Of all the places Darcy Lewis planned to be on a Wednesday afternoon, none of them included a drunkenly singing Iron Man, a tipsy Black Widow, a blushing Captain America with Hawkeye on his lap, and an inhumanly loud Thor roaring in enthusiasm with an unconscious astrophysicist on his right arm.
Darcy had been sipping on a truly marvelous glass of mango juice with a Microeconomics book in hand, sitting cross-legged on her futon. Her finals would take place on Sunday (a truly horrendous day to have an exam, but who was she to have a say in an educational system that was slowly putting her in debt), and after that would be a sweet, college-free month before her summer session began with Jane's research program once again. Her internship to the scientist should have ended last summer in her junior year, but the benefit of being friends with your faux employer was that it meant more internship possibilities in the future. It would look phenomenal on her resume, considering who Jane was associated with.
The fact that Jane had said that she still had no other applicants played a very, very little part.
The sound of Bob Marley's voice ringing out caught her attention. Her phone was on the dresser, and Darcy cursed herself for forgetting to put it on silent. Distractions helped very little during crunch time.
She let it go to voicemail and soon enough it was out of sight and out of mind. Until it started to ring again.
Standing up, Darcy padded over to her dresser and gave the phone a solemn look. "There's only so much I can take, Bob," she said with a sigh, and glanced at the number. Frowning, Darcy picked it up.
"Darcy!" Jane's voice was slightly distorted, as if she were driving with the windows rolled down. Well, this was strange. She had not spoken to Jane over the phone since last semester after her internship ended. She had kept in contact with her via email, considering Darcy had reapplied to her program, but that was about it.
"Hey, how've you been?"
"Great! It's great to hear from you again, Darce." There was a pause, and Darcy glanced around the room. "Have you sent in your application for my program yet?"
"Yup," Darcy smiled, "sent it in bright and early when it opened. Hope you won't let me down."
"Of course not. You did a fantastic job last semester."
Okay, this was getting increasingly stranger and stranger. While Darcy was never one to oppose some very well-deserved ego stroking, this was just very sudden. Where was Jane going with this?
"Jane, is something wrong?"
"No!" Jane said emphatically. She heard Jane breathe deeply over the phone. "Darcy, we're friends, right? Even though I was sort of your boss and everything, we had fun. Right?"
Was she kidding? Of course! "Dude, I could not have had a better research program," Darcy said, smiling fondly as she remembered something. "Especially when I got to use my taser that one time."
Like a light, Jane's voice perked up. "The taser! Speaking of which—great transition—would you like to put it to possible use today?"
Darcy frowned. "What? Why?"
And here was where Jane really started to ramble. "Well it's kind of sudden and weird and strange and I'm sure you're probably thinking I'm nuts, but Thor just touched ground back from Asgard, and it's been so long and I didn't even get to see him when he was saving the earth again with S.H.I.E.L.D., and he asked me to join him tonight. And I really, really, really would like you to come along."
Darcy's eyes nearly fell from her sockets. "Whoa there, Jane. I'm kinky but I'm not that kinky." Darcy did not think she could ever see Jane in the same light again.
"Wait, what? I—no, no, Darcy!" Jane said in a horrified voice. "Not like that!"
"Oh thank goodness. This could have gone a whole level of new awkward," Darcy said in a relieved voice. Sighing, Darcy continued, "What do you mean, then?"
"There's sort of a…reunion-ish thing. It's quite a big deal, actually, and I'm surprised Thor even told me about it, let alone invited me….Well, it's to celebrate a year of recovery. Not entirely sure what that means. But I don't want to go to this thing alone, and…"
Darcy understood. A lifetime of research did not have room for lasting friendships. Darcy was the few regulars in Jane's life, and so here she was.
"So from what I'm gathering, you want me to go with you at an Avengers party so that you don't feel overtly intimidated by all the muscle and badassery?"
Jane laughed breathlessly. "Something like that. It'll be fun, Darcy! We'll get to catch up too. And you can take another Facebook picture of Thor." Jane's voice turned saccharine, "Wouldn't you like that, honey?"
Darcy paused. "Wait, Thor's there with you?"
She heard a crackle, and a booming voice erupted in her phone and Darcy flinched away from the phone a little. "My lady Darcy! How good it is to hear your voice once again! I—"
She heard Jane shout something, and for a long time all Darcy could hear was static and blips of Thor's voice. She walked back over to her textbook and held the phone against her shoulder as she flipped through her notes, until finally Jane's voice crackled in the receiver.
"So sorry about that—Thor threw the phone on the ground like he did to the cup in the diner last year—but thankfully it just got a scratch."
"—I did not throw it; it simply fell from my large fingers! I cannot wield such tiny and fragile Midgardian technology—" Thor's protesting words were loud and clear even though Jane was still on the line. Darcy could not prevent the laugh that escaped her lips.
"Easy there, big man. It's all good, though. So yeah...Jane, about this party. I'm not sure if I can go."
"My last final is in four days, and it's a core requirement class…hence, partying all night is probably not an ace idea right now."
"It's not like that though! Right, Thor? Simple and classy. It's not even a party, it's a celebration. A reunion. Please, Darcy." Jane's voice lowered, a sense of vulnerability entering her tone. One she had not heard since the day Thor left for Asgard and did not return, leaving Jane staring up at the sky night after night in vain hope.
Darcy sighed, and glanced at her textbook.
"How long will it be?"
"A few hours."
"Nothing past midnight," Darcy said sternly, and she could almost hear the smile in Jane's voice.
"Deal. Now, get dressed. I'm pulling in your driveway as we speak."
"Wait, what? Jane!" Darcy shook her head. "My mom is downstairs, Jane. She's going to get a heart attack when she sees Thor's monstrous bulk." She imagined her poor mom opening the door to a giant, grinning Norse god. Oh dear.
"He's alright, he's not in full gear right now," Jane placated. "Just…wear something nice. But not too flashy. Casual, comfortable."
"Okay, okay. Give me five minutes."
Within three she had on her attire (jeans, sophisticated shirt, jacket, glasses), another minute had her hair in a reasonable appearance, and on the fifth she heard her mother let out a small yelp of surprise.
