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Of Time Lords and Magic

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The thing was, there was a war.

Darcy’s not too sure of the details – she was only tiny at the time – but she remembers that it was a war her people were losing. She can still vaguely remember the thunder of active weaponry, the anxious, frightened way that everyone went about their business, and the hushed conversations that took place when her parents thought she was asleep.

Darcy was only a small child when her parents left her in another universe, on another planet, and told her that they would come back for her when it was safe.

They never came back.

Darcy knows that they did the same thing with her elder brother – her parents had told her so before they left her – but Darcy has no idea where or when he ended up, or what has happened to him. She knows he’s still alive, at least, because she can feel their tenuous telepathic connection in her head, stretched thin by distance, but there.

In the two decades she’d been on Earth, she’s never found him.

It’s not like Darcy is totally alone – Darcy has her adoptive family, who are great, honestly. But when you come down to it, they’re still aliens, and there’s a gulf there that Darcy has never quite been able to bridge, no matter how much she wants to.

Darcy hasn’t seen her brother since she was a tiny kid, but she still misses him.

Darcy misses a lot of things. Some of them she doesn’t remember the words for, anymore.

Maybe that’s why she agreed to the internship with Jane Foster – because Jane is intense and driven and slightly bughouse (but in a good way! honestly) but she’s also studying a potential method of interstellar travel, and that catches Darcy’s attention, makes her hope. Because Darcy was never meant to live out the rest of her life on this planet, and even if Jane’s research takes decades before actual travel is viable... what’s that, amid the centuries Darcy has left before her? Jane has her feet on the ground and her head in the stars, and no matter what other people in her discipline say, someday Jane is going to go places. Hopefully, not just metaphorically.

So Darcy spends the summer in Puente Antiguo for six college credits, doing something that has nothing to do with her major, simply because she wants to see where it goes.

The last thing she expects is to meet another alien in the middle of the New Mexico desert. No, scratch that; the last thing she expects is to meet a god.

Darcy had known this reality had magic, unlike her own; the Time Lords had removed that particular constant from their universe long ago, in the Dark Times, when the Time Lords themselves were gods of time and space. Darcy can feel the itch of magic in the air, a rich spring of potentiality, and its remnants cling to Thor, thick and cloying. When Thor says he’s Thor of Asgard, like in the Norse myths, Darcy believes. Erik doesn’t, and clearly thinks her and Jane fools for being willing to consider the idea, but Darcy doesn’t care.

When the Men in Black descend on them, Darcy is yelling about the theft of her iPod when a figure steps forward, a bland smile on his face, and the connection in Darcy’s head snaps into sharp relief. Then she sees the way that time and space weaves its way around him, and knows that it can only mean one thing.

Philos?” Darcy asks, her voice loud and shocked.

Jane pays no attention, too busy haranguing the man in the suit for the loss of all her equipment; but the man in the suit snaps his head around and stares at Darcy, bland expression falling away into one of shock.

Darcia?” he asks, disbelieving, and that’s all the confirmation Darcy needs.

She flings herself at her brother, and his arms come out to catch her, and then her arms are around his neck and they’re both talking, speaking in rapid Gallifreyan.

I can’t believe it’s you!” Darcy says, half-laughing, stumbling over syllables she hasn’t practices in years, eyes prickling with tears. Her brother is different than she remembers – at least a century older, and a regeneration changed.

Philos holds her tight, their connection brimming with emotion.

I wondered when I’d find you,” he says simply.

You’re so much older!” Darcy marvels. “The last time that I saw you –” She chokes up too much to speak.

Jane and Erik are staring at them, and so is Thor, but Darcy doesn’t care. Philos evidently does, however, because after a moment he disentangles himself from Darcy’s embrace, the bland mask slipping back into place.

He looks at Darcy.

“What do they call you?” he asks, and although his expression gives away nothing, his eyes are alight.

“Darcy Lewis,” she says, smiling. “You?”

“Phil Coulson,” he says, and a tiny smile tips up the corners of his mouth.

