Continuing Tales

A Morbid Taste for Ice

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by sitehound

Part 15 of 39

<< Previous     Home     Next >>

Wednesday morning started off well, even though Darcy was seriously considering rescinding Loki's invite to sleep in the bed. The problem with sharing a bed with a Prince of Asgard was that "share" wasn't a part of the royal lexicon. Probably accustomed to a bed the size of her bedroom, Loki soon went from cuddly to megalomaniac intent on taking over the bed.

Early on, she staved off his unconscious Manifest Destiny of the bed with hard jabs to the ribs. But by about four AM, he slipped into Loki-coma and became an immovable collection of long arms and legs. In the weak morning light, she lay on the very edge of the bed, eyes on the Taser on the dresser, comforting herself with the fantasy of lighting the God of Sprawl up like Christmas with 50K volts of electricity.

He was saved from a very sparky awakening by the sight of the rose on the side table, which had lost another petal, but was still crimson gorgeous in the morning light. Reminded that he was only irritating 90-percent of the time, and occasionally adorable, she got up and with one last longing look at the Taser, went about starting the day.

Around forty-five minutes later, she exacted a small revenge when she woke him, jumping up and down on the bed (and sometimes - oops! - on him) and yelling, "Earthquake. It's the end of the world. Armageddon, doomsday, zombiepocalypse. Earthquake!"

By the fourth iteration of her chant, his eyes opened a crack. A hand clamped around her ankle, yanking her off balance, and suddenly she was on her back, him above her, her hands held to the bed by his. The bed was still shaking from her efforts.

"The noble cockroach is too good for you," he said. "In light of your aptitude for leaping, I should turn you into a flea."

She stared up at him, stunned, a flush of fear sending panicky tremors through her muscles. His words didn't frighten her; she could see the humor in his eyes. What sent adrenaline through her system was how fast he'd subdued her, the overpowering and abrupt sense of helplessness she felt, trapped under him, his grip abnormally strong. The combination of inhuman strength and his utter maleness triggered a deep-seated and formerly well-buried memory. She twisted and pulled futilely in his powerful grip. "Let go."

And he did, so quickly that her arms flailed downward in surprised freedom. The logical section of her mind protested her overreaction. This was Loki - her Loki? - the guy she'd invited into her bed and who'd been an annoyingly perfect gentleman. If his kink was rape, he'd already had plenty of chances in the wee hours of the night when the household was asleep. Even with his spluttering magic and broken brain, he was probably still too powerful to find any sport in forcing himself on a woman whose only defense was a smart ass mouth.

In that moment, though, he wasn't just Loki; his aggressive posture filled her head with images of someone else. Dumb animal terror reigned over reason. "Get the fuck off me!" she snarled.

For a fleeting moment, hurt and confusion took over his face, and then he slipped behind the usual frigid mask. He pushed himself to his hands and knees, gaze on her. His cool exterior cracked as realization moved behind his eyes; his eyes narrowed, angry and looking at her but not quite seeing her.

Heart still racing at breakneck speed, she turned her gaze to the ceiling, to the spot of texture that looked like dragon. She wasn't sure which was worse. The brief wounded look on his face or that he knew what had made her come unglued. Feeling him retreating, physically and emotionally, her mind fumbled through the remains of fear, trying to find calm. She rose onto her elbows. If she didn't do something, he might decide she was a stupid girl, prone to idiot hysterics, or even worse, fragile.

Grabbing his arm, she said, "Hey, I, uh, it's not you." She let go. "Well, it is, sort of. You're scary strong. And scary..." He arched an eyebrow at her and she thought she saw a hint of humor returning. "The super speed wrestling move freaked me out."

His answer was to reach to her, hands on either side of her face, and kiss her forehead. "I know." With that he moved off her and flopped on his back at her side. He heaved a sigh and closed his eyes.

Darcy, still on her elbows, looked down at him. "So terrorizing stupid mortals isn't entertaining enough to wake you up?"

His mouth twitched and she got a glimpse of green eyes. "As you might say, 'Been there, done that, got bored.'" He shut his eyes again. "And you are not stupid."

With grin, she sank back into the bed, her shoulder against his, their heads sharing the same pillow. Concentrating on deep breaths, she worked to calm her heartbeat. "Have your mornings always been sponsored by a shit-load of caffeine, or is this new?"

His head tilted slightly in her direction, eyes opened sleepily. "My sleeping habits have always been erratic. Of late, however, I can't seem to fall asleep and when I do, waking is a misery."