Grabbing the paperback textbook and stuffing it in her bag, Darcy bounded down the stairs and saw Jane standing at the front door. Thor was standing behind her, his head just reaching the top of the doorframe.
"Hey, Mom. Remember Jane?" Darcy said as her mother glanced back at her.
"Honey, you weren't telling me we were going to have company!" she said in surprise, glancing between Jane and Thor.
"We're not. I uh, have some work to go through with Jane for the internship this summer. Right Jane?" There was no way she could tell her mother she was going to an Avengers party during finals week. She rather liked her head on her neck, not on a platter.
Jane blinked. "Y-yes. Some things we have to work through before the session begins," Jane smiled at the older woman.
Thor frowned, his eyebrows furrowing, as he said in a scandalized voice, "Nonsense! What is this, Jane? I thought we were taking the lady Darcy to the man—"
"—Man, it's getting late. Got a lot of work to do," Darcy interrupted, and through the corner of her eye she saw Jane elbow Thor none-too-gently, and his frown deepened. "I'll be back before late, Mom."
"Okay, dear," said Mrs. Lewis in an odd voice, and Darcy ushered Thor and Jane out of the way and closed the door firmly behind her.
Sagging a little and taking a deep breath, she looked at Thor. "Nice to see you again," she smiled. "You grew your hair longer? Sweet. I like the look. It seems…luscious."
Thor beamed down at her and opened his mouth, but Jane spoke before he could let a word out. "Let's go, shall we?"
Darcy looked at Jane, really looked at her for the first time, and raised her eyebrows. "You said dress comfortably!" Darcy accused.
Jane looked slightly sheepish, pink adorning her cheeks. "Well, this was all I had at last minute. It was stupid decision, I know. Trust me; what you're wearing is perfect."
But Darcy could see what Jane was not telling, from the way she avoided Thor's gaze. This was for him. Tooootally for him. She was so going for a tumble on the trusty mattress with him tonight. The thought made her face twist in mildly.
"What is wrong? Has some ailment befallen you?" said Thor in a concerned voice.
Darcy shook her head and headed for the door of the car. "Just thinking about fish."
They sat inside, Thor graciously opening the passenger seat for her then climbing in the back. "You are lucky you are not on Asgard, Darcy Lewis," said Thor gravely. "My good friend Volstagg would be in tears at your disinclination to sea creatures for nourishment."
Darcy turned around to give a quick retort, but the words died in her throat when she saw the second occupant in the back seat.
Darcy decided to never, ever trust Jane's word again.
The room was tense. Tense that if she breathed the wrong way the entire room would probably spontaneously combust into flames and chaos, and the air was so taut that for a while Darcy contemplated bolting through the door before it snapped.
Darcy rocked slightly on the balls of her feet, hands clasped in front of her as she glanced around. Jane and Thor were a few feet from her, appearing uncomfortable. The woman with red hair—Natasha (who showed some supreme level of kickass-ness from what she saw on the television) had her hand firmly on the side of her hip, presumably where a gun was hidden. Clint Barton did not bother hiding his mistrust and had his gun out and ready. Steve Rogers had a very disappointed frown on his face, and Bruce Banner was muttering to himself and doing breathing exercises.
It stayed this way for quite some time. Thor cleared his throat once or twice, as if preparing to say something, but nothing ever came out. Darcy suppressed a sigh. Thank god she did notwear anything too flashy. Disappearing into the background was the best place right about now.
The door to the massive room slammed open, and in came in Tony Stark with a casual white suit and million dollar shades completing the look of "I'm back, bitches". He strode inside, a metallic robot rolling beside him as he talked warbled nonsense to it. It was only when he dismissed the robotic creation that he paused.
Taking off his sunglasses, Tony Stark glanced around at the tense faces and frowned. "This is the worst party I have ever set foot in."
"Blame it on him," said Natasha, hand gripping her holster even more tightly.
Everybody in the room turned to the man in question. He stood beside Thor, arms folded lightly over his chest, face impassive, and green eyes flashing brilliantly.
"By all means," Loki Odinson said dryly, "it is not as if I wished to be here."
"Nonsense," Thor spoke finally. He turned to Tony, and then glanced around. "My brother has amended his wrongs. He can be trusted, I assure you, and has come here in good faith."
"All that in one year?" said Tony, walking a little closer to the two Norse gods. "We should send all our criminals for rehabilitation to Asgard, then."
"Your people knew of his arrival for this celebration," said Thor defensively. "S.H.I.E.L.D. approved of this meeting."
"So why were none of us informed that he was coming?" asked Clint, gun still trained on Loki's head.
"'Cause then you would've brought a bigger gun," Darcy said unthinkingly, and froze when the focus shifted onto her.
Darcy wished she was back to being a fly on the wall. Having all the Avengers and two immortal gods stare at you was no picnic. At least she was used to Jane staring at her like she was insane, but this?
Tony blinked, and then started to laugh. "I like her!" he said, looking at Thor. "Who is she again?"
"Just a fly on the wall," Loki responded smoothly, and Darcy felt like an ice cube had dropped in her veins. She turned to look at him slowly, but he was staring resolutely at Tony. She did not miss the small hint of a smile on the corner of his mouth.
Did he just…?
"She is a friend of mine and Jane Foster's," said Thor with a smile.
"Jane Foster! She's your chick, right?" He stared at Jane appraisingly.
Jane bristled. "I am an astrophysicist—"
"Yeah, yeah, I read your file. No, that's a lie. I opened your file and saw your headshot."
"Why do you have my file?" The look on Jane's face made Darcy take a discreet step back.
"Friends, please!" Thor's loud voice interrupted. "This is not a time for quarrel. My brother Loki comes in peace. And he has brought a gift of penance."
Thor turned to Loki expectantly, and Loki visibly suppressed a sigh. He looked much like a younger brother who was being forced to do something he did not want to do.
Loki waved his arms around casually, and finally Natasha whipped out her gun and took off the safety. Loki raised an eyebrow before saying in a droll voice, "Asgard's finest."
In the center of the room, which previously had been empty, harbored a round table with a row of mugs and an intricately beautiful fountain that spilled a dark, honey-colored liquid through dozens of spouts.
