Continuing Tales

A Morbid Taste for Ice

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by sitehound

Part 34 of 39

<< Previous     Home     Next >>

Darcy's first thought was of her glasses, sitting next to her cell phone and Taser, on her desk at home. Because maybe her shitty eyes were deceiving her. Because maybe she really didn't recognize the person standing about twelve feet away. Maybe her brain, already scrambled from the house of black-and-white horror that she had just stumbled through, had filled in the details with the first available male face that wasn't Thor or Loki.


"Hi, Darcy." His voice was unmistakable and his tone breezy, with an undertone of smug satisfaction.

Utterly without a response, her capacity for smart-ass commentary flattened by betrayal and shock, she took in the real face of the person she had called friend. Frankly, the elf-look worked for him. At this thought, a wry voice in her head observed that a couple years ago, she would have had a minor freak-out (okay, there might have been screaming) over Sean's transformation to D&D character. But back then she wasn't dating a sometimes deranged Norse god who had a shockingly cute blue side.

With his androgynous, bony features elongated, everything on Sean's face flowed together better. He was prettier and weirdly, almost more human. Except for the pointy ears, that is. Though he had dropped the magical disguise, his clothes were still totally Midgard: jeans, hiking boots, a red T-shirt, and a gray hoodie. Same scruffy brown hair, though his skin tone was actually paler. That reminded her of something, but before she could work out what, Thor turned to her.

"Loki," he said, his blue eyes briefly meeting hers, hitting her with the extent of his concern, before veiling the emotion and turning back toward Jane and Sean. "He is with you?"

"In my car. You--"

"He is well?" Thor interrupted, gaze still on Jane.

"No." She hated admitting it, there in front of Sean, giving the pointy-eared prick what he wanted. But if there was a chance...

"Let me go to him." Thor's voice was strong, almost a command. "You know I will return." He inclined his head toward Jane who stood just a couple steps from Sean's side.

"Of course you will," replied Sean, with a smirk. "I've also got Darcy now. I can string her up just as easily."

"Two hostages, whatever," snapped Darcy, although fear shivered through her legs. "Just let him go, Sean. Please."

"Sure." A smile, falsely benevolent, shone on Sean's face. "Out to Darcy's car, and no farther." One perfect eyebrow arched before he issued a threat in a pleasant tone. "Call for help, do anything other than collect your brother, and return here, and Jane dies."

The God of Thunder seethed, quite literally. The pseudo-peppermint of his magic, thinly suppressed lighting, sizzled into Darcy's skin. The muscles in his arm bulged, his knuckles whitened, obviously missing Mjölnir. The hammer sat, handle pointed skyward, near Sean's feet. Held at bay by the lethal magical binding on Jane, and clearly wracked by guilt and worry for both his brother and girlfriend, Thor scowled a warning at Sean, then turned on a heel and marched toward the doorway.

As he passed her, he touched Darcy briefly on the shoulder. "It will all be well."

Darcy started to speak, to warn him about the blinding light and dark in the hallway beyond. Instead one word came from her mouth. "Hurry." Thor moved through the doorway, disappearing around the corner. His heavy footfalls clomped on the cracked concrete floor and then died abruptly.

Trying to take comfort in the brothers' pending reunion - Loki would wake up, then he and Thor would make Sean regret ever coming to Midgard and doing anything more than playing elf to Santa at a mall - Darcy started slowly toward Jane. Her legs and shoulders already were stiffening with aches from power lifting Loki, and her knees itch-burned from the glass cuts.

"That's close enough," said Sean.

"Wh-what? You're afraid of me?" Darcy stopped and gave him her trademark, chin up, You Don't Scare Me look. It might have been more impressive if her legs weren't trembling like Jello.

"Not particularly. But things do have a tendency to explode in your proximity." He shrugged, breathtaking blue eyes focused on her. "And, you've been spending a lot of time with a guy known for mischief."

"What now? You're going to do that to me?" She pointed at Jane. That, at first glance didn't appear to be much. In fact, Jane stood at Sean's side, on her own two feet, brown eyes wide and posture rigid, but otherwise looking like herself, wearing gray yoga pants, black ballet flats, and a T-shirt that read, "Never Trust an Atom, They Make Everything Up." The first indication that something was terribly wrong was a pair of thin cuts, hardly more than scratches, cut with scalpel-like precision on either side of her neck.

