Embracing the Dark (1/3)

Author: starhawk2005

Fandom: Marvel's Avengers

Date: June 2012

Pairing: Loki/ Jane (Lokane)

Rating: This particular part? I think it's PG-13 at most. The next two chapters will bring the (BDSM) smut, so those'll be Adult (18+).

Summary: After the Battle of Manhattan, Thor never returns from Asgard, and a threatening Loki starts appearing to Jane. What does he want with her?

Beta: A sincere thank you to my lovely and talented beta, canyr12. Loki demands that you kneel and compose hymns to her greatness.

Disclaimer: I fantasize about owning Loki, does that count?

Author's note: I haven't read a single Avengers comic, so this is all from the 'Thor' and 'Marvel's Avengers' movie canon (and is spoilery for both).

Later, she'll never remember all the exact details of how the sequence of events unfolded. Not with Loki, anyways.

With Thor, it's somehow easier to remember, to keep it all straight. Guy comes down from sky, girl hits guy with car (twice), guy turns out to be a Norse god, his evil god brother tries to level her town, and guy saves them.

Guy kisses girl, promises to return…

And nothing.

He never comes back.

At first, Jane isn't sure what's happened. The strange lights and storm-clouds spiraling in the sky, after Thor had returned to Asgard to take on Loki, hadn't looked anything like the original Einstein-Rosen events she'd seen up to that point.

When the noise and storm clouds and rainbow-hued lights had finally faded from the sky, she'd felt a sinking feeling in her stomach. When days passed and Thor hadn't come back, she was then certain the wormhole – Bifröst? – had been damaged somehow from his end. You didn't need to be a rocket scientist – and she wasn't, and boy, was she damned tired of explaining that to people! – to figure that out.

At first, she spends nearly every spare hour at her lab, trying to make the pieces fit. A month passes, then two, then four. The heartache spurs her on, along with probably enough caffeine to drown whatever's left of Puente Antiguo.

Finally, miraculously, she thinks she's figured it all out, but she needs a power source. A major power source.

Out of the blue a new opportunity comes up for her, and she flies halfway to the middle of nowhere, working on a special project for SHIELD She's so isolated from the outside world, that it's a week after the so-called Battle of Manhattan before she even hears about it, and who has been involved. SHIELD has Erik be the one to tell her, as if somehow that will make it all OK that they lied, to get her out of the way.

Iron Man. The Hulk. Captain America. The names Erik lists seem to go on forever, and all meaningless to her, except for two.

Thor. Loki.

At first, she's only thinking about Thor. He'd been here, dammit, and he hadn't even bothered to say hello? Even after Fury explains to her the cost involved in getting Thor here to save the day, the anger remains.

Jane can accept that Odin wouldn't exert himself just to get Thor back to his mortal girlfriend. She can even accept Thor being focused entirely on stopping Loki and his alien army.

But once the battle had been won? Still nothing. From what she understands, Thor had immediately taken both Loki and the Tesseract back to Asgard. He hadn't waited even a fraction of a second, hadn't even picked up the goddamn phone.

That, she can't accept. If he'd used the Tesseract to come back, if he'd shown up a day or even a week later and explained what happened, it probably would have been enough. But days turn into weeks, and weeks into another month, and still nothing.

Adding insult to injury, her research is at a standstill. She knows now that the Tesseract was the only thing powerful enough to fuel her makeshift Bifröst, and SHIELD hadn't even bothered to let her know they had it. And now Thor has it, and it's out of her reach.

She's not usually an angry person, or she tries not to be, but there's so much betrayal in all this. SHIELD kept the Tesseract from her, Erik kept the Tesseract from her (though he, at least, has a legitimate excuse), and Thor, who seemed like such a gentleman, has forgotten her. I give you my word, I will return for you. Yeah, right.

She tries to keep on working, because there isn't much else left. She endures Darcy's pitying looks, she forgives Erik because he had been little more than Loki's puppet over the last several months, and he also seems genuinely sorry over what has happened. But she resolves that she'll never again do anything to help SHIELD, not after all the crap they've pulled.

So she's not sure when it all starts. Maybe two weeks after the Battle of Manhattan, or maybe three or four. She's still at the stage of trying hard not to be miserable, not to be hopeful that there'll be some kind of reprieve and she'll wake up one morning to find Thor standing outside her trailer.

It starts as a strange 'itch' between her shoulder-blades. A sensation like someone is watching her, but when she spins around, the lab is empty. Mom used to call that 'someone walking over your grave', but Jane has never felt anything as intense as this before.

The next time it happens, goosebumps break out all over her skin. She can't say why she feels it, but she's pretty sure what emotion her observer is feeling. It feels like hate.