"Booze?" Tony said in deadpan. "You brought us here to drink your beer?"
"Not just any beer, my friend," said Thor with a massive grin on his face. "But ale from the rivers of Asgard itself. Never will you have tasted a finer drink in all the nine realms."
Tony looked unconvinced. The rest of the Avengers just looked tired. Loki rolled his eyes a little and said in a deceptively smooth voice, "It is a drink made for the gods, my friends. No mortal being has ever laid hands on such a divine rarity."
That seemed to do it. Tony's eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas Eve, and made valiant strides towards the fountain of ale. "You got me at gods." He grabbed a mug and put it under a stream of ale, filling it to the brim.
"Mr. Stark, I really would not—" started Natasha, but stopped when Tony tipped his head back and drank like a starved man in the desert. He swallowed, having drunk half of the amount in his mug.
Tony's eyes went round as saucers, and he glanced up at Loki and Thor in shock. "Holy shit."
"Clint, call Fury. Tell him Loki's gone rogue again, and get a physician in here. I think Tony has his own private—" Natasha jumped when Tony let out a yell.
"That was the best fucking drink I've had in twenty years. Fuck, no, in my entire life. Nothing compares to this. Nothing. Holy shit. This, this is…"
His face screwed up a little, and he let out a belch. Unabashed, Tony walked over to Loki and looked up at him. Loki grew increasingly uncomfortable, and raised an eyebrow.
Clapping him hard on the shoulder, Tony said solemnly, "Apology accepted. Is that fountain endless?'
Loki's mouth twitched. "Yes."
"Good. I plan on testing that theory. Can I keep it?"
"I'm afraid that is not up to me."
"Debatable. But it's in my house right now, so I'm content for the time being." Tony looked at the rest of the occupants of the room and made a face. "Why are you all just standing around like a disease? For god's sake, put the weapons down. Not your sakes," Tony threw a quick glance at Thor and Loki, "another god. I don't think you've ever met him. Anyway, Steve, you gotta try this. Seriously, I will knock your ass back to the fifteen hundreds if I have to."
Steve shifted a little and glanced up at Thor. "I was never much of a drinker," he admitted.
"Impossible. Everybody's a drinker. People who aren't drinkers just say that in public but have a secret stash under their floorboards. Come on, we need to get you a little drunk. God knows you need it."
"I can't get drunk."
At this everyone paused. Even Thor looked mildly intrigued. "Can't get drunk?" Tony repeated. Clint lowered his weapon slowly, and looked over at Captain America like he was some interesting new specimen.
Steve scratched the back of his head and cleared his throat. "Uh, I tried. A long, long time ago when my friend…well, I drank almost four crates of beer. Nothing happened."
There was a prolonged silence, and Darcy felt a little bad for the guy. He was…sweet. Honest, and completely awesome for resistance to inebriation. But most of the other occupants in the room began to look pensive, and Darcy felt she should probably take this time to reflect on something very important that impacted her life in a strong way.
The silence was cut when Thor spoke. A smile was forming on his lips, and he said, "That is because you never had Asgardian ale."
Steve Rogers stared at him for some time, when suddenly a smile broke out on his face. "I guess I can't judge until I try, right?"
"Atta boy, Captain!" Tony applauded, already reaching to refill his own mug. Steve strode over and gripped his own crystalline mug, carefully bringing it to a stream of ale and watching it fill up. With a glance around at everyone, he raised his glass slightly and said, "Cheers."
All eight of them watched as Steve drank and drank, until after a full minute the mug was completely emptied. He exhaled loudly, trying to catch his breath. A grin split across his face.
Tony grabbed Steve by the shoulder. "Do you see that? His cheeks are flushed. Captain fucking America's cheeks are red." Positively beaming, he exclaimed, "Asgardian ale it is!"
"Celebrate with me, my friends!" Thor boomed, marching heavily over to the circular table and grabbing his own mug. Natasha glanced over at Clint, and gave a small shake of her head before putting her gun away and heading over to the circle. Clint seemed perturbed by her sudden submission, and warily put the safety on his gun before reaching over to Bruce and inclining his head. Slowly, each of the Avengers had their own mugs in head, swirling it around.
"Are you really going to drink this, Tasha?" Clint muttered quietly, staring into his own cup.
"If Fury supervised and gave the OK for this then…I do not see why I cannot try it. But I'm still skeptical about this. I think it would be best if you tried it first," said Natasha just as discreetly.
"Me? Why do I have to try it?"
"Because as a male you are expected to display an ability to hold your drink down without getting drunk instantly. If you think it is not laced with a superlative toxin, then I will be alerted and we can safely assess the situation."
"Bullshit, Tasha, you just don't want to drink it first," said Clint dully. Sighing, he took a swig.
Natasha watched him intently, and when Clint's eyes went wide, she froze.
"I don't know about superlative toxins, but this is fantastic."
Natasha scowled. "That is a rash evaluation, Clint. I expected a better assessment and taste discrepanc—"
Clint rolled his eyes and forcefully brought her mug to her lips. Darcy was almost certain the woman could have broken his wrist before he had a chance to touch her mug, but they must have been good friends enough for her to allow him to force her to drink.
One by one the crew of elites had their fill of the supreme alcoholic drink. Darcy crept closer to the fountain, wondering if she should give it a go.
"Darcy! Try some, this is amazing," said Jane as she walked towards Darcy with a half-empty cup. Darcy stared at the drink skeptically.
"I'm not so sure—"
"My lady Darcy!" Thor walked towards her with a grin. "Please, you must try this. It is our finest drink, and you simply must celebrate a year of peace with us. Do you not agree it is a worthy occasion to drink to?"
"Of course," Darcy smiled, "I just…"
"Oh Thor, she's a lightweight. She won't do it."
Darcy's eyes widened comically. "Jane!"
Jane began to giggle, hugging Thor's arm with a surprising amount of strength. Darcy could not believe it. This was so not like Jane. And who was she calling lightweight!
Darcy shook her head when it clicked. "Jane, are you drunk already?"
Jane frowned suddenly, and stared at her mug. "Huh. Am I? I only had like, half a cup. Weird. Thor, can you get me some more?"
