Chapter 5

"I swear to God, Loki, if he says one bitchy thing to me-"

"He won't." Loki insisted, as he and Darcy stepped up to the restaurant from the cab, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. "This is a ceasefire, remember. He's just as committed to making things work as you are."

Darcy kept her eyes low, watching her slow, high heeled steps as she moved carefully over the thin layer of snow. A fall in those shoes would mean a trip to the emergency room, and the evening was sure to be unpleasant enough without that...

'Dinner' sounded innocent enough - but it was Thor's idea, so that was far from innocent. She wasn't stupid - he was checking up on her. The last time she'd spoken to him had been when she'd walked out on Loki, but she knew he'd been conspiring with Jane and Loki. Trying to keep her and Loki together. That was his target.

He didn't like Darcy but he knew Loki needed her. Darcy knew that was the case. Thor thought she was too brash, too loud, too ferocious - but without her, Loki fell apart. And Thor refused to have that.

Darcy shivered as they stepped inside the restaurant and the doors closed behind them, encasing them in warmth. She was glad; her dress wasn't made for insultation. The black material hugged her voluptuous figure closely, folding over one shoulder and clinging down to her mid thighs. Her dark hair fell in curls over one shoulder and a silver pin held it off the other, leaving it bare for Loki's fingers to stoke tenderly as they stepped through the restaurant doors. Her red lips were pursed, smoky eyes sharp.

She found their table instantly; her eyes met Thor's sharp blue eyes from across the restaurant, and found him and Jane sat at a rectangular table with menus in their hands, waiting.

"Come on, Darcy." Loki crooned softly in her ear as he followed her gaze across the restaurant to Thor and Jane. "Play nice."

Darcy's lips curved in a sweet smile that didn't quite reach her eyes, focusing on Thor. "I will if he will." she murmured back.

Loki's hand touched at the small of her back and Darcy led the stride towards the couple at the table, holding her head high. She was going to brave through this dinner...and have angry sex with Loki when she got back to the apartment to take out her frustration.

"Good evening." Thor smiled, rising as Loki and Darcy approached. He clasped Loki's forearm fondly. "I hope you are well, brother."

Darcy tuned out his response as she hugged Jane. Lengthily.

"How is everything?" Jane hissed in her ear.

Darcy nodded subtly. "You're not the only one with a Norse sex god now." she murmured back, winking as the pair pulled apart.

Jane's smirk was infectious though, and Darcy found herself mirroring it as they all sat down. She picked up her menu with her eyes still locked secretively with Jane's.

"Darcy tells us you have a job interview soon, Loki." Thor opened up the conversation smoothly. Darcy glanced up at her name - and Thor's smooth smile hit her like a slap in the face, his eyes sparkling. God, he was going to annoy her tonight, she thought with a roll of her eyes.

Loki's hand clasping hers under the table caught her attention back. "Yes," Loki smiled flawlessly. "The family of one of my old students wants me to teach their kid privately. We're discussing it next week."

They were a rich family too, Darcy thought as her eyes scoured hungrily over the wine list, even though she knew nothing about what was best to order. Loki would know. She couldn't even pronounce the wine he asked the waiter for in the end, barely able to spit out the name of the Italian dish she wanted for dinner either.

She felt better when Thor was no more fluent though. She had a feeling this meal was more to diffuse tensions between her and the Thunder God than her and Loki.

"I like your dress, Darcy." Jane chipped in warmly as the waiter whisked the menus away. "Is it new?"

Darcy took a big gulp of the blood red wine before she replied, shooting a glance at Loki. "Yeah." she said stiffly, taking another large gulp. "Bought for too much money, out of finances we don't have. By Loki, naturally." she added.

Loki's glass audibly hit the table. "You deserved it, Darce." he defended, a little sharply. They'd had this discussion a lot already. "Am I not allowed to treat you anymore?"

A sideways, warning glare answered him first. "I'd rather you treat me by keeping the apartment over our heads, please."

"We're doing fine, Dar-"

"Says the guy who didn't speak to the landlord about the late rent." Darcy braced her palm on the table and twisted to face her other half, his eyes hardening and mouth thinning in a direct reflection of her own. "Do you know how much sweet talking I had to do just to stop us getting kicked out?!"

Loki's eye twiched before he snapped. "Your universal solution to everything, isn't it, Darcy; flirt with the man in charge-"

"How fucking dare you." she hissed through her teeth.

"Ah-hem."

Darcy tore her blazing gaze away from Loki's to stare at Jane as she cleared her throat softly from across the table. The gentle, sympathetic look in Jane's eyes was like she'd thrown ice water over Darcy.

Her heart sank quickly as she realised what had just happened - she was just sentences away from her and Loki in a blazing row in the middle of the restaurant. The kind of confrontations they were trying to prove were behind them. Oops. Her eyes strayed across to Thor; a quiet anger burned in his orbs as he watched her.

His lips quirked in the corner though, when he caught her gaze. "This is what we have come here to resolve." He said in a deadly soft voice.

Darcy just glared at him.

"We've been fine, Thor." Loki said before she could. Darcy snapped her gaze across to Loki, who was smoothly fixing his tie. When his emerald eyes met hers, they were significantly less mad than a few moments ago. Still mad, but more determined - determined to prove to Thor that things were better. He held her gaze calmly; "We're still fine."

Darcy didn't look away, trying to calm her racing heart. They were fine, she told herself. Everything was fine. At least they still had the apartment..

