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When Millicent leaves the dorm room, zippers done and hems pulled straight, but with her elaborate jewelry clutched in her hand rather than scattered across various limbs, Darcy has a few options.

She can close her curtains against the rising dawn and try to sleep until nine. The sheets are a bit damp from sweat and other fluids, but the air conditioning in Darcy’s room is close to glacial. Five minutes of laying out flat on her back naked and she’ll have enough goosebumps to shiver under the blankets like a tiny kitten. Even if she doesn’t fall fully asleep, she likes getting lost in that place between wakefulness and sleep where she can have timeless lucid dreams. The last time she did she mused about flying ghost goats. It was really interesting, even if Derek didn’t want to hear about it.

She can do something semi-self destructive like turn on her laptop and find Millicent on Facebook. After all, how many Millicents can there be going to New Mexico State? Once Darcy’s found her she’ll end up going through all her pictures, trying to guess which girls are Millicent’s friends and which she’s slept with. It’s not quite cutting or throwing up her meals, but it’s not something Darcy will come away from happy.

Or she can go to Jane’s lab a few hours early, after showering so she doesn’t smell like come and sweat and another girl’s perfume. Not that Jane would notice, probably. She’s all about big concepts, which means she tends to neglect details. For example, not noticing that crazy-man was in the picture of the storm thing. Or drinking Pepsi a year beyond its expiry date because it was in the cupboard and she was thirsty.

The idea of seeing if anything interesting is happening in the world of science is by far the most alluring of Darcy’s options. She can sleep when she’s dead, and purposely irritating herself doesn’t sound like a good use of time. Something interesting probably is happening. It’s a good bet on the average day; Jane’s always doing something. Even if she doesn’t understand, Darcy likes getting caught in other people’s excitement. Listening to Jane babble about science isn’t that much different from junior year when Willa was on the softball team and Darcy went to every game. Considering that last night Jane broke a buff but insane man out of a government building that sprouted up overnight, Darcy would hazard to guess that something interesting is going on. Or at least will be soon.

At five in the morning there’s no one else in the bathroom. Darcy would guess no one awake on campus. Most drunk or drugged revelers are passed out by now, and walk of shames shouldn’t start for a few more hours. The empty room means she can have a nice long shower. Darcy doesn’t really consider herself body conscious, but she’s never quite gotten used to the communal showers thing. In her world, bathrooms should have doors.

Hair still wet against her back, Darcy picks out the layers she wants to wear. Everything she owns works in layers; tights under shorts and leg warmers over spiderweb pattern stockings and cardigans over blouses. Like Millicent, three different necklaces at once, or bracelets from wrist to elbow. Derek calls it sloppy chic, to which she tends to call him a stereotypical homo. Her grey lace tank top catches her eye so she throws it over a t-shirt and tops it with a charcoal hoodie. Her hair frizzes as it dries if she doesn’t pay attention to it, so she pulls on a orange and brass skullcap. The wool won’t make it less frizzy, but it’ll get it out of her face until she decides to care.

The walk to the student parking lot is just as quiet. In an hour people will be walking home, high heels in hand or missing shirts with stupid phrases written on their chests in Sharpie, but now the streets are barren. Which Darcy is grateful for, when her car makes a noise like a dying whale when she turns the ignition. It’s a piece of crap, but it’s hers without any payments. Her parents bought it for her when she turned seventeen. Her dad actually used the phrase ‘so you can score some girls’. Mom protested that women don’t keep count. Darcy had disagreed. It was a honestly pretty hilarious argument. Her mom’s got this idea that a lesbian daughter means two ladies for the price of one, down to silk gloves and hats with feathers. Dad knows better.

The lights are off, which means Jane is asleep. It’s Darcy’s job to wake her up, wherever she may be. Jane sleeps in three places. Usually it’s her camper, the main exception being when she has guests visiting. Darcy met Mr Foster once. It was immediately obvious Jane’s interest in science began when her father took her to live under the open sky during summer holiday. Unless the Fosters just had a cabin life year round and she was homeschooled Darcy hasn’t actually inquired, about that or about other aspects of Jane’s past. He’s very much the beard and hiking boots type, and it only took a few sentences to figure out it was the hemp, study and love everything variation, not the plaid survivalist variation. There’s also a futon in the research lab, but Darcy’s pretty sure Jane hasn’t used it since she and Donald were using it together. Jane tends to ascribe meanings and memories to items and the lumpy purple canvas has his thick thighs and wide shoulders and stupid laugh all over it. Darcy only caught the end of the relationship. It didn’t give her a lot of time to develop hatred, she’d mostly had to borrow on Jane’s dissatisfaction. And then there’s the roof. It’s Jane’s place to decompress when she’s cranky, and on occasion she calms down enough that she falls asleep.

Darcy goes to the camper first. There’s a chance that Thor will be sleeping under the floral covers, but it’s a chance she’s willing to take if the alternative outcome is seeing Jane in a nightie. Oddly enough, it’s neither of them. Half on the bed, half off, shoes still on is Selvig. He wakes up as she tries to back out down the stairs.

“Time’s-” He breaks off with a craggy groan.

“It’s seven. You can go back to sleep.”

He starts to shake his head, then clutches at it. Darcy’s seen the gesture before. It generally means ‘drank too much last night, and there’s a porcupine crawling in my skull.’ Selvig’s next words confirm her theory. “I took Thor for a drink last night, after you went home.”

Technically she didn’t go home. She went to a gay bar with Derek, picked up, and went back to her dorm, lovely lipstick lesbian in tow. But she doesn’t really need to say that.

“Told him to leave.”

“You still think he’s crazy?”

“I think it’s obvious you like her, and you’ve been here longer. Jane’s emails about her research assistant can attest to that.”

Darcy shrugs. She’s not sure love works on first dibs, as much as she wants it to. She can hate rivals as much as she wants, can and will. But she can’t actually claim another person just because she wants to.

Selvig obviously senses her doubts, though he can’t see her due to the hand protecting his eyes from the sun coming through the curtain. “The best you can do is wait for Thor to leave. I’m old, I’ve seen more relationships than I can count. I’ve seen this kind of infatuation before. It’s burning strong, but there’s nothing much to sustain it. He’ll go be crazy somewhere else, and you can develop your strategy.”

