I should not have gone to see The Avengers. It has taken over my consciousness and taken my focus from my True Blood fic that I've been trying to finish. Anyways, I have officially joined Loki's army and am now caught up in Darcy/Loki fun. This will probably be a shorter work of about six or seven parts.

Please enjoy responsibly. XD

It all started with the 'love nest' in Tony's massive living room. Set into a pit in the marble floors, the nest consisted of a mass of cushions and pillows, facing a gigantic flat screen TV that lowered from the ceiling. It had become Darcy's custom to drag Jane away from the monitors while lover-boy was out saving the world from one psychopath or another. Speaking of psychos, they had added another to their team. Slow going at first—'cause, you know, psychopath—but eventually (and to his brother's effervescent delight) both Loki and Director Fury agreed that he should become a full-time member of the squad.

So, there they were, watching a cheap zombie flick from her arsenal of cheap B movies that sat by the pile on the floor of not-quite her bedroom. Popcorn between them, Darcy did her best to keep Jane's massive intellect from conjuring up images of her dead Asgardian god.

"Look at that, you can totes see the edge of the mask!" Darcy called with a hoot. "Cheap trick, dudes."

Jane rolled her eyes, "As if the Kool-Aid blood wasn't a dead giveaway."

"I like to think of it as thinned by alcohol. Johnny is a drinker, I'll have you know." Darcy shot back primly.

They laughed for a moment, their attention returning to the show. Darcy settled further against the pillows. They were so fluffy—the best kind—and they had some kind of memory foam inside that conformed to her exceptionally curvy body. The whole thing had luxury written all over it and she could tell how women had probably swooned over it. Darcy groaned inwardly, sex was the last thing she needed to think about. And forget about relationships. With her luck, they would figure out what she actually did for a living and been summarily sent to Siberia. Not that she was too important. In the bigger picture, she was Jane's trusty sidekick—the funny kind with inappropriate jokes and snarky comebacks. She wasn't essential, but she was there, and that was what mattered.

The movie dragged to an anti-climactic close, and Darcy lunged for the remote to switch to mindless TV before Jane could come out of her stupor of forgetting. "So," she said casually, "how do you get him out of that armor?"

Jane's eyebrows hit her hairline, "The armor?"

"Yeah," Darcy urged, "The armor. He comes back from a battle all pumped full of adrenaline and ready to let off some steam. Must be a bitch to get him out of the armor fast enough."

This time Jane's face blushed under Darcy's waggling eyebrows. "Um, it can be difficult."

"Details!" Darcy crowed, "I need details, because god knows that I'm not getting laid around here."

Jane lucked out when the elevator doors dinged open and the crew hustled into the main foyer. They looked tired, mostly, but Tony's 100 watt smile was beaming out from his raised helmet and no one looked battered or broken.

"Hey guys!" Darcy said, waving at them.

Tony paused, "What is this, a party? And you didn't invite me." His eyes widened into a dejected look, even as Jarvis removed his suit.

"I think the term you are looking for is orgy, Tony, and damn if work made me a little too tired to tough that out." Darcy smiled at the man who had graciously built them all (okay, he didn't really build it for sidekicks, but she tagged along anyways) a mansion so that they could live in relative safety. "Besides, wouldn't Pepper have something to say about you joining our little love nest?"

Tony' smile widened, his eyes taking on that boyish glow that seemed to resonate form the core of his being, and Darcy found herself returning the smile, knowing that he was one of the few here that really enjoyed speaking with her on a daily basis. Most of SHEILD either ignored her completely, or shot her confused looks when she spoke. Jane rolled to the side of the pit and pulled herself to standing. Darcy watched on as she shared a moment with Thor, who seemed to become a gentle giant whenever the object of his affection came near. Their whispered words turned her stomach and as she picked up on the sweet nothings—too sweet for her taste.

The Cap stood some feet away, removing his cowl and gloves. She'd seem him on the battlefield, always at the ready and in control, issuing orders and directing the chaos. It was during these off moments, that Darcy recognized the misplaced soul for what it was, though he'd probably pat her shoulder lightly and tell her 'not to worry, little lady'. She hated and loved that he called her that. Bruce hadn't gone on this mission, and neither had the two super spies who were probably off doing recon for the next in an endless line of mission from SHEILD. It seemed that as soon as they got home, Fury was calling them in again to start all over. To be honest, it was getting boring.

