Darcy sighed and looked through her makeup drawer again. That lipstick was never going to turn up! She had the kick-ass costume, the kick-ass accessories, and the kick-ass lipstick to totally sell it, but she couldn't find it.

"Jane!" she yelled, stomping out of the bathroom. "Did you steal my red lipstick again? I need it!"

"Yeah, Darce, I think I have it," Jane replied, "Let me check my purse. Sorry, I used it last weekend when Thor and I went on that date."

Jane looked up as Darcy walked into her room and said, "Jane, I need to look super hot, okay? I know you're not going - which is crazy, by the way - but I need some serious hotness and that lipstick will bring it. I mean, come on, how many chances will I get to go be super hot with all the Avengers around, after all? It's just not something I get to do very often and - "

"Yeah, I get it, Darce," Jane said with a knowing smile. "The Avengers, you want to impress them."

"Oh, shut up!"

"Ah, I knew I had it! Here, go add some super-hot to that outfit."

"Thanks, Jane!" Darcy bounced out of the room. "Oh, and have fun being at home while everyone else has fun."

"No problem, you know me, I just hate fun!" Jane shot back, smiling at her assistant's eagerness.

Darcy returned to the mirror, inspecting her reflection closely as she opened the lipstick. She fixed her bangs again, fussed with a few loose strands, then finally applied the crimson lipstick carefully. It really pulled the whole outfit together. She was wearing a knee-length, structured crimson strapless gown with a sweetheart neckline and a red sash around her waist. Completing the costume were an ornate red mask with gold accents, a red headband with small, curved horns sticking up, and a plastic red trident.

Satisfied with her appearance, she put the lipstick into her clutch (red, of course!) and headed out to hail a cab.

"'Bye, Jane, see you tomorrow! Don't fall asleep on the couch."

"Have fun, Darce, and be safe!"

"Yeah, yeah." Darcy rolled her eyes, locking the apartment door before heading downstairs.

*****

"Are you sure no one will be able to tell?"

Loki kept himself from rolling his eyes at his brother.

"I am sure. Everyone will think you to be me, and I you. Do you see any of yourself in your reflection now?"

"No, I do not. It is strange, brother, not to see my own reflection looking me back. I feel no different, but your magic truly does mask my appearance."

"If you are satisfied, then let us proceed to the party. I would make my appearance then leave as soon as possible. I have no desire to spend my evening surrounded by tedious mortals."

"I will stay to see Lady Darcy, then I will leave as well. Jane expects me."

"Of course, you would not wish to keep her waiting long. Now, come, let us meet Stark and the others so that we may be on our separate ways before too much time passes."

*****

Darcy entered the room and let out a low whistle. "Son of a bitch," she said to herself. The ballroom was filled seemingly to capacity with people in elaborate costumes of many different textures and colors, some dancing, some merely talking and drinking. She spotted Tony right away - he may have a mask, but it was quite obviously him in the tails, with Pepper on his arm, looking gorgeous as always, in royal blue this time. She didn't see Clint anywhere, but Natasha and Bruce were having a conversation in the corner with two others she didn't recognize. Loki was… on the dance floor? Well, that was unexpected, she thought. As she made her way toward Tony and Pepper she finally spied Thor perched on a chair near the far wall, brooding, no doubt about not being with Jane tonight.

Perfect, Lewis, she told herself, now you just go say 'Hi' to Tony and Pepper then hang with Thor before he leaves. Then, the plan!

"Ah, Lewis, glad to see you made it!" Tony greeted her amiably. "Nice duds, by the way. I'll be sure to steer clear of making any deals with you tonight."

"Hey, Tony, hey Pepper!" Darcy replied with what she hoped was her characteristic exuberance. "Looks like a great party!"

"Hi, Darcy," Pepper said. "Good to see you again. I hope you have a good time tonight."

"Oh, you and me both," Darcy said, giggling. "I'm looking to do some serious dancing before I leave tonight."

