Being the intern in charge of coffee, supplies, data entry, and odds and ends at one of the most bleeding-edge and hush-hush research projects in the entire world has its perks.
Especially since the part about ‘odds and ends’ started to include Loki. Darcy considers him a perk all of his own. It’s a bit of a drag to take him back and forth with the manacles and chains the others (the important people in the project) insist he has to wear, but Loki just pulls over a big long-sleeved hoodie, and they stay very close on the subway so nobody sees the chain. And if they do, they’ll assume some sort of kink. Darcy loves New York.
What kind of security is this, anyway? Loki could run from her apartment whenever he wanted, as she doesn’t have to keep him chained there, and what about transporting hazardous gods of mischief on the New York subway, anyway? As far as he’s telling, Loki’s hopping though whatever loop they hold with a shrug, as he actually wants to be let back home into Asgard, and for that he’s got to go through with his punishment.
Running would be stupid.
Loki can be very quiet, observes bustling mortality around him, and actually can almost be trusted to go to the convenience store on his own now, apart from the part where he brings back really bizarre food on top of what she asked him to get (buttermilk, for the muffins, that one time), and he seems to be perfectly able to make the store clerk believe the five dollar bill is a fifty.
Tony Stark is making sure their intern isn’t operating on the usual shoestring budget (he even got her this cool flat!), but still, that’s a nifty ability to have, and she often enough can’t withstand the temptation to hand Loki the money to pay for their groceries.
Especially as less money spent on food means more money left for movies, and Loki loves movies. He watches them with childlike fascination, takes everything at face value, even though he knows it’s all fictional of course, ever since he asked why D’Artagnan had the same face as William Evans.
And everything is an experiment with Loki. He’s a very experimental person, Darcy finds.
Not in that way. Well, in that way too, of course. Loki’s practically the god of being open-minded about sex. Darcy isn’t shy about it and has
seen all the porn on tumblr quite a wide experience, but Loki makes these off-hand suggestions that leave her all breathless and open-mouthed and feeling like an innocent high school junior. Not just for things to do, he casually jokes about what other people might be doing, or what unfamiliar things might be good for.
No, Loki’s experimental in lots of other ways. Everything’s an experience for him, and with him. He strikes up friendships with all the resident alley cats and sits on the fire escape talking to them. He doesn’t even give them food, just talks to them and they practically worship him.
Or the time when she took him to the nearby Y to show him what a ‘swimming pool’ is all about after Tony Stark had made tasteless jokes about pools full of champagne and naked girls. He stood there in the shallow end, in his silly green shorts and those shackles nobody can take off (people most likely took them for weird bracelets or assumed kink again), watching people swim back and forth and totally failing to see the point of it all while the water grew subtly colder around him.
Food, that goes without saying. He likes chocolate and coffee, and he likes really spicy things, hot Mexican and Thai food, and really large amounts of wasabi with his sushi. Darcy is trying to get him food that’s too hot, but she hasn’t found it yet. There are things he hates, though, but there’s no pattern to that at all. Mushrooms. Cilantro. Smoked fish. Carrot cake. Really, totally random. Who on earth hates carrot cake??
Loki, apparently. Just as much as he hates the yippy dog next door, heavy metal music, or housework. The first thing she wholeheartedly concurs on, the second she blames on Tony Stark’s eternal classy taste (sheesh, that man thinks girls posing in bikinis on the hoods of classic cars are seriously hot!), the third she has to do something about as she’s not serving that lanky, arrogant áss (that is apparently the genuine honest-to-god legit singular to aesír, which never fails to make Darcy start giggling all over again) hand and foot just because that’s what he’s used to.
He likes computers, and he likes the endless streams of info and chatter that come out of them, making his new Stark laptop give him what he wants, elegantly as if by magic. So, she sets him up a tumblr in addition to the Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and Pinterest (never ask about what he does on Pinterest, or Darcy will dissolve in giggles for minutes!) he already has, and fills it with horses and food pictures and vintage porn, and sneaks in ‘Unfuck Your Habitat’, and as Loki pays attention to what’s on his computer, he finally starts picking up after himself. So that problem is taken care of as well.
And then there’s the really weird stuff that doesn’t make sense to one of them or takes a long time to understand. Like Thanksgiving. Or baseball. Loki completely fails to get the point of them, and as the idea of taking a handcuffed áss (mwahahahah!) home to her family is too bizarre even for Darcy (apart from the part where she really, really doesn’t want to find out what her sister would do to him), he has to stay in the lab for the entire long weekend. On the Monday, Erik Selvig tells her that Loki’s been turning himself blue at times, he’d been that sulky.
“So what’s the deal with the Na’vi shape?” she asks him, trying not to say ‘jötunn’ again as the word makes him flinch, and he doesn’t know what a Na’vi is, so she decides to show him ‘Avatar’ that evening, and that’s entirely a bad idea. Actually, it might be the very first movie he hates.
“Ugh,” he says at the avatars floating in their vats, “who would volunteer to look like that?”
Darcy tries to explain about the natives and the need to talk to them at eye-level, as it were, but Loki insists that they are savages, ugly and primitive and ignorant, and should just be swept off the planet as they clearly can’t be talked sense to.
Darcy pauses the movie with Jake running around outdoors happily while being blue large on the screen. “But you’re blue yourself sometimes!” she says. “Even if you’re ashamed of it, being part ice-giant or what it was...”
That’s entirely the wrong thing to say. “Exactly,” Loki says, icily, gets up and barricades himself in the bathroom.
“Enjoying your movie with the blue monsters?” he says when she knocks on the bathroom door half an hour later. Of course not, she hasn’t gone on watching it, not only does she know it, she knows entirely and in great detail why it’s actually quite problematic.
She was going to leave that for another time, but there’s probably not going to be another time, and there are apparently problems with the movie she wasn’t previously aware of.
“I stopped it,” she says. “Listen, Lokes, please please please come out of there?”
“Why would you show me something like that in the first place? To remind me what a monster I am?”
“You’re not a monster, Lokes, and I really really need to pee. Please.”
He does come out, but he’s terribly haughty and distant and all áss and totally not as approachable and experimental as he usually is around her. He perches by his computer and won’t talk to her all night.
“We don’t consider blue people monsters here,” Darcy explains to him over coffee the next morning. “We don’t even have any, in real life -- well, there is you, but people don’t know about you! If you turned blue in the middle of Manhattan, people would just assume you’d dressed up as Na’vi for some reason.”
You know, as you do.
“Jötnar are monsters,” Loki says. “That’s what you little sheltered Midgardians have forgotten. We Aesír have always protected you. We fought them so you wouldn’t have to. And since I’ve known I’ve got that inside me, I’m fighting the inner Jötunn as much as we’re all fighting the outside ones. It’s our duty and our destiny. We’re not considered gods for nothing.”
“Lokes, really, it’s okay...”
“It is not!” he snaps, “and none of your softened Midgardian sheltered spoiled feel-good talk can make me believe otherwise. I have a monster inside me, and it’s a fearsome thing indeed. Ask no more.”
That’s when Darcy starts suspecting that the Jötnar probably have a culture as manifold and varied and deep-rooted and spiritual as the Na’vi -- well, as the Na’vi are supposed to have, because they’re a) just made up and b) even the world-building that went into making them up has holes in it that you could drive a truck through.
But she has no way of finding that out, so has to let it slide by for the moment in order to make up with Loki.
She finds the ‘Avatar’ DVD in the dumpster a few days later. Man, that is some serious hate. It’ll be uphill work.
But since when has that deterred Darcy Lewis?