There is a goddamn migraine in her eye.

In a distant part of her mind, Darcy didn't realize this was possible. Had she been drinking again? She needed to stop that. Drinking bad.

It takes her a few hazy moments, but Darcy eventually realizes that, after that realization, she had paused expectantly. Waiting.

Nothing happened.

It was a few more moments before she realized why.

It was just her.

Her eyes snapped open, panic flaring so bright and sudden that for a moment the pain was pushed to the back of her mind, for a split second forgotten completely as realization took hold.

There was no Loki.

She could-feel him? She knew he was there, knew from the way pain was radiating from her skull, bouncing around and flaring every few moments, but there was no snarky voice, no smartass comments or sullen, petulant silence. It was just her. Her and the pain.

She groaned, inexplicably panicked at the empty silence sharing her thoughts.

"I just can never remember you people cannot teleport," a voice said, harsh and frosty. "So troublesome."

The pain flared bright for a moment, stealing her breath away before blessed cool ice replaced the fire.

"Someone get the plate of that truck," she whimpers, and tries to reach up to cradle her head. Her wrists are caught on something when she tries to move.

A surprised huff is her answer, and it takes her a moment to realize that the grip on her wrists-the voice-is all Loki.

Her eyes slam open, utter panic knocking into her so hard and fast she was momentarily breathless.

"I can't hear you," she blurts out, blinking rapidly to try to clear her blurry vision. "Your voice, it's gone-I mean, it's, I can still feel you, but-Loki, I can't hear you-say something-"

"Shut up," he snaps, and she is so surprised by how utterly venomous the words are that she does. "I'm going to only ask you once," he went on, voice low now, dark and promising. She shivered. "And you'll answer me truthfully, because I know when you are lying. Do you understand?"

His grip tightened the barest bit. It took her a moment, but Darcy nodded, swallowing.

"Why were you talking to Thor?"

Oh, Christ. Lie or no lie, any answer she gave was going to screw her over. You don't send a giant firebreathing knight from hell to brutally murder your brother if you were partial towards him.



That's right. This was Loki, who had been so ready to kill his own brother and anyone who got in his way. How-how could she so easily forget?

His grip tightened, and Darcy could feel the bones in her wrists grind together.

She wasn't that clever, and she wasn't brave. She was Darcy, someone in way over her head, and she couldn't-

She was going to die-

Struggling to breathe past the ache in her chest, Darcy said, unable to keep her shoulders or head up any more, "We're friends."

And then the strangest thing happened.

He let go of her wrists, dropping them like he was burned, and raising her head she caught a glance of his face, him rearing his head back away from her like he had just been hit, like she'd just delivered a blow, and-

The ice, as if exposed to a warm summer sun, melted in her mind.

Another bewitched by my brothers graces. His voice murmured, echoing like a bell in her quiet mind.

She nearly responded, nearly gaped and told him to stuff his magic, except there was something... Off about this, his voice.

Usually, it felt like he was, well, there. A near tangible presence in her mind. Like a slight pressure, almost like a headcold, except that he was cool and moving sometimes and that felt weird, but that was how she came to identify him, sort of.

This was different.

The pressure, his voice, was still there. But that's not where the words were coming from; those words echoed in her head, different in a way she couldn't pinpoint. Almost as if... Almost as if she'd thought them herself.

"Are you going to kill me?" She blurted out to him, heart pounding in something more than what was fear at the answer, more than the prospect of dying, here, now.

...I could not kill you should I wish to try, was the wry and somewhat self loathsome reply in her mind, and outside, in-in an apartment-Jesus, she'd been there the entire time? How the hell had she not noticed that-his lips twisted in a mockery of a smile, and he said, "You will live another day yet, Darcy, rest assured." And oh, oh fuck, that couldn't possible, she couldn't be hearing-

'I can hear your thoughts,' she wailed mentally, not even bothering to check her tone or emotion. It stood to reason if she could hear his, then he could hear hers, right? 'I can hear you-'

And the look he sent her, all saucer wide eyes and unhinged jaw, would have been comical had she not been in the middle of a meltdown.

"I can hear your thoughts-" she cried out, hands raising up to curl around her skull, fingernails digging in hard. Her voice broke, hysteria and the beginnings of tears making her throat thick, and she couldn't breathe.

"Darcy," he was saying, and she wasn't even sure if it was out loud or not, and that thought started a fresh round of anxiety, horrible terror gripping her by the throat and squeezing mercilessly. "Darcy, listen to-oh, blast it."

He grabbed her by the shoulders, and through the tears gathering in her eyes, Darcy could make out his wavering face, eyes grim and lips pressed in a firm, displeased line. It reminded her so much of that first night, when everything normal that made actual sense went to hell in a handbasket, and the tears spilled over.

In the next instant, her eyesight is blurred completely and there is pressure on her mouth.

When Darcy next wakes up, her first thought is that it is probably not going to be a very good day. She should just keep her eyes closed, roll over, and go back to bed.

A long suffering sigh tickles the edges of her mind, and the sense of relief that overtakes her in that moment leaves her dizzy and disoriented.

Miss me? Loki's voice murmurs, low and wicked. Her chest tightens.

"Where did you go?" She asked-or tried to, at least. What came out was some sort of raspy croak that burned on the way out and kept on burning, even after she swallowed several times.

Technically, he went on now, voice just the barest bit... Contrite? I never left.

"Why didn't you say anything, then?" She demanded.

She still hadn't opened her eyes yet.

Damn, she should've rolled over.

I had no need to, he pointed out. I was right here.

Instead of replying(because if she did, mentally or not, she was going to scream) Darcy popped her head up off the pillow, bleary eyes taking stock of just exactly where she was.

