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Begin Again

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Begin Again

Chapter 1: A is for: Aww Kids, No

Sun streamed through the obnoxiously tall windows of the common room, infecting every square inch of the expansive space with bright, cheery light. Loki rubbed at his eyes with the back of one hand as he shuffled slowly to the kitchen area in search of Midgard’s most devious secret, caffeine.

He pulled an extra large mug down from the cabinet over the coffee maker and took two more shuffling steps to the prone form laying half over the white marble counter, her messy curls spilled over her folded arms, as she groaned tiredly. He gently swept her hair off to one side and dropped his six foot four inch form over her petite one, wrapping his arms around her waist and nuzzling his nose into the back of her neck. Her only response was a muffled grunt and a small sigh.

“My dear,” his voice rumbled with sleep, deep and gravely, the rich vanilla scent of her skin surrounding him. “Is there a reason you are sleeping on the kitchen counter?” Her body was warm and pliant with sleep as he molded himself to her; slow even breath filling her chest and rhythmically raising him up and down as he surrendered his weight to her.

“No coffee,” came the muffled reply.

“And you decided to simply give up here,” he tightened his hold around her waist, the strip of exposed skin above her cotton sleep shirts warming his perpetually cold fingers. “Instead of coming back to bed?”

“Need coffee,” Darcy mumbles into her arms, rubbing her face back and forth over her folded forearms, her hair tickling Loki's cheeks. “Jane called… must science... coffee first.”

“And why is there no coffee, darling?” Loki kissed the bare spot right below her right ear, earning him a rumbling purr from the woman trapped beneath him.

“Stinky Barton,” she grumbled, then sighed, before going still again, and her breathing evening out. Loki waited patiently to see if she'd continue, content to simply curl around her warmth as he waited, only slightly worried she'd fallen asleep. “Took pot… blame Bucky.”

“I would ask why,” he smiled into the back of her neck. The only other occupants of the Tower were the Archer, who was recovering from an injury sustained during a mission, and the Captain's dear friend, who was reluctant to join the Avengers on their often misadventures. “But instead, why don't we venture down to Stark's lab, where the Keurig lives.”

“Too far,” his human pillow groaned long and low, it was a satisfying sound when he managed to coax it out of her in the privacy of their bedroom; not so in the too bright morning light, as she struggled to function without her precious caffeine. “Need coffee.”

“I believe between the two of us, we just might be able to manage,” Loki kissed along the side of her neck, much more satisfied with the groan his ministrations elicited, biting gently at the join of her shoulder.

Darcy turned her head to capture his lips with the corner of hers, a small ghost of a sleepy smile playing over her face. She pushed gently up, his not insignificant weight holding her down on the marble counter top. “Fuck me,” she huffed out, quickly abandoning her efforts, letting her arms drop back down, burying her head again, hair covering her face.

“Not until after coffee,” he nipped at her ear and levered himself up, pulling her with him. “It is simply not as satisfying when you are unconscious.” While Darcy was a passionate and playful lover in the evening hours, she was a mess of pointy elbows in the early hours. Loki had learned this the hard way the morning after their first night together, earning a hard blow to his face and a knee to the groin when he attempted to rouse her. He had attempted to approach the morning beast that was his loving girlfriend in a more circumventive manor since.

She let her weight fall back against his chest. “I hate you,” she groaned, her hair spilling across his chest in messy knots, her body held up nearly entirely by his arms around her waist, his cool skin feeling amazing against her natural heat.

“I dare say you do not,” it still surprised him how ridiculously adorable she was first thing in the morning, pointy elbows notwithstanding.

“Need coffee,” Darcy squinted up at him with one eye.

“Yes dear,” he easily maneuvered her around and lifted her up into his arms. “Up we go,” Loki coaxed her legs up to wrap around his waist as he supported her with his arms under her adorably round bottom, while she glommed onto him like a koala bear.

“You know,” she rubbed her face into the side of his neck. “It's totally all your fault I'm so tired.”

“I caused your caffeine dependence?” he asked cheekily. “I seem to recall that being a fault you came with.”

“Your logic is not appreciated,” Darcy mumbled, her lips soft on his neck.

“Yes, dear,” he put his hand on the palm scanner outside Tony's lab, opening the sliding glass door. He stood five steps into the lab when a blinking light caught his attention. “I was under the impression that Tony shut everything down before he left.”

