Summary: In which Darcy opens her present, Surtur makes an appearance and Loki learns that felines are paramount to good first relations.
She's Made of Honour
There were five things that Loki Laufeyson was sure of in the universe — one: that Volstagg the Valiant was one of the greatest misnomers in existence; that Volstagg the Voracious would be much better suited to the voluminous and esurient hero. Two: that too many people wanted him dead and the ransom on his head was so ludicrously high that even Loki was tempted to surrender himself in exchange for the reward.
Three: that masquerading as the All-Father was magically strenuous and (actually) exhausting work, a self-claimed responsibility that Loki had obviously underestimated. Four: that over a decade without any intercourse (it's hard to get laid when you're busy ruling the universe) felt positively illegal; and now it was becoming an irksome distraction. And five: Darcy Lewis was the strangest and most unpredictable woman in all of Midgard, a conclusion he made when she abruptly kissed him.
'What was that for?' asked Loki, thoroughly perplexed. Darcy smiled coyly to herself and then laughed. She rubbed her arm, eyeing the unwrapped present before her: the final charm to her set – purple – and a silver pen that morphed into a sword if you said the right incantation.
'Just keeping a promise I made to myself three years ago. So, don't think anything of it,' mused Darcy. Then she sat up straighter and pushed herself off from the couch. 'Let's get some coffee and talk about why you're really here.'
Loki didn't stop thinking about it.
Surtur was having a bad day. No, it wasn't as terrible as that time that Ymir, the oldest and 'most intelligent' Frost Giant in existence, had waged war against, Muspelheim, the realm of the Fire Demons, with his primitive army of Frost Giants and The Casket of Ancient Winters; nor was it as terrible as that time when Odin imprisoned Surtur in the Midgard's core, trapped beneath layers and layers of rock and magic with only time to plan his revenge and escape plan. No. The reason that Surtur was having a bad day was because he was bored. Absolutely and completely bored.
There was nothing to do. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Diddlysquat.
Surtur craved war, bloodshed, and justice, and two hundred years of throwing rocks at a Muspelheim palace wall was antithetical of justice. There were only so many different ways you could throw rocks at a wall, there were only so many different ways you could crush boulders between your hundred-feet-wide hands, and there were only so many executions you could order before it became mass genocide. No, not even an unwarranted attack on Midgard's mortals could satisfy Surtur's thirst now, despite how much he liked crushing their measly bodies between his fingertips.
"More rocks Milord?" said Lítilleldur, interrupting the demon's reverie. The Great Fire Demon turned in his throne to stare at his servant, his body crackling with the movement.
Lítilleldur stood at a mere three hundred feet, small for a Fire Demon, and in his hands he held a large circular plate piled high with rocks of various sizes: jagged ones, sharp ones, smooth ones, round ones, and even ones that looked like cubes on acid. Surtur liked the jagged ones the most.
"No Lítilleldur," the pygmy Fire Demon twitched his nose and the plate of rocks vanished. "Have you received word from the scouts?"
"Not yet, Milord," answered Lítilleldur, his voice faint in comparison to Surtur's sonorous one. It was expected though, Surtur was a one-thousand-feet tall Fire Demon after all; and unlike Lítilleldur, who would live most of his days in Muspelheim to only be slain by a bucket of water, Surtur held a magnificent sword named Twilight and a special place in Ragnarok.
"Ah," hummed Surtur, a small fire flaring out of his nostrils.
It had been six years since Surtur enlisted the help of the Enchanters Three. Though it had pained Surtur, at the time, to have had employed the help of the Aesir witches, there had been consolation in the fact that Brona, Enrakt and Magnir loathed Odin as much as he did.
Surtur had formed a pact with them. An agreement that the moment that that wretched Aesir's throne was vulnerable they would join forces and destroy Asgard to the crumbling mass it should be. The Enchanters would work their magic and grant his army safe passage into Asgard; but for now the three witches paced the All-Father's halls, waiting and occasionally sending word to Surtur about the Aesirs' doings.
Surtur was growing impatient though. It had been six years and the only significant news he knew was that Laufey's bastard son was finally dead and the other one was living on Midgard now. Despite these losses, Asgard was still formidable and Surtur was one not to test Odin and his mighty stick, Gungnir.
"If I may say something Milord," interrupted Lítilleldur. His necked was inclined back to stare up at the Fire Demon, his hands clasped stoically behind his back.
"You may, Lítilleldur."
"There have been murmurings in Jötunheim," said the Fire Demon softly.
