaciously. "It's for the best. We finally just moved into a building with cleaners on staff."

"Loki's paying for it," Darcy says. She tilts her head. "He has money. I'm not exactly sure where from - but he says he didn't steal it." She purses her lips. "He does do some trading - futures, options, that sort of thing."

"Hmmm..." says Jane. Two men who are obviously a couple pass by.

Jane follows them with her eyes. "How does he treat Midgardian first-world tolerance of varied lifestyles?"

Darcy blinks at the non-sequitur. She remembers Loki's reaction to Fandral and his boyfriend. Loki seemed more worried about embarrassing Fandral than disgusted. "I guess okay."

Jane shakes her head. "Thor...well, he doesn't embarrass me as much anymore, and he says it's fine because it's our world and our culture...but sometimes I catch him rolling his eyes."

Darcy turns her head and looks at her friend. Jane is looking down at the ground. "In some ways he is so open. You know he accepted Sif despite the fact that she wasn't the ideal of the stay-at-home-and-do-needlepoint lady of the court. He even encouraged her. And he forgave her know...she cheated on him...and they divorced...but he always says it was because she was forced into a marriage she really didn't want by her parents and Asgardian society. I don't think Thor wanted it either - he said it was like being married to his sister. It was lonely for both of them."

Now Darcy's eyes go very wide. She didn't expect this conversation.

Jane sighs. "But sometimes, we go by two guys and I catch him rolling his eyes."

"Oh," says Darcy. She is a little overwhelmed by the idea of the generosity of Thor's spirit for accepting his ex, who cheated on him, as a warrior and comrade. Of course Thor had forgiven Loki first, too, hadn't he?

"No, Loki doesn't roll his eyes, or anything like that," she says quietly.

"That's good," says Jane, tightening her hold on her own yoga mat. They walk a little while longer in silence, and then Jane says, "Is something up between Fandral and Loki?"

"What?" says Darcy. They're walking along a street now, the park on their left hand side.

"It's just..." Jane tilts her head. "Thor says that Fandral gets uncomfortable for some reason whenever Loki enters the room. He wondered if Loki had gotten up to some mischief..."

"No," says Darcy. "Not at all."

But all the rest of the way home her mind is spinning. Loki had called Sif a slag in Darcy's presence - and that was before Sif tried to kill Loki in front of the Diar. According to Loki she 'never deserved Thor.' Loki is not forgiving or understanding and yet he doesn't scoff openly at gay couples, and in fact tried to protect Fandral.

Not that she's displeased, but she does wonder why.

x x x x

Fandral's still on Darcy's mind when she comes home to find Loki standing in a cloud of green. He's wearing green pajamas and a black silk bathrobe. The clothes and the green means he has just teleported back from trading in the penthouse he bought above her. He uses the entire suite to keep his desk and computer in. It's very zen, if a bit of overkill, but it's his money and she doesn't ask.

He's got a teakettle in his hand, and he's smirking to himself. At the sound of her footsteps he turns and smiles wide. "Darcy, tea?"

"Yes, thanks," says Darcy, coming over to the counter. Putting the kettle down on the counter he takes two mugs out of the cabinet and turns his head and winks at her because he knows she hates it when he grabs them from other dimensions. Smirking, he pops a sachet of this Matta Cocoa stuff they're both addicted to at the moment in each. The kettle that never touched the stove starts to whistle.

As he pours the boiling water into the mugs, the smirk widens to a grin and Darcy tilts her head.

Loki has been, in Thor's words, "As happy as I've ever seen him. Much more like his old self since he's taken up with you, Darcy."

But the smile Loki's wearing now is a bit much. Forgetting momentarily about Fandral she says, "Okay, I give up, why are you looking so pleased with yourself?"

Loki bites his lip as though trying to contain his smile and almost bounces on his heels. And then he cackles.

Pushing a mug to her he says, "I just single-handedly devalued the currency of Latveria this morning."

Latveria. She's heard of it, some tiny Eastern European country. She blinks. "What?"

Waggling his eyebrows and pulling his mug to his lips, Loki leans against the far counter and says, "I know. Sometimes I outdo myself."

He takes a sip and shrugs. "Oh, and I made some money on the deal, too."