"Maybe you need a warm glass of milk before bed," offered Darcy. "Or...a lot more wine."

"Right. Alcoholism. Because one can never have too many vices."

"In the new politically correct world, alcoholism isn't a vice, it's a disease." He snorted at that. "Can you or Thor even get addicted?"

"We are capable of the same excesses as mortals, but with much more dramatic results."

"Several million dollars in damage to buildings, infrastructure, Starbucks franchises, dramatic," agreed Darcy.

"And I was completely sober."

Darcy was about to ask if one could get drunk on crazy when the door to Jane's room opened with light squeak. Jane's voice said, "Are you sure you didn't leave it in the living room?"

"Well, no," was Thor's reply. "It was in your room the last I remember it, before we, uh..."

Jane tittered. Loki and Darcy looked at each other and rolled their eyes in tandem. Anticipating his snide comment, Darcy said, "iPad. They're looking for Jane's iPad, not Thor's brain." The search for the disappearing tech was a regular routine in the household. Loki claimed he had nothing to do with the vanishing iPad. Darcy almost, but not quite, believed him.

Thor and Jane's voices faded as they moved toward the living room and kitchen. A minute later, Jane appeared in Darcy's doorway. "Have you seen...?"

Darcy sat up and met Jane's confused and mildly embarrassed stare. "You need to LoJack that thing," she observed. "And no, we haven't seen your iPad." Loki hadn't moved, gaze on the ceiling, apparently oblivious to Jane's presence.

"Are we sure?" said Jane directing the question at Loki, with surprising boldness.

The only thing that moved on Loki was his mouth, into a nasty sneer. "The very manner in which you organize your life and belongings is so suffuse with chaos and disorder that I'd risk tearing apart the very fabric of the universe by introducing more."

Darcy snorted a laugh before she could stop herself.

Jane ran her fingers through shower-damp hair and smiled darkly. "He may have a point," she admitted. "What are you two doing, anyway?"

"Debating what color to paint the ceiling," said Darcy. "I say a warm beige with more sunflowers." She used her thumb to point at Loki, who remained immobile. "He, of course, votes for green."

Jane shook her head, wearily. "I think I liked you two better when you were at each other's throats. Now you're like two co-conspirators."

"I found it!" said Thor's triumphant bass from the living room and Jane hurried away.

Loki stared unblinking at the ceiling. With a tilt of the head, he said, "Green might work."

"Yuck." She picked up another pillow and dropped it on his face. "Get up before the queen of the lab gets back."

Shoving the pillow aside, he sat up. "I thought you were queen of the lab."

"I am." She shot a nervous glance at the door. "But when she's PMS-ing, I let her have the crown for a few days. Keep the peace, you know?"

"Peace. Yuck." He was now staring at the door, most of the sleep gone from his eyes.

Darcy wasn't sure if he was joking. She also wasn't sure if she cared. As she contemplated the moral (or was is immoral?) implications of going all squishy for a supervillain, Loki exacted his revenge for the rude awakening.

His sneaky smile should have been the clue that he was up to no good. He didn't use magic or any guile. He just put his mouth on hers and woke up parts of her body that had gone into hibernation from lack of use. His left arm pulled her closer to his heat, his right hand found her left breast, thumb tracing wide circles over the ample upper curve. Any of her previous fears dissipated since this felt totally safe and completely sexy.

She went limp in his arms as ferocious, aching need pooled between her thighs. She wanted to tell him to magic the door shut, and do more than kiss her, but his mouth exerted the perfect combination of fierce pressure and tantalizing gentleness that she couldn't speak. Apparently, at some point, he'd found his memories of kissing.

And then he was gone. Sauntering out the door, or at least as much as Loki sauntered in the morning, leaving her panting and gaping with need on her bed. She grabbed a pillow to throw at him, but he was already in his room.

Without any other recourse, she glared at him through breakfast, until Thor finally asked, "Loki, what have you done this time?" Loki, who had developed a sudden fascination with the morning parade of New Mexico's best and worst criminals, as reported on the morning television news, turned and favored Thor with a wide-eyed, baffled shrug.

"Ah, that look," said Thor, rubbing a hand over his beard. "What did he do, Darcy?"

"More like what he didn't do," grumbled Darcy. She really wanted to tell Thor that his little brother had revved her up like a race car and then left her idling alone on the track, but Jane's world-weary expression stopped her. She really didn't want another lecture.

When they left the house, Loki waited for her on the porch and walked down the steps with her. "Oh, go on," he said silkily, "You're not that angry."