Darcy’s also not sure love works on a strategy. “Go back to sleep.”

She’s had the key for the lab what seems like forever. Darcy doubts most PHDs would give keys to what for all purposes is their home to their temporary student, but Jane didn’t wait more than three days past accepting Darcy’s application to do it. The building has become a second home, almost more than her actual dorm room is. As such she doesn’t need to turn on any of the lights to not smash into furniture when she crosses the room to the futon. It’s empty, and the bathroom door is open, so Jane’s not in there either. Which means there’s only one possibility. Well, unless one of Jane’s weird space events ate her. Darcy’s sure without her to drive the car in the opposite direction when needed Jane would go straight into anything remotely shiny or deadly.

She crosses the room a second time, this time to use the stairs that give access to the roof. Darcy can’t really blame Jane for sleeping under the stars. Last night was stressful for Jane in a multitude of ways. First she defied her professor -basically a second father figure for academics- and helped a crazy man. Then she broke into a government facility and nearly got caught. Then she argued with said beloved professor about whether the crazy man was right about his crazy theories, and got the professor to lie about his identity in order to help the crazy man. Darcy had left before Selvig and Thor came back, had gotten a text from Jane saying they were both back safely while she was in the middle of a jello shot contest with Derek. It was her version of decompression, the same as the wonders of the sky are for Jane.

Jane is not sleeping alone. Jane and Thor are sleeping together on the roof. She has lost. No matter what Selvig thinks, Darcy has completely lost. The only thing left to do is go back inside and listen to some newly downloaded music and decide which to keep and which to delete. Except she can’t because that balding asshole took her iPod. Fuck!

Not long after she settles into the small living area Thor and Jane come down from the roof. Honestly, if Darcy had known Jane would fall in love with Thor she probably would have tazed him a few more times. Not enough to kill him or anything. Just enough to short circuit his balls. Temporarily, even. Darcy’s a generous woman. She doesn’t need to decimate her opponents, just makes sure she comes out on top.

Of course, the feeling subsides a little when Thor makes her bacon. Technically them, but judging from the multiple antacid pills Selvig dropped into his juice he’s not about to eat his. It’s harder to hate a man who’s handing you a plate of bacon and scrambled eggs. Darcy even manages a thank you.

The truth is it would be better if she didn’t eat. She’s running on empty, and a full stomach will only make her drowsy. But the way things are, a plate full of bacon is about the only good thing that has happened to her yet. Darcy won’t give it up without a fight.

***

Thor is gone, and Darcy is so, so fucked. Maybe yesterday Jane would have gone all ‘out of sight out of mind’. Not now. Not now that Thor has saved Selvig, saved Jane, sacrificed his life and actually died on the table -well, sidewalk- for them. And then topped it off with a goodbye kiss so Disney princess Darcy wouldn’t be surprised if Walt sued them for copyright. Jane’s going to spend the rest of her life building a portal and even if they never get it working it’ll still be so damn epic the buddy with the red hair will probably write songs about it. Or maybe it’ll be the Chinese one.

Whatever. The point is the longer they stand in the desert in a loose circle around where Thor and his buddies left the more sorry Darcy feels for herself. And the more fucking obnoxious she feels about letting this be her bad day when Selvig nearly died, Jane lost the fairytale love of her life, and Thor’s buddies got pretty messed up fighting. Plus the CIA guy probably isn’t very happy. He seems like the kind that doesn’t smile much.

“I need a nap,” she mutters when she’s in the back of the van. It’s been a long two days, and she hasn’t slept yet. Maybe the world will be less shitty tomorrow.

***

After two weeks it becomes obvious Selvig isn’t going anywhere soon. Darcy doesn’t mind. Maybe a month ago the idea of a second super smart scientist all up in her grill knowing the answers to Jane’s weird rambling rhetorical questions like Darcy never does- Yeah, a month ago it would have bothered her. It would have felt like being usurped. But now there are other minions sent to help, from SHIELD. Turns out when assholes aren’t stealing your electronics they know how to offer research grants. It’s too much effort to hate everyone that gets close. Also it’s insane and creepy.

Besides, if she’s being honest, Selvig is a relief. Everything out of Jane’s mouth is about the portal and Thor. Darcy can’t avoid hearing about it. It’s her education on the line, and while she’s not driving into a tornado for college credit, listening to the same topic ad nauseum doesn’t exactly confer the same level of risk. Not to mention as a friend it’s sort of mandatory to be there for her. But while Darcy’s forced into it, Selvig goes over and above his role of science doer to draw Jane to the side for a private talk when she starts again. Thanks to Selvig Darcy doesn’t have to hear every reiteration. And for that she owes him a beer.

The man is smart enough to not refuse the offer. Which is good, because Darcy doesn’t often do the something for nothing thing. Dad always says Mom has enough altruism for the three of them.

There are no real scheduled hours for the portal project. Not for the three of them, and not for SHIELD. Which is surprising, frankly. Jane and Selvig are researchers, so they work when they’re inspired, Darcy’s doing this for credit so she just logs whatever hours they happen to be, but SHIELD has employees, which should mean shifts. Maybe they’re on salary, not paid for hours. Regardless, it means she and Selvig can just walk out when they want to, leaving answers to life, the universe, and everything unreasoned. Maybe tomorrow Jane’s Deep Thought will have better answers. For now they’re getting drunk.

Darcy ducks into the bathroom before they leave. She wants to switch into tights and a skirt. Bar stools require some amount of leg splaying and her skinny jeans are too tight to bend at the knee. No one compliments her on the new look, but she’s alright with that. There’s only one person in the room she would care to attract, and that’s the one woman that will never be attracted, so, whatever.

Darcy doesn’t drink boilermakers. When she went to the bar with Selvig for the first time Post Thor - which, by the way, it’s really sad that her life splits into Pre and Post Thor considering she’s not the one in love with him. Anyway, when they went the bartender automatically gave them steins of beer with a shot on the side. Apparently that’s all Selvig wanted last time. They ordered about thirty between them, which accounts for Jane’s story of Selvig being slung over Thor’s shoulder in a fireman’s carry, blackout drunk. Darcy tried one that first time, then stuck to Bacardi Breezers for the rest of the night. She does the same now. Stereotype, possibly, a hot girl with a somewhat annoying laugh with a cooler in each hand, but can she help it if she wants her alcohol to taste good?