"Go for it!" Tony said. "Blow off some steam, relax, have a few drinks, do whatever. All in good fun, Lewis. See you later, it's time for us to schmooze."

"Bye, and thanks again, guys!" Darcy gave them both a hug before heading to the nearest bar. Thank the sweet lord for open bars! Liquid courage, here I come!

*****

Naturally, Thor must demean himself while wearing my appearance. No sense of propriety in him. Loki took the sensible course of action and sat down alone. A few people came up to talk to him, thinking him to be his brother, but that had stopped once word spread among the revelers of their switch for the night. He sat instead, observing the actions of the partygoers, bemused by their obsession with the heroes in attendance. Many times both women and men came up to Stark to congratulate him on their latest victory and flirt with him, even with his woman there beside him. Such brazen behavior, it would fit in perfectly in the court in Asgard. The number of times he saw such attempts on Thor, he did not care to total them.

"Hey, big guy!"

Loki looked up to see Darcy approaching him from the side as he observed Thor dancing like a fool. Well, he called it dancing to be charitable, as he knew that was his brother's intent.

"Lady Darcy," he said smoothly, "I am surprised to see you."

"How are you doing? You don't look so hot."

"I am well, thank you, and I find the temperature here suitable." The Midgardian obsession with temperature and weather was rather tiresome, but he supposed he could tolerate it coming from someone with whom he could tolerate conversing.

"Your brother's really cutting loose on the dance floor over there," she observed drily. "He doesn't seem like the type."

"Oh, no, this is how he always has been, Darcy, no matter what the occasion, he is determined to celebrate it thoroughly as possible."

"I have to say, I'm surprised to see that side of him. He never seemed like a dancer, anyway."

"Indeed, appearances can be deceptive." Loki took a moment to observe the woman before him as she watched his brother. His eyes moved appreciatively over her profile, taking in her appearance. The red gown she wore clung to her curves perfectly, accenting her attributes without revealing more than a modest amount of skin. It was more modest in terms of coverage than many of the dresses he had seen that evening, but it was simultaneously scandalous in its immodest intentions. The color of the gown and her lips stood out starkly against her creamy skin, complementing it even as it emphasized her paleness. The red contrasted perfectly with the dark curls tumbling down her shoulders and back.

He had never seen her like this. He had been watching her for a while now, taking in her quirks, the way she reacted to everything differently. He knew she was aware of her differences to her companions, but she did not seem to care. Her self-assurance stood her in good stead. He had heard from Thor the way she rendered him unconscious upon his arrival on Midgard during his exile. One corner of his mouth turned upward at the thought of Darcy challenging Thor.

After a few moments, Darcy turned back to him and asked "So when are you taking off? I figured you wouldn't stay too long. I thought I'd probably missed you since I came so late, actually."

"I plan to leave very soon Darcy. This masquerade is not something that interests me overmuch."

"Well, I think I'm going to go make a move on yo -" Darcy stuttered briefly, "I mean, uh, with your brother. Who doesn't want to say they did the macarena with a god?"

"Very well, Darcy, I hope you enjoy yourself." Loki said, perplexed.

"See you later!" Darcy gave a little wave and went to turn around.

*****

Dammit, Lewis, pull it together! You can hold your booze better than this! That was one drink. Darcy mentally berated herself, hoping that Thor wouldn't be familiar with that particular bit of slang. She turned around and smacked directly into Loki's chest.

"Darcy!" He exclaimed loudly before pulling her into a bone-crushing hug. "I am very happy to see you, my friend."

Well, that was different. I guess he's drunk, she mused.

"Nice to see you, too, Loki," she said, patting his back. "Can't breathe."

"No, Darcy, it is I!" Loki said in an uncharacteristically exuberant tone, a wide smile on his face as he released her from his arms. Damn if she wouldn't have bruises later from that.

"….What are you talking about?" she said, nonplussed.

"Did Jane not tell you?" he asked.