Surtur turned to Lítilleldur, his interest piqued. It had been Jötunheim's exposure to the Bifröst eight years ago that had threatened Yggdrasil, the world tree that connected the nine realms, to collapse. It had promised the beginning of Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods, until Odin's favourite son, Thor, and his warriors had repaired the damage to Yggdrasil and restored balance to the nine realms once again, preventing Ragnarok for another millennia.
"That their 'Great Elder' has returned," Lítilleldur lowered his voice to a whisper, "and that he wants to request an audience with you."
It was soft and Surtur had to strain his ears to hear the tiny demon.
"And what does this 'Great Elder' look like?" sneered Surtur, unimpressed by the news now. Those Jötuns were always telling stories about how great they were, but they were nothing more than easy-to-defrost icicles without their casket.
"They say he's the oldest of the Ice Giants and made of winter —"
"Cease the poetics Lítilleldur. I care not for them."
Whether the pygmy demon was affronted, Surtur did not know nor did he care. Lítilleldur's face was too small to take any notice of anyway. Instead, Surtur waited for Lítilleldur's next words, and when he finally heard them — "He has magic" — a fiery smile spread across the Great Fire Demon's face.
Clutching his sword Twilight more firmly in his hands, Surtur stood up for the first time in six years and turned to Lítilleldur.
"Come Lítilleldur. We have work to do."
"Did you want anything?" asked Darcy.
They were both inside Darcy's Brooklyn apartment kitchen where her fluorescent ceiling lights illuminated the room; they highlighted the scratched black and white checkerboard linoleum kitchen floor and the lurid lime-coloured wallpaper that pealed at the corners.
Darcy was preparing coffee on the kitchen bench with her back to Loki, who was seated at the kitchen table in the middle of the room. The Trickster held a contemplative expression as he stared at the items Darcy had dumped on the kitchen table ten minutes ere: an open velvet-lined box containing a silver bracelet with six attached charms inset with coloured gems inside (Loki had just given her another gem, inset with an amethyst this time), a golden hair comb decorated with trumpet-shaped flowers across its bridge, a well-worn leather-bound copy of Emma by Jane Austen, a cerise coloured scarf, Freya's falcon coat (which Loki had stolen many years ago, unbeknownst to Odin) and an elegant silver pen that Loki had just given her.
"Did you want anything?" repeated Darcy, inclining her head over her bare shoulder. She had deposited her jacket on the couch fifteen minutes ago, after she had opened her present and realised that Thor's brother wasn't leaving anytime soon.
Loki ignored her, picking up the silver bracelet. He felt power radiate off it, inaccessible power. It irked him.
"Did you," Loki trailed off.
"Yes pretty boy?"
"Nothing," muttered Loki and returned the bracelet to its initial place. His fingers savoured the feel of the velvet against his skin — prickly and soft. Frigga had loved velvet. Loki had hated velvet.
"Ms Lewis," started Loki.
"Darcy," corrected Darcy. "My name's Darcy." Loki's brow furrowed. "You've made it apparent that you're not gonna leave anytime soon, so stop calling me Ms Lewis and call me by my actual name."
He rolled her name around his tongue a few times. It was strange and foreign, like everything about this backwards civilisation, or maybe that was just Miss Lewis. Although Loki had been watching her for six years now, Darcy never ceased to astound him with her idiosyncrasies. Everything about her was foreign — her deadpan voice, her verbose vernacular, her bodacious physique that she usually hid under thick layers of wool during the winter months, and even her obstinate refusal to wear a coat despite the goosebumps that covered her skin.
"You can stop saying my name now. It's fucking creepy," interrupted Darcy as she flicked the kettle on and turned around to face the Chaos God. "You didn't answer my question monkey balls."
Loki didn't know whether to roll his eyes or metaphysically punch her. Instead he settled with an insult.
"Do not assume that I extend you the same familiarity Darcy."
Darcy snorted. How unladylike, thought Loki.
"I assumed so." Darcy crossed her arms over her chest thoughtfully. The action pushed her cleavage upwards, further above the low neckline of her dress that kept them in place. It distracted Loki momentarily.
"I assumed that you would not extend the same familiarity to me," continued the brunette, slowly, thoughtfully. The kettle started boiling behind her. "What should I call you then?"
The Trickster smirked and then leant back in Darcy's kitchen chair. It creaked as Loki appraised the mortal before him.
"All-Father, King Loki, Your Highness or Your Majesty," answered Loki smugly, enjoying the way that Darcy's eyebrows disappeared underneath her fringe and the way her blue eyes widened. Fringes did not suit her, noted Loki, he would have to fix that. Soon.
