Darcy decided she really liked Palthor. Hanging out with him a while at the X-Mansion, it became real obvious that Thor had inherited the bulk of his mother's Vanaheim blood when it came to personality and temperament. Which, thank fuck for that. It looked like the only thing Thor had inherited from Odin was a shorter fuse on his temper, with the arrogance and all that nonsense being tacked-on veneers thanks to how he'd been raised that he was shedding with the quickness now. If he turned out anything like his uncle when he was older, Asgard wasn't going to have a damn thing to worry about when it came to Thor being on the throne.
On top of just being a really easygoing, laid back person, Palthor played no favorites with his nephews. It was clear to Darcy this wasn't a new thing, either, because Loki made it plain he enjoyed Palthor's company. Mostly by way of a complete lack of dirty looks and vicious snark, but it was still telling, given how … displeased … Loki was with the older members of his 'adopted' family most days. His beef with Thor was on a completely different level and for entirely different reasons. Thank all that was holy, Thor was doing everything he could think of – including asking for advice at regular intervals – to patch the damage done to his relationship with Loki. Darcy was pretty darn sure the two brothers would come out the other side of this with their relationship in much better shape than it ever had been.
Now, though … now was the time to get really worried. Because they were on the ground in Canada, Alpha Flight mixing in with the Avengers and chatting amiably. Well, most of them were chatting. Darcy was pretty sure that the leader, the Beaubier dude, and Remy were flirting with each other. While they waited for the Jotun contingent to arrive. This … was not going to end well. Pretty much all the Avengers knew it too, but Darcy had a better idea than most. She knew how little Loki had been sleeping thanks to her mostly-self-appointed job as Cat Herder. As in, he hadn't slept at all save for two nights since the invasion. All other concerns aside, being that sleep deprived was going to fuck with a person's ability to think clearly. Given the utterly fucked up situation at hand … yeah. Darcy was fully expecting bloodshed before the day was done.
Loki was wound so tight right now Darcy was wondering how he wasn't literally, physically shattering. And the reason she knew he was wound that tight was that she was leaning virtually all her weight on him. She had exactly zero illusions on being able to stop Loki from lashing out physically or magically, but hopefully having to take her presence into account would slow him down a second or two. Thus giving the Jotuns a chance to GTFO before Loki lost his shit.
It was encouraging to Darcy that Loki tolerated her leaning on him like that. He wasn't anywhere near stupid, so he had to know why she was doing it, especially given she'd never done this sort of thing before. He was also tolerating her (somewhat unusual) nattering. She'd started talking about random shit pretty much the instant they'd landed, hoping to distract Loki. It was really all she could do. And he was letting her do it. Which told her that, fucked up he might be, but Loki was not fully on board with losing his shit.
Thor was keeping a sharp eye out too, but he was staying near the jet. Unfortunately, his history with the Jotuns was not, repeat not going to help the situation. At all. It was, in point of fact, highly likely to cause just as much of a problem, all on its own, as Loki's … displeasure. Hah. Displeasure. That was one hell of a way to put it but … yeah. Darcy wasn't quite sure what else to call it.
Then, on the far side of the clearing, the air warped. Darcy had noticed that happening once or twice. It seemed to be limited to either when more than one or two people were teleporting in, or if said people were (for instance) wearing dark clothes and teleporting into somewhere with a lot of white or pastel colors. Or vice versa.
"So, I was thinking. Once we get back to the city after this dog and pony show, we need to hit the Strand again. Because you didn't even get to see like, half that place." Darcy said as something like twenty Vanir and another twenty Jotuns appeared.
Loki went from 'wound tight' to … Darcy wasn't even sure what, but it could not be good news. She leveled a flat 'go the fuck away' look at … well, at everyone. Hopefully the Jotuns would buy a clue and steer clear.
Hah, who was she kidding. This could only end in tears. Blood and tears.
It took Loki a minute to answer, though whether that was because he was that upset, or it took him a minute to decide if he was going to humor her, Darcy didn't know.
"That sounds a pleasant proposition." He said eventually.
Yeah. Not good. His voice was every bit as strung tight as he was. He was practically biting out every word.
Damn Odin to the deepest hell that had ever existed. Darcy really, really, REALLY wanted to go find him and kick his ass. Loki was about to come fucking unglued just from being within a hundred feet of members of his own fucking race. This was … gah. And there was literally nothing she or anyone else could really do to stop it or fix it. Loki had roughly a thousand years of internalized racism crammed into his head.
