AN:Sorry for another super long delay! This chapter just was hard to write for muse reasons. But once I got going again, it was like I was on a roll! I know that this is a pretty short chapter considering my last few updates, but that's because the outline of this chapter- if I published everything would be another 11k worded behemoth! And I didn't want to make you guys wait any longer than you already have.
Recommeded Listening: Song for Bob- Jesse James Soundtrack
Brazilian Portuguese. Running your fingers through your lover's hair.
To an extent, Loki had been expecting it. After all, Darcy had been popping in and out of his life for a long time now. However, this time was different. He wasn't used to being alongside present-day Darcy, and since this was the first time she'd traveled away from him as opposed to traveling to him, he wasn't certain of the nuances of traveling. For example, how long was she typically gone? Minutes? Days? Weeks? And whom all amongst her friends and coworkers knew about her ability? Loki picked up the shards of the broken mug from the floor.
"Where's Darcy?" Jane asked when he entered the lab by himself the following Monday.
"She had a family emergency and left early yesterday morning," Loki replied, the lie sliding effortlessly from his tongue. Jane eyed him suspiciously from behind her "World's Best Astrophysicist" coffee mug she'd received from Darcy.
"Hmm… She usually lets me know when something comes up." Loki just shrugged.
Days passed and he tried his best to keep up the charade of nonchalance. But at the beginning of the second week of her disappearance, he found he couldn't take the idle waiting any longer. So, Loki traveled to Jotunheim to continue his work. He was using the Casket of Ancient Winters to rebuild the realm and make peace with the people. The labor was distracting enough that he was able to keep his mind from worrying too much.
Another week passed, and he had yet no word. Undoubtedly, he began to feel panic-stricken. He sent doubles to keep vigil across both Midgard and Asgard―one stayed behind to watch over Stark Tower and also the willow tree near her family's land in Vermont; the other roamed the royal halls of Asgard. He could see the worry on Jane's face, and Loki wondered if she knew...
Loki had taken it upon himself to speak with each of the Jotuns individually to hear their concerns and address their needs. He was working so hard to build a rapport with his people, hopefully his efforts would pay off. It was during one of these conversations that he saw one of his father's ravens. At the end of the very long day, he traveled to Asgard.
Loki had been making his way towards the throne room, long strides echoing down the marble corridor. His steps slowed as he approached a heavy wooden door on the side. He extended his right foot, in an attempt to walk on by, but found that he simply could not, and turned instead towards the wooden frame.
The turn of the latch resonated throughout the stillness of the chamber. Dust and the subtle notes of an achingly familiar perfume tickled his nose as he stepped inside; calling flames to the tips of candles with a wave of his hand and lighting the space.
In the center was his mother's loom; lonely, in its state of unuse. He felt a pain in his heart as he tracing his fingers across the worn wood, remembering the lessons in weaving his mother had given him as a young boy; that fate, too, was much like a tapestry; woven into the fabric of time.
He looked at the many bookshelves around him, delicately running his hands over the spines, reflecting on the way his mother's voice sounded as she read their passages to him. As he turned the corner towards of one set of shelves, something rushed over him, an uneasiness... something unfamiliar.
"I suppose you can come out now, Lady Darcy." The soft tones of his mother's voice ghosted into his mind. This was no memory of his.
His magic flicked to life inside of him. A new power?
"How do you know my name?" flitted Darcy's voice, a nervousness in her tone.
"I have been weaving your fate for quite some time, now. I am Frigga, Queen of Asgard." He closed his eyes and listened for the scene to unfold.
His mother's last words rang in his ears... He thought back to his first request of his scrying orb, all those years ago. A smile ghosted his lips at the thought of his childish curiosity, and the folly of trying to shape his own fate. He wondered about the scene he'd witnessed in the glass... and the tapestry that matched it. Where had it gone? He couldn't exactly place when his mother had finished it...
He stood in the solitude of the silence, thinking back on the called memory. Darcy had mentioned before that she had indeed spent considerable time with his mother, he was just surprised to see their fates had been so intertwined even when he was very much still a child.