And then there was Loki, god of mischief, and would-be ruler of the world. He had sprawled on the couch, his heavy jacket slung over the back to reveal the more intricate underlining of his armor. Like Thor's, it curled around him as a second skin, revealing lean muscle and strength that may have rivaled his brother. His face was passive as always, but she could tell that he was tired. In fact, every time she had seen him, he had looked tired. She shrugged, maybe he didn't sleep at night.

"We were just going to watch another movie, if you wanted to join us in the," she paused dramatically, "love nest."

"Works for me," Tony said, already sliding onto the cushions. "Blondie, doc, join us!"

"Yes, join us!" Darcy chimed in, her voice dropping conspiratorially.

Jane, knowing this wasn't a battle she could win, took Thor by the hand and they, too, settled into the pillows.

"Capscicle, let's go!"

Steve smiled a very small smile and shook his head, "Got an early meeting tomorrow. Need to get my rest."

"You mean beauty sleep," Darcy taunted lightly. "It's okay, Cap'n, we all know you gotta look perky in the mornings, being the leader and all."

Steve's smile grew slightly, and he waved her off, heading for his room. That left…Dios Verde, god of brooding.

"Loki," Darcy said, surprised at how her voice had gentled, "There's room here if you want to watch with us." She patted the large expanse of cushion next to her. "Besides, this one's a mind bender. It will keep you guessing."

His gaze, stoic and unflinching, brought an unwanted blush to Darcy's cheeks. Briefly, she averted her eyes, but in an inevitable moment of audacity, she returned them with her chin lifted. She was surprised to see him standing, his long, lean frame moving forward with measured steps. It was in movement that Darcy was always struck by the difference between the brothers. While Thor was broad, large, and almost scarily imposing the other folded open into languid, liquid grace.

"What type of movie?" He asked carefully as he came to a stop a few feet away.

Darcy blinked up at his towering form, "Um, its call "Inception"—all about dreams."

"Dreams," he echoed.

"Yeah, those things that happen when you sleep. Images in your mind." Shut up, Darcy, she yelled internally. He knows what dreams are. Did gods even dream? She didn't know, but made a note to ask Jane.

To her ever-loving surprise, Loki leaned down and slipped off both boots and stepped into the pit next to her. He dropped elegantly on the cushions and Darcy had to bite her lip so that she wouldn't say something completely idiotic. Instead, she reached for the remote and pressed play, waiting with some anxiety while the movie queued up. After a few moments, every eye in the pit was focused on the team and their strange and eye-opening journey. Jane passed her the popcorn absently, and Darcy took a hand full. She then offered it to Loki, who declined with the most regal shake of his head.

The movie played on, and the work of the day seemed to catch up with her as Darcy's eyes began to droop. She struggled in vain to focus on the movie, but very quickly, Darcy fell into sleep. Sometime in the night, however, she woke. The TV was off and the whole room was quiet, save for the breaths of two other people on either side of her. Craning her neck, Darcy righted her glasses and glanced from side to side. To her right lay Tony Stark, one arm thrown over his eyes as he lounged against a pile of pillows behind him. To her left lay Loki, resting on the fold of his arm facing her. Thor and Jane had secreted off to their room, leaving the three of them conked out together. In any other situation, Darcy would have quipped something sarcastic, but, as it happened, she couldn't seem to make her clouded mind work while staring at the relaxed face of Loki.

With the lines of stress gone from his skin, he looked somehow younger (if gods could look young) and though the shiny black of his hair had fallen over his brow, she could tell that it no longer carried the weight of shame for his actions. Darcy blinked slowly, the man had been driven to absolute madness by something or other and had lashed out at everything and everyone he loved. Hell, he had tried to subjugate a whole planet just to appease the emptiness in himself. It was some serious teen angst shit and Darcy, while unable to truly empathize, could understand it. Was this how most gods gain catharsis through their final act of rebellion?

When Darcy awoke the second time, the sun was streaming through the windows and she was alone. Groaning, she pulled herself to standing and meandered to her room where she stripped down and showered before dressing again for work. SHIELD HQ for the US was a long walk through some seriously creepy tunnels before she had to palm-print her way into the outer chambers. Her cubicle was one of about twenty with a high tech computer and a phone with more features than she dared to use.

