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If You Ever Did Believe (In Me)

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Loosely based on Practical Magic, both the book and film. Warnings are language, sexual situations, and Loki in a suit ;)

I turned around
And the water was closing all around
Like a glove
Like the love that had finally, finally found me
Then I knew
In the crystalline knowledge of you
Drove me through the mountains
Through the crystal-like clear water fountain
Drove me like a magnet
To the sea

Darcy was a witch. Jane was one too, by the way, though you'd never know it by looking at her. Darcy was pale, with black hair that she wore free and loose, no matter how much it got tangled by the wind. She liked heavy eye makeup and sneaking cigarettes when her aunts weren't looking, though they wouldn't have minded; they never minded anything the girls did. It was their downfall, but well, they were old and had never really cared much for children anyway. It just so happened that the two girls who fell into their laps were rather extraordinary, and if the aunts knew anything about extraordinary girls, it was that they needed freedom in spades.

Jane loved the aunts, of course, but she could never bring herself to be as wild as they wanted her to be; like Darcy. Darcy, who ate cold pizza for breakfast and never bothered with a reasonable bedtime, who studied spells and herbs instead of algebra. Jane preferred structure and organic vegetables. If this made her rather dull and wasteful of her potential in the aunts' eyes, well, it was something she would just have to bear.

Jane was skinny where Darcy was buxom, and she never wore makeup, preferring to leave her skin smelling like the homemade herbal soap the aunts mass produced. It was how they made ends meet, and after Darcy and Jane had come along, they started making shampoos and tea mixtures to bring in extra money. They might live in the clouds most of the time, but they were shrewd businesswomen who liked fine brandy, tender cuts of meat, and imported dark chocolate.

When Jane was six and Darcy was five they left New Mexico together. Not that they were sisters, or even cousins, or had any relation to each other at all, except that their moms huddled together on the patio of Jane's apartment, stifling from the heat, cowering from their husbands, who were violently involved in whatever football game was on TV. Their parents partied together, which invariably led Jane and Darcy to seek refuge in one of their small bedrooms, away from the beer and loud, pulsing music. They tried to play barbies or read to each other or just pretend they were anywhere else.

One morning, after the TV was quiet and the yelling stopped, Jane and Darcy discovered themselves quite alone. Their parents had vanished, disappeared with the night and they never came back. After two days of living off the meager take out leftovers on the shelves of the refrigerator, Jane thought she ought to call the police. Darcy vowed, at the time, to never forgive her for it; not that she wanted to stay in the dump they'd been trapped in, or that she even thought her parents would come back for her. She just hated cops and always would, ever since she saw a police officer pistol whip her mom. Years later, on reflection of this incident, Darcy would realize that her mother had been hopped up on something, probably LSD, and the cop didn't want to actually resort to shooting her. But Darcy figured it was the gravest of sins to hit a woman, and for the rest of her life, she held every cop she ever came across in utter contempt.

And then, of course, she went and fell in love with one. It was just too bad that this particular cop was investigating Darcy for murder.

Her timing sure sucked.

oooo

The aunts actually were sisters, and they took in the small girls without question. They had been put down as Jane's mother's emergency contacts the last time she'd been in jail, though how she knew the aunts had always been a bit of a mystery. All they themselves had ever said on the subject was that a woman in need could always count on the Owens sisters. All the same, when the police contacted them, they immediately agreed to take in Jane, and the other little darling, too, though the shocked policeman on the other end of the line hadn't mentioned a thing about Darcy. It was like magic, how they knew Jane and Darcy couldn't stand to be separated.

Magic, of course, was the one thing the aunts did know, and they bestowed this gift on the girls with as much care and dedication as other parents would have at soccer practice or Sunday school. Five and six were a little late to be starting, in their opinion, but within a few months Jane could light all the candles in the heavy chandelier in the front parlor with merely a snap of her fingers, and Darcy could read the ancient deck of tarot cards with more accuracy than any Owens woman before her.

All through their childhood, even before coming to the aunts, Jane and Darcy knew they were different. Other kids in their apartment building went to preschool and were hugged by their parents. They were sung to and told they were wonderful. They had proper shots and went to the dentist. They ate dinner at a real kitchen table with a family who loved them.

Darcy wasn't sure her parents even remembered her name, let alone when she should be registered for kindergarten, and Jane's dad, the week before he disappeared, had taken to throwing empty beer cans at her as she passed in front of the TV. Maybe they didn't learn much from their parents, but Darcy, watching the abuse her mother endured for the sake of being in love, knew she would never ever let a man ever have any kind of power over her. And Jane knew that once she had found a home, she would never let it go.

So not many people could say that their parents abandoning them was for the better, but Jane and Darcy certainly felt that way. Now, instead of hunger pains and loneliness they had thick hot chocolate made from real candy bars that had been melted on the stove top whenever they wanted, and black cats always in their laps, and though high sea winds rattled at every window in the old house, which had been built generations ago right along the beach, the aunts always made sure each room had a bright fire lit to keep the girls warm.

Darcy and Jane had found, in people that weren't bound to them by blood at all, a family.

oooo

Sixteen was a trying age for every Owens woman. The aunts always assured Jane and Darcy that they were a part of their legacy, and if they needed any further proof, there was the inevitable string of broken hearts that began to pile up on their doorstep as the girls left adolescence.

