Continuing Tales

A Morbid Taste for Ice

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by sitehound

Part 4 of 39

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Darcy slept a deep and mostly dreamless sleep, until right before her alarm went off. It woke her from a dream where Loki, a black silhouette against a green background, dressed in full armor with the horned helmet, did a little ass-wiggling dance, iconic white iPod in his hand.

SHIELD's doctor had been right, her injuries did feel worse this day. In fact, overnight, her knee and hip seemed to have hardened like concrete, painful concrete. In the bathroom, she undressed and pulled a face at her reflection in the mirror. Her body sported an ugly geography of bruises, with the one on her hip looking like a purple continent against her fair skin. Since she was the last one up, she spent extra time in the shower, using all the hot water.

The waking version of Loki was nowhere near as chipper as the dream, but he didn't act like Darcy was a fly in his soup. But when it came time to leave for work, he stalked out the door first. Darcy stared, confused, at his departing back, before she realized what was wrong. Over time, the four had fallen into the habit of leaving the house in a certain order: Thor leading the way, with Jane after, then Loki, and Darcy last. Darcy's position dictated by the fact that no one else remembered to lock the door.

There were, mercifully, no frozen corpses on the porch, but her hands still shook at the memory and she fumbled with the key, before it slid home and turned the deadbolt shut. Loki stood at the top of the stairs, waiting for her. At her approach, he took a step toward her. Because she didn't care to feel like luggage, she reached up and put her arms around his neck when he reached down to pick her up. In his arms, every cell in her body started vibrating, acutely aware of him, and she tried to look anywhere but at his face.

"Damn, you are tall," she said, because stupid banter felt like her only defense against the confusing attraction she felt for him. "Does Asgard have any short people? Or is there a height requirement? 'You must be this tall to ride this world.'"

As he settled her into the seat, he said, with a familiar sneer and one eyebrow quirked upward, "Yes, there are people of your diminished height. They are pitiful creatures. We, in our vast generosity, allow them to clean our toilets and scrub the mold from the baths."

"If I had my Taser, you'd so be on the ground, doing a dirt dance. " She rolled her eyes back in her head and acted out the twitchy aftermath of a Taser.

Thor, who'd been listening to the exchange, glanced nervously at Jane, who was just a bit shorter than Darcy. "He jests, of course," he said. Jane laughed quietly and started the vehicle.

Loki got in the SUV, pulled a book, another of Darcy's--The Secret Life of Bees--from somewhere in his leather armor and immediately began reading. Maybe that was why he preferred Asgard clothing; it had more places to hide stuff.

She curled her fingers, except for thumb and pinky, toward her palm and mimed a phone to her ear. "Hello? Mr. Mad Scientist? We appreciate your patronage of Darcy's library, but your book is way overdue." Of course, he ignored her.

Thor meanwhile, was grousing about last night's events. "...and he immediately blames Loki."

"Well, he is...Loki," replied Jane, slowing the vehicle to let a covey of quail scurry across the road.

"He's done no one any harm." Thor motioned toward Darcy. "And he has shown kindness to Darcy after her injury."

"It wasn't kindness," said Loki, not looking up from the book. "I simply grew tired of watching her flaunt her mortal weakness."

Darcy lifted her chin and smiled a smug, closed-mouth smile. "Nuh-uh. It's kindness. You like me."

"No. You are...crass and given to expounding on whatever idea flits though your head."

"Which is why you like me."

"I don' you."

"Liar. Somebody get a fire extinguisher, because your pants are on fire."

"And childish," grumbled Loki.

In the front seat, Thor and Jane were already ignoring their bickering.

"Fury knows of other people, other beings who are capable of wielding magic," argued Thor. "There are ordinary mortals, like Stark, who might be capable of constructing a device capable of such a thing."

"Knowing Tony, he built a freeze-ray in pre-school," said Jane. "But I don't think he dropped by to kill Andy."

"Yeah, we can't even get him to come by and visit his junkyard," said Darcy.

