Continuing Tales

A Morbid Taste for Ice

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by sitehound

Part 16 of 39

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Darcy begin Thursday morning by trying to smother Loki.

It wasn't personal. Well, maybe a little. Her last two attempts to wake him had resulted in kissing, which was awesome, but she wasn't sure her lady parts could take the strain of being fired up and then ignored again.

Settling on her bed next to him, careful not to make contact, she picked up the extra pillow, dropped it on his face and held it there. Minutes passed and she stared out the window, past the red Asgard rose in its vase on the nightstand, to where a couple of little gray cottontail rabbits leaped at each other in the sand, turning somersaults. Loki slept on, unbothered, his chest rising and falling in an even rhythm.

Someone chuckled and she turned to find Thor in the doorway. "Now what has he done?" he asked.

"Nothin'." She gave him her best angelic smile. "I'm making science."

He rubbed his chin, puzzling over her comment. "You mean you are conducting an inquiry into the time required to suffocate my brother under a pillow?"

"Uh-huh." Nope, Thor wasn't so dim after all.

His bearded face split into a very Loki-like wicked grin. "You may need a few more pillows," he suggested before wandering off to slay a few Pop-Tarts.

Loki's breathing hitched, and then he sighed and muttered something.

"What's that?" She lifted the pillow off his face and leaned toward him.

His eyes were still shut. "I said, 'Once again Thor has abandoned me to cruel fate.'"

"You whine like a mosquito. Wake up." She replaced the pillow on his face.

With a growl, he swatted the pillow away. In the morning light, his face didn't look as gaunt as last night, but the dark circles under his eyes remained. Forgetting that she wasn't going to touch him this morning, she pressed her fingertips to the skin just under his right eye. "You look like crap. What did you do last night?"

"I conquered several small worlds. There was blood and chaos, and the music of the dying as they screamed in exquisite agony."

"Bullshit. You'd be way happier if that was true." She slid her fingers down his face and forced the corners of his mouth into a smile. "Truth. Don't lie. I know your tells."

At that, his eyes grew wide. "I have tells? What are they?"

"Dude. I'm so not giving away my one advantage. Last night. What happened?"

He stared up at her, black hair mussed, sleep gone from his green eyes and looking mildly startled. With a groan, he sat up and rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands. "You remain...unnerving."

"Last night?" She wasn't giving up. He started to get out of bed and she grabbed his arm. "Loki, please?"

He gently pried her fingers off his arm. "Better I tell you over breakfast. If I truly resemble 'crap,' then Thor will needle with the same query. I'd rather tell the tale once."


Jane was washing Inkblot's water bowl when Darcy came into the kitchen. Thor munched on a Pop-Tart, reading a fantasy football article in Sports Illustrated. Seeing Darcy, he said, "Did Loki survive?"

"Just barely," replied Darcy.

Holding the bowl, now full of fresh water, Jane looked at them. Her mouth opened, and then she shook her head. "Never mind. I'd rather not know." Darcy and Thor grinned, watching her head outside with the cat's water supply.

Loki's arrival, several minutes later, was met the predicted concern from Thor. "Loki. Your eyes. What happened?" Jane, seated at Thor's side and now flipping through the Sports Illustrated, probably checking out the tight ends on tight ends, looked up and frowned.

"She happened." The God of Mischief leveled an accusatory stare at Darcy before going for the coffee. Darcy started to protest, but noticed the expression on Thor's face. He was staring at her in surprise and with entirely too much credulity. She gave him a wicked, self-satisfied smirk. "Like I said, 'Just barely.'"

Thor watched as his brother opened the fridge and extracted an apple and two oranges from the vegetable bin. "I don't understand," he said.

Loki sat heavily at Darcy's side, casting a wary and wounded glance her way. "You never understand," he said to Thor, mournfully. He gulped several swallows of hot coffee and started to peel an orange. Poor Thor's eyes moved between the two of them, obviously bewildered.

She reached for her coffee and Loki flinched as if expecting a blow. Thor's expression grew even more alarmed and Darcy chomped on her tongue to keep from laughing. This was too easy.