"Tell me what?"

"Loki and I switched for the evening! I look like him, and he looks like me! Those are our masks for the masquerade." Loki beamed at her with what she realized was a very Thor-like expression. After another second, it finally clicked.

"Ooohhh, I see! I had no idea. Well, um, I'm just gonna go say hi to Natasha and Bruce before I forget. See you later!" She felt the flush burning beneath her skin, realizing what she had as good as admitted to Loki's face, as it turned out. She rushed off as quickly as her heels would let her, straight back to the bar, where she downed a shot of tequila.

*****

"Did you say something to Darcy to upset her, brother?" Thor asked, the audible concern grating on Loki's ears. He scowled impatiently.

"I did nothing that would upset her," he said shortly. "We spoke briefly about nothing of particular importance, then she some atrocious Midgardian expression to say she was going to dance with you. I suppose now it is apparent she meant that she was going to dance with me, since she had no idea of our plan for the evening. That is all which transpired, Thor."

Thor looked puzzled. Loki sighed.

"What is it that troubles you now?" he asked, making an effort to hide his exasperation with his brother. He regarded his brother carefully while attempting to determine what had triggered such a reaction in Darcy that she would blush so darkly that her cheeks threatened to match the color of her lips.

"What did she say precisely? What was the Midgardian expression she used?"

"I am unsure, she changed it as she spoke. I believe it was either 'make a move on' or 'make a move with.'"

Thor gaped at his brother. It was rather comical to see his own face staring at him in such shock, but his brief moment of amusement gave way to curiosity.

"Why do you wear such a shocked expression?" he inquired. "You look as dumbstruck as you did at your wedding to Thrym."

Thor gaped a moment longer, then finally snapped his mouth shut.

"That expression, I know what it means." He stopped there.

Loki raised an eyebrow in question, and when Thor remained silent, he prompted, "Well? What does it mean?"

"Loki… it means that she has feelings for you."

*****

"Rough night?" Bruce asked her as he rested his arms on the bar next to her.

"Heyyy, Bruce," she said, "good to see ya. It's been great, yeah. You? Where'd Natasha run off to?"

"She was talking to Pepper last I saw," he answered. "But let's talk about you. Are you sure you feel all right? Have you had too much to drink? You look flushed."

"No, this shot is only the second thing I've had tonight. I guess I'm just a little warm. It's hot in here, don't you think?" She fanned herself in an attempt to add a grain of verisimilitude to her story. "Actually, I'm going to head out on the balcony for a minute so I can cool down. Catch you on the flip?"

"Sure, Darcy, talk to you later."

She saw Bruce shake his head as he watched her rush away from him toward the balcony. Wading through the groups of people who had clustered around the dance floor, she finally broke free from the crowd and had a clear view of the skyline waiting before her.

She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that she was alone. Walking to the edge, she leaned forward, putting her arms down on the railing and her chin on top of them.

"Smooth move, Lewis," she told herself. At least I can count on both of them not to actually understand what I was saying.

*****

Loki looked at his brother, his eyes slightly widened in surprise.

"What nonsense are you spouting now?" he demanded.

"It is not nonsense, brother. If she said what you say she did, then it means that she has feelings for you, that she wishes to court you."

"That is nonsense. You know nothing of Midgardian customs or language."

"That is usually the case, but Jane explained it to me. She said something similar when we were watching a movie together, expressing frustration that the man in the movie would not 'make his move' on the woman he courted, and she told me this is what it means."

Loki narrowed his eyes. "This prank, while an admirable attempt, is poorly thought out. You would do well to leave the mischief to me."

"I do not jest, Loki, I am telling you this in earnest. I have seen you turn your gaze to her before - it is clear that you have feelings for her as well. Why do you not act upon them?"

"All of this thinking you have done has clearly damaged your mind beyond repair. Perhaps we should retire for the night so that you may turn your thoughts back to yourself, where they belong." With a fluid, economical gesture he undid the charm he had placed up on them to alter their identities.

