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guns & rosaries

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Darcy didn’t begin to suspect that anything was wrong until the third day on the job. Hunting monsters had never exactly been easy money, but she and Jane had been doing it for so long that Darcy forgot what it was like when a job went truly sideways.

From the start, it seemed like an average contract—strange and scary things started happening in a small town, townspeople freaked out, townspeople found a (mostly) innocent person to scapegoat—and the guy who hired them was too genuinely nice to be pulling some kind of con. And while Jane may have been too entranced by the guy’s abs to make an unbiased evaluation of the situation, Darcy’s bullshit detector had no equal. To be fair to Jane, though, even Darcy had to admit that Thor’s abs were extremely impressive.

All that aside, his concern that his little brother might be wrongly accused and driven out of their community was so palpable that Jane and Darcy accepted the contract on the spot and booked a flight to Norway the next day.

The first night was fine. Jane and Darcy were jet lagged as hell but still able to drag themselves to the only inn in town, where they rented two rooms for the duration of the contract (Jane was attempting to hide her desire to get in Thor’s pants as a sudden and unprecedented need for space, but Darcy wasn’t buying it). Darcy barely took the time to unpack her meager toiletries—she left the silver bullets, holy water, and emergency potions securely tucked away in the false bottom of her luggage—before heading out to join Jane and Thor in the pub for dinner.

When she finally collapsed into bed, exhausted, she had horrible, restless dreams all night. She woke up the next morning, drained, with the ghost of a crushing weight on her chest. Rubbing at the spot, feeling as if a bruise was forming, Darcy attributed the strangeness to lingering jet lag and a desperate need for caffeine. She paused only for a moment at the mirror, looking at the deep, dark bruises under her eyes in mild consternation. Should’ve brought more concealer, Darce.

On her way out the door, Darcy’s eyes caught on the items scattered across the vanity. Hmm, that’s strange—she would’ve sworn that they were in a different order when she laid them out the day before. Shaking her head, Darcy wrote it off as a flight of fancy and went on her way.

The second day and night went much like the first; Jane and Darcy split up to subtly investigate suspicious activity in the town, and Darcy became more and more perturbed by what she heard. Apparently, several people had had heart attacks in the middle of the night over the past few months, a few too many to just be coincidence. At least several more had literally disappeared in the middle of the night, with no clue as to where they had gone. The townsfolk were adamant that they hadn’t left voluntarily—cars, clothes, and belongings were all still at home, and entire families had been left behind without warning.

Suspicion and paranoia were percolating, as they often did in situations like these, swelling into a wave of fear and hate that would find some unlucky sod to target. Apparently, in this case that scapegoat was likely to be Thor’s little brother.

Darcy and Jane would have to move quickly, before irreparable damage was done.

As she headed back to the pub to meet Jane and Thor for dinner, Darcy mused that it did indeed sound like some kind of supernatural creature was wreaking havoc on the town. Unfortunately, she was still at a loss for what kind—the vague descriptions she had gathered from the townspeople could fit any number of monsters she and Jane dealt with on a regular basis, not to mention the ones specific to this area of the world. Hopefully Jane had fared better.

Jane had not, in fact, fared any better. That was patently clear from the fact that Darcy’s best friend was currently engaged in a rousing sing-off with her fair-haired beau, which seemed well on its way to…yep, definitely ending in a drunken makeout.

Rolling her eyes fondly at the pair, Darcy moved to claim a table at the edge of the crowd. As she sat, Darcy felt the press of someone’s gaze and sat up to her full (modest) height. Taking her time, she nonchalantly cast her eyes about this room, searching for her unknown spectator.

As soon as her eyes landed on the man lounging in a chair by the fire, Darcy wondered how she ever could have missed him. He certainly wasn’t going out of his way to hide the direction of his gaze, and he smirked at her when their eyes met. With dark hair and a disdainful tilt of his chin, he looked nothing like the rest of the townspeople she had met so far.

Because of the distance and the reflection of the flames dancing in his eyes, she couldn’t tell if they were green or blue. There was no disguising the smug tilt of his mouth, though, especially as it was directed straight at her in a blatant challenge. Darcy allowed herself a smug look in return, and he sat up a bit straighter in his chair in response. She had a moment to wonder if he would abandon the distance between them and approach her, but then Jane was at the table, slightly drunk and glowing.

Swaying as she sat down, Jane leaned too close and shouted, “Thor’s getting us drinks!”

Darcy chuckled and leaned back in her seat, eardrums already aching from Jane’s lack of volume control. “That’s great, Janie, thanks. Did you find out anything good today?”