Jane, however, wasn't fooled. "Flatten any cities? Enslave minds?" She directed the questions at Loki. Turning to Thor, she said, "He gets raccoon-eyed when he manipulates magic through inefficient pathways." She squeezed Thor's upper arm. "You know that."

Realization dawned on his face, and he smiled grudgingly at his trickster brother. "What transpired last night?" he asked Darcy. Obviously, he wasn't expecting truth from Loki.

"You're up, Silvertongue," said Darcy. "Sing."

She eyed the peeled orange and Loki dropped a wedge by her cereal bowl, forestalling her usual theft. "The one responsible for the deaths of the guards came near the house last night," he said. His face was calm as a lake on a windless day, which Darcy decided was Loki for "I'm telling the truth, but inside I'm seething about something."

"How near?" asked Jane. Thor sat rigid in his chair, looking like he was about to summon Mjölnir.

"Near, but not so as to be within my reach," said Loki, bitterness seeping into his words, though his face maintained eerie detachment.

Darcy ate the orange wedge as little tremors of nerves fluttered up and down her spine. Every morning, when she stepped out onto the porch for her morning bike ride, she faced the memory of Andy's lifeless body alone. Every morning, she turned her face to the warm desert sun, feeling the heat on her skin, and let the daylight banish her fear. The ugly reality that the killer had once again come so close to the house, brought that fear back to the surface. "So you know who did it, then?" she said.

"No." More acrimony leached into his voice. "This person has no small facility with magic and used it well to hide his or her identity."

"Is that your way of saying the killer is powerful?" Darcy asked, the idea sending cold creeping up her back. It was also probably the source of his anger. He wasn't expecting to encounter someone who could match him in sorcery. At least, not in a place like New Mexico.

"Yes," he replied.

"Is this person even human?" asked Jane.

Loki halved the orange with a jab and flick of his thumb. Dropping one half to the table, he eyed the other as if he didn't know what it was. "Doubtful. Some humans can wield magic, but they are limited by their lifespan. It takes centuries to achieve any real mastery."

"And this mysterious being," said Thor, "it approached the house? You sensed it?"

"Yes." His fingers nimbly peeled one wedge away from the orange half and he ate it. Then he set the rest by Darcy's hand.

She gave it back, saying quietly, "Eat it. You need it more than I do." From what she understood, he could go for a long time without eating, but everything, even supervillains, ran better with fuel.

He didn't seem to notice, his face turned toward the front door. "Sometime around three in the morning, I felt the touch of inquisitive magic, like tentacles reaching through the spaces within spaces, slipping past the barrier created by the device. It was driven by frustration and malice, but without purpose. It was like a child in the midst of tantrum, no longer even aware of what angered it in the first place.

"I went out into the night to meet it, but it fled, beyond my bond to Thor." He shot his not-brother a dark glance.

"You should have awoken me. Together we could have faced this foe, brought it to justice," said Thor, his voice strong and carrying some recrimination.

"There will be no justice for this being, only death," Loki said, practically spitting the words. "And there was no sense in calling you, Thor. What if it was a ruse to draw us from the house, away from Darcy and Jane?"

Thor nodded, grimly conceded the point. "You should have called me, nonetheless. I am not such a fool that I would not have seen your reasoning. You need not face this enemy alone."

Loki scowled at Thor, and Darcy asked, in part, to keep the two from bickering, "You tried to catch this person with magic, right?"

"Out of habit, I used the ploy that was once effortless: projections." His face was icy calm. "My adversary had the means of erecting barriers to my attempts and I still haven't found a manner of casting projections that doesn't tire me unnecessarily."

His frustration made her hurt inside. She pushed the orange half against his hand to get his attention. "But this person, thing, whatever, it ran away. It's powerful, but it still didn't want to fuck with you." His gaze moved from the orange to her face. "It had you alone, out in the open. You were like a big target, but it didn't take a shot."

"You should not have gone alone," grumbled Thor, but Loki kept his eyes locked with Darcy's.

"There was one more thing," Loki said. "An oddity." She crooked her eyebrows up, questioning and he explained. "The entity seemed to recognize me, knew who I was, and yet, I did not feel the expected hatred. There was malice, but the emotion wasn't directed at me, specifically. In fact, it seemed more annoyed than angered by my presence."