Philos glances around, taking in the scene around him for a second time. His gaze lingers on Thor, and Darcy knows he sees what she does.

“Darcy,” he says, “who’s your friend?”

“Thor of Asgard,” says Darcy. “They have gods here, Phil.” She makes a face at him to convey how crazy that is.

Philos looks unaffected by the news.

“Darcy, what’s going on?” Jane asks. “How do you know him?”

Darcy glances at Philos, because if he’s one of the MIB it’s possible he’ll want to downplay their relationship, but Philos responds with, “Darcy is my sister.”

“Oh,” says Jane awkwardly, staring between them, and Darcy can see the exact moment she decides not to comment on the visible age gap. Then she looks at Darcy meaningfully.

Darcy sighs, but looks back at Philos.

“Do you really need to confiscate Jane’s research?” Darcy asks. “It’s, like, her life’s work. And if there’s going to be more alien gods falling from the sky, let’s face it, your weird secret organisation probably wants her to continue something that has applications for interstellar travel, right?”

“I never said anything to you about interstellar travel,” Jane frowns.

“Yeah, but I’m not stupid, Jane, and I read your last paper,” Darcy points out. “Interstellar travel is the obvious application.”

“I thought you said you weren’t a science student,” says Erik, while Jane absorbs Darcy’s words with a look of surprise.

“The science is a hobby,” Darcy concedes, because explaining that she was learning about stuff like Einstein-Rosen bridges at five years old is probably out of the question.

Philos clears his throat. He’s looking at Thor.

“Thor of Asgard,” he says. “Welcome to Earth.”

And Darcy can’t help but laugh.

Philos insists on hearing the entire story from all of them, one by one. So Thor explains how his father banished him from Asgard for basically starting a war, Jane explains how she and Darcy and Erik found Thor in the desert, and Darcy explains how it was totally Jane’s fault she hit Thor with the van.

Erik still looks disbelieving of Thor’s story, but frowns when he sees that Philos shows no sign of scepticism.

Philos sits and listens in interest, and Darcy can feel him noting things down in his head. When they’re finally done he nods, and says, “Thank you for sharing that with me. Dr Foster, we’ll return your equipment and research as soon as possible. Would you be interested in working with SHIELD?”

“What?” says Jane blankly.

“Darcy’s right,” says Phil bluntly. “My organisation can’t afford to overlook a research project with such potential. SHIELD would be willing to fully-fund your research, if that’s any incentive.”

Jane says “Funding?” in a faint voice. Erik looks almost as stunned as she does.

Philos nods, and hands Jane his card.

“Think about it,” he says, standing, offering them all a smile. He turns to Darcy. “I think we need to talk.”

“Hell yes,” says Darcy.

Philos puts a call in to his people, and tells them he’s going to be an hour or two. Then he puts his phone away, and he and Darcy walk down the street to Puente Antiguo’s one bar.

They order drinks, and then they sit and stare at each other.

“When did you get here?” Philos breaks the silence. Darcy wrinkles her nose.

“About twenty years ago?” Darcy suggests. “When did you get here?”

Philos’ answer of ‘1883’ makes Darcy nod. She thought it would be something like that.

“How’d you regenerate?” she asks, and Philos winces.

“Don’t ask.” Before Darcy can ask him on a scale of 1 to 10 how embarrassing that story is, he says, “You look the same. Just older.”

He sounds wistful, and Darcy knows he’s thinking of home, and days long gone.

“Yeah,” she agrees. “Just older.”

They sit for a while.

“So how’d you end up joining the alphabet soup agency?” Darcy asks finally. Philos shrugs.

“I was recruited,” he says vaguely. Then: “The Director knows I’m not human,” he adds in Gallifreyan.

Darcy raised her eyebrows.

“I’m not the only one who’s special,” Philos says. “And believe it or not, the Director is a good man. I wouldn’t work for him otherwise.”

Darcy believes her brother. There’s a core of steel in him that’s new, a ruthlessness that sits at counterpoint with the kindness Darcy can still sense through their connection.

