So, first off, let me apologize for the eight month wait for another chapter, especially since I left you guys on a cliff hanger! In the past eight months, my life as SERIOUSLY went through some wicked changes, both good and bad. I quit an awful job around September of last year, thinking that it would give me more time to write. Then I got caught up in the insane holiday season, only to have my house burn down on January 7th. Don't worry, everyone came out fine (including six dogs and two cats). Still, I fully admit to still having flashbacks and nightmares about the situation. Plus, my husband's grandfather died in Febuary. I can officially say that 2014 sucks.
That said, you guys are wonderful. I'm so amazed at the attention this story has gotten since I started it, how much it STILL got even during an unofficial eight month hiatus. While I'm not sure much of anything can live up to an eight month wait, I hope you guys enjoy the next part of Machiavelli's Favorite Son. I am fully intending on writing more regularly now that my life has FINALLY settled down, so hopefully there will be more regular updates in the future. My goal, at least at first, is once a month. Hopefully, I can bump it up faster, but small goals at first.
And, as always, thank you to the reviewers! Rpatz-Wifey, OrthoEllis, Kisa Black, MollyHooperRules, ticklethedragon1, Dark Moons and Whispered Words, , LydiaLovegood, abolishsociety, immortalwizardpirateelf-fan, Rachel897ii, summerlove-jls, Reina434, Flamekaat, Lillie, fernfury, Livvy10253, Potkanka, Gyoro and Ururun, phantombuggo, angsty, NoVacancyMind, moonlightkiss1515, Chuuulip, Maia2, fringeperson, Alfheimchick, Phoenix Rebel, plus several guests!
Darcy was exhausted. She knew that it would be worth it in the end, but shuffling Loki (and Thor) between all of these interviews was draining. She wondered if she should just get a constant stream of coffee sent straight into her veins and see if that was able to keep her awake easier.
The interview the night before had went wonderfully. Now people were blowing up her phone even more than they had before, which she hadn't realized was even possible. She wasn't even sure where all of these people were getting her phone number from, which concerned her a little, but she also thought that they might simply be getting it through other connections in the industry. She wasn't sure when she became a connection in the industry of celebrity interviews, but this was now her life, it seemed.
Of course, before taking Thor and Loki to the Saturday afternoon interview, she was checking on Tony and Bruce and making sure that they were still alive and in one piece. She brought Bruce a sandwich and somehow managed to convince Tony to go to bed after what, by her count, was like a thirty six hour science bender. She had no idea how those men kept up those types of hours. Maybe when she was in college, she could pull that off once a semester, but it seemed like they were doing it more like once a week. She had no idea how they were doing it. Must have been magic.
After the interview, Darcy turned her phone on silent. Whomever the hell wanted to talk to her could talk to her voicemail for a while. Probably unprofessional, but she wanted a little bit of time during that her cell wasn't going off every five minutes with someone either congratulating Loki for his good publicity (in an effort to gain favors later), or trying to gain an interview of their own.
"Are you guys hungry?" she asked as they all climbed back into the limo that Tony had provided. If she didn't watch out, she was going to become jaded to all of these luxuries like she was pretty sure he was. "You wanna grab Jane and get some lunch somewhere? I think we earned it."
When the two of them nodded, she told the driver to go ahead and head back to the Tower, intending on grabbing Jane from whatever she was doing in the lab. Thor beat her to it, though, so, while waiting in the hallway for him to cajole her into coming (or simply picking her up and carrying her along like she had seen him do a time or two), she and Loki actually had a little alone time together.
She let out a small groan, leaning against the wall. "I'm starting to think that an evil wizard invented cell phones in order to curse us with never actually being left alone long enough to form a coherent thought," she said with a pout. "Know of who did it so I can taze them?"
Loki chuckled. "Alas, I do not. These things seem to ring incessantly, even if they are useful."
"And that's the curse. We become utterly dependant on them, but they'll drive us insane long before our time," Darcy said, smirking back at him.
"Then it was a fantastically evil yet intelligent wizard that created such things," Loki continued to tease. "I only wish that I could take credit for such an invention."
Darcy couldn't help but laugh. "I think you'd come up with something better than that, though. You'd come up with something truly wicked."
He gave her a mischievous grin. "Oh, you have no idea."