"Perhaps," said Thor, with a pointed look at Darcy, "It knows there are crueler ways to harm you than death."

Darcy squirmed, Thor's words making her uncomfortable. She also cringed inside, expecting a vicious denial of Thor's assumption from Loki. Something involving the words "stupid mortal girl." Thor and Loki held each other's stares, Loki's icy composure giving way to a turmoil of anger and loathing. He rose abruptly and vanished in a swirl of green.

She stared at the seat he had occupied, the awkward silence crowding her. Picking up her cup, she stood and said, "Coffee, anyone?"

Loki emerged grumpily from his room a few minutes later when it was time to head to work. The four left the house in the usual order, Thor first, then Jane. Loki started to follow, but rounded on Darcy right before the door. Seeing the expression on his face, the dangerous expressionless mask, she took a little step back. He matched the step and loomed over her. With the precise diction of an actor giving a monologue, he said, "I will not allow anyone, least of all an upstart magic user with pretensions to greatness, to harm you. Understood?"

"I know," she replied, because she believed him. His posture had none of the twitchy energy that meant honesty, but again, like when he'd said he couldn't hurt her, she knew this wasn't the kind of statement that he'd make if he didn't actually mean it.

He nodded curtly, turned on his heel and stomped out the door. She watched him go. "There goes my hero," she said to the almost empty house. Her knight in blackened, bloodied armor, with the face of an angel and soul of a demon.


Sometime in the last week, SHIELD's IT department had decided that its employees were spending too much time posting cute cat pictures and not enough defending the world from wanna-be despots in garish costumes. The solution? Blocked access to all social media sites. Fortunately, shoe shopping was still a valid workplace diversion for those out to kick evil's ass and look good doing it. In lieu of Facebook, Darcy was browsing a site that sold designer boots at discount prices.

It was just her, Loki and Thor holding court in the Fish Bowl, since Jane was upstairs in the monthly principal investigators' meeting. Jane hated the meetings, since they rarely accomplished anything except to better disseminate gossip and innuendo.

The two princes were seated at the table, Thor raining hell on pigs in Angry Birds, while Loki, immersed in the latest dataset, did an amazingly good job of ignoring his brother's outbursts.

Thor's brow furrowed and his big fingers clenched the iPad. He was getting a handle on restraint though, since just a month before he had snapped this pad's predecessor in two. "That one wretched pig," he grumbled. "It eludes me."

With a loud sigh, Loki lifted his attention from the papers before him and leaned slightly towards Thor. Brightening at his cantankerous sibling's interest, Thor shifted the pad so that Loki could see it better. The two princes' eyes met and Loki straightened with a scowling sneer.

He glanced around the room and caught Darcy watching him. His eyes met hers in the reflection. Busted. She smiled and did a little finger wave at reflection-Loki. She thought the hint of a smile moved his mouth, but he turned and said to Thor, exasperated, "Your fondness for explosives is your undoing. Take out the glass structures in the rear first, then weaken the wooden ramparts in the front. Only then, strike the TNT."

"But this bird only..." Thor's blue eyes narrowed and widened. "Ah, I see." He tapped and swiped enthusiastically on the screen. A few seconds later, he grinned and slapped Loki hard on the back. "Three stars!"

Loki winced, gave Darcy a look of utter misery and went back to studying the data before him.

When her stomach growled, out of habit she clicked on her email before she remembered that Sean was out of town. Her mouth twisted in a slight frown. First, even though he wasn't exactly loquacious, Sean had a slight snarky edge and she liked his company. Second, although Darcy credited herself with thick skin, Sean was well liked and served as a welcomed buffer between her and SHIELD's Loki haters' club. Her daily trek upstairs was always a little brighter with him.

Stalling, she went back to shopping. She was about to drop a cute pair of dark blue leather boots into her online shopping cart, when the new mail icon popped up on her desktop. As she clicked "Add to shopping cart," she noticed the sender's name: Sean, presumably sending the message from his phone. "Hey," the text said. "Miss me?"

"Truth?" she replied. "Totally."

"How are you? How's your pet supervillain?"

"I'm great. L's housetrained but he still chases cars, bites the mailman." She added, "Are you texting and driving?"