At sixteen an Owens woman became as beautiful as the moonlight on the sea, as tempting as the crystal clear waves on a hot summer day, as untouchable and dangerous as a winter's gale. Every man in town, even the adult ones, were unable to stop thinking about them. Teachers took sick days for weeks after Jane and then Darcy had their birthdays. Grocery store clerks dropped to their knees, begging for a kiss, for a quick fuck, for anything. Wives glared at the girls through the beauty shop windows as they passed, certain their husbands were ignoring them and taking longer showers because of the underage temptresses.

Jane hated the attention. She shut herself off, refused every offer for a date, and took to reading as many library books as she could to pass the hours. The day after her sixteenth birthday three men who she'd never even spoken to saw her crossing the sidewalk, ran out of the hardware store, through oncoming traffic, and were blindsided by the city bus. Two lived, though what sort of life they could have being confined to the permanent ward in the hospital, glued to their room windows and mumbling half cocked love poems, is anyone's guess.

After that Jane ate nothing but sauteed onions and garlic for weeks, hoping nobody could stand to get close to her. She stopped shaving her legs and didn't bother with matching her clothes. She took over the role of caretaker, allowing the aunts to sleep more, or practice their spells more, or work more, whatever they desired. She cooked full dinners and always made Darcy oatmeal in the mornings, though she knew if she didn't load it up with brown sugar and maple syrup her surrogate sister wouldn't touch the stuff.

Darcy, on the other hand, thrived. She adored the attention, though she thought very little of every man who crossed her path. She gave them what they thought they wanted, but only because she herself wanted to learn the mysterious ways of sex, and with so many willing test subjects, Darcy soon became, or so it was said, an expert in the bedroom. She laughed and men cried, desperate to give her whatever she wanted. She came home from every date with a new diamond necklace or sapphire earrings or a mink stole. She was given so many engagement rings, that despite her many attempts to return them (after unquestioningly and directly refusing every marriage proposal anyway), she started to save them, to keep them in a lacquered box, lined up inside purple crushed velvet, like trophies.

Such simple, ridiculous creatures men were. How on earth could her mother have ever stayed with a man who hit her, who didn't treat her like she was a goddess? What sort of woman would succumb to a man, a mere man, in such a way that she would follow him all over the country, dodging eviction notices and living in squalor?

Love, Darcy knew, merely fucked a person up. She was grateful for her magic, for her aunts and her sister, and there was nothing else she needed.

Ever.

oooo

Jane's eyes fly open, her heart racing. Rain lashes at the window panes, loud and unrelenting. Her room in the attic is cold, despite the fire burning low in the grate at the far end of the room. With the storm raging outside, it's a wonder she fell asleep at all.

Her heart pounds as panic pools her senses, and then she hears it again, the banging. There's banging on the front door, so loud she can hear it all through the house. And yet she knows the person there, on the ivy covered steps, is hardly tapping the weathered wood, trying to keep quiet.

Jane swallows and runs down the three flights of stairs, through the kitchen and parlor, stopping at the front door. She knows Darcy is there, knows it like she was outside on the porch standing next to her. But she isn't alone, and it's something bad.

“Oh my god.” Jane gasps as she opens the door. Darcy is a mess. She's soaked through and shivering. She's not wearing much to begin with, a leather mini skirt and thin crop top, her dark hair plastered to her neck and shoulders. Across Darcy's usually creamy complexion are marks of a battle. A deep black eye, a split lip, a gash on her forehead.

“Here,” Darcy whispers hurriedly, shoving something heavy and cold- a shovel- into Jane's hands. “We need to hurry.”

Jane only hesitates for a second before nodding and following Darcy out into the storm. There's an old Camaro pulled into the driveway, passenger door already open. Inside, Jane knows, is the man who hit her sister. And she knows, too, without having to ask, without even a semblance of an explanation from Darcy, that the man is dead.

oooo

It's the first time Darcy's ever killed anyone, and it's definitely the first time Jane has helped to hide a body.

Yet the sisters are sitting, now in dry clothes, at the scrubbed kitchen table, drinking hot chocolate made with real melted chocolate and farm fresh milk, like nothing has happened. Like Darcy has just flown in for a few days back home, as she does every now and then, though to Jane's estimation it's been at least three years since Darcy has set foot in the house.

“His name was Brock.” Darcy says, meeting Jane's eye.

Jane will never forgive Darcy for putting her in this position, for making her know that out there, under the lilac bushes, is a dead body. A man who used to be called Brock. But Jane knows that if the roles were reversed, Darcy would've been out there, knee deep in mud and seventy mile an hour winds, to help her out, too.

“Did you-” Jane starts to ask, but cuts herself off. It's a stupid question. If Darcy hadn't killed him, she wouldn't have had to hide his corpse.

“I'm not sorry.” Darcy says defiantly, running a finger gently along her busted lip.

Jane gives a sharp nod. “No. You shouldn't be.” They might differ on almost everything else, but here, on this point, Jane and Darcy are united. They both watched their mothers get the shit beat out of them multiple times by their fathers, and by other men, too, who they didn't know at the time, but now realize were some kind of street pimps. Hitting a woman is an unforgivable and irrevocable sin.

“What'll we tell the aunts?” Darcy asks, pulling a pack of cigarettes and a lighter towards her, gratefully inhaling.

“Forget the aunts, what will we tell the cops?” Jane asks, panic overtaking her again as the weight of what they've done strikes her. They probably made a million mistakes. Darcy isn't a careful person anyway, who knows how many people saw her and Brock as they traipsed across the country together? What friends did he have? Friends that would go to the cops or, god help them, the FBI, when their buddy seemed to fall off the face of the earth?

