Loki was beginning to feel like coming to Midgard to keep Thor company instead of fleeing elsewhere was the wrong decision - mainly because even curling up on the floor beside what Jane called the 'air conditioner vent' stripped down as far as he dared under an illusion of a more respectable amount of fabric wasn't keeping him comfortable anymore.
Accursed desert. Twice-accursed midday sun. Thrice-accursed heat wave.
But then Darcy popped into the lab, bubbling in a way that reminded him of when he'd pulled off a particularly daring prank without a single hitch and without getting caught. "I have something for you."
"What have you brought for my brother?" Thor asked from across the room.
Thank all the gods the Asgardians and the Jotun had ever worshiped, Thor Odinson was willing to believe Loki's heat problems were, as Sif had explained so carefully, simply a matter of having a weaker constitution and less endurance than she or Thor - which was true even if it wasn't the real reason.
"It's called a slushie." She shook the large plastic cup in her hand.
Loki didn't consciously recognize the sound it made, but there was something deep in the back of his mind that was suddenly highly interested in it. He sat up.
Darcy held the cup at the level of his head, not letting go but letting him have access to the straw.
Loki took one sip and had the cup out of her hands a breath later.
"What is it?" Sif asked.
"Not much more than ice made from sugar water, ground fine with some flavoring added to it," Jane reported. "It's mostly kids who drink them."
Loki finally stopped for breath. "Thank you, Darcy. Asgard favors warm food, so we have nothing like this at home."
"Nothing like this? No ice cream?"
Loki blinked. He knew about ice and knew about cream, but the two concepts just did not got together.
"Seriously no ice cream?"
"I have never heard of such a thing," Thor announced.
Sif added, "Nor have I."
"Oh we have got to go for waffle cones once the sun goes down and the air cools off..."
"Darcy! Some help over here?"
She rolled her eyes. "Fine." She pulled a small Midgardian device with trailing wires out of her pocket. "This is an mp3 player. These two pieces go in your ears, and these two buttons make it louder or softer. This is play, this is stop. Sif said some things last night, about what you've been going through, and I think this sample of our music might help some."
Loki took it from her.
Darcy walked over to where Jane was working with a bounce in her step and a happy chirp of something that sounded like "so turn 'em on, turn 'em on, turn on those sad songs, when all hope is gone..."
But that had to be wrong, because no song with those lyrics should be that cloyingly happy.
He stuck the little pieces into his ears and started the device, then settled back to ingesting as much ice as he could through the straw as he listened.
That night, everyone threatened to throw Loki and Darcy out of the building until they shut up if they couldn't stop singing after they'd kept it going until 2 am.
Everyone but Sif, that was. She'd joined in around midnight.
Jane and Erik seemed sleepy but marginally happy at least that Loki was feeling better.
Thor... Well, Loki could tell he was pleased at the change, but it was clear there was still a lot of learning to do before Thor could go home.
Sif could go whenever she wanted, but after what her father had done that was going to be a while.
Sif's father had outed Loki's ancestry. He didn't know when he could go home safely. If ever. Maybe this was the safe window to tell Thor, while he was worried, while he didn't have Mjolnir, but Loki couldn't bring himself to risk even mentioning he was effectively an exile for his own well-being.
They shut up for the sake of sleeping under a roof, but Loki couldn't help humming to himself as he drifted off.
...when all hope is gone, why don't you tune in and turn them on...