"And yet, Fury blames Loki," said Thor.

"Occam's Razor," was Jane's reply.

"And what is that? Some sort of weapon?" asked Thor.

"Even in the simplest conversation, he requires explanatory footnotes," grumbled Loki, looking up from the book. "'Other things being equal, a simpler explanation is better than a more complex one.' Although that's an inaccurate approximation of the principle. In other words, Fury is simply leaping on the easiest explanation."

"But it isn't," protested Darcy. "You've got no motive."

"I'm quite mad, I don't need a motive." He met her eyes, a hint of humor in his green eyes.

"You may be a few beans short of a Taco Bell combo meal, but that doesn't mean you killed Andy."

"The SHIELD agent said nasty things to me," he replied, dryly. "My feelings were hurt. Hence, he is dead."

Darcy snorted. "Riiight. You. 'Feelings.'" Catching movement in the corner of her eye, she looked out the window, past her faint reflection in the glass to where a roadrunner struck a pose by the side of the road, long black tail lifted high and a lizard dangling limply in its beak. Her thoughts turned to just after she awoke, right after the funny image of the dancing Loki faded, replaced by a revelation. She spoke it aloud: "Fury knows Loki didn't kill Andy."

"What?" Thor turned in his seat. "Then why lay blame on my brother?"

Loki muttered his usual protestation regarding familial relations, but Darcy talked over him. "He didn't outright blame him. He just asked him to come back to base. I think it was just for show. If he really thought Loki was the killer, he would have brought more guards, marched into the house and hauled him away."

"Darcy's right," said Loki.

"I'm right?" Darcy said. "Did somebody get that on camera?"

Loki lifted his eyes from the book. "Darcy's arguments against my incarceration, however reasonable, wouldn't have swayed Fury if he had a shred of evidence against me. The house is infested with electronic listening devices, and SHIELD spends a small fortune on petrol, sending the black SUVs past the house every hour. He knows Thor and I were home all night."

"Why the subterfuge?" asked Thor.

"Maybe," said Jane, slowing the vehicle as they approached a four-way stop sign, "someone is trying to set Loki up for the murder."

"Yes," Thor said. "Someone seeking vengeance for Loki's crimes."

The vehicle stopped at the intersection and Darcy looked beyond Loki to the new stop sign, vibrant red and shiny. Two of the properties on the intersection looked post-apocalyptic, the ground blackened, burnt sagebrush reaching black arms to the sky, the buildings on both sides reduced to concrete foundations and broken, charcoaled walls.

Although some of the damage from Loki's misadventures in urban renewal remained in Puente Antiguo, this wasn't his doing, but rather the aftermath of a wildfire that had swept dangerously close to their home four months before. During the summer months, at any given time, something was on fire in New Mexico.

Loki's attention was also on the burn scar, and she studied him, thinking that he desperately needed a real haircut, Thor's sins against hairstyling evidenced by blunt uneven layers of black hair.

"Except the killer may not have been human," Darcy said, thinking out loud. "Humans can't do magic, right?"

"Some might," said Loki, his eyes on her once again.

The car began moving and Jane said, "How's that even possible?"

"This is hardly the first time Midgard has been visited by the Aesir," replied Loki. "And there have been others, from Alfheim, the elves. Any humans with magical power are likely the descendents of a mortal and immortal's by-blow."

Darcy smirked. "Speaking from personal experience?"

From the front seat, Thor let out a jovial laugh. "Of course. It was once common practice."

Darcy laughed. "You too, big guy?" Her grin faded a bit when she saw Jane's expression in the rearview mirror.

"Wait, you've slept with other mortal woman and fathered children?" said Jane, "You never mentioned that. You said you've never met a mortal like me."

"I haven't," said Thor, blue eyes wide with confusion. Loki's emerald eyes, meanwhile, gleamed with mirth, his shoulders twitching with repressed laughter.

"The o-others," stammered Thor, "they-they meant nothing to me."

"Oh, bad move," muttered Darcy.