Jane knows all about Brock. Not because Darcy ever mentioned him in their phone calls or emails, not because they've been sitting here in the cozy kitchen having a great time catching up. She knows all about Brock because Darcy's mind is like glass to her, and she can see that Brock sucked Darcy in. He was exotic and handsome and could make her cum in under a minute and just with his fingers. He said pretty things and inflated Darcy's ego. He was dangerous and different. He got Darcy hooked, which is something no guy had ever pulled off before.

And she knows that Brock had been getting more unstable as the days passed. For whatever reason. Maybe he was an addict and his supplier hit the tracks. Maybe he was crazy. Darcy doesn't know, either. But he'd packed up his piece of shit car, convinced Darcy to come with him, and they drove from California to Utah, from Montana to Ohio, and at a greasy dive of a truck stop, Brock laid out Darcy, right there, in front of the Icee machine.

Jane also knows that Darcy, while passionate, isn't stupid. She didn't grab the nearest blunt object and slam it against Brock's head. She didn't hide a butcher knife under her shirt and stab him the second they were alone together. Darcy, instead, added nightshade to Brock's bottle of gin. She slipped it into his morning coffee. She sprinkled it over his steak. It should have taken a few days, because what she really needed was the stuff to build up slowly in his bloodstream, so it could appear as if he mixed it into his tea every night before bed, or that he liked to throw it in with chia seeds into his pancake syrup.

To do this, Brock would have to be unassuming. Darcy knew what men wanted, and she knew how to distract him. She could never be attracted to him again, but she moved her hips against him how he liked, she let him talk dirty to her while she sucked his cock. Her original plan had been to leave him and his car on the side of the road, to just walk away and never look back, but the asshole couldn't even die properly. He'd keeled over, right in the goddamned doughnut shop, and not only had Darcy not gotten her maple bars, but there had been an entire roomful of people who had watched this happen, who had seen her lug Brock out to the car, who had heard her shout for directions to the nearest emergency room. So what choice did she have? She'd left a trail, and now she was fucked.

Jane blinks, then looks back to Darcy, who has made herself another mug of hot chocolate.

“The aunts can never know.” Darcy says, licking a smudge of caramel from her finger. Not because they would have any moral qualms about what had happened; far from it. But they'd been so disappointed in her these last few years, always running from one spot to the next, never getting her life together, never making use of her Craft. This would just prove all their doubts about her right.

Jane rolls her eyes. “And how do you expect to keep it from them?! You're lucky they're at their distributor convention.”

“We'll never talk about it again. We'll just say I've come home.”

“And what about his car?” Jane glances pointedly out the kitchen window where the curve of the driveway ended.

“I'll dump it. Take it to that junkyard and sell it to them. I can forge the title if I have to.”

Jane and Darcy both know it will never come to that. The man who runs the junkyard had once literally kissed the ground Darcy walked on, when he was in a haze of irrational lust that followed her eighteenth birthday. If an Owens woman is dangerous at sixteen, the damage she can do as a legal, full-fledged adult is monstrous. Darcy is sure she can talk the poor sod into giving her two thousand dollars for the car, and then convince him to crush the thing, right then and there, beyond any recognition.

And the thing is, Jane can usually plan out the next day. She can picture it in her mind, down to the most minute detail. She can see Darcy waking the next morning, taking a too-long shower and getting toothpaste all over the bathroom counter. She herself will check on the garden, pull up anything that's ready to be harvested. She'll wash her hands with the mint-and-eucalyptus bar on the terra cotta dish by the kitchen sink.

But Darcy won't go to the junk yard, Jane knows this, because she can't see anything past the rusty hunk of damning evidence in the driveway.

oooo

The doorbell chimes, an odd modern sound in the old, faded hallways. Darcy stops cold, the brownie batter in the bowl she's holding still lumpy. Jane tries to breathe but comes up short, her chest uselessly inflating and deflating.

The sisters look at each other for a few seconds, then Darcy lifts her head high and turns to answer the door, but Jane beats her to it. She shoves the bowl of batter back into her sister's hands and pushes Darcy to the table.

Jane can't say why she's determined to open that door, to let the two men she knows are there into their home, only that doing something feels like she's in control. It's been years since she's worried about her looks, yet as she passes the antique mirror over the chaise in the parlor, she runs a smoothing hand over her hair.

She opens the door swiftly, widely, not as though she's cowering, not as though anybody in this house has anything, least of all dead bodies, to hide.

The blond man, standing there in rugged jeans, motorcycle boots, and a loose flannel shirt, leaves her breathless.

oooo

Darcy glares at her sister, gaping there like a goddamn moron. So okay, yeah, the guy is good-looking. He has a wide smile and tendrils of his long hair are brushed carelessly aside, framing a firm jaw, and he's all charm. Darcy can tell he's genuine when he says they're sorry for intruding like this, his accent, possibly a mix of Australian and English, quite becoming.

They're? Then Darcy herself sees his companion, a tall, broad-shouldered man in an immaculate black suit with matching tie, raven hair tucked neatly behind his ears. This man's eyes are startlingly green, and if Darcy hadn't had the good sense to look away before his gaze fell on her, she may very well be standing there like Jane, her tongue rolling out on the floor.

Still, Darcy knows how to appeal to men. These are not typical ones, she can tell, but a man is still a man. He will always respond kindly to a pretty girl offering him refreshments.

“Won't you come in?” Darcy asks sweetly, gesturing to the table. She hurries to put the kettle on, pulling down cups and saucers and the canister of the aunts' best tea.

Jane has finally rejoined the land of the living and smiles at the two men, joining Darcy by the refrigerator to grab some of the lavender cookies she always keeps in the tall glass jar beside the toaster.

