Continuing Tales

A Morbid Taste for Ice

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by sitehound

Part 32 of 39

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Making the decision to move to New York with Jane was one thing. Telling Jane and Loki was another matter. Technically, giving Jane the thumbs-up should have been easy, except a part of Darcy - a childish part that just wanted to slump down on the floor in a petulant pile and say, "No!" - still chafed at the idea that the relocation oh-so conveniently got her away from Loki.

Loki, on the other hand, had told her to go, right? She almost expected him to react to her proclamation with a shrug and then return to work on that thing -- it resembled a very tiny Death Star -- that was currently occupying most of his non-Darcy time.

Okay, so to be honest, he tolerated a lot of Darcy time. Last night, for example, he set aside his tinkering to give her a lesson in the very rudiments of magic.

"Magic for Dummies," she said.

He smirked. "It's more like explaining quantum physics to squirrel."

She glared at him, but it was half-hearted because Loki was talking to her about magic and how freaking cool was that? And also, even though she had temporarily kicked the matter of moving to New York into a dark, dusty corner of her mind, the knowledge that their time together, here in this house, was short, made every second spent with him precious.

Consequently, she worried that he would take the news poorly. Not just retreat behind the walls of his mental fortress, because he'd never actually left Fort Mischief, but pull up the drawbridge and refuse to let her into his private refuge.

And she also worried that he just wouldn't give a damn.

Loki's smarts aren't the only thing I'm catching. I've now got a bad case of his crazy brain. A tiny bead of sweat pooled just below the hollow of her throat and then slid coolly over her skin and between her breasts. Fall was making a chilly overture toward the morning temperature, but Darcy's route this morning, on her bicycle, took on the muscle-burning shortcut to Puente Antiguo, the three miles of asphalt-free road that connected Don Tenorio Road to Route 8.

The unpaved road came in two flavor stripes: two sandy ruts cut by the regular passage of vehicles and a hard, caliche section in the middle. Biking through sand took more muscle, but the caliche's uneven hardpan surface made for a brain-scrambling ride, so she opted for the harder workout. Behind her, the black SUV rumbled, kicking up a cloud of dust, and she hoped it would subside before she turned and made the trip back.

An hour and a half later, back home, she braked the bike by the road and flipped the mailbox open, pulling out a small pile of mail. The black SUV pulled up next to her and stopped. The passenger window slid down with a hum.

"What kind of mail do Norse gods get?" said the guard, a thin-faced blond in his twenties whose hairline had decided to get a head start on receding. He must not have gotten the memo yet that Darcy was enemy by association, since his smile was friendly.

Darcy grinned and held up a blue and white envelope for him to see. "Credit card offers. Five thousand dollar credit limit and twelve months no interest on balance transfers." She was serious. This envelope was addressed to "T. Odinson" and amusingly, was for a card that rewarded the user with frequent flier miles. A couple months ago Jane had ordered Sports Illustrated magazine in Thor's name, and since then he'd been deluged with credit card offers.

The guard laughed. "It's good to be a god."

"And an Avenger," Darcy said, because it didn't hurt to remind people that one of the immortals living at 15 Don Tenorio Road was a bona fide superhero. She waved goodbye and headed for house. Besides the credit card industry's attempt to ensnare a thunder god, the pile included actual credit card bills for her and Jane, a scientific journal for Jane, and yellow, padded envelope addressed to "L. Smith."

Darcy felt up the envelope, and then shook it, but couldn't catch a clue as to its contents. Shaking her head, she glanced back at the street, mind already wandering to other things, like the fact that her new boots should be arriving soon. Loki, after all, was always going to be Loki.

Her vision swam, the desert landscape and black asphalt road turning watery, like looking through a window during a hard rainstorm. The phenomena was concentrated by the road, near the eastern boundary between their property and their neighbor, Carlos's. Staggering a little, dizzied, she dropped some of the mail, her other hand leaning hard on the bike's handle bars. Within seconds her vision cleared. She stared out across their property, toward the black snake of Carlos's tire wall, his house trailer and the terra cotta tiled roof of the Richards's house beyond, the details once again sharp through her glasses. The hell?

She bent and picked the envelopes out of the sand, thinking that she really needed to get more sleep. All sex and no sleep made Darcy a hallucinating girl. Maybe a nice long nap this afternoon.

"It's way too early in the day for you two to be that cute," said Darcy. Thor and Jane sat on the loveseat, both in scruffy clothes, snuggled tight and reading one of Darcy's magazines. Even disheveled, they were both beautiful and if the scene were stripped of color, they would look like an artful black-and-white magazine ad.

Leaving the two their mail, she wandered down the hallway to Loki's room. His door was shut, but feeling adventurous, she opened the door and entered without knocking. She was primed for some verbal fencing, but her opponent was asleep, his little invention held loosely in one hand. While she had been gone, he'd dressed in Asgard-lite. The room smelled like Thanksgiving pie, so he must have doing some serious magic and worn himself out. Gently taking the thing from him, she set it on the nightstand along with the envelope.

It was a mistake, stopping and watching him sleep. Smart Darcy would have turned and walked immediately away, but blame it on the fact that she hadn't had breakfast yet; blame it on his supernatural charisma; fuck, blame it on the bossa nova, whatever the hell that meant, but she stopped by the bed, captivated.

In her bedroom, the morning sun turned everything buttery gold. But across the hall, in this room, what little illumination came through the window was on the cooler side of the spectrum. Gazing down at him like this, she imagined him back in Asgard, a black-and-white figure cast in green and blue tones, amid a sea of too-golden, Thor clones. (Because she wasn't that great with imagery, all the women looked a lot like Thor, in gowns and not as bearded - pretty much the proverbial singing fat lady in a Viking helm.)