Philos grew up, just like she did. The thought makes Darcy sad.

“What do you do?” Philos asks.

“Political science major at Culver,” Darcy explains. “I’m interning with Jane for six credits so I can graduate.”

Philos ‘hmms’ and Darcy narrows her eyes at him. Before she can ask, some guy sits down at their table.

“Hey, boss,” he says cheerfully, and ignores Philos’ dagger-stare.

“Well, hello,” says Darcy admiringly, because those arms. The guy grins back at her, amused.

“Hey,” he says, giving Darcy an appreciative once-over.

“No,” Philos tells Darcy, and then pins a stern look on the new guy. “Barton, hit on my sister again and I’ll have your balls.”

Barton chokes.


“I’m older than I look,” Darcy informs him, which is slightly true – she’s twenty-eight, not the twenty or so she most people assume she is. She’s still very young by Time Lords standards, though, and Darcy understands why Philos is glaring at Barton. Darcy won’t reach her full mental development for another century or so.

She decides not to tell her brother that she’s had boyfriends before. She wouldn’t put it past him to hunt them down and make them regret it.

Does he know?” Darcy asks in Gallifreyan. Philos glances at her, shakes his head.

“What language was that?” Barton wondered. “And seriously, Coulson? Your sister? How old were you?”

Philos shoots him a repressive look.


“Sorry,” Barton says, looking unrepentant. “It’s just, the idea of you having a family, doing family things...” His voice withers away under the look Philos gives him.

“I haven’t seen Phil since I was a little kid,” said Darcy, listening with interest. “What’s he like?”

Barton slants an inquiring look at Philos, who does something complicated with his facial expression.

“It’s a long story involving time travel,” Philos says.

Barton rolls his eyes.

“Fine, I get it, it’s private,” he says. “No need to make up crazy stories, boss.”

Darcy blinks. Philos looks faintly smug.

Darcy shrugs it off.

“Come on, tell me about my brother,” says Darcy, leaning forward. “Any embarrassing stories?”

Barton shrugged.

“Not really? At least, if they are, they’re before my time.” He looked suddenly thoughtful. “Although, the Captain America obsession could be considered embarrassing, I guess.”

“Captain America?” Darcy asks Philos.

“I’m one card away from collecting his entire vintage trading card set,” says Philos.

“But why?” asks Darcy, baffled.

“Uh oh,” says Barton, as Philos leans forward, a fanatical gleam in his eye. For the next five minutes Darcy is treated to a run-down of What Makes Captain America The Best Human Being On This Planet.

Barton looks like he’s heard some of the lecture before. Darcy just nods and pretends to be interested, the way she does when Jane goes on about science.

Five minutes later, Darcy is still baffled, but determined never to ask ever again.

“Okay,” says Darcy, “what I’m taking away from that is that Captain America is your personal hero, and possibly fantasy material.”

Barton laughs so hard, Darcy wonders if he’s going to sprain something.

Philos sighs.

Just then his phone rings, and he excuses himself, taking the phone outside to answer the call. Darcy follows, because she’s curious, and Barton follows as well, for whatever reason.

It’s cool outside in the desert night air – warm days, cool nights, here in Puente Antiguo – and Darcy looks up at the starry sky even as she listens in to Philos’ side of the phone call.

“Boss,” he says.

“It’s worse than we thought,” he says.

“We have an exiled prince from another planet on a quest to redeem himself,” he says.

Philos listens, nods.

“Yes, I know. Unfortunately, the evidence all points that way. Sorry, sir.” He listens some more, then says casually, “By the way, I located my sister.”

Philos’ boss has something to say to that, and Philos smiles faintly.

“I haven’t raised the issue yet,” he says. “But it’s possible she may be interested.”

Philos listens some more, then hangs up. He turns to Darcy.

“Director Fury would like to recruit you, in any capacity you want,” he says. “I understand that you’ll want to graduate first, of course, but it’s up to you.”

“What?” says Darcy, while Barton’s eyebrows climb his forehead.