Darcy was honestly thinking that, when they went out to dinner, that they would be going somewhere easy and comfort food-y, but, while they had waited on Thor and Jane to come out, Loki suddenly shoved her in her bedroom and told her to pick out something nice to wear. She had wondered just what had suddenly gotten into him and definitely asked him so, but he just insisted that she do it anyway. Hard to change a handsome god's mind when he was insisting on you getting yourself extra pretty.
Darcy didn't have much in the way of fancy clothing. Honestly, she still had the wardrobe of a college student, even though she hadn't been one of those since Thor had shown up on Earth the first time. Still, she had one of those 'little black dresses' that worked for any occasion that had a drapey neckline, tossing it on and letting her hair down and making her makeup look a little more dramatic.
She would like to say that it didn't take her too long to get ready, but she actually nearly fell over in shock when she came out and, for one, actually saw Jane in a dress! Darcy was pretty sure that she had never actually had the chance to see Jane in a dress before. Darcy was actually doubly impressed that Jane owned something other than a basic black dress herself, as she was instead wearing a royal purple, off the shoulder number that went down to her knees. Still, even Jane paled in comparison to when she saw the boys.
Darcy still thought that Thor looked a little odd in anything but the Asgardian armor that he usually wore, but he still looked a little more comfortable in the suit that he was wearing. Somehow, the charcoal gray of the suit managed to bring out his eyes even better than a typical black suit would. It made her wonder if Tony or Pepper had started picking out clothes for him. At least this one didn't look like he was going to explode out of it.
Loki, as per usual, looked smashing in anything that he put on. Darcy did notice that he seemed more at ease in regular Earth clothing than Thor could ever pull off. Maybe it was just his chameleon nature that allowed for him to wear it better. She really had no idea. He hadn't gone the traditional black suit route this time, either, instead going for the odd choice of what she might classify as indigo blue, but it still looked amazing on him. It actually made his green eyes appear almost blue.
"Now I'm feeling like I'm not dressed up enough," Darcy joked with a fake pout. "You guys are at least making me wish I had something in color." Really, she honestly had no idea that Jane owned a dress, much less one in purple, or did Pepper sneak into her closet, too? Could someone sneak into her closet next if she got pretty clothes out of the deal?
Jane just laughed when she said that. "I've had this dress since graduation. I think it might be my only dress that I have." Of course Jane would look magnificent in the only dress that she owned. Not that Darcy was anything to sneeze at. She at least knew that she looked good. She was just never going to be the tiny thing that Jane would likely always be.
They managed to get out to a wonderful dinner, and, while it was fantastic, Darcy couldn't help but feel a tiny bit unease. Maybe it was just her continuing paranoia, but she couldn't help but feel that she was being watched. Of course, she was out with Loki and Thor, the whole restaurant was staring at them. She tried to focus on her dinner and the wonderful dinner conversation (she was pretty sure Loki would be wonderful to have at any State dinner), but, when her phone started to vibrate and she saw that it was an important number, she excused herself and headed outside so that she could answer it.
She was so used to talking to people on the phone at this point (this time it was a magazine interview, which could be done through email which meant that they didn't need to waste half a day doing a TV thing), that she didn't pay any attention to her surroundings when she went outside. Even so, she would later tell herself that, even if she had been highly paying attention to what was going on around her, she wouldn't have noticed what was going on, anyway. All she knew that she suddenly felt someone grabbing her from behind, wrapping a large hand around her mouth before she could even think about starting to scream.
She started kicking and wriggling, trying to get away, but whomever had her was strong and used to a little bit of pain. She had dropped her phone at some point during the struggle, and had no idea where it ended up or if it had been stepped on. She couldn't even move her mouth enough to bite down on the guy's hand!
She was just wondering if there was an ominous black van in the distance to drag her off into when she suddenly felt the guy letting her go, dropping her down to the ground. She looked back to try and figure out what had happened, only to see a flash of green and then realize that there was a seething Loki behind where the guy should have been. Had he known that she was being attacked and come out? Did he just come out to check on her?
Before she could ask him, though, another person came out of the darkness toward them. Before she could even point him out to Loki, though, he turned around, pulling a knife out of somewhere (magic, she assumed) and slit the man's throat before he could come any closer.
Darcy had to bite back a scream when he did that, pushing herself against the brick wall of the restaurant, shutting her eyes and just trying to not freak out at the moment.
Loki seemed to take a second to look around before bending down to the ground to look her over. "Did they hurt you in any way?" he asked.