"Go to Jane. I will retire to my room for the night as well."

"Brother, please - " Thor was cut off before he could finish.

"Good night, Thor," Loki hissed impatiently as he turned back to the ballroom entrance.

*****

Darcy just stood for a few moments, replaying her conversation with Thor in her head.

"Son of a bitch!" she exclaimed, then fished her phone out from her purse.

She texted Jane: Hey, what was Thor's costume again? I actually don't see him here is he with you already?

After a few moments, Jane replied: No he's not with me. He and Loki switched, remember? I told you while you were getting ready.

Darcy: Oh I'll look around again. What do you mean they switched?

Jane: They switched appearances, completely. So if you want to catch Thor before he leaves, go find Loki. And again: I swear, do you ever listen when I'm talking?

With that, Darcy locked her phone and shoved it back in her purse. She returned her gaze to the skyline, no calmer than before. She was pretty sure Jane hadn't told her - she would remember something like that for sure.

Her phone beeped again, so she pulled it out, sighing.

Jane: Having a good time?
Darcy: It's all right. How's the couch?
Jane: Comfortable and directly in front of a TV showing me Indiana Jones. How's the party?
Darcy: Hopping.
Darcy: I mean, no frogs or anything. Just lots of people.
Jane: Well have fun, Indy's about to get hit over the head by his dad, so I'd like to keep my attention on the TV. Night!
Darcy: Night

Darcy could practically see the eye-roll Jane must have given her at the last text. Oh well, serves her right for watching such an awesome movie without me. Now, back to the problem at hand.

*****

When the elevator began to rise, taking him to the floor on which he lived, he considered Thor's words again. His brother was more perceptive than he gave him credit for. He did have feelings for Darcy, but he realized that they were, in fact, of a romantic nature rather than merely symbolizing the intellectual curiosity in the eccentricity of her actions.

"Damn."

When he reached his floor, he stepped out of the elevator, took three steps down the hall toward his rooms, then abruptly returned to the elevator. A plan coalesced in his mind, followed by plan after plan after plan. By the time he reached the ballroom again, he had settled on a plan of action.

*****

"Darcy."

She started at the sound of her name, especially in that voice. She hadn't heard anyone else leave the party so she had assumed she was alone. She slowly turned in the direction of her addressee.

"Thor?" she asked, not sure whether she wanted it to be the man she saw before her or his brother.

"No, I have undone the glamour, as Thor wished to depart to see Jane as soon as he spoke with you."

"Ah. 'Kay," she said, wishing her heart had not chosen now of all moments to beat even more wildly in her chest. "So…. What's up?"

"I merely came to see how you fared. You seemed rather flustered when you left before."

"Well, thanks for that." She paused. "I was just enjoying the view. Care to join me?"

"I would like that very much, thank you." Loki smiled briefly and joined her where she stood at the rail.

They stood together in silence, looking straight ahead, both refusing to exchange a glance as if by previous agreement. Darcy gave up and turned to look at him as she said, "So, I guess you must not be having a very good time at the party if you're out here with me."

He hesitated before he answered, "The masquerade does not appeal to me, no. I find your company much preferable to that of the noisy buffoons inside."

She took in his profile for a moment longer, then turned back to the skyscrapers. An involuntary shiver shook her body. Loki straightened and turned to her, scrutinizing her and pronouncing "You are cold."

"A little," she admitted, "but I'm fine."

She felt his hands touch her shoulders through the soft fabric he placed around her. Automatically she reached up to pull it closer around her and saw that it was dark green. Startled, she looked up at him and realized he had removed his cape to tuck around her shoulders.

"Thank you, "she said softly, doing her best to keep the blush creeping up her cheeks at bay. She felt Loki's gaze upon her as she turned back to the night sky.

For once, Darcy was at a loss for words.