Biting back a smile, she marched angrily to the vehicle. She only managed to sulk a couple minutes before something on the side of the road caught her eye. They were about a mile down the road, approaching the four-way intersection where the south side of the roadway and nearby properties were a charcoaled monument to a recent wildfire. "Check it out." Reaching across the seat, she plucked at his sleeve. He looked up from some light reading, Scientific American, and out the window where she pointed. "Somebody is fixing up one of the burned-out buildings."

The SUV inched up to the stop sign, and they all turned their attention to the burn scar and the lot on the southeast corner. A red van with a trailer was parked near the remains of a large hay barn. Lumber, two-by-fours, sheathing and other construction stuff was loaded in the back of the trailer. A man was setting up a table saw nearby, while another un-spooled hose from a small gas-powered air compressor.

Loki eyed the operation dubiously. "Wouldn't it be wiser to demolish the building altogether and begin anew?"

"I think so," said Jane. "I don't know much about construction, but the fire must have made the building structurally unsound."

"Perhaps," offer Thor, "they are being 'green?'" He turned to Jane. "That's the word, isn't it? Green?" She nodded. "It's a large building, a good deal of wood to reuse."

Loki sneered at the back of Thor's head, obviously ready to express his disdain for that theory, but Darcy poked him in the ribs before he could voice his vicious thoughts. The four stared a little longer at the new project, before Jane drove on and Darcy grinned at the idea of the physicist, her assistant and the two princes gawping like ordinary nosy neighbors. A glance back at their security escort in the black SUV showed that the guards were similarly distracted. Make the same drive five days a week and anything different is fascinating.


There were something to be said for boring. It was a huge improvement over been hauled to Director Fury's office by a super spy/assassin for a grilling over her latest crime. Over the course of the morning, the phone had only run twice: one call from Jane's Japanese scientist friends, and the second from Erik. Thor's Angry Birds addiction was back with a vengeance, with everyone rolling their eyes at him, or, in Loki's case, leveling scathing glances his way.

The only excitement had occurred when Loki's latest equation, when run on a particular batch of data, stripped all the color from Darcy's computer screen, while making the Fish Bowl's fluorescent lights emit a constantly changing spectrum of color, from purple to orange.

Thor smiled up at the lights, his handsome face beaming delight. "It's like the BiFrost!" Loki scowled, but Jane's eyes lit up and she spent the morning excitedly reexamining the data. Loki got the lights back to white by rearranging the equation so that it took the solution and broke it back out into the original data. Darcy, however, discovered that the only cure for the whacked-out screen was to pull the video card out of the computer and reinstall it again.

Loki, whose magical solutions had only managed to turn the screen into various shades of one-color monochrome, grinned wearily, ruffled her hair and said, "An inelegant solution, but a solution nonetheless." Feeling a surge of pride, she watched his reflection in the glass wall as he sat, slumped over his original equation, trying to sort out what went wrong.

The tippy-tap of little feet announced the arrival of the gray lizard as it scampered along her desk. "Aren't you an illusion? How do you make noise?" The little beast's only answer was the customary perusal of her chest. Darcy swatted lazily at the magical voyeur and it scurried away. Her stomach growled loudly and she opened her email and sent a message to Sean. "Hey. Will your mom, a.k.a. Nick Fury, let you come out and play?"

Sean responded with, "He says you're a bad influence."

"So lunch is out?"

"Ten minutes. Break room?"

The new guard assigned to their floor, Deloris McHugh, obviously a card-carrying member of the Loki-Guilt-by-Association party, turned a sour expression on Darcy as she made for the elevator. With her warm mahogany skin tone, green eyes and striking bone structure, Deloris would have been pretty if not for the permanent lemon-sucking expression on her face.

Darcy's first impulse was to point out, nastily, that Botox was supposed to prevent frown lines, not make them. Instead, in honor of Max and Andy's memory, she took a deep breath, forced a smile and asked if she could get the guard anything from the break room. Deloris surprised her by grudgingly asking for a coffee.

"Tased any drunks lately?" asked Pam when Darcy stepped out of the lift at Floor One.

"I've upgraded. Now I'm blowing things up."

Pam laughed. "Right. Your psycho houseguest is rubbing off on you."

"Like a rash," Darcy agreed, with an embarrassed smirk.

The two nondescript agents in black suits were back, seated in their preferred space in the corner of the breakroom. Sean was standing at their table, chatting. The three men noted her entrance, but only Sean acknowledged her, smiling his quiet smile. Darcy wondered if the two men were just glorified bureaucrats rather than spies, since they seemed to spend too much time in town to be doing anything very James Bond.