“If it helps, the pay is very good, and SHIELD offers tremendous opportunities,” Philos continues.

“I say again: what?

“Fury’s willing to hire her just because she’s a Coulson?” asked Barton incredulously.

“Lewis,” Darcy says automatically. “I was adopted.”

That earns her a sharp look from Philos.

“Oh, don’t look like that,” Darcy groans. “I’m allowed to have more family than just you.”

“Of course you are,” Philos says, like he means it. “I just didn’t expect...” he trails off. Darcy reads between the lines.

“You mean, you weren’t adopted or anything?” Darcy asks tentatively.

“Orphanage,” Philos says briefly, and the way he feels on the other end of their connection tells her not to pry.

“Sorry,” says Darcy.

“It’s fine,” says Philos.

“Man, the more I hear, the more complicated your family history sounds,” says Barton, shaking his head. “Not that I can talk.”

Darcy sighs, and glances at her watch.

“I should probably get back to the trailer,” she says. “Jane likes to be up early.”

“I’ll walk you,” Philos says immediately.

“It was nice to meet you,” Darcy adds to Barton, and she and Philos head back towards Jane’s trailer.

You know, I keep wondering why, if there’s magic here, we aren’t gods,” says Darcy in Gallifreyan. The words still feel only half-familiar on her tongue, half-forgotten, the language faded from lack of use.

Philos shrugs philosophically.

We could be,” he says. “But would you really want that?”

Darcy thinks of all the old stories of what the Time Lords were, once – cruel and capricious, holding complete control over all of time and space, ruling it with a rod of iron. It was a matter of historical record that long ago, the Time Lords used to pluck unfortunates from other planets and force them to compete in gladiatorial-like games.

Some species had accused the Time Lords of Darcy’s time of being detached and distant from the rest of the universe, but it was better than the alternative, Darcy thought.

Not really,” Darcy admits. The rest of their walk is in silence.

“I’ll see you again tomorrow,” says Philos, in English, once they get to Jane’s trailer.

Darcy smiles wryly at him.

“You’d better,” she says.

True to his word, Philos stops by the next morning. He brings with him a to-go cup full of coffee, and Darcy beams at him as she accepts it.

“You are a god among men,” she says.

I think you mean a Time Lord among men,” Philos says dryly in Gallifreyan.

“What language is that you speak?” Thor rumbles curiously. “It is impervious to the Allspeak.”

“Allspeak?” Philos asks.

“Aye,” says Thor, while Jane listens with half an ear, half-asleep over her bowl of cereal, and Erik watches them all, still sceptical. “It allows me to understand and be understood no matter what the language. I find myself curious as to why the Allspeak fails when it comes to your own tongue.”

Thor regards Darcy and Philos expectantly. Jane and Erik stare as well.

Darcy and Philos look at each other.

“Don’t know, big guy,” says Darcy. “Your guess is as good as mine.”

It’s a lie – Darcy could make a guess as to why Asgard’s Allspeak doesn’t translate Gallifreyan – but Philos probably doesn’t want anyone knowing that they’re Time Lords just yet.

Thor frowns in discontent.

“At least tell me what realm it is from,” he says. “I know it is not a Midgardian language.”

“I doubt you’ve heard of it,” says Philos. “It doesn’t exist in this reality.”

Thor blinks at that. Before he can say more, there’s a knock on the glass door, and everyone looks around to see four guys and a lady standing outside. They’re all wearing armour, and look delighted to see Thor.

“My friends!” Thor booms, and moves to let them in. Jane and Erik just stare.

In the conversation that follows, Darcy gathers that these are Thor’s closest friends, that Loki (Thor’s brother) lied to Thor at some point about their father being dead, and that Loki is currently king of Asgard, which Thor’s friends all agree bodes well for nobody. Darcy listens in unabashedly and introduces herself, but Philos blends into the background and says nothing, listening for all he’s worth to the unguarded conversation. Then his phone rings, and everyone looks around at the sudden sound of big band music, Thor’s friends frowning in confusion at the noise.