She looked up at him and shook her head, still not sure if she could trust herself to not scream and freak out. She was mentally reminding herself that whomever those guys were, they had obviously been after her to take her away, but she just saw someone DIE in front of her, and not in a peaceful way, either!
She took a few deep breaths so that she could calm herself the hell down enough to actually talk. "Hey Loki. You remember the magical calming down thing that I said never to do again?" she asked him. "I'd really like that right about now."
He nodded, reaching up and running his thumb over her temple, filling her with what felt like a warm liquid of calming coolness. If she were honest, she'd admit that just his touch was calming enough to her. It was just helping her come back down to Earth and not have a screaming fit right now.
"Are these men familiar to you?" Loki asked her.
Feeling a good bit more calm now, she looked over at the remaining man. She had NO idea what happened to the other one. Had Loki incinerated him or something? God, if she thought too hard on it, it was going to drive her crazy. "He doesn't look familiar to me," she said. "Go check his wallet and see if he has any ID." She certainly wasn't going to touch him. Magical Xanax or not, she was totally not touching him.
Loki stood back up, walking back over to the body and checking his pockets, finding a wallet and opening it up as he straightened up to his full height. As he was rifling through the wallet, she noticed ANOTHER large man coming up behind him. Without even thinking about it, she reached into her purse, which had somehow miraculously stayed attached to her during the entire fiasco, grabbing her tazer and aiming it at the third man, tazing him and knocking him to the ground. If Loki hadn't calmed her down, she probably wouldn't have remembered that she HAD a purse, so she was really grateful that he'd done that.
Loki jerked around saw what she had done. "Is that the weapon that you attacked Thor with when you first met?" he asked her. When she nodded, he smiled. "It's nice to actually get to see it in action." His smile disappeared when he held open the wallet so that she could see the ID inside. "We have a problem, though."
They certainly did. She was looking at a SHIELD ID in the wallet.
Darcy was going to start singing the praises of magic soon. She had been worried about the bodies that were hanging around the alley, but Loki had been able to simply make them disappear and clean himself up, because he'd actually been kind of terrifying to look at with blood on him.
They'd went inside to get Jane and Thor and tell them what happened, everyone deciding that they needed to head back to Stark Tower and figure out what to do next there. Well, actually, Thor wanted to declare war upon SHIELD and burn their headquarters to the ground, but everyone reassured him that doing that would only cause more trouble right now.
Instead, they managed to all three basically push Thor into the car and get him back to Stark Tower. Darcy couldn't help but wonder just what any of the Avengers would think of this. Would they think that she had kind of brought this upon herself by hanging out with Loki? Of course, they didn't quite understand just what she was really up to, which then they would probably scream that she HAD brought this onto herself.
She stayed quiet throughout the ride back to the tower, simply staring out the window while Thor bellowed and Jane tried to keep him calm. Loki kept mostly quiet as well, other than telling Thor that he wasn't helping with all of his anger right now. He seemed to keep studying her, as if trying to figure out what she was thinking. Darcy wasn't even totally sure what she was thinking, so she had no idea what to tell him if he even decided to ask.
She didn't remember anyone calling Tony or Bruce back at the Tower, but they were both definitely there when they arrived. Tony actually looked serious for once in his life, and Bruce legit looked green around the gills, which, for him, was less about being nauseated and more about Hulk wanting to smash things. As much as a Hulk appearance concerned her, she also couldn't help but feel kind of happy that they seemed like they were concerned about her as well.
"So, SHIELD apparently decided to make another play for you then?" Tony asked. She just nodded while Loki handed over the badge that they had found on the remaining guy. Tony looked at it for a second before setting it aside. "Sorry guys, but I'm not exactly shocked. SHIELD doesn't really like being told no for an answer about things, and that includes who they get to keep."
"Says the man from the group who were put together by them," Loki pointed out.
"True, but we were put together because you were feeling all dictator like at the time and that freaked them out," Tony reminded him. "Of course, that could easily be because they probably have their own designs upon the place known colloquially as Earth."
"Well, talking about who is trying to take over the world is fine and dandy, but someone did try and kidnap me tonight, obviously on SHIELD's order, and quite frankly, I'm getting really tired of a shady organization trying to run off with me against my will," Darcy snapped. Everyone actually turned and looked at her.
"They likely weren't even just after you," Bruce pointed out quietly. "I'm sure that they wouldn't have hated being able to get ahold of Loki as well."