A few tables away, Sarah and Cammie, the lab assistants from Floor Four, watched Sean like lovesick teens. Darcy scored icy nods from them, which, honestly, was an improvement over the usual pissy glares.

Sean nodded goodbye to the two men and moved to meet her at the vending machines. The bruises under his eyes had faded, and the whites of his eyes only marred by a few flecks of red vessels. But his posture was shadowed with a new weariness.

There was a new vending machine that dispensed Indian food. Darcy got a plate of saag paneer with rice. Dinner that night was going to be greasy pizza. She figured she needed something green to balance her diet. Sean, however, eyed the largely vegetarian fare, made a face and said, "Top of the food chain, I eat meat," and got a Rueben sandwich and a coffee.

After she'd heated her meal in the microwave, they sat and began to eat. "You've got fan girls," noted Darcy, with a not-so-subtle jerk of the head towards Sarah and Cammie.

"If those two," he said, blue eyes narrowing, mouth in an angry line, "spent as much time doing science as they did telling stories about you and Loki, they'd have a found a cure for every disease known to humankind."

"Stories, huh?" Darcy took a sip of her drink, ice tea. "Like, naughty bedtime stories?"

"Definitely not Disney." He slid a dark glance in the women's direction. "I wouldn't worry about it, Darcy." With a shrug, he said, "Even if it was true, it's none of their damn business."

She studied his face, eyes moving over his strong cheekbones, the shape of his mouth, detecting no jealousy. "I have a confession to make." She took in the room, wondering if there were listening devices or cameras secreted in the corners and under tables. Probably, but what she was going to say wasn't exactly a surprise to SHIELD anyway.

Sean grinned. "This sounds serious."

Taking a bite of food for courage, she chewed swallowed and then said, "Loki and I aren't lovers, but I don't exactly hate him. In fact, we're kind of friends."

Sean response was a bigger grin. "Well, duh."

"It's that obvious?"

He plucked a sugar packet from the little black plastic box in the center of the table and moved it through his fingers the way a stage magician would a coin. "Well, you've never outright said, 'I hate Loki.' You complain about his weird habits, but you haven't tried to get him kicked out of the house."

"Like that would happen."

"Yeah," Sean said, tearing the sugar open and dumping it into his coffee, "I think it would. If you wanted him out today, he'd be gone last week. When you get your teeth into an idea, you're like a shark."

"A shark? That's better than rat or insect." To Sean's baffled look, she said, "Inside joke. So do you hate me?"

His vivid blue eyes looked right then left and then focused on her. " don't hate Loki?" She nodded. "I don't know the person you know. I know what he's done, but I don't have a personal connection to the events here, in town, or in New York." A question started to burn in his eyes. "If you think he's changed..."

She pushed the fork through her lunch, looking for little bits of cheese. "I don't know. Thor seems to think he's improved."

"Thor's not exactly a reliable character witness," said Sean, smile fading.

Pam and another SHIELD guard walked into the break room. Darcy waved and Sean looked over his shoulder and waved too. "I think he's changed, a little," said Darcy, "But he's still Loki, all mischief and chaos. I mean, he's like a ga-gillion years old. Even with all the money in Asgard, he probably still couldn't buy a clue about what it is to be human." As she spoke, the realization of what she was saying set in.

Sean nodded. "Neither could Thor."

She started to say that Thor was different, but stopped. Amiable Thor seemed human, but Sean was right. He'd been shaped by the same forces as Loki, century after long century. It really was easy, living with the two brothers, in a totally mundane context, to forget that they were actually, for all intents and purposes, as alien as a Chitauri.

"Loki is a total PITA," she said. Sean looked confused. "Pain-In-The-Ass. But other than the time he dyed my laundry Grinch green, he's never done anything all that bad to me. Sometimes...sometimes he's almost nice."

"Like when you hurt your leg?" he said with a knowing smile.

"Yeah." She laughed. "What don't you know about around here?"

"Very little." He smiled, a real smile with teeth. "Everything, money and information, trickles through accounting and the admin offices." The smile shifted, turning sort of wry. "And for some reason, people tell me stuff. Even stuff I really don't want to know."

"Sean O'Malley, accountant and priest confessor." No doubt, some people tried to get past his pleasant but impenetrable walls with Trojan horses made of their secrets. They thought he'd open up if they went into too-much-information mode. Darcy had sized-up Sean early on and knew the ploy wouldn't work. Besides, she had her secrets and wasn't about to begrudge him his.