Another stereotype is to be a girl that loses her inhibitions when she’s drunk. Unfortunately she’s that girl too. It’s not even that, really. It’s more that Darcy loses a filter, the inability to tell the difference between stupid things to say and stupid things to say that can get her in trouble. Like asking the guy two stools over if he really thinks that his combover is fooling anyone. The look he gives her has her reaching for her tazer. He doesn’t stand up so after a second she takes another swig of her drink. Clearly that was a category one comment.

They leave before last call. Mostly because Darcy exclaimed they needed to leave before they turn the lights on, and started tugging on his arm. Darcy never stays until closed. The scuffled floors and dingy lighting always seem depressing to her, lacking the magic a room of drunk people need.

Selvig looks at her expectantly when they get out the front door. “Where’d we park?”

“We have to walk back. Drinking and driving is bad.”

“I always forget that.”

Darcy turns to look at him, ignoring the way her whole body moves. She can totally do this upright stable walking thing. “No drinking and driving is a basic social law.”

“I grew up in the sixties. Cars didn’t even have seatbelts when I was a kid. Gimme a break.”

Regardless of how difficult getting back is when the ground is swimming like some completely unnatural thing -shit, maybe there’s a Welsh god in town now- they eventually make it. There’s a lone light on in the lab. Everyone must have gone home while they were out. Selvig goes directly to the camper muttering a good night. Darcy will end up sharing the bed with Selvig, but first she wants to say goodnight to Jane. Maybe tuck her in. A good night kiss.

Jane hasn’t left the light on to guide them home, she’s actually awake and reading something. Something sci-fiey, if the seven hundred page hardcover is any sign. Darcy bends down over her and before the sudden shadow can startle Jane into moving, Darcy tilts her face and kisses her. Jane pushes her away. Not a disgusted shove, more like she puts a hand on either of Darcy’s shoulders and moves her back a foot. “What are you doing?”

“Kissing a sexy woman and saying goodnight?”

“Why?”

“It’s late.”

“Why the kissing, I meant.”

“You should always say what you mean and mean what you say.” Dr Seuss taught her that. “That’s what lesbians do. They kiss women. Not to get a guy off. To get each other off.”

“Ohhh-kay. Do you want to sit down and talk about this, or do you want to go pass out?”

Darcy sits down. She’s not sure how much there is to talk about, but might as well sit down if that’s the option Jane’s giving her.

“So you’re a lesbian? I swear you commented about Thor being hot when I ran him over!”

“Well I’m kinda closeted, okay? Not like really really, my parents know and my best friend knows. But no one at school.”

Jane’s squinting at her, like she’s experiment results Jane hasn’t figured out yet. “You told your parents but not your peers? Isn’t that sorta opposite of most coming out stories?”

“My parents don’t care. Literally. About anything. They’re the most apathetic people I’ve ever met. My peers would care. I didn’t want to have to join a club just because I eat cunt.”

Jane nods. “Yeah, I guess I can understand that. I’m sure there’s some kind of queer adult alliance but I’m not clamoring to join.”

It takes a second for that to soak in, and then Darcy reacts. “I’m a surprise lesbian? You’re a surprise lesbian!” Not that Darcy minds, of course. In fact, it’s pretty awesomely awesome. She’s just, well, surprised.

“It’s the twenty first century and you don’t know the word bisexual?”

“Since when though?” Yet another example of alcohol making her say stupid things. She should just go with it, let Jane enjoy being a super-bi bi-girl and make out with her, not ask for an origin story.

“Since Donald wanted to have that threesome and it went well. Spectacularly well.”

“So a Katy Perry lesbian then.” Fuck, if she could just shut up this would be the perfect situation. Why can’t she shut up?

“If I was, would I be talking to you alone?” Jane pauses, but even drunk Darcy knows that kind of Jane-pause. It’s the kind of Jane-pause that means she’s about to do something ballsy. “Asking you for a second kiss, alone? Unless you think I’m going to film it and show it to one of the SHIELD guys?”

At this point the logic is good enough for her. Darcy scootches until her thigh is against Jane’s and turns so she can pull her in gently. She knows it’s not Jane that tastes sticky and fruity. That would be courtesy of her last cooler, watermelon flavoured. She still likes it. She hopes Jane does too. Or at least if she doesn’t, she’ll give Darcy a second chance once she’s brushed her teeth.

***

“Just because you have to study doesn’t mean I have to study.”

Derek stops and looks at her briefly before continuing his climb up the stairs. “And what exactly do you think I’m going to say to that?”

Darcy pretends to think for a second before relying “shut up?”

“Ding ding, we have a winner! We vowed the first time we got drunk together-”

“The first time we met?” She can’t help but point out.

“Like I said. And we vowed we’d never be the kind of friend so interested in our significant others that we’d blow each other off.

Darcy grunts. She remembers making the promise, but it was definitely one of the more stupid things she’s said while drunk. At the moment getting laid seems far more important than a study date when she doesn’t even have anything she needs to study.

“So study with me now, and go do whatever two women do together later. Or I’ll get all huffy. Just saying.”

“I can give you a detailed account if you want? Of what two women do together?” She says it just to watch Derek cringe. He’s one of the more stereotypical gay men she’s met, almost frightened of vaginas.

“No, no. It’s much better for my piece of mind if you’re collecting kittens or thrift store shopping.”

“Well you’d be wrong.” Especially about the shopping thing. Jane’s clothes just tend to materialise when she needs them. It’s Darcy that shops. And she’s had to lately, to restock her underwear collection. Nothing as socially sexy as corsets or stockings and garter belts, not that Darcy even think corsets are hot. Something that manhandles your body and makes it difficult to do basic things like bend or breath is not hot to her. She’s really a comfort kind of girl. No, over the last few months Darcy’s dropped a bunch of money to make the switch from panties to spandex boxers.