Slinking to her chair, Darcy powered on the computer and rifled through the stack of folders left in her inbox. There were a few reports to run and some minor research articles to check out, but nothing too exciting. There was also a folder from Jane with notes to be typed and arranged into a short presentation. Out of love for her friend, Darcy started on that first. Frankly, the work lately had been monotonous and so boring, but her paycheck never failed to clear the bank and who else could say that they lived vicariously through a force of super human heroes? While not exactly satisfying, Darcy couldn't seem to make herself complain too loudly in front of anyone important—peer discussions around the water cooler were fair game, though.

After working clear through lunch (or three spins of her newest downloads), she had managed to power through all her assignments for the day. With a sigh, she pulled off her glasses and rubbed at her tired eyes. God, she missed college. At least then she had some suitably raucous parties to look forward to on the weekend. There were no parties at SHIELD, though Tony had managed to swank it up from time to time when the mood struck him. That mood struck him less and less as he settled into life with Pepper and his responsibilities with the Avengers grew. The whole team looked worn out, and Darcy worried for them, but who was she to question the decisions of the director.

Shutting down her computer, she piled her stuff into a large, slouchy bag and slung it over her shoulder. She then nodded to a few of her coworkers and headed back into the tunnel system that connected the mansion to the headquarters. The walk always gave her time to come back to herself after spending so many hours hunched over numbers and analyzing research. Darcy got to leave that slightly bored, frustrated woman behind and pick back up her old jovial self in a refreshing change of pace. By the time the doors opened to the main floor, Darcy could smile genuinely.

Stepping out towards the living room, Darcy pulled a novel from her bag and flopped onto the excessively large couch, turning to her bookmark. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a faint whir of dark hair that indicated she wasn't alone. A glance found Mr. Broody-pants lying similarly sprawled over the opposite couch with a tome held deftly in one hand. For about a minute, Darcy battled with the decision to stay or go. She didn't want to butt in on his privacy, but the couch was just so comfortable and he really didn't seem to mind. In fact, he hadn't yet looked up from the page he was reading.

They—well, he—read in silence for several more minutes before Clint ambled through the doors, bow in hand. He shrugged off his quiver, waving hello. Darcy waved back, twisting to sit upright on the couch.

"Long day at the office?" She asked.

"Yeah, had a few scenarios to run with Bruce. Safety precautions and all."

Darcy nodded, "I get that. Wouldn't want anyone to get hurt on a mission."

Clint rolled his eyes, "Bit ironic, though, not getting hurt on missions. Seems every time I turn around, I'm getting shot at." He inspected the bow, tugging at the joints and thumbing the edges.

"Most of the time, you do start it," Loki chimed in softly, closing the folds of his book, one finger slipped between the pages to mark his spot.

Clint shrugged, "S'my job." He shifted his weight to regard Loki, "And don't think I haven't forgotten that I owe you one."

Darcy's eyebrows rose to her hairline as she watched the exchange, sure she was going to end out as collateral damage on one of those damned reports. Loki, however, smiled, and she felt her stomach flip a little as it charmed more than scared her. She'd seen that same look on a child she babysat in high school right after he super glued her to the dining room chair. It meant no good, but at least it wasn't aimed at her. She wondered if she could ask them to pause so she could make popcorn.

Clint's eyes narrowed, his stance widening just a smidge as they faced off. Loki remained relaxed, sitting on the couch with the book still held loosely in one hand. Darcy gripped the cushions so tightly in her fingers that she felt the threads snap lightly. For a few seconds, the air in the room thickened until is rippled between the three, but Clint eventually relented turning lightly. As he walked the bow snapped lightly in his hands, unbalancing him so that he stumbled into the wall. His glare would have set fire to Darcy's clothes, but Loki took it in stride, acknowledging the misstep with a tilt of his head.

When the action dissipated, Darcy licked her lips and turned her attention to the god of mischief, who had leaned back into the cushions and resumed reading. "That was a cheap shot, don't you think?"

"Pardon?" He replied, eyes that she now realized were the purest green she had ever seen rose to glance at her suddenly stunned face.

"Um, the bow thing. If you were going to mess with him, why not kapush! one of his arrows in the quiver?"

Loki leaned forward, sliding the book in hands to the coffee table between them. "That's part of the game, Miss Lewis. Building the anticipation to climax."

Darcy swallowed back a sharp reply about Freud and shrugged, "Guess you know what you're doing, god of mischief."

"Indeed," he drawled in return. Then, "Can we watch another movie?"

Darcy's face opened in surprise, unsure if this was one of his games, but his face held no twist of snark and his tone didn't indicate a taunt. "Okay. Any movie you want to watch in particular?"