She was warming up now, finally. She hadn't been aware of just how cold it was outside until the cape covered her. While they had spent time together before, alone, it was never in this kind of setting. They would spend time together when Jane and Thor crept away indiscreetly at her apartment, or when Jane and Thor made their excuses at Stark Tower. It was never their choice to be alone together.

Sometimes they would just sit and watch TV together, or one or both of them would read in the spare time the lovers gave them. Their silences were not companionable, merely comfortable, tolerable, as they had acclimated to the way things were.

Other times, they would talk about whatever came to mind. Loki would ask questions about something related to pop culture, she would answer, inevitably using an expression with which he was unfamiliar, so she would explain that as well. Other times, she would ask him about Asgard, about the other realms, and, on a couple of occasions - when his mood was light enough - he even recounted tales of his and Thor's exploits with the Warriors Three and Sif.

She realized what made this different - he had sought her out. They had never deviated from the rules implicitly imposed on them by Thor and Jane's behavior - until now.

*****

He waited for her to say something, but she remained silent, facing toward the city lights. They stood side by side, each waiting for the other to say something, it seemed. They were both comfortable with silence, so he felt no need to break it prematurely. As he waited, his thoughts drifted back to the conversation he had with Darcy before. He recalled her words, turning them over in his mind, comparing them with the knowledge Thor had imparted after returning. He was drawn to Darcy - he couldn't explain it. He evaluated her when they first met, and then placed her almost immediately in the category marked "for further review." Her bizarre manner of speaking and conversing was difficult to understand, but provided entertainment for him when they were left together by Thor and Jane's constant need for each other's company.

In the beginning, he found her tolerable. He had had worse companions. But as they continued to be forced into one another's company, he found that he looked forward to their conversations, to the time they would spend together. She delighted in explanations of the multitudinous inanities and idiosyncrasies of Midgardian culture. And her explanations, while rambling, were illuminating. They watched movies and discussed them, she would recommend works of fiction for him to read and debate about the motives of the characters, evaluating the writing and author's intent. She even introduced him to a few Midgardian "board games."

She intrigued him, this Midgardian. Her mind was a puzzle, one of which he uncovered and understood more each time they were together. He found he craved her company, that he had been craving her company without even knowing it. He realized he had started to look forward to the times Thor would drag him to Jane and Darcy's apartment.

Turning his head toward the woman next to him, he allowed his gaze to look her over, from head to toe. She looked gorgeous in that dress. It revealed everything and nothing at the same time, the way it clung to the lines of her body but still covered her entirely. She had removed her mask and idly toyed with it as she stared at the city. Her hair framed her pale face, its contrast making her red lips stand out all the more. The music drifting out to the balcony changed, becoming much slower music from a different era.

"Darcy," he said, acting on impulse, "would you like to dance?"

"Um, sure, I guess," she said, a startled look clearing from her face as she jolted back to reality.

He held out his arms to her and she started to approach, but stopped. "I don't really know how to do actual dancing."

"I will teach you."

"Okay. But it's totally your fault if I step on your feet."

"I shall accept the blame if you do tread on me. Now…"

He took her hands in his own and placed her left hand just below his right shoulder, keeping her right hand in his left.

"I will start slowly. Just watch my feet and follow. I trust you can follow a beat?"

"Well, duh."

"Very well."

*****

All the thoughts rushed out of her head immediately only to come charging back even more quickly. Okay, cool it, Darce, you've danced with guys before, no big deal. I mean, it's not like you're doing anything, just, you know, learning how to dance. From Loki.

At a gesture from Loki, she placed his cloak and her mask on some chairs near the entrance to the balcony then stepped forward as he gathered her to him. Keep calm and carry on. When he started to move slowly, she looked down, following his steps so she knew what to do next. They stayed silent, Darcy rapt in concentration as Loki gradually increased their pace to keep time with the music pouring out of the ballroom.

"This isn't so bad," she said, still staring down at their feet.

"No, indeed, it is not difficult if you can do it."

"Hey!" Darcy cried, "not cool - I can do a lot of things."