The switch is mostly to accommodate one of Jane’s kinks. Jane likes to shave her, which means letting her hair build up until there’s enough for Jane to really enjoy it. Darcy still does her own armpits, but saves her legs and her cunt for Jane. Letting her legs go unshaved don’t really bother her. She wears mostly jeans in the number of air conditioned buildings she spends most of her life in anyway. It was her pubic hair that she questioned, mainly because wearing panties it showed through either leg hole which looked stupid and made her feel unsexy. Like she was that stupid scene in Scary Movie. Luckily girly-boxers don’t have the same problem.

“I’m fine with being wrong, as long as I don’t have to hear details.”

Darcy thinks she has a slacker victory when all the tables in the alcove Derek favours are taken. He’s oddly superstitious about studying, needing to sit in the same area if not the same table each time. She clearly misunderstood his obsessiveness. Instead of leaving the library in a mild huff he plunks his bag down the left side of a four seater table that has its right side occupied. Darcy sighs then sits in the last available chair. It doesn’t seem like spending quality time if they have to sit in silence but it’s better than Derek throwing a complete fit.

It does quickly come clear they won’t have to be silent. Not when the two guys beside them are quizzing each other. Psychology of some variation from the sounds of it. Darcy doesn’t have a whole lot to study, or homework to complete. She’d pretty decent at staying on top of her shit, and she has to do something while Jane is researching and doesn’t want help. She opens a textbook at random, and uses it as a pretext to drift into fantasies of Jane’s hands on her. Each time Derek brings her back with a swift jab of toe to the shin. Darcy rolls her eyes. She refuses to apologise for being spacey. She has better things to do than half listening to the boy beside her get more and more despairing.

“Cognitive dissonance,” one questions.

The boy with his head propped up slowly drops until his eyes are buried in his forearm and his arm is flat against the table. “You know how you’ve studied for too long? When every term sounds completely made up.”

Darcy’s not usually the kind of person to barge into someone else’s conversation but she does know this one. She twists towards them and offers “it’s the uneasy feeling of trying to reconcile two opposing, equally important things.”

She can even give an example for a long answer question. Cognitive dissonance is trying to decide which underwear to wear to seduce your lover into taking a sex break from figuring out the science of getting her two day boyfriend back. Or maybe that’s cognitive dissonance the way Alanis Morissette's things are ironic. Either way, it matters to her. Sometimes things don’t have to be accurate to be important.

Finally Derek seems to catch on to her need to take off. That or he decides to show mercy. “What time are you leaving?”

There’s no specific time she’s due over, but frankly the earlier she shows up the more rounds of sex they have time for. Darcy shrugs. “To quote techno, how soon is now?”

“You bitch! You earwormed me! That’s gonna be stuck forever.”

“I’m sure it’s on your iPod. Listen once and you’ll be fine.”

“That’ll make it worse.”

Darcy shrugs again. The strategy has always worked for her. One full listen and the song is gone.

“You know what? Just go. You’re totally useless right now.”

“Love you too.”

She goes to Jane’s with a black pair with little limes on. They’re her only fruity pair. She finds it weird when underwear has cherries. Creepily symbolic. Apart from that, and a semi-matching white and lime bra, she’s wearing all the same layers. Jane’s not really the type to demand high heels and a slinky tight fitting dress.

As always, Jane takes a minute to notice the shadow that’s fallen across her keyboard. But as soon as she does it’s a wet kiss, damn the SHIELD agents that are still there. Not that there’s many. A week ago they moved the majority of the program to SHIELD. Selvig went with them. Darcy’s not sure how much better the equipment is there, she’s never been inside the complex. She decided to stay with Jane ostensibly for her class credit, but truly for the pleasure of her company. Even if they weren’t fucking Darcy would have stayed. She hopes Selvig is enjoying himself there, he’s a nice guy, but it sure is nice to only have to send an apologetic look to one employee before tearing Jane out of the lab and pulling her toward the camper.

The instant the door is closed Jane is pressed against her back. Darcy’s grateful she didn’t change into something tight fitting and sexy, her loose jeans give Jane enough room to get her hand down the front. She briefly tugs on the coarse hair before sliding down further.

“You’re wet.”

Darcy could roll her eyes, if they weren’t fluttering shut at Jane’s touch. “I was wet driving. I was wet in the library. Fuck, Jane, I think I woke up wet. I’ve wanted you so bad, all day.”

Jane removes her hand and Darcy tries to follow her, humping up in vain. Thankfully she’s not bereft long, Jane only pushes her jeans and underwear down before returning her hand to where it should be. Darcy gasps in relief at the firm press of fingertips on her clit. Fuck, Jane’s got good aim.

The faster Jane’s fingers slide through her cunt the more Darcy leans back against her. It’s hardly fair to be expected to hold up under the onslaught. When she finally comes, panting so hard she can barely breathe, she slumps against Jane with enough force her girlfriend staggers back.

“Gimme a second to sit down, then I’ll do you,” she manages to gasp out. Not poetic, but about the best she’s gonna do right now.

***

About five minutes from Jane’s Darcy turns to her, legs sticking to the plastic seats of the cab. “I’m having a shower first. I will be on you like a rhino-spider monkey hybrid.”

“Sounds fierce.”

Darcy is feeling fierce. Fierce and filthy, but not in a fun way. “I need a bar of soap more than air. How does a grown man not have soap?”

“He believes if you don’t wash your hair long enough the dirt levels out and self cleans.”

“I don’t think hair is sentient. And if it is, mine hates me.”

Jane shrugs. “It’s not good science, but he swears by it.”

When the taxi pulls up in front of the lab, Darcy sighs in relief. Home has soap and shampoo. At this point she doesn’t even want to shower with Jane. She wants the clean, warm, heavily pounding high pressure stream all to herself.

She lingers. She’s got four morning showers built up, and if she drains the hot water tank Jane will just have to deal. There is no flash of regret when she has to twist the cold tap off about fifteen minutes in to get a stream of merely lukewarm water. Jane brought it upon herself by not telling Darcy what the score was. If she’d gone into the Meet The Folks long weekend prepared to be gross and occasionally drugged she would be a lot less cranky about it now.

