A/N- So, yeah. Cutsie Loki time is over (already, I know…) Time for the plot to surface again!

I owe everyone an apology for going awol forever- again. It's the product of being overcritical of my writing, and being stupidly indecisive as to whether I want to write or mope around... Sorry! Not too happy with this chapter, but let me know if you have any thoughts! As always, thanks to everyone who reviewed, favourited or followed!

Chapter 15

He and Darcy stood in the vast, icy wilderness of Jotunheim, Darcy shivering and her teeth chattering uncontrollably. She looked positively haunting, her pale skin now a blue hue, contrasting with the dark hair whipping wildly around her face in the wind. Loki looked back at her, taking off his furs and draping it around her shoulders with a soft smile. She stuttered her thanks to him, and pulled the soft material around herself.

He didn't notice the look of horror on her face until he noticed she'd stepped back from him.


Her shaking hand covered her mouth, her eyes wide. She seemed to be speechless, until he heard her whisper.

"You… Your skin."

He looked down at himself with resignation, seeing his pale skin exchanged for his Jotunn blue. He took a step toward Darcy, who in turn took another step backwards, shaking her head. He needed to touch her, to comfort her. It would be okay, he wanted to say, this was only temporary. But the words were too late as he saw her drop to her knees.

"No!" He skidded toward her on the ice, and pulled away the pale hands clutching at her stomach. "No, no. Darcy…" Realisation paled him as her blood seeped crimson into her clothes and through his long fingers covering her wound. She feebly coughed, her eyes losing their usual spark.

"Darcy, come on… No… You can't…"

He blinked and stared at the lifeless body in his arms with vacant shock, not quite understanding. He felt goosebumps rise on his blue skin and a sharp pain in his chest that had him blinking back tears.

Until he looked into the eyes of Forseti. He stood proudly behind Darcy, a bloody knife in his grasp. His smile stretched wide on his face, gloating.

Slowly, he raised the knife to his lips, and, with a satisfied smile toward Loki, his tongue flicked out and traced the blood on the cold steel.

It took every inch of Loki's self-control not to jolt awake. He wasn't accustomed to nightmares that didn't involve his own physical or emotional pain. 'It was just a dream' he chided himself when he glanced to Darcy, fast asleep at his side, safe in his arms. He took a deep breath and took a moment to steady his emotions before glancing over to the window.

It was early, he saw, and the sun had only just risen.

He needed clarity. Clarity in the form of his mother. He was reluctant to leave Darcy, but he felt as though a meeting with his mother would clear the doubt he felt in his mind. After the nightmare, he felt as though leaving Darcy here, asleep, would put his mind at ease. It was something he would pay for later, but he decided an angry Darcy would be better than a dead one.

He watched Darcy shuffle in her sleep as he untangled himself from her limbs. She looked serene, except the furrow of her brows. She looked… troubled. He pressed his lips to her forehead gently, watching the muscles relax as the side of her lips pulled up in a small, brief smile. It was hard to tear himself away, but his gaze moved from her sleeping figure to the door. He set his shoulders, determined to walk out without a single glance backward.

He knew exactly where his mother would be.

Loki knew she would be in her spinning room, where she spent most of her time weaving threads together to create beautiful tapestries. He found her here, but instead of sitting at the wheel, she was stood on the balcony, gazing out at Asgard blankly. It took her a while to notice her son's presence, but when she did, she did not turn and acknowledge him fully.

"Going to seek out Forseti will not appease your anger. It will not save Asgard."

"What do you propose we do with him, then?"

"He will not go unpunished. I promise you that." Frigga's voice carried a weight of uncertainty as Loki looked on, sceptical.

"It seems that Odin is not the only one telling lies. Or omitting the truth, for that matter."

"He is my grandson. He is family." Frigga sighed. "And we protect family, do we not?"

"When he attempts to murder innocent people? Or… attempts to march on Asgard, to lay waste to everything we hold dear? He will tear up everything in his path." Loki looked at his mother, trying to keep his emotion under control as he made her see sense. "Why protect him then?"

Frigga managed a small smile as she looked upon her son. "I protected you, did I not?"

Loki looked down, unable to meet her eyes. He'd walked straight into that one. He met her eyes again. This was about Forseti's actions, not his own.

"You did. But in the end, I paid the price for all my… atrocities. Unlike Forseti, who is walking free after threatening Darcy's life and informally declaring war on Asgard. What is Odin doing if not rotting in his chambers, waiting for the situation to worsen? Why has he not sent a single warrior to investigate?"