"You could try looking at me," he teased, "I believe that it is customary for partners to look at more than merely one another's feet during a dance."

Darcy blushed as she looked up to meet Loki's gaze. He was smiling at her, just a small one slightly turning up the corners of his mouth.

"You look ravishing tonight. What inspired your costume?"

"Oh, well, I'm the devil. You know, our dark lord Satan?"

"What caused you to pick such an unsavory costume? Would you not wish to be someone less threatening?"

"No that's the point of Halloween - to be bad. To turn to the dark side and take the cookies they offer. You embrace the darkness you aren't supposed to for the rest of the year."

She thought she saw his eyes narrow slightly at her words.

"I mean, uhh, not - not that I'm hanging out with you just because it's Halloween," she stammered. "I'd hang out with you, you know, whenever. Not that I think hanging out with you is embracing darkness. I mean - I'll stop talking now."

She lowered her gaze, feeling the blush deepening in her cheeks and spreading outward to her ears and neck. Just shut up, Lewis! Quit blathering before you make it worse! She focused on the structure of the armor he wore. She recognized it as his ceremonial armor, the main purpose of which she had once declared was to provide a target for birds and rodents to steal the shiny bits from. It was pretty, she admitted, and it did appear substantial enough to withstand a few strikes (maybe not from Thor, but from some of the more average immortals she'd heard about). She was glad to see the ceremonial armor instead of the more tarnished, somewhat scarred armor he worse whenever he and Thor went out with the Avengers to face down threats. She had seen him covered in blood, his own once or twice, but mostly blood from whichever two-bit villain had cropped up that week.

"What troubles you, Darcy?" Loki broke in on her thoughts. "You no longer smile as you did when we began. Are you not enjoying our dance?"

"Oh, no, I mean, yes, I am!" She stammered, "I'm sorry. I was just distracted. By your armor."

"What is so distracting about it," he inquired bemusedly.

"Why have ceremonial armor?" she asked. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I like it, but isn't most armor pretty shiny already, if you take care of it right? Why gild the lily?"

"Not all have ceremonial armor. Most have one suit. The royal family and any members of the court have more than one, but the majority of our warriors have but one."

"So it's a matter of status. Makes sense. Did you get to design yours?"

"To some extent, but I am not an armorer. I expressed preferences in terms of how it should look or what sorts of defenses I favored, but ultimately it was designed and constructed by a master. It is still battle-ready armor, though perhaps a bit ostentatious."

"I like it," she declared. "It's very…you. All the green. And as ridiculous as they look, even the horns are still very you. You're ostentatious, you know? Flamboyant. You like to be the center of attention."

"Do I?" he asked. "I have no idea what you mean."

"Don't give me that, you love the spotlight and you know it."

"Yes, that's true. But on my own terms." At this admission, he grinned broadly. "You already surmised as much, did you not?"

"Well,…" she started. "You are kind of a drama queen. Err, diva."

"I have much to offer. Is it too much to ask that I receive my due for my skills?"

"Skills?" Darcy laughed. "Your mad skills at raining destruction on poor, innocent humans?"

"I have other skills," he returned in a wounded tone of voice joined with a distinct pout.

"Such as?" she prompted.

"Have I not taught you how to dance?"

"Okay, yes, but – "

"Have I not demonstrated a mastery of magic throughout our friendship?"

"Wait, Loki –"

"I have many talents, I will have you know."

"I get it, I know, you're just the bee's knees. Important question here! Can I, you know, ask it?"

"Of course."

"So…we're friends?"

Loki realized he had as much as admitted his feelings to her just before. He had let his careful control drop somewhat during his encounter with her. He felt comfortable around her, because of all the time they had been forced to spend together over the last year. He had grown fond of her – it was for this reason he had chosen to seek out her company this evening. He had made a plan, yes – but it was just to observe her behavior, to find out whether Thor spoke the truth, or whether his brother had mistranslated her words. He was curious, he would not deny it. He had seen Darcy act differently around him lately, but not in a way that to him indicated infatuation.