His hands, long and angular, flexed open so that the palms tipped to the ceiling, "I leave it to your discretion."

Smiling, Darcy disappeared to her room and pulled a DVD from her top-ten pile, returning to the living room to see Loki reclining in the pit. Her pace slowed as she took in his relaxed state, stretched out just off to the side. For the first time, she noticed that he was dressed in casual clothes—linen slacks and a deep green sweater pull over. He looked…normal, his long dark hair curling slightly behind his ears. If she hadn't seen it, herself, she would have never been able to believe that he was capable of waging battle that would rival the Avengers.

Stepping her way into the pit, Darcy inserted the disk and edged back to recline a short distance from Loki. "What are we watching tonight?"

"Cry Baby," Darcy replied, pulling a loose pillow to hug against her stomach. "It's a musical. Singing and dancing and ridiculously campy jokes."

Loki nodded, "A comedy."

"Definitely." The movie played on while they sat in comfortable silence, and Darcy snuck glances at Loki when the funniest parts played. She never got more than a smirk, but that was enough to sate her curiosity. About halfway in, Tony strode through the room, sunglasses perched above his brow. He made it ten steps before he noticed them sitting together.

"Whatcha up to, sweet pea?" He called, setting a duffel bag down by the couch.

Darcy smiled, "Just watching a movie."

"Any good? You know, the stereo on that thing is pitch perfect."

"It's really rocking my socks over here," She replied. Then, to Loki, "How about you?"

He looked hesitant to answer, but finally nodded, "The sound is…good."

Tony looked like he was going to say more, but Jarvis interrupted, "Sir there is a leak in one of the cooling components downstairs."

"Well, fix it," Tony shot back.

"I'm afraid it will require more dexterity than I am capable of producing."

Looking thoroughly annoyed, Tony stomped out of the room to fix the problem leaving Loki and Darcy watching his back fly from view. Darcy glanced at him, shrugging before returning her attention to the movie.

"I have questions," Loki murmured as it rounded to a close.


His expression looked confused for just a moment, then he seemed to dismiss it and plow forward. "The main characters are excluded because they are different. But, in the end, there comes a mutual understanding."

"Yeah, kinda, but that probably isn't your question, is it?" She urged lightly.

Loki shifted to face her, leaning on an elbow, and the position only seemed to emphasize the thinness of his body and the sharp angle of his cheeks as the dim light of the TV shone across them. Darcy had to fight for just a moment to focus on what he was saying and not what he looked like.

"It was too easy. How can a character whose life seems to be centered on mayhem and destruction be redeemed in…less than an hour?"

Darcy smiled gently, "It's a movie. In order to enjoy them, we go through a suspension of disbelief. We fool ourselves into disregarding the laws of life so that the movie can make sense. In real life, this could have ended badly—very badly—but… I think, with time, the ending in there," she pointed to the screen, "Is possible."

He seemed to digest this little tidbit of pseudo-wisdom, his eyes flicking off into the distance. Darcy lifted to sitting, brushing her hair back from her face. It needed a cut, but she found that she liked it long, hanging like a curtain down her back. It was heavy, curling wildly in some places, limply in others. Somehow, though, it protected her as she tiptoed around superheroes and superegos, alike. No, she wouldn't cut it, even if it saved her life.

"I suppose I'll be heading to bed now. Early day tomorrow," she sighed. They rose in synch, padding out from the pit with unsteady gaits. When she stumbled at the lip of the pit, Loki gripped her elbow lightly, easing her to solid ground. "Thank you," she said, receiving only a nod in return.

"Hey," Darcy said a little too loudly, her mouth way ahead of her mind, "We should do this again."

Loki blinked down at her, clearly calculating her intent.

"I miss having friends," Darcy offered lamely. That seemed to hit home, and even though his mouth never moved, his eyes smiled brightly.

"Then, we will do this again," he replied, the smile finally reaching his mouth.

The next day, while she sat hunched over yet another report, Tony came striding into her cubicle wearing an expensive suit and carrying two Styrofoam cups of coffee. She took one of the cups gratefully and asked why he had paid a visit to a lackey at a computer.

"How would you like to be my assistant?"

Darcy choked, gripping the cup in her hands tightly, "You serious?"

"Absolutely. Pack your stuff, let's go."

Looking about wildly, she cried out to his retreating back, "I can't just leave!"

"You can and will. Come on, sweet pea, we have work to do!" Tony replied, waving his coffee in the air as he sauntered away.