He responded to her comment with a fleeting smile. "Since we're in the confessional," he said, making the sign of the cross with the practiced ease of a Catholic, "I should have told you this earlier." He sort of squirmed, an out-of-character gesture for him. "I'm...I'm not exactly over my ex."

"Ex? Wife?"


Darcy took a few more bites of her lunch. That explained a lot. "Any chance you'll get back together?" It was probably none of her business, but that didn't stop her mouth from moving.

"No." He met her eyes and she gulped, taken back by the wrenching pain on his handsome face. "She passed away."

"I'm sorry." She broke away from his stare, feeling like a jerk for asking. No wonder he was so totally unavailable.

"Don't be. It wasn't your fault." He reached across the table and squeezed her hand, briefly. When she looked up his attention was firmly on his lunch. She studied him, his long fingers and raw-boned beauty, and grimly acknowledge she definitely had a type. Beautiful, broken men.

"You know," said Sean after a few minutes of silence, "if there's a club for people who blow up small towns, you, me and Loki are now charter members."

"We're more like unwilling accomplices, since it was Edwards who actually set up the bomb."

"Fury said Edwards did some kind of demolitions work when he was in the military. He probably still had some connections, underground connections, that allowed him to get the plastic explosives he used for his security system."

"Fury said Edwards had PTSD, right?" said Darcy.

Sean rubbed his fingers gingerly through his hair, obviously avoiding the gash on his scalp. "You must be rubbing off on me because after you left, I starting asking Fury questions about Edwards and King."

"Welcome to the dark side, my young apprentice."

"Edwards Heating and Cooling, the building anyway, only sustained minor damage from Loki's attack. But beyond that, Edwards didn't have any connection to Loki. No friends or family injured or killed in either attack."

"What about King?"

"He lost an uncle in New York, and a friend on the SHIELD Helicarrier."

"But King is now the one with an extra hole in his head."

Sean nodded. "It doesn't make sense, does it?"

Darcy watched Sarah and Cammie as they picked up the napkins, cardboard coffee cups and plates from their lunch and dumped them in the red rubbish bin by the front counter. Detectives in novels and on-screen always made it look so easy, putting together disparate connections and solving the crime with aplomb. What did Edwards exploding his own business have to do with Loki and the murders? What about the traces of magic in the building and maps of the SHIELD facility? Perhaps Edwards had nothing to do with the Andy and Max's deaths?

"Was Edwards having money troubles?" she asked. "Maybe he bought a fat life insurance policy for King."

"Or maybe it's a case of property insurance fraud. Blow up the building, collect a payoff." He shrugged. "Not a smart way to approach it, though. If the investigation turns up the bomb, the insurer won't pay."

"Except SHIELD is involved and the official cause of the explosion is a gas leak," noted Darcy.

"I can run a credit check on both men," Sean offered. "Poke around a little."

"Would you? Thanks." Fury said she wasn't supposed to do any more investigating. She decided not to ask if Sean was operating under the same prohibition.

They ate in companionable silence for a while. As she stabbed the last chunk of cheese in the saag paneer, she asked, "You okay? You look really tired."

He didn't seem to have heard her, instead reaching for his coffee cup. Lifting it, he stared at it and she realized it was empty. His hand clenched on the tan cardboard surface and then he set it down. A few tables away, Pam and the other guard laughed at something and the sound felt oddly jarring.

"My mom's not doing too well," he said, blue eyes intent on the cup. Out of habit, he raked his finger through his hair and winced, obviously hitting the cut on his scalp. "My sister's freaked out. She's never seen her this bad."

Although he'd never gotten into the details, he had told her that his mother suffered from some kind of mental illness. She remembered that he had brothers, but apparently, the care of their ailing mother fell entirely on Sean and his sister. Darcy felt the twitchy urge to fiddle with her own hair, to lose herself in contemplation of the shiny lowlights, because his misery was bleeding out to her and she felt the need to do something, but didn't know exactly what.

"You'll be going out to San Diego again?"

He nodded.

"If there's anything I can do, let me know." That's what people said at a time like this, right? In this kind of situation, when her clever zingers were completely inappropriate, she felt awkward and hopeless, out of touch with her own species. He nodded and they finished eating

Outside the break room, he started to walk her to the lift, but she turned toward his office. He followed. At the comptroller's office she stopped and looked at him. What she saw didn't remind her of Loki anymore. Instead she thought of Thor, bound by duty and unfailing love to a brother who was lost even to himself. "I mean it. If you need me to, uh, water your plants, bring in the mail, whatever, let me know." She gave him a one-handed hug, Deloris's coffee and a bag containing Jane and Thor's lunch in her other hand.