Darcy blinks. "You can't do that! It's illegal!"

"Oh, no," says Loki blowing an icy wind over his mug. "It's perfectly legal. That's the beauty of it!"

"Legal, maybe, but ethical?" Darcy says, waving her hands in the air.

Loki looks to the side. "I thought it was ethical."

"What about the people who live there? With the currency devalued, how will they be able to trade with other countries - they must rely on trade. Latveria is a really small place!" Darcy says.

Loki purses his lips. "That is a concern, I suppose."

"Well, revalue their currency then!" says Darcy.

"No," says Loki.

Darcy narrows her eyes. "No you can't or no you won't."

"Won't," says Loki.

And here it is...that conversation they have when Darcy is going to have to say, 'This really isn't working out.'

She takes a breath. The words never leave her lips.

Loki's phone begins to play the Darth Vader theme. "That's Director Fury," he says. "I have to answer it."

Darcy lets the breath out as Loki puts the phone to his ear. "Director Fury, so nice to hear your voice." He nods his head. "Oh, you liked that, did you? My would-be-wife wasn't as pleased. She did point out there might be a bit of a humanitarian crisis among the Latverian population - maybe you can see to it that there are aid camps posted at the border?"

Darcy blinks. Loki nods his head. "Good, good. No, really you don't owe me anything..." And then he looks over at Darcy. "Actually, maybe there is something you can do." Pulling the phone from his ear he pushes a button and then meets Darcy's eyes. "Director Fury, you're on speaker. Would you please be so kind as to tell my would-be-wife what I've done."

For a moment there is silence. And then there's the sound of Director Fury clearing his throat. "Ms. Lewis, the details are highly confidential, but the gist of it is, the leader of Latveria, a.k.a, Victor Von Doom, the self-described greatest super villain of all time -"

Loki snorts. "I couldn't let that stand."

Fury continues as though he hadn't been interrupted. "Tried to purchase some very nasty things from some other very nasty people but at the last minute found that the money he intended to use for said purchase was worthless..."

"Oh," says Darcy softly.

"...Innocent lives here and in Latveria were spared," says Fury.

Darcy looks to Loki. He raises an eyebrow and then looks at the phone. "That will be all, Director Fury. Thank you."

Darcy swallows. She was wrong. And Loki is wonderful.

He presses a button and then looks back at Darcy. "Who is the God of Mischief?" He says haughtily crossing his arms and raising an eyebrow.

This is a game they play, and Darcy's ready - because no matter how much she adores him, she can't let her adoration go to his head. Biting back her smile she says, "Indra?"

Loki's face goes hard, and Darcy takes off down the hall with a squeak.

Of course he catches her. For a while she forgets everything about Fandral.

x x x x

Darcy's head is on Loki's shoulder and she's hovering very close to sleep. He glances out the window; not yet noon. So early and already such a goodday.

Victor has been punished for his hubris. Loki's on Fury's good side - which may be important for his next excursion to Asgard. Loki's on Darcy's good side - no matter what she said, he could see the respect in her eyes when Fury explained what Loki had done.

Also, at the moment, he is very, very relaxed. His leg entwined with Darcy's, sweat cooling on his skin.

Darcy stirs on his shoulder and Loki looks down at her. Smiling gently, he traces a blue finger from her forehead down her nose. The way the sunlight hits her face, the lines there are etched vividly.

Males of most of the hominid species are programmed to be attracted to youth and fertility. Loki is not completely immune. But a younger human wouldn't be able to challenge him enough, wouldn't point out the flaws in his plans and keep him in line. Or maybe a younger human would, but could she be as full as Darcy the artist, mother, and widow? And would she be able to understand him, empathize with him so well? He doubts it.

He slips down on the bed and kisses her. Darcy smiles and answers. As the kiss ends she pulls herself up so she is lying on top of him, her hands folded on his chest, her chin resting on her knuckles. They talk like this often. She weighs nothing compared to his denser frost giant bones and musculature, and he rather likes wearing a Darcy blanket. Even if she is too warm and sometimes it makes him a bit sleepy.

"Why aren't you upset by the fact Fandral is gay?" she asks.

Loki blinks. That is so out of left field it makes him chuckle. "Should I be?" he asks closing his eyes.

