So I'm back!

Took me long enough, I know, and I'm sorry for my absence, but it's been busy around here. Anyway, I'm so happy to be able to write more, since school has been no fun.

I was really touched by your reviews and comments, they brightened some of my bad times during this period, so thank you for that and for your support :)

Thanks to anonymous reviewers Nettles (thank you for your kind words, I'm glad Loki's inhumane treatment is coming across, I think by now it's obvious I'm not so fond of S.H.I.E.L.D. sorry for the long wait. I hope you like the new chapter!), Guest (welcome, I'm glad:), coffeefreak (some sexual tension is definitely coming up, but a kiss is waaay too early at this point, sorry about that. however, their interaction remains pretty entertaining, or so I like to think :))

With that said, I hope you enjoy!


Chapter 8: I do not appreciate his physique


They were about to land soon, as was made obvious by the pilot's announcement. Darcy could hardly make out a great yellow and green expanse underneath them, dotted here and there with grey squares. If this was S.H.I.E.L.D's Florida base, she was left unimpressed.

The helicopter began to drop all of a sudden, and she had to grip the arms of her seat in order not to fall out again. The trickster god sat opposite her in the same dejected, but impervious state as before, barely bothered by the jolts and movements around him.

Darcy envied his calm, although she sensed he was making a big effort to conceal his frustrations and general annoyance. She wondered how he put up with bigger challenges, like being ordered around by Daniel Steele and the rest of the agents who clearly only saw him as chattel.

Once again she had to mentally kick herself. It was none of her business how he was treated and she should not care. Criminals did not deserve sympathy.

A sudden buzzing in her pants made her jump. At first she thought it was her phone, but she knew very well she had turned it off for safety reasons. Much to her disbelief, she found it was her badge that was emitting those sounds.

Darcy removed it from her pocket and unlocked it, only to discover she had received a virtual message from Jane.

The scientist's worried face popped up on the screen in a blue haze and, when Darcy turned on the volume, Jane's words suddenly burst out of the device, momentarily startling even Loki.

"…was told that you were going to visit and that I was supposed to meet you at Mother Two, but you never showed up. I hope Steele doesn't think this is some clever joke, because I don't have time to waste on trips back and forth. Please let me know if there has been a misunderstanding, Darcy. He told me you were to sit this one out. Is it true? Message me back."

Darcy's face turned an unattractive shade of green as she contemplated the various ways she would be fired once Jane contacted Steele and he found out the truth.

Oh God. I have to stop this somehow.

"Crap. What am I gonna tell Jane?" she wondered out loud. "I have to message her before she calls Steele."

"Sounds like quite the predicament, Agent Darcy. So much for your brave act of rebellion."

Darcy looked up to find Loki positively gloating at her.

Oh, he's so enjoying this, the bastard.

"You can stop smirking now, I know it's bad," she muttered, blushing angrily.

"Actually, it's quite good, if I can say so myself."

"How is this good?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. I meant to say it's good for me. It was getting quite dull."

Darcy shot him a glare, but decided to say nothing in return. She could call him a bastard and a jerk in her head, but she couldn't find it in her to say those things out loud. It would have made him seem less dangerous and more familiar and he was neither. Her reticence showed in the way she returned her gaze to the badge.

She hurriedly began typing a message.

Jane, sorry about the misunderstanding. When Daniel told me I didn't have to go on the mission, I sort of took the day off. Hope you don't mind. I'm at home now, but I can come back in, if you want me to.

She knew Jane had no use for her now and would not make her return to headquarters for nothing, so she felt safe in sending the message.

But now a new problem was rearing its ugly head; what would she do when they landed?

In her pre-Jane-message plan, she was going to jump out of the helicopter victoriously and let Steele know she had come anyway and was going to make herself useful whether he liked it or not, and he couldn't send her back.

Now, though, Jane was involved, too. The person who had got her this job. The person who had given her a chance and put in a good word for her. The person she did not want to disappoint or get in trouble.

Most importantly, this person thought she was in the comfort of her apartment right now and not heading towards a radiation-hazard area.

Gripping the badge in her hands desperately, Darcy looked up at the thunderous god sitting opposite her; the most useful working tool.

"Um, this is all hypothetical, of course, but could you, by any chance, turn a person invisible?"

Loki's eyebrows shot up in consternation. Out of all the things he had expected her to say, this was not one of them. He had expected her to wail and cry and maybe even curse, but not this. Perhaps he should have realized since the day he watched her hang from a rung several hundreds of feet in the air that she was a bit of an eccentric.

"Why –"

"Please. Just tell me. Could you do that?"

Loki frowned with arrogance.