Of course, the only real modern Midgardian example of affection he had witnessed was his oafish brother's woman. Anything else he had gathered from popular entertainments and accordingly took a grain of salt with any knowledge he had gleaned from such fictional entertainment with its propensity to enhance and glorify only the positive of human interactions.

Her question seemed so impertinent, but it was a question he had not yet thought to consider. What were his feelings for her? He enjoyed spending time with her. He was intrigued by her. He had found her blushing tonight when they spoke, rather out of character from anything he had witnessed before. Certainly she was attracted to him, Thor was not wrong in his revelation. He had considered her beneath his notice at first – an aggravation at best. After being forced together by Thor and Jane's frequent need to spend time joined together, he had been pleased to discover that Darcy was at least someone with whom he was able to converse. He found her amusing in the past, but he more derived his amusement from her rather risible manner of expression, and the ludicrous expressions she sometimes made when uncomfortable or uncertain of herself.

"Loki?" she tentatively asked.

"Yes?" he responded, still deep in thought.

"You stopped dancing."

So he had.

"Please forgive me. I did not realize I had stopped." He began again, bringing her along.

"What are you plotting now?" Darcy asked. "it can't be good when the God of Mischief is silent with that far-off glint in his eye that I'm pretty sure means trouble."

"What makes you think I'm plotting some scheme?" Loki asked.

"What else would make you stop in your tracks? Obviously you just had some completely great idea to turn everybody's hairbrushes into rats or something equally ridiculous and terrifying."

Loki smiled. "You know me well. Perhaps we are friends." It was true, but not wholly so. He was not one to make friends easily, but he had a few. No, he realized, this is different.

"Darcy," he started, "I know what you were saying earlier."

"Wh-what do you mean? When?" she looked distinctly uncomfortable, a touch of pink flooding back to her cheeks.

"When you thought you were speaking with my brother. You used a certain phrase…" and the deep red flush she had earlier settled in her lovely face once more.

"Oh, yeah," she said, staring firmly at his shoulder. "I was just saying I wanted to dance."

At this, he knew. There was no denying it – she was his. He drew her closer to him, still leading her through their dance. She looked up as he said, "Do not lie. What have you to hide from me?"

He stared intently at her, her blue eyes caught up in his gaze. She was unwilling or unable to say anything – such an occurrence was nigh unheard of for her. He smiled at her, leaning in and pulling her yet closer to him, halting their dance. She was paralyzed, it seemed, but he felt her arms close around him after he pulled her to him, their bodies pressed together. He could feel the heat radiating through his leathers.

"Darcy – " he began, but never finished. She stood on tiptoe and pressed a kiss to his lips, chaste but searing. He encircled her in his arms, embracing her more tightly as one of her hands moved up his neck to cup his face.

After another moment, she broke the kiss. The look on her face was divine.

Darcy couldn't believe what she had just done. She was still looking up at him, her right hand softly holding his head, her left on his neck. He looked surprised, to say the least.
"Oh my god," she said, horrified. "I am so sorry! I just…I didn't really…I mean, I must be drunker than I …man, did I read that wrong."

"She tried to turn away, attempting to untangle herself from his embrace, but his arms did not let her go, instead tightening their grip, keeping them firmly pressed together.

"Loki…" she breathed.

"You are not going anywhere," he growled, leaning his head closer to hers. The surprised expression on his face had been replaced by something darker, more profound. She could not bring herself to look away, or even move, but she did not have to do either – Loki chose for her. He bent all the way down and captured her lips once again, his hands on her back.