The cause was a razor thin band of the weird alternating light and darkness that circled and radiated out from her neck for approximately six inches, sort of like the rings of Saturn. More of the spectral, circular blades shadowed Jane's wrists and mid-thighs. Darcy's knowledge of anatomy was as limited, but she knew the magical razors lay over major bleed-out points.

"I'll only do that," Sean tilted his head at Jane, "if you make it necessary."

"Maybe me and my Taser will make it necessary." Her eyes met Jane's and a tiny spark of inspiration flickered in a dark, fear-thickened section of her brain. Jane, knowing her too well, shook her head slightly.

Sean let a small huff of a laugh. "You don't have your Taser."

"Maybe I do," Darcy persisted. "Let Jane go. Loki doesn't give a shit about her. If you want to piss him off, it's me you want."

"Darcy, no," whispered Jane.

"Seriously, Darcy? You think Loki cared about you?" Sean's mouth straightened in a sad line that nearly seemed genuine. "You're mortal. You're just a convenient spot to hit, nothing else. If he had gotten out of here, he would have left you and gone back to chasing the most beautiful immortal tail in the realms."

"You're right. For now, I'm his easy fuck," she responded, using the crudity to show that Sean's words didn't hurt, because, after all, she'd thought the same thing herself many times. "His. And princes of Asgard don't like to share."

Sean's only response was a bored shrug, his gaze going to the doorway. Darcy's eyes also went that way, anticipation tightening her breathing. When nothing stirred in the doorway, she turned, taking in the room.

Immediately behind Sean, next to the wall, stood a cylindrical object, about the circumference of a standard trash can, but only about two feet tall. Framed like a barrel out of wood, stripes of thinner wood glowed with a yellow light in between the thicker vertical staves. A second shining barrel thing sat on the opposite side of the room. The walls and ceilings were covered in undulating lines, resembling tribal tattoos, but drawn in the horrible too-black and un-light. Eight small magical globes, arranged in a rough octagonal pattern, were set in the ceiling like inset electrical lights.

"What with the lights?" asked Darcy. "Elfin Hanukah?"

"Loki thought you were smart," replied Sean. "Figure it out."

Eager to see Thor return with Loki, it was difficult to keep her eyes from the doorway, but she raked the room with another hard look. She saw nothing new, but could feel the throb of energy in the small space. The energy moved back and forth between the barrel things. It felt like was being trapped inside a kid's anticipation for Christmas, buzzing with barely contained excitement and energy. Power. The term "potential energy" came to mind.

"It's a battery," said Darcy. Jane gave her a very timid nod. "For what?"

Sean's blue eyes twinkled with dark amusement and turned toward the door. Just as abruptly as they had stopped moments before, heavy footfalls came again from the darkness. Seconds later, Thor strode through the doorway and past her. The blond immortal stopped about six feet in front of Sean, in the place where he had stood before. Darcy swallowed, suddenly lightheaded, overcome by a dark déjà vu.

Silent, Thor faced Sean, a turbulent sea of emotion moving through his blue eyes. Darcy's eyes, however, were glued on the still form of Loki in his brother's arms. The tableau was strikingly similar to the day when she first met Loki - if exchanging dirty looks could be called "meeting." He hung in his brother's arms, pale, bloodied, unconscious.

"Loki?" She said his name out loud before she could stop herself. He's okay. Just a little scuffed, that's all.

"Is this what you wanted?" asked Thor. The words were spoken softly, yet reverberated around the room. "All this," he jerked his chin, indicating Jane, the room and the building, "to see the end of him?"


The triumph on his face radiating a cold beauty, Sean smiled a closed-mouth smile, his focus tight on Thor's face, eyes glittering with a gleeful intensity. He seemed to be drinking in Thor's misery. "Not all I want, but one of the best parts," he answered.

"What was his transgression against you?" asked Thor.

"I had no quarrel with Prince Loki."

That answer drew in a deep chasm of silence, as Jane, Darcy and Thor, but especially Thor, tried to process Sean's confusing response. "Then...why?" asked Thor, his normally powerful voice weakened by grief.

The question triggered a wide shift in Sean's demeanor, giddy mirth giving way to black rage. He met Thor's stare. "You took everything," the words spoken with barely contained fury, and the deep sonic undertone of something not-human, "from me. Everything."

He stared pointedly at Loki's motionless body. "And now, I've taken the thing that mattered most to you." Although he was considerably shorter than Thor and out-muscled, he emanated raw power. All the cute boy vulnerability that Darcy had found attractive was gone. Even in his Midgard clothing, Sean was creature of terrible pale beauty. "He's betrayed you, tried to kill you, and you still go against your father's commands for his sake."

