Darcy woke with an absence of clothing, a fuzzy head and some stellar gaps in her memory.

Just like being in college again.

Early evening had snuck into her room and she estimated that she'd lost at least five hours in the yawning gape of time that stood between her last memory of breaking down in Loki's arms and waking alone. Darcy groped blindly for her cell, her fingers brushed over something cool and smooth and through bleary eyes she could make out the oil lamp that she'd left on Asgard in her haste to beat feet. She gently pressed the lamp aside and mentally filed it as a problem for Tomorrow Darcy. Her fingers continued to search and she wasn't surprised to find her cell exactly where she normally left it to charge. Loki was a detail oriented kind of guy.

The lamp and the cell confirmed two things: one, Loki had put her to bed and, two, he'd been watching her for some time if he understood her nightly ritual well enough to put her phone where it belong (yet, strangely, not well enough to know where she kept her pyjamas).

With a small, defeated, whimper Darcy brought up Jane's number, hit dial, set it onto speaker and perched the phone in the valley between her breasts. The original 'hands free'.

Jane picked up after the first ring, "Darcy! Darcy, you're there, thank god."

"Er, yes, I rang you."

"Yes, yes. Good. Great. How do you feel about coming over to my place? Because it's been a while and..."

"...there's a psychotic ex who might just be out on parole?"

"Well, yeah, uh... yeah. That too."

"You're a bit late, Jane. He's been and gone."

"And you're, y'know, okay?"

'Okay' was a funny term. A quick mental inventory turned up ten fingers, ten toes and several hours spent snuggled up in bed. And still, Darcy felt very far from okay.

"I'm fine." The lie was easy enough, she'd been reciting it for some weeks now. "Look, Jane, I just though that you should know in case I..." Turn up mangled in a trash compactor. "Just in case."

"I'll come round."

"I'm fine."

"I'll send Thor around." It was more threat than friendly offer.

"I'll put the taser on charge." Jane's small noise of disgust suggested that she'd given up.

"Honestly," Darcy flopped her head to the side and traced one shaking finger down the delicate glass of the lamp. "I'm fine."

Fine fine fine.


Tomorrow Darcy was in for a treat.

Loki sat alone on a cracked vinyl booth and contemplated the bitter swill before him. The drip filtered coffee was hard to swallow, scarcely worthy of human consumption... and, somehow, he knew that Darcy would still drink it.

She had a penchant for welcoming that which others disdained. He pushed the coffee away with a sneer. Darcy deserved better and, were he a better man (or much of a man at all), he'd leave her be. Leave her for a kinder, gentler man.

Shards of ice stabbed at his gut at the mere thought. He wasn't a 'better man' and he'd rend the nine realms apart before he permitted another to take what he meant to have as his own. Therein lay his dilemma: where his Lady Darcy was concerned, his attitudes had shifted. It was no longer enough to take her as his own. She had to be given. She would come to him of her own volition. She would come, she would give herself to him.


He could wait. He had time. Loki was adept at waiting.

What Loki was not adept at was dealing with Darcy's tears. He had felt that first hot tear fall, greedily absorbed by his shirt - as if that too could not get enough of her - and his very soul (that mangled and malnourished beast) had roared in his chest, ready to combat unseen ghosts and unknown foes all in his errant lady's name.

Then came that most horrific realisation, that insidious whisper that suggested this foe was not unseen, not unknown. Darcy had not wept in the sanctuary of his embrace, but in the cage of his arms.

Not that he hadn't handled their reunion marvellously. His lip curled as he looked around the diner, the one Darcy frequented for lunch breaks. Following her, stalking her every footstep for days had done nothing to soothe his mood.

She. Had. Left. Him. Some mean, small, part of him still wanted her to pay for that, still wanted him to take his recompense from her sweet plump body. He wanted to visit all manner of perversion on her lush curves until she was too weak, too sated to leave his side.