“This is a delightful house, isn't it?” The blond man says, beaming as he takes in the outdated furnishings, the faded floor boards and wall paneling. Yet both girls can tell he sincerely means it.

“I don't believe we caught your names.” Darcy says, chancing a glance at the man in black, disappointed to find him studying the engraving on the table rather than her face.

Jane bites back a quiet laugh; she is sure that no man has ever ignored Darcy, has done less than flutter at her feet and beg her to be his wife. Well, good. These men obviously have some kind of brains.

“Gods above, how very rude of us!” The blond man nudges the other with his elbow, the dark man seeming very unamused. “I am Thor and this is my brother in arms and, well, also just my brother, Loki. We're from the Attorney General's office in Arizona.”

Jane silently meets Darcy's eye and can see, through the window that is her sister's mind, that Arizona means something. It's where Brock is from. Where is friends are. Where his roots are.

Roots, Jane knows, are things that can make or break you. Maybe Brock was from a fucked up family, like they were. Maybe he never had somebody to turn to, like the aunts. Maybe nobody ever asked him about his day at school or made sure he'd eaten enough or taken him shopping for winter boots. Maybe-

Darcy's mind snaps shut, and in her eyes, hard and clear, Jane reads Stop. It. Stop feeling sorry for that rat bastard, he would've killed me if I hadn't killed him first. These words may as well hang in the air between the two girls.

“Interesting names. Parents mythology fans, I suppose.” Jane says, and Loki frowns, as though he hears this a lot. Thor, on the other hand, gives a booming laugh and nods. “Indeed. It's a family tradition.”

“So tell me, Thor,” Darcy says, delicately placing tea and cookies in front of the brothers, “how is it that you have come to be in Arizona? From across the pond?”

Finally, Loki looks at her. Their eyes meet, and Darcy almost, almost feels herself blush under his intense scrutiny. Now here's the thing about Darcy. She has never truly considered herself beautiful. Attractive, sure, but every woman was in their own unique way. How men, typical men, reacted to her was nothing but magic, nothing but a party trick the aunts bestowed on her and Jane, and that they would bestow on their own daughters, if they ever get around to having them. So when Loki's eyes drink her in, she feels naked, utterly exposed.

And it isn't a feeling she likes.

“A rather long and arduous tale that has nothing to do with why we are, in fact, here.” Loki says, his accent pure gentleman British, snapping his head back towards the table, breaking their eye contact, and Darcy feels like she can breathe again.

“What can we do for you?” Jane says, the picture of innocence, and Darcy and Loki can both see Thor practically melting.

“We're looking for the man who owns that car in the driveway. Some of his family are worried about him, said he was probably with his girlfriend.” Thor indicates Darcy, standing with her back towards them at the sink, rinsing out the kettle, who stiffens. Being connected to that man, that thing, in any way sets her teeth on edge.

“Ex-girlfriend. And I haven't seen him since I ditched him outside Chicago.” Darcy's voice is no longer sugar and honey. It's hard and impenetrable and Loki, unseen by everyone except Jane, throws an uneasy look at Darcy's back.

Thor has whipped out a small notebook and pen, scratching down a few illegible notes. “And when was that?” He asks, suddenly all business.

Darcy slowly turns around, thinking. It was two days ago now that they were in the doughnut shop. Sure, stealing a car is a felony, but nobody had reported the car missing, and if they assume Brock is still alive and out there, they'll leave to find him. That'll give them plenty of time to dispose of the car. If these guys, or any other cops, come calling, they can always say Brock showed up himself and took the car, and that was the last they'd seen of him. How would they ever know if it hadn't actually happened?

“Yesterday morning I guess? We'd been driving for so long, it's hard to remember.” Darcy tries for pathetic but misses entirely. She can't be something she's not, not even if the rest of her life depends on it.

“I see.” Thor says, scrawling that down. “And he hasn't called? Texted?”

Darcy shakes her head. “I don't have a cell.” Brock would never let her get one, would never even allow her that small amount of freedom or contact with the outside world. Her intermittent emails to Jane had been done at various libraries or internet cafes, while Brock was sleeping off last night's booze.

Loki, meanwhile, has quietly left the table, and is moving around the house, rather rudely, in Jane's opinion, since he was neither invited to and didn't ask permission, but she doesn't object. There's nothing to hide in the house.

Thor finishes his notes and glances up, surprised to see Loki gone. “Mind if we look around?” he says politely, offering Jane a brilliant smile, then sending an irritated glance to his brother, who couldn't care less.

Darcy shakes her head, and Thor stands, disappearing down the brick steps that lead from the kitchen and into the sprawling greenhouse.

Jane and Darcy don't speak; not for fear of being overheard, just for fear. If they can get through this, if they can put these two detectives off the scent, everything will be fine. The aunts will come home, delighted to see that Darcy has sworn off man-handling and is ready to take the family business, both in sales and in magic, seriously.

If they had been any other men, they'd already be on their merry way, punch-drunk with the Owens' girls beauty and wit, but entirely certain of their innocence.

Thor and Loki were, as far as Darcy and Jane could both tell, unlike anyone, let alone men, in the entire world.

Which was the exact opinion the brothers were simultaneously forming of the sisters and every other woman they'd ever come across.

oooo

The brothers don't say a word to each other, not on the walk from the coastal house, through the small village, and to the ferry boat that takes day trippers and commuters on and off the island where the house is. It isn't until they're back on the mainland that they even acknowledge each others presence.

“They killed him.” Thor says simply. Loki looks at him, then away, out over the water, where the distant windows of the Owens' house twinkle at him in the sunlight.