"He is my brother," said Thor.

A sneered crept onto Sean's hate-filled visage. "Not according to him." He chuckled. "Maybe now you can have him stuffed and haul his well-behaved corpse around with you."

"Your cruelty is senseless and it wounds not only me, but Darcy, the one you've called friend," said Thor. "What is it I took from you?"

Sean took a step backward, though it obviously wasn't in fear. He shook his head, and scoured Thor with a look of utter disgust. "My family. My people. The woman I loved. What part of 'everything' don't you understand?"

Thor's head cocked slightly to the side. "I...know you not."

"Of course you don't. That's the key definition of collateral damage, isn't it? It's warfare for 'shit happens.'"

Seeing Thor struggle with the meaning of Sean's words, Darcy felt an urge to speak, explain "shit happens" and whatever other Midgard colloquialism came from Sean. She scowled at Sean, hating him for making Loki suffer, threatening Jane's life, and now, for tormenting poor Thor.

She stood, knees wobbling, a part of her wanting to go to Thor's side. Except she didn't want to go near Loki, didn't want to feel the heat leaving her lover's skin. He was fine. It was all just a trick, because --hello!--Loki. And Thor seemed fooled because either he was in on the deception or, well, he never was much good at seeing through Loki's tricks.

She watched Loki's chest, searching for movement, not knowing if it was really possible to see him breathing under his layers of clothing. He could fake that as well anyway.

But a hollowness ate at her, the lack of her sense of him. Because, she realized, for some time now, she possessed an awareness of him. When did it happen? After they'd had sex? No, earlier. Maybe a few months ago, or maybe when he first arrived in Puente Antiguo?

Now, however, she felt nothing from the faded and still man that Thor carried. What did it mean? Was she looking at an illusion? Her mind grasped for any alternative other than the unthinkable.

"You remember, Asgardian," said Sean and his anger was echoed by the room, the throb of power growing in strength, squeezing every cell in Darcy's body. "You bragged about your triumph to Jane and Darcy just a few weeks ago." He dipped his gaze onto Loki, briefly. "Even Loki couldn't stomach your gloating-"

"Whoa," Darcy interrupted. "Thor's story about the dark elves, the village that was harboring some kind of terrorists or something." The various parts of the story and the remainder of the mystery began to shift in her head, her brain trying to fit one puzzle piece to another.

"There were no terrorists!" The familiar blue of Sean's eyes blazed at Darcy, and despite her best efforts otherwise, she took a step back.

"You lie!" snapped Thor.

"No, you lied! You and Odin." He took a step closer to Thor. "We were nothing more than farmers and hunters. Of no interest to anyone, except for one thing. And what was that, Thor?" Getting only baffled and angry silence from Thor, Sean continued, "An iron mine on our land, with some of the richest ore in the Nine Realms. For a few centuries Asgard even traded with us. But that wasn't enough. Odin and the rest wanted it for themselves."

"Wh-wait," said Jane, nervously, clearly being careful not to move much. "Elves can't tolerate iron."

"Members of my clan have a slight immunity and we developed a tithe to take care of the effects that immunity didn't work on."

"That's why you can handle being around so much steel and can work in SHIELD's facility," said Darcy. Two puzzle pieces slid closer together in her mind. "Your mom and sister. They are like you, but your brothers, you made them up."

"My brothers are dead, as is my father!" said Sean, and Darcy cringed again from the heat of his rage. "They were slaughtered in the attack. My mother survived, but her mind didn't. And my betrothed died as consequence of her rape at the hands of Thor's comrade."

She remembered his words in the break room days before, how his fiancée had passed away. "R-raped and killed?"

His pain flooded her as he met her gaze. "No." A tiny tremor shook his upper body. "She found a body, my younger brother's, mangled beyond recognition." Something new, guilt, softened his anger. He flicked a glance toward the floor, a shimmer of remorse in his eyes. "My sister and I had gone on a week-long hunting trip. Before I left, I loaned Achlon, my brother, my sword. He planned to take it to dwarven smiths so that they could forge a copy for him.

"When Marsali came across my brother's mutilated body, she saw that sword strapped in a scabbard at his side, and thought I was dead, too. The grief of losing me and the shame of her violation, drove her to suicide."

The images from her nightmare flashed before Darcy's eyes: trudging up a hill against a dark sky to where a lonely tree stood. "She hung herself," she said, hand going to her throat, feeling the rasp of coarse rope against her skin. Sean's eyes locked with hers and for an instant understanding passed between them. "She wouldn't have wanted you to do this."