Ugh, he had a point, actually. Of course, those guys hadn't really been prepared at all for what Loki could pull out. Of course, his collar only prevented him from getting away from Thor. It apparently did not prevent him from doing harm onto others. It made her wonder how this would go over in Asgard. Not that she suspected they cared about a couple of humans on the whole, but it could be seen as a precedent. She wasn't sure what was going on.
"Well, they took her once, and tried again in public, so I doubt they will stop before a third attempt," Loki explained.
"I could hire a bodyguard to follow her around," Tony offered.
"Someone that could be secretly working for SHIELD," Loki retorted. "If this were me doing it, you trying to hire a bodyguard from the outside is something that I would expect you to do and plan for."
"Well the only other thing I can think of is for her to stay in the Tower all the time," Tony explained. "SHIELD can't get in here without me knowing about it."
"So she'd basically be a prisoner in here then?" Jane asked, finally speaking up. "I'm not knocking your building, Tony, but a gilded cage is still a cage."
Before an entire argument about her life erupted, Darcy intervened. "Can Loki stay here?" she asked, making sure that she was loud enough for to talk over anyone else that wanted to offer a way to deal with her currently life. When everyone turned to look at her, finally, she figured she could continue now that she had their attention. "Look, I know the collar is attached to Thor. It's long enough that he can get around, but he can't really get away. Can it be attached to someone else other than Thor?"
"I suppose that it is possible," Thor said slowly, as if he were thinking while he spoke. "I do not completely understand the device myself." He looked over at Tony.
"Well, I am the one who built it," Tony said with a shrug. "I don't know all the magic voodoo, but I can at least work on the tech behind it."
Darcy looked up at Loki. "Are you up for staying here for when SHIELD tries to kidnap me again?" she asked. This was a big part of what they had been wanting, after all. She'd rather have not nearly been snatched away for it to happen, but what was done was done.
He nodded. "It seems that they are intent upon you, so I will stay."
It felt like they all had talked for hours afterward, but Loki knew that it was likely only an hour or so. He knew that Darcy had excused herself at some point, but, rather than go to bed, he realized that she had went up to the roof. A benefit of magic was that he could trace people if he so desired, and since she was still on the building, Darcy was easy to find.
After she had left, they had discussed the logistics of Loki staying here rather than simply going back and forth with Thor. Transferring the 'control' of his collar to Darcy was actually far simpler than he would have realized. Odin was asleep now, so he couldn't adjust the magic, but Loki was certain that he could, as long as Stark was working with him.
Once they were done discussing it, Loki headed up to the roof, finding Darcy sitting down, dangling her feet off the ledge. It was then that he realized that she had actually come out to where he and his brother had once fought when he was trying to take over New York.
"You can come closer if you want, Loki," Darcy called out to him, actually startling him slightly. He hadn't realized she had known that he was there.
"It's not often that anyone realizes that I am in the shadows," Loki remarked, walking up and sitting down beside her, letting his long legs hand off the building as well.
"Maybe I'm just used to you at this point and can sense you," she teased.
"I'm not entirely sure that I like the idea of someone sensing me when I skulk in the shadows," he joked.
"You're just not used to anyone noticing you, especially when you're not acting out in some way."
That caused Loki to arch his eyebrow at her. Before he could say anything, though, she continued.
"Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm not entirely sure that you always know the difference between good and bad attention," she continued. "It's a good idea to remember that just because you have everyone's attention doesn't mean that you're doing the right thing."
"I have you now to tell me when I'm doing such a thing," Loki pointed out to her. "What has brought this on?"
"I don't know if SHIELD realizes the difference between good and bad attention, either," Darcy said quickly. "If I think the best about what happened tonight, they want me to know that they can find me anywhere. They're trying to scare me." She looked up at him. "I'm not going to let them, though."
"Good. I won't let them keep scaring you, either. It might be time to put some fear back into SHIELD as well," Loki remarked.
She looked back out into the city. "I know I'm tired of being the one scared," she admitted. He felt her rest against his side and, without thinking about it, he put an arm around her shoulders. "Did you guys figure out the collar situation?" she asked.
He nodded. "Stark if fairly certain that he can transfer who the collar needs to be near. It is not the same as removing it, but at least I will not have to transfer back and forth between Asgard."
"It's definitely a start toward what we're aiming for," Darcy agreed.