Loki knows his brother is right. He could sense it the second he met Darcy's blue eyes; the kind of blue a man would willingly drown in. Their depth was not the least marred by the ugly bruises above her eyelid. Considering what they knew about Brock Rumlow, it was a miracle he hadn't shattered her brow bone.

“They assured us they have no idea of his whereabouts.” Loki reminds him, a gentle nudge that tells Thor if he was willing to let this go, to keep this mystery just that, a mystery, to say, well what harm is it, the world being less a man like Brock Rumlow? That he would walk away, here and now, with him. At the back of his mind, Loki wonders if Darcy's eyes aren't the whole reason he's considering this abandonment.

“No,” Thor says, shaking his head, “they said they couldn't imagine where he would go when Darcy left him in Chicago.” Jane and Darcy's own parting words, told on pretty lips with sweet smiles, enough to disarm even the most seasoned detectives.

Yes, Loki had sensed that vague untruth a mile away as well. Darcy may well have, in the short span he'd been in her presence, nearly unwound everything he had kept so tightly inside of him, but she had not yet driven him to leave reason behind.

“Why do you hesitate, brother? It is most unlike you.” But Thor was deflecting, his own attraction to Jane deep and confusing and something he didn't really want to think about, not when it was possible that she could have murdered somebody in cold blood and then stood there, smelling of sandalwood and rose, with a smile so naively tempting, lying about it.

The back of Thor's neck prickles as he realizes that this would definitely not stop him from wanting to see Jane again, or from knocking over the kitchen chairs to get to her, to kiss her, to hold her, and later, maybe, to-

“Thor.” Loki says, his voice hard, bringing him back to reality, leaving Jane and her discarded shirt and unhooked bra in the back of his mind for later.

“Dammit, Loki, what do you want of me? You saw her face as clear as I did. Whatever they did to him, he deserved.”

Loki sighs. Brock Rumlow, had he not once been a friend (and former cellmate) of the Attorney General's son, would be of no consequence to anyone. As it stood, Rumlow's second cousin, whom he owed money to, hadn't seen him in weeks. It wasn't like him, because, well, Brock had particular...tastes (Thor and Loki suspected meth), and those tastes needed to be met, and Brock always met this cousin on the second and the twelfth and he'd missed both dates, and wouldn't you just know it, this cousin was still on terms with the AG's son who had done Brock a few solids back in the day, and here Loki and Thor were, caught up in some political hell with drug dealers and felons and wife beaters.

Justice system, indeed.

“We need another look at the house. The yard as well.” Loki says after a moment of silence.

“But first,” Thor forces a glowing smile on his face, “dinner fit for two men tirelessly working for the betterment of mankind.”

If that were the case, Loki thinks, they would leave the enchanting- there was no other word for it- Darcy and Jane Owens be, pack their trunks and get back on the train that would take them to the nearest airport, never again to smell the fragrant herbs bursting in through every nook and cranny of the house from the garden, never again to see the way Darcy's silken hair fell in heavy sheets around her slim neck.

Those women, who had turned their heads where no other women could before, should have no more complicated or dangerous men in their lives.

It was too bad, then, that Loki and Thor were both of those things, and that they both knew they could not, not now, turn their backs to what had transpired between Darcy, Jane, and Brock Rumlow.

oooo

Jane is having a heart attack. It's the only explanation for what she's feeling, for how her head is spinning and her heart is beating in staccato. She scrubs the plates and teacups with vigor, wipes down the table, and puts everything back in immaculate order. Cleaning has always helped her to calm down in the past, and even if it doesn't help now and she dies, right here on butcher block counter, at least the aunts will have a tidy kitchen to come home to.

Thor, the blond brother, with bulging biceps and an infectious laugh has unnerved Jane in many ways. The main one being that, from the second he crossed the threshold of the house, all she wanted to do was throw herself into his arms and confess everything that had happened the night before. The compulsion had been so strong, in fact, that all she could do to fight against it was stand there ogling him, mouth hanging open, until Darcy had come to her rescue.

“We should go to them. Tell them the truth, that it was self-defense.” Jane takes a seat at the table, bouncing her leg up and down, unable to keep her mind or her body still.

“You call slowly poisoning him to death self-defense?” Darcy's hands, shaking slightly, move to light a cigarette.

“And you really should stop smoking. It's disgusting.”

Darcy gives a hollow laugh. “What's the point? I'm probably gonna get life. I should smoke two at once. Shorten the sentence.” But she extinguishes the cigarette in the ashtray on the table without taking a puff. That detective, the brooding one dressed in black, knows the truth. Darcy may well have handed him a signed confession. The second his eyes met hers she knew she was good and fucked. He could see she'd done what she had to, but that murder was also against the law, and well, it wasn't up to him how she should be punished.

Still, Darcy wonders if it was, if it was Loki's decision, what would he do? It's the strangest thing, but she gets a sense from Loki that he wants to help her. Not because he took an oath to protect and serve, but that he, himself, not as a cop, wants to save her, Darcy, not as a suspect.

Men have always given her anything they thought she wanted. They have always slaved for her, driven themselves mad by their desires for her. And the truth of the matter is, she hates it. She hates that no man will ask her about her favorite movies or what books she likes to read or if she even likes it when they go down on her. In their rush to get close to her, to smell her and taste her and breathe her in, they never consider the fact that she never once said yes to them, never once encouraged their devotion. They don't stop to think that, above all things, Darcy never wanted to fall in love.