Even now his gut burned with the need to return to her. He had called on reserves of strength previously unknown when he had pulled her close, let her sob, and then whispered the words of his mother into her ear. She'd slumped so quickly, so heavily, that he knew her tears, her exhaustion had been building for some time. Little wonder, given the hours she had kept at that damned job of hers. She worked with no regard to her frailty, her limitations or even her mortality. Not to mention that she'd damn near flung herself into oncoming traffic. If he hadn't been there to haul her back into safety... Loki shuddered.

"An ill-wind blows, brother?"

"... And you ride upon it." Loki pinched the bridge of his nose and cracked a single eye to mark Thor's approach. At least he'd had the good sense to don Midgardian garments. Not garments of any good taste, mind, but one could only expect so much of Thor.

"Father sends his regards, and bids you recall your vow," Thor shifted uncomfortably in the tight denim of his jeans as he dwarfed the bench opposite his own.

"I have done no harm here, Thor." Loki bristled and reached for the coffee, taking a generous swallow of the vile brew in an attempt to busy his hands, lest he clench them.

"And still Jane cannot entice Darcy to quit her apartment to take a meal this evening." Nobody but Thor could convey such a wealth of censure with a smile.

Loki's mind slipped to Darcy. He'd left her, sleep soft, naked and spread across her snug bed. A double, but still barely enough space for the both of them. He'd touched her then, been unable to still his hands from from skimming her curves and greedily learning the nip of her waist and the full and heavy globes of her breasts. In truth, he was little more than a dog stealing scraps. Even now her soft heat and that glorious bare dip between her thighs beckoned him, called him back to her side. One week, one night with her was not enough. He imagined that perhaps just that fleetingly sumptuous taste of her was but a cruel hint of what he could have. If she'd let him.

Loki had made an art of wanting, even stealing, but when he'd watched her sleep, her breath passing in small troubled sighs, he had vowed that she would kiss him. She would come to him, full lips eager and searching. Perhaps he'd deny her for a spell...

Loki's lips twisted in a bitter smile.

Perhaps not.

"Do you forget who holds the power in this dalliance, Thor? The good Lady Darcy has run roughshod over my more delicate aspect."

Thor narrowed his eyes, "I did not think you possessed of a 'delicate aspect'."

"And I did not credit you with a brain, yet here we are." Loki spread his hands to gesture to the modest surrounds of the diner.

"So you come a-courting?" Thor clapped his hands together in glee.

Well, since aggressively displays of desperation hadn't put him in good stead with Darcy... Loki rolled his eyes, but still gave the slightest of nods.

Thor smiled that damnably good natured grin of his and swiped at Loki's coffee, finishing it in one long swallow. He lifted the empty mug momentarily, then caught himself, returned it to the table and turned to smile at the line of waitresses that had swarmed brandishing coffee urns.

"Another... please," he asked with a winning smile.

Yesterday Darcy was an utter bitch.

Yesterday Darcy should have done the smart thing and hauled arse to Antigua or Fury's fold-out couch or somewhere safe. Apparently Yesterday Darcy wasn't all that bright, either. Darcy tugged at her fitted Target pencil skirt suit, setting it to rights and checking that the buttons hid her decision to match the suit with a fitted Voodoo Queens shirt. She'd paired the suit with her Deceptively Comfortable Wedge Heels and called it an outfit. She'd needed a little fortifying that morning and looking like a kick-arse business woman was the first order of the day. The second was coffee. The third and fourth were also coffee and the fifth was a fleeting moment of contemplating the wisdom of just adopting a crack cocaine habit and calling it a day.

She was just coming to the conclusion that she actually liked having teeth when she walked into the office and smack bam into one Tony Stark juggling two office chairs.