"Nothing?" snapped Jane. "Is that what you told them at the time?"

"No, I mean..." Thor stared blankly at Jane for an instant before his face took on the expression of someone who's realized he's just stepped off a very tall cliff. "Jane, it was centuries ago..." The god of thunder shrank under the usually mild-mannered physicist's ferocious glare. "Mind the road, my love." He gestured feebly ahead.

Loki barked a short laugh. "Even I know you shouldn't admit to tupping other mortal women, and I'm"

Thor twisted in the seat to look at Loki. "You just did."

"I've blown up cities. I can't get any lower in their eyes."

"Compared to large-scale carnage, diddling the natives is pretty tame," Darcy agreed with a shrug.

Reaching to the front seat, she gave Jane's shoulder a gentle squeeze. "Cut the big guy some slack. It's not like you can expect a guy his age and that cut," she let her eyes trace a line up Thor's muscular shoulder, "to be a virgin."

"That's not the problem," muttered Jane, "I'll-I'll tell you, later."

"Okay...back on topic." Darcy sat back in her seat.

"So," she said to Loki, "we can't scratch any humans off the suspect list."


"Given all the friends you've made here on Earth, we've got a long list of suspects."


Math and Darcy Lewis would never be friends, but as of late, they were at least on speaking terms. Which is why, when Jane handed her a sheet of paper with a couple of handwritten equations, Darcy didn't roll her eyes and say, "Looks like Greek to me." Well, some of it was Greek--tau, pi and omega--but her brain no longer locked up at the sight of a long complex equation. Today, as most days, she responded by grabbing Jane's arm and keeping her there while she tried to make sense of the physicist's scrawly writing.

"Is this a three or a five?"

"Uh," Jane bent and looked at the page. "Five."

"Two parentheses or one?"


Pointing at the date and time ranges, written at the top of the paper, she said, "I don't have the data from July 15th through the 17th."

"Oh, right. I'll go pull it now." Jane turned and made for her desk, giving Thor a dark look as she passed by. Apparently, Thor had some eggs-splainin' to do tonight. Typically oblivious, he was still wrecking feathered vengeance on pigs in Angry Birds, but Jane had found him some earbuds, so at least he was doing it quietly.

Darcy didn't bother to look at the second equation. Written in Loki's exacting script, it would be utterly legible. The problem with his mathematical models wasn't readability. According to Jane, they were theoretically sound, but bizarrely unpredictable. They usually worked but when they didn't, they failed spectacularly. The results varied from innocuous--her computer screen taken over by Mandelbrot patterns--to damaging, and virus-like. Darcy had started calling him Mad Science after one equation made all the printers in the building spit out the first act of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, with 16th century fonts and spelling.

She pulled her heavy sweater's sleeves down over her fingers and got to work. After about an hour, however, the sub-arctic temperature in the Fish Bowl started to penetrate the sweater. Shivering, she got up and limped to the thermostat, where she tapped the plus button futilely, watching the setting max out at 100, while the vents continued to spew frigid air.

"Hey, Mad Science, can't you mojo this thing somehow?" Loki looked up from the physics journal he was reading. "The cold is making me extra hurty."

"I'll call maintenance again," said Jane, who wore a sweatshirt and a hoodie.

Darcy went back to tapping the button, because maybe the activity would at least warm her finger. Suddenly, a warm hand clamped over hers. Turning, she found Loki immediately behind her. "You're sneaky," she said, pushing aside the urge to lean back and snuggle into his warmth, "You need a bell, like a cat."

He released her hand and tilted his head to the side. "Move." When she didn't comply, he set his hands on her shoulders and pushed her gently aside. As she watched, he lifted his right hand and moved his fingers. A wisp of green mist drifted to the thermostat and the screws holding the front plate started to unscrew. They dropped into his waiting left hand; he popped off the cover and studied the interior of the device. His elegant fingers danced again and with a loud click, the air conditioning stopped. After he replaced the cover and magicked the screws back, he set the thermostat to 70 and returned to his chair.