The towel Darcy wraps herself with before she leaves the bathroom is a little skimpy, but she hardly thinks Jane will mind a flash of thigh. Except Jane isn’t even looking at her. Her eyes are glued to the tv. CNN specifically, which seems to be showing another natural disaster. Unless it’s a terrorist attack. But if it was, wouldn’t their flight have been cancelled? Darcy’s much more of a text learner, so she goes for her laptop and starts Googling to figure out what’s going on. It doesn’t take long.

Darcy has spent the last ninety six hours futilely wishing Mr Foster had never been born. Even if it meant Jane never existed. There are only so many times you have to choose between wiping with a leaf and not wiping at all before you decide the ramifications of time travelling with a gun don’t matter. But with the information laid out before her she takes it all back. She takes it all back so much if she could go back in time she would grant him a twin. While they were gone Thor’s asshole brother decided to conquer earth. A task force consisting of billionaire Tony Stark, and Clint, the SHIELD agent that dropped in a few times, and Captain fucking America who is no shit not dead, and a few others that the internet have barely any information about banded together and took Loki down. A few others including Thor.

Thor’s been on Earth for four days and Selvig got kidnapped and brainwashed but ultimately helped save the world. And they missed it all because they were with Mr Foster, living off the land. While she was yearning for cooked food and a proper toilet, Loki was killing people in Germany. While she was sleeping snuggled against Jane in two sleeping bags zipped together, Coulson was probably helping the rest of his task force devise a strategy. While she was doing mushrooms with Jane’s father, the sky was exploding and aliens in metal balloons were pouring out.

After the first few articles it’s either all the same legitimate information, or insanely wild conspiracy theories. Darcy understands crazy bullshit, she ran into a Norse god with her car. But Tony Stark did not build the so-called aliens in order to stage taking them down so he could once again shame Justin Hammer. She walks away from the table and snuggles in beside Jane, who has a hand over her mouth, gasping repeatedly. Darcy watches the footage without blinking, fascinated. It’s the Poli Sci in her. Figuring out where the world goes from here is a good puzzle. But despite everything, despite the known dead and still missing, all Darcy can think is if they had been home, Thor would have tried to see Jane and if they’d been vacationing somewhere public they would have been contacted. She can’t help but be grateful to Mr Foster for not having phone reception.

***

Darcy isn’t expecting her life to turn to crap on a Wednesday evening. If anything it should be a Thursday, like Arthur Dent says. But suddenly there he is, face pressed against the glass just the way his four friends were six months ago. As sick to her stomach as she feels, Darcy takes slight comfort in the fact that he can’t get in. She has a key and he doesn’t. Even Jane had to see giving a spare key to a possibly insane homeless man was a bad idea. Of course, she doesn’t have a choice about letting him in. It’s either she does it now, or Jane does when she gets back, in which case she’ll ask why Darcy didn’t let him in, like the answer’s not obvious.

Promising to reward herself with greasy delicious KFC and some righteous bitching at Derek as soon as she’s able, Darcy pushes the afghan to the side and gets off the futon. “Hey, Thor.”

“Hello again, Darcy. How have your days been?”

She bites off what wants to come out. What she and Jane have shouldn’t be used to scandalize others. Besides, it’s entirely possible she won’t have it anymore. “Good, good. They’ve been good.”

“Where is Jane?”

“She’s picking up dinner.” There’s this great Chinese place that doesn’t deliver, and only has two tables squeezed in front of the counter. It’s close enough to walk, everything in Puente Antiguo is, but she took her car so the food wouldn’t cool on the walk home.

“I’m famished.”

Darcy could text Jane Thor says he’s hungry, you need to buy extra, but it would only get a confused and possibly overjoyed reaction. Darcy’d rather skimp.

When she comes in a terse ten minutes later, she doesn’t notice the intruder for a minute. Instead her head is down, pulling the multitude of small containers out of the giant paper bag. “First come should not be first served. Not in a mostly take out restaurant. The line was ridiculous and I...Thor?”

“Yep. Thor’s back.” Notice how thrilled I am and reassure me you don’t really care, Darcy thinks.

It doesn’t quite work out that way. Jane tells Thor to get a plate. Even though he only helped with the dishes once, six months ago, he knows which cupboard to open. Instead of curling up with Jane on the futon and taking fingerfuls from each other’s containers and occasionally feeding a bite to each other, they eat at the table. Sitting up, forks, and absolutely nothing sweet or romantic. Darcy feels too anxious to really eat, so in a way it’s good Thor is at the table. He can eat what she can’t.

It’s a relief to eventually throw the oil spotted box on her placemat in the garbage and make platitudes about a great meal. She doesn’t grab a fortune cookie as she leaves the table. There’s one thing in the future she wants to know about, and it’s way too specific for mass produced paper fortunes.

Twenty minutes later Darcy is on the roof, logging into Skype. It’ll kill her battery, but she doesn’t have a choice. Derek is back in Arizona for the summer, so a flesh meeting isn’t about to happen. Maybe if the unfortunately likely unthinkable happens she’ll be devastated enough to drive to Tucson but for now a face to face rant is fine. It has to be outside though. Jane and Thor are inside, discussing Loki’s punishment. Something about snakes was all she heard. Considering how many people he murdered and how many he wanted to murder, Darcy doesn’t really care how bad and non-compliant with the Geneva Convention his punishment is.

Derek logs in five minutes after the time he promised by text. Darcy doesn’t bother with pleasantries or scolding him for being late, she just goes straight into it. “So remember I told you Jane’s fairytale boyfriend for a day fucked off? Well he fucked back on.”

“What?”

“He’s back. He’s talking to Jane right now.”

“Well that’s too fucking bad for him now, isn’t it. You were here- Okay, no you weren’t here first. But you were here longer!”

His best friend indignation is gratifying, but it doesn’t matter. “I don’t think it matters. They have their first blink love.”

“Yeah, but you built yours. Darcy, I don’t think it’s as easy as you think.”

And for the next several days, it isn’t. Jane’s not touching her, but she’s not touching Thor either. Darcy’s not sure if Thor knows why Jane isn’t all over him, why his gentle touches aren’t being met with deep making out like they were that morning before he went home. She’s not sure Jane told her, or if he’d get it if she tried. From what she’s read of Norse mythology there aren’t a whole lot of Norse lesbians. It might be like talking to a great-grandparent about it, confusion and a refusal to understand.

