The events immediately following the fiasco at the ice packaging factory went a little like this:
Magpie, still somewhat flustered by her encounter with the gorgeous Black Widow, had teleported herself and Loki out of there. It was awkward and embarrassing and just plain difficult when one takes into account the fact that Loki and Thor were doing their very best to form a single entity via enthusiastic dry humping. (Darcy did not need to know this about her beloved mentor. She very well could’ve lived a long, happy, fulfilling life not ever seeing her mother figure getting it on in a pseudo-incestuous manner).
Magpie, though, was a professional. She had soldiered on; she tailored the teleportation spell on the fly to exclude Thor and dropped herself and Loki into a forest. The whole situation was traumatic enough but then there was the part where Loki nearly attacked her once she got them both safe. He was all blue-skin and flashing red-eyes. He tossed her into a tree, with an angry (possibly sexually frustrated) hiss. Magpie’s ears quit ringing long enough to hear Loki shout “Do not touch me!”
“Dude,” Magpie coughed. Gingerly, she picked her self out of the mangled tree and brushed off the splinters on her suit. “What is the matter with you?”
“Take me back!” Loki screamed, invading her space. He was sloppily using his height as an intimidation tactic. This was not normal Loki behavior. There was no elegance or grace behind it. “I need--”
“Right,” Magpie interrupted. “I’m doing this for your own good, please keep that in mind.” She then hauled back a fist and slammed it into Loki’s face. Loki ended up flat on his back six feet away (thank the gods for the enhancement spell weaved into her costume). After a few minutes, Loki groaned and stiffly sat up, his skin back to its usual cream-tone but his eyes still glowed red. Magpie kept her distance. “Better now?”
Loki shakily stood up, head angled away from Magpie’s direct gaze.
“…I will be,” Loki said hesitantly, voice rough. He was gone in an eye blink. Magpie was left alone in a forest in the Appalachian mountains. She shivered as a frigid breeze passed over her.
“What. The hell,” she grumbled through chattering teeth. She glared at the sky, barely visible through the treetops. “YOU COULD HAVE AT LEAST EXPLAINED WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE YOU LEFT.”
With one last huff of frustration at the lack of response, she summoned up a portal that led directly to her apartment where she then collapsed in an exhausted heap on her bed. She didn’t even have time to mourn the continued absence of her body pillow before she was out like a light.
Being a trickster is tiring.
Ever since Darcy got the StarkPhone from Loki, she had gotten used to receiving a text on a daily basis from Loki. Loki’s messages were never anything sentimental. Usually, he was pressuring her to ignore her university work to study magic. Other times, it was to let her know of potential crimes they could do together. Those days, Darcy would do background research and help decide which places they should hit up.
Other people might have thought it was cold or distant, but Darcy knew that the act of shooting her a text was a sentiment in itself. Loki didn’t need to give her flowery words proclaiming her to be his darling daughter or brilliant protégé. He showed he cared by giving her daily communication.
It was his way of letting her know he was, at the very least, well enough to handle a phone. Darcy did not have much for family and so she was very protective of what little family she had left. Part of her suspected that the daily texts were also Loki’s way of making sure she was okay, too.
Of course, sometimes Loki or Darcy got caught up with what they were doing so they would neglect their texts for a day. Because of this, Darcy was not too worried when Loki didn’t text her the day after their disastrous mission at the ice packaging factory. However, by the end of the third consecutive day of no contact, Darcy started to get antsy.
Darcy had to contact Loki some other way (because he couldn’t have been captured, because Loki was fine, he just lost his phone or something).
First, Darcy hit up Chicago. Actually, Magpie hit up Chicago. She made all the stop lights malfunction. The red lights ceased to work while the green and yellow blinked seemingly sporadically. ‘Seemingly’ because it was actually a modified Morse code she and Loki came up with so that they could pass information to one another without others knowing.
The message was simple: ANSWER YOUR PHONE, GOD DAMN IT.
Magpie was pleased to note that Fury had set the Avengers on the task of fixing the stop lights. Apparently, it was a nefarious attempt at taking the lives of innocent civilians. She decided not to inform them of the magical safety net she had implemented to prevent any traffic accidents. If the Avengers put a bit of effort and looked into the city’s records, they’d notice that the two days it took Stark to fix the problem had a record breaking lack of traffic incidents. Not so much as a fender bender had happened.
Of course they didn’t do that, so no one knew of Magpie’s good deed. It could be because they didn’t pin the “crime” on her or Loki, though Stark probably suspected because it would not have taken him so long to solve the problem if it didn’t have some magic involved. It didn’t really matter, though. By the end of that stint, Loki still hadn’t called.
After Chicago, Magpie attacked New York. It wasn’t technically an attack, but nobody understood Magpie’s sense of humor. All she did was plaster her and Loki’s images and names on every screen and LED sign in Times Square. And if they read “Vote for Loki - Magpie 2012,” it wasn’t actually a statement on an imminent attack on the White House. It was ostentatious and cocky and a surefire way to get Loki’s attention since he generally liked to stick to the shadows until the grand finale of any scheme.
