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Machiavelli's Favorite Son

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The first time that Darcy met Loki, it was weird. Well, meeting the former evil overlord who wanted to rule the world with terror and fire would never be a walk in the park, but it was extra weird because Thor had him on a leash. It was a real leash with a collar and everything. Darcy didn't approve of people putting their kids on leashes when walking around a supermarket. Putting a god on a leash, even a kind of homicidal one, just seemed extra wrong.

Darcy and Jane were sharing an apartment in New York. It had been six months after the Loki incident where he brought his army and got his ass kicked by the big green guy, and Darcy was thinking that today would be another boring afternoon and evening after getting off work doing the same grunt work for Jane that she had always been doing. It wasn't at all, though. Instead, there was a large amount of thunder and lightning outside, and a giant booming sound on top of the roof of the apartment building.

Darcy shrieked when she first heard it, screaming and dropping her bowl of cereal, thinking that either someone had dropped a bomb or the building was trying to collapse or something equally as bad. Jane seemed to realize much earlier what the noise actually was, as she went running up to the roof with a large smile on her face. Thinking that her friend had finally lost her mind after not getting to see her godly boyfriend for so long, Darcy bolted up after her, screaming her name and telling her that running toward the loud, angry noise was a bad idea if she had ever thought of one, and Darcy Lewis knew all about bad ideas. Her entire love life was one giant bad idea, por ejemplo.

However, when she got up to the top of the building, she didn't see a hole in the roof, or anything obviously bad. Instead, what she saw was Thor standing in the middle of one of those circles he first appeared in when they first saw him in New Mexico, but he wasn't alone this time. No, this time he had brought along a slender, dark haired man that looked vaguely familiar although Darcy couldn't place him off the top of her head. From the sour look on his face and the way that he had his arms crossed over his chest, Darcy could tell he really didn't want to be here, though.

By the wide eyed look on Jane's face when she realized that Thor wasn't alone, though, it looked like she recognized just who that was. "Thor! It's not that I'm not glad to see you, but why is he here?" she asked, pointing to tall, pale and handsome.

"Kay…you're already one step ahead of me, because I don't even know who Mr. Emosexy is," Darcy admitted. She lifted up her thumbnail to her lips and chewed on it lightly, not quite able to stop herself from staring at both Thor and whoever the hell it was that he had brought with him.

"Jane, I am very sorry, but I could not leave him in Asgard alone. He is my responsibility now," Thor told her. He turned toward Darcy, and she could only presume that he was going to tell her who was with him, but his…companion interrupted him? She had no idea what to call him.

"I am a person, Thor, not an invalid," he snapped, and, despite herself, Darcy nearly purred when she heard his voice. Why did she have the feeling that she wasn't going to like what Thor and Jane had to say about this guy? "You could have left me in Asgard and I would have been fine. I don't need to come along on your…dates, as Midgardians call them."

Thor sighed. "Lady Darcy, this is my brother, Loki." Darcy's eyes went wide. While she hadn't recognized him in person, as any footage from that day had been super grainy at best, that was definitely a name she knew. Loki was the guy who had tried to take over the world with that alien army that had torn New York a new asshole. What no one had mentioned was that Loki was a total babe. She bet that he could have just walked around shirtless and lots more women (and more than a few men) would have been a lot more willing to bow before him.

"Right…Loki of Asgard with glorious purpose then," Darcy said nervously. She really did have to get over her bad boy issue. Her last like, five relationships hadn't worked because she tended to choose shitty guys that were hot and cut and dark, and Loki pretty much fit the bill. She really needed to excuse herself and run far away during Thor's visit, didn't she? "Right! Well, nice to meet you," she did a quick, awkward bow, "I should get going, though. I have things to do that aren't like…me being tongue-tied in front of new people."

As she turned to flee, she heard Thor's voice ring out behind her. "Actually, Darcy, there is a favor that I need to ask you…"

Wow, this was epic in the badness, huh?

OoOoOoOo

Turns out Thor had needed a babysitter. Well, to say that Loki needed to be babysat was somewhat insulting, but Thor DID need someone to keep an eye on Loki while he and Jane caught up with one another. Darcy was just thankful that, while she and Jane did share an apartment, it was one of those giant and expensive apartments provided by SHIELD so that she wouldn't have to listen to Thor and Jane 'getting acquainted' in her bedroom. As long as she had the TV on, anyway.