Darcy’s the one that pushes it to a head. Every minute feels like it’s on pause, and she can’t handle it. It’s not sexy Rocky Horror anticipation, it’s horrible and anxious. Thor and Jane are both sitting on the futon when she feels herself boiling over. Logically it shouldn’t bother her, it’s the only comfortable piece of furniture in the lab. Emotionally she can’t help but read into it. She plants her hands on her hips and lets herself speak.

“It’s summer. I don’t have a dorm to escape to. You need to tell me if I need to go back to my parents.” Who will be just awful in a breakup, but better that than staying here.

Jane sighs. “Darcy, can we-”

“What? Not do this? Don’t you think we’ve not done this for long enough?” At Jane’s silence she continues, frustration pouring out. “You know the longer it takes you to decide the less it matters what your choice is? Who cares about being picked first if they were so deficient it took a week to say ‘I guess you’re best’? How is that supposed to make a person feel? Just tell me who wins!”

“I don’t know, okay? I know I have to decide, but I don’t want to throw either of you away.”

Jane’s curled into herself on the couch, and her voice is so low that Darcy’s automatic instinct is to comfort her. Which is bullshit because Jane’s the one that’s messing everything up. Unless that’s Thor, for daring to come back when he promised all along he would. Unless that’s Darcy herself, starting something that she had to guess wouldn’t be able to finish. It’s all messed up and she can’t stay here any longer if something, anything doesn’t move forward. Even just a single frame.

“Wait. Who is first? What is this talk of champions?”

“Thor-” Jane stops. Not to rethink her words, she just doesn’t continue, which is pretty much the nail in the coffin of the did she tell Thor she’s not single question.

“Jane and I are dating. Were, maybe. Because you came back, and fuck knows you’re a knight in shining armour. You literally have shining armour.”

“I know it isn’t fair to you either, Thor. You thought you were coming back to...and you weren’t. I know I need to pick.”

“But why would you choose? Surely you want a relationship?”

“That’s the problem,” Darcy snaps, uncharitably adding moron in her head.

Thor shakes his head. “No. I mean a full relationship. Or is that another thing Midgard lacks?”

“Explain full.”

“In Asgard there are several kinds of love. Honour-love for parents and those who had a hand in your development. Trust-love for your warrior comrades. And then there is sexual love, for those with whom you want to make a future.”

“Those? Like, more than one?”

“One cannot be full with a single wife or husband. The container of the soul needs two or more to overflow,” Thor answers with an air of certainty.

Shit, poly. Darcy’s heard of it, knows enough to know it’s not just a creepy Mormon cult thing, but she’s never known anyone that’s practiced it. Still, it makes sense for Thor and his world. After all, Zeus had like twelve wives.

“So you’re saying that Jane can only be satisfied by two.”

“No!” Jane protests, as Thor answers “yes.”

Darcy thinks she sides with Thor. If Jane could be happy with only one she would have picked by now. And it’s obviously simple tradition for Thor. The real question is can Darcy be happy with a permanent threesome? Maybe. Probably. Which is better odds than being guaranteed miserable alone.

“I’m willing to try this. I mean, an entire planet can’t be wrong, right? But Thor, it’s not really the Midgard way, so you should maybe not talk about it whenever you start doing interviews. The press aren’t known for tact.”

“Look, look. No. I am not the bisexual woman that can’t be satisfied with one gender and one partner!”

Thor looks confused. No doubt Asgard doesn’t have stupid stereotypes based on sexual want. It’ll be Darcy’s job to cover this. “We didn’t say you were. You’re the bisexual woman that fell in love with two people at once. It is love, right?” She can’t do this if it isn’t love. She’s sure it is, but she needs to know.

“If I didn’t love you both I’d know one of you was destiny, wouldn’t I?”

Darcy could point out that people get into relationships for things other than love, other than fairy tale endings, but she wants love. Darcy wants the fairy tale ending. It’ll just have to be altered a little, to fit in Thor. Somewhere out there is a steampunk Cinderella who dropped her spyglass, she can get a Prince and Princess Charming. “Consider us a double destiny.”

***

In the two days that Thor was exiled on earth Darcy liked him, despite knowing that she was losing Jane to him. His weirdness was mostly hilarious, like throwing crockery to express enjoyment of a meal, or thinking each song on the radio was an actual biography being sung. When she brought Derek to introduce Jane and they stopped to oggle puppies and she found out Thor tried to buy a dog to ride she just about died laughing. Now that losing Jane isn’t an issue there’s no undercurrent of impending loss. Instead she can enjoy his company fully.

One of her favourite things about him is the hours Thor keeps. During the school year Darcy tends to be pretty sleep deprived, balancing staying up late with morning duties. In the summer she can readjust to her natural schedule, getting up at two pm and going to bed at five am. Jane, sickeningly enough, is a morning person. Thor isn’t. The first week Darcy thinks it might just be intense time zone displacement. After all, travelling to another planet has to have extreme jet lag. But then it’s two weeks, and three, and Thor’s still up with her at three am.

Darcy uses those hours as cultural dates. Not so much in history, though she knows her shit, knows it well enough to explain to anyone. Not in movies either. Movies are a triad activity. The futon collapsed is more than enough room for all three of them to snuggle. The information she imparts is more random, and spliced between relationship moments. Thor is truly a great cook, so he’s in charge of making them a midnight snack. Most people would consider the snacks he makes full on meals, BLTs with dipping sauces and fresh kneaded bread, but Thor’s used to feasts, so plain meals are skimpy to him. She’s better with her hands, so she tends to rub his feet when her laptop isn’t on her lap.

Her way is great because it’s not condescending. No one likes having stuff explained to them like they’re a stupid child, but Darcy has to imagine being a prince makes you more unused to it than the standard working class citizen that went to a public school. Her method is the random article button on Wikipedia. Some of the stubs are pretty useless, but media she downloads and everything else they discuss. Often as not, it’s new for Darcy too. She didn’t know anything about the River Foss in Yorkshire, or about the history of food tasters. And sometimes they learn about each other. Halberd tells a story of a battle. Prozzak tells a story of losing her virginity to Sadie.