It took Stark four days to fix Times Square.
By then, it had been nine days since Darcy last heard from Loki.
On Day Ten, Darcy canvassed every major city with birds. She summoned birds of all kinds, from the biggest condors to the littlest hummingbirds. Any flight-capable avian was sent out so that Darcy could see everything everywhere in the cities they occupied. It was exhausting spell work, but she had to find Loki, especially if he was too injured to contact her.
As she lay in her bed, eyes closed, sensing every sight/smell/sound/touch/taste relayed to her by the birds, she paid no mind to the public’s panic at the sudden avian invasion. Her focus was limited solely to signs of Loki. The birds picked up on this, so it was not surprising they took to attacking the last people she knew Loki was with: Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor (those vile, Loki-molesting bastards). Every time they showed up in one of the cities her birds were searching, her birds would enthusiastically dive bomb, claw, or bite at them.
They preened Black Widow, though. Darcy internally winced at her birds’ lack of subtlety but took comfort in that the Avengers didn’t pin the Avian Invasion on Magpie either. Unfortunately, her feelings for Black Widow (and the birds’ reaction to the team’s best Avenger), disrupted Darcy’s focus enough for her control on the birds to waver. In that moment of weakness, the birds took off.
The birds who hadn’t encountered the Avengers were still under her control, but the Avengers were efficient. It only took them a couple of days to visit every city Darcy’s birds were patrolling and scatter her fowl friends to the four winds. Day 12 ended with no sign of Loki anywhere.
Darcy slept for two days from sheer magical exhaustion, resigned to the fact that Loki must not even be in the U.S., or possibly even Midgard. She was conscious just long enough to despair that, if he were lying in another realm injured and alone, she did not have the power or know-how to reach him. Darcy almost welcomed unconsciousness after that realization.
On the morning of Day 15, Darcy was startled awake by her StarkPhone’s text tone.
Noon, Magnolia Bakery, Chicago. Wear civilian clothes.
When Darcy stormed into the bakery, Loki was already at the register, dressed simply in worn black denim pants and a dark green v-neck shirt. It was the most casual Darcy had ever seen Loki, outside of his “college kid” persona. His dark hair was slicked back as usual, but he was giving the cashier a bashful smile that was completely out of place. Darcy noticed that the girl’s eyes had a glassy look to them, as did the eyes of anyone else who happened to see Loki. Darcy wouldn’t be surprised if no one would remember him visiting the bakery.
“I’d also like a slice of hummingbird cake, a slice of coconut cake, an entire Snickers icebox pie and a whole blueberry jamboree,” Loki listed off. “Add a couple of snickerdoodle and smores cupcakes for my guest.”
The cashier nodded, ringing him up. Loki pretended to hand her a credit card, and the cashier swiped her empty hand over the card reader. Darcy glared at Loki, whose attention was solely focused on the cashier. She was done worrying, because Loki was fine and dandy and apparently just couldn’t be bothered to pick up the phone. Darcy was pissed. She attempted to elbow him vindictively, but Loki gracefully moved around her to follow the cashier as she collected Loki’s order. This served the purpose of making sure the cashier didn’t forget anything as well as avoiding Darcy’s increasingly harried whispers demanding answers.
It took the cashier ten minutes to collect everything. She handed Loki four bags full of baked goods. With one last grateful smile, Loki collected his bags. He handed two of them to Darcy, and swooped out of the bakery. Darcy trotted after him, still fuming.
“Quit ignoring me!” Darcy snapped. “You were gone for days!”
“Grab onto my shirt,” Loki commanded. Darcy barely had time to grasp at Loki before they were both whisked away. They landed on a park bench. Darcy quickly took in her surroundings.
“This isn’t Chicago.”
“No. Central Park. It’s nice out,” Loki hummed, completely at ease in the brisk, early spring weather. Loki let his bags drop, settling back onto the park bench and digging out a slice of coconut cake. He then pulled out a snickerdoodle cupcake and handed it to Darcy, who fumbled her bags onto the floor before taking the cupcake.
“Desserts are not going to make me forget that you were missing for two weeks! You didn’t answer your phone. I thought--I thought you were--”
“Obviously, I am alive and well,” Loki stated, trying to stem his apprentice’s anger. It wasn’t that he didn’t understand why she was angry…he just had other things to attend to first.
“Well, how I was supposed know that if somebody couldn’t be bothered to text!”
“You kept yourself busy while I was gone. Chicago, New York, and every other major city in your miserable little country,” Loki said blithely, summoning a fork for his dessert. He nibbled daintily at his cake.