"No. I'm in SD now. I joined the modern age. Flew."

"No way. You?"

"Yes. I got felt up by a very large female TSA agent. At least, I think it was female."

"LOL. And how's your mom?"

Minutes went by and she got no answer. In the meantime, she gave the website her credit card and shipping info. The order processed and the confirmation page popped up. She went back to watching Loki in the Fish Bowl's glass walls. In the reflection, details became indistinct and some of his otherworldly characteristics less obvious. Real life Loki's face was always lined with bitterness, but his reflection looked much younger, all the hard edges rounded off. Either way, he was a black-haired, fair-skinned slice of yummy.

Licking her lips, she stared at his mirror alter-ego with fierce determination. You're mine. Somehow. Even if I have to borrow Mjölnir from Thor, hit you over the head and drag you back to my room, cavewoman-style.

Sean's reply finally appeared in her inbox. "Mom's not well. I need a distraction."

"You came to the right person. What can I do?"

"I was thinking. What if Mark King was killed by the same person who did Andy and Max?"

"That killer kills with ice, not bullets."

"But what if it's a trick? There was magic residue in the building. Edwards or King must've had some connection to the killer. Maybe somebody was trying to throw us, or SHIELD, off the trail."

"Or something." Icy fingers tickled her back as she thought of the murderer lurking in the darkness, just outside the house; Loki alone in the darkness with whatever it was. "L thinks the mastermind isn't human."

"Edwards and King are puppets?"

"Yeah. The baddy's Igors."

"Ha. I think the killer needs better minions."

"Dangerous work, low pay, no dental plan. Probably hard to hire skilled minions." Darcy darted a quick peek at Loki, wondering if he'd have accomplished more if he'd been pickier about his lackeys. His brainwashed help--Erik and Hawkeye--were brilliant, but the Chitauri collectively probably had the IQ of a houseplant.

"You always make me laugh." Another message quickly followed that one. "Thanks for being a friend." After they'd exchanged goodbyes, Darcy remained staring at the screen, heart heavy, wishing she could do something more to help Sean beyond being comic relief.

Meanwhile, the lab's reptilian comedian trotted up and paused, its little triangular head pointed at the computer screen. It occurred to her that the magical critter might be spying for Loki. "Hey. My boobs are over here," she said, but the lizard kept studying the screen.

She reached for it out of reflex, expecting her hand to pass through illusion. A half-squelched yelp escaped her mouth when her fingers closed on the lizard's tail. However Loki had put it together, there was real animal there. It felt like the tiny version of a boa constrictor that she had touched years ago at a petting zoo. The lizard's legs flailed frantically in the air as she lifted it, tail first, off the desk. Lizard in one hand, her purse in the other, she stood and went over to the table.

Loki and Thor watched her approach. "It has substance?" said Thor, surprised. Biting back a smile, Loki looked at his creation then up at Darcy.

"It better not poop, because I'm not doing potty patrol for a lizard." She parted her fingers and the small creature did a belly flop on the table before getting its feet under it. Lashing its little whip-like tail, the reptile turned its gaze on her, emanating indignation.

"The removal of reptile feces is a fitting task for an idle Prince of Asgard," said Loki, smirking at Thor and dropping his gaze to the iPad. Thor's face turned haughty.

"I'm making the lunch run," Darcy said, before Thor could speak. "You two play nice while I'm gone." She started for the door and then turned back to the two brothers, staring hard at the younger. "And, no. Provoking your big brother and getting your ass kicked will not get you out of going to Zozobra tonight."


"I am not wearing that."

Loki stood at the foot of his bed, arms crossed over his chest, looking regal and princely. He cast an imperious sideways glance at the thing on the bed.

"Really?" said Darcy, wearily. "We get this far and you're hung up on a baseball cap?" Sitting on Thor's bed, she looked him up and down. "This far" comprised a dark green Henley shirt, jeans and lace up black chukka boots. Perfectly ordinary clothing for a warm September evening in New Mexico. Without all the layers of leather, he was even lankier, but what he lost in mass, he made up in a self-possessed, graceful elegance. If he wasn't being such an ass, she'd climb him like Mt. Everest.