"I figured. We'll probably need the downtime. Because I tell you what, Loki. I know the elves are drama queens, and you've probably dealt with them a lot, but they have nothing on some humans. We are in for some seriously interesting times, and not just with this tour, though the tour will let you see some of the whackadoo in person. I fully expect at least one nutball to actually, literally worship at your or Thor's feet before all is said and done. And don't get me started on what folks will do in regards to the whole 'aliens are real' thing. That is just … " Darcy snorted, unwillingly amused. "Yeah, that's going to be both disturbing and hilarious as hell."
Loki, much to her delight, made a noise that sounded distinctly amused, if also strained. "Visiting the bookstore again would be quite pleasant, yes." He agreed. "As to the amount of drama humans can generate versus what an elf is capable of … we shall have to see. After all, elves have had quite a long time to develop their dramatics."
Then, his tone changed, and Darcy knew without looking he was smirking. "It will be … quite entertaining, does anyone actually worship myself or Thor."
Darcy gave an amused snort. Thor would probably … well, actually, Darcy wasn't all that sure what he'd do. Brush it off? Try to correct the would-be worshipers? She just knew he wouldn't let them keep going. He might have done before he met her and Jane, but not these days. Loki, on the other hand … yeah. He wasn't the 'god of mischief' (among other titles) for nothing. She absolutely would not put anything past him, especially if he happened to be bored.
"No traumatizing gullible idiots for life." Darcy decreed, her tone every bit as amused as Loki's had been.
Also, she was counting this as a hell of a win. There were Jotuns less than two hundred feet away, and Loki was, while not unbothered, considerably less upset than he'd started out. At least on the surface, in that he was talking and acting amused and generally indulging her. Darcy wasn't fool enough to think he wasn't fucked up nine ways to Sunday, but he was at least managing to not let it all hang out, for now.
While they'd been talking, she'd been watching the Jotuns, and it was … well, interesting. Darcy had only gotten the briefest of glances at Farbauti when she'd been at the Tower, so this was really Darcy's first chance to get a good, long look at them.
First off, every last one of them was naked save for a very short loincloth/kilt type deal. They all also spent about the first five minutes with their eyes either closed or very close to it, and even when they opened their eyes, they squinted like hell and/or shielded their eyes with a hand. Having heard from Tony about how dim and dark Jotunheim was, that didn't surprise her. Honestly, she was surprised they could see at all in the bright sunshine.
They were also all big buggers. Like, all of them topped Thor in size by at least a foot and probably a hundred pounds of muscle. They also came in a surprising range of shades of blue, from the sort of nearly-white blue that would all but disappear in fresh snow, to the deeper, darker shades that would disappear in shadows. Also, they were either all males, or there were no differing secondary sex characteristics going on, because there weren't any breasts on any of them. Or, given that they were aliens, it could be that something else was going on.
Then, predictably, it all went to hell.
One of the Jotuns did a thing. Darcy wasn't sure if it was magic or what, but they grew an ice blade over one hand. She didn't think it was an overt act of violence. The Jotun in question didn't look pissed, though given they weren't human, that wasn't saying much of anything. That said, they'd been one of the ones off to one side and not talking much with any of the Avengers, so Darcy didn't think anything had been said to them to set them off. Thor, for his part, was still by the jet, with Mjolnir not even in sight and trying his best to look as unaggressive as he was capable of (it was on the jet), so again, she didn't think anything had happened there. Whatever, the Jotun in question wasn't even making any threatening gestures with the ice knife. Given they were on a new planet, possibly for the first time in their life, they'd probably been ensuring they could do that here.
Whatever the reason they'd done the thing … yeah. Loki made a choked noise that kind of defied description and the next thing Darcy knew, the world went wonky for half a second, because Loki teleported. For whatever reason, Darcy ended up going for the ride.
For all she hadn't expected it, and for all Loki was now all but literally radiating nearly-unhinged rage (Darcy could see shimmers of gold-green magic out of the corners of her eyes, for goodness' sake), she was grateful she'd ended up going along for the ride, because it gave her the opportunity to try to derail Loki.
Darcy then did possibly the stupidest thing she'd ever done. It topped backtalking Odin, even, and she knew it. She turned to face Loki, half-climbed the tall bastard, and got eye-to-eye with him, deliberately blocking his view of the Jotun that was now behind her as much as she could.
"Hey, Loki. Chill, ok? Breathe. Look at me." Darcy demanded, and tried not to piss her pants, because holy shit. The look on Loki's face was enough to scare the hell out of anyone with sense. Fangy grin, green eyes lit with his magic and just generally looking like he was half a second from a bloodbath.
"Look. At. Me." Darcy snapped a second time, putting every ounce of 'boss bitch' she possessed into it, trying to stop Loki before he got started.