“I was trying to get your attention,” Darcy snarled, viciously biting into her cupcake. Normally, Loki would take a measure of pride in Darcy’s aggression, having helped cultivate it into a useful tool, but at the moment, it was interfering with his plans for the day. He’d rather have Darcy calm when he told her the news. Darcy continued to glare at him. “Where were you? You weren’t in the States, I figured out that much. Why couldn’t I have come with?”
“I had good reasons behind my actions,” he said calmly, taking another bite of his cake.
“We’re partners! You agreed I could come along with you on missions! And--”
Loki sighed, finishing off his slice of coconut cake and tucking away the fork. Darcy was not going to end her tirade any time soon, seeing as she didn’t even pause at his uncharacteristic sigh. There was no point in trying to assuage her. It was best to just tell her now and get it over with, Loki supposed.
“--so it’s really not fair that you--what do you mean you’re pregnant?” Darcy yelped. Loki narrowed his eyes at her, hands absentmindedly curling around his belly in a protective manner.
“Has your Midgardian education really been so lax as to not explain what a pregnancy is?” Loki scoffed. He forcedly pulled his hands away from his belly, reminding himself that he was in no danger with Darcy. To keep his hands busy, he searched through his dessert bags for the hummingbird cake slice.
“I know what pregnant means!” Darcy cried indignantly.
“If that is the case, then I do not understand your confusion,” Loki stated calmly, getting his fork again.
“You can’t be with child. You--you have guy parts!”
Loki’s back straightened. A wicked grin spread across his face. “Is that so? What proof have you of that?” His grin widened at the blush that crawled across Darcy’s features. “Darcy, have you been peeping?”
Darcy grimaced. “Oh, ew, no!” Loki felt vaguely affronted. “Not that you’re not pretty,” Darcy quickly amended. Loki preened. “But it’d be...vaguely incest-y, and I get that gods have no qualms about that but I’m human. It’s weird. But that’s not the point. How the hell did you get knocked up?”
Loki cleared his throat, eyes full of sympathy. “You see, Darcy, when two people love each other very much--"
“Oh, don’t even! Guys can’t--” Darcy blazed.
Loki’s eyes hardened suddenly. “Darcy, I have long told you to eliminate any preconceived notion you have of the universe and how it works,” Loki said, voice cool and cutting.
Darcy huffed, mildly chastened. “No need to get snippy. Hormones, much?”
“You assumed that my physiology is the same as a human’s physiology. You forget that the guise I wear now is just one of many,” Loki started, not looking at her. He took a moment to savor his hummingbird cake before continuing. “I am the Trickster God, Darcy. Do not allow your eyes to fool you. You cannot call yourself my protégé if you do not learn to think like a trickster at all times. You understand why.”
Darcy hunched her shoulders and bit into her cupcake again. After she swallowed, she recited, “To think like a trickster makes you less likely to be deceived.”
The corner of Loki’s mouth twitched upward, a softly amused glint appearing in his eyes. “Yes. That’s it, exactly.”
“I know that already. You just…caught me by surprise, is all,” Darcy took another bit of her cookie. “I forget sometimes, that you’re this big bad god. You’re just--you’re family, you know?”
“…yes, I understand,” Loki murmured, leaning comfortingly against Darcy. Darcy tucked her head shyly on his shoulder. Loki finished his hummingbird cake in silence while Darcy licked off the last of the cupcake frosting from her fingers. He watched the children running around in the park.
“I will not be able to keep it,” he said softly.
“What?” Darcy startled, head narrowly missing an unfortunate collision with Loki’s chin.
“The life I lead is not conducive to child rearing. And the Allfather, I’m sure, would not abide having a child of mine in his home. Not unless he could use it in some way.” He stood abruptly, brushing off crumbs from his clothing, grabbing the bags he and Darcy had dropped. He ignored Darcy’s gaze. “I must take my leave now, but before I go.” Loki summoned a large leather-bound book and hefted onto Darcy’s lap. “I expect you to have read this by my next visit. It’ll explain why I was absent for so long. And why I couldn’t take the time to reply to your texts, or…shenanigans.”
“Right, of course,” Darcy wheezed, clutching at the heavy tome. Loki turned to leave.
Loki paused, head turned to see her but keeping his distance.
“Whoever knocked you up, were they at least hot?” Darcy quipped. Loki’s solemnity broke, a familiar mischievous grin took its place. His hand clutched at his chest as the rest of his body went theatrically lax and weak-kneed.
“Oh, Darcy, like you wouldn’t believe!” Loki sighed dreamily. He paused, eyes warm as Darcy laughed. Once her giggles settled, Loki admitted, “I’d like you to meet it before I have to give it up.”
“I’d like that. I’ve always wanted to be a big sister,” Darcy replied. Loki felt his heart swell. As Loki stepped into a portal, he heard Darcy groan. “A book on Jotun puberty. Seriously? TMI, dude, TMI.”
Loki suppressed a laugh. He had to get back to his…hideout. Being pregnant was tiring. He’d kill for nap. And more cake.