"Yes," says Darcy.

Loki raises his head and meets her eyes. Sometimes he thinks Darcy is open minded to the point of near lunacy.

"I'm glad you don't care, but you were raised on Asgard, and based on how you were raised it would be expected for you to be a bit homophobic." She scowls and looks at the ceiling. "In the myths you're a magic user and Odin once accused you publicly of being argr for practicing magic..."

Loki stiffens at the word argr. It is a deep insult. It means not just to be homosexual, but to play the woman's role.

As though not noticing, Darcy says, "Which is stupid since Odin himself is the big-bad in magic user land."

"And he did play argr in his youth," says Loki darkly.

"Yeah," says Darcy, "I remember that. Something about shamanistic rituals to gain power."

Loki rolls his eyes. "Or he was just curious."

Darcy meets his eyes. "That should make you even more bitter and more defensive about the whole homosexuality thing, but you're not. Why?"

Loki blinks at her. It isn't exactly true that he's never been defensive. On Asgard there was one individual who tried to test the theory of Loki being argrby force. Loki made sure his punishment was painful, appropriate, and public. It never happened again.

"I'm just curious." She shrugs. "I know you're one for independent thought...but it is a big leap."

"Not if you're well read," he says. "There are other societies where the stigma isn't attached. In Alfheim, even Vanaheim...not to mention the Greeks and Romans of your own world."

Darcy rolls off of him and looks at the ceiling. "Oh, that makes sense."

She sounds disappointed. Loki's brow furrows and he runs a hand through her hair, completely unable to guess her train of thought.

"I guess," says Darcy, "I hoped those stories of you turning yourself into a woman were true -"

Loki's whole body goes cold. His hand in her hair stills.

Oblivious, Darcy continues. "And that gave you additional perspective." Her eyes open wide. "Because that would be"

Loki has a very keen sense for lies. Darcy is not lying now; she evidently finds the idea fascinating. His words are cutting anyway. "You do realize that even suggesting that is as insulting as saying a man is argr?"

Darcy blinks and rolls over on her side. "Why?"

She's all innocence, despite the ice in his tone. It's aggravating and endearing at once.

"Because that would suggest willingly wanting to be argr," Loki says with an annoyed huff.

"Sometimes I think Asgardians are stupid," she says. "If I could do that...I would totally try it. I mean, just to see how the other half experiences everything." She smiles. "What a way to improve your technique!"

Her statement is born of innocence and curiosity, nothing more. Loki's body goes very still. His mind, by contrast, is whirling. He sees a door opening that he never even had the courage to imagine opening before...but now that he sees the opportunity...

"I theory, it could be interesting..." He looks sideways at her, unable to breathe.

Darcy bites her lip. "It would be more fun with a partner you trusted, to you know, get the full experience..."

Which is what Loki really didn't have last time. But now...this...He finds himself smirking.

Grinning, Darcy says, "I'll never tell anyone."

Loki can't fight the urge to pull her close and kiss her. Something new! In over 2,000 years.

It's a long kiss.

As he pulls away the sunlight hits her just so and he catches sight of the smile lines in her cheek. He strokes it with his thumb, his expression going somber. His mind traces back how this convoluted conversation came about in the first place. Fandral. He has to fix the Fandral situation.

He scowls. "There is maybe someone we should tell."

Darcy blinks in confusion, but Loki's mind is already jumping ahead. "And I don't think it would be right to change your body into a man's..."

Her expression turns sad and he grins. "But don't worry, I have in mind something better."

x x x x

"You can't tell your father about this," says Fandral.

"I promise I won't," Jessica whispers. She is Fandral's lover Doug's daughter. She is six years old and comes just to Fandral's waist. She has red-gold hair just like her late mother, and blue eyes and a full bottom lip that reminds him of her father. She has Fandral wrapped around her little finger more than any lady or man of the court of Asgard ever has.

"Alright," whispers Fandral, "let us begin our quest!"

Jessica giggles too loud, but then puts her hand over her mouth and drops her voice to a whisper. "Daddy's in the living room reading."

Raising an eyebrow, Fandral says, "Then we must proceed with stealth!"