But that DID leave Loki and Darcy sitting on opposite ends of the couch in the living room, kind of staring at one another out of the corners of their eyes, not really sure what to make of each other.

"So…how does Thor know that you're not gonna like, kill me and run away?" Darcy asked, finally breaking the silence.

Loki let out a long sigh, and, with a wave of his hand, a thick, mechanical looking collar appeared around his neck. "If I get more than a certain distance away from Thor, it will send around 10,000 volts of electricity throughout my body. Not enough to kill me, but enough to make me think twice about escaping." His long fingers drifted toward his neck, fingering the collar unconsciously. "And it's enchanted so that only Thor can remove it. In addition, I cannot disenchant it. Trust me, I have tried."

"Yeah, I would have been shoving a screwdriver into that thing long ago to get it off," she said, sitting up to look at it, leaning in a little closer to him. Probably invading his personal space a bit, but Darcy had always had trouble with understanding the whole 'stay out of my personal bubble' deal. "I bet Jane could get that thing off, though. Science stuff is kind of her thing. I mean, she totally wouldn't, because I think that she's terrified of you, but I'm sure that she could." When she realized the leaning in that she did, she jumped back to her side of the sofa, reminding herself that, curious about him or not, she still needed to keep on her side of the invisible line.

He tilted his head at her, studying her. "Could you get it off?" he asked her. It was when he was looking at her that she kind of realized that she was so damn close to him, and, with a slight jump, sat back a little so that she wasn't all in his face.

She shook her head quickly. "Mechanics aren't my thing," she told him quickly. "I only started working with Jane because I was the only person to respond to her internship and I needed the extra college credits." Ones that she had nearly died for like, at least twice. "Do you know what college is?"

"I'm not nearly as ignorant of your realms customs as my brother," Loki said with a sniff. "What did you study when you were in college?"

"Political science," she told him, smiling. It was odd to be talked to at all. Most of the people from SHIELD just brushed her off, thinking of her only as 'Jane's assistant.' Even Thor seemed to be mostly bewildered with her and her high energy. "I'm really just kind of a humanities hound, though. I picked political science because that was what I had taken the most classes in and they told me that I had to pick a major at some point. Kinda wish that I could have just went to school without the whole 'gotta have a goal and get a degree' thing that they kinda push on you." She was babbling, she knew it, but those dark green eyes made her nervous as hell.

"You like to learn?" He actually sounded surprised by that. She didn't know if she should be pleased or insulted. "Most that I have met in this realm seem to be willfully ignorant in some way."

"Never could understand people like that," Darcy admitted, jumping off the couch and heading into the smallish kitchen area. Not that they ever used it to cook. They usually weren't at home enough to make meals, plus neither Darcy nor Jane had ever learned, but Thor just happened to pick a weekend day to drop in on them. Good timing on his part. "Do you want something to drink? I was gonna have some tea." Usually she lived and breathed coffee drinks, but right now, she was so buzzy that she wanted to relax, so it was time for herbal tea.

"If it is not inconvenient for you," he said, turning and keeping his eyes on her as she moved around the kitchen.

"I hope that peppermint tea is OK then. It's what I'm having," she told him as she pulled the teabags out. She was silent for a few minutes as she worked on getting some water boiled for them and making the tea, and soon enough she was coming back with two mugs, passing one to him with a smile. Sitting back down in her old spot, she tucked her legs underneath her body and tried to force herself to relax.

"You're tense," he observed, taking a sip of the tea and continuing to watch her over the mug. "Do I make you tense?"

"Well a little," she admitted to him. "Dude, you're the guy who tried to take over the world with an alien army, OK? Little freaky that you're sitting on my couch. But I'm having my calming tea so I should be good." She grinned at him and took a sip of her tea. "But it's not even like you were totally wrong about humanity." That had slipped out before she had thought about it. Damn she really needed to learn to control her mouth.

"What do you mean?" Loki asked her, setting his mug of tea down on the coffee table.

She sighed. "Dude, I should SO not be telling you this," she admitted before going on anyway. "The majority of people DO like being controlled, ruled, and told what to do. It's been that way all throughout human history. I mean, two great people in history were Napoleon Bonaparte and Julius Caesar. Some people at the time considered them tyrants, but others considered them really great men. They both took control of situations where governments were on the verge of collapse. The Roman Republic was starting to fall in on itself, because it was inefficient, and the French Revolution had pretty much torn France completely apart. Julius is always remembered as a good guy, pretty much, and, even though most historians don't agree with everything that Napoleon did, pretty much everyone is OK with how he put France back into shape, and French people still have monuments and stuff built to him over there."