"Thanks," he said.

Thoughts still on Sean and his mom, she didn't grumble when Pam's relief guard, a snotty blond jarhead who knew damn well who she was, insisted on calling in her ID to make sure it was legit and checking her bag for contraband. Back in the Fish Bowl, she watch Thor and Loki's reflections in the glass as they replayed the daily drama - Thor offering Loki one of his sandwiches; Loki snottily refusing. Feeling humbled by Thor's devotion and more than a little guilty, she vowed to call her brother later that evening.


After she rang off, Darcy realized she preferred her sister-in-law to her own brother. Not that they actually disliked each other. They just had nothing in common besides DNA. Anette, on the other hand, was funny and smart and got Darcy's humor.

Darcy was sitting on her bed, back against the headboard, cell phone in hand. The murmur of the television came from the living room, and the smell of fresh coffee was in the air. No doubt, Jane self-medicating for a late night of obsessing about her research. The view outside the window was darkness that mirrored back the room, Loki's rose, and Darcy when she got up to drop down and shut the blinds.

She shuddered, thinking that just a few days before someone had marched across the property and dumped a formerly live human being on the porch. Being alone didn't feel like a good idea, so she decided to go hang out with the Jane and Thor.

Loki's door was half open, unusual for him. He sat on his bed, facing the door, head bowed as he tinkered with some tiny weapon of mass destruction. Tools - screwdrivers, a circuit tester, a box of assorted electrical connections, wire strippers, spools of wire, and even a soldering gun - were strewn across Thor's unused bed. In his Asgard-lite green and black, Loki looked like a geek who'd gotten so wrapped up in building a replica of the Millennium Falcon, that he'd forgotten the SF convention was today. A really sexy geek.

A bright idea doing the shining light bulb thing above her head, she headed for the kitchen. The happy couple was parked in front of the television, Jane with her nose in the iPad, and Thor watching a football game. Darcy nodded to them and continued on to the kitchen where she opened the utensil drawer. Fortunately, neither one, particularly Thor, noticed the spoons in her hands as she left the kitchen.

The utility room was right behind the second bathroom. A door, along with the washer and dryer took up the outside wall. The cabinets above held laundry detergent, cat food, dog treats and other crap that didn't have a home elsewhere in the house. The water heater and water pressure tank stood like cylindrical guards on the south wall.

The trunk freezer was positioned along the opposite wall. It had a clear glass top and the words "Marley's Natural Dog Food" printed on rim. Darcy had bought it for just $40 from the local pet store when the owner realized that Puente Antiguo wasn't the market for expensive boutique dog foods.

Cold air rolled out of the freezer as she opened the lid, a small blessing since the room wasn't connected to the ducting and still held the late summer's heat. She peeled back two bags of frozen green chile and a box of corn to reveal...more green chile. Not believing her eyes, she reached farther feeling the cold plastic and hard contours of frozen chile pods. Shit.

Drawing back her hand and clenching iced fingers, she thought back to what Loki had said about his illusion. "It does more than merely bend the light. It operates on possibility, probabilities as you'd say here in Midgard, constructing a kind alternate reality where to the viewer, the unreal is real."

Whatever that means. She only knew of one possibility. That what she wanted was directly under the two bags of green chile and corn. Reaching down into the frigid compartment, she closed her eyes and decided that she definitely could feel the slick feel of frozen condensate over curved cardboard. And if she moved her fingers up over the icy surface, they'd come upon the ridge of the carton's lid. Nothing else could be possible.

Her fingers burned, sticking to frozen cardboard. Triumph thundering in her chest, she pulled the carton up, revealing a smiling cow logo and the label "Cookies & Cream."

"I totally rock," she announced as she pushed his door farther open, and boldly entered Loki's room.

He looked up from his fiddling, eyes settling on the carton in her hand. "You got past the illusion."

She swaggered up to him, a wiggle in her hips. "I got past Loki, God of Mischief's, illusion."

His lip twitched with derision, but humor sparkled in his eyes. "It was a feeble construction, crafted to sway a weak mind such as Thor's."

"What-ever. You hate it that I beat your illusion." She sat on the bed at his right side.

"No, I do not." He lifted the thing in his hand, a small box, and moved his index finger over its contents. Little gears started spinning, making a faint hum. "I'd hate it if you hadn't."