Darcy didn't get a chance to reply a blinding blue light filled the lab, knocking Loki off his feet, Darcy dropping hard onto him before they both lost consciousness.

*****
Bucky stood in the doorway of Tony’s lab, a place he tried never to find himself, looking down at two children who obviously did not belong in the billionaire’s Tower, much less his lab. The little girl’s face was a mess of blood that spilled down from her split lip and over the neck of her overly large t-shirt. Her face was tear streaked, and the boy held her protectively in his lap, his right hand in both of her hands, fingers curled around his palm as she sucked on his thumb.

“Jarvis, is this some kind of joke?” he growled up at the hidden speakers in the ceiling. The AI had called him from the gym about an incident in the lab involving Darcy and Loki, neither of whom seemed to be present.
“I assure you, Sergeant Barnes,” the British voice that rolled down from the speakers, to Bucky’s ear, always sounded like it was mocking him. “I have attempted no joke, there was a disturbance in the lab, and the vital signs of both Loki of Asgard and Darcy Lewis have changed significantly.”

“You running video in this lab, cause I don’t see either of them,” Bucky kept his eye on the kids, neither of whom seemed to be paying him any attention. The boy kept whispering quietly to the girl, though Bucky didn’t recognize what language he was speaking, and petting her hair, as she continued to suck on his thumb. “Just two kids. How’d the rug rats get in here, anyhow?”

“I believe you are mistaken, Sergeant Barnes,” the AI answered. “There are only three life signs inside the lab, and one down the hall belonging to Agent Barton. And as you are aware, Sir does not permit any filming in the lab when he is not present.”

“What the fuck,” Clint ducked around Bucky and stood stock still.

“Language, Hawk,” his companion growled low. “There are kids present.”

“Yeah, I noticed,” the archer rubbed a hand down his face and shook his head. “That’s what made me swear, asshole.”

“Jarvis, are you saying what I think you are saying?” Bucky took a long slow breath, and looked again at the kids. The girl had riotous brown curls, and big blue eyes, her little fingers clutched with white knuckles to her companion’s hand, her skin would have been considered pale if it hadn’t had the boys to compare to. The boy had shoulder length black hair; the tangled loose curls making his sharp features stand out. He had green eyes, and long fingers, and Bucky figured if he was standing he would definitely be tall for his age. His skin was so pale it almost looked translucent, and he had a soft look on his face that the Soldier had only seen Loki use when he was looking at Darcy. “That can’t be Loki.”

“Yeah, but Jarvis said they were in here,” Clint scratched at the back of his neck. “And I’ve seen pictures of little Darcy, and that my friend, is her.”

“Mr. Hawkeye,” the little girl pulled her companion’s thumb from her mouth with a little pop, the front right tooth missing as she bit lightly at her bottom lip. “Mr. Tony’s lab went all blue, and Loki dropped me,” she picked at the shirt that bigger Darcy had obviously been wearing, now several magnitudes of size too large from the very petite little girl. “And I busted my mouth,” big tears rolled down her face as she blinked owlishly at him. “I want my mommy, Mr. Hawkeye.” Loki’s thumb disappeared back into her mouth, fresh blood staining his white skin red. Loki said nothing, but ducked his head down over her brown curls and gently kissed the top of her head, continuing to whisper words into her hair.

“Well, shit,” Bucky leaned back against one of the work benches and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Language, Buck,” Clint’s lip twitched in an aborted smile.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Bucky threw his arms up and growled at his friend. “What the hell are we supposed to do now?”

“Darcy’s hungry,” Loki’s soft voice came from where he’d tucked himself into her hair. “We came down for breakfast, because there wasn’t any in the common room,” his green eyes blinked slowly at Clint. “And she needs a bath and new clothes.”

“Right,” Clint pushed himself into action, helping Darcy and Loki up off the floor. He offered to take Darcy from the young boy, but Darcy wouldn’t let go of him. “Let’s get you both cleaned up, and get some food in you, we’ll figure out the rest from there.”

“I’m calling Steve,” Bucky grumbled and stalked out of the room.

“Mr. Bucky doesn’t like me much,” Darcy whispered quietly to Clint. “He thinks I’m too loud and I make jokes he doesn’t like.”

“Oh, sweetheart, you just remind him of his little sister,” Clint crouched down in front of the little girl, tucking a stray curl behind her ear. “And he’s just grumpy cause he’s hungry.”