She hadn't even realized that she had went into lecture!mode. She had originally been planning to end up as a teacher, until she crossed paths with Jane and science and bifrosts and gods. "There is one thing that I think you did wrong, though," she told him. "Well, other than the 'alien army' thing, obviously."

Despite the fact that she bored everyone else she knew when she got to talking like this, Loki didn't look bored. He actually looked interested in what she had to say. Darcy had to admit that it was kind of an ego boost to keep the interest of a god. "And what would that be, Darcy?"

Ugh, not fair. The way his accent curled over the syllables of her name had to be illegal in a few states. "Well, most successful dictators in history have made their public love them. It's a work in progress. You can't go straight to the 'I'm gonna be ruler of the world' thing. You have to work your way up to it. Make the public fall for you over time. Just showing up in Germany and spouting ideology is a good way to scare the hell out of people." WHY was she telling him this? She was basically giving him a step by step guide for round two, wasn't she? How sad was it that she was so starved for intellectual conversation she was coaching a murderous deity on How To Enslave Humanity?

"I was working on a bit of a short time table at the time," Loki admitted to her. "I was operating with someone else and was supposed to retrieve the Tesseract for them."

She arched an eyebrow at him. This was the first she had heard anything like that. Eric had told her and Jane all about what he had been working on after the incident in New York. He probably wasn't supposed to, but he had sought them out as soon as things were over and, over one too many drinks, everything came spilling out. It was fascinating, the idea that someone could create a way for clean energy to run the world, but it had turned out that it was being used for weapons, too. Another way that humanity would never change no matter what they said: they were always finding ways to blow each other up in even better ways than before. What was it Loki had said? Something about humans always scrabbling for themselves, and never uniting? Yes, he had been right about some things. Thinking wryly that maybe he wasn't so crazy after all, she found herself grinning at him. "Well, if you DID ever try to take over the world again, you should read up on some former dictators first to see how they did it. You could learn a lot."

Seriously, Darcy HAD to be insane for telling him all of this. Before she thought better of it, she jumped off the sofa, heading over to her overflowing bookshelf, grabbing one of her old college books off of it and tossing it his way. "Is The Prince a good guide to go by?" Loki asked, picking up the book and looking it over. "Seems a bit on the short."

"Think of it as succinct," she said with a grin. "If you say it right the first time, you don't need a lot of flowery language to make your point sound better." Before she could say more, they could heard Thor and Jane heading toward the living room. She watched as Loki tucked the book into his coat, and she plastered the slightly vacant smile that Jane expected from her. She was supposed to be Darcy the coffee wench, not Darcy the advisor of a would be tyrant.

OoOoOoOo

Once Loki and Thor had returned back to Asgard, Loki had headed straight to his room. His punishment on Asgard had recently finished, and now he was supposed to be treated as an equal again. He had yet to see this 'equality,' though. This wretched collar around his neck was proof enough that he was still a prisoner, along with the scathing looks of the other citizens of Asgard. He hadn't originally liked the idea of having to tag along with Thor to Midgard to visit his simpering maid, but it was better than being left here. He didn't know what might happen to him if Thor was away. No one would dare kill him, for that would go against the will of Odin, but someone might try to hurt him. Therefore, he had only put up token resistance.

He hadn't realized that his trip to earth would be so...enlightening. What little he had known about this Darcy before was that she worked for Jane and Eric, and while both had liked her, neither had really respected her. She was the girl who did the tedious tasks for them, since her understanding of their science was less than exemplary. It seemed that they had mistaken her ignorance in that one area for complete simple-mindedness.

As much as he disliked a lowly mortal reviewing him, much of what she had to say was right. He had not been able properly to cultivate the human populace before. He had been rushed. If he had to do it over again, he would try to at least avoid allying himself with the controllers of the Chitauri army. It had laid a heavy cloud over what should have been a simple matter. He had felt unduly pressured.

He had started reading The Prince as soon as he was alone, and it proved to be a fascinating read as well. It seemed odd that a human would write a how-to manual on how to be conquered, but he was actually glad for it. He even appreciated Darcy's notes in the margins. The girl was insightful; he had to give her that. It seemed that she was overlooked by her friends and coworkers.

Loki knew that an underappreciated person could make the best minion. The fact that she was actually intelligent was all the better. Oh yes, he had plans for Darcy.