Continuing Tales


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 8 of 26

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Darcy sits in the "office," the third bedroom of the apartment her little family has lived in all of these years.

Against one wall is a bookshelf that is David's, not hers. It is filled with books bound in black cloth, neatly labelled and organized by date. In them he keeps all of his random inspirations and design puzzles he's worked out after dinner.

The rest of the office is Darcy's. Children's pictures, her own art, free promo postcards she's picked up, and odds and ends line the walls. She has a filing cabinet filled with paints, pastels, and crayons of all types. Against one wall leans a portfolio filled with all sorts of exotic papers; she scans them, merges them with her photos and uses them for 'texture.' A large wooden desk from the 1950s that she and David found in the trash faces the window. Always good with his hands, David cleaned it up for her, and it actually looks very modern and quite chic. On it are two enormous monitors.

It's mid morning. The boys are at school and David is at work. Normally she'd be playing with photoshop right now, but she is watching CNN instead and becoming increasingly alarmed.

They are playing a video taken a few hours ago of a fire that broke out in the Adirondacks. A giant horned creature is in the thick of it, facing off against a man in armor who looks comparatively small...and blue. In the video feed the horned giant sends fire in the blue man's direction and the blue man's armor leaps into flame. Despite that a swirl of green pulses in the armored man's hands, it whips up towards the giant creature, the screen goes black, there is a flicker, and Darcy is staring at the announcer.

"That is the end of our footage. However, we've confirmed that the fire in the Adirondacks and been contained, and there is no sign of what our mythological consultants have labelled a 'Fire Demon'. We don't have confirmation on the identity of mutant or alien in the footage, but SHIELD has come forward to say he was working on behalf of the Avengers Initiative. Now for a report on how the stock market is reacting..."

Darcy puts the computer on mute. Her cell rings and she jumps. Pulling it from her pocket she sees the number and her eyes widen.

Tapping to accept she holds it to her ear. "Darcy," she says.

Steve's voice crackles on the line. "Glad I caught you."

"Is he okay?" Darcy says.

She hears Steve take a deep breath. "He'll live."

Her body relaxes. A little.

There is the sound of engines on the line and Steve says, "But...well, we're all being shipped out on the Helicarrier now, and I was wondering if you could check in on him? Since you guys are still so close."

"Close..." Darcy repeats softly.

"Yeah, he's always telling me what you and the kids are up to. The science fair project they did on Dark Matter - did he help with that?"

She hasn't spoken to Loki in months...maybe almost a year now, and she'd know if David had lunch with Morgenstern.

Darcy closes her eyes. She blogged about the boys' preparations for the science fair just two days ago. Loki has been reading her mommy blog after all.

"No, no..." she says. She hears an intake of breath at the other end and she says, "I mean, yes, I'll go in to see him. Of course." She's already out of her chair, walking towards the door.

"Thanks, Darcy," Steve says. "I've gotta go."

Darcy's slipping on her shoes in the tiny foyer as the line goes dead. She looks up in the mirror there and checks to see if the long ponytail she's sporting today is at least neat. The sun is slanting in from across the apartment at just the wrong angle. The crows feet around her eyes are hidden a little bit by her glasses, and the bangs over her forehead hide the lines there, but in the sun's harsh beam the laugh lines around her mouth are deep and noticeable. She looks all of her 40 years.

It's not something she can help. She grabs her coat.

x x x x

Darcy raps gently at the bedroom door at the suite in the Avengers mansion.

"Come in!" says a very irritated voice.

Darcy pushes the door open slowly. Loki is lying in bed, a sheet up to his chest. He's not wearing any a shirt and what shows of his arms and chest is an angry purplish color. There is a cloud of green hovering all around him. He is looking out the window, but as she comes into the room he rolls his head around to look at her. His eyes go wide and he smiles. "Darcy!"

Darcy walks over to the bed and winces. In the purple skin are some striations that look like the markings on his face, but what hurts to look at are the large ovoid blisters interspersed over his arms, shoulders, neck and on one side of his face. Catching her eyes he scowls, "It isn't thatbad. It's well on its way to being a first degree burn."

Swallowing, Darcy says, "That's so comforting."

"Come, come. It's really nothing, I've experienced far worse..." A shadow falls across his face. It's only there a heartbeat, but it is enough to chill Darcy's heart. As her friendship with Jane has deepened over the years, Jane has let things slip, things about what happened to Loki between the time he tried to destroy Jotunheim, and when he tried to take over Earth. No real details per se, just that Loki was tortured physically, emotionally and chemically. Jane said Thor didn't believe even he could withstand it, and Loki was already reeling from finding out he was a frost giant.