Darcy, Jane and Thor stared at him dumbfounded. "Why didn't you do that before, brother?" said Thor.

With a shrug, Loki said, "No one ever asked."


At twelve thirty, Darcy made a lunch run. Jane offered to go instead, but Darcy waved her off. "It's worse when I don't move. Besides, I don't have to walk far."

Though she did her best to minimize her limp, Max frowned worriedly at her approach. "You look worse today." He started to her, but she shook her head. "I'm okay."

As she reached the lift, he said, "Why did you lie, girl?"


"You're covering for him."

Darcy blinked, confused. Was this about Andy's murder? "I don't understand."

"He did this to you, didn't he?" Max gestured with his eyes at her right leg.

"No, I fell."

Max shook his head, and lifted his hand to rub his chin. "My sister, Angela, she was like you. She lived with this guy, Mark, and Mark...he beat her." Darcy started to speak, but he pressed on. "Sometimes, she'd call the cops, but she never filed charges.

"He was slick. The worse he hurt her, the nicer he was afterwards." His gaze wandered back toward the Fish Bowl. "Just like that asshole is doing now. Yeah, I saw him, carrying you, acting like he gives a shit."

"He didn't hurt--"

"Then what's that, huh?" He reached and put his hand around her left wrist, lifting it. "Those are handprints. Just like on Angie."

Movement caught her eye and she turned. At this angle, she could see the outer wall of the Fish Bowl and the printer that sat next to the glass wall. Loki stood there, waiting for something to print. His hand was on the printer, long fingers tapping impatiently on the machine. If he noticed her and Max, he gave no indication.

The marks on her lower arm weren't much more than faint reddish stripes on her skin; if Max hadn't pointed them out, she may not have noticed them. Not when the rest of her body was splattered in a colorful graffiti of bruises. Her eyes darted from her arm and back to Loki and then to Max, who watched her with a knowing expression.

"He didn' wasn't..." She shut up, realizing that nothing she said could sufficiently explain what happened. At least, not without telling Max about Andy, when at this point, he didn't seem to know the details of his colleague's murder.

"What happened to your sister?" she asked.

Max let go of her arm and turned to hit the call button for the lift. "Mark came home one night, late, drunk, and threw her against a wall. She hit her head, massive hemorrhage...she was dead before the ambulance reached the hospital."

"I'm sorry," she said weakly, and limped onto the lift.


The lift doors opened to reveal Sean who stood near Pam, the guard. The two had identical expressions of feigned pleasantness, neither obviously having any interest in small talk with the other.

Pam watched as Sean moved to offer her his arm. "You look like you were hit by a truck. What happened?"

"I my bike," she answered. That was the story she told Max, for all the good it did, and she was sticking to it like glue.

"I hope you were wearing your helmet, kiddo."

At "kiddo," Darcy shot her an amused look. Pam probably wasn't more than a couple years older than her. With a smile, she let it pass. After two tours in Iraq, Pam, an ex-Marine, more than earned the right to call her kiddo.

By its usual ghost town standards, the break room was positively bustling. The two generic G-Men types were back, sitting in the same strategically advantageous corner of the room. By the door, four guards argued energetically about the Broncos' defensive lineup, and two nurses in white uniforms sat nearby. Dr. Emily Banks and Dr. Rakesh Khandan were seated near the vending machines, steam rising from fresh cups of coffee before them.

Emily nodded a hello at Darcy, but Rakesh hunched his shoulders and continued an existing conversation, which appeared to be nothing more than a rant about plastic paperclips. Once, Rakesh had a bit of a crush on Darcy, an affection quickly extinguished by her cohabitation with Loki. In this case, Darcy couldn't say she missed the attention. His coffee breath could drop a bull elephant at twenty paces, and he was in the habit of standing too close and holding long conversations with her boobs.

She bought two packages of frozen, green chile chicken enchiladas, one for her, the other for Jane, and two BLTs for Thor. Loki never ate lunch, convinced the vending machine food was toxic, but after a moment of deliberation, she bought him a candy bar.

