Loki appeared to be completely alone, which, of course, put him on edge immediately. Darcy did not generally leave her apartment unless she had class and, if he remembered correctly, she was currently “on break” until “spring semester.” Whatever those were. He stood absolutely still, and slowed his breathing. A whisper of cloth against carpet came from behind him. He whirled around and had his forehead slammed by a pale, disembodied palm. He landed on the carpeted floor with a loud thump, followed by an ‘oomph!’ as an invisible weight landed harshly on his torso.
“Darcy,” he wheezed. Darcy pulled back the hood on her invisibility cloak, broadly smirking. If Loki had any air in his lungs, he would’ve taken the time to be slightly unnerved to see Darcy’s head floating above him.
“Hey, Mama Loki,” Darcy chirped, waving cheerily. Great, a disembodied arm to go with the floating Darcy-head.
“Don’t…call me…that,” Loki gasped for air, shoving Darcy off of him. Darcy rolled with it, narrowly avoiding the leg of her bed frame.
“Ow, jeez. Chill out,” Darcy pouted at him momentarily before clapping her hands excitedly. “Quick, ask me how I managed to floor you!”
Loki rolled onto his side to face his apprentice, who seemed completely at ease sprawled on the floor. Loki, who had spent most of his life believing he was a prince of Asgard and so had had several rules about appropriate behavior embedded into his mind, could not help but internally frown at this. He couldn’t bring himself to remark on it in face of Darcy’s proud expression.
Loki quirked an eyebrow and remained stubbornly silent.
“…close enough. So, you know how I can’t do the self-transfiguration yet? And how your hormones have been totally out of whack or something so you couldn’t really focus on helping me out? Well, I tried out a different, yet very similar spell--”
“An enhancement spell. To improve your strength, speed, and agility.”
“An enhance--yeah. I was getting to that. Way to steal my thunder.”
“You are not Thor. You have no thunder.”
“Metaphor. You stole my metaphorical thunder.”
“You are very strange.”
“Yeah, but that’s why you love me,” Darcy grinned.
“Yes, well,” Loki floundered. “Is there a reason behind your brutal attack on my person?”
Loki’s eyes narrowed. “You’re worshipping another god?” This, Darcy noted, sounded a lot like ‘you’re cheating on me?!’ It was kind of weird.
“Pfft, no. Dude, I’m your apprentice. I’m as far from Christian as I can possibly get,” Darcy spluttered. “No, see, I figured that Christmas is more about, like, family together-ness, and the gift of giving or whatever.” Darcy paused, fidgeting. “I never really got the chance to celebrate it before, you know? And you said we were kin, so…”
Darcy trailed off awkwardly. Loki resisted the urge to fidget (it was unseemly). He was an expert in just about everything there is to know, except how to handle genuine affection. At this moment, he had an opportunity to…do something genuine. He was able to speak frankly before, affirming a kinship tie with the young woman, because Loki had suffered similar experiences that Darcy endured. But now, Loki was at a loss.
“That does not explain the attack,” Loki replied after a moment of uncomfortable silence.
“Oh, right,” Darcy sat up and quickly summoned a mirror. “Look!”
Loki sat up, taking care not to knock his horns against the leg of Darcy’s desk. (Darcy still doesn’t know why Loki insisted on visiting her in full Asgardian garb.) He took the mirror from her hands and peered into it hesitantly. His hand reached up to trace the rather large emerald that was now embedded in the front of his headdress.
“That’s a trapiche emerald. I teleported to Columbia and scoured friggin’ dark, creepy mines for ages looking for it. That slasher-light-blade thing from that one spell? Totally couldn’t have found that emerald without it. It cuts through stone like friggn’ butter. And I modified it so that it wouldn’t cut through emerald-y bits. Très cool.”
Loki rubbed his fingers against the smoothed surface of the emerald. His eyes flicked over to where Darcy was doing a thorough job of looking completely nonchalant. If he had not been the Liesmith, Loki would have bought her act.
“This just goes to show that I am a better judge of character than Thor could ever hope to be,” Loki said coolly. Darcy’s expression visibly brightened at the implied compliment.
"Yep! And that you're the prettiest princess of them all!"
"Perhaps I misjudged." He ignored Darcy's pout. Loki’s brow furrowed, fingers pausing their examination of the jewel. “…it’s bespelled.”