When it begins to happen more frequently, on a daily basis, that's when she begins to feel uneasy, even afraid. One time it even feels like someone is breathing against her skin, her ear and neck, but of course there's nobody there once again.

Later, she'll think that it was around this time that she starts to suspect who her phantom audience is.

Then the sightings begin.

At first, she thinks she sees a man lurking in the background in Erik's office when she goes to see him. A man in a suit, with long-ish dark hair, and pale skin, but when she pushes Erik's door open, Erik's alone in the room. She forgets about it until later, as Erik distracts her, looking at her in a new way. The way that seems to silently say "Maybe it's not what you think. Maybe Thor didn't forget about you. Maybe he's coming back, as soon as he deals with whatever is keeping him away."

I don't know what to think, would have been her reply. But he never says it out loud, and soon Jane will have more pressing matters to deal with than her lost love.

She starts spotting the man everywhere, but always out of the corner of her eye. There he is, reflected in the window of the grocery store, standing across the street, looking right at her. But when she turns, of course he's not there.

She thinks she sees him standing among a crowd of people milling at an intersection as she drives by. Always just a flash, gone as soon she turns her head to be sure. Always the same man, with long black hair and pale skin.

She's not sure at first, though. She's never actually seen Loki. Just that damned robot of his, burning her town to the ground. She hadn't needed to see him, thank you very much.

The few pictures she'd seen of him since, from the battle, and from the bizarre events reported in Germany, did not leave her feeling better. Mostly blurry and out-of-focus, pictures taken mainly by shaken witnesses holding cell phones in even shakier hands, they nevertheless seemed to match her visions. Pale and dark and tall, and at that point, she does the only thing she can.

She's a research scientist, after all. So whenever she encounters something she can't understand, when the pieces of a puzzle are missing, she does what she does best: research. She goes to the library, she looks things up online. She borrows books from Erik, though she doesn't tell him why. At worst, he'll think she's losing it (and she's not so sure of that fact, herself), and at best…well, what 'best' is there? She's lost Thor, and now she thinks his evil brother is stalking her. Maybe. There's really nowhere else to go from there, is there?

What she finds out does little to reassure. Loki, father of wolves and serpents, and earthquakes. Oh, and eight-legged horses. A shapeshifter, and connected with the Norse version of Armageddon. A trickster god. A notorious womanizer, with three wives and countless goddesses notched into his bedpost. A god, and a devil.

No, not comforting at all. Still, it's easy at this point to pretend, to think that maybe it's just the stress. She's a scientist, someone who never believed in magic, and in the space of less than a year, everything she's ever believed has been turned on its ear. So maybe it's not so crazy that these events are happening to her. Maybe it's her frazzled mind, hearing strange noises and thinking that someone's in the room with her, glimpsing a new man in this small town and assigning evil intent to him where none exists.

When he starts to show up in her dreams, though, that's when Jane really begins to feel actual fear. In the first dream, he says nothing at all. She's lying on her bed in the tiny, cramped nook that passes for a bedroom in this tin can, and somehow there he is in the corner of the nook. It should not be physically possible for him to stand in front of that particular wall, not without getting jammed between it and the edge of her bed, but there he is. He's just standing there, glaring down at her, and she can practically feel the menace coming off him in waves. Gone is the suit, the dark tie and scarf. He's fully armoured now, all black and green and gold, leather and metal.

In the dream, she clutches the sheets around herself protectively, as useless as that is, but by the time she's finished the maneuver, he's already faded into nothing. She wakes up shuddering and shaking, and wonders who she can turn to for help. Even the Avengers can't save her from a dream.

Perhaps a week later, there he is again, and maybe he's standing just a fraction closer than the last time, even though she's sure that's impossible. She can't help thinking that he's rather like a cobra. Coiled in the non-existent corner of her bedroom, glittering darkly, beautiful and utterly deadly.

Still, she wants to be sure. She's made a lot of assumptions, and it's time to test her hypothesis. Who are you?

His lip lifts in a snarl. Surely you know. Did you not spend hours in your precious library, reading all about my misdeeds?

She's starting to shiver. He's been watching her, all right. It's a dream, she knows it is, but how long will it stay a dream? Loki.

The very same. He sweeps her a mocking bow. I told my brother that I would have to pay you a visit.

Her hands are icy. Fine, you've come for a 'visit'. And now you can just go away again.

He laughs darkly, mockingly, shifting even closer somehow. Why should I go? Thor isn't here to protect you from me, little mortal.

Shockingly, she's suddenly more angry than afraid. She's here dealing with this, and where is he, indeed? Where's her god of thunder now?

Rub it in, why don't you? she retorts, angry and bitter. He blinks at that, looking vaguely surprised. But then his expression hardens again, and he dissolves in a swirl of silver-edged smoke.