His face twisted with fury. "YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT SHE WOULD HAVE WANTED!" Power, an actual force, shoved Darcy and she stumbled back, almost losing her footing.

"ENOUGH!" roared Thor. "You quarrel is with me, then. What honor is there in threatening an unarmed mortal woman?"

"No more or less than sneaking up on village at night, and laying waste to everything and everyone."

"We had good reason--"

"You did it for greed and glory, but mostly glory," snarled Sean. "All you do is for your glory. Your own glory, and the honor of your high ancestral name."

"Without honor, what are we?" responded Thor, although the slight creases between his brow suggested he knew he was talking himself into a trap.

"We are brothers, fathers, friends," said Sean. "Farmers, blacksmiths, hunters, and craftsmen. We are all the sum of our lives, not just a vague abstraction like honor. What is honor, anyway? Hearing the crowds cheer your name when you return from battle victorious?" Sean's gaze fell on Loki's still form in Thor's arms. "Tell me, Thor, in all the instances that your deeds have been praised, have you ever given any thought to the fallen, the ordinary soldiers who helped you win the day?"

Back straightening, Thor lifted his chin and nodded, pride in his stance. "Asgard's fallen heroes are always given their due respect."

"Define hero," snapped Sean. "If you, one of the Warriors Three, Sif, or a general dies, there would be days of mourning, funereal feasts, and long speeches praising their every action, from birth to death." He shrugged. "But the foot soldier gets, what? A bag of gold paid to his family?"

"No, you are wrong. Even the lowest ranking warrior is honored-"

"With vague toasts around the table at the victory feast," Sean sneered. "And forgotten a few months after."

Thor started to speak, but Sean's voice cut him off. "Whose name is in the history books? The common soldier's or the Mighty Thor's? Who really gets the credit for Asgard's victories?" To this Thor had no answer.

"You get lauded for your bravery, when in comparison to the ordinary foot soldier, you're a coward," said Sean. Thor's eyes blazed at the insult and he clearly held himself back only for Jane's sake. "Compared to a mortal, the ordinary Asgardian soldier seems invulnerable. But unlike Thor, he goes into battle with little more than the armor on his back. He doesn't carry Mjölnir, he can't command the powers of a storm.

"Tell me, Thor, who is the braver?"

Rage still boiling in his powerful frame from the insult, Thor nonetheless deflated somewhat. And underneath layers of fear, pain and despair, a new emotion flared in Darcy's chest, pity. Pity for Thor. That fueled anger which burned through her eyes as a death glare at Sean. It was futile, but it felt good, nonetheless.

"SHIELD will be here soon," said Jane, her soft voice breaking the hard silence. "They know what's going on, thanks to all the bugs in the house." She swallowed and looked pointedly at Loki. "He stopped disabling them a few days ago." A bright note of hope pinged in Darcy's heart.

The edges of Sean's mouth turned up with a condescending smile. He nodded agreeably. "Loki stopped destroying the bugs, but Darcy's lizard didn't get the memo."

Thor and Jane both looked at Darcy and she winced, remembering Bic's propensity to hunt and kill the devices, a habit that Darcy had encouraged during their stay underground.

"Your pet went after the bugs with a vengeance this morning," observed Sean. "Guess it was bored."

"And you, elf," said Thor, "have had your vengeance. If your quarrel lies with me, then the women--"

"Are coming with us," interrupted Sean. He inclined his head to the left and Darcy followed his line of sight to the far wall, to the dark rectangle of another doorway. She hadn't noticed it, confusing it with all the other patterns of hideous more-than-darkness.

"Where?" demanded Thor.

"To pay for what you've done, you and Odin both."

"No," declared Thor.

To this Sean shrugged and cast a sideways look at Jane, who whimpered. The red stripes on her neck lengthened and began to ooze blood. "Seriously, man?" said Sean. "Attitude?" He gestured at Loki. "Put that down. We don't need any dead weight."

"I cannot just leave him, here, in this place."

"You can and you will." Sean pointed at Jane for emphasis. "You'll do whatever I ask. If I ask you to braid your pretty blond hair in pigtails and sing 'I'm a Little Teapot,' you'll ask, 'In what key, sir?'"

His face, nearly as pale as Loki's with fury, Thor bent his knees and eased his brother's motionless body to the ground. Just before he rose again, his gaze met Darcy's. The anguish he bared to her threatened to bring tears to her eyes. Was Thor that good an actor?