“Duh, how else was I gonna get it stuck on there?” Darcy replied a tad too quickly.
“No, there is other magic here. Healing spells?” Loki murmured, staring intently into the mirror. “Advanced healing spells. Layered spells.”
Darcy flushed involuntarily. “Um.”
“These are incredibly intricate. They’re all…woven together,” Loki looked mildly surprised, which was the equivalent of ‘stunned out of your wits’ on anyone else. “This is on par with the intricacy of your cloak.”
Loki’s eyes snapped to hers with such intensity, Darcy took a step back in surprise. It was scrutinizing, almost as if he were confused. “You spent a lot of time. This took a lot of effort.” The why? went unspoken.
“You won’t let me come with you, just because I can‘t do that one spell,” Darcy said defensively. “I’m supposed to help you. Watch your back and all. And you won’t let me. I could totally own those Avengers, you know. I’m friggin’ awesome at spell craft. But you’re all mother-henning me because I can’t change my appearance. I just wanted to…make sure you wouldn’t get too hurt. Since I can’t be there with you,” Darcy finished with an embarrassed mumble.
The hint of confusion in Loki’s demeanor did not abate. Finally, Loki stood up from the floor, and brushed off invisible dust from his trousers. He hummed thoughtfully.
Out of the blue, he asked, “Do you enjoy this holiday?”
Darcy shrugged as she lifted herself onto her bed. “It’s been okay so far. It kind of caught me off-guard. I didn’t get to get a tree or decorations. And I don’t have that many people to give gifts to. I’m pretty sure Jane’s calendar is completely devoid of holidays. It’s probably just labeled with ‘MORE SCIENCE TIME’ on every federal holiday, actually. But I got to eat all sorts of pies and cookies. And the decorating thing sounds like fun, so I’m definitely doing it next year.”
“I should have conquered the realm by that time. I suppose, if you enjoy the holiday so much, we can keep it for the lesser humans to enjoy as well.” Loki sniffed.
“We could call it Lokimas!” Darcy laughed.
“I believe Darcymas would be more appropriate. Each person is obligated to provide my apprentice a gift.”
“Aw, you’re just a big softie on the inside, aren’t you?”
“That lie was not even remotely believable. You need to practice,” Loki scolded.
“Yeah, yeah. You’re just in denial,” Darcy stuck her tongue out at him. “Oh, for Lokimas or Darcymas or whatever we’re calling it, we have to have snow. Downside of living in the desert. There’s no snow on Christmas.”
“Very well, that’s settled,” Loki nodded decisively. He turned to leave.
“Hey, where are you going?” Darcy asked, snagging his cape. “You always just leave. Not to sound clingy or anything but it’s rude. And then I don’t see you for days. Which, again, rude. I can’t ever get a hold of you!”
“I am going to try out my shiny new jewel. Here,” Loki tossed her an object. Darcy caught it, fumbling a bit. It was a StarkPhone. “I had intended to give you it sooner, but I’ve been a bit--”
“Preoccupied. I’ve been preoccupied. We can maintain contact through this contraption.”
“These haven’t been released yet!”
“I stole it off of Stark during our last skirmish.”
“Oh, that explains it. Cool!” Darcy exclaimed, fiddling with her new phone, completely enraptured. She muttered something about transferring music and waved a distracted good-bye to Loki.
Darcy had adjusted her StarkPhone settings to alert her to any news pertaining to Loki or the Avengers in the NewsReel app she programmed for it. A couple hours later, it vworped enthusiastically at her, announcing an Avengers altercation. She live-streamed the news and watched as Loki meticulously took down every Avenger while he meanly taunted Thor. In a matter of moments, Thor was mocked into summoning a roiling storm.
Loki smirked and threw an icy blue globe to the ground. It shattered. The thunderstorm that had been summoned was suddenly a full-fledged snowstorm. Loki then turned to stare directly into the camera (Darcy took a minute to wonder what kind of crazy camera-person would stick around when Loki was on a roll like that). He gave a flourishing bow and winked, before vanishing into a particularly strong swirl of snowflakes. The Avengers were left shuddering in the snow, looking completely befuddled.
Darcy nearly dropped her new phone in her haste to reach the window. There was already a good three inches of snow outside.
“New phone and impossible snow. Best. Christmas. Ever.”