Frigga began to pace, her movements calm, her dress sweeping upon the floor with a soft shuffle. She was immune to Loki's disgust for Odin, hearing his slurs loudly and often. He knew how she felt about these open displays of contempt, but he seemed to forget how much Frigga loved her husband.

"Your father-"

"He's not-"

"Believes many things." Frigga gritted her teeth as her son rolled his eyes. "And he does not believe in these threats, these… visions of grandeur that Forseti may have, of opposing Asgard and everyone he believes has slighted him in the past."

Loki laughed softly. "It is personal, and he intends to turn everyone against me. Admit it. It would not take much persuasion. And after, he would finish off his misplaced anger by lashing out at Darcy… again."

"It is true. Asgardians may not favour you after all that has transpired, but going after Forseti will not change anything. I see many futures, Loki. I know what happens in each. And in each, Lady Darcy is stronger than you think. You need not worry about her, Loki."

"If you knew… why didn't you tell me? Warn me?"

"I can't play with the future, Loki. Did you not think I saw you disobey and wanted to intervene? Did you think I wanted to let my son, Baldr, perish whilst I watched over idly? So I tried to stop it, to no avail." Frigga's voice carried a weight of pain. "Some things are best left to fate."

Loki stayed silent for a moment, taking in his mother's anguish.

"What do you see now? What can you tell me?"

At this, Frigga bowed her head, her expression troubled. "I could not tell you even if I knew." She paused, deliberating whether she should divulge her condition. "I… I believe I am nearing my sleep. My vision has become… blurred, so to speak. The details are fuzzy. I see an outcome, and maybe a multitude of factors in play, but the pieces do not fit together coherently anymore…"

Frigga smiled sadly and walked over to her son, putting a small hand on his shoulder, softly and cautiously. "But… you don't have to do this, Loki."

"Is that a warning or mere advice?"

"I cannot say."

"Then this is goodbye."

Frigga held her son in her arms briefly before he jerked away and turned his back on her. She watched her son walk out with a fixed stare. She wondered which of her visions was to become true. She held back tears, letting them out only when she knew Loki was too far away to hear. Even then, she tried to collect herself, going to her wheel and weaving the black thread between the gold as if nothing had happened, watching the sunrise.

When Darcy woke, she felt cold. She turned over and felt for Loki beside her, her fingers lazily draping over the soft sheets.

She frowned, confused. The bed was cold and empty under her touch- Loki must've been gone a while. She rolled out of bed ungracefully and opened the curtains to the blinding sunlight outside. She shielded her eyes against the brightness and winced.

"Loki?" She called, looking around for some sign of him. Pulling on her dress, she wondered where Loki had run off to. She was really quite looking forward to seeing him in the morning with bed head hair and tired eyes. She didn't quite get to revel in it last time, being poisoned and all. Plus she had that whole 'indecisive-shit-is-he-a-good-guy' problem. At the moment her mind was relatively guilt-free. In fact, she felt better rested than usual- she could get used to this.

Checking the bathroom, she expected to hear running water or movement, but instead, found it as empty as the bed had been. She changed back into her dress, muttering under her breath. Her peaceful mood turned sour easily.

"The bastard's run off."

It wasn't the first time someone had bailed on her in the morning, but she felt slightly more concerned this time, and although she denied it, a little more hurt. That's what she got for trusting the God of Mischief. She was probably right in not having sex with him last night, she thought sourly. She was a little more than curious, though…

She sighed heavily, libido under control, and smoothed her hair down before contemplating the short walk of shame to her own room. Before she left, she looked over at Loki's shirt she'd left on the bed. She bit her lip, and promptly scrunched it up and took it with her. She prayed that people wouldn't see her, barefoot and dishevelled, walking from Loki's room to her own, a shirt in her clenched fist. People might get the wrong idea. She tiptoed down the maze of corridors, hoping to whatever god that she remembered the way.

After the second 'junction' in the corridors, she considered just giving up trying to find her way. Instead, she sat down by the side of the hall and put her shoes back on. She considered throwing the shirt she'd stolen (see: borrowed) from Loki over the balcony she could see to her right out of revenge, but stopped when she realised it would probably be a nice blanket for when she'd have to camp out here later. She estimated that it would be a few days of wandering before she reached anything remotely resembling her own room, knowing the size of this place. Plus, she doubted Loki would care about one shirt.

"Hopeless…" Darcy meditated, rolling her eyes.