“You don’t have to be nice for him, Mr. Hawkeye,” the girl ducked her head, still holding tight to Loki’s hand. “Mr. Bucky told me that I don’t act like a dame should.”

“Well, Bucky’s stinky sometimes,” Clint shrugged. “Don’t take what the old grump says to heart.”

“I’m sorry I got all messy,” she told him, picking again at her shirt, the neckline slipping over one of her shoulders, the whole thing falling nearly past the tops of her bare feet.

“Not your fault, little one,” he offered her a hand again, and this time she took it, pushing Loki’s thumb back in her mouth. “You gonna tell me why you’re not sucking on your own thumb?”

“Loki’s is cold,” Darcy shrugged. “And he said it’s okay.”

“Anything you need, darling,” Loki told her, holding her against his chest with his free hand. Loki might be small again and couldn’t really remember much about being big, but he hadn’t forgotten the lessons he’d learned at his mother’s knee. Girls were always treated with respect, Darcy above all the rest. He wasn’t sure why she was more important, she just was.

“My mommy isn’t here, is she,” she looked up at Clint, who slowly shook his head.

“No, sweetheart,” he squeezed her hands softly. “But Bucky and I, we’re gonna take real good care of you until we can figure out what happened.” He pushed the button for the elevator and let out a long breath.

What the hell where two assassins going to do with two kids, one of which knew magic, or might know magic. Clint looked down at both kids. Darcy looked about five years old, but he had no way to judge how old Loki was; dude was over a thousand, and didn’t look a day of thirty. He shook his head, he was going with five, five was a safe number and didn’t make his head hurt. “So, pancakes?” Both kids smiled up at him, Darcy’s missing tooth much more evident. “Right, I bet if we ask nice, Bucky’ll even make hot chocolate.”

*****

Bucky stood in the middle of the kitchen, StarkPhone held tightly to his ear and a frown on his face. “Stevie,” the frown deepened and was accompanied by a frustrated sigh. “They were found in Stark's lab, I don't know what else you want me to say.” The soldier grumbled and put a pot on the stove with more force than strictly necessary. “Yeah, she said blue light,” he poured a generous amount of milk into the pot. “I don't care if Stark says none of his gadgets go blue, Darcy was there, said it was blue.” Bucky started the stove with a flick of his wrist, before jabbing the phone's screen with one finger and lay the phone down on the counter.

“Why are we assuming that this is Tony's fault,” Clint asked, helping Darcy up onto one of the kitchen stools. Loki was tall enough to get onto the seat on his own.

“Occam's Razor,” Bucky replied, measuring out cocoa and whisking it into the milk.

“I'm sorry?” Clint's brow furrowed as he stuck his head into the pantry. “I don't see how your perpetual need for a shave has anything to do with our current situation.”

“It's a theory,” the soldier rolled his eyes. “Given two equally predictive theories, you choose the one that has fewer assumptions.”

Clint deposited a box of pancake mix on the counter. “Is that your crazy science talk again, Buck?” the Archer got eggs and a mixing bowl out, and cracked the eggs.

“Yes,” the long suffering sigh that followed spoke of how often the soldier endured this conversation with his Archer.

“Okay, run that by me again,” he measured and poured mix into the bowl and folded the eggs carefully into the mix.

“Simple things are usually true,” Loki said quietly, catching the edge of Darcy's chair with one hand and pulling both the stool and the girl closer to him, feeling more secure with her nearby.

“Right,” Clint looked over at the young Asgardian prince. No matter how many times he reminded himself that Loki hadn't really been the one to enslave his mind, the man still made him uncomfortable. The intelligence shining out of the young boy's eyes did nothing to diminish that feeling. “I need more coffee for this conversation.”

“Me too, Mr. Hawkeye,” Darcy tucked herself under Loki's are, and pressed her face into his bare shoulder. The boy silently petted the girl's hair, unmindful of her split lip still sluggishly bleeding onto his skin.

“No coffee for munchkins,” Clint accepted a cup from Bucky with a smile, and passing a Kleenex to the little girl, who just licked away the small amount of blood on her mouth.

“But, Mr. Hawkeye,” Darcy's puppy eyes, shining with innocence and light, we're almost his undoing.

“Nope,” Bucky placed a mug filled with gently steaming cocoa in front of both children. “None.” Darcy frowned at the coffee substitute, but Loki simply picked his up and took a sip.