It's ironic, then, or maybe it's just Fate's idea of a sick, twisted joke, that the kind of man Darcy ever imagined could have power over her, actually does exist. He exists, and he's here to ruin her life.

Maybe it's Karma. For all those she herself has ruined. She's broken so many hearts, but hasn't ever thought twice about it. She never made those men want her. She simply existed, and if that was enough to drive them into lunacy, how could she help that?

But love, wished for or not, wanted or not, accepted or not, must still be yielded to. No one, not even a witch, can run away from it forever.

oooo

In the inner pocket of his suit jacket, Loki carries a crumpled letter. It was supposed to be mailed to Jane, across the country, but Darcy hadn't put the right amount of stamps on it, and so it was returned to sender, and ended up in a pile of junk mail and past due bills that had accumulated in the mailbox of Brock Rumlow's last known address.

Because of this letter, Loki knew where Jane Owens lived, knew that the girl who wrote this letter, who wrote these words down with what may as well have been the blood from her raw, broken heart, needed him. The Rumlow case had been assigned to him and Thor weeks before they'd ended up on the East coast, on the doorstep of that old house, but he didn't really care about it. Rumlow was another useless junkie who happened to know the right people. They'd probably track him down and find him hiding out in a meth lab, or find his decaying body in the middle of the desert, ravaged from the elements and an overdose. Loki didn't care about pursuing any lead they had, not until he came across that letter.

The truth is, however irrational, however improbable, he fell for Darcy long before he actually met her, and in the dark of his hotel room, his fingers mindlessly tracing the now-weathered edges of paper, Loki recites the words he knows by heart.

 

Jane,

The moon is full tonight, and even though I'm a thousand miles away, I imagine I'm sitting with you, on the landing, setting out the jars of blessed water to soak up the Goddess's light.

Sometimes I miss them. Our parents, I mean. Fucked up, right? Who could miss those assholes? But when I feel the heat of the desert, or see a cactus keychain, or even smell Coors light, I can't help but wonder where they are. Why they left us. Do you think they're still alive? Do we want them to be?

Will we be normal, someday? Or will we end up like the aunts, shut in the greenhouses cooking up placenta capsules and telling women if they slip their husband wheatgrass and peppermint, his cum will taste good enough to eat? Stuck in a town that needs us, but hates who we are, what we are?

But what's the alternative? To fall in love? To be hopeless and devoted and then left alone? No. There is no man, Jane. Only the moon.

All my love,

Darcy

It's this, more than anything, that brought him out here, to try to track Darcy down. Why her words have power over him there's no guessing, and he has long since stopped trying to fight against being in love with a woman he's never met. He wasn't sure where Darcy would be, but Jane would know, Jane, who Loki knew had a connection to her sister that transcended logic. And when he found her...

He's never thought that far ahead. And now he's paying for it, for his lack of foresight, of planning. Loki never thought that when he finally did see Darcy, she would be trying to cover up a murder.

oooo

Darcy hardly remembers it, but it's been bothering Jane all day, ever since she first laid eyes on Thor. There's something so familiar about him, something comfortable, like maybe they were close friends as children and then grew apart as they got older. This, of course, is impossible, since Darcy and Jane never had any friends outside each other, and Jane would never willingly grow apart from somebody like Thor.

So she stays up through the night and into the next day, tearing the house apart. She pulls out dresser drawers and scrounges through every roll top desk, empties old file boxes and sweeps out the cupboards, picks apart every nook and cranny until, at last, she comes upon what has been nagging at her.

It isn't a proper Book of Shadows, not like the cloth bound volumes with fine penmanship and dried herbs tucked away between the pages that adorn all the bookshelves in the house, and Jane rips the yellowing pages clean out of the notebook, shoving them in Darcy's face.

"I told you," Jane hisses, "that it was real. I knew it." Because when she mentioned the possibility to Darcy, Darcy had rolled her eyes and scoffed and begged her sister to rejoin her on planet earth.

Darcy is chopping onions and carrots and rosemary, to go with the chicken that's for dinner, and she looks up, then snorts. "God Jane, get serious, will you? That wasn't even an actual spell."

Jane, slightly wild-eyed, sputters. "What do you mean, not even an actual spell?! We worked it together!"

Darcy drizzles olive oil on the chicken and rubs salt, garlic paste, freshly ground peppercorn and the chopped rosemary into the skin of the chicken, trying to decide how best to deal with her lunatic sister. "For magic to work, Jane, you have to have intent. You have to be dedicated. You have to mean it. That," Darcy now moves to the sink, washing her hands, "was just childish nonsense."

Jane huffs, falling into a chair at the table. "I know it mattered to you, Darce. You wanted true love as much as I did. You wanted somebody to ride in on a white horse and save the day."

For the past twenty years, Darcy's tried to forget that she once was as swept away with the idea of romance and real love as every other little girl in the world. Reality, though, was a merciless teacher, and men proved nothing but disappointments.

"Look, I don't think some half-cocked spell done by two affection-starved kids who were shipped off from the desert to live with the resident witches, both literal and figurative, is a basis for- what, exactly? What do you think this proves?"

"It proves," Jane says testily, watching through glowering eyes as Darcy slides the chicken and vegetables into the oven, "that Thor and Loki are here for us, because of us. To help us!"

Darcy laughs wryly. "They're here for us alright, because they're trying to arrest us for murder. And you might not have done it, Jane, but you're an accomplice, okay, and that means-"

"Yeah and thanks for that! God, this is all your fault! If you were capable of even a modicum of responsibility, if you hadn't just breezed on through every loser who ever looked at you-"

"Hold the fucking phone!" Darcy screeches, rounding on Jane, when the front door swings open and the aunts, dressed in their finest Gothic gowns and parasols, merrily lead the way into the house, tittering to somebody behind them. Thor's booming laugh announces his presence and Jane's face drains of all color as she hurriedly shoves the spell paper into her pocket, running her fingers through her hair.