Brushing the thoughts of a cold, marble floor bed out of her mind, she managed to wander back to thoughts of Loki. She pondered whether she'd done the right thing, going to Loki last night. It had surprised her that Loki could be the way he was with her, so… passionate and human. She was surprised at herself in a way. The way she had completely let go. And she couldn't help notice the way he had been so protective of her when she had said she wanted to go to Jotunheim-

"-Jotunheim." She gasped, dropping Loki's shirt and bolting down the corridor, back in the other direction. Her smile had vanished, and she muttered curses under her breath. "That lying dick… Thinks he can trick me… Stupid… Eugh…"

She was so absorbed in her task to pummel Loki to the ground that she didn't look up in time to notice a leather and metal clad chest collide with her face as she reached the stairway. She immediately looked up to see who she had collided with, rubbing her forehead with a groan.

"Oh, Thor. Thank god. I thought I'd be lost here forever." She clutched at her heart dramatically before meeting the blank and oblivious eyes of Thor. Her jokes were lost on him- she gave up with an exasperated sigh. "Sorry."

"Darcy, are you okay?" Thor steadied her by her shoulders and frowned at her. She nodded, still rubbing her head with a grimace. "Where are you going?"

"Me?" Darcy shrugged. "Uh. Nowhere. Wandering."

"You haven't seen my brother at all in your wanderings, have you?" Thor looked troubled.

"Uhh. No." Darcy's poker face really needed working on. "Why? Are you looking for him?"

Thor nodded slowly and began to walk. Darcy followed him like a lost puppy, trying to memorise each pillar and post she passed.

"You could ask Heim-dude."

"He has no sight of him. Loki must have regained his powers. Enough to cloak himself against Heimdallr's sight."

"He has his powers back?"

Thor looked troubled. "He may have. The guards outside the castle reported seeing Loki boarding a longship in the early hours this morning-"

"And they just let him go?" Darcy said irritably, suppressing the long stream of curse words that threatened to come bursting out of her mouth.

Thor looked tired. "He incapacitated them temporarily and managed to sneak past them. My brother has a light foot."

"You're telling me…" Darcy muttered.

"You have no idea of his whereabouts, then?"

"Nope." Darcy tried not to sound too pissed. She knew exactly where he was: Jotunheim. God knows how he got there, she thought angrily. But for some reason, her anger subsided into worry. He'd gone alone. She would've been little help, but a wingman always helped in a bad situation. Well, she could imagine she would be helpful in some way. She'd like to think she wasn't entirely hopeless.

"I merely thought-"

"Loki doesn't confide in me." Darcy raised her eyebrows at Thor. Implying something, Thor?

Thor pushed open his brother's bedroom door, a quick change in his features when he realised it was unlocked.

"This is most unusual." Thor shook his head, Darcy following sheepishly behind him.

"Maybe he went on a spur of the moment holiday. I hear, uh, Gurm...ten… pretty nice this season." She smirked, mocking the weird-ass names the Asgardians gave to other worlds.

Thor smiled back at her. It didn't quite qualify as a genuine one- there was too much worry in his eyes. She chided herself for her lack of serious attitude. Thor was seriously worried, and here she was, making light of the situation, like it didn't matter.

"He won't have gone too far." Darcy picked at her dress, looking down. "I mean, I thought the whole world hated him, anyway." He wouldn't risk that, she nearly finished, but stopped herself, knowing Thor would see it as a downright lie.

"We will find him. In what state I do not know. I fear he is searching for Forseti," Thor said gravely, walking cautiously into Loki's room. "For the moment, would you fetch Jane for me, please? It would put my mind at ease, knowing she is safe and well."

"Yeah, of course but did you not, you know, see her two seconds ago when you rolled out of bed?"

"I have not seen her since the feast. My father has important tasks for me, battles to be planned, to be fought." She saw the sadness in his eyes and slapped him on the arm with a fond smile.

"It'll be okay big man. Hang in there. I'll go find her."

She went to walk out, realising she had no idea where she was headed. "Uh…" She looked back at Thor, who gave her a quick smile.

"Third left, down the stairs and along the corridor. You cannot miss it."

Darcy walked out of Loki's room for the second time that morning, this time with a heavy heart. Her irritation at Loki's behaviour still remained, though. She navigated the maze of corridors and halls with difficulty, trying to get her bearings. She wished she had that goddamn necklace again. It would be so useful to zap to places. Her feet ached in these heels. So impractical for a place like this.

She almost screamed when a strong hand dragged her sideways into a room, the door closing with a slam behind her. She felt a small hand over her mouth as she struggled, only to stop and gaze with wide eyes at her would-be captor. She stilled instantly.

"Queen Frigga?"

"Darcy. We do not have much time."

"For what? What's going on-"

"Would you be willing to pursue Loki into Jotunheim?"