"Conceited much? I guess you can't expect much less from a megalomaniac orphan," deadpanned Darcy. Loki pursed his lips, wrung his hands together and reined his temper. The kettle finished boiling with a resonate click. "How about I continue calling you Pretty Boy?"
"Will I have a choice on this matter?" asked the Chaos God restrainedly, as he watched Darcy turn around to the kitchen counter again. She pulled two pink polka dot patterned mugs down from the open cupboard above her head, and then closed it. Loki heard the steady dump of dried instant coffee on porcelain.
"Not really," said Darcy firmly, pouring water into the mugs. "You must admit, it's definitely better than Bringer of Death and Destruction."
"Actually, I like that better."
Silver clinked against porcelain as the kettle water rapidly darkened to an earthy brown. Darcy plopped two sugar cubes into each mug, stirred, and then she turned around holding one mug in each hand.
The brunette approached the table, deposited one mug in front of Loki before she proceeded to the opposite side of the table where she sat down, clasping her polka dot patterned mug between her red-painted nails. Loki eyed the pink polka dot mug in front of him suspiciously.
"I didn't ask for anything."
Darcy smiled wryly. "I assumed."
She cradled the warm beverage between her hands, gently blowing rising steam away from the rim. She took a sip from her mug and scrutinised The God of Chaos and Mischief.
He looked so out of place here in her dingy apartment. His get-up of meticulously woven fabrics and golden-hemmed garments coupled with his sleeked back hair look more suited to a steam-punk-inspired palace (Darcy resisted snorting at that thought) than here. The black base of his clothes only served to further highlight his wrinkle-less alabaster skin, which Darcy was incredibly envious of by the way, while the intermittent dark fern-coloured weaving of his jacket and shirt accentuated his bright green eyes. All in all, his ensemble made him look strangely attractive, in a dangerous, cerebral way.
"Why are you here?"
"According to your hallway plaques, I believe you are the one with the degrees in Political Science and Psychology," drawled the man in question. Darcy rolled her eyes exaggeratedly. "Including a PhD in Psychology."
"And look what it got me," snapped Darcy derisively, gesticulating towards the kitchen around them. "A crappy, teeny-weeny Brooklyn apartment with no air-conditioning," her voice rose and her chest heaved in frustration, "a phenomenal amount of uni debt that even Nevada's most famous prostitute couldn't pay out in a decade," a flush passed into her pale cheeks and her eyes light in indignation, "and most of all: a job where I am overlooked because I'm a woman among chauvinistic men who can't take me seriously because they're too busy looking at my boobs or my arse!" Darcy paused infinitesimally, and then breathed deeply — once, twice, thrice; then she added wryly: "Although I don't blame them, I have a damn fine arse."
"And breasts," added The Trickster God with a sly smile.
"That's just assumed," said Darcy returning his smile with a dismissive wave of her hand. "You still haven't answer my question banana brains."
"My, my, you're very persistent aren't you?" teased Loki.
"What can I say? Persistence is the one thing a PhD teaches you, apart from contemplating prostitution after seeing your student loans total," quipped Darcy.
It was true though; albeit having four degrees before the age of thirty, Darcy was over one hundred thousand dollars in debt from student loans alone, and despite her recent full time employment she hadn't even cut a quarter of her debts. The thought depressed her, which is why Darcy had adopted her kitten Kara, to distract her from her seemingly infinite debts (and because she was perpetually single, so it just made sense, okay?).
Thinking of Kara — "Where's Kara?" she asked. It was the God's turn to raise his eyebrows.
"Kara. My cat," answered Darcy, as she pushed her chair back and stood up. She hadn't seen Kara since she left her apartment last evening, and her cat had a knack for knowing when Darcy was home. She would always meet Darcy at the door when she arrived home, no matter the time, with soft meows and purrs while she slinked between her owner's legs.
Darcy turned sharply to Loki, who wore one of the greatest poker faces in history.
"What did you do to her?"
"What do you mean?"
"What did you do to her?" repeated Darcy, more aggressively this time, anger bubbling in her chest. Loki wrung his hands around each other and pulled at his sleeve, like a little kid being caught out by their mother.
"I thought she was a stray, so I put her outside, where all other strays belong," answered Loki.
"What?" deadpanned Darcy. "I love her more than my iPod! How could you even think she was a stray? What stray cat looks like it should be competing for America's Next Top Cat Model? I brush her fluffy fur everyday!"