Jane shakes her head, then nods vigorously, then see-saws her hand in a so-so motion. “Umm—”

Snorting at her best friend, Darcy takes a different approach. Best to keep it simple. “Any word on how Thor’s brother is holding up under all the suspicion?”

Jane looked at her, wide-eyed and puzzled. “You were the one just having intense eye sex with him, Darcy, so you tell me. I thought you’d already ‘met,’ the way you were looking at each other.” She waggled her eyebrows outrageously, drawing a laugh out of Darcy.

“You’re the only one getting any action on this trip, Janie,” Darcy teased. Humming thoughtfully, she added, “I could see why he’d be the one everyone blames around here, though. He doesn’t exactly…fit in.”

Jane nodded sagely in agreement. “It’s always the outsiders who get blamed, isn’t it?” She and Darcy exchanged a glance, empathetic to Loki’s plight; they’d been on the receiving end of townspeople’s misplaced blame more than once in the past, and it was always unpleasant. Darcy turned back to where he was sitting, but Loki was gone.

Thor came back with their mead at that moment and conversation turned to lighter topics. Darcy let go of thoughts about his brother, but every now and then she swore she could feel eyes on her, watching and assessing.

That night passed much like the one before, and Darcy began to suspect that her nightmares possibly had something to do with whatever was haunting the town. She suffered no other effects than lingering exhaustion and a lingering heaviness in her chest, though, so she continued on with her day, planning to look into it later.

In hindsight, perhaps Jane and Darcy should have questioned the details of the supernatural goings-on a bit more extensively before making the trip. That way, Darcy might have been slightly more prepared to wake up to a ghoulish creature perched on her chest in the middle of the night.

As it was, Darcy was not prepared in the least. She woke abruptly, limbs paralyzed and pressed to the bed. Her mouth still worked, though, and she let out an earsplitting shriek, loud enough to bring the inn down around her ears. The vaguely woman-like creature bore down on her, glowing red eyes moving so close they drowned everything else out.

Whatever she was, she wasn’t human. She was old, powerful, and clearly hated Darcy with a fiery passion.

Darcy had just enough time to reflect on the embarrassment of dying in bed in a foreign country, alone, before her ears were filled with a thunderous clanging. The ghoul screamed in pain and frustration and clambered off of her, scrambling to the far corner of the room.

Limbs mobile again, Darcy propped herself up on her elbows just in time to see the creature turn itself to mist. A silver knife flew past, embedding itself directly into the wood where the creature had stood half a second earlier.

Loki stood in the doorway, one hand gripping some kind of bell while the other was still outstretched from throwing the knife.

Darcy blinked, and then he was rushing toward her. He grabbed her hand, dragging her the rest of the way out of bed, and they fled the bedroom at a run.

Well, Darcy thought to herself, this job just got a whole lot more interesting.

Chapter Text

Darcy waved frantically at Jane behind Loki’s back, pointing her to the silver knives he kept on the chest by the door. Her friend nodded quickly and tiptoed over, rummaging through the pack. She held up the slim case in triumph, already heading back to the door.

Loki started to pull away, sensing that her attention was elsewhere. Sliding her eyes closed, she sifted her hand trhough his shoulder-length hair, gripping it at the nape of his neck, and opened her mouth against his. Immediately, his tongue slipped into her mouth, stroking along hers in a heated dance. Darcy lost herself in the kiss and unsuccessfully tried to ignore the desire that began to simmer in her belly. Loki’s hands moved from her hips to her back, bringing her closer.

A faint noise reminded her of the purpose of the kiss—which had started as a simple distraction and somehow turned into this—and her eyes popped open. She caught sight of Jane’s figure disappearing around the corner and almost sighed in relief. When she brought her eyes back to his face, Loki was staring down at her coolly. He broke the kiss and moved back a step.

Raking a hand through his hair, he looked calm and collected and utterly unamused. It was a direct contrast to the way Darcy felt: messy, hot, and ready to do anything for another kiss. She stared at him, at the way he seemed completely unaffected by the kiss, and wondered if she should make a break for it. As he dropped his hand back to his side, though, she caught the way he clenched and unclenched his trembling fingers, and knew it was a mask. Against her better judgment, she decided to stay.

“Loki—” she began, not knowing how to follow it up. I’m sorry, I really needed your knives? I’m only trying to protect you? She silently snorted at the second one, picturing his reaction to that statement. He cut her off before she could make any excuse at all, and her jaw snapped closed.