“Skewbald.” Darcy quickly scans the first paragraph. “It’s a colour pattern for horses. Like white patches on horses that are any colour except black. I never really got to see a horse up close. A few times at a fair or a circus, but I never got to go to a ranch or anything. Did you grow up around a lot of horses?” She knows there must have been a few for him to demand one from a pet store, but there’s a difference between having the ability, and being surrounded by them.

“There were many in Asgard. Loki was more drawn to them than I. He would shift to a horse form and run the fields with them, stallion and mare both.”

“Huh.”

“Father was angry but none were surprised when he became with foal.”

“Wait, what?”

“Loki had to stay in horse form for eleven months until he gave birth, and then for some time after that to raise Slepnir.”

“Wait, no. You’re telling me Loki has a kid? That’s a horse?”

“He has two children. Slepnir, and Hel.”

“Loki named his kid Hell? That’s kinda dark, don’t you think?”

“No, Darcy. As with many things, origins of your words come from our world. Hel is half dead, half her body black and rotting. She calls men to their deaths. The unworthy, those that die of sickness or old age.”

Darcy puts her face in her hands and then pulls down on her cheeks. Jesus Christ, these fucking Asgardians sometimes. And then it occurs to her. She and Jane have never even asked- “Do you have kids?”

She holds her breath for that second that seems to last for hours. If he does, they’re probably old enough to be her great grandparents. Darcy’s not ready to be a hated stepmother.

Then Thor shakes his head. “I understand it’s not the same here, and I don’t judge Midgardians for it. But in Asgard you need to have a full love relationship to have children. It is more than scandalous to be a single or double parent, it’s simply not acceptable. Of course, Loki never seemed to care.”

“Well, Loki’s-” she cuts off. Even after New York, Thor doesn’t like hearing people shit-talking his brother. “Loki’s Loki.”

***

“You know you don’t have to do this.”

Darcy wants to laugh. She isn’t being forced, if that’s what Jane means. It’s a choice and she’s making it. But does she have to? Yeah, kind of. What kind of threesome doesn’t have threesomes?

The longer the relationship hinges on them sharing Jane, the more Darcy worries. Not about jealousy, surprisingly. It’s settled rather nicely. It’s easy for Darcy to love their love, the part she’s not involved with. She knows what Jane and Thor have is different but not better, and she’s pretty sure Thor feels the same about her and Jane. Her real worry is about Thor feeling like she thinks he’s not good enough for her. Which is stupid on the surface, with how often he seems like an overconfident ass, all mortals this and gods that. But Darcy’s spent every night all summer with him, and she knows he’s fucked up under the shiny surface, about maybe being a king one day, and why doesn’t Loki love him? She’s going back to university in a week. She has to, she isn’t near completing her degree. They don’t have that system in Asgard, they have hardly any group instruction, she’s learned from their Wikipedia nights. If Thor doesn’t really get why she’s only spending three nights a week at the lab, who’s to say he won’t think that she’s running away from him? So this will be her proof she’s in it with the both of them, that their relationship will work.

“Can we all just keep our clothes on, for a bit?” she answers. She knows they’ll have to come off eventually, just not yet.

“We shall disrobe when we all feel the urge to.”

Darcy hasn’t kissed Thor in the time he’s been here. It seems like a good place to start this enterprise. Something close to innocent, something that she can do without freaking out. She knows she can because she has before, drunk at the bar. It would be really nice to be drunk now, but she has a feeling it would upset Jane. Probably not Thor. She also has a feeling the immortals spend their entire long lives half drunk. She rises to her knees and crawls forward until she can grab his thick jaw and hold him in place while she plants her lips. Despite their size difference, it makes her feel in control.

He’s a good kisser. Surprisingly gentle, although maybe that shouldn’t be surprising considering his goodbye hand kiss. The raising up as a warrior-prince truly does allow for a curious mix of manners and rage. There’s no spark, but it was really too much to expect one. Darcy keeps kissing him anyway. She eats bitter cranberries for her health, she watches Glee with Derek, she recycles every drink container even when the recycling bin is out of the way. She can bring herself to fuck a man for the greater good.

Her resolution holds until they’re all naked. Thor’s hand falls naturally to cup the base of his cock like he’s not even aware he’s doing it. Darcy begins to reach out to replace his hand with hers, then flinches away. “I can’t. I can’t. I'm sorry. I can’t. It’s gross. It just seriously looks gross to me. It has nothing to do with you Thor. Show me-” a hysterical laugh bubbles out. “I was going to say show me god himself’s cock and I still wouldn’t, but you are a god, so.”

“Jane?” Thor rumbles.

Darcy doesn’t know what she’s expecting to hear next, only that nothing like try harder or we’re breaking up with you is stated. Instead Jane gathers her into a hug, head against her beautiful bare chest in a way that’s comfort, not foreplay, as Thor retreats to the other side of the camper to get dressed.

Only when he’s fully dressed does he come back to the bed. He sits on the edge of the bed. “One cannot control whom they are attracted to.”

Darcy’s brain automatically goes to Loki in horse form being ridden and she starts laughing. If nothing else, she’s not the weirdest one Thor knows.

***

Seeing four smiling faces pressed against the glass isn’t any less startling the second time. Thor bolts out of his chair hard enough to knock it over in his haste to let them in. Darcy instinctively scoots closer to Jane. Neither of them will not help Thor with whatever new drama there is, but it would be really nice if Tony Stark showed up in the new few minutes. It seems less likely that he’d go flying through the diner, considering his repulsors. The diner seriously needs a break.

“First I must ask, are mother and father alright?”

The blond nods as the redhead says ‘aye’. The other two do nothing.

“With that settled, let me introduce the room as I could not the last time.”

Last time Darcy didn’t get much chance to check them over. Her overwhelming memory was lots of armour. This time it’s much easier. All four are standing still, not being pummeled through glass windows or shoving swords through weird fire breathing robots. Volstagg still looks like the kind to tell epic tales. Sif is gorgeous, but Darcy’s never sure if telling a tough career woman she looks hot in her business suit or riot gear is objectifying, so like always she keeps her mouth shut. Fandral reminds her of David Spade, which is kind of creepy. Hogun looks like a ninja.