Darcy shoved her myriad of materials into her bag and skipped after him, trying desperately not to spill her coffee, but managing to coat her sleeve in the slowly cooling liquid. By the time they reached the lab, Tony had given her an expensive looking phone and a folder of data for input as well as a list of things not to touch while they worked. She took in as much as she could, still bewildered by the offer. For two years, she had been plodding away at SHEILD's offices and now she was suddenly going to be Tony Stark's assistant. None of it made sense, and none of it had to when she finally saw the lab.

Decked out in only the best equipment, it shone with vibrant, electric touches of silver that reflected back on one another to create a sight so bright and wondrous that she half heartedly wondered if she'd died and gone to techie heaven. Tony showed her to a desk and, after speaking with the mild mannered Bruce for a moment, dropped a book so wide and heavy in front of her that she automatically reached beneath the desk to catch it as it should have at least cracked the glass.

"Read up, I'll need this finished by Monday," he said, turning from her to press against the solid frame of the desk. From his pocket, he produced a stylus of sorts and, as he touched the stylus to the desk, a notepad application popped up, ready for data input. Darcy took the stylus numbly, feeling the infinite possibilities widen before her oh so temptingly.

"What am I looking for?" She croaked, touching the book gingerly.

"Anything, everything," He replied, distracted by something on his own phone, "Just pick out what you think is interesting."

And so she did. She read through pages that were so faded that she had to squint, turning each leaf tenderly as they tended to crack against her fingers. While Bruce and Tony debated and even argued across the room, Darcy remained engrossed in the book. It detailed all kinds of demons, how to conjure them, essentials for dark magic, and how to get rid of them. Raised Catholic, Darcy had a faint idea of the need for priests and the rites of exorcisms, but this was some seriously deep stuff. Demons, she read, were capable of really anything as long as it caused the victim pain—they even killed people on a regular basis. They could be controlled through magic, but there was always a price, usually blood. Darcy shivered as the descriptions of the demons were laid out before her, the stench of shit and blood, the manifestations of sounds, the psychosomatic responses of fear and dread. The darkness that surrounded them was total and complete—and inescapable for the unprepared.

As Darcy moved on to the next chapter in the book, Tony leaned over her work, flicking over the pages that fluttered around her desk. He swiped some away to his own personal computer, glancing up to make sure they took to the screen.

"Looks good, Darcy," He said, tapping a finger against the panel to turn it off. "Let's go home, ok. You've done enough for the day."

"Thanks, boss," she replied, "But, I can really do more if you need me to."

Tony shook his head, "Can't have you burned out on me. Besides, I had Jarvis order Thai. You like Thai, right?"

Darcy smiled, "I like food, type of said food doesn't really matter."

"Cool. Bruce, I got you those noodles you like. And," he paused at the door, swinging his arms out, "I got the fight on the big screen."

Bruce removed his glasses, folding them into the pocket of his shirt, "Thanks. You really didn't have to order me anything."

"Nonsense," Tony huffed, "I've seen your medical charts, your metabolism rivals our resident god 'o' thunder. " He smirked, "So I got you two."

With a last look at the huge book on her desk, Darcy shouldered her bag and followed the two men out of the lab and into the outer chambers. They crossed the room, Darcy trailing behind, having a hard time keeping up with their longer limbs. In the tunnels, her new phone buzzed in her jeans pocket. She pulled it out, touching the screen to see an email from Tony. A quick glance at his back indicated that he wasn't paying any attention to her. The email read: Let me handle this. Confused, she looked back up at him, her brows furrowing behind her glasses.

"Hey, Lewis," came a voice from behind them.

Darcy turned at the sound of her name, spying her direct supervisor from cubicle world hurrying after them. She waved awkwardly, bouncing on the balls of her feet as he caught up with the group.

"What do you think you're doing? Someone just told me that you left in the middle of the morning and didn't return. There is a stack of reports on your desk that are top priority. Get back there and finish them." While his voice verged on anger, Darcy had never been able to really fear him as a supervisor. Mr. Sanders stood a few inches below her, his body type thick with soft skin. He wasn't the type to really enforce rules, he left that to the higher ups, but he still carried this self-inflated sense of superiority that annoyed her incredibly.

Tony stepped forward, "Unfortunately, Ms. Lewis no longer works for you. I have hired her as my assistant. She works for me now."

Sanders spluttered, "You can't do that."