"...so the industry standard for office chairs is not at all where I had hoped it would be. So, good news: Stark Industries does chairs now." Tony was all forward motion and no eye contact, "Well, Darcy Chairs. These ones are made for your bangin' proportions and-"

"I see Jarvis has caught up on last months Health Care Fund billing?" Darcy dropped her handbag to the floor and awkwardly turned her attention to her takeaway coffee and she picked one of the plethora of chairs (she counted roughly three per desk) plonked down and gave a tentative wiggle. They were excellent chairs.

Tony had paused where he stood, uncomfortably gripping the chairs. "It was flagged as conspicuous because you didn't take any leave. I only looked into it because I expected it to be a clerical error."

"It wasn't." Darcy set her coffee aside and looked up to Tony, who looked like he'd dearly love to be battling rabid cyborgs instead of discussing her miscarriage.

"I feel like this situation requires emotional sensitivity, should I call Pepper?"

"Nice chairs." Darcy did a woeful job of deflecting.

"Stark Healthcare extends to counselling."

"Excellent spin, could get some good desk-to-desk drift going..."

"I could beat the guy up for you?"

Darcy gave a wistful sigh. "Probably not a great idea."

Tony's eyebrow kicked up as he set his chairs down, sat in one and scooted across to sit beside her. "So you're off the market? Because I'd put in a few good words about you with Steve and I think he was maybe, possibly, getting ready to think about contemplating agonising over asking you out sometime in the next decade."

On the market... Off the market. It wasn't that simple. "The market's a confusing place."

"And still you managed to stop somewhere along the way for a few free samples."

"This is sounding eerily like a lecture..." Darcy pressed her lips together and narrowed her eyes at him.

Tony fell quiet and Darcy let her attention drift toward the partition that separated the office from the main reception area. Mid-morning sun flashed briefly as the front door opened behind the partition. Beside her, Tony spun his hand as if brandishing an imaginary hammer. "It wasn't... You know. Biceps?"

"Credit the woman with some taste, Stark." Loki stepped clear of the partition and propped one shoulder against the wall. He wore yet another bespoke suit, this one a dark navy blue matched with a deep emerald tie, green Chucks (unscuffed, of course) and a vaguely put-upon expression.

Tony choked a little, "This can't seriously be the guy who -" Darcy gave a short shake of the head, "- you hooked up with?! Take it from the father of poor life choices, you can do better."

Darcy considered Loki - and she wasn't buying his oh-so-elegantly disinterested pose. "Dude looks good in a suit."

"Steve looks good in a suit. And leather... if that's your thing. Which it evidently is."

Darcy wrapped her arms around her ribs and gave an uneasy shrug.

"Darce," Tony stood with a pained expression, "Do you have any idea what you're doing?"

"Not a single damn one."

"You're going to do it anyway?"

Darcy gave a shrug. Loki didn't feature in her future, she was sure of that, even as the thought sat heavily behind her ribs. He'd come for her with a purpose and Darcy wasn't sure how she'd be able to dissuade him, but Loki had never wronged her, not intentionally. She at least owed him the pretence of a fair chance.

Tony made a quick grab for her hand, pulling it into his own and focusing on her face. There was no trace of the billionaire playboy to be found, only an intense and kind of terrifying sharpness. "Here's the deal, sweetheart," Loki tensed where he stood at the endearment, "Slash over there breaks your nail, breaks a minor traffic law, breaks your heart - I don't give a shit which - you call me. I have a whole posse willing to come down on his arse hard."

Loki didn't really seem to register, his focus was firmly on the inside of Darcy's wrist where Tony's thumb rested against her pulse. "If you've any love of that hand, lackwit, you'll remove it at once."

Tony grinned as he leisurely traced his fingers from Darcy's wrist to her elbow before stroking her gently and removing his hand at his own, slower than slow, pace.

"Well, this has been fun. But I think you can both get lost now and leave me to my work," she made a rather elaborate show of swivelling in her chair, pumping the elevation lever a dozen times and turning her focus to her laptop.