She doesn't know what to say, but then Loki smiles, and it is surprisingly genuine. "And now I have the pleasure of your company!"

She looks at his burns. "You can teleport and take other forms; can't you make yourself better faster?" Her voice sounds angrier than she means it to be.

He sighs. "If I'd burned myself on the stove, of course. But this is a magical burn." He shrugs and then winces.

"Oh, Loki." It comes out as a sigh.

He winks. "At least you look good."

She raises an eyebrow at the obvious lie.

Tilting his head he says, "What's worse than the burns is the fact that I'm bored out of my mind. Sit down. Talk to me for a while."

Darcy sits a little gingerly at the edge of the bed and looks down at his purple blistery arm and hand. His pinky and ring finger are tapping a little nervously. They seem to be the only part of him not touched by the flames. Her stomach does a flip flop that isn't love or lust but worry.

But he doesn't need that from her. Putting on her game face, she meets his eyes. "What were you thinking?"

Looking relieved he smiles again. The nervous tapping of his fingers stops. "That Earth is my dominion and no Fire Demon is allowed to stake a claim."

Darcy raises an eyebrow. "Your dominion?"

Loki shrugs and then winces. Through clenched teeth he mutters. "God of Chaos...I own this place...haven't you noticed?"

Darcy huffs a laugh. Opening one eye, Loki favors her with another smile. "But enough about me. How did the boys' science fair project go?"

"They are going to the state finals," Darcy says.

"How exciting," says Loki. They talk about the boys for a while. Loki seems to hang on every word, which seems odd for a So-Called-God of Chaos. But then he says, "Talking to you brings back such memories of my days with Sigyn and raising our own sons."

Darcy wants to ask him about that, but before she can he says, "And the Neatness-Nazi? Is he well?"

Darcy blinks. "Did he tell you I gave him that nickname?"

Loki waggles his eyebrows and smiles mischievously.

Rolling her eyes, Darcy says, "He's fine." She smiles. Things between her husband and her really do seem okay - not perfect, but happy enough. Most of the things she hates about him she can laugh about. Like how he is constantly reorganizing the office so that she can find her stuff better - his pursuit, he says, "Of ze perfect zystem". Of course, by constantly reorganizing things he makes it harder to find stuff - and makes her want to stab him in the eye with a pencil. But it's still funny. Mostly. She drives him crazy for not caring if things are organized, so they're pretty much even.

She's at the age where she's seen a lot of couples in their cohort getting divorced, and she doesn't think she and David are near that. He still spoils her on anniversaries, Christmas, Mother's Day, her birthday - heck, he still insists they do something together on the anniversary of the day they met. They should have sex more. That's her fault, she should fix it...but she's so tired most of the time, and putting maintenance sex on a to-do list seems so wrong. When they do finally get together, things are usually really great.

She blinks. Loki is smirking at her. "I'm glad to know things between you are good." He looks down and the smirk disappears. "Things between my brother and Jane are not so good, I think."

Darcy's face goes slack. "Yes," she says quietly. "I've noticed that, too."

Loki purses his lips. "Do you know what's wrong, Darcy? I'm at a loss."

Darcy looks at his unburned fingers, very close to her own. She does know. She takes a breath, and says quietly. "Jane is getting older, and Thor is not."

Loki is quiet. Darcy looks up his face. His brow is slightly furrowed.

Darcy shrugs. "She's still beautiful now, but she still looks older than him and soon - she feels like she is holding him back, that he's stuck with her and he won't be attracted to her, that she'll just be a burden."

She looks out the window. She remembers talking about this very subject with David. When she told him how Odin wouldn't acknowledge Thor's marriage to Jane, David's exact words were, "The godz suck."

Loki curls his two unburned fingers around hers. "Darcy," he says. "You must tell her that isn't true. She's thinking like a mortal."

Darcy looks down at their fingers a moment. Tightening her fingers around his, she says, "She is mortal."

His voice heavy, Loki says, "And her life is very short. Every moment Thor can spend with her is a gift. If she leaves him - he will miss it all. It will be devastating."

Darcy looks up and he smirks. "You must tell her I said that. If it comes from her wicked brother in-law, she has to believe it."

Darcy stares down again at their entwined fingers. Jane doesn't believe Loki is evil, but Darcy doesn't fight him on that. "I will," she says.

Loki is quiet a moment. He gives her fingers a squeeze and then he suddenly says, "Are David and the boys going to space camp this year?"