Bouncing on the balls of her feet, Jessica giggles again.

In an exaggerated tip-toe, Fandral goes down the hallway, Jessica giggling behind him. They pass pictures of Doug and his late wife, Cherise, and a cross on the wall, a symbol of Doug's religion. It was that religion - or rather a strict sect thereof - that compelled Doug to marry Cherise, even in a culture as tolerant as Manhattan's Midgard.

Doug suffered as badly as Fandral, if not as long, due to his religion. But it enabled Doug to forgive Fandral for being an ass and a coward. And...Fandral looks at Jessica, it gave Doug a beautiful daughter, and a wife who did love him and moved Doug to a more tolerant interpretation of his religion before she died.

They move past the pictures to where the hall intersects with the living room. Doug looks up from the book he's reading. He's tall for a Midgardian, and his position at SHIELD keeps him in good shape. His brown hair is very short and neat. Today is Sunday though, and he's sporting two days worth of stubble, which Fandral thinks makes him look delectable. Grinning, Fandral puts a finger to his lips and then looks at Jessica so she thinks the gesture is for her. Jessica giggles too loud. Out of the corner of his eyes Fandral sees Doug smack his face with his palm, but then he pretends to go back to his book.

A few minutes later Jessica and Fandral are sitting at the kitchen table "secretly" eating blue popsicles. Jessica's swinging her feet and giggling and Fandral can envision her father rolling his eyes in the other room. They're so fragile, Fandral's humans, and they - and all this, popsicles on a lazy Sunday in a quiet house, on a quiet street where there isn't the weight of any secrets to he hidden, it will all be gone in the blink of an eye. The moment is so poignant it makes his heart hurt.

He spars daily with Thor, and helps Rogers and Thor train the newest Avengers recruits. Thor is Fandral's only connection to his old life. Fandral's had an unfortunate love for Thor. After centuries it's thankfully a platonic love, but it's still very strong. Thor has saved Fandral's life on countless occasions, on and off the battlefield. Whenever rumors had surfaced in Asgards halls about Fandral's deviant ways, it was always good, honest, too-trusting Thor who quickly put them to rest. That makes Fandral's heart hurt, too.

Loki will tell Thor, or try to blackmail Fandral. At some point Fandral is convinced he will have to choose between Thor's friendship and regard - and Jessica and Doug.

There is a ring at the doorbell of their narrow row house. Fandral hears Doug say, "I'll get it," as he runs down the stairs. An instant later, Doug says, "Honey, I think it's for you."

Fandral puts his popsicle in the sink and goes to the stairwell. Doug is still standing in the foyer, the door unopened.

"How do you know they're here to see me?" Fandral says coming quickly down the steps.

"One of them has glowing eyes," says Doug.

"Go get Jessica," says Fandral his brow furrowing.

"Yep," says Doug, already going up the steps.

Fandral looks through the peephole and his heart drops. Loki stands there in his Asgardian form wearing a Midgardian suit; next to him is the human woman Darcy.

It's not like Fandral can keep Loki out if Loki wants to come in.

Opening the door Fandral eyes Loki warily. "Come in."

Loki plows in ahead of Darcy past Fandral, and Fandral scowls. He's never seen Loki be so disrespectful to any woman but Sif. Something isn't quite right. He feels enchantment in the air and swallows.

"I think I'd prefer to be blue," says Loki turning to Darcy. "This form is uncomfortable."

Darcy nods and Loki's Asgardian form melts away. "Thanks," says Loki to Darcy.

Fandral scowls at the blue shadow standing in the foyer, and his hands clench at his side. Thor said that Loki finds his Jotunn form more comfortable, and Thor doesn't begrudge him taking it. Fandral thinks if he was in Loki's shoes he'd deal with the discomfort and stick to a form that was less hideous. Loki just smiles at Fandral as though he is amused.

Above their heads Fandral hears Jessica shout. "But I want to meet Fandral's friends!"

"No, Jessica," he hears Doug say, but then hears the sound of small footsteps on the stairs, and then there is Jessica two steps from the foyer shouting, "Wow! A mutant!" without any hint of fear in her voice.

Loki hunches down so he is at her level. "Actually a frost giant."