"I just did," Tony replied with a smirk, "Run along, now, reports are waiting." Then he reached out and grasped Darcy's arm, pulling her away from Sanders towards the opposite end of the tunnel.

"Thanks," Darcy said as they headed upstairs, "Pretty awesome of you."

"I am awesome," Tony replied, "But it's gracious of you to notice."

Darcy shoved him playfully, "Don't get full of yourself."

He chuckled, stepping out into the main room of the mansion, "If there is anything someone should be full of, it's me."

Rolling her eyes, Darcy gave Bruce a sympathetic look. He had to deal with Tony's self-absorbed witticisms and strange behavior twenty-four hours a day. She didn't know how he did it, let alone got any of his own work done at the same time. Their food was waiting for them on a nearby counter, and Tony divided it between them, with extra helpings for Bruce. Then, all three sat on the couch in front of the wall-to-wall screen. Darcy picked through her food, munching happily while Tony tried to get Bruce to reenact certain punches and moves from the fight. She blinked back tears of laughter as they tussled, calling out orders and 'get him' occasionally to egg them on. Later, when she was tucked safely in bed, she began to think of this as the most fun she'd had in months, possibly since moving in.

The days passed in a strange kind of routine, Darcy would go to work, Tony would prod and poke at Bruce, and she would sit engrossed in book after book, her notes taking up almost all the space on her desk. Each new book was on some aspect of magic, demons, or ritualistic rites of passage. She asked Tony time after time for some kind of direction, but he left her to it, neither guiding nor issuing any orders on what she was looking for, and it was getting frustrating. After, like, the fiftieth book, she finally decided to look for answers, herself.

Walking down an unfamiliar hallway, Darcy began to question whether or not this was a good idea. She hadn't seen Loki is almost a week, and honestly she didn't know if he would take kindly to her questions or even to her very presence. Stopping in front of the door, Darcy hesitated, her hand curled inches from the wood. With a surge of extra confidence, she forced herself to knock three times, the sound ringing hollowly in her ears. What followed was several beats of silence, and a kind of relief seemed to fill Darcy's chest as the thought that he might not even be there floated through her mind.

As she turned to leave, the door swung open to reveal Loki's slightly confused face. When he caught sight of her awkward form, he smiled, which forced some of her hesitation to dissipate.

"Darcy," he said, "What can I do for you?"

"Movie?" She said, holding up a DVD. "And," she drug the word out, biting at the inside of her cheek, "I have some questions. Nobody else will give me an answer."

Folding his arms across his chest, Loki regarded her levelly. Darcy's breath stilled in her lungs while he seemed to come to a conclusion, stepping out into the hallway and closing the door behind him. "I will answer what I can, Miss Lewis, but there are some things…that are better left unsaid."

Darcy nodded, pushing her glasses further up on her nose, "Got it. Say the word, and we'll stop. We can shake on it, if you want." She extended her hand between them, waiting for a returning gesture. When he gripped her palm, she was shocked by the cool temperature of his skin and the tingle it sent up her arm and down her spine. As quickly as it started, it ended as he dropped his hand. Darcy swallowed and stepped back, falling into stride beside him as they moved back towards the living room.

It wasn't until they had settled into the pit that Loki finally spoke, "What are your questions?"

Darcy pressed play on the remote, setting the volume low more as background noise than anything else. "I'm doing research for Tony—he hired me as an assistant, but that's a whole other story that is way too weird to really explain—and he keeps putting more and more books in front of me, but he won't tell me what I'm looking for or why I'm even reading them."

She pulled out her work pad, powering it up and spreading some of her notes out between them. "All the books are on magic, demons, witchcraft, and, you know, generally icky stuff. But there isn't any focus. It's all spread out and I can't make any sense of it."

Loki read over her scrawls, his eyes flicking from page to page as he absorbed the information, "You've done quite a bit of work."

"Yeah," she sighed, "Every day, all day, this is what I do." Darcy lay out on her stomach, resting her head on her hand, "Not that it's boring or anything, it's all majorly cool to read."

His eyes settled on her face, the focus a little unnerving, but Darcy held his gaze brazenly, if a bit foolishly. "You're interested in magic," he said, his voice very low.

Darcy shrugged, "Magic is interesting, as a subject. And I'm curious about it, if that's what you mean."

Loki's tongue peeked out from between his teeth, running along the line of his lower lip. Darcy had to resist the urge to trace that same line with her fingertips. It wasn't fair, he was just sitting there, all gorgeous and she had to sit there and pretend not to care. She should seriously earn a medal for going this long without hitting on the man—god—whatever.