"Let us go together; I shall indulge in another mug myself!" Jane began laughing again, and Darcy's mouth parted as they stumbled towards the round table.
"Jarvis!" Tony's voice rang out.
"Yes, sir?" a robotic voice came from the ceiling.
"Get the food out. You can't get wasted without some finger sandwiches. And salsa. Hella amounts of salsa."
"As you wish, sir."
And what was once an empty rectangular dining table was now filled with food fit for a king (Darcy tried and failed to walk up and congratulate Tony Stark for being utterly awesome at everything, but figured his head was already inflated enough). That was where Darcy eventually found herself; trying to figure out what to eat first, considering eating food was a hell of a lot more practical than getting buzzed on godly ale.
"You're not a drinker either?" a voice asked beside her. Darcy glanced up in surprise, and saw Steve Rogers looking sheepishly down at her.
"Still not wasted, are you?"
"No, but I give it a star for trying. I think if I was slightly less…me…then I would be able to become intoxicated."
Well would you look at that. Captain America had a sense of humor. Now this was interesting.
"Your cheeks are still slightly pink. I'd say A for Effort."
Steve's smile grew a little more confident, and he glanced down. "I'm not sure if I met your acquaintance yet," he held out his hand. "My name is Steve Rogers."
Darcy shook it with a friendly smile, "Darcy Lewis."
Steve smiled. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Lewis. Might I ask how you came upon the likes of this organization?"
"Well, it's all sort of Jane's fault. She ran Thor over with her car last summer, and everything's been crazy since then. And then I stunned Thor with my taser, but with very good reason! And I've kinda been included in this stuff since then."
"Ah, I see. I—"
Steve visibly jerked when he heard Clint bellow out his name, and soon enough the man in question was in front of him and grasping his shoulder.
"Tony tells me you used to sing for the soldiers. Is this true?"
Steve nodded. "Yes, but—"
"You have to sing for me, man. I'm a sucker for the classics. Please," Clint grabbed him by both shoulders.
"I-I don't know if I remember…"
"Please please pleaaaaaaaaaase," Clint whined insistently, swaying Steve's shoulders back and forth.
"I—I suppose I can do a little number—"
"Great! Guys, he'll do it! Captain America's going to sing for us!"
Steve threw a pleading look at Darcy before getting dragged away by a man half his size. Darcy raised her eyebrows as she watched everyone. At most, it had been thirty minutes since Tony had his first taste of the ale. And yet, almost everyone was drunker than a frat guy on a Friday.
Sighing, Darcy grabbed a turkey sandwich and headed to the door.
For the first time in his life, Loki was damn happy his brother was an idiot.
He watched as the man he once forced into submission using the Tesseract's power now plopped himself onto Captain America's lap, grinning like a fool. The Black Widow was lounging on a sofa, swaying slightly even though she was seated, and had her arm slung around an extremely uncomfortable Bruce Banner.
Loki watched as the two exchanged a few words, when suddenly Natasha straightened in her seat and let out a slew of words in thick Russian.
His eyes wandered over to Thor, who was laughing merrily with Tony Stark as the astrophysicist leaned heavily against him. She still had not finished her first cup.
The only person who did not seem overly affected by the ale was Steve Rogers. This he had already expected; the man was simply immune to alcohol. Fortunately, it did cause him to relax more than he would with regular Midgardian intoxicants, and therefore was more susceptible to whatever strange situations arose without putting up much of a fight. In this case, it was Hawkeye and his need for entertainment.
Had Thor been born with a brain, he would have realized the gravity of his mistake in allowing human mortals drink Asgard's finest. For this drink, or any drink made on Asgard, was made for the immortal kind, in the realm of the gods. No human could drink more than two mugs without falling heavily drunk and rendered unconscious.
Loki allowed a satisfied smile to remain plastered on his lips as he leaned against a wall hidden in the shadows. Reformed as his brother believed him to be, it did not stop Loki from having a bit of fun. After all, this was Thor's idea, was it not?
It certainly beat having one's mouth sewn shut.
All he had to do now was make a choice. To select an inebriated Avenger to ask for admittance outside the mansion, the key to breaking the enchantment under which Loki had been sent down here. Thor may not have been blessed with a brain, but Odin certainly was. And damn him, but the man knew how to use it, and saw through Loki's compliance to return to Midgard in a show of peace immediately. Odin bound Loki to any Avenger's will, bound to the house in which the celebration would be held in.
But, like any bit of spellwork, there was always a way to break it.
In this case, it was getting sole permission from an Avenger to leave the house. None of which Loki knew would ever in a million years grant him…if they were sober.
Loki's attention diverted towards Tony once more. He had decided to don his suit of iron, and was now singing sonnets with a terrible falsetto and shooting lasers at mugs lined up in a row.
And yet, something still felt off. Loki ignored the playboy philanthropist's bleating and glanced around the room. Somehow Clint had wandered off by Natasha and was petting her hair. Bruce was now in the company of the Captain, and from the looks of it he was being cajoled by the ex-soldier. Jane Foster somehow ended up on the floor and Thor was lovingly stroking her cheek.
…Where was the girl with the glasses?
A frown etched on his face. Loki pushed off from the wall and scanned the room. He saw the door to the room slightly ajar, and glanced around. Everyone seemed thoroughly preoccupied.
Her presence meant very little in his plan, but she was a witness and from what he judged, still very much aware of her surroundings. That simply would not do.
Loki sauntered over to the door and slipped out wordlessly. He did not have to walk far; within a few paces he saw another opened door and found his target.
She was sitting out on the balcony. Not leaning against the railing, not seated on a chair, but sitting cross-legged on the wooden floor of the balcony with a book in her lap. Odd girl. Loki almost dismissed her right then, deeming her wholly unimportant.
As he continued to watch her, he recalled the flurry of thoughts his mind had touched upon when he came in contact with her mind. It was not as if he had been actively seeking to read it with his magic; her thoughts were just so ridiculously loud that it would have been more difficult to tune them out. She was like an FM radio in that head, never knowing when to stop and broadcasting her thoughts with seamless ease.
He had to admit, her mind was intriguing. And fun. How did one little head fill with so much rubbish? Her mind went at a mile a minute, though by outward appearances he would never have known what a little deviant she was.