After recovering from her initial shock at his reciprocation, she leaned into his embrace, wrapping her arms around him once more, moving her hands along his arms to his shoulders, leaving on to rest along the top plane of his shoulder, allowing the other to continue along the path up to his neck, caressing his jaw, his, cheek, finally tangling into his hair. They moved together, testing one another's reactions. Darcy burned for more but could not bring herself to act further. She felt his hand move up from her shoulders to caress the side of her face, a small low groan escaping his mouth as he pulled away, ending their kiss. She did not open her eyes. She was sure that if she opened them, she would find she had dreamed up the encounter and would discover her pillow in her embrace…again.
Her eyes still resolutely shut, she tried to smile as she felt Loki's thumb softly running along her cheekbone, soothing her skin.
His breath warmed her cheek as he sighed and said, "Darcy, I did not mean to frighten you."

He sounded neutral - not hurt, not concerned, not disappointed. His tone of voice was completely even. Confused by the sudden lack of emotion, she finally allowed herself to open her eyes. His face was set in a neutral mask she recognized from seeing him wear it time and again with Thor and the various members of the Avengers. Before she could feel hurt, she noticed that his eyes had not managed to quiet themselves. His pupils were still large, leaving only a small ring of ring around them. Wait. He's already trying to pull away. What?

She did not let go of him though he had taken a small step back and was obviously attempting to gently remove her from his person.

"What's wrong?" an edge of uncertainty obvious in her tone. "Loki, where are you going?"

"As I said before, it was not my intent to alarm you," he replied somewhat stiffly, still attempting to extricate himself from her embrace.

"Alarm me?" Darcy couldn't not help but laugh at his words, throwing her head back in mirth. "Loki, you didn't alarm me. I just,…" she hesitated for several seconds. "It doesn't matter."

Frowning, he rebuked her, "It does matter. I would not wish you harm."

She smiled and reached up to frame his face once more between her hands.

"You haven't hurt me, or scared me. Honestly," she paused, "I was afraid this was a dream." The words tumbled out of her quickly, cuing a look of surprise from him as she pulled him down to meet her upturned face.

Loki's mind whirled at her answer. Her mouth pressed to his, wanting, needing him, made it impossible to think beyond the fact that he wanted more. Holding her as tightly as possible, he magicked them to his own apartment in Stark Tower.

Startled by the sudden rush, Darcy pulled away, gasping.

"Whoa. Where are we?"

"Somewhere private. And warmer." He pressed a quick kiss to her lips and released her for only a moment, begrudging the loss of contact. "This is where I told Thor I was going earlier, so here we are." He gestured at the now-lit space around them, drawing her gaze to an oddly opulent yet Spartan living area and kitchen.

"Oh, I see," Darcy chuckled," the bachelor pad. Smashing," she finished, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively. He could not help but smile at her ease and good humor. His attention fixed firmly on Darcy, he quickly pressed her to him once more, wishing his armor were not in the way.

"Of course, I thought that perhaps we could better find ways to divert ourselves here."
He pressed his mouth to hers urgently, giving in to his need for her. Pulling her with him to the couch, he sat down, forcing her to fall with him. She landed on top of him, giggling at, he could only guess, their less than graceful tumble. She seemed just as eager as he was. He could feel her hands pressing on his armor, searching for a way to remove his clothing. It was his turn to laugh – he felt lighter than he had in a long time as he allowed his hands to explore her curves through that wicked dress she had chosen for the masquerade.

Darcy broke away from him, breathing heavily. "Why don't we take this somewhere more comfortable? Like, say, the bedroom?"

Loki grinned, and before she could react, whisked them away to his bed.

Jane heard the key turn in the lock and closed her book so she could greet him.

"So how did it go?" she asked after drawing Thor down for a kiss hello.

"You were right, my love. All they needed was a push."

Darcy's head rested on his chest, as many of her limbs as possible still entangled in Loki's. She smiled and raised her head to ask, "So, friends, huh?"

His only response was to grin and pull her in for a languid kiss. She was contented, sated, for the moment, as was he.

"I suppose we are, but we might want another term for our relationship. I intend to do a lot more than what we did tonight. Such acts do not usually fall into the realm of friendship."