Days pass. She continues to see – or thinks she sees - Loki lurking in the corners of her vision again, and once, there's again that sensation of hot breath curling across the side of her neck, but of course, that's all there is. A glimpse, a whisper of contact, and then nothing.

How can you even be here? she demands the next time he appears. Thor took you prisoner-

Think you that I am so easily held? He leers at her. What sort of trickster could I claim to be then? As usual, he flits away into nothingness and she wakes up with a jolt before she can think up a reply.

The next time he materializes and laughs mockingly at her, edging ever closer, she decides enough is enough. Yeah, look at the big powerful god, threatening a defenseless woman, she spits at him sarcastically, angry and afraid. Mostly angry, to her surprise. Maybe she's just getting tired of being the butt of someone else's joke.

He laughs even louder at that, a malicious light in his eyes. I'm not threatening anything. I'm promising.

Are you going to kill me? She's not sure she wants to hear the answer, but it pops out of her dream-self's mouth before she has a chance to edit it out of existence.

Kill you? No. Where would be the fun in that? He's gone again.

Apparently, he's enjoying this chase, if she can call it that, far too much to end it anytime soon. And as the days pass, a truly bizarre thing begins to happen. She's afraid, yes, but also strangely…flattered? She can't remember a time in her life up until now, when she was ever the focus of a man's attention like this.

Not in high school. She wasn't a blonde, and she hadn't had big boobs. She'd been the typical nerdy kid, nose in a book, even wearing thick-rimmed glasses. Boys had barely glanced her way.

Even as an adult, the few boyfriends she'd had time for, they'd always had other things in their lives more important than her.

Case in point: Donald Blake, who'd also had far more important things to do than pay all, or even most, of his attention to one Jane Foster. She'd thought Thor would be different, he'd seemed so old-fashioned, so chivalrous. But apparently he had bigger fish to fry, too.

Fast forward back to now, and Loki's presence seems all around her now, every day. Either awake or in her dreams, even when she doesn't see him, she feels him there, and it's threatening, nerve-wracking. But there's also the strange feeling, almost of gratification, that someone is actually paying attention to her, focused entirely on her, for the first time that she can remember….Christ, I'm going insane. Or is this some new form of mind-control of his? She does her best to push the unwanted feelings aside.

The next time he shows up in her dreams, he's towering over the side of her bed, the moonlight sliding caressingly along the ornate designs on his armour. Jane realizes she's less afraid of him now. He keeps showing up, but he hasn't done anything except threaten and laugh. Maybe it's all talk. Rattle her cage, and see if Thor comes running? Maybe he's even in prison in Asgard, and this is all he can do.

Why don't you tell the truth for once? she challenges him. Why are you here?

He smirks and leans down (even though there's not enough room for that), putting himself at her eye-level, placing both hands on her bed. Watch your tone, mortal. Small green snakes uncurl themselves from each of his wrists and drop down. They slither and slide over the dunes of her bedsheets, moving towards her. She's not the world's biggest fan of snakes, but she knows this is still a dream. Instead of panicking, Jane focuses on his face, on his eyes, though she can't help but notice they're the exact same shade as his snakes.

Make no mistake, Jane Foster, he says softly. Somehow, he seems miles away, and yet still close enough that she can feel his breath on her face. I'm a god, and you're nothing. I could kill you.

The snakes vanish, but Jane barely notices, too focused on Loki's face, the thin, midnight strands of hair falling over his forehead. Then why don't you? And don't tell me it's more 'fun' not to.

It's probably dangerous to push him, but it occurs to her suddenly that if he finds this…whatever it is that's he's doing with her so amusing, that alone might guarantee her safety from him.

I could kill you, he repeats, leaning in even closer. But I have a better idea. Instead, I'll make you mine. My slave. You're going to give me everything you gave him, and more. Far more.

It's so absurd that she's startled into laughing, and Loki, no doubt surprised to find a weak and puny mortal laughing at him, pulls away to his customary impossible location and goes back to glaring angrily.

A kiss… was all… I gave him, she elaborates between guffaws. She's not even sure why she finds this so funny. Maybe it's because Loki has obviously so greatly overestimated how close she and Thor had been. Maybe it's some kind of hysteria, her sanity finally cracking under the weight of all the crazy things that have happened. Maybe she just doesn't want to face the implications of the other things he just said (His slave?). It doesn't matter; she laughs until the tears stream down her cheeks, and through it all, Loki just stands and watches, his puzzlement becoming more and more obvious.