Jane quickly starts a new tradition of Floor Breakfast, seeing as there’s not enough chairs to go around. Darcy relocates her plate and cup and somehow ends up between Jane and Fandral. She tries not to look at him. It’s not difficult, there are a lot of other visual landscapes that catch her eye, like the amount of meat on Volstagg’s plate.

Unlike Volstagg, Sif swallows her food before speaking. “Your mother has had Heimdall watch out for you.”

“I thought Heimdall was your gatekeeper?” Darcy asks.

“He can see all things. It’s how he knows to open the gate.” Fandral explains.

“What has he seen?”

“She has been told of your love. Your at last proper love.”

Darcy knows for them that means polygamy. She really hopes no one was spying on the part where she was incapable of having sex.

“She is very pleased. She wishes you to bring them home,” Sif adds. “She wants to meet those who have made her son fall in love.”

Darcy’s been taken home to meet the parents probably two dozen times in the decade she’s been dating- she came out early. It’s not the first time her immediate reaction is how will I do. It is the first time she’s positive she’ll do horribly. Normally she’s pretty confident that she can pull off Good Person For My Innocent Daughter To Date. But that’s because she knows how to act in front of parents. Asgard doesn’t allow for a public face and a private face. Asgard has people who have no qualms about spying on others. Who’s to say she won’t be spied on and caught never showing love towards Thor?

The comment entirely ruins the visit for her. When they go home -and Jane will be going with them, Darcy doesn’t have to ask to know that- she has two choices. She can go with Thor and Jane, and most likely be spied on. Or she can stay on Earth, and have everyone wondering why exactly she refused to come. Either way she’ll be screwed.

The moment she really snaps is when Volstagg dedicates a toast to full love over dinner. Everyone raises their glass. Volstagg and Fandral and Sif and Hogun go first, a resounding set of clinks. Darcy hesitates. She cannot drink to a relationship she doesn’t by their terms have, but Thor and Jane don’t give her a choice, they tap their goblets against hers. After she finishes off her wine glass -it was full before, but with the Asgardians it’s hardly odd to gulp- Darcy decides she’s had enough. She makes as if excusing herself to the bathroom then manages to get outside with no one noticing.

There are places Darcy likes to go to think. Unfortunately Jane knows them all. That’s how she ends up at nothing much more than a patch of scrub. New Mexico; not exactly known for heavy floral development and lush landscaping. The telephone pole she sits against is warm from soaking up a day of sun. It’s still a little sunny, the sun is setting but it’s not totally dark yet. That’s how long she’s giving herself. When the stars are out Darcy will go back to the lab and explain why it would be better that only Jane and Thor go.

That’s when Hogun walks up. He’s still wearing all his armour. Darcy wonders if it’s heavy. It looks heavy. Chances are though that he’s used to it, like those tribal women are used to neck rings, or business men are to choking ties. It’s the cultural norm, you get used to whatever discomfort the public demands.

“I have found you, at last!”

“You were looking?”

“I think Thor would have demanded Heimdall search if we had not found you.”

“Really? It couldn’t have been that hard to find me. There aren’t a lot of places to hide.”

“There are when you don’t know Midgard. But I must know, why were you hiding?”

“I’m not ready to disappoint your queen.” Darcy’s pretty fucking certain Mrs Odinson will hate her. Except that’s not even her name, he’s Thor Odinson because he’s literally Odin’s son. If she crossed planets to meet them she wouldn’t even know what to call them. It’s would be a disaster. “I’m not ready to go with you.”

“What do you believe she wants?”

“Look. I don’t love Thor the way the queen mom wants me to. Thor and Jane both already know that, so you can talk to them about it and give me a minute.” It’s not dark yet, she shouldn’t have to have this conversation until it’s dark. That was her deadline.

“Darcy, I-”

“Go away or I’ll taze you. Did Thor tell you about that? He didn’t like it.” It’s a bluff, she doesn’t have the tazer on her. It’s in her hoodie pocket and she didn’t take her hoodie, afraid of drawing attention to herself.

“What do you believe Frigga wants?” Hogun asks again. Persistent fucker.

“A full relationship,” she answers evenly.

“Yes. But Thor is not always the best with details. As much as Loki’s actions were deplorable, they were surely planned. Thor is much more a ‘see problem, throw Mjolnir’ man. Specifically, what do you know of what’s expected?”

Darcy sighs. “Fine. A detailed list of inadequacies then. In seventh grade they started calling me No Dick Darcy. Mean maybe, but accurate.”

Hogun digests this, then replies “they often call me Hogun the Grim. I know about titles you would rather not have.”

It’s kind of hard to believe immortal warriors can still be bullied, but apparently. Still, he’s kind of missing the point. “Okay, but the fact that your peers think you’re grim doesn’t really affect Volstagg and Fandral and Sif, right? The fact that I don't like penis greatly affects my relationship with Jane and Thor.”

“True.”

“So the queen-”

“The queen does not live in your bedchamber. Just like she doesn’t live in the bedchamber of the Warriors.”

“What?”

“I do not bed women.”

“Thor said you were a full relationship.”

“And he was right. Sex is not the seal of a relationship.”

Which she agrees with, for the most part. But she’s got special circumstances. “Okay, but not with the heir prince.”

“Thor takes that more seriously than most do. Odin is the AllFather. He will certainly go to Valhalla, but he will not go for a long time. By Midgard time he is thousands of years old. Thor himself is over a thousand. Thor loves you, but if you stay mortal you will not see the throne.”

“Dead before it matters. That’s oddly reassuring.” Maybe it shouldn’t be, but it is. “It’s not like I personally was super upset that it didn’t work, the one time I tried. I kind of figured it wouldn’t. You don’t just suddenly switch orientations. Or at least I don’t, can’t speak for the rest of Midgard. I freaked out because suddenly there were all these expectations. I hate meeting standards.”

“I am not telling you you must go back. I am only saying the reasons you believe you have to be upset are not actually truth.”

“Yeah, starting to get that.”

Will you come back to your home with me?”

“Yeah, I think I will.”

“Good. Jane and Thor will be most pleased.”

Darcy thinks she’s going to be happy too. At least until the next big drama. But that until might be a long way off and Darcy is joining to enjoy every moment until then.