She even went so far as to grab his head and try to physically force him to look at her. For all the good THAT did, Jesus Fucking Christ, it was like trying to move Mjolnir. And yeah, losing the battle here. She could feel his magic building, kind of like when an electrostatic generator was running, which was ironic as hell given it was Thor who did the lightning shtick.
There was really only one more thing she could try, and it had a fifty-fifty chance of blowing up in her face.
"You do this, Odin wins." She said, this time more quietly than before. "This is what that rat bastard wanted. For you to hate who and what you are, your own people, and … " She couldn't exactly wave a hand, given she was clinging to Loki like a monkey in order to be eye-to-eye with him, so she shrugged. "I mean, I don't know for sure why he did it, but he very obviously wound you up with the intent of aiming you at them for his own ends."
And that, finally, got him to look at her, rather than at the Jotun somewhere behind her. Mind you, that wasn't all that comforting because now that distinctly unhinged and more than slightly murderous look was focused on her, but at least he wasn't trying to burn a hole in the Jotun with his glare anymore. Step in the right direction.
"You're better than this. Better than him." Darcy said now she had Loki's attention. "I get that what you've been through is severely fucked up beyond any descriptors we humans have for such things, but god damn it, Loki, you're better than letting yourself be used as a wind-up weapon by some fucked up, psychopathic old dude with a god complex. Or whatever the fuck is wrong with Odin, I really don't give a shit where he's concerned."
And holy shit, it was working. In that Loki was not launching an attack yet. And seemed to be more focused on her and what she was saying than anything else. Hell, even the green-and-gold sparklies she'd been seeing out of the corner of her eye for the last, what, five minutes, maybe more, were lessening.
And then, between one breath and the next, sanity returned, at least in part. At the very least, Loki seemed to finally realize what he'd done and been prepared to do if his expression had been anything to go by, and that such things were, you know, not warranted.
Darcy latched on even more firmly. If he responded the way he did the last time he'd calmed down after he lost his shit, he'd try to run, and no. She wasn't letting him do that. Her movement evidently brought Loki's attention to what she was doing. The look on his face when he realized that she was clinging to him like a baby monkey – and he had instinctively allowed such a thing – was priceless. Better, the air stopped sparking with his magic.
"Do you have any sense of self-preservation at all?" He asked. There was a very strained deliberation to his tone, like he was forcing himself to both ignore the Jotuns in their vicinity and to stay calm, but Darcy was going to take it.
"What good is that? All the fun shit happens when you take chances." Darcy said, grinning at him. "I mean, if Jane and I played it safe … " She wrinkled her nose. "Yeah, no. That doesn't bear thinking about, because that would be really sad, and pathetic, and boring."
Since he didn't seem like he was going to flee for the horizon, she finally dismounted. "C'mon, let's go sit in the jet for a few. I think we both could use a breather."
Amusingly, Loki let her drag him off. He was probably grateful to get away from the situation, which accounted for it.
Thor, bless him, didn't say a word as they passed him, just gripped Loki's shoulder briefly as they passed, then planted himself in the middle of the ramp. Whereupon, his body language went from 'I won't hurt anyone, honest' to 'YOU SHALL NOT PASS'.
"Do you really think … ?" Loki started to ask.
"It's the only thing that makes a shred of sense." Darcy told him as they sat down. "I mean, seriously. If he'd wanted for you to rule them, he wouldn't have, you know, done the whole 'Jotuns are evil' thing, or let anyone else do it around you, whether you knew you were one or not. Hell if I know why he wanted to wipe them out. I mean, trying to ice Earth? Not nice, but not really a 'kill them all' worthy offense, either. Especially given that Odin didn't think humans had any real worth. But he wanted them wiped out. And from everything you and Frigga have said, you're like, crazy powerful with magic. Wind you up, let you rip, and the Jotuns get wiped out, but his hands are 'clean', because it totes wasn't him that did it."
Loki made a face that was hard to interpret, but that Darcy figured meant he was contemplating the feasibilty of finding Odin and stringing the bastard up by his heels. Now that? Darcy not only wouldn't stop Loki, she'd fucking well cheer him on.
"Thank you for stopping me." Loki said after a minute.
"Thank you for letting me." Darcy said, because she was not dumb enough to think otherwise. Loki could so very easily have ignored her and done whatever he wanted.
Hell, he probably could have teleported without bringing her with him. Which implied all sorts of things. Especially in combination with his tolerance of her climbing him and getting in his face. Things she'd have to think about later. Because she was realizing …
Yeah, later. She was gonna have a lot to think about.