Philos pulls out his phone and answers the call. His face goes from relatively relaxed to tense in an instant.

“Send it to me,” he says into the phone, and hangs up. “Some kind of machine is heading towards the town. It attacked my people,” he says, and when his phone pings, shows Thor a photograph on his phone. “Thor, do you recognise this?”

Thor’s expression is clearly horrified.

“That is the Destroyer,” he says.

“Nothing good ever comes of something named the Destroyer,” says Darcy.

“I gather that this isn’t a gesture of peace and goodwill,” says Philos to Thor.

“Loki must have sent it,” says Volstagg.

“Let me see,” says Darcy, and peers at the photo. Some kind of mechanical behemoth is at the centre of the image, standing next to a burning car. It definitely looks hostile. “How does it work?”

“Magic,” says Fandral loftily. Darcy doesn’t appreciate his tone.

“But you said that magic is what we call science, right?” asks Jane, looking at Thor. Thor nods.

“Right, so is it magic-magic, or science-magic?” asks Darcy, because the distinction is important.

Thor’s friends just stare at her, which is the opposite of helpful.

“We need to leave,” says Philos. “My people are evacuating the town as we speak. Thor–”

“No,” says Thor, shaking his head. “If Loki sent the Destroyer after me, it will destroy everything in its path until it reaches me. Fleeing will only put others in danger. I must stay, and attempt to reason with my brother.”

Philos nods, accepting Thor’s words.

“Then we will remain with you, and fight by your side, should it become necessary,” declares Sif, and Thor’s other friends join in.

Philos looks to Darcy.

“Darcy–” he begins.

“Hold on just a minute, let me get my bag,” Darcy tells him, and runs across the room to where she left her bag on the bench, and starts rummaging through it. “I have just the thing for this occasion!”

Philos joins her as Darcy emits a triumphant noise, and pulls out what she’s looking for.

“I didn’t know if a you-know-what might come looking for us someday, so I decided to be prepared,” Darcy says.

Philos stares at the large, clunky device in Darcy’s hands.

“What’s that?”

“Do you remember when they taught us to build those big guns that disable Dalek battle casings?” Darcy asks, adjusting the settings.

Philos is silent for a moment.

“You built a miniaturized Dalek disruption field generator,” he says flatly. Jane and the others are staring at Darcy and Philos in varying degrees of confusion and suspicion. Darcy and Philos ignore them.

“Exactly,” Darcy grins as the device begins powering up. “I figure, magic or not, there’s a chance it’ll work on the Destroyer, right?”

“You built a miniaturized Dalek disruption field generator, and you decided to study political science?

“Why not?” asks Darcy. “I already knew more than they could possibly teach me about engineering, but I didn’t know shit about political science.”

“Come work for SHIELD,” says Philos. “Please.”

“I’ll think about it,” Darcy concedes.

“Tell me, what realm are you both from?” Thor asks cautiously. It’s Philos who gives him and the other Asgardians a long look, and finally says, “Gallifrey.”

He turns away before the looks of blood-curdling horror on the faces of the Asgardians have time to properly form, but Darcy sees their expressions just fine.

“What?” asks Jane. “What’s Gallifrey?”

“The realm of the Time Lords,” Thor says hoarsely, still staring at Darcy and Philos in horror as Philos heads for the door. Darcy hangs back for a moment, curious about what Thor has to say.. “There are... stories, from long ago, before my people became gods. Of beings who controlled all of time and space, who used other peoples as playthings and amusements. It is said that the first gods of Asgard were shaped from mortal Asgardians, as a reward for loyal service to the Time Lords. The Time Lords were fickle and cruel and without mercy, and should one earn their ire, it could never be escaped.”

“To be fair,” says Darcy, “that was a long time ago. We’ve undergone some character growth since then. Now if you’ll excuse me, we have a town to save.”

She heads for the door, Dalek disruption field generator in her hands and a look of determination on her face.

Philos is standing in the middle of the street, staring up at the approaching Destroyer. His tie is flapping in the breeze. To most people he probably looks like an unremarkable paper pusher, but Darcy sees him for what he really is.