Darcy whirls out of the kitchen and down the brick steps, trying to make a break for it before Loki brings up the rear of the little party, when she nearly runs smack into the devil himself.

"Miss Owens," he murmurs, and Darcy takes a step back from him, goosebumps rising on her arms at the sound of his voice.

"Isn't it just too wonderful?" Aunt Jet gushes, stepping forward to greet Darcy and then Jane with a quick kiss on the cheek. If either aunt is surprised to see Darcy, they make no mention of it, though it's been several years since they've set their own eyes on the girl. Jet's gaze lingers on Darcy's bruises but says nothing about them. "These strapping young men were on the ferry with us, and they simply refused to let us carry our own bags!"

"And what were these strapping young men doing off the mainland?" Darcy tries to keep the sarcasm from her voice because, okay, she's not blind; Thor is easily lugging three of the aunts rather outdated trunks, wearing a vintage Van Halen tee that clings to his biceps and Loki's expertly tailored suit leaves little to the imagination about the lean, hard body beneath it. Her aunts might be batshit crazy but they can see the measure of a man quicker than lightning.

"We had to invite them to dinner, of course," aunt Franny says, as though she hasn't heard Darcy, "and they mentioned they'd already had the good fortune to meet you two, and see the house, and it's been far too long since we've had such handsome men for dinner, isn't it?"

"Oh Frances, don't you think we ought to freshen up for our guests? Traveling does so rattle these old bones." Jet says, with just a tad too much anguish in Darcy's opinion.

"Indeed my dearest Bridget, won't you pardon us for just a few moments?" Franny says to the room at large, though only Darcy and Loki hear her. Jane is as enamored by Thor as she was the day before, and stammering and blushing, asks if she can show him the garden. Thor's entire face lights up, as though he can think of nothing, not one goddamn thing, truly better than being shown a pile of dirt and overgrown vegetables by Jane.

Loki gives the older women a half-smile and a nod, and the aunts disappear out of the kitchen and up the nearest flight of stairs, but not before Darcy catches the all-knowing look shared between them.

"Why were you out in the yard?" Darcy asks, with no small amount of suspicion, as Jane and Thor exit the house, Thor gallantly opening the door for a blushing Jane.

Loki hesitates for a moment, then half turns to her, as though he can't bear to look her full in the face. Darcy, used to no less than constant adoration, finds this both irritating and interesting.

"Your aunt asked me to put her gardening tools in the shed." Is all he says, and the goosebumps spread up Darcy's arms and across her shoulder blades, unnerving her and, though she'd rather die than admit it, disarming her.

Loki finally turns to face her, Darcy having to swallow down the gasp rising in her throat at the shock of finding him more good-looking, more stately, than yesterday. They stand there, in heavy silence, regarding each other. Loki's eyes are a deep emerald, and Darcy swears she can see small flecks of silver in them. He must very good at his job, she supposes, because those eyes could entrap you, could lure you, into divulging not just your own deepest and darkest secrets, but those of anybody you've ever met.

"Is there something you want, Loki?" Darcy blurts, and in Loki's face now is a semblance of yearning, a barely controlled need. This is at least familiar territory with a man, and yet Loki's emotions, bared before her, are much more powerful than she could ever guess. He is sweeping her along with him, and at the very back of her mind is a warning, is a whispering, that if she doesn't find some solid footing, she's going to drown.

"Again. Please. My name." He says, his voice deep and low and those goddamned goosebumps shoot down Darcy's spine.

"Loki." Darcy whispers, and he pushes her up against the table, one arm on either side of her, palms flat against the scrubbed wood.

Darcy is breathless, Loki's scent, sage and forest pines after a rain, wrap around her, making her head swim. His closeness is causing a heat she hasn't ever felt before, even with Brock, who excited something primal in her, to pool just below her abdomen.

Loki presses their foreheads together, shuddering, and Darcy, who has never anticipated or even looked forward all that much to what a man was going to do to her, feels like she's on fire.

Loki is breathing heavy and he inclines his head towards her, Darcy catching a flash of intense hunger in his green eyes.

Loki almost kisses her. And Darcy, for the first time in her life, almost loses control.

oooo

Thor ruins everything. It's a matter of course in Loki's life, a nuisance that he's gotten used to over the years, but as his bumbling buffoon of a brother sails back into the house laughing and chattering as though he hasn't got a care in the world, Loki thinks that, were a blunt object within his reach, he could very easily and very guiltlessly kill (or at the very least maim) him.

Darcy looks equally frustrated, and she opens her mouth to say something, but then Loki is gone, stepping away from her with a swiftness and litheness that seems otherworldly.

"Isn't it great?" Jane exclaims, coming up the steps and into the kitchen, not paying the slightest attention to the moment or the energy she's just walked in on, "Thor found some perfect green onions for the chicken." Jane says this as though Thor has found a cure for cancer or he's solved world hunger, and the two of them keep talking away as Jane chops the onions and Thor opens the oven, adding them to the pan.

Darcy may well be a part of the wallpaper for all the attention either of them pay her after that, and she wants nothing more than to steal away, to track Loki down, to demand from him the kiss that she can't stop wanting.

But Loki doesn't come back, the aunts don't come down for dinner, and Darcy wants to smash every plate, cup, and window in the entire house.