It was a bedroom.

She was sort of tired waking up in unidentifiable bedrooms.

Unlike Jane's, though, she didn't eventually recognize where she was-like Jane's bedroom, everything was white and pristine. The walls nearly hurt to look at, and it actually reminded her of a motel; sterile, no mementos, no recognizable individuality of any kind... Just a nightstand with a lamp, a desk, a dresser and a bed. Which she was in.

The only real color, besides the bland beige of the carpet, was the covers. Deep, rich green on top, a weird cream on bottom that reminded her of whipping eggs for frosting as a kid, adding in the vanilla and butter and sugar while dad laughed and laughed in the next room with his buddies. One of the few good memories she had after her mother died.

"Where am I?" She blurted out, struggling against the blankets that had gotten tangled in her legs and the ache in her chest. Thankfully, Loki didn't comment.

Come now, he chastised lightly. Think about it. It shall come back to you.

Oh, fucking hell. Glaring at the stupid colorful blankets, Darcy shoved them off of her, breathing deeply when she saw she was still in her sneakers and jeans and hoodie.

At least she hadn't slept with anyone.

Think. Loki's voice urged gently, and stars burst behind her eyes; everything comes rushing back, apologizing to Jane, Thor, Loki-it floods back, floods her mind, overwhelms her for a moment so that she loses all the air in her lungs in a rush. Darcy sways, even if she's sitting down, and the strength to do even that leaves her enough that she slips backwards, smacking the back of her head right against the headboard.


"You are so articulate," a familiar voice drawls, and through watering eyes, Darcy manages to make out the vague outline of Loki leaning against the bedrooms door frame. "No, truly, your boundless vocabulary never fails to leave me in awe."

"Sarcasm is not appreciated, you dickwhistle," she grumbled, hand raising to tenderly prod at the back of her head, and-oh, ow, that was going to be sore for a while. She winced. "Where the hell am I, Loki?"

He lifted one slim shoulder before letting it drop, sauntering into the room with a half smirk on his face that, when she finally blinked the tears from her eyes, she saw was... Well, frankly, flimsy at best.

Immediately she was on guard, distracted only a little(okay, maybe a bit more) by his apparel-instead of his usual green and leather and belts, he was in a play grey teeshirt and jeans. Form fitting jeans, riding low on his hips, a sliver of skin showing between shirt and waistband and-

Darcy, Loki's voice snapped. She jerked, and the smirk on the Loki in front of her became just a touch more genuine. Something tickles the edges of her mind, shivery, trembling. She pushes it back.

"How are you feeling?" Loki asked, the change in topic left her reeling.

"Um. Okay?" She said uncertainly, wiggling around under the covers a bit to get a better look at him. "How... Are you?"

He walked in further, rolling his eyes as he settled himself down on the edge of the bed, reclining onto his hands as he crossed his legs at the ankle. "I am asking," he said dryly. "Because you have taken a rather... 'Rough beating', as they say, today."

"You care?" She blurted out, and nearly bit her tongue off.

They stared at eachother in silence, Darcy's mouth partially open and wide-eyed while Loki gave one wary blink.

The whispered Yes passes through them both, leaving her shivering and wondering which one of them had said it. Darcy swallowed.

"I'm doing okay." Her voice comes out more of a mewl, a little breathy, and she coughed to clear it. "I mean, I'm fine. I'm cool. Um, kind of, y'know, curious as to why I'm here, but..."

He blinked again, slowly. "You were talking to Thor."

"Uh, if by 'talking' you mean 'gearing up to tear him a new one', then yes, yes I was."

"You- what?"

"He's been gone for months," she explained, torn between getting pissed off and getting up, or getting pissed off and stay laying down. "Jane's been torn up for ever." Sighing, she shoved the covers back, wiggling herself up to lean against the headboard and wall. At least she was still wearing clothes.

"You were not-" to her astonishment, Loki actually seemed to cut himself off, lips thinning as he slanted his eyes in displeasure.

And then it dawned on her.

"You thought I was going to tell him?" She shrieked, voice rising incredulously. Almost imperceptibly, he winced. "You did! You thought I'd tell him about..." She waved her hand between them.

"Well," he snapped back, and it was almost defensive. "My darling older brother arrives, and it is you who finds him first. What is one to think?"

"Uh, that I'm maybe not selling out here? What do you think is going to happen if I tell anyone about this? It's not just your ass on the line here, Trickster," she snarled, hands clenching and unclenching in the blankets. "I don't know how it works out where you're from, but telling people that I'm hearing voices will get me admitted to a goddamn nuthouse."

"You realize Thor is also from Asgard, don't you?" Loki drawled, and she snapped.

"That's not the point! I could have told anyone!" Both in her mind and in front of her, Loki was quiet. Realization began to dawn. "I could have told anyone. Jane, Eric, Cosplay... Even Tony fucking Stark. I didn't. You know I didn't. So this is... This has nothing to do with me and spilling the beans to Thor, right? It's just Thor."

"How astute." Loki sneers. "You consider yourself a detective now, do you?"

"I don't have to be when I can read your mind!"

Except... She couldn't any more. He was close, close enough to reach out and touch, and she couldn't hear a damn thing.

Pressing her palms to her eyes, Darcy tilted her head back and let out a long groan. 'When in the everloving hell,' she thought desperately. 'Did everything get so fucked up?'

"We need to talk." She said, hands still on her face, voice slightly muffled by her forearms. She felt the bed shift, and her head snapped up so fast that her neck ached. "No," she said, hard-edged and glaring. "We both need to talk."

I know, I know, not a lot happening... It's leading up to it, I promise.

Loki, you're slipping a bit. Watch your pokerface, girl, haven't you listened to Gaga yet?