"You do not turn a person invisible. You make others unable to see them," he replied condescendingly.

"Semantics. So you can do it."

"I could magically alter the magnetic field around that person so that others would only see the vibrations, but not the body volume –"

"Great! Sorry to rush you, but we don't have much time," she interrupted, noticing that their descent was ending.

"Agent Darcy, if you think I am going to use my magic to –"

"But I would give you permission."

"Oh, because your permission means I am obliged to assist you," he spat venomously.

"No, you got me wrong," she stammered quickly. "I'm sorry. I don't want to take advantage of you like – like everyone else."

Although, why not? she thought treacherously.

"It's just that," she continued, "there's a 99% percent change I'm gonna lose my job if I don't make myself unseen. And I would be eternally grateful and would very much appreciate your kind help."

Loki smirked, relishing the sudden shift in power. He folded his arms in a gesture that clearly meant he was in charge.

"And what do I gain if I help you?"

Darcy huffed. Of course.

"Well, I think I've been an okay supervisor so far. What if they get someone else in my place, who is worse? Wouldn't you rather have me? I'm harmless."

"That's hardly an incentive," he replied briskly.

Damn.

"Then what would be an incentive?"

Loki leaned forward, revealing his sharp teeth in a wolfish grin.

Darcy realized all too late it had been the wrong thing to say.

"The permission to read your thoughts."

Darcy gasped. "Really?! I'm asking for a lousy spell and you want full access to my head?"

"What you so trivially call "lousy spell" is an intricate technique that would take up a good portion of my magic. Meanwhile, your head is filled with uncomplicated nonsense. I see it as a far too generous exchange."

Darcy narrowed her eyes at him.

"If it's full of uncomplicated nonsense then why do you want in?"

Loki gave her a thin-lipped smile. As if you really think I haven't noticed, it seemed to say.

Darcy felt her heartbeat pick up speed at an alarming pace. He suspected she was hiding something from him. Puerte Antiguo flashed dangerously before her and she tried her best to suppress the thought, fearing that he might be able to read it already.

"Time is ticking, Agent Darcy."

By now, she could see the landing strip through the narrow window.

She had to choose between this job and…Loki potentially finding out about their previous meeting.

And she had to choose fast.

On the one hand, cool job she was actually beginning to like and be good at. On the other hand, crazy criminal god finding out they had butted heads before.

"Five minutes," she blurted out, feeling a cold sheen of sweat crown her forehead.

"Ten," he countered.

"Four," she warned.

"Seven," he offered.

"Three."

Loki sighed. "Fine. Five minutes."

Darcy bit her lip. "Do we have a deal on that? You're in my head for five minutes, then you're out?"

Loki smiled benevolently. "Why, don't tell me you doubt my word."

And in a gesture that was wildly uncharacteristic of him, he offered his hand for her to shake.

The moment her skin touched his she felt she had sealed her fate.

Did I just make a deal with the devil?

"Now, say the words, Agent Darcy."

She sighed. "I give you permission to use your magic to make me invisible."

Loki closed his eyes momentarily and she could feel the temperature in the cabin rising as his brow furrowed and creased in concentration.

When he opened his eyes again, they were glowing green.

Darcy shrieked, drawing back.

Loki suppressed the urge to roll his eyes.

"Must you always –" but he didn't finish his line of thinking.

"The pilot. He knows you're in here with me," he said, nudging his head towards the cockpit. "What shall I do about him?"

Darcy winced. "I don't want him to get hurt. Please just, erase his memories of me."

Loki smirked. "That will cost you."

Darcy swore under her breath. Deal with the devil indeed.

"Ugh. Six minutes in my head, but that's it."

Somehow she feared he would find ways to extract more minutes out of her. She had to make sure he would not abuse the power she had given him. But every time she had to look into those glowing orbs she lost half her courage.

With a sudden jolt, the helicopter glided down on the landing strip, sputtering and careening along the gravelled path as the pilot announced their safe arrival.

The vehicle stopped all of a sudden and the seatbelts automatically unbuckled themselves.

Loki pressed a finger to his lips as the doors were thrown open and sunlight invaded the cabin. Darcy shielded her eyes.

"All clear for exit –" the pilot began, holding the door open ceremoniously.

Loki smoothly lunged forward and grabbed his chin, boring his eyes into his. The man seemed to stand paralyzed under his stare, almost as if he'd been turned to stone. Then, a pained look shot across his face and he staggered back, as Loki released him.

By now, a drone of agents had surrounded the helicopter, waiting for him to step down.

The pilot blinked sheepishly and looked around him, as if someone had caught him in a compromising position. He quickly straightened up and stepped back to allow the agents to take hold of Laufeyson.