“Now that your friend is gone, are you going to run away?” he asked, crooking an eyebrow. “Or would you like to try that again? This time for real.”

She gaped at him for a long moment, dumbstruck. Maybe she should feel ashamed, but she and Jane really needed his silver knives for their hunt. Darcy had done much, much worse in the pursuit of a mission. But it didn’t seem to matter to him. Not right now, at least.

Slowly, her confused expression melted into a sultry look, and she stepped back into his body. She pressed a light kiss onto his unresponsive mouth, then another. “I would like that very much,” she whispered. “If you’re willing to give me another chance.” On the last word, she drew his lower lip into her mouth and sucked on it lightly.

He exploded into action; all of a sudden his hands were everywhere: in her hair, caressing her arms, gripping her ass. His mouth was just as wild, and he stole her breath with a frantic kiss before leaving a trail of warm, wet kisses down her neck. Her legs turned to jelly, and as one they sank to the floor, where he settled her into his lap. She rocked against him purposely, grinning at his responding groan.

Jane could wait a little while; the creature only seemed to hunt at night, anyway. She had a couple of hours to kill.

Chapter Text

They’d finally hunted the nightmare down and sprung their trap. Everything was going to plan: Darcy had sprinkled salt around the perimeter, forming the letters of the Old Norse prayers that kept the mara at bay. Jane was armed with holy water and her crucifix, Loki his silver knives, and Thor even had some kind of old hammer with strange runes that hummed with an ancient power.

Everything went well, until it didn’t. Between one blink and the next, the creature was back on Darcy’s chest. Panic seized her—whether it was the creature’s doing or simply a memory of the previous time it had happened, she didn’t know—and she couldn’t even fight back as it wrapped grotesque fingers around her neck and began to squeeze.

A thundering shout brought her to her senses, and she reached up to pry the fingers away when suddenly the weight on her chest was gone. Loki had tackled it away from her and was grappling with it hand to hand. He didn’t have his knives, and was no match for the creature’s hellish strength. It backhanded him viciously, sending him sailing through the air. He hit the wall with a sickening thud, sliding down to rest in a crumpled heap at the bottom. He didn’t get up again.

Darcy hardly noticed when Thor struck the creature down, allowing Jane to finally stab the creature with one of Loki’s knives, pinning it down as it shrieked and fought. With a last sputter, the thing finally died. And Darcy was already running to Loki’s body, crumpled near one of the walls.

He was still and unmoving, and her eyes filled with tears. His body didn’t move, not even a twitch, even as she shook him and called his name.

She hovered over him, refusing to believe it. “Loki? Loki, this isn’t funny.” A stray teardrop splashed onto his face, sliding toward his hairline and marring his smooth skin. Still he didn’t flinch. She wiped the wetness away from her cheek angrily, stifling a desperate sniffle.

“You can’t do this to me,” she said. “I will find a way to hunt you down and bring you back, see if I don’t.”

“Is that supposed to be a threat?” he mumbled, eyeballs shifting under his eyelids. One green eye cracked open, and he groaned at the sudden light. With a feeble grin—one that spoke more of pain than it did of humor—he added, “It might be the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard, actually.”

His eyes slid all the way open, meeting hers without hesitation. Relief made her shoulders sag, but she hid it with a grumble. “Romantic? Please,” she scoffed, muttering under her breath. “As if there could be anything romantic about a situation like this, with a monster like that.” Her gaze was involuntarily drawn to the corpse of the mara, making her shudder.

“I disagree,” he argued, drawing her attention back to him. He was breathless and battered, and so was she, but they still managed to find a way to argue. “I would argue that saving your life at the expense of my own could be considered at least a little romantic.”

He knew that it was a mistake as soon as he said it, she could see it in his face. But the damage was already done, and her brain sent itself through repeated replays of the moment when she’d lain there, trapped and paralyzed, and he’d gone sailing through the air to smack against the wall. The impact of his body on the stone echoed throughout her head, over and over until it drowned everything out.

A rough squeeze of his fingers against hers brought her back to herself abruptly. His eyes caught hers, somber and free of mischief for once. “I am sorry, love. I should not have made light of it.” Again she looked away; she couldn’t look at him, for fear that it was all an illusion, an elaborate hallucination her mind had created to convince herself he wasn’t dead.

“Darcy,” he whispered, a hoarse plea that drew her eyes inexorably back to his. He was open and vulnerable, and she felt something in her chest clench at the sight. “Kiss me.”