When her giggles finally subside, he's still standing there, much to her surprise. He's usually disappeared in his puff of silver smoke by now. She decides to go on the offensive. She's tired of her role as helpless plaything of the Norse gods. If you want a kiss, come and get it. Usually she's awkward around men, unable to meet their gaze, often painfully shy. The more she's interested in someone, the worse it gets. Certainly, telling some guy to 'Come and get it, big boy?' That has never happened, never will likely happen in a million years, not in her real life. But this is a dream, not real life, and she isn't worried about embarrassing herself in front of Loki-

She doesn't see him move. One second he's there in the corner, and in less than an eyeblink he's right on top of her, straddling her on the bed, his face mere inches from hers. I wouldn't tease, if I were you, Jane, he purrs, quiet and deadly. You have no idea what I am capable of doing to you. She hears snakes hiss, but she doesn't look away from him.

Her heart is racing, her blood pulsing in her veins. Is it just fear, or is it something more?

Speechless, she waits, wondering what comes next, what to say. Perhaps predictably, he spares her the trouble, dissolving away into smoke.

She jerks awake, and at first she's very confused, and almost embarrassed to realize how aroused she is.

It's insane, utterly insane. He's handsome, yes, but he's also a murderer, hatred personified, and probably missing a marble or three….not to mention the whole 'world domination' thing. Despite his words to the contrary, he'd probably be very happy to take her life the moment she crosses some arbitrary imagined line.

She keeps repeating these facts to herself over and over in the days that follow, but it doesn't change the feeling of warmth in her belly. Definitely going insane.

In her lab, she stares at her whiteboard, gazes blankly at her computer screens, but she may as well be staring at the walls. She has a different equation to figure out now, one unrelated to astrophysics and alternative power sources for Einstein-Rosen bridges.

It takes a few days to figure this particular problem out, but once she finally admits the truth to herself, it makes more sense. The key problem: How someone so threatening and dangerous can in fact turn her on.

Reluctantly, she finally accepts the only solution that makes sense: If she's honest with herself, there's a part of her that's always been attracted to 'dangerous' men. The 'cool' boys who'd worn leather jackets and smoked behind the gym at high school, though none of them had given her a second look (and often, not even a first one). A boyfriend during her bachelor years who'd had enough tattoos to strip down to the skin, call himself an art gallery, and charge admission.

Even Dr. Donald Blake had worn a leather jacket and ridden a motorcycle, and before his interest in her had waned, one of the things she'd most enjoyed doing had been pretending to herself that he was rougher, darker than he'd actually been. It had only happened in her fantasies, though. Donald had turned out to be about as vanilla as they come.

Even Thor, though he hadn't exactly come across as dangerous, not with all the courtly hand-kissing and formalized speech. But he'd been a big man, a physically powerful man, a man with the potential to pick her up, overpower her, make her his.

More than just being with someone, deep down she realizes that she wants to feel desired, wants to be taken by someone. To feel for the first time that someone wants her that badly.

It sounds like a cheesy romance novel, once she finally puts it all together, but that doesn't make it any less true.

The worst of it is, that Loki fits the bill exactly. He's not some 'cut' caveman like Thor, but he's tall and broad-shouldered and not hard on the eyes, not at all, at least when he isn't looking at her like he wants to slice her into bloody ribbons.

Definitely not just a hint of danger.

You have no idea what I am capable of doing to you.

No, she doesn't know. But the thing is, she thinks she wants to.

She gets herself ready for bed, wondering if he'll visit her again tonight. She finds herself looking critically at her camisole and boyshorts, almost wishing she had developed the habit of sleeping in something…well, sexier. She brushes her hair out and leaves it loose, instead of braiding it like she usually does. She stares at herself in the mirror, and wonders what the Hell has happened to her, sitting here and trying to pretend to herself that she's not preening like she's about to go on a first date.

Finally Jane climbs into bed, turns out the lights, and stares in the direction that he tends to appear in the most. After a few long minutes of silence and darkness, she shakes her head at herself, feeling like an idiot. He probably won't even show up. Maybe he won't even show up again. She's not sure which option she'd prefer, out of the many possible paths her experience with Loki could take from here.

She closes her eyes and pulls the sheets up to her chest. She allows herself to start to drift, unfocused images and fragments of Loki's face weaving across the backs of her eyelids.

Blinding light suddenly fills the room, and Jane gasps and sits up, hands clapped to her face to shield her eyes.

The light goes out, and she's in the dark again.

But not alone.

"Dr. Foster. Jane Foster," the now-familiar voice purrs silkily, and it sounds just as intimidating as it did in her dreams. The light overhead suddenly snaps itself on, and when her eyes adjust, there he is, in the entrance of the sleeping nook, looming over her, smug and smirking.

It must be real. She can hear the leather creak as he shifts, taking a slow step forward. "So nice to finally meet in person. I've been looking forward to this day."

Oh God, her throat is so dry. The words he's said to her before whisper in her ears.

I'll make you mine. My slave. You're going to give me everything you gave him, and more. Far more. You don't know what I am capable of doing to you.

Unless she can talk her way out of this mess, it looks like she's about to find out.