His sniffed. "Thor isn't expect to wear a...cap."

"Thor didn't remodel New York. Thor didn't do the monologue thing in Germany."

"We are not in New York or Germany."

"Point," she agreed. "But pictures of you have gotten around and you won't let me mess up your hair. We need to make you look"




"Keep up the attitude and I'll make you wear a beanie with a propeller."

"You have no power over me." Angry joined arrogant on his lean face.

"I don't?" She put one hand over her left eye and jerked her head towards Thor and Jane's room where the two were getting dressed for the night's adventure.

Anger blazed from his green eyes, and with the dark shadows under his eyes, he took on the malevolent and unstable aspect of his recent supervillainy.

If she was Manhattan, she would be very afraid. If she had an once of common sense, she'd be wetting her pants. Darcy Lewis, however, wasn't a large metropolitan area and she was fresh out of a healthy sense of self preservation. Therefore, she wasn't taking any of his crap this afternoon. "We had a deal, Mad Science."

He smirked evilly at her. "I could take your power of speech, so that you would not go telling tales to Thor."

She snorted. "Silent Darcy? Thor and Jane would totally know you hit me with some kind of mojo." A twinkle of amusement sparked in his eyes, but a muscle twitched in his jaw as he reined it in. A slight hint of overcooked cinnamon touched her nose.

Okay, new tack. "Fine. Stay." With a nonchalant shrug and a tilt of her head, she said, "Me and Jane will go and you can hang with Thor. If Jane won't leave the God of Thunder, Lightning and Fab Abs, I'll go alone." She rose and accentuated the last word with a pause and confident smile. "Either way, I'm having fun tonight." She turned and strode from his room, with extra wiggle in her hips. "Tah."

Once out of his line of sight, her confident stride gave way to an angry stomp. In the living room, she rooted around on the couch and found the remote. Slumping on couch, she switched on the television. They had come home from work early, since the trip to Santa Fe took four and a half hours. Most of the TV stations were playing afternoon talk shows, with the likes of Dr. Phil giving their guests blindingly obvious advice. Alcoholic? Stop drinking. Kids demon spawn? Try discipline. And so on.

She stared at the screen without seeing or hearing. Even though her track record resembled Thor's--blunder into danger without thinking--she knew that going to Santa Fe and back, alone, in the dark, was a bad idea. She had made the drive many times before, often at night. But that was before an ice-magic-wielding psycho started stalking her. Peter Edwards, who may or may not be the killer's Renfield, was still running loose too.

In a war of words against an ancient trickster, Darcy didn't stand a chance, so she fell back on the oldest trick in the book--guilt. He promised to protect her. Fine. Then it was time he put aside a few of his issues (he had more than a magazine) and grew up. Else she might run off and do something really Darcy.

Click. She changed the station again, coming across a religious program where a slick televangelist was having a telethon for Jesus. Apparently, the Savior now accepted Mastercard, Visa and American Express. The preacher was reading the names of people who'd called in and pledged money. She was contemplating calling and making a pledge in the name of B. L. Zeebub when Jane and Thor emerged from their room.

Rather than his usual flannel, Thor wore a fitted red T-shirt, his muscles straining nicely against the crimson fabric. He immediately made for the kitchen to hunt for snacks. Jane started to join Darcy on the couch when the faint sound of an engine came from outside.

"It's Natasha," said Jane, looking out the window. "Where's Loki?"

Darcy joined Jane and saw the SHIELD agent exit a bright red RAV4. Heart sinking, her manipulation having failed, Darcy sighed and said, "He's not--"

"Oh, there he is," said Jane, her gaze lingering for a moment as she took in Loki's clothing, black cap and all. "Thor, you ready?"

Loki strode up to Darcy, his expression daring her to make a smart ass comment. Staring up at him, she eyed the cap and said, "I'm going to pay for that, aren't I?"

First he cast a jaundiced glance out the window toward Natasha who approached the front door and then up at the cap's brim. Next he smiled down at Darcy like a cat who'd just cornered an especially juicy mouse.

"Whatever," said the mouse, smiling back. "You'll have fun tonight, I promise."

A Morbid Taste for Ice

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by sitehound

Part 16 of 39

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