Sean bought red chile beef enchiladas, and after they'd heated their meals in the microwave, they sat down, a couple of tables away from the G-Men.

Because she needed to vent, she told him about her conversation with Max. "The Pope won't nominate him for sainthood, but it's not like Loki's responsible for everything bad that happens. Why assume he beat me up?" She bit her lip, realizing she sounded just like Thor.

Sean took a bite of enchilada, chewed, swallowed and then said, "Two beautiful women; two gods, one trailer. People jump to conclusions. He's had violent tendencies in the past. If he can't beat up the world, then..."

"...he beats on me." Darcy rolled her eyes and made an exasperated huff, noting that the G-Men seemed to be eavesdropping on the conversation. "Well, he didn't," she said forcefully, in case they were listening. "And if he did, Thor would kill him."

"The same Thor that sprang him from prison?" Sean's mouth quirked in a wry smile.

"Yeah, I know." Darcy stirred the Spanish rice that came with the enchiladas. "He'd forgive his brother for just about anything. But he made it clear, the one thing he won't ever tolerate is for Loki to hurt me or Jane."

"Why would Thor care?" He stabbed a fork full of enchilada, a slight frown on his mouth.

"Because Jane's his girlfriend, the love of his life, his sweet googley-moogley." And I'm Jane's occasionally useful assistant.

Sean winced and laughed at the same time. "Ugh. Do they really talk like that to each other?"

"Not in front of me, but they're in 'Lookout, here comes my lunch' love." The rice wasn't bad, but it needed salt. She eyed a salt shaker on the counter, several painful steps away, and sighed. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised that people assume I'd hook up with a guy who treats me like a punching bag. Leave it to stupid and glib Darcy, right?"

"You're not stupid," he stated bluntly, "and your flippancy is a defense mechanism."

She paused, a fork full of rice halfway to her mouth, flattered by his statement and discomforted by the weird realization that he reminded her of Loki. On the surface, they were as different as apples and hand grenades, Sean being a pleasant law-abiding CPA from northern California and Loki, an embittered, uber-powerful alien with a taste for world domination. But both were beautiful, almost fey, and completely emotionally unavailable.Crap. Do I have a type?

Back in the Fish Bowl, a couple hours later, Darcy caught herself watching Loki as he and Jane discussed the fabric of the universe or something along those lines. She couldn't hear them since, in lieu of her stolen iPod, she was listening to Internet radio. Besides, conversations between the two sounded like the adults on the old Peanuts cartoons: "Mwa-mwa-mwa, mwa."

Caught up in the intricacies of science-y stuff, Loki's face had a easy openness; at one point he tilted his head and smiled at Jane, then shook his head, and laughed, pointing at something on the printed sheet of data on the table before them. Darcy pulled her gaze away, and stared sightlessly at the screen before her, coincidentally the query interface where she was entering his equation. With an embarrassing spike of jealously, she tried to remember if he ever smiled at her like that. Sneered, leered, smirked, sure, but an easy smile? Rarely.

Why wouldn't he smile at Jane? she thought. Jane had charmed the arrogant out of Thor. Though it might take longer, she'd probably find the sane in Loki. And why shouldn't he be drawn to Jane? She was brilliant and gorgeous, possessing a kind of elegant grace along with a touch of geeky awkwardness. Hell, if Darcy weren't totally straight, she'd jump Jane's bones.

Darcy Lewis, on the other hand, is "crass" and "childish," she thought with more petulance than she'd like. She lifted her chin. Yeah, well, Sean thinks I'm beautiful. And not-stupid.

Nevertheless, she let her eyes wander to the far wall's glassy surface, where Jane and Loki's reflection doppelgangers bent their heads close, lost in all things astrophysics, and she felt a hard ache start in her stomach.

One thing was abundantly clear. Darcy had developed a serious crush on Loki.

A Morbid Taste for Ice

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by sitehound

Part 4 of 39

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