And this new ability he'd discovered? Clairsentience? What were its limits? He heard the voices now, but could he possibly learn to call forward full scenes as they played out in another time?
"My Lord," the call came from the entryway. Loki opened his eyes and inclined his head back towards the guard. "The Allfather requests an audience."
The Allfather was not alone at the throne. Thor, in all his golden haired glory stood next to him, a smile on his face at Loki's approach.
"Brother!" the happiness in his voice echoed off the gilded halls. Loki would be lying if it didn't make the corners of his mouth turn up just a bit. Thor met him down the walkway just to embrace him, his huge arms encircling him and then some. "It is good to see you, again!" They turned and continued their approach towards their father; a look of contentment upon Odin's withered visage, and a sparkle in his eye.
"Yes, well," Loki coughed. "What's all the fuss about?" He straightened in front of Odin, hands clasped firmly behind his back.
"I have news," Thor began; he must have called the assembly. The sloppy smile that he'd been sporting earlier, had soured into one of hesitation. "Father," he began, "I wish to take the Lady Jane as my wife...I came to ask for your blessing."
There was a pregnant pause as the Allfather sat in the silence that swallowed the room. "In this woman, I see an intensity." Thor bowed his head, ready for rejection. "She seeks knowledge, not power. She is brave. She is compassionate. I foresee that she will advance Midgard; bringing it up to par with the rest of the Nine, and be an invaluable bridge between our worlds." At this, Odin looked to Loki, and gave a slight nod of his head.
"Father," Loki interjected, the word tasted foreign on his tongue. "I would like to renounce my claim to the throne of Asgard, and return the right of succession to my brother."
"If she is truly the one to have won your heart, she will be a great queen."
Loki had felt as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
Thor had joined the Warriors Three to celebrate his news with heavy drink and debauchery; while Loki, as always, took the more solitary route. His thoughts found him at the end of the Rainbow Bridge, looking out over the universe next to the keeper of the Bifrost. The great warrior had somewhat come around, despite their troubled past. Loki was starving for any kind of information. If there was one person that could see Darcy, it would be the Asgardian next to him.
"There is no being that escapes my gaze. With the exception of Asgard, which is to my back, I see all." Loki remained quiet, waiting for him to continue. "Your Midgardian is peculiar," he started, his golden eyes turning to meet Loki. "I have watched her for many years. I am curious how she does not seem tethered by time... And yet, there are only two beings who have completely disappeared from my view: Thor's Jane, and your Darcy." He wasn't surprised that she'd piqued his interest. There certainly was no one else like her in all the realms.
"For how long is she usually gone?" Loki asked desperately. With as many times as Heimdall had seen her disappear, surely he knew the usual amount of time she was gone.
"A few days, at most. This time is markedly long."
At the news, Loki let out a long breath and nodded to the guard. He turned to leave, when a hand caught his shoulder in a hard grip. "Loki," his voice was filled with urgency, and all it took was a look at the guard's wide eyes before he disappeared.
Blood. There was so much blood. A bright red pool lay in the middle of the community kitchen in Stark Tower. There were little bloody footprints as well. The metallic scent burned his nostrils and sent him on high alert.
"Darcy!" Loki yelled out, his panic-stricken voice echoing throughout the floor.
"Miss Lewis was taken to Bellevue hospital approximately ten minutes ago." Jarvis pierced through the thoughts racing through his mind. She's alright. He reassured himself. She doesn't die like this. Moments later found him rushing past security and being escorted to another section of the medical facility. The Avengers had assembled in what appeared to be a waiting area.
Jane was crying softly, legs tucked under herself as she sat in a chair. Miss Potts and Stark were sitting side by side. The blonde woman was a vision of poise save for the way she worried her lip between her teeth, and the way she anxiously gripped Anthony's hand. Stark had his eyes closed, his only tell was the incessant bouncing of his knee. Clint was leaning against a wall, arms crossed while the Widow paced in front of him. There was a barely contained storm in her features. The Captain and his winged friend sat in their chairs with straight backs and blank faces; their military training coming to the forefront. Lastly, Bruce held his head in his hands, repeating the same phrase with each deep inhale and exhale he drew from his body.
