It was happening again. It always happened like this.
Darcy threw the pot across the room and Loki ducked just in time, the cooking implement clanging against the kitchen wall loudly. An outraged scream echoed with it. Darcy was fuming, cheeks red and eyes blazing as Loki stayed standing.
"I hate you, Loki! Why do you always have to correct me like that?!" she yelled at the top of her lungs, hand reaching at the kitchen counter for something else to lob. She wasn't the least bit remorseful when it turned out to be pair of scissors. "Why do you always have to make me feel so stupid?!"
Loki dodged the aerodynamic weapon as it flew, the twang of the blades embedding in the wall behind only fuelling him on more. "I only pointed out you needed to slice the mushrooms before you put them in the saucepan!" he shot back, his own green orbs holding a similar fire to Darcy's as he pulled his arms down from protecting his head. "They won't cook right if you just put them in whole!"
The dinner lay forgotten and splayed over the kitchen. The liquid in the saucepan was bubbling fiercely, the stench of the overheating Vermouth starting to become overpowering. It made their eyes water as the couple attacked each other across the kitchen, but neither one seemed to care. Loki just hoped Darcy didn't fling the pan – the scalding liquid would be harder to avoid.
This was the third time this had happened this week. And it was always due to similarly insignificant things.
Loki grabbed at the bag of risotto rice beside him on the counter and lobbed it at Darcy's body. Her body curled defensively and it bounced hard off her arm.
"Ow!" She yelped.
"Oh, get over it, Darcy!" Loki rolled his eyes, nursing a dangerous glint. "That hardly hurt, even if you are mortal! I, unlike some people, know not to attack people with violent weapons!"
Darcy opened her mouth to shoot back the insult that sprung to her tongue, but caught herself just in time. 'Murderer' echoed in her head. She bit her lip, holding back the remark.
That was always a step too far. The deadly glint in Loki's eyes already sparked a flicker of fear within her – albeit, one she refused to submit to – his old nature creeping through. To accuse him would send him over the edge. She'd done that before. She regretted it more than anything.
She felt like she was bursting over, knowing Loki would take her hesitation as a victory on his part. And she hated it. Really hated it.
But did she want to feel his wrath again? No. That was something best left forgotten.
Darcy turned on her heel and stormed away, literally screaming her frustration. She stomped and banged, fighting with the house to get to their bed room. She swore the door made a cracking noise when she slammed it.
She pressed her back against it, and knocked her fist back into the wood as hard as she could. She cried out as something in her hand gave way.
Clutching her hurt hand she bowed forward at the waist, hips still pinned to ensure the door stayed in place. Not that that could stop Loki. He may not have his magic or strength anymore but he was still stronger and more cunning than she. There was no escape if he wanted to find you.
Darcy knew she had a maximum of ten minutes before his anger would drain and he would come after her. No doubt he heard her shout of pain. Maybe that would shorten her time even more. Damn, she cursed in her head, biting her lip against the tears forming in her eyes. Her hand really hurt!
Then she was crying about more than just her hand as her fury slipped. She hated this. A year since Loki had been banished from Asgard for his crimes and reduced to being a mortal, stripped of all his godly powers. To him it was both a curse and a blessing; he was weak, but at least he wasn't Jotun anymore. He wasn't as much an outcast as he was before.
And Darcy had taken pity on him… why?, she growled in her head, wiping the tears away angrily. Why when the bastard did things like this?!
A part of her knew she was being unreasonable, but she didn't care. Only she and Loki could make a row out of slicing mushrooms.
For a while they'd been happy, sharing an apartment in the city, Loki getting a job while Darcy continued to study under Stark's company with Jane. He'd managed to bag himself a teaching job with the fake background S.H.I.E.L.D had moulded for him. Sure, he was the most dangerous criminal they'd ever had and the greatest threat to Earth… but by giving him a new identity they'd given him a chance to quell himself. And what more could he do? He was powerless now. Even if he tried to kick a fuss again, the best it would achieve would be a spell in mortal jail.
Even Loki knew resistance was futile.
Still, Darcy didn't believe him evil. Never. Misunderstood… maybe that was too sentimental, but along those lines. He'd never done bad things for the sake of doing bad things. There was always a good reason.