The Asgardians might reek of potentiality, but they have nothing on Philos. Philos shines.

Philos turns his head to look at Darcy.

“If you’re going to use that, you should do it soon,” he says.  Darcy nods.

“Brother!” Thor’s voice calls out, and he walks right past Philos and Darcy, straight towards the Destroyer, ignoring his friends’ shouts.

And Darcy activates the Dalek disruption field generator.

She feels the energy sweep across her like a wave. The wave might be invisible, but its progress isn’t: the Destroyer halts, and the blazing fire where its face should be dies abruptly. There’s a long, uncertain moment where everyone stares up at the Destroyer, waiting for something to happen.

Then the Destroyer teeters, and begins to fall.

“Darcy! Run!” Philos snaps at her, trying to drag her along, but Darcy waits until Thor catches up to them. Then all three of them run.

But the shadow of the Destroyer looms in front of them, growing bigger and bigger as the Destroyer falls towards them, and Darcy knows that they’re too slow, and that they aren’t going to make it –

–and all that magic, that potentiality is in the air as their fate hangs in the balance, and deep down inside, instinctively, she makes a choice that she didn’t know was an option –

–and the world slows.

It’s like running through molasses, but the three of them push through it, time rippling around them, before everything snaps back into normal motion –

– and the Destroyer slams into the ground not far behind them, sending up a cloud of dusty soil that envelopes the three of them.

“Thor!” Sif yells, somewhere beyond the cloud of dust.

“Darcy! Are you okay?” Jane’s voice calls.

Darcy would reply, but all she can do is cough and close her eyes against the dust, waiting for the air to clear.

After a moment or so Darcy can breathe again, and opens her eyes to see Jane, Erik, and Thor’s friends standing in the street, staring at them.

Philos lets go of Darcy’s arm.

“Your device worked,” says Thor. Darcy grins back, a little shakily.

“Time Lord science,” she says. “The best kind.”

Darcia, did you just slow time itself?” Philos demands in incredulous Gallifreyan.

Darcy pauses to think about it, about the weird pull in her chest and the way the world had slowed, and says slowly, “You know, I think I might have. Holy shit.”

Jane runs over to check on her and Thor, and that’s enough for Thor’s friends to come surging over as well, and there’s general back-slapping and ‘we’re all alive’ joviality. Erik, though, remains rooted to the spot, staring at the downed Destroyer. Darcy thinks he might finally have lost some of that scepticism.

Darcy and Philos detach themselves from the group, while Philos pulls out his cell phone.

“It still works,” he observes.

“I restricted the generator to magical wavelengths,” Darcy explains. She feels like she’s about to fall over. She’s unaccustomed to this kind of excitement.

Philos looks at her.

And then you slowed time,” he says in Gallifreyan. “Like the Time Lords of old.

“Yeah,” Darcy agrees, because what else can she say?

Philos sighs, and Darcy expects some kind of concerned lecture, but all he says is a tired: “I’m glad we’re not dead.”

“Me too,” says Darcy, nudging him.

They grin at each other, and then Philos is calling people on his phone, demanding sitrep, and when a black SUV pulls up in front of them and Phil gets in it, Darcy does too.

Darcy sits amid the SHIELD agents, half-listening to Philos ordering everyone around, ignoring the strange looks she’s getting for her presence, when Barton sits next to her.

“Mini-Coulson,” he greets her loudly, and just like that, some of the strange looks stop, replaced with surprised and enlightened ones. Mid-way through receiving a report from a subordinate, Philos slants a look at the two of them, but says nothing about the form of address.

“Barton,” Darcy returns.

“Nice work out there with the robot,” says Barton. “How’d you bring it down?”

“That’s classified, Barton,” says Philos, without glancing away from the agent he’s talking to.

“Sorry,” says Darcy to Barton. “But you heard Phil.”

“Fair enough,” says Barton. “Still. It was impressive.”

Darcy preens a little.