"What happened?" Only a few―Stark, Banner, The Widow, and Jane―turned to meet his gaze. And that's when he saw it. Fear. Every hair stood on end.
"Loki," a cautious but familiar voice drifted through the hall as Thor rounded the corner. The Allfather must have used his own magic to bypass the lag time of Bifrost travel. Thor knelt in front of Jane, consoling her.
"What happened?" Loki demanded.
"She was stabbed in the abdomen," Jane forced the words out before sobbing into Thor's shoulder.
What? His heart stopped. No. Not yet! It was too soon! A million thoughts were racing through his mind. The horribly familiar empty ringing flooded his ears. They hadn't even started their lives together. If he would have known-
"-Hey!" A sharp voice snapped him out of the downward spiral that was this thoughts. Natasha was standing in front of him, her head was tilted back with a commanding posture, and her green eyes locked on his. "The sword pierced part of her liver, and the lower lobe of her right lung."
"Sword?" Loki asked, his swimming mind calming.
"Yeah. Sword. You know? Really long knife?" Stark stood and walked towards them, pulling out his phone. "Jarvis," he addressed the A.I. "Status update." Loki released a long breath. Darcy was not to be felled by a sword. He remembered well the small dagger, its intricate hilt splintering out of her stomach.
"It appears that the weapon was forged during the Viking Age. A Pagan inscription runs along the blade." The members of the room tensed, everyone seeming to know what was to come next. The disembodied voice replied in an ancient language, one Loki hadn't heard in an age. Thunder rumbled in the distance, and the air became charged with electricity. Steve's friend Sam whispered the word spooky before shivering. Loki turned to walk away, to push his feet into the repetition of pacing, ignoring the spread of confusion around the room. Anything to keep himself from losing control.
Thor got up and walked over to him, an incredulous but stern look on his face. "Brother," he whispered quietly. Loki held his gaze as he looked into the familiar expression of blood lust. The Crown Prince of Asgard was not the innocent imbecile the humans believed him to be; his hand reached reflexively for the hilt of Mjölnir.
"My ancient Norse is a little rusty, Jar. Translation please." Stark waved his hand in a circle.
"'Now I give you to Odin.'" Thor supplied the answer first. It was the bitter irony that gave rise to a blazing anger. Loki's hands clenched into fists as his boots continued to wear into the floor. His anger held his tongue. It was infuriating that the lowly pests who had so wounded his Darcy were long gone by now. His opportunity for retribution had come and gone in the centuries passed. There was nothing more disappointing than the inability to exact revenge. He couldn't stand before those petulant men who worshiped his family, watch their awe at his divine presence fade to one of sheer terror as he made sure they suffered. Thor would surely rip them limb from limb, his brutality lied in the physical experience of pain. But Loki was much more acquainted with psychological torture. He did not survive his time in the abyss, and later with Thanos, and not acquire some new techniques. No. He would delve into the deepest reserves of their minds and exploit their fears. He would pull each psyche apart―
-"Look at me." The widow ordered, with a firm grip on his arm. Loki's startled reaction had the rest of the Avengers on their feet. "She's in surgery. There's a good chance she'll make it. The doctor said that the blade had missed any major arteries."
"Surgery?" Loki took a step back, appalled. "Darcy's fate rests in that barbaric excuse of Midgardian healing?" He set his jaw, looking incredulously around the room. "No. She needs to be in Asgard. Take me to her, now."
"You think after spending one night with her you have a say in what treatment she receives? She hardly knows you!" Loki could feel his patience running thin. A smirk crept across his lips, but he remained silent as Anthony driveled on. "This isn't some simple human you can bend to your will; she could die."
"Tony," Ms. Potts warned, letting an uncomfortable silence infect the air.
"I have known Darcy for over a thousand years." Conviction and venom dripped in every lilt of his voice. Anthony narrowed his eyes.
"I don't know how they teach arithmetic on Asgard, but Darcy's only twenty-four."
"She's a time traveler," he defended hotly.
A silence of a different nature spread across the room. Loki stood tall, improving his posture and enjoyed watching the smugness slip off of Anthony's face.