Instead she has to endure a half hour of trying to eat while Thor and Jane are mooning over each other. When Jane invites Thor to take the guestroom for the night, Darcy knows that they won't be seeing the back of him anytime soon.

oooo

Darcy's going to suffocate if she stays in the house any longer. There's no way around it; Loki has gotten under her skin in every possible way she imagines a man can, and the only thing that will help her, she thinks, is her usual go-to; a night under the full moon.

Darcy is a child of that moon, the aunts saw that from the very beginning. Darcy had moonbeams in her hair, they said, and Jane, well, Jane smelled like the sun. Darcy's refuge has always been the shore under the night sky, with only the stars and soft waves for company. She seeks that refuge tonight, hoping for some sort of clarity, for some sort of answer. Only two days ago, she would have wished for complete and utter freedom from all of this. For Loki and Thor to just go the fuck away. But now? Now she doesn't think she can let Loki go, much less that she wants to.

The night is warm as she walks barefoot on the beach, the sea breeze combing through her hair, and she can feel the salt from the waves lapping at her ankles dancing on her skin. She strips off the sleeveless dress she's been wearing, tossing it away, and walks into the gentle surf, up to her knees. Here, with only the freshest of air, and the luminescent rays of the Goddess, Darcy feels the most alive, the most in tune with the world.

So Loki coming up behind her, his mouth finding, as if by instinct, the sweet, supple spot in the crook of her neck that turns her thighs to sand, his arms strong and warm, wrapping around her, doesn't actually take her by surprise.

oooo

Loki never left the island. He tried to, but found the idea of even purchasing a ferry ticket so repulsive that he had no choice but to wander aimlessly about the village the rest of the afternoon. He had to put some distance between him and Darcy, between himself and the ever sharp hook that her presence seemed to dig into him. It was a good thing, he told himself, trying to hide his persistent arousal, that Thor stopped him from kissing Darcy. That would've been the end of his rope, the end of all reasonable thought and action. For once those lips were on his own, Loki knew, his entire self would be given up to her.

Darkness fell, and Loki found himself, quite unaware, back at the Owens' property. It was a very handsome house, perfectly situated against the beach, and for whatever reason, Loki was down the flagstone path that led from the garden to the sand before he realized where his legs were taking him.

And then, Darcy appeared. Darcy, who was bathed in moonlight, Darcy, who with just being in his frame of sight, caused his entire being to ache for her. When she then took off her dress and was there, right before him, every inch of her bare and delicate perfection, he knew he was as lost as a sailor enraptured by a siren.

oooo

She turns to him, crashing their lips together, unable to bear it any longer. His mouth is hot, moving excruciatingly slow against hers, as though savoring every taste. His hands are lost in her hair, her breasts against his suit jacket. She gently tugs at his sleeve, and Loki, without breaking their kiss, starts to undress himself, Darcy taking it upon herself to unbutton his pants.

She feels him, long and hard, through the fine Italian material, and can't get the damn things off fast enough. Finally, Loki steps out of them, and Darcy, already so wet, her hormones and blood in a frenzy, pulls Loki down with her, down to the velvety sand, their bodies half covered by the mild waves. Loki is on top of her, his lips now moved to her ear lobe, where he is whispering her name, over and over, like some kind of prayer. She spreads her legs, every nerve in her body a live wire, and then Loki is pushing inside her, and they're both incoherent, moving together, hips rising and falling with the rhythm of the sea.

oooo

Jet and Franny may have been witches, but they weren't indestructible. They were prey to every human emotion, to every human folly. All they truly wanted in this world was for their girls to be taken care of. Being Owens women, if not by birth than by right, Jane and Darcy were not going to be easy to take care of. The men who would not just love them, but love them as they needed to be loved, would be hard to come by, if not impossible to come by. They would have to be special and strong and smart and rather magical themselves, even if they didn't know it.

Did Bridget and Francis Owens know that Darcy would one day kill her man of the moment, thereby leading them all to meet two detectives who could keep pace, keep fighting, for the young sisters? Did they know that Thor and Loki, whose hearts had been since their mother's death insurmountable, would find just the encouragement, the vivacity and the hope, they had been searching for, in Darcy and Jane?

It is never to be guessed at, though the townspeople tried for many years. One day Thor and Loki were there, and they were never to leave. Brock Rumlow's body showed up, bloated and desiccated, in the Gulf of Mexico, and just as Darcy's wounds faded, so did the dark blanket his death had held over her and Jane. Neither of them knew how Brock's body got from under the lilacs to where it was found off the coast of Texas, though the aunts vehemently denied having any part in it.

Even years later, little girls from all over the island and the mainland would seek out Jane and Darcy, and ask them what the secret was, what the spell was, to get such handsome husbands. Jane, forever the more practical of the two, would tell them to stay in school and not worry about romance, for it would come later in their lives, but only when they weren't looking for it. Darcy, on the other hand, would tuck sprigs of mint in the little girls' pigtails and whisper, so that not even the aunts could hear, "Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can.”

But she doesn't tell them what really matters, because every woman has to find out for herself. Because it doesn't matter what people tell you. It doesn't matter what they might say. Sometimes you have to leave home. Sometimes, running away means you're headed in the exact right direction.

As ever, feedback is appreciated! Song used is Crystal by Stevie Nicks. So, what do you think the true love spell Jane and Darcy did as children said? Also this is like, not edited at all and I'm sure has a MILLION mistakes. So please forgive me. If there's something so glaringly awful that you can't deal with (besides my writing XD), let me know and I'll sort it out.