For once, Tony took a hint and left, Loki wasn't going to be quite so easy to persuade. It took far too much focus to simply log into her profile, all the while feeling his gaze upon her back. She was thankful that, after the departure of Tony and his handful of couriers, the office was empty. The handful of staff kept flexible hours, some still studied, some would be dropping their kids off at school, the others would be attending the out of office restoration of a library downtown.

Out of the corner of her eye, Loki propped a hip against desk.

A moment passed and she ignored the trim hip and perfect butt propped against her workspace.

Another minute passed and he slid an inch or two closer.

She reached for her coffee. Another inch closer.

"So," she sipped her coffee, "Is the aim to end up in my lap, or will you be getting to the point anytime soon?"

He seemed to mull over the question for a moment, "Is your lap an option? Because I can't say that the idea doesn't hold a good deal of appeal."

Her hard glare dared him to just try.

"Perhaps not." He paused, cleared his throat, "Darcy, I was... unkind last night. I have not..." He seemed genuinely uncomfortable to be so at a loss for words, "I have not wanted for some time. Have not desired since..."

"The Chitauri," she scowled down at her coffee.

"It was the culmination of centuries desire, can you understand that? It surpassed my want of... women and tenderness. It consumed me."

"And then it spat you out," Darcy let the words lash at him. She would not pity him his spectacular fall from grace. People had fucking died.

"You were unexpected, Darcy, unwanted. But fate would not leave me to lick my wounds. Instead you come, you compound them. You tear at them." His voice broke and she refused to look up at him. "My greatest deception was telling myself that I was immune."

Long fingers gently pinched her chin and tilted her gaze to meet his.

"You have not known fear, Darcy, until you have found that which you most desire and then lost it twice in mere days."

Confusion flashed across her face. "I left once."

"I nearly lost you at the lake. If I had not found you..." His fingertips flashed icy cold.

Wait, he had found her? Darcy pushed her chair away from the desk and out herself out of his reach. She remembered so little of the time after she'd been fished out of the lake. She'd only assumed that it was Jane who had found her. But then those fleeting memories of cold and the strong arms desperately gripping at her all made so much more sense if Loki had been the one to save her.

Not that it changed a damn thing. The laundry list of reasons that had driven her to leave Asgard stood. Did he think that just because he'd brought his business all up in her 'hood she'd roll onto her back and welcome him with open arms?

Not that the idea was without appeal. Because that suit was fitted and Darcy had a pulse so, y'know, she looked. At least he seemed a little more chill (ha!) than he had the previous day.

She crossed her arms, beneath her breasts and cocked a single eyebrow. "So you're here to..."

"Press my suit."

"Yeah, we already pressed. It was fun."

And just a little catastrophic. Not that he could know that. Ever.

Darcy braced herself for the coming rage. He didn't like being contradicted when it came to his vision for their relationship (non-entity that it was). Instead, he smiled slowly and adjusted his tie, then gave a short tug to each shirt cuff before dropping down next to her and speaking so closely that his lips brushed the shell of her ear. "Fun? I haven't even started with you, Darcy Lewis."

This time, she felt a chill that had nothing to do with Loki's freaky blue voodoo.

If he were to remain in Midgard for any stretch of time, Loki supposed it would benefit him to grow accustomed to the new ways and norms that had evolved in the ages that had passed since he had last truly condescended to tarry among mortals. He allowed himself to be swept up in the foot traffic and for once his focus was turned from Darcy. He wasn't following her unseen, not haunting her steps as he had in the days before he made himself known. The mass of people spewed into the subway, leaving him to fabricate a MetroCard as he moved through the turnstile and strolled toward a platform.

His intention had been to simply take the train for a few short stops, to watch, to learn. Instead he found himself in an intense staring contest with a small child. They sat on opposing benches and Loki could only marvel at how boldly the human stared at him. She was a tiny thing, barely out of the nursery. Her dark mass of hair was barely contained in a deep green ribbon, small medallions, flashy lengths of fabric and bright trinkets had been wound roughly into her hair. Tiny legs were encased in pink tights that clashed horribly with a lime green tutu, her Captain America shirt was oft-washed, a clear favourite from her wardrobe.