"Ooooh," says Jessica eyes wide. "We learned about you in school. My name is Jessica."

Loki smiles. "Hello, Jessica." His demonic red eyes go quickly to Darcy and Fandral, and then he looks back at Jessica and says, "This is a lovely house you have."

Bouncing on her feet, Jessica says, "Do you want a tour?" She's completely oblivious to the fact that she is in front of one the most dangerous beings in the Nine Realms.

Doug knows Loki is dangerous. Fandral has told him. At that moment Fandral realizes he and Doug are both frozen.

Loki stands, "That would be awesome."

Fandral blinks. Loki says awesome?

He hears Doug swallow. Fandral meets his eyes. "It will be alright," Fandral says. And he knows it will be. Loki has always had a soft spot for children. He relaxes just a smidge. Actually, as long as Jessica is around, Loki is unlikely to do anything more threatening than pull a rabbit out of a helmet. Or appear in his frost giant form. Fandral is a little insulted that Loki would pull a stunt like that in front of his family. Even if Doug and Jessica don't recognize the impropriety, Fandral does. Fandral's jaw clenches. Maybe Loki is misbehaving to rub in Fandral's own deviancy.

No one has moved. Throwing up a hand, Fandral says, "Let's give him the tour."

Doug nods. Jessica bounds up the stairs and Loki in his Jotun form follows them.

Fandral is about to follow, when a light hand falls on his arm. "You and I need to talk," says Darcy.

Fandral turns. Loki's human has a streak of gray in her sleek bob, though she doesn't look as old as Frigga. She is small, but curvy - Loki always did have a type.

It is ironic. Loki was the one that everyone on Asgard whispered was argr because he was a magic user, because he was rail thin, because he wasdifferent. In reality before he'd married Angrboda, Loki had been the seducer of women Fandral pretended to be, only Loki was quiet about it. Fandral hung around the ladies of the court enough to hear the rumors - Loki's nickname "Silvertongue" referred to something other than verbal persuasion among the women. There had been quite a few frustrated souls when he'd fallen for Angrboda, and then later for Sigyn.

Fandral hears the footsteps of Doug, Loki, and Jessica above him, and looks up. He can feel enchantment in the air and it makes him nervous. The hand on his arm tightens. Fandral looks down at the human woman and gasps. Her eyes are glowing green.

He looks up again and back at her. She is wearing a smirk that looks oddly familiar. Fandral's jaw drops.

"I'd like a cup of tea, or coffee if you don't mind," says the woman.

Fandral's eyes narrow. "So would I."

A few minutes later they're both in the kitchen. The tour seems to have moved to Jessica's room upstairs on the third floor. Fandral can hear the sound of her toy piano and giggles.

The woman who Fandral is beginning to suspect is not really a woman is sitting at the table, legs crossed neatly. She's wearing a light pencil skirt with green accents, a light green shirt, and very high heels. She's sipping her tea delicately as Jessica's popsicle melts into a blue puddle on a plate across from her. Fandral's leaning against the counter, an untouched mug of coffee in his hands.

"What are you doing?" he says at last.

Putting the cup down, the woman gestures towards her abundant bosoms in a lascivious way no lady ever would - but a prince of mischief might. "You mean in this body or in your house?"

Fandral stares.

"Well," says the woman, picking up her tea. "Darcy wanted to know what it would feel like to be a man. Because of the risks I didn't want to transform her, so we swapped consciousness instead. A lot of benefit to this approach really. She was only going to get the full experience with a partner, and I'm really not interested in men unless I'm in a female form - so we killed two birds with one stone. And it's a much simpler spell actually, too. Just a transfer of electronic impulses, oh, and I still control the magic. She accidentally set the bed on fire when I let her control it, and not just in a pleasant way."

Fandral's mouth drops. Identity confirmed. This doesn't make Fandral feel better. In fact it frightens him more. What is Loki's scheme?

There is a moment of uncomfortable silence. "Why are you here?" says Fandral.

The woman rolls her eyes. "So you will get over this ridiculous notion that I'm going to use your current domestic arrangements to blackmail you."

Fandral stiffens.

Sighing, the woman says, "I thought if I gave you some blackmail material of your own, you'd feel better."

"Bilgesnipe snot," says Fandral. "You want something."