And the look on her face when he had spoken her mind, word for word. He had not felt such satisfaction since his wine and snake tricks back on Asgard. Perhaps he found his new plaything?
In any case, it would do no good to have the girl separate from the party. She was meant to be in there, drunk to her toes and knocked to the ground like the rest of this race. Only then could he roam about and do as he pleased, at least for just one night.
Loki walked slowly towards the balcony until he was leaning against the frame. The air was warm, but not oppressively so. Darcy did not seem to pick up on his presence, and Loki patted his back mentally. He was still as stealthy as ever…or perhaps the girl was just daft. He preferred to believe the former.
He glanced at the book in her hands. Interesting.
"You would rather read out here alone than celebrate with your friends?"
Darcy visibly jumped at the sound of his voice, and Loki's smile deepened. She placed a hand on her heart, and looked up at him with a frown.
"Subtle much? You nearly gave me a heart attack."
Loki frowned. "I did not sense that great of a disruption in your valve compressions, nor did you exhibit the signs of a severe cardiac arrest. The only thing I can diagnose you with is melodrama."
Darcy tilted her head. "You're one of those guys that likes to hear themselves talk, aren't you?"
Loki blinked. That certainly was not an anticipated response. Leaning a little closer, he tried to grasp for her thoughts to better assess the situation.
He jerked back as if scalded. "I demand you take those thoughts back at once."
Darcy closed the book suddenly. "I knew it. You can read my mind."
"Among other things. Take it back, mortal. I am a prince of Asgard, and I demand respect."
Darcy looked at him intently, as if wondering if she should humor him. Shrugging, Darcy reopened her book. "I was just testing a theory. I was pretty sure the myths of you birthing a horse were idle gossip, anyway."
Testing a theory? She was testing whether he could actually read her mind?
"Clever girl, aren't you? You really should not remain up here alone. Join your friends, have a drink. Enjoy tonight as any young lady of your age deserves."
Darcy peered at him above her large rectangular glasses. "Why?"
Loki frowned. "Why not?"
"A few reasons. I have an exam. Jane and Th…" here she swallowed suddenly and continued, "well, Jane's my only real friend in there and she's just out of it. And I think she plans on sleeping with your brother tonight, so I don't want to see that through. Everyone else in there is insane, so I think I'm much safer up here on the balcony."
"Is that why you avoided the alcohol? Because you have some sort of examination soon?"
"Yep. And from the looks of it, I made the right choice."
Darcy looked back down at her book, her shoulders visibly stiffer than before. So he was making her uncomfortable, was he? A natural response, and a very, very good one.
He waved his arm in the air, and the book that had been in her lap was now in his hands.
Darcy's head shot up and she stared in shock as he balanced the book deftly in one hand.
Her eyes narrowed, and Loki merely grinned.
This was getting out of hand.
"What do you want?" said Darcy tersely. Loki gave her a mock innocent look.
"What could I possibly want from you?"
"Good to see you know how to deflect. Seriously, though. What is it?"
"I want a lot of things, Miss Lewis. Do you really want an answer?"
Darcy's face twisted. "No, I really don't. But why are you here, standing in the balcony with me? Don't you have…other people to terrorize? Oh wait. You're reformed now. You're on our side."
"I'm afraid I am a neutral party at the moment. I could never be on a side that Thor is on."
Darcy paused at this. "So if Thor decided to become evil and went to the dark side to destroy the earth, you would help us out?"
Loki gave her a smile that sent a chill down her spine.
Enough was enough. Darcy stood up and marched in front of him and tried to look in his eyes. Which was kind of difficult, considering he was two heads taller than her. But she had to persevere and be all chutzpah on him, so she continued to stare him down. Or up.
"I'd like my book back."
"Do you?" Loki tilted his head and the book suddenly caught fire, and Loki was still holding it with that disarming smile.
The rational part of Darcy's knew that it had to be a trick. The fact that he had conjured flames out of thin air certainly meant that. But he was a god from another planet, and it was getting late and Jane was drunk and her exam was coming up and the man who tried to enslave the earth was now burning her textbook, and the rational part of Darcy's brain decided to take a night off.
"You asshole!" Darcy cried, watching helplessly as her book started to blacken and char. "That's two hundred fucking dollars! I used loan money to pay for that, and you grilled it like a steak!" The smirk on Loki's face disappeared when she shoved his shoulder. It barely moved—a testament of Loki's godlike status—and that made her even angrier as she tried to push him again, but ultimately failed.
"I'd watch my tongue if I were you," he warned, but something in his eyes shifted. It became curious. Darcy watched him stare at her, as if seeing her in a new light. She whirled around and grabbed her bag, extracting out the infamous taser.
"You asked for it, buddy," Darcy said, and Loki raised an eyebrow. The second she released the trigger, the taser transformed into a hissing green garden snake.
Darcy jerked away as the snake dropped to the ground, staring up at her pensively. Loki let out a little chuckle, the textbook now out of sight, and Darcy could only stare at him in disbelief.
"I did not sign up for this," Darcy said at last. She could feel a lump forming in her throat, her vision going slightly blurry. Loki began to look at her strangely, but Darcy did not bother spending the time to analyze it. Tightening her hands into fists, Darcy bent down to grasp her bag and without looking at Loki, brushed past him and went back into the mansion.
Darcy strode back into the room where the festivities were taking place. Well, had been taking place. Darcy's angry/upset strides slowed when she saw what exactly remained of the celebration.
Steve was still seated on the couch, but he was not alone. On one side of him was the Black Widow and Hawkeye, each passed out and resting their heads like dominos against each other, with Hawkeye's head landing on Steve's shoulder. Bruce Banner was curled up near Steve's feet, snoring gently. Tony Stark ditched the iron suit and had his arms looped around Captain America like he was a giant teddy bear, mouth wide open with a slight amount of drool landing on the Captain's plaid shirt. Thor and Jane were not in sight.
Ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. Why was she here again? Oh, right. To support Jane. Why the 28-year-old needed a vote of confidence from a college student, Darcy would never understand.