Little, nervous, glitter-tipped fingers tightly clutched at a cardboard carton of bright foil-wrapped sweets.

Loki was at once enamoured. The tiny imp screwed up her nose at him, then proceeded to watch him out of narrow eyes for a handful of stops.

"If you want to stare, mister," she finally spoke, much to her mother's embarrassment, "You're gonna hafta buy a chocolate." She dropped a pointed stare to the sweets in her lap.

"Buy a..." Loki propped his elbows on his knees and leaned forward.

"For the library. At my school."

"Is there not already a library at you school?"

"Not since the Cit-cif-" She fumbled the words.

"Chitauri." Her mother interjected.

The child nodded gravely, even though there was no way she could recall the attack from nearly three years prior. Loki dug into his pocket and slipped a note from his cash fold, a genuine one this time. He handed her a hundred, but she looked dismayed at his offering. "That's like a billion dollars. I can't give you change."

"Well," Loki tucked the note firmly into her tray, "a library is an important thing. Perhaps you should take it all."

Her eyes widened as she grabbed a large chocolate bar and pressed it into his palm. "Take this one, it doesn't have any nuts it in. They're gross."

She turned her attention back to the carton and began to scratch around, searching. After a few moments she clutched something in her fist, passed the tray off to her mother and launched herself across the gap down the middle of the train and onto the bench beside him, she scrambled to stand beside him and as the train lurched Loki made a quick grab for a handful of tutu to stabilise her. A tiny pink tongue darted out, clenched between teeth as she concentrated not on keeping her balance - her faith in his grip on her complete - but gripping the lapel of his jacket and using small clumsy fingers to stab a small pin into the fabric. It was a tiny green plastic book, pinned crookedly. With a slightly cocked head she surveyed her work and gave a satisfied nod. Her mother watched on with a wide smile.

"It's a collector pin, so people know I'm collecting money for school. It's mine. But you can have it, I got another." She pressed a small palm against the pin, to make sure it was secure, then slipped back across the carriage to her mother.

Loki made it one more stop before he stumbled from the train, fell to his knees on the platform and was violently ill.

This time, Darcy was so positive that she'd find Loki sitting on her sofa when she got home that she made sure to buy two noodle boxes and splurged on a $20 bottle of red, rather than her usual $5 mystery bin pick. It seemed at ends with her ultimate goal to be buying dinner. Everybody knew that feeding strays was a sure fire way of making sure that they hung around. Still, they both needed to eat. There was no point in mistreating the man.

"I did knock," he supplied from the sofa where he lounged with his usual ease.

"Yes," Darcy noted as she dumped her bags on the kitchen counter, "But, customarily, I should be inside the apartment to admit you when that happens. Don't pull this babe in Wonderland shit with me, this isn't your first time at the rodeo."

"Yes, but I find Midgard much changed." He looked like shit, she noticed that pretty quickly. Well, shit by Loki's usually impeccable standards. His suit was creased, jacket folded over the back on the sofa and his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He seemed pale, more so than usual which put him one shade above 'corpse'.

"So you should. You changed it."

She watched as his fingers searched for his jacket and brushed across a tacky plastic pin, as if to check that it was still there. Long fingers continued to stroke the pin as he spoke. "If I had not... transgressed so, would you want me?"

'What if' was dangerous territory, so Darcy simply shrugged out of her jacket and kicked off her shoes as she popped the bottle of wine and poured them both a generous mug full. She nearly dropped the bottle when, mid pour, the mugs shimmered and morphed into crystal glasses. "Yo, Mindfreak, give me a heads up next time you plan on fucking with the laws of physics."

She handed him his wine and box of noodles as she dropped down onto the sofa, leaving a respectable cushion length between them.

"You made me a meal?" He flicked at the lip of the carton.

"Purchased. Don't get excited. It's only because I'd have felt rude eating in front of you."