Loki allowed himself to be directed to his now familiar glass case.

Darcy did not wait to be signaled.

Heart in her throat, she jumped out of the helicopter and followed the throng of agents, trusting Loki to have worked his magic.

As she stepped out onto the landing strip, she realized they were actually standing in the middle of a giant courtyard. A row of what appeared to be dilapidated warehouses surrounded them, but she was sure they were some kind of low-key S.H.I.E.L.D operations.

The other helicopters had landed neatly in a circle around them and she could see familiar faces coming out of each one.

She didn't have time to ogle for long, because she suddenly caught Loki's eye and he gave an imperceptible nod towards the glass case.

Darcy moved closer, making sure to sidestep the busybodies around her. It seemed Loki had done a good job. They all acted as if there was no one there and she thanked her lucky stars for that.

Only when she finally reached the front did she realize what he was trying to tell her. Sheer horror filled her every faculty.

Around a dozen carts had rolled out of the warehouses, standing in wait several feet away from the landing strip, but her chance of getting on one of them unnoticed was practically nonexistent. The only way she'd hitch a ride to their destination was if she got inside the glass case with him.

She only had seconds to debate the insanity of this decision before the glass case would be sealed.

Throwing caution out the window, Darcy clambered inside with him, moments before the door was shut.

She was so frightened the agents might have noticed something that she remained frozen, her body practically glued to Loki's back as her breaths came out in shallow puffs. She did not dare bat an eyelid.

As for the God of Mischief, he was grinding his teeth and clenching the metal bar, asking himself why on Earth he had agreed to this horrible ordeal. He was trying not to show how much it displeased him that he had the little mortal in his close proximity yet again, but there was no denying that she was like a weight he couldn't shake off.

The agents quickly dispersed to their carts and Darcy could finally heave a sigh and move a couple of inches away from him.

"I wouldn't advise that," he muttered under his breath.

"Why?"

The glass case started moving and Darcy was thrown right into his back again. The carts were pulling the case along with them down the paved road and out of the courtyard into what appeared to be the desert.

Darcy tried to find something else to hold onto, but the only bar was the one Loki was holding.

She sighed, wiping the sweat from her forehead.

"Just do it," he spat, growing more and more incensed.

Darcy brought both her arms around his waist and clung to his body as the glass case hurtled them across the uneven road. It was like sitting on a motorcycle except ten times worse and she was holding the waist of a murderous god who could probably kill her with one look, judging by the weird exchange she had witnessed between him and the pilot. And she had given him permission!

Perhaps this wasn't the best of times to remark that Loki was uncommonly toned for a God of Lies and such. She had thought Thor was the muscles and brawns one. But Loki was not too shabby in the abs depart –

Oh my God, are you hearing yourself?!

Darcy blushed furiously. Now, besides worrying about him discovering what had happened in Puente Antiguo once he read her mind, she had to worry about him finding out about her appreciation of his physique, too.

I do not appreciate his physique. I don't appreciate absolutely anything about him, she told herself, forgetting that she had described him as "brilliant" in her notes.

"So," she began, in an attempt to ignore their current circumstances, "what are you supposed to do there, exactly?"

"Must you ask these questions?" he muttered under his breath.

"All Steele said was that there were some explosions in Naples and that there has been radiation activity as a result. Know anything about that?"

Loki sighed.

"Not that you'd understand, but it's most likely beta radiation."

"How can you tell?"

"Please. We're miles away and I can very well assess that. The potential for shallow ionizing tipped me off."

"O-kay, whatever that means. Is beta radiation bad?"

"Any form of radiation is bad for you mortals. But I suppose it has medium penetration power."

"I'm guessing the Bio-Warfare Department already checked out these facts," she replied.

"Of course. Even a barely grown human like you would be able to surmise these things."

Darcy rolled her eyes. Always with the condescension.

"Then you're here to find out what caused the explosions?"

"No. I'm there to get rid of the radiation."

"What!?"

"Look, I'd love to chat more but it's becoming increasingly conspicuous that I'm talking to myself. Don't you think?" he spoke quickly, bending his head down.

"Oh, okay. But one last thing – how are you going to get rid of the radiation?"

"I'll just absorb it. Now, if you're quite done with the prattle, I'd like to have some peace and quiet before I set to work."

Darcy realized that he would no longer answer her questions, but her mind reeled from the new information.

How the heck do you absorb radiation? Sounds like a suicide mission.

Well…not for a god who can't die.

She wrinkled her nose. Steele was right, after all.

Darcy let her head lean against his back and made a mental note to do a lot more reading about radiation once this ludicrous mission was done.

She also made a mental note never to ask the God of Mischief for favors again.