“Thanks,” she says. “So.” She looks at his arms. “Do you work out?”

Barton grins.

No, Agent Barton,” Philos snaps. “Don’t even think about it.”

Barton looks at Darcy.

“Sorry,” he says. “You’re cute, but the boss says no.”

“Fair enough,” says Darcy, and they sit in silence, right up until someone reports a column of light in the centre of the town, and Darcy ignores Philos order to stay where she is, choosing to scramble into the SUV with him instead. Philos gives her a look, but doesn’t make her get out.

The SUV roars off towards the centre of town while Darcy is still doing up her seatbelt.

It turns out that the column of light heralded Loki’s arrival, and when they arrive, it’s to see Thor and Loki duking it out in the middle of the main street. At some point Thor’s hammer has returned to him, along with some fancy armour and a big red cape. Thor’s red and silver is a counterpoint to Loki’s green and gold, and as they fight – Thor with powerful swings of his hammer and Loki with lithe jabs and slicing motions of the spear he holds – Philos gets out of  the SUV, aims his handarm, and fires.

There’s a ping of metal on metal, and Loki glances in their direction for a moment, before diving right back into the fight with Thor.

“Should we intervene?” Darcy wonders. “Or is that technically instigating war with a foreign power, seeing as Loki’s king of Asgard right now?”

“I think I just did that,” says Philos, “so let’s hope Thor wins.”

Thor’s friends are shouting advice and insults from further down the street.

“You are all traitors to your king!” Loki roars at them, and whirls to attack Thor again.

“Brother, give up this madness!” Thor bellows.

Darcy jogs over to the watching Asgardians and asks, “What’s going on?”

Philos joins her a moment later, in time to hear Fandral’s response.

“Loki informed us that he slew the king of Jotunheim, and that the war with them is averted,” Fandral explains, eying the two Time Lords warily. The other Asgardians don’t seem much more at ease than Fandral did.

“And then?”

“And then Thor demanded to know why Loki told Thor that Odin-king was dead,” supplied Sif.

“Things became heated,” Volstagg adds unnecessarily.

“Yeah,” says Darcy. “I can see that.”

Thor and Loki are still battling things out, when Loki makes a misstep, and Thor knocks the spear from his hand. Before Loki can make a dive for it, he’s knocked onto his back, and Thor places his hammer on Loki’s chest.

Loki screams himself hoarse, imprecations and orders and insults. Eventually he screams himself out, and simply lies, there, defeated. It is only then that Thor approaches, and asks in evident concern, “Loki, what is wrong?”

Loki’s glaring façade cracks.

“I am a monster,” he croaks.

“Of course you are not a monster,” says Thor. “What foolish notions have gotten into your head?”

Loki gives a cracked laugh.

“So you did not know, either,” he says. “They lied to you, as well.”

“Loki, what are you talking about?” asks Thor.

“Father and Mother,” says Loki. “They lied to us, Thor.”

Thor looks at Loki, puzzled.

“I am–” Loki begins, and falters. “I am not of Asgard, Thor. Father took me from another realm as a babe. He and Mother are not truly my parents.”

“Did he just invade this planet because he was having a meltdown over the fact that he was adopted?” asks Philos incredulously.

“Shh, I want to hear what happens next,” Darcy hisses.

Thor looks astonished, but rallies.

“Brother, you must know that this means nothing to me,” he says. “We have been raised together, fought together–”

I am Jotun, you fool,” says Loki, and closes his eyes.

There’s a long, horrible silence. Then:

“Aren’t Jotun generally taller and, ah, bluer?” blurts Fandral. His voice is loud in the silence.

Loki’s face twists.

“The form I wear is false, the result of magic,” he says, his eyes still closed.

Thor is silent, clearly turning things over in his head.

“I assume that Father told you these things,” he says at last.

“Who else?” Loki says with a sneer, opening his eyes again.

To everyone’s surprise, Thor sits down on the ground next to Loki.

“Loki,” he says gently, “you are not a monster. I care not what form is truly yours. You are my brother, all the same.”