The heat of a blush warmed her cheeks, but she didn't know exactly why. She dug a spoon into the carton and came out with a mouthful. She waved it in front of his face. "Yum. Want some?" He watched the spoon like a dog watching a slice of bacon. "What's the magic word?" Arching her eyebrows, she gave him a big closemouthed smile.

He responded with a narrow-eyed glare, but his attention quickly went back to the ice cream. "Please," he said in the tone of a man going to the gallows.

The plan was to just hand him the spoon, but on impulse she moved it closer to his face. "Open wide." Like every Darcy plan, it had a fatal flaw. Watching his lips move around the spoon reminded her of the other delicious things they could do. A hot flush of desire shot from her eyes to her groin.

Wrenching her gaze from his face, she focused on the thing in his hand. "What's that?" The box was made of blue plastic, the width and length of a smart phone, but about two inches thicker. The contents resembled the combination of a watch and the innards of a high tech device: two tiny circuit boards on one side, and the rest taken up by gears of various sizes.

"A device that generates a counter-frequency to the most frequently used magical harmonics."

Darcy pushed her spoon through the ice cream like a shovel, trying to maximize the amount of cookie in the scoop. Obviously, Loki was in "why be straightforward when you can make like Gandalf and fling out vague, incomprehensible magical babble" mode. In lieu of pushing him further, she lifted the spoon to her mouth and savored the cold creamy goodness,. The sugar must have stimulated her brain because after a few seconds she said, "It's nightmare repellent."


"How's it powered?" She dug a new scoop and lifted it to his mouth.

After he swallowed, he answered. "At the moment, by my own energy."

"And when you're not around?" The question set off a dull ache in her heart. She eased her pain with more ice cream.

With a fluid turn of his wrist, the little device rotated and Darcy saw two ordinary household plugs. "On standard 110-volt current," he answered.

"What if Jane forgets to pay the bill, again? Or if there's a power outage?" She gave him another spoonful of ice cream.

His jaw moved as he savored the treat. "The first is unlikely as it's you, not Thor's pet, who is the glue that holds the household together. When's the last time she actually remembered to pay a bill without your prodding?"

Darcy shrugged. "Last year, maybe. With Erik being the prod." She stabbed the spoon into the ice cream like flag post and stared at it. Funny. Loki always seemed to be lost in his own dark, brooding world. She wouldn't have pegged him for noticing mundane, un-princely details like utility bills.

He flipped the little box over and tilted it so that she could see its interior better. "There's a spot for a battery backup and that little bit of crystal will also hold a charge and resonate at the correct frequency for about an hour."

"Cool," she said, although the thing probably meant no more Loki in her room at night. "Those little gears, they're from my watch, aren't they?" The innocent face was his answer. She held a hand up in surrender. "Fine. Whatever. It's not like you're stealing my panties and turning them into cute crafts to sell on Etsy."

Loki made a choking sound and then laughed, a real laugh with white teeth. "I, ah...hadn't thought of that." He smirked. "Yet."

"Perv," she said, handing him another spoonful of ice cream anyway.

He went back to fine tuning the magic repelling machine, turning a little screw buried deep in its workings with a small watchmaker's screwdriver. She eyed the tool, thinking that the only screwdrivers in the house were the full sized kind. Some of the tools and stuff on Thor's bed belonged to Jane, left over from the time when she had to jerry-rig her experimental equipment. Some, however, were brand new and probably stolen. If this was what a magically handicapped Loki looked like, the unimpaired version must have been truly scary.

There was also a book among the tools. Squinting because she wasn't wearing her glasses, she made out the title and cover. The book on Norse mythology that Erik had found at the local library.

When had Erik checked the book out? She should find a way to return it, except then someone might come looking for the overdue fines. By now that number must have been equal to the GDP of a small third-world country. Maybe Loki could figure out a way to magic it back on the library's shelves.

She leaned, nudging him gently with her shoulder. He turned and she pointed at the book. "What did you think?" There's was no question he'd read it. Leave Loki in a room with a book and he'd read the hell out of it, no matter what the topic or genre.

"Predictably simplistic."

"It's not War and Peace."

"I've read that," Loki said, almost brightly, as he started up the device, lifting it to his ear.

"Yeah, I know." That one took him a few days to read. "'Simplistic' as in missing all the juicy details?"

"Fortunately, yes." He mimicked her smarmy smirk and she smacked him on the shoulder. "I meant that like all mythology, it's less of a historically accurate retelling and more allegory, with the aim of imparting some great truth or lesson."