Standing, Thor gestured at her. "You do not require Darcy." He glanced down at the man at his feet and back at Darcy. "Her part is done in this."

"No!" said Darcy before common sense could catch up. Everyone's attention settled on her. She blinked, trying to understand her outburst. Her mouth kept going, however. "I'm coming with you - with Jane." Going to whatever hell Sean had planned was the last thing she wanted to do. But for the last few years, she had followed Jane through thick and thin, dull and dangerous. Jane was more than a friend, she was family. As everyone was always so happy to point out, Darcy didn't have much in the way of skills, but there was no way she was abandoning Jane, or Thor, for that matter.

When she turned her determine glare on Sean, she was pleased to see a note of wariness in his eyes, as he passed a brief look down to Loki then back to her, maybe wondering if her agreement was some mischief. Darcy's gaze followed a similar rise and fall, down to her lover and up to Sean.

People no doubt wondered how she could tolerate Loki, much less be his friend. Eyes on Sean's face, his features altered, but still much like the guy she had crushed on, Darcy understood part of her attraction to Loki. She trusted him because she knew exactly what he was. He wasn't a sweet-faced young man who pretended to be her friend, who invited her to his dorm to play video games and repaid her trust with fists and violation. He wasn't a shy accountant who used her to unfold a murderous plan to get revenge on Thor.

Loki was Loki. Conniving, arrogant, and on special occasions--loss of his marbles, etc. --downright murderous. But he didn't bother to downplay his past, or be anything but Loki. And it made him one of the most honest people she knew.

Unable to stop herself, she glanced down at Loki's motionless form, a seed of grief starting to take hold in her chest. She lifted her chin, facing down Sean. "Why kill Max and Andy?" she asked, not expecting an answer.

"It's like the relationship status on Facebook," Sean answered, his face thoughtful, "'It's complicated.'" He grinned darkly at Thor. "But with Loki back in SHIELD's custody, I thought it would be easy to separate the two. I could have arranged for Loki to be in a secure cell, Thor in nearby quarters, free. Then blow up something in the facility and watch while Thor bolted off to be the hero, and forgot all about his brother."

All eyes fell on the lifeless body on the floor, the proof that Sean's alternate plan might have worked.

"Of course, I still would have needed extra leverage," he smirked at Jane, "to get Thor to travel with me." He took a step toward Jane, in the direction of the shadowed door. "We've wasted enough time." Resting his hand lightly on Jane's upper arm, ignoring Jane's nervous flinch, he inclined his head toward the second darkened doorway and gave Thor a slight, sardonic bow. "After you, my lord."

Determination on his face, Thor took two steps forward and Darcy saw the thoughts racing in his head. She sighed, thinking that, unfortunately, the big guy was not a subtle man. Sean saw this too, and noted, snidely, "I can see you anywhere in this building, including the next room, hee-ro."

As Thor again started moving, keeping himself angled so that he could keep an eyes on Jane. Sean said to Darcy, "You next."

Darcy met Jane's eyes, saw her fear mirrored in brown eyes and wished she could do or say something reassuring. But she was so hopeless outmatched: she wasn't Natasha or even Pam, the guard at SHIELD. Just nearsighted Darcy, with a big mouth, pretty face and nice tits. No one took her seriously and for good reason. Out-of-character despair slumped her shoulders and she took one step.

She couldn't stop herself from pausing and looking back at Loki's unmoving form on the barn's cracked and blackened concrete floor. His face was turned away from her, but what she could see of his skin had a faint bluish cast, and she felt nothing of him. Please, she begged, Let this be another one of your schemes. I'll be so pissed-off at you for making me feel this way, but I'll forgive you. Because I'm stupid that way. Because, I lo-, because I need you. Please don't be gone.

Feeling eyes on her, she lifted her gaze to meet Sean's stare. "Hey," he said, and for a split second, she thought a hint of her friend Sean O'Malley, shy accountant, still lived in those cornflower blue eyes. He seemed poised to say something, and then, his expression turned grim. "Move, or Jane bleeds."

Without anything else to do, she began to follow Thor. A second later, with one last furious glare at Sean, Thor stepped through the oily dark of the doorway. Darcy paused one step from the doorway, her body remembering the blackness in the other hallway, cold fear and adrenaline flooding her bloodstream, and making every nerve in her body fire, her teeth chatter.

For Jane, she thought. For Loki.

Taking a breath like a swimmer diving into icy water, she lifted her foot and plunged forward.

A Morbid Taste for Ice

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by sitehound

Part 34 of 39

<< Previous     Home     Next >>