"You." The quiet sound came from Jane. His and the others' heads turned to her as she slowly stood and made her way towards him. "It's been you this whole time." He could see tears well anew in her eyes, the wet tracks streaking her face. Loki simply nodded. The rest of the room looked astounded at the petite astrophysicist.
"Brother?" Thor questioned, resuming his place behind his woman.
"Darcy first visited me in my chambers on Asgard when I was merely a thousand years old." His insides roiled at the memory.
"Wait a minute," Dr. Banner began. "Darcy told me she first met you in Puente Antiguo." He crossed his arms as he joined the group.
"Huh." Tony rocked back on his heels. "Would you look at that," he continued with a faraway gaze, stroking his goatee.
"Excuse me?" A man in Midgardian surgical attire rounded the corner. The gravity of this realm seemed to increase as he turned towards the newcomer. The man looked tired, but the sympathy and hope pouring from his eyes was a fresh breath of air compared the the sterility of Asgardian healers. "The surgery went well; we were able to close the laceration to her lung and repair her liver. We've got her in the PACU right now and we'll keep her sedated for the rest of the night and transfer her to the ICU later this morning." That was a much better prognosis than what most of the other humans had expected. The release of tension was palpable; Loki breathed a sigh of relief. "Now, I know that you all have been waiting patiently and are very anxious to see her, but at this time we can only allow two visitors to sit with her before she's moved to a recovery suite." Loki immediately began walking forward, Jane came up next to him. Jane gave her word to the rest of the Avengers that she would keep them updated with any news, and recommended that everyone else go home and try to get some sleep. A chorus of "good nights" echoed down the hallway as they followed the doctor. Each step closer to Darcy weighed on Loki. He wanted to sprint to her side, but a sickening nervousness restrained his pace.
She looked to be so near to death, his breath hitched in his throat and he froze for just a moment, analyzing everything he could. The first thing he noticed was her mortal pallor. Her skin, what he could see of it between the paper cap covering her signature, dark curls and the thin gown covering her small frame, held a sickly yellow hue; a result from damage to her liver, no doubt. A rhythmic hiss came from a machine that was connected to a clear tube placed between her lips. Darcy's chest rose and fell with each ventilation. Loki's throat constricted at the thought that she could not even breathe on her own. Colored wires laced across her chest and corresponded to the rudimentary machine that was monitoring the activity of her heart. A cuff on her right bicep hummed as it inflated. And more tubes connected to veins in her hands and arms; blood and other fluids were pumped in to keep her vitals stable, while medications for pain and sedation kept her asleep. A few other things hung from the frame of the bed; two bags and a clear box. One was surely placed to drain her bladder, the other containers were slowly filling with blood. The fight to keep someone alive was an invasive process in the Midgardian realm.
The God of Mischief felt uneasy, watching the red liquid flow into and drain from her body. Was it so long ago that the same vital life force seeped from her and haunted a bewildered Asgardian prince? Would it be so long until it happened again?
Jane went to her side and wrapped Darcy's hand in her own; a red light was clipped to one of her fingers. "Oh, Darce." The woman drew the appendage up to her lips, catching her tears with her own sleeve. "It's okay. We're here."
Loki crossed to the opposite side of the bed, taking a seat across from Jane and brought Darcy's other hand into his. He tried not to think about the unusual chill in her skin, or the disturbing way her body was relaxed―her limp hand alarmed him, but he tried to push the fear down into the abyss inside of him. Instead, he gently pulled the cap away and delicately brushed her hair out of her face. She looked more like her self―more alive in her unresponsive state.
His heart wrenched at the sight of her. Her tresses still held the organized curls she'd worn for Anthony's party all those weeks ago; only slightly mussed after their night of passion. It was as if she'd only stepped away for but a moment―to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. As if weeks hadn't passed. As if she'd only just confessed her love for him. As if she'd just left his embrace.
Loki gently massaged the back of her hand with his thumb, and was thankful that his vigil was not likely to last long. What was a few hours compared to thousands of years?
But Darcy didn't wake up.
AN: Thanks for staying with me and for your patience! Two weeks until Age of Ultron! I'm hoping to see Loki in the after-credits scene!