She couldn't even begin to understand what it must have been like for him to find out that everything he'd known about himself was a lie. It was typical of teenage rebellion what he'd done; only he had an army and magic at his disposal. Behind it though, wasn't malice. Like every teenager, he'd grown out of it. He'd found peace.
Until he and Darcy found a new quarrel at least. They were always on their best behaviour when Thor and Jane came round, but even then there were struggles. The sweet newness of their relationship was gone.
Now they were fighting. Always fighting. It was becoming so much work just to be around him now, Darcy often wondered it if was worth it anymore…
She could leave. She could just go. She had no obligation to stay with him. He was just a guy to her, just a boyfriend. He'd the one that had been condemned to stay, not her. She could find someone new and start afresh.
But she knew she'd miss him. Even if she just missed hating him, she'd still miss him. It was a curse!
A thud hit the back of the door, though not in an aggressive way. Another pressure told Darcy he was resting his fist on the other side.
"Darcy." His voice was soft, almost pleading. Though Loki never pleaded for anything. He negotiated. Persuaded. Conned. All the same thing. "Darcy, come out. We need to talk about this. Are you okay?"
Am I okay?!, Darcy screamed in her head, outraged, righting her body again, to hold the door back a little longer. She wasn't sure if he'd caught on about her hand or if he was asking about the forming bruise of her arm or her dented heart or her beaten ego… of course, I'm not okay, you bastard!
Great. He was going to sweet talk her. Dig in the self-imposed guilt.
"You're hurt. I know you are. Come out, and we can finish dinner and sort this out. I'm calm, I promise."
"Dinners dead, you egit." She barked back through the door, kicking her heel into the wood behind to show she was still aggravated. Tears started to form in her eyes again as she thought of the ruined meal; she'd wanted them to have one nice night and even that had gone wrong. It sucked. She felt like her happiness was as unsavable as the risotto.
The tone warned her, though it was gentle. The last impatient imploration.
Then he'd be coming in one way or another. Darcy threw herself reluctantly from the doorway and onto the bed, shouting curses as she forgot about her hand and it crumpled beneath her falling body. She rolled over onto her back, clutching it brokenly.
In that time Loki had barged in, but Darcy's eyes were screwed shut against the pain from the heel of her palm. She felt that vibrations through the room though, as the door rebounded violently off the wall.
She heard the pity, the sympathy, the weakness that was being projected onto her and Darcy shot her eyes open.
Loki was just stood there, watching her with remorseful eyes. Darcy didn't let up. She wished she'd had just cursed him and be done with it. This feebleness Loki saw her with was just too degrading to bear.
She kicked herself to her feet and stared at him with blazing eyes. She couldn't stay here. She couldn't do this…
"I'm going." She declared firmly. And as soon as she said it, the bedroom seemed all too confining. She needed air. She needed space. "I can't take this anymore. I've got to go."
Loki's arms stretched loosely trying to bar her way as Darcy stormed to the door, but she pushed through them effortlessly. He followed her hurriedly. He didn't want her to leave. If she left he'd be alone, alone with nothing but his own thoughts, his own turmoil. He'd twist again into something monstrous. Darcy was the only thing that reminded him he had something to stay for. Something to work for. Something to care for.
"It's ten o'clock at night Darcy – where are you going to go?" Logic was his greatest playing card, though he knew Darcy deemed it cheating when he used clever tactics to confuse and restrict her.
She was too robust, to blunt and bold to accept such sly cunning.
It didn't appeal to her, and she was tugging on her boots by the door to show it. Loki was starting to panic.
His hand shot out for her wrist.
She screamed and her knees buckled, spare fingers clawing at his over her wrist. He saw the tears jump to her eyes and let go immediately, watching the way she snatched her wrist back and cradled it against her body. "That damned hurts!"
Loki closed his ears to the torrent of swearing that tumbled from her lips, guilt swamping him.
He went for her shoulders instead this time, gripping firmly and turning her to him forcefully. His fingers dug into her skin through her shirt, but he didn't let up. If he did, she would leave him.
"You can't go." He forced out through gritted teeth, eyes burning with a combination of hard dread and determination. There was nothing soft about him now.
Darcy stared back mercilessly. "And you're going to stop me?"