She wished she had never picked up the phone. She wished she remembered to keep it on silent. She wished Loki hadn't burned her textbook, and she wished all the Avengers weren't fast asleep right now.
"I need a drink," Darcy muttered. No point keeping sober now.
Darcy marched to the endless fountain of booze and glanced around for a mug. "Are you kidding me?" Darcy hissed. There were at least two dozen of them. Darcy walked around, and then realized why they were all gone. Iron Man decided it would be fun to blast them all with his laser, leaving charred remains of glass fragments littered around the room. Stupid drunk playboy genius.
For a wild second Darcy contemplated sticking her head under a jet of alcohol and just gulping that shit right there. But the prospect of Loki deciding to use that exact moment to pop up and watch her do such a thing was not appealing. Where was Jane's glass? More importantly, where was Jane? Last she saw, she was well on her way of knocking out cold and lying on the floor.
Darcy exited the room again and roamed the halls frantically. She needed to get out of here, and Jane was the ticket. She needed her keys ASAP. Darcy was sure that Thor would be kind enough to swivel his hammer in the air for his girlfriend and fly her home like the macho bearded god he was. If Darcy could not study and could not get drunk, then she was out.
"How big is this place?" Darcy muttered under her breath as she perused the halls. Everything was scaled to a monstrous degree, and Darcy was struggling to keep track of the turns she kept making down the hallways so that she would not get lost. When she turned to a sharp left, she was met chest-first with Loki.
"Ugh," Darcy groaned and moved to sidestep him.
"That was rather impolite," said Loki in a mildly annoyed voice, and Darcy almost wept when she realized he was following behind her.
"I was trying to. You've distracted me again."
"I'm sorry. Now go away."
"What's the hurry?"
"The hurry? Good question. Do you have like, hot-cold vision, by any chance? You know, like snakes do when they're trying to find their prey?"
"I am a god, not a reptile."
"At this point, I'm seeing less and less of the difference. I'm guessing that's a no? I need to find Jane."
Loki did not respond, and for one blissful moment she thought the he had left when she turned and saw he was no longer following her.
She let out a yelp when she turned back and found him standing right in front of her. And with that goddamned snake again.
"Your Midgardian weapon. It has abilities to detect heat," said Loki as he fondly stroked the snake's head.
Darcy shook her head slowly and took a step back. "No. Nope. You turned my taser into a garden snake. That's a bloody python."
"You have an English accent and it's making me channel Ron Weasley. Please get that away from me?"
"I am only trying to assist you."
"Please don't. Seriously, you've sort of ruined my night. I'm proud and everything that you're not four-parts evil anymore, but that doesn't mean I have to like you. And you burned my textbook, so I kind of hate you? Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to try and find Jane and then get the hell out of here."
Darcy grabbed the first doorknob that was nearest to her and opened it, deciding to manually hunt for the astrophysicist.
It was almost like those moments when you get those scratch cards and find out you're an instant winner on the first try. Only Darcy was rooted to the spot, eyes burning, and wishing she was not the instant winner.
Naked Jane. Naked Thor. Bouncy mattress, fucking expensive fluffy bouncy mattress, courtesy of Tony Stark's wealth. Naked Jane's boobs. Naked Thor's clenching ass. Grunts. Sighs. Moans. Fuck. Shit.
She felt a presence next to her, knowing it to be Loki. He might have said something in retort to her frozen position, but within a fraction of a second she felt him stiffen as well.
Her vision suddenly cut off when Loki placed his hand over her eyes and gripped her shoulder, quickly maneuvering her away from the scene and immediately closing the door. She wordlessly followed him as they walked far, far away from that door, winding down the hallway, and ending up back in the room where the rest of the Avengers were passed out.
Darcy immediately headed for the fountain and without pulling her hair back, stuck her head under a stream of ale and swallowed. Gulped until she had to move back to catch her breath. Loki was beside her, and he waved his hand and produced a lovely looking glass for her.
"Thank you," said Darcy, and promptly began to fill it. She tipped the glass back and drank, and could already feel the effects of the alcohol. But damn, that was some good ale. Sweet and sharp and completely satisfying.
Darcy did not bother refilling it. She stared into nothing, and shook her head. "I could have gone an entire lifetime without seeing that. I can't even stomach another round of ale. I think I'm scarred."
Loki replied dully, "Three hundred years. I managed three hundred years without ever seeing my brother in that act. I was doing so very well. I've lost the bet, it seems. I owe Fandral a generous recompense."
Darcy looked up at him. Maybe it was the ale. Maybe it was the fact that she had just seen Jane and Thor grinding it up on Iron Man's bed and Loki was equally as traumatized as her. Whatever the case, Darcy began to laugh.
A grin began to spread on Loki's face as Darcy said warmly, "Three hundred years? Damn. I managed…three weeks, I think? I caught my roommate having sex on my bed with her boyfriend. But this—this was something else. This was my boss. Fuck. I can't look at her the same way ever again. And Thor?" Darcy shuddered violently.
"I too will have some trouble looking at my brother for some time," Loki admitted with a grimace. The look of pure and unadulterated disgust on his face was priceless. He felt tangible, normal, like he wasn't some godly prince on another world, but just some guy at a party with killer green eyes and a body to drool over.
"Can I take a facebook picture of you?" Darcy blurted. Loki frowned slightly.
"I am not sure what that…ah. I see." He must have read her mind. Loki shrugged. "I do not see what harm could come of it."
"Sweet! Let me get my phone out." Darcy rummaged through her bag and after a few seconds, found her phone. Closing one eye, she turned on the camera feature and said seriously, "Give me the most badass face you've ever made."
Loki paused for a moment, before he straightened slightly and inclined his head, a small smile playing on his lips. Hot-fucking-damn. He knew how to take direction like a pro.
She clicked, and the deed was done. Darcy checked to see how it came out, and smiled. That single picture would have made Michelangelo burst into tears.
Darcy sighed as she stared at her empty glass. A wave of tiredness hit her again, and sadness crept inside her.
"I want to go home," Darcy said quietly. She turned the glass slightly in her hand, wondering what to do with herself now.
Loki stared at her for a moment before turning around and walking silently over to the mass of sleeping superheroes. Bending down slightly, Loki tapped once Tony Stark's shoulder.