"How did you-" She stopped her line of thought. "Of course." She muttered, rewarded by a brief flash of a smile, which was extinguished almost immediately.

"What can I do? I can't fight, I can't stop Forseti. I'm a dead weight."

Frigga managed a smile. "You're not a dead weight, Darcy Lewis. You have ensnared my son, which is a feat in itself. I saw-"

Frigga looked as if she'd said too much.

"You saw what?" Darcy frowned. "You can't just start that and not finish."

The Queen took a deep breath, reluctance in her tone. "I saw that you could save him from Forseti. He has gone to battle him, and he will not win. If I send any of the other warriors, I doom him. If I do nothing, I doom him. This is the only solution, if you are willing. I do not know what you do, but I saw that you can save him."

"…Okay. Shoot."

Frigga exhaled in relief and handed her the transportation necklace. Darcy hooked it around her neck, the comforting, familiar weight of it resting on her chest.

"Hello baby," she crooned at her necklace, stroking it fondly.

"There is a cavern-"

Of course there'd be a mysterious cavern, she tried not to interrupt.

"- under the waves of Aegirhav, hidden. It is impervious to water, a cavern hidden underneath the Rainbow Bridge. Inside is the means to travel without use of the Bifrost. Very few people know this place exists, and to get to it is near impossible as it would require you to swim against the current-"

"Ahh, that's where the necklace comes in, right?" Darcy couldn't help herself.

"Yes. As long as you think of the Jordkula, you should be able to access it with ease. When you return, the same must be done."

"Okaay." Darcy bit her lip, sounding the name of the cavern in her head. Yord-kular? Jord-kula. Jordkula. Remember, Darce. Remember. It was odd how the voice inside her head sounded a lot like Jane's.

"I would go, but I feel as though my sleep is imminent. It would not do for me to go in such a state."

"What 'sleep'?"

"When we reach a certain age, we begin to weaken. The only way to replenish our youth is to sleep for a short while, around a year or so at the most. My… visions are blurred, flawed because of this. I feel drained."

"So like… recharging batteries. Right." She muttered to herself.

"It will be dangerous, Darcy. I do not expect you to go. There is no requirement for you to-"

"No!" Darcy made herself jump. "I want to. Honestly."

The Queen stepped back from her with a barely hidden smile.

"You look as Lady Sif had, once, back in the days of her training." Frigga watched Darcy as she stood hunched over, armour on her body an unfamiliar weight (though surprisingly light). The transportation necklace hung heavy around her neck. She twirled it around her fingers nervously. She couldn't even push herself to make a joke in this situation, to make it lighter.

"What if I run into… you know, the Jotun people? Frost giants?"

Frigga sighed. "We have… troubling relations with the native Jotuns. They would not treat you kindly, but I am sure they will not go so far as to attack you unless they are part of Forseti's army…"

She trailed off, her pale fingers knotting together in discomfort.

Darcy nodded. "I still look like a Midgardian, then?"

"Barely. You could pass as one, lost in another realm if you needed." Frigga compromised. "Though the armour…You don't have to do this."

"No." Darcy said resolutely. "I want to do something other than nearly dying and causing trouble."

Darcy shifted uncomfortably as the Queen draped a fur coat over her shoulders. Darcy noticed the tremor in her fingers as she did the clasp at the front.

"You have a blade at your side. You are not a warrior and do not possess the training to match theirs, do not forget this. If you encounter the Frost Giants, you run. Promise me this."

"I won't come back unless I have Loki with me."

Frigga closed her eyes. "Darcy. You are risking your life enough."

Darcy laughed, despite the shake in her body betraying her nerves. "I'll be fine. I'll bring him back. But… What about Heim-dude? Won't he just tell Odin I've gone through the Jordkula thing?"

"I have ensured he will be blind in regards to your actions. If you should encounter Forseti…"

"… I'll cross that bridge when I get to it." She shrugged. "He wouldn't be too happy to see me anyway, so I'll stay out of his way. I'll go in there, get Loki and bring him back."

Frigga looked older than she'd ever done in her presence, and Darcy couldn't help but put a comforting (albeit shaking) hand on her shoulder, comforting her of all people.

"Save my son. I cannot lose him again, Darcy."

"I'll try my best."

She focused hard on her destination, and screwed her eyes shut, waiting for the inevitable jolt of her body transporting.

(Uhh, so I took the liberty of translating some words. to use for names of things .. using Google translate (sorry) ... Jordkula is apparently cavern in Swedish, and Aegirhav is made up of Aegir, who is, in Norse mythology, the God of the ocean and hav which means ocean/sea in Swedish... for those interested! )