Uncrossing her legs, Loki sits up straighter.

Fandral swallows. "I'm not as smart as you, Loki, but I've known you for two millennia. There's something for you in this show of goodwill."

Loki looks down at her hands. Fandral notices the veins are more prominent than on the hands of the court ladies. Something that happens when humans age? Loki almost seems to shudder, but then she-he looks back at Fandral and says, "I want something I'm sure you will want, too. And your goodwill and participation will make it easier to obtain."

"What is it, Loki?" says Fandral, his voice a low hiss.

"It's imperative that it remain a secret," says Loki still looking at her hands.

"I'm good at keeping secrets," says Fandral.

At that Loki laughs softly and looks at her tea. "That you are." And then lifting her head she narrows her eyes. "And are slightly more interesting than I gave you credit for."

"Spit it out," says Fandral.

A frown flickers over the human female facade Loki now wears. "Life. We both want life. Not just for us." Her eyes go to the sounds above them - Doug, Jessica and the frost giant that is Darcy stepping out onto the roof top balcony.

Fandral's eyes widen. "Planning on going apple picking again, Loki?" The words come out a whisper, hopeful and quiet.

The frown on her face deepens. "Something like that...but riskier, and less certain." She huffs a quiet laugh and looks towards the window. "But desperate times and all that..."

Somewhere buried back deep in his brain, Fandral remembers a time when Loki's mischief was fun and funny, and a Loki who could be loyal and self-sacrificing, who could fall in love. He looks at the fragile human shape before him. Thor said that Loki was back, but Fandral hadn't really believed him.

Thor told him opening up the heavens to Jotunheim and Earth was Loki's penance to both realms, but Fandral suspected it was for spite as much as anything else. Not that Fandral hadn't agreed with the results. He'd been to Earth on missions with Thor several times at that point. He'd met Doug. He'd seen how things were different here. He thought maybe the nuclear warheads hovering over Asgard would be a wakeup call to the denizens of the Realm Eternal that they were locked in the past in so many ways.

Maybe it was working - Fandral hadn't stayed to find out. When he'd heard what happened to Loki from Sif, he'd volunteered to help. Not for Loki; for Thor, who Fandral knew would try to rescue his brother.

But here Loki is, apparently thinking of making a mortal woman immortal. And more shockingly, willing to make himself argr for her whim. He remembers Loki's self satisfied smile as she gestured to the mortal's breasts. Maybe not just for the mortal's whim. Fandral scowls. And they call him deviant.

He hears the door to the balcony close and footsteps on the stairs. He looks into his coffee. Fandral finally has everything he thought would never be his - and lost the immortality he thought would always be his birthright. And even if he is pardoned at some point before he dies, or before Jessica and Doug dies, he will never have the opportunity to make them Aesir. Oh, if Fandral was an Aesir woman in love with a Midgardian man, the Diar might allow his Midgardian lover to be tested. But Fandral is argr.

"I'm in," Fandral whispers, even though he doesn't know precisely what he's in for.

"In what?" says Jessica.

Fandral raises an eyebrow at Jessica and then Loki in Darcy's body and says, "Why I've just agreed to go to a boring grown up dinner with Loki and his fiance. We'll sit forever and talk about boring things and probably eat snails!"

Jessica sticks out her tongue. "Ewwwww! Do I get to stay with Nonni?" she says referring to her open minded maternal grandmother.

"I'm sure Nonni would love to have you over," says Doug. He's smiling ear to ear and his eyes are alight with real happiness. He has always complained that Fandral should come out to his friends.

The frost giant that is Darcy is smiling, too. "We love going out to eat - especially when snails are involved."

Jessica makes a raspberry and Darcy the frost giant laughs.

Loki is scowling. Over the centuries he's referred to Fandral as boring, shallow, stupid, vain and self-interested among other things. "Fine," Loki says. And then she looks at Darcy the frost giant. "Let's go home. The blue popsicle melting over there is reminding me that I want one."

Doug coughs. Fandral drops his coffee with a crash and Loki laughs, light and feminine.