"I believe I can help you," he said finally, leaning back on an elbow, his posture relaxing as he regarded her.

Darcy, shaking with reigned in excitement; fist pumped her victory into the empty air above her. "Score! Okay, so can you explain this ritual here? It's supposed to call a demon, but the end result looks like the demon is actually calling you."

They talked shop for a while, Loki pointing out a couple of magical idiosyncrasies and explaining the runic system of the older cultures. As he spoke, Darcy watched him grow more and more animated his gestures widening and expanding so that the picture he painted was larger than life. It seemed as if he literally glowed from within as they chatted, ignoring the movie playing off to the side completely. And then, the stories came. Tales of trickery and pranks from his childhood, and little episodes from her own that made her believe that there might not be much of a difference between them after all.

"I can't believe you got Thor to believe he had to eat a whole pig, or he'd anger the pig gods!" She crowed, rocking to her side and clutching her stomach in laughter.

"We were six," Loki replied, as if to explain the believability of the incident. "And Thor is very trusting."

Darcy wiped tears from beneath her glasses, "He really is, but that's part of why Jane loves him so much—big heart and all."

Loki sobered a little, his smile sliding slowly off his mouth. Darcy reached over and grabbed a loose pillow, tossing it at him gently. "Hey, no sad faces. I command it."

His eyebrow quirked, lips twitching in amusement, "You think to command me?"

Biting her lip, Darcy eyed him for a moment, "I don't think anyone really could, even if they wanted to take you on."

"You'd be right," he replied, moving to sitting. "I've never been very good with authority." Darcy rolled her eyes, knowing full well that subverting those around him was more of a pastime than anything else in his life. While most of it was good natured humor, she could definitely see a wicked streak that ran through him, pushing to keep one upping himself until he had gained the victory.

"You know," she said thoughtfully, "You'd be a great diplomat."

He chuckled, "Not really my area."

"Have you tried it? I bet you could talk anyone into agreeing with you, even if they didn't want to," Darcy replied with a thoughtful look. He must have gotten a hell of a lot of ass on Asgard. A choked sound drew her attention back to the present. "Oh, god, I said that out loud, didn't I?"

The blush across his cheeks was endearing, and probably matched the blush that spread all the way down her cheeks to her neck and chest. Darcy covered her face with her hands, shaking her head from side to side in embarrassment.

"I am so sorry," she said lowly, "Sometimes I can't keep my inside voice… you know, inside."

Loki's laughter did something unexpected to her stomach, which only made her bury her face further into her fingers, trying to think of ways to hide under a rock for, like, forever. She peeked out at him, squinting at his joyously amused expression, the corners of his eyes crinkled with his laughter. Inwardly, she was relieved that he wasn't insulted—outwardly, she sniffed back her embarrassment and faced him.

"Actually," he began, "My brother probably got 'a hell of a lot of ass.' I was more… selective in my bed partners."

His admission only made her blush more, and by then she couldn't even look him in the eye. An errant idea of what it would take to make that selection process filtered to the front of her mind, and she shoved it back viciously. There was no room for that right now, possibly not ever. Darcy couldn't have her big mouth running away with her when she was supposed to be helping out Tony. Still, it was nice to know that he wasn't a complete douche with women, though, 'selective' was a word that could be debated semantically.

"Ah," Darcy said finally, "My bad, dude, I sometimes say things that go through my mind without really thinking about them. Generally, they are less embarrassing than," she waved vaguely between them. "And, generally, I'm not prying into other people's sex lives—unless, you know, its Jane, because before Thor, she had one hell of a dry spell."

Loki's brows furrowed, "Dry spell?"

Darcy glanced down, "Yeah, she went a long time without… oh, you know what I'm talking about." She could tell that he did by the barely checked smirk on his lips. "You're going to use this against me someday, aren't you?"

"Possibly," he replied, "I must admit, the blush is very becoming."

Darcy pointed at him, "See? That's what I mean about getting ass! It just rolls right on off your tongue, doesn't it?"

"I have no idea what you mean," Loki murmured, one hand waving the statement away.

Darcy's eyes narrowed, "The hell you don't."

Loki's expression turned almost sinister in its mischief, and his head canted downward just enough that he was looking up at her through his lashes. "I would like to see you prove it."

Rising to the challenge, Darcy leaned forward, bracing herself on one palm, "One day, I will."