"I could have taken you out."

"I'm exhausted," Darcy kicked her feet up onto her Ikea coffee table and tucked into her own dinner.

"Stark works you too hard." Loki poked a single chopstick into his carton, narrowed his eyes, swirled it and withdrew a finely crafted silver fork in its stead.

"There's a lot of work to be done." She wondered, briefly, how many indirect jibes and reminders she could make before he tired of her. He had brought a city - her city - to its knees, did he think she'd let him off lightly? Worse - did he think that only her forgiveness was required? His redemption wasn't hiding in her apartment and it wasn't going to win her over either. At the end of the day - spectacular physical compatibility aside - they were just too different. He was kind of an arse, only a few thousand years her senior and, oh yeah, another species.

And now her deepest wound, the loss of a child, would be forever wound up in him. Wanted or not, she couldn't help but paint their child in her mind: a diminutive force of nature with glossy curls and a winning grin. Even his presence invited painful and dangerous musings.

"Can you read minds?" She asked suddenly. "Should I go fashion a tin-foil hat or something?"

"Some. Most, actually," he confessed, "But rarely those close to me. Friends or family. To know another's mind requires an utter lack of preconception. Were I to read Thor's mind I would find only my own musings reflected. Jumbled memories of sparring in our youth, my own... leanings and emotions reflected back at me."

"And me?"

"You are quite safe."

"You can't read me? At all?"

He opened his mouth, shut it as if carefully choosing his words, then began again, "I... desire you greatly, Darcy. I see only my own carnal desire reflected back at me."

"And my... uh, carnal desire?"

He smiled then, some of his weariness seeping away, "Is there carnal desire you wish to hide from me, Darcy?"

Her 'nothing-to-see-here' shrug came off jerky and forced. Long fingers ghosted up the side of her thigh where her skirt had crept up.

"Surely you know that your every desire is my fondest wish? My immediate command..."

Oh, no, seriously, if he was going to play dirty she didn't stand a chance. Certain, trampy, parts of her anatomy were reasoning that since she'd already committed the crime once, reoffending wasn't the worst idea in the world.

Except for the part where their one and only complete fuck had left her pregnant and more than just a little confused. She flicked his hand away, even as her mind raced with any number of kinky scenarios that she'd happily engage in with Loki. It seemed that almost nothing was undoable with the man...

Except, of course, kissing.

Darcy set her half-eaten noodles aside, drained her wine and then moved to the kitchen for a refill. What she wanted right now (well, what she and the wine wanted, because no way was this all on her) was a little revenge. With a neat hop and wiggle, she launched herself up onto her kitchen bench. From her perch she could see Loki quite clearly on the sofa, he set his own dinner aside and watched her, waiting.

"What if I wanted... a show?"

"Of what nature?"

"I want what you saw that first night on Asgard. Consider it a courtesy that at least you're aware that I'm watching."

"Here?" His hands swept wide to indicate her sofa.

Darcy sipped her wine.

"Now?" He reached for his already loosened tie.

More wine. She didn't trust herself to speak without squealing in delight.

If she had a single, fully-functional, brain cell she'd call a stop to it. But then, there he was with an indulgently curled lip and eyes shining. He slipped the tie from his collar, flinging it across the room to catch on her bare toes. Something about this tentative playing had revived him...

Darcy flicked the tie up and caught it in one hand, absently winding it about her fingers. It smelled of him. Her whole apartment did. Between his scent and the wine she felt bolstered enough to have just a little fun. It wasn't like she was hurting anyone, especially if she remained seated on the kitchen bench.

Loki popped the top two buttons of his shirt, flashing a glimpse of long pale neck and chest. "I await your pleasure, my lady."

Somehow, she doubted that. Loki was, and always had been, out to please himself. All the grand declarations in the world wouldn't change that. Darcy held her hand up and twirled his tie. "Get to it, peeping Tom."