"What?" Darcy the frost giant says. "It's summer? We have popsicles." But the grin on his face tells a not so innocent story. Humans are nearly identical to Asgardians in appearance. How Darcy can let her body be touched by a frost giant - how she could deign to be one even temporarily, Fandral does not understand.

He shakes his head. Deviants.

x x x x

"Where is the toothpaste?" Darcy says looking around the sink. Loki and Darcy are just back from Vanaheim. They took a Stark craft and space travel always makes her feel dehydrated and like something is dying in her mouth. It's near 4 a.m., but she doesn't feel tired at all.

It's been six years since the first trip to Jotunheim, but the other realms are finally opening up. Besides Vanaheim and Svartheim, she's been to Nilflheim, the land of primoridial ice, and Alfheim too - it turns out the elf queen wanted some of the same clocks Loki traded with the dwarves and was willing to end his 100 year banishment. Darcy never thought wind up timepieces could be so popular, but Loki says sometimes it's nice to rely on something that isn't magical.

Darcy is always one of the first humans to get to any new realm. She's very famous now.

A Loki double pops up behind her in the mirror. She knows it's a double because Loki leaves them slightly translucent so she doesn't try to wrap her arms around them and meet only empty air. She always found it more disturbing than funny when it happened.

"Have you looked in the refrigerator?" says the Loki double.

Staring at the double in the mirror, toothbrush in her hand she says, "Why do you keep putting my stuff in the refrigerator?"

Leaning forward, the Loki double says, "I don't. You do it and forget. I have no idea why."

Darcy scowls and the double rolls his eyes. "Fine, fine, fine. You know, I can't help myself. God of Mischief and all that."

Darcy smiles and then catches her reflection in the mirror. Her hair hasn't really grayed any more - but her face looks so...old.

"Stop it," says the double stepping forward and putting an air kiss on her cheek. "You're lovely - even if you do look a little tired."

Being tired doesn't help, but she's almost 51 years old and it's beginning to show. Darcy gives him the evil eye and walks through him to the kitchen. Sure enough, the toothpaste is in the refrigerator.

Upstairs she hears Loki "unpacking" some crates from the little pocket in space time he carries around with him. She can see him in her mind's eye. Lean and beautiful as ever.

The past six years have been good. An old woman once told Darcy, "It doesn't matter who you're with. There's always the same amount of shit, it's just different shit, and how you fight about it." Loki and Darcy, like David and Darcy, fight well. The worst names they've ever called each other are "Frosty" and "Minion."

But unlike with David, the spectre of her aging hangs over Darcy's head. She doesn't even think Loki sees it, which is frustrating. She's just waiting...for what she doesn't know. A sign? Loki doesn't really need her anymore. His nightmares are receding. She should end it...

Shaking her head, she puts some toothpaste on her brush and wanders back to the bathroom. She's just rinsing out her mouth when she hears Loki coming down the spiral staircase that he put in so he didn't have to teleport between his "office" and their apartment.

Her cell rings in her pocket, and she blinks. Expecting someone in another realm, or at least in a different timezone on Earth, she pulls it out of her pocket. She blinks again. It's Fandral. Since their self-imposed introduction to Doug, Doug and Fandral have become one of Loki and Darcy's favorite dinner partners. Loki thinks Fandral is mostly boring and shallow, but he likes Doug well enough and Darcy thinks Fandral is funny.

Maybe there is an emergency and they need someone to watch Jessica? Darcy clicks her phone. "Hello?"

"Darcy," Fandral says. "You're back." He takes a deep breath. "I need you to bring Loki over to Morningside Park as soon as you can."

"At this time of morning?" says Darcy.

"Yes, it should be empty," Fandral says as though under his breath.

"Should I come? It sounds dangerous," Darcy says. She doesn't want to get in their way.

Loki pokes his head in. "Is something wrong?" he says, his lovely blue brow furrowed, his hair falling forward and curling around his ears. So beautiful and perfect as always. And even with the concern in his voice he isn't the dark person he was when they first met. The darkness in him during that first awful Chitauri invasion, and even during his recovery when he lost his powers and they first met a distant memory.

There is a long intake of breath at the other end of the line. "Yes," Fandral says, "you should come. It will be dangerous. Please, Darcy - as quickly as you can. Loki will need you."

And then the line goes dead.


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 21 of 26

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