"Aesop's Fables, but without the cute animals."

"I'm a cute animal." He feigned hurt.

"Yes, you are and stop fishing for compliments." Another nudge. "Juicy details?"

"Alas, there are canyons of gaps in my memories. Perhaps I should set you to petition Odin for their return. You can be persuasive."

"My mouth and Odin in the same room? Really? I though you liked me...a little."

"Odin is accustomed to sycophants and other cozeners. He wouldn't know what to make of you." He smiled, eyes distant.

"I think he'd make me into an amoeba." Or hire a dwarf to sew her mouth shut.

He laughed. "I wouldn't let that happen. An, insect, yes. But a single-celled organism? Unacceptable."


In his hand, the little device was humming, the sound almost musical. He looked at the book. "The mortal conception of good and evil is wrapped up in their fears of the dark and the night."

"You mean, bad prince has black hair," she said, pointedly staring at his head, "and good prince is all Clairol Born Blond?"

It took a second for him to process the reference, but he got it. "Yes, but more so with skin color. Dark races are expected to be given to dark deeds."

She eyed the ice cream, made a promise to her thighs to bike tomorrow and got another scoop. "So are dark elves really evil?"

"A better question is, 'Are they really dark?'"

Nodding, she said, "Diversity in elf land. I guess not all evil things are ugly either." Her gaze tracked involuntarily to the sharp perfection of his features and recognized that that one might be hitting too close to home. She gave him a grin and shrugged.

"Loki, I-" Thor came striding into the room. He stopped, eyes moving from the ice cream, to Loki, then Darcy. She smiled at him; Loki's slight smile turned to a scowl.

"Ice cream?" she offered, cheerfully. Thor, however, stared at them, wordless. The emotion playing across his bearded face wavered between confusion and vague hurt. As she watched, he took a small step backward as if pushed, and he blinked, his gaze turning inward, thoughtful.

She glanced at the man at her side, but his attention was anywhere but on Thor, familiar haughty boredom on his lean face.

Completely perplexed, she looked at Thor, wondering what had crawled up his butt. Was he that upset over the secret ice cream stash? The big lug usually wasn't that petty. Or was this about her and Loki? Didn't Jane say he was cool with their relationship?

"S'up, Thor?" she tried, again.

"I..." he began and then shook his head. "Tis nothing." The usually gregarious prince seemed sort of deflated. "I will speak with you later, brother." He forced a smile. "Darcy." With a nod, he left. Darcy frowned, feeling for a second like Thor was annoyed with her.

Loki stood. "Come," he said. "Let's test the device."

She followed, knowing she'd get no answers about Thor's weird behavior from him. He plugged the thing into a socket in the hallway, explaining that it also used the home's wiring to generate a frequency through the house, and therefore it didn't need to be in her room.

"That's it?" she asked once he snapped a cover over the box and stood.

"That's it." He ruffled her hair. "Thank you for the ice cream."

"You're welcome," she answered, sensing the dismissal in his forced manners. But she realized she'd scored another victory tonight. Usually, even she stayed away from his room, having heard him verbally lacerate Thor and, once, Jane, for disturbing him there. Aided and abetted by ice cream, she had invaded his inner sanctum and lived to tell.

That didn't make his absence in her room later that night easy to take. Especially since she knew that the only thing standing between her and the nightmare was an untested fusion of magic and technology. By one o'clock in the morning, the need for rest overcame her fear of the dream and she fell into a deep sleep.

She woke to the half light of early morning. On her back, she blinked at the gray-whiteness of the ceiling, and felt a weight across her body. Lifting her head, she saw a black clad arm. Gaze tracking up the limb to its owner, she found him asleep at her side, on the covers, facing her. Turning, she saw that the clock radio's numbers read "4:52."

His pale face was peaceful but dark half circles shadowed his eyes. He appeared overly drawn and weary. In another one of his grim moods, he'd skipped dinner last night, but he hadn't looked that bad when she was in his room. What had he been up to in the night? With Thor playing the part of snuggly bear to Jane, Loki pretty much had the night to himself, unsupervised.

Since he was still cuddly and hadn't gone into bed hog mode, she assumed he hadn't been with her long. Something had kept him occupied for most of the night. Eyeing the clock, she decided to assume that whatever it was, it didn't involve blood, death or anything too horrible. She took his hand, tangled her fingers in his, and settled in for the last few hours of sleep before the new day.

A Morbid Taste for Ice

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by sitehound

Part 15 of 39

<< Previous     Home     Next >>