How could anyone have ever believed he was Thor's biological brother? The Aesir must be the kind of gullible that would believe that a lost king of Nigeria, eager to give away a million dollars, was contacting them through email.

And Loki? Super smart, intuitive Loki? Why had he believed? Wishful thinking?

No, she thought, he's always known. But he ignored the suspicions the same way she locked up all the bullshit she couldn't handle. But you can't really hide crap like that, it sits in the vault, like radioactive waste, slowing eating its way out, until one day...

She backed away, the back of her thighs hitting the other bed, and then worked her way clumsily toward the door. day you come fucking unglued and commit atrocities that can't ever be made right; shatter completely into microscopic shards, too brittle to withstand being put back together; right becomes wrong, wrong right; and the person that you were is just a shadow, like the ghostly silhouettes of people on walls at Hiroshima.

Her spine collided with the door frame and she winced, out of habit, not really feeling pain. Her eyes stayed on the man sleeping peacefully on the bed. Is that what he was? A man? This ancient thing, this storybook character brought to life?

She didn't pity Loki. She didn't think anything he had done was justified. But she understood how a single event after a lifetime of feeling irrelevant could crush what little sense of self was left. The muscles in her calves ached from both the long bike ride and the need to climb into the bed and wrap herself around him. Reaching behind her, she found the molding of the door frame and held on, anchoring herself there.

The thumb on his hand that had held the device twitched. Her breath stopped, and she froze, half-afraid that he'd wake and find her like this, watching him and "bleeding melancholy" again. She also wished he would wake, so she could go to him and touch him, make contact with all the weird little bits that she found sexy -- the place where his hand met his wrist, the tip of his thumb, the spot between his eyebrows that made two deep clefts when he was annoyed or angry.

The wooden frame bit into her hands as she clenched her fingers. Loki. Liar. Agent of chaos. Killer. The man she lo--

No! She shook her head, clearing away the thought, and let go of the doorframe.

Loki, immortal, forever, undying Loki.

And here she was, dying a little every day. Even if there was anything decent left in him and he decided to stay with her, she would leave him, someday. Forever. She backed into the hallway, nodding to herself. It was better this way. Like pulling a bandage off a stretch of hairy skin; make it quick; brief pain, then over.

Her thoughts made her limbs feel heavy and she set her glasses and cell phone slowly on her desk, and then mechanically opened a dresser drawer, reaching for a clean bra and pair of panties, in preparation for a shower.

The house made a sudden sigh as if hit by a gust of wind. Darcy paused, her hand on a pretty blue bra. She sniffed. Was it her imagination or did she get a faint whiff of mint? The little hairs on her arm stood up straight, goosebumps raising on her skin.

Poking her head out of her doorway, she saw the front door standing open. "Guys?" No one answered and she started down the hall, walking, then running. The electric tingle of magic breezed over her face and a glance at the loveseat showed no Thor or Jane.

"Jane?" a voice said from outside, the tone deep, but confused, almost too-subdued. Then the smooth tones of another male voice. The quiet that followed only lasted a beat or two, but felt longer. Darcy stopped, unsure what to do next.

"No!" This time the voice was stronger, more like it should sound. Confused, Darcy's gaze swept the living room, stopping for a second on the tiny, dark stains where Loki had bled on the carpet months ago. Outside the voices picked up the angry growl of an argument. The crackle of magic, strange magic hurrying up and down her body, shook her from her confusion and she darted out the door.

Halting on the porch, she lifted her hand, shielding her eyes from the morning sun that seemed to be residing near the end of the driveway. Squinting, and cursing the glasses that sat, useless, on her desk, and her stupid refusal to deal with contact lenses, she stumbled blindly down the stairs toward the light. Because when a small supernova opens up in your driveway, what else do you do?

The light dimmed by the time she had moved past the vehicles and then it fell away to reveal Thor. He stood amid a swirling cloud of tan sand, still wearing jeans, hiking boots and a T-shirt, but with his blond hair gleaming in the sun and Mjölnir in his hand. A stupid thought, relief that however the weapon had found its way to his hand, it hadn't ripped a hole in the side of the house, scurried through her head.

"Thor?" she said, jogging up to him. "What's--"

"He has Jane," he answered, intense gaze on the road, looking east. His tall, muscled body exuded tightly reined in frustration. "He said not to follow, but--"

"Who said?" Darcy interrupted. "And Jane...?" Her head whipped back and forth, searching, even though it was totally obvious her friend wasn't there.

Thor rounded on her, his immense presence pushing her back a step although he didn't touch her. "Jane said she saw a coyote attacking the cat and she ran out the door." Beneath the thunderous rage, Darcy saw distress in his deep blue eyes. Without thinking she took another look around, searching for Inkblot.

"It was a trick, foul, cowardly magic," he spat.

Baffled, Darcy glanced back at the house, almost expecting Loki to be sneering at his brother from the front door. "I don't--"

"The villain, the one who has bedeviled Loki's steps, our steps, slaying your friends," Thor's attention had turned eastward again, "has taken Jane."

"Where? Why?"

Thor's thoughts were clearly starting to move away from her, every inch of him vibrating with the anticipation of battle. "The structure," he said absently, "burnt beyond use, down the road..."

"The barn? The one that someone fixed?"

Lifting Mjölnir, he took two long strides away from her, the hammer spinning once, twice, and then whirling. "I must go. Jane..."


The small hurricane generated by Mjölnir ate her protest and she staggered backward, arm flung over her face to ward off the biting sand. In seconds, Thor was a human-shaped form moving across the sun heading to the east. She made the mistake of taking in a breath and gulped sand into her lungs.

"But...," she said futilely, between coughing up dust, "What about Loki?"


She turned and ran toward the house.

A Morbid Taste for Ice

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by sitehound

Part 32 of 39

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