It was a terrible idea, Darcy confessed to herself as he undid the rest of his shirt and parted it. If he was shy, he didn't show it. And why the hell would he be shy? He was a Rodin marble come to life on her sofa. Her eyes devoured him, greedily slipping from his strong collarbones, to his dark flat nipples, then his ridged abdomen... The vee of his hips disappeared into his trousers and his fingers dragged up one side of the impala horn tattoo that ran from hip to ribcage.

"What are they?" She asked before finishing her wine.

His eyes caught hers, "You've been paying attention..."

"They aren't always there."

He held her gaze as he stroked one horn, slowly, precisely... erotically. She nearly asked if he wanted some 'alone time'. But then there was no 'alone time', not between them. The tattoo responded to his touch, surging to life and glowing with an enchanting golden energy. It grew in dimension until he was pulling it from his body. It shimmered golden, molten, for a moment, then took full form.

"I always knew you had an unhealthy attachment to that thing."

Loki chuckled as he tossed his helmet behind the sofa and dropped his hands to the fastening of his trousers. He stopped then, stroking at the edge of the fabric, revelling in her attention. A quick slip of the wrist had them unfastened, the fly slipped low and Darcy had to fight the impulse to fling her hands over her face. Not to hide him from her gaze - no, she'd watch between her fingers if it came to that - but to hide her from him. She was failing spectacularly at holding onto control of this situation. This power play was supposed to leave him exposed to her. Instead, he could see plainly how enthralled she was with his body.

His fingers slipped into the part of his trousers and Darcy had to bite her lip to stop herself from pouting as his hand began to move, hidden from her gaze.

This wasn't the deal. She was meant to be able to see. He'd been able to see so much, her cheeks still heated at the memory. Surely it was only fair that she'd see the same? Learn the same intimate details about him? Did he have underwear on? Did he grip himself firmly? Delicately? How did he like to be touched?

Darcy plucked up her courage and spoke softly, "Not good enough."

"You could come here and help."

"That's not part of the deal."

"A pity," he closed his eyes as his head dropped back against the sofa and his hand moved at a wickedly languorous pace.

"You like me watching you?" Darcy asked with a frown.

"I like everything you do, love." He cracked an eye and watched her, "I love your wide eyes, those parted lips ready to be tasted... I love that you're pressing your knees together, already wet for me, but too stubborn to give us what we both want. What we both need." She pressed her knees together with even more force, tugging gently at her skirt. "If you want more, Darcy, you must ask."

"More." Christ, did her voice crack?

"Be specific."

"I want to see."

"Uh uh," more leisurely strokes, "See what, love?"

She wasn't sure if this was her most hated or most favourite new game, but since she'd been the one to start this...

"I want to see your co-"

The window nearest to the sofa imploded in a blast of glass, her mind reeled momentarily before focussing on the still-vibrating arrow now firmly jammed into the sofa. Right between Loki's knees.

"Well that quite killed the mood," Loki remarked as he unhurriedly zipped up his trousers.

A/N: So, about the wait. Yeah. Sorry. This chapter has gone through so many different incarnations that I really just needed to publish it to make up my mind. For any wondering, I plan to continue this story heedless of the developments in Thor 2.

So that's the admin out of the way. Now: I gush.

You guys! I cannot get my head around how fucking awesome you are. And I want to name names and point fingers at super-wicked-awesome people, but it would take for-fucking-ever. But just let me say this: I am about 80% certain that without the constant and lovely stream of encouragement that has been flowing my way, I could very easily have walked away from this story. I won't. But it was a near thing, because being a grown up is hard and without your reminders that this story is being read and enjoyed it would have been all too easy to jettison it.

So thanks. I'm not sure how to convey how touched I am, except to keep writing this (and hopefully a little more speedily than I have recently).

Also, huge shout out to MoonMommaB, who made me a wicked cool banner for this fic. It's the first time I've ever been given an internet thing and it made my week. Thanks so much!