Gasping a sob, she did as he asked. Their lips met in a salty tangle, her tears leaking freely from her eyes. A weak hand came up to thread itself through her hair, keeping her with him. Not that she would leave, not that she could. But still he held her close, and opened his mouth under hers. And she kissed him fiercely, stroking her tongue along his, pouring all the fear and anger and despair she’d felt into it. He took it all, absorbing it, and giving her nothing but warmth and safety and reassurance in return.

Eventually they broke apart; Darcy was keenly aware that he was injured and in need of medical attention. She helped him to his feet, draping his arm around her shoulders so that he could lean on her. They hobbled to where Jane and Thor stood waiting, lost in their own celebratory embrace.

Loki leaned close to whisper in her ear, “I’d say you’ve earned yourself a vacation, darling.”

Looking at him from the corner of her eye, Darcy caught the mischievous, flirty smirk that crept across his face. “You know, I do believe you’re right,” she replied. “If only I had someone to accompany me.”

“If only,” he agreed, pressing a sweet kiss to her temple.

The action disarmed her, and she gave up all attempts at pretense. “Somewhere warm,” she demanded. “Somewhere hot, and sunny.”

He pulled her to a stop, turning to press a full, lingering kiss against her mouth. “I think that could be arranged.”

Chapter Text

The ride from the medical clinic to the inn was fraught with tension. Less because the occupants of the car were angry with each other, and more because the two couples couldn’t wait to find themselves alone. Darcy couldn’t even stand to look at Loki, she was so desperate for his touch. When his pinky reached across the space between them to hook around hers, she honestly thought she might spontaneously combust.

His warmth radiated from the seat next to hers, so inviting she couldn’t help but look in his direction. The darkness outside prevented her from being able to read his expression; his face was obscured by shadow. She could feel his eyes on her, though, hot and lingering.

And then they were pulling up beneath the welcoming light of the inn, and she caught her first true glimpse of his expression since they were at the clinic treating his wounds. Whereas in the sterile medical room his eyes had been tender and watchful, never straying from her—like he was worried that she was safe, like she might disappear if he looked away for even a second—now his gaze was a full-blown smolder.

It sent lightning coursing down her spine, bold and sharp, until she couldn’t focus on anything but the expectation rising in her blood and the frantic beat of her heart. A satisfied smirk crept across his face, as though he knew exactly what he was doing to her. Another time, perhaps, she might draw out the hunt. Keep him guessing, toy with him a little.

But right now the image of him sailing across the room to lie in a broken heap was too vivid, the memory too fresh. All she wanted to do was get him upstairs and examine him, prove to them both that they had survived and were alive and well. She wanted to get her hands on him, on every glorious, naked inch.

Jane looked between them knowingly as they got out of the car. “See you in the morning. Try not to break anything, or we’ll have to pay for it.” And with a teasing grin she was gone, headed back to Thor’s place.

Without looking at Loki—she couldn’t, didn’t have the strength—Darcy strode into the inn and toward the room they’d rented. He followed behind her, walking close enough that their fingertips brushed against each other every few steps. There was an electric charge sparking between them, and Darcy felt like everyone in the lobby was staring at them.

And then they were in the quiet corridor, within steps of her room. Loki held his hand out for the key, silently demanding to enter first. With a concern for his aches and bruises, Darcy thought about protesting. The slight clenching of his defiant jaw gave him away, and she acquiesced silently. She knew he was only concerned with keeping her safe, and on tonight of all nights, she could stand to indulge his need.

The room was empty, as expected, and Darcy followed him inside. The door had barely closed behind her when she was pressed up against it by six feet of frantic, aroused male. She groaned against his mouth, clinging to him as his tongue swept between her lips. His hands were everywhere: sunk in her hair, caressing her cheek and neck, gripping her waist and kneading her hips.

His touch was soft, if insistent; it was a direct contrast to the unyielding wood of the door at her back, and she shifted against him. The motion brought him back to his senses, and he pulled her away from the door. Toward the bed.

Tripping over herself to pull them up short, she whispered against his mouth, “Are you sure? Your bruises—”

“I’m sure,” he growled, nipping lightly at her lower lip as punishment for doubting him.

“Okay,” she whispered, leaning fully into his body and opening herself up to him.

He froze against her, then burst into a blur of action. All of a sudden her back hit the bed, and he was reaching to help her strip beneath him. She watched him through lowered lashes as he moved; she wanted to memorize everything about this moment.

His eyes shone with appreciation as he looked at her, and he leaned back on his heels to study the picture she made. “We’ll have plenty of time for that later,” she promised, pulling him back down to her. And then there was no more talking.