"Everything will be okay once you get your new job." she said quietly, more for her own reassurance.

"It will be better than okay." Loki said even softer. She didn't object when he reached out and stroked her hair away from her face, his fingers trailing it away from her cheek and along the stream of curls down her shoulder. "You'll see."

Loki...always determined to prove himself, Darcy thought, lips flickering in a smirk. His fingertips lingered on her cheek. She leaned into it.

"Okay." she murmured. Not arguing.

She wanted to be angry... but the desire to prove Thor wrong was stronger. She watched the same thoughts play out in Loki's orbs, watching his building rage start to drain away. They both wanted to make this work. This was their night to prove to everyone else that they could work. So they could be left in peace...

They'd promised each other they would try. And they would. They both knew better than to think they would never fight again - hell, what had they been doing five minutes ago?! But they'd promised to try and work through the fighting.

Which was hard to do with their closest friends and relatives constantly waiting for them to fall apart.

"What are you going to do, Darcy?"

The frown dug into Darcy's brow before she turned to the Thunder God, meeting his calm gaze. "What?"

"Well, it is only fair." Thor pressed on defensively, eyes scanning around the table. "A couple is a team and to succeed you must work together and contribute equally. Thus far, one side seems to be pulling more weight than the other." His eyes lingered distinctly on Darcy.

"Be fair, Thor." Loki defended, putting a protective hand on Darcy's thigh under the table as he faced his brother. "Were it not for Darcy's intervention last week I would still be wallowing in misery. There would be no apartment, no job inteview..we would have been finished if she hadn't woken me up there and then. She single handedly saved our relationship."

Darcy's eyes linked with Jane's. "Dual-handedly actually." she chipped in quickly. Loki didn't challenge it; she'd told him the sex-intervention had been Jane's idea.

Not everyone had been so forthcoming it seemed though, as Thor braced a forearm on the table and twisted to face Jane, brow furrowed. She decidedly stayed facing forward. "You had a hand in this?" Thor asked quietly.

Jane reached out smoothly and sipped at her wine. Building up the courage, Darcy thought with a smirk.

"We had coffee." Jane said simply, not looking Thor's way. "We talked."

Thor didn't budge. "About what?"

He sounded almost wounded rather than angry, although Darcy was sure that wasn't far behind. It was almost cute; Thor feeling left out instead of being the all important director of everything and everyone. Jane hadn't told him about her and Darcy's coffee morning.

Jane slowly turned her head, coolly meeting her boyfriend's questioning gaze. "Girl stuff." she shrugged vaguely.

The tension in her shoulders was obvious though. Darcy and Loki knew there was no way Jane was going to admit to Thor she'd encouraged Darcy and Loki to have sex - she was blushing just thinking about it as she took another small sip of wine. But Thor didn't know that. To him, she was just keeping secrets.

"What is so bad that you cannot tell me?" he confronted bluntly. "I thought we were in this together?"

Darcy knew there was no way Jane was going to admit things with all of them there - the girl hadn't even been able to watch Sex in the City without cringing during one of Pepper's girly sleepovers! She'd slip a quiet word to Thor when they were alone, but in a group... no way.

Still, Darcy was happy to sit back. She and Loki weren't going to dump Jane in it either. Besides, all Thor would take from that was that everyone else was in on it except for him.

"Because we're a team?" Jane raised her eyebrows. Then she caught the way Thor's fist curled on the table the same as everyone else and shook her head. "It's no big deal, Thor. I'll tell you later, okay?"

"No, I would rather you tell me now." Thor growled back in a heartbeat.

Jane stood her ground, eyes scanning briefly around the restaurant before settling on Thor again. "I am not discussing it in public." she hissed back.

"If you went out for coffee, how was that a more private setting than this?"

"That was different." Jane insisted, clearly biting her patience to hold down her tone.

Thor's tone wasn't on the same check though, voice rising; "How?!"

Jane flapped the napkin she'd been fiddling with down on the tabetop. "You have no idea how stupid this is." she snapped. "The point is that Darcy and Loki are okay. That's what we should be focusing on."

"Which we are." Darcy cut in with a smile, and a thumbs up.

Thor's confused gaze snapped to Loki. "Okay, she means." Loki explained simply.

Satisfied, the god turned back to Jane.

Five minutes later, the voices were rising again.

"Well, if we're such a great team then why are we so unbalanced?"

"What are you talking about, Jane?"

"I mean, you were saying Darcy isn't pulling her weight, which is a bit hypocritical coming from you."

"Speak plainly-"

"Well, you don't exactly contribute to the rent, the food, the bills, do you? Prince of Asgard and yet I'm the one who pays, works while you do ..what exactly?"

"You know damned well-"

Darcy and Loki just sat back, as good as forgotten as the row built. They watched the exchanges, fascinated. Both of them were wondering if that was how they looked when they rowed; was the subject always so trivial? Were the responses always so ignored? It seemed like madness, watching it...

Then Loki's hand closed over Darcy's on her lap and she jumped. Her heart fluttered back into place in her ribcage as Loki grinned and leaned over to whisper in her ear.

"Want to get out of here?" he breathed, hot air ghosting over Darcy's ear. It gave her shivers. His eyes were sparkling as he pulled back. His head jerked to the arguing couple. "They might be a while..."

Stay and fight or leave with Loki. That was the choice: fight or Loki?

Darcy just grinned.

Her hand squeezed his.