"Mr. Stark. Your puppy ran away."
The billionaire blearily opened his eyes before slurring, "Wha? Go get him! Out! What…what are you waiting…want my puppy." His eyes shuttered closed, a loud snore erupting from his mouth. Darcy raised her eyebrows when Loki walked back towards her.
"Did you read his mind?"
Darcy nodded slowly. "A runaway puppy? Alright, I'm intrigued. Tell me."
Loki's mouth twitched upwards. "Perhaps some other time. For now, would you like me to take you home?"
Darcy blinked. "What?"
Loki smiled indulgently. "You do not wish to be here any longer, I can see as much. A woman your age should not attempt to go home by herself at this time of night. Please, allow me to escort you back."
Whatever he was saying was still not computing. "Jane has the keys. I can't drive back."
Loki merely smirked. "You are forgetting I have magic."
What? Why was he offering…no! He was dangerous. Wasn't he? He burned her book, did he not? No, no, no.
"Really?" This was the ale talking now. None of this was Darcy. She knew she should not have caved.
"On my honor as a prince of Asgard, I shall not allow you to go home alone."
Darcy almost melted at the sight he was presenting her; gallant, chivalrous, thoughtful prince escorting her home. Wasn't this every girl's childhood fantasy? And now she was getting it, albeit slightly buzzed and still mildly annoyed at said prince. But she was tired, and he was offering to take her home.
If anything, he could have done a lot worse to her by now. The only real harm done was the book and turning her taser into a snake. That wasn't so bad, was it? Just a little mischief, and that could only be expected from the god of Mischief and Lies. Right?
Hopefully the promise of a safe trip home did not fall into the 'lies' category.
His smirk deepened, and Loki took her by the arm and led her to the front door. He opened it and paused.
"What's wrong?" asked Darcy. Loki remained silent. After a moment, he took a step over the threshold, and another, until he was completely outside. He paused, as if waiting for something to happen.
When nothing did, a genuine smile broke out on his face. Green eyes refocusing on hers, he said, "Come, Darcy Lewis. Let us leave this place."
Darcy Lewis was an attractive mortal.
There was no point denying the obvious. The girl was beautiful. And uniquely as well, much like his own appearance. He did not stand out like Thor, much like Darcy did not stand out against Jane Foster. But something was certainly appealing about her, and Loki was growing ever the more curious.
When he made a key for her automobile with his magic, the look of pure wonder on her face made him want to do anything he could to keep it there longer. And when she spoke, she spoke what was exactly on her mind. No underlying meanings, no hidden agendas, no Sig Sauers hidden underneath her top to fire at his head. It was a wonderful change from the norm, and he rather liked it.
And when she talked. Dear Odin, the nonsensical nonsense that flew past those full lips. How was it even possible for one person to talk that much? Ordinarily that would be annoying. With this girl, it was oddly endearing.
This should have been the time when he roamed Midgard freely, now that he had broken the spell Odin had cast upon him. And yet, here he was, taking a mortal woman home.
"Do you have like, a GPS built into your head or something?" Darcy asked when he pulled into her driveway. "And how do you know how to drive when you've never driven a car in your entire life? I wish I could study your brain someday and try to unlock the mystery of your genius."
Loki's lips twitched upwards. "You would need more than a thousand years to try to understand me."
Darcy shook her head slowly. "You know, for the longest time since I heard of your arrival here, I was under the impression that you were an ass. Which, you kind of still are. You did destroy my textbook, and I'm still screwed for Sunday."
Loki let out an incredulous laugh. "I try to take over your world and you begrudge me for burning a book? How strange you are." The smile on his face said the opposite.
Darcy shrugged. "Maybe. But you also saved me there with the whole Thor and Jane situation, so we're cool for now."
Loki replied, "And what of your textbook? What will you do now?"
Darcy sighed. "Well, I have a friend in that class and hopefully she'll let me mooch off her book. And I still have my notes…I don't know. I'll try to figure it out in the morning."
Darcy sighed again, and finally she opened the door to the car and stepped outside. She swayed slightly, the world going black for a second. She felt a warm hand steadying her arm.
"Your tolerance for alcohol is much lower than the rest of your S.H.I.E.L.D. friends," Loki noted as he led her to her front door.
Darcy tugged her arm out of his hand. "Seriously? Why does everyone keep saying that! First Jane, and look at her. She was gone by half a mug. I'm barely even tipsy."
Loki smiled. "Of course." He glanced at the door. "This is where I say goodbye."
"Huh," Darcy said vaguely. "Well…thanks for getting me out of that house. And from getting me away from Thor and Jane. But no thanks for destroying my study material, and turning my taser into a snake. I'm seriously going to hold those against you forever. But your ale was pretty awesome like you said it would be. 'Fit for the gods', and all."
"I shall do my best to make it up to you in the future."
Darcy looked up at him with a strange expression.
"What?" Loki asked.
"Do you know you're kind of hot?"
Loki blinked slowly, and did not reply. Darcy continued. "Because you really, really are. I know most girls go for the rough and tough, bulging biceps kind of guy. Not that you don't have bulging biceps and you're not rough or tough. But you're…subtle, and dark, and that's really, really attractive to me."
Loki cocked his head slightly. In a tone of mild wonder, he replied, "Does the human girl fancy me?"
"Not completely. You're still…well, I don't want to say evil, because according to everyone you're not. But don't think it didn't catch my eye when all the Avengers started falling like flies after drinking your ale. Something's fishy about that. Maybe that's why I'm telling you all this? I never tell a guy he's attractive at least until after we start dating seriously, and you're—well, that's never gonna happen, now is it?"
Did she expect an answer? Intrigued, Loki remained silent, which allowed her to continue as he expected she would.
"Either way, you deserve some kind of reward other than a trip down to earth. It's kind of a slap in the face, isn't it? Like, 'Here's the place you failed to take over. Have a great stay!'. A bit insensitive, no?"
"And you propose you have a better reward for me?" Loki asked quietly. He watched as the girl blinked owlishly at him and swallowed hard.
"I never said that. It's just…I don't know. Forget I said anything, okay? We'll just part as neutral acquaintances and put this behind us."