"You never had a cat before!"
"That's right, because you know everything about my 'fascinating' life don't you?"
"It's not my fault if you don't write everything in that pathetic journal of yours."
"You read my journal?" Darcy huffed. "If I had something to throw at you right now—"
"It'd miss. I've seen your pitch Ms Lewis and it's nothing impressive," quipped Loki. The buxom woman moved rapidly around the kitchen table and stopped in front of a now standing Loki, who held an expression of utter contempt. Blue eyes met green eyes fiercely, as the pair entered the second most intense staring contest in history. The first most intense staring contest had been between a fox and small poodle in Devon, England, two years ago. It had lasted forty-five minutes and two seconds before the fox had pounced and devoured the dog for a light afternoon snack. In terms of this current staring contest: Loki was winning.
"You," Darcy poked Loki in the chest, who looked unimpressed but remained stoic, "are going to fix this. Right. Now," finished Darcy, adding two extra pokes for good measure.
"If I do 'fix this', will you come to Asgard?" asked The Trickster Lord impassively. Confusion twisted the furious look on Darcy's face into a grimace.
"If I do 'fix this', will you come to Asgard?" repeated Loki. Silence settled awkwardly between the pair as the brunette's mouth repetitively opened and closed in thought. It suddenly made all sense — the presents and his mysterious return from the dead.
"You utter, selfish bas—"
"If you could stop imitating an insipid fish for a moment, I could tell you why you're required on Asgard," interjected Loki nonchalantly, breaking his gaze from the shorter woman, thus ending the second most intense staring contest in history.
"That's why you're here isn't it? To kidnap me to Asgard?"
"Kidnap is a strong word, Ms Lewis," the Chaos God twisted his lips contemplatively. "I would say 'coerce' you to come to Asgard."
"No. Coerce," said Loki, stressing the word 'coerce' with a roll of his large green eyes. Darcy crossed her arms over the chest, distracting the Trickster for the second time that night.
"Same thing. Whatever," said the brunette as she noticed where his gaze was. "And stop looking at my boobs you perve." Loki blushed and returned his gaze to her face. "Now, if I agree to come to Asgard with you, what's in it for me?"
Loki smirked, mirth dancing in his eyes.
"I knew there was a reason that I liked you."
"Apart from my boobs," interjected Darcy.
"Yes, apart from your breasts, which look positively sublime, I knew there was a reason that I liked you," said Loki, correcting himself with a smug grin. He stood straighter now, assuming an air of thick arrogance that made Darcy feel like choking or popping his ego. "If you do agree to come to Asgard, your kitten will be returned."
"Is that all?" asked Darcy, unimpressed. "I've had ex-boyfriends provide better bribes than that."
"I will return your favourite polka dot patterned bra."
"You gotta offer more than that pretty boy; I know you're supposed to be dead and that you probably killed your daddy to get that imaginary crown on your head," remarked Darcy, as she inspected her nails absently. They had chipped over the night and the thought of repainting them filled Darcy utter indolence.
"You can bring your kitten to Asgard with you," offered Loki pithily.
"Not enough, pretty boy."
"I can absolve all of your educational debts."
"Nah, that'd look suspicious. S.H.I.E.L.D. would be suspicious, and last thing you want is S.H.I.E.L.D. popping 'round here in their dapper suits, realising I'm not here, then prompting them to investigate the abduction of Ms Darcy Cailtin Lewis and her cat Cara. So try again, orphan."
The Mischief God clenched and unclenched his hands, frustration knitting his thick eyebrows together. And Darcy found it so goddamn adorable.
"Curse the Nine Realms woman, what could you possibly desire?" asked Loki after a few moments.
Darcy lifted her gaze from her nails. Then she beamed and cocked her head to the side, making her dark waves fly over her left shoulder, hiding her bare skin from curious green eyes.
"Now, that's the question I wanted to hear," said Darcy with a wink.
Firstly, the kiss is literally just Darcy keeping her word to herself after receiving her present on the third year — 'That year Darcy had vowed to herself that she would kiss whoever gave her these presents' — and subtly proving to Loki that Darcy is a woman of honour.
Secondly, I'm terrible at updating (obviously), but I will try to have the next chapter up in a fortnight and start updating regularly. I've written most of an Agent of Asgard arch, if that's anything. However, I'll leave that up to you. Comments, criticisms are welcome. Hope you're all well, xx
P.S. If you're not following me over under the AO3, please do. I'll be posting a one-shot soon.