Loki refused to let her lead him on. "You can't leave me." He knew he was starting to sound desperate, though his eyes remained solid and hardened. He couldn't help it. The thought of her gone, never to come back, just filled him with ice.
"I can't take this." She bit back harshly. "I can't live like this anymore. I'm sick of fighting and I'm sick of you! I don't want to end up like my mum and dad. I don't even know if I love you anymore…" Her head shook as she glanced up and down Loki's form, drinking in his quickly paling face, the drain in his eyes. What the hell had she seen in this guy?! He was just… a monster. A murderer. An alien.
He looked horrified and Darcy felt his hand son her shoulders loosen. The numbness washed through his body at her words. She… she didn't love him anymore?
But I love you!, wanted to scream back at her. He loved her! He would tear the skies apart for her if she wanted him to, mortal form and all. She was his salvation and yet she was saying that she didn't care anymore. She was washing her hands of him, forsaking him, like everyone else had done before her. He'd never thought she'd do it too, not his Darcy…
His heart cracked in his chest. He loved her. He couldn't let her go.
But then he blinked and his fingers were clutching nothing but thin air, the slam of the door echoing in his ears.
His head swam sickeningly.
Loki's knees crashed down to the floor and he let his arms fall helplessly to his sides. His eyes were glassy and vacant. She was gone. Darcy was gone. She'd left him. Really left him.
"I love you…" he gasped, feeling his gut churn. "I need you…"
There was nothing to hear him but the empty apartment.
"So you're over?" Jane's eyes gleamed at Darcy over the bucket of ice that rested on her lap. "Like, really over?"
"That can't be." Thor grumbled darkly from the corner before Darcy could nod. Darcy glared at him, as he did back at her; his arms were folded across his broad chest, eyes low, dark and menacing. Not that he could scare Darcy.
Self-righteous prick, she thought in her head.
He pushed off rom leaning against the wall and loosened his arms. "He needs you. You are all that keeps him from reverting to his old ways."
"I don't care." She bit back, making every word crisp and clear. "I'm not going to give up my life for him. I'm a person too. I deserve my own happiness."
"You are being selfish."
She knew Thor was protective of Loki, but she had herself to think about. Jane would side with her boyfriend, so who was left to cover Darcy's back? Me, myself and I, she answered in her head.
She peeled her hand out of the bucket of ice and tried not to wince. Not broken, just badly, badly bruised. At least it hadn't swollen; Darcy hated swelling. It was so unsightly. Still, the purple on the heel of her hand was hardly attractive either. She grimaced at it, but let Jane put the bucket down and lean forward eagerly, her elbows on her knees.
"Is he still there?" she asked softly, drawing Darcy out of her angry bubble. "At the apartment, I mean?"
Darcy shrugged, flickering her eyes to Thor warily. "I don't know." She huffed. "And I don't care. He's not my problem anymore."
"But Darce…" Jane's voice was even more whining and annoying than Loki's had been. She started to wonder if she was still in a mood; she never got irritated with Jane normally. "You two were so good for each other."
"Try telling me that after one of our daily rows, okay." she snapped back fiercely.
"You are being unreasonable." Thor cut in again, still booming with antagonised power. "We give you refuge at such a late hour after you have abandoned my brother and now all you do is insult us. If our hospitality is so unwelcome then feel free to leave."
Jane and Darcy just stared at the god, though with totally different expressions. Jane's was annoyed looking. Maybe she was on Darcy's side to a degree after all.
"That's not fair." She argued in Darcy's stead. "She needs our help and she's our friend. We can't just kick her out."
"She may be our friend but my brother is higher than her in my list of obligations!"
Darcy let the quarrel happen around her, eyes staring vacantly into the distance, lost in her own thoughts. Her head was still angled towards Thor. Her eyes held a strange sort of calm, thought slightly wide and glistening. She was thinking. The anger had been shoved aside for a second as Thor's words cut something deep inside her. He wasn't even concerned with her anymore, batting lightly with Jane as to where she ought stay or go.
She should have known he'd resent her coming here. While Jane was her friend, Thor was Loki's brother. She was always going to be the devil in his eyes if something in her relationship broke down.
Feel free to leave, he'd said.
Darcy stood upright sharp enough to halt the arguing couple. She was still in her own world, thinking clearly at last. And one word of Thor's echoed in her head betrayingly.