She tried to open the door but Loki blocked the way. This was his last day on Midgard for quite some time. He intended to make the most of it, now that the opportunity had made itself known. And in such a delicious way too.
"Now I am the curious one. You say you are attracted to me."
Darcy protested, "I never said that. I said that you are attractive."
"And then you said that the persona I exude is a type that attracts you. Thus, you are attracted to me." Darcy stared up at him wordlessly, and Loki leaned closer. "Do you intend to do something about it?"
Darcy shifted slightly, her eyes sharpening a bit. "I'm not like Jane," said Darcy. Loki gazed at her as she averted her eyes.
"No you are not," Loki said quietly. "You are of a much higher standard than most Midgardian women."
This was a dangerous zone they were straddling. Why was he suddenly being so nice to her? Darcy's head felt like it was spinning endlessly.
"I feel strange," said Darcy.
"That is because you are strange," Loki answered. Darcy grinned.
"I should go now."
Loki leaned away, allowing Darcy to turn the knob of her door.
"Will you not thank me properly?"
Darcy turned to look at him. He looked at her frankly. "I have seen and learned a lot of your people's customs, old and new. There is a ritual here that I do not wish to break."
Darcy stared at him for a moment before leaning against the door frame. "And you think you deserve a proper thank you from me?"
Loki nodded. "Of course. Especially after the gift I am going to give you."
Darcy's eyes widened. "What gift?"
Loki smiled, saying nothing. Darcy narrowed her eyes. "You're joking if you think I'm going to do anything to get you to talk."
"Ah, but it will ensure you will receive your parting gift."
"Then how can it be a gift if you ask for a price?"
"Every gift comes with a price, my darling girl. Most are simply left unsaid."
Darcy looked up at him contemplatively. Here was a guy (god), handsome as the devil himself (maybe he was the devil? Was he not notorious for spreading mischief?), asking for Darcy to kiss him goodnight for a gift that probably did not exist. And she was seriously considering it.
"I knew I should never have told you that you were hot. You just let it go to your head, didn't you?"
Loki's face grew serious. "I will not see you again after today, Darcy Lewis. I simply wish to leave without any wistful regrets."
Her heart began to pound at that. "And…you would regret it if you left without asking this price?"
His face was the picture of certainty, drawn with seriousness and towering over her still. Darcy bit her lip, and glanced behind her to make sure her mother was safely out of sight.
Taking in a steadying breath, Darcy's eyes flickered to his before she leaned up on her toes and placed a soft kiss against his cheek. It was amazing how in a fraction of a second, her brain was able to pick up on a million things. The smell of leather and whatever aftershave he used, the softness of his skin to the touch of her lips, the slight sound of Loki's breath, the warmth that radiated off of him. Everything in that second was unforgettable.
She lowered back to the ground and looked him in the eye.
"That was quite nice," said Loki softly. "But I like the way Asgardians do it more."
"And how do Asgardians do it?"
The devious smile spread on his lips, and he bent down and pressed his lips firmly against hers.
His kiss was warm and firm, moving against her mouth in ways that made the rambling thoughts in her mind cease at once. Was it legal to kiss like that? It must be an Asgard thing. No human has ever done so much with his mouth in less than ten seconds. Never, never, never, had something so simple felt so good.
She preferred the Asgardian way as well.
Her back was against the doorframe as he parted her mouth and pressed against her. She felt everything, from the way his tongue brushed against hers to the tingling rushing down to her toes. And before she could unleash the animal inside Darcy, he stepped back, slightly out of breath, his hair no longer as slicked back as before. The sight of it made her feel strangely satisfied.
"Goodnight, Darcy Lewis," Loki said, and began to walk to the car. She was frozen against the doorframe, watching as he slid inside and drove away. He looked at her one last time, and she saw the shit-eating grin on his face and rolled her eyes.
Somewhere far off, Bob Marley was singing to her.
It was vague, but insistent. She tried to tune it out, but it refused to go away. Finally, Darcy returned to the conscious world and opened her eyes.
The alarm on her phone was having a field day. Streaks of sunlight were pouring into her room, and Darcy turned slightly and dismissed the alarm. Upon further inspection, Darcy noticed a few missed calls from Jane during the night. Oh well.
And what a strange night it had been. Did she foresee making out with the God of Mischief when she had agreed to going to that ridiculous party? Not in a million years. Did she regret it?
Not so much.
The only sad bit was that it was unknown when she would ever see the Loki again. Darcy scowled a bit. That thought sounded strange, hot make out session or not.
Sitting up, Darcy reached over on the nightstand to grab her glasses, but her hand froze midway.
Sitting on the nightstand was a Microeconomics book, her glasses folded neatly on top of it.
Hastily putting on her glasses, Darcy picked up the textbook and flipped through the pages. Yup. Her book, down to the last annotation. In the same perfect condition it was in before Loki had "burned" it.
A note slipped out of it and fell onto her lap. Fumbling with the paper, Darcy read quickly.
I hope this will suffice for your examination. The subject is dull, but it was a good effort for a Midgardian. Your voltage device is safely inside your bag, lest you need it for the next monster that sets your things on fire.
Darcy climbed out of the bed and rushed over to her bag. Taser was safe and sound. She felt like she was whole again.
At the bottom of the note, she read the last lines.
Thor was slightly unhappy with the turn of events at the recovery party. He is asking Odin and S.H.I.E.L.D. for something more…official and less intoxicated as we speak. I hope you are not overly fond of solitude, for you will have very little of it in the coming weeks.
No, she was definitely not too fond of solitude.
Just a little something that hit me. Mischief Unmanaged is being written as we speak, so no worries! I just figured this ship needed more stories, and when a crack plot like this hits you, it's best not to ignore it.
I had a lot of fun writing this. More fun than I have had in a long, long time. Everything here was written with a purposely lackadaisical demeanor, so if you see something odd just roll with it. :)
Also, thank you crazyychic for beta'ing this one for me!
Edit: I guess I can safely say that this isn't the end of this oneshot. I think I'll dub it the drunkenverse? There will be a sequel, rest assured. It will take a bit time though, since Mischief Unmanaged is demanding to be updated.
Let me know what you thought!