Darcy blinks at the change of subject and looks up. "Yes, they are." Her sons are just old enough to do the NASA Astronaut Training program with their father. The three of them have been looking forward to it for years.

"Excellent, excellent," says Loki with a smile. "Tell me more."

Darcy tilts her head. Long ago she'd told him she suspected Steve of living vicariously through her. Really though, it hits her that Loki is much worse. What had Loki said? That Steve had chosen a path that he wanted and believed in, but living vicariously through Darcy made it easier to follow.

Darcy swallows. Her face hard, she says, "Loki, what games are you up to?"

The easy smile on his face drops. He looks down at their hands. "Why, chaos, Darcy. Chaos of course." He smirks and looks up at her. He winks and whispers, "Perfect chaos."

Darcy narrows her eyes at his theatrics. "Nothing is perfect."

He grins like a school boy. "No, no, no, it isn't, is it?" He waggles his eyebrows and says, "There is always a price to be paid!"

Smile not shrinking, he says. "Now, tell me about space camp. If I was human, I would love to go."

Darcy purses her lips, and glares a moment. She tells him. But the words "price to be paid" weigh heavy on her mind.

x x x x

Darcy and David are on the freeway in upstate New York. They're on their way to visit some friends, old work associates of David's. Darcy is watching the trees roll by as David drives. After being in the city for months on end they seem so wild and exotic.

She's thinking about her last visit with Loki. It had been so much more comfortable than when he popped in from Jutunheim. He'd held her hand with his two fingers the whole time. Just before she'd left he'd interlaced all of his fingers with hers and grinned. "See, better already?" His skin had felt too hot, but Darcy didn't argue with him. Just kissed his good cheek and been on her way. And it was fine. No nightmares. She's just too married and boring now.

She looks over at her husband and smiles. He shifts his grip on the steering wheel. His brow is a little furrowed behind the glasses he wears now. He's very quiet. Which is weird. Usually he wants her to chat with him, which can get painful if he gets too deep into a topic such as the ideal aluminum content of galvanized steel.

"What's up?" she asks.

His grip shifts on the steering wheel again. "I think I know what they're working on, in the Vault," David says.

He still hasn't been given access to that project, but he'd seemed so happy working on the astronaut interfaces for the asteroid mines and fuel up stations. Darcy sits up straighter in her seat. "Oh," she says.

"It'z not something different, it is all part of the moon project..." He shakes his head.

Darcy hears a rattling outside the car behind them.

Her brow furrows, not following his train of thought. The moon project is Stark Industries' famous boondoggle. They're planning on putting solar panels on the moon and then using super high-tech batteries to store the energy and shuttle it down to Earth. Their stock has been steadily falling over the years. There just isn't enough neodymium, dysprosium, or other precious metals on Earth to build the batteries.

"But they're doing it wrong. If they want to do what I think they want to do, the shuttlez they're building...the storage cylinders are wrong. The fuel tank is too large, they don't need as much fuel...the trip will be shorter..." David says.

The rattling outside gets louder, but Darcy doesn't turn her head. She's confused. The shuttles are common knowledge, not some top secret project.

"What are you talking about?" Darcy says.

David turns his head to the side and meets her eyes. "The design iz all wrong, the shuttlez will be torn apart by the stress -"

There is a loud clanging noise. David and Darcy both look ahead as a flatbed semi carrying narrow steel bars pulls in front of them. Darcy sees the words Heimdall Trucking Lines. And then the next few moments are a blur that last an eternity.

One of the steel tubes is suddenly flying through the air directly in Darcy's direction. The car swerves, there is the crash of glass, a streak of gray, the smell of metal and rubber and blood and the car is skidding, but not spinning, and Darcy is shrieking, but she can't turn her head or look or see what is going on.

When the car finally stops she lifts her eyes. She's dimly aware of people running forward outside of the car. She's in pain, but not. The windshield isn't there...there is a bar to her left. Her eyes go over to David. The steering wheel is a tangled knot too close to his stomach...the metal bar that flew through the windshield is protruding from his abdomen.

"Darcy?" he whispers. His hands are on his stomach, his head is back...his seat is nearly in full recline from the force of the blow.

Darcy is somehow out of her seatbelt. She is saying things; she doesn't know what they are.

"Pro..." whispers David. ""

"Promise, promise, promise, anything, David! Anything!" she's murmuring or shrieking, she's not sure.

"Liebst du," he murmurs.

Hands are lifting Darcy out of the car, pulling her away, voices rolling over her like water. Somewhere a woman is screaming.

Later she will realize it is her.


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 8 of 26

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