A few days later, Darcy sat alone in the lab with yet another ancient old book opened in front of her while she took notes on anything that looked interesting. Her earphones planted firmly in each ear, she had created an almost meditative state that made her much more efficient. The text was confusing, at best, with its winding words and its repetitious and redundant stanzas. No matter how many times she read the page, nothing made sense. Sighing, she pushed from the desk and jerked out her earbuds.

The tones of her work cell filled the suddenly silent room, and Darcy touched the screen to answer it, "Hello?"

"Need you in the main room, Sweet Pea. Bring your notes," Tony said, hanging up almost immediately.

Hopping up from her chair, Darcy grabbed her work pad and phone, rushing from the room towards to upper levels. The elevator ride seemed eternal, the faint hum ringing loudly in her ears as she wondered just what she was supposed to bring to the, literal, table of superheroes. As she stepped out of the doors, Darcy was met by four SHEILD agents in full uniform.

"Whoa, guys," she said carefully, "Just me."

They stepped to the side, and down a set of stairs she could see a group of heads turn her way. Darcy shuffled forward, gripping her pad to her chest as she approached. It seemed that the whole team was assembled around a large circular table, headed up by Nick Fury who looked at her from his place standing behind The Captain.

"Ms. Lewis, have a seat," he said, indicating an open chair near her.

Darcy sat down, gingerly placing her work pad in front of her and glancing at Tony. His expression was reassuring, and Darcy took some comfort in the knowledge that he was there and was confident in her. She pushed her hair back from her face, bouncing lightly on her chair.

"So…" she said, dragging the syllable out, her mouth forming a small 'o'.

Nick paced around the circumference of the table, touching the backs of the chairs as he went. Darcy had to force the image of duck, duck, goose from her mind as he went. This was work time and she needed to be serious.

"I guess you are probably wondering why you have been researching the supernatural," Nick asserted lightly. "We have a situation, and it's not something we have ever prepared for." Leaning over her, he tapped on her pad, bringing up a network she had never seen before and scrolling down to a set of pictures. "There have been a string of murders, seemingly sporadic in nature, but all with the same sign carved into their chests. We thought this was the work of a serial killer of sorts, but now…" He tapped on a picture.

Darcy gasped as she looked at a body so badly mutilated that she wasn't sure of gender, let alone an identity. To the side was a symbol, perpendicular lines, four over three, that looked drawn in the victim's blood. Nick paced away, his arms behind his back as he made another round.

"The murders are becoming more frequent, and the number of victims is increasing. The last incident involved an entire family—husband, wife, and two children aged six and eight."

Looking up, Darcy could feel her face contorting in sympathy, she held back her normal instinct to chatter and forced herself to continue listening.

Nick stopped walking and leveled a look at her that made her insides go cold, "We think this is supernatural. And we need your research to pin down what kind of demonic forces are at work, and who is controlling them." He leaned over the table at her, palms shoulder length apart, bracing his weight. "Every day is critical, and every day someone could die."

"Way to put the pressure on, Fury," Tony said with a biting tone. "Scaring the girl isn't going to make her go any faster."

Nick's eye glanced to the side, "Ms. Lewis needs to know the score."

"She barely even knows the game," Tony shot back. "We're basically dropping her in blind."

"We are all blind in this!" Nick yelled, his voice cutting through the air and slicing at Darcy's skin. "Do you think I would bring in a civilian to government affairs if I could help it? If we don't stop this thing now, we may not be able to stop it."

Tony sobered for a moment before turning to Darcy, "You'll be sent to one of the sites of the murders, with a security team, of course. One of us isn't going to be able to get in unnoticed. You will take pictures, you will take notes, and you will get out. Understood?"

"Yeah," Darcy breathed out, biting at her lip in confusion. "Um, what am I looking for?"

"Anything you find interesting," Tony replied, leaning back in his chair.

Darcy rolled her eyes, once again dropped into nothingness and expected to get results. Sighing, she ran her eyes over the people around her, each one capable of killing, maiming, and succeeding in victory. And yet, she was the one they called when they couldn't make heads or tails of the situation. It was completely cool, completely weird, and completely bat-shit crazy. Dropping her eyes, Darcy looked at the picture in front of her, the blood spattered all over every surface. There was no indication of how to beat this…whatever it was. But, maybe she could be an asset to the team, maybe she could help them figure it out.

Okay, so our D and L are a little subdued, but I hope to put them into supernatural hijinks. Mwahahahah!