Loki cranes his head to look up at Thor, his expression lost.

“You do not mean it,” he says – but he says it like he wants to be reassured.

“Of course I mean it,” Thor says fiercely. “Believe in my sincerity, brother.”

Loki closes his eyes again. In the silence, Darcy hears a tiny sob.

A moment later they’re all blinded by a column of light, and when it disappears, there’s an old guy with an eyepatch standing in the main street, too.

He gives Thor and Loki a look that doesn’t bode well.

“My sons,” he says, in a voice that obviously means, you idiots.

Loki turns his face towards Odin, his expression blooming with painful hope, mixed with apprehension.

“Father,” he says.

“You attempted to destroy Jotunheim,” says Odin, and he doesn’t sound glad about it.

Darcy hears a gasp from Sif. Darcy glances at her, and sees the look of dread on her face.

“For your crimes,” says Odin heavily, “you are exiled from Asgard, for now and forever hereafter.” He looks very old and weary.

Loki’s expression turns to one of desperate incomprehension. He looks like he’s struggling to understand what his father has just said.

“Thor,” says Odin, “it is time for you to come home.”

Thor doesn’t move.

“But Loki–”

“Loki is no longer your concern,” says Odin. “Come here.” His gaze transfers to the group of Asgardians and Time Lords watching the unfolding scene. “Warriors Three, Lady Sif,” he adds, and Thor’s friends hurry over to join the king of Asgard.

Odin looks back at Darcy and Philos.

“Time Lords,” he says. “You have acted to protect the mortals from my youngest son’s foolishness. For that you have my gratitude.”

Philos says nothing, and neither does Darcy. They just look at Odin.

The king of Asgard sighs.

“I would ask a boon of you,” he says.

“What boon?” asks Philos, expression alert.

“That you watch over Loki, and see that he does not cause further trouble to this realm,” says Odin. “He cannot come home, after what he has done, but he yet requires further guidance. He is young.”

Philos visibly thinks it over, considering the possible consequences.

“Fine,” he says. “I will do as you ask.”

Odin’s shoulders slump ever so slightly.

“I thank you,” he says. Then: “Thor! Now. Leave Loki. The Time Lord will care for him.”

But Thor glares at Odin, his expression ferocious.

“I will not leave Loki alone,” he says.

For a moment Odin is silent.

“So be it,” he says finally. “Heimdall, open the Bifrost.”

The column of light reappears, and when it is gone again, Odin and Thor’s friends have disappeared.

Loki is staring into space as Thor removes the hammer from his chest.

“Father has cast me out,” he says dully.

“I am afraid so,” says Thor.

“But why?” Loki asks desperately. “Had Heimdall and Mother not intervened, I would have saved our realm!”

“But at a terrible cost,” says Philos, walking over, and looking down at Loki. His expression could be carved from granite. But then it softens, and he says, “They weren’t monsters. And you don’t have to be a monster, either.”

Loki lets out another sob, and Thor pulls his brother into his arms.

A week later, and things are different.

For one thing, Jane now has all the data she could possibly want on functional Einstein-Rosen bridges, and is in the process of taking over a shiny new lab at SHIELD with her equipment and notes, with the help of a bright-eyed assistant SHIELD picked out for her. Erik has disappeared from her Jane’s again for the moment, having been hired by SHIELD for a different project.

Darcy’s internship has finished early, leaving her on-track for graduation. She and Jane have promised to keep in touch and to catch up when opportunity allows it. Darcy has no idea what she wants to do once she graduates. Whatever she chooses, though, she has her brother back.

Speaking of Philos – she’s glad she doesn’t has his problem of looking after a pair of errant alien princes. Loki was quiet and subdued after his crying fit had died down, but Darcy doubts that will last forever. Loki has ‘trouble’ written all over him. For that matter, Thor isn’t exactly the quiet and biddable type, either. Darcy foresees both of them causing Philos any number of headaches. The thought makes her grin.

Darcy doesn’t know what’s coming next. But it’s bound to be awesome – of that, she’s pretty damn sure.