When Loki peeled his undershirt off in the bathroom, Darcy was pleased to see his bruising was completely healed. He half-turned away from her, not meeting her gaze, like a shy teenager. Darcy walked over to him and put her hands on his back, palms pressed to his skin and fingers spread. Loki stiffened and she felt his muscles bunch and tense.
“You’re cold,” Darcy announced. “Colder than normal. What’s up with that?”
He drew a deep breath, which made the muscles in his shoulders do interesting things. “My temperature has a tendency to drop when I over-exert myself. Have you never noticed?”
“Yes,” Darcy replied. “I have.” She figured it wasn’t a good idea to press the matter, given Loki’s colder body temperature was indicative of his Jotun nature. She slid her hands upwards, feeling the ripple of muscle and jut of bone under the smooth, pale skin. Loki’s breath shuddered in response and Darcy smiled faintly to herself.
He turned around slowly, and then stepped closer to her, reaching up to undo the buttons at the throat of her blouse. Darcy kept her eyes on his face. She didn’t want to push him any further than he was willing to go, and she didn’t want him to have to speak up before she stopped.
But he finished unbuttoning her blouse with steady hands and slid it down off her shoulders, leaning down to press a light kiss to the outside curve of her shoulder. He pressed another to the base of her neck, and then underneath her jaw, and Darcy arched her neck under his mouth.
He traced his hands up her sides, drawing gooseflesh in his wake, until he reached the clasp of her brassiere and flicked it open. He drew the garment out of the way before his hand came to rest on her breast, his thumb brushing over her nipple.
“Loki,” Darcy said a bit breathlessly as his teeth scraped over the sensitive skin under her ear. He made a soundless rumble in his chest and did not stop his attentions. “ Loki . The tub is going to overflow.”
Loki heaved an aggravated sigh and stepped away from her, crossing over to the over-sized tub and shutting off the spigot. Darcy took the opportunity to double check the door to make sure it was locked, and then stripped out of her trousers. She followed Loki over to the tub and hooked her fingers in the waistband of his trousers, turning him around. She reached up and drew his face down to meet hers.
He responded to the kiss instantly, tracing the tip of his tongue along her lower lip. She opened her mouth under his, letting her tongue join his. His hands were back on her body, and she returned the favor. Loki was built lean, with no extra fat and barely any extra muscle. But he did still have an attractive ripple of muscle over his ribcage that led down to the deep V of his hips.
When Darcy’s hands were impeded by Loki’s pants, she stopped, remembering the last time her hands had wandered this far down. Loki pulled away from her, and Darcy tried not to be disappointed, but Loki tilted his head towards the bathtub.
“The water will get cold,” he told her, the corner of his mouth turning up. “You should get in.”
“Don’t tell me you’re not capable of warming up a bathtub with magic,” Darcy retorted, stepping over the wall of the tub into the water. It was the perfect temperature for her and she was quite happy to submerge to her shoulders. There was a low bench along the edge of the tub, just high enough to be comfortable. She settled back and rested her arms along the top of the tub, raising an eyebrow challengingly.
“Well?” she said. “ You’re the one who smells. Are you going to join me?”
Loki cocked his eyebrow in reply and stripped out of his trousers. He wasn’t wearing underwear. When he sank into the water next to her, pressing against her, the warmth of the water equalized their skin temperatures. He glided his hand up her thigh to rest on her hip, and she barely felt the touch, not until his fingertips dug into her skin. She’d have bruises, but she didn’t say anything.
Loki’s mouth found hers again, insistent and demanding, tilting her head back and teasing her mouth open. His other hand came up to cup the back of her head, tangling his fingers in her hair.
They hadn’t had more than a few kisses in over a month, and even before that… well, suffice it to say it had been a while, and Darcy, despite her good intentions, wasn’t getting anymore patient. She wanted the joining, needed it, wanted to feel connected to him in the most intimate manner possible, to see inside his soul for the first time since…
Loki shuddered under her sudden enthusiasm and broke away, and Darcy realized she had switched their positions. He was now pressed back against the side of the tub, and she was halfway in his lap. Loki was breathing heavily, eyes closed, but she knew instinctively it wasn’t from arousal.
“Oh, god, Loki,” Darcy slowly backed away from him, moving to the other side of the tub. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to--I’m sorry.”
Of course he’d have flashbacks. It was the perfect environment for it. The last time they’d bathed together had been on Rhia, in her sister Helke’s home, while he was still under Skuld’s control, and they hadn’t done much actual bathing.
“I should go,” Darcy muttered, furious with herself, and started to stand. Loki’s hand shot out, spraying droplets of water, and clamped down around her wrist.
“No,” he said softly, and opened his eyes. He pinned her in place with an intense stare, head tipping to the side. His skin, despite the warm water, was still pale, but his mouth was flushed bright pink, and Darcy was having a hard time not staring. He had a surprisingly beautiful mouth, the lower lip fuller than the top, begging to be bitten.
He drew her back down, and didn’t have to use much strength to compel her, until she was seated on the bench opposite him. Then he moved forward until he was kneeling in front of her.
“I want to try something,” he said in the same soft voice. He put his hands on her shoulders and kissed her chastely. “Just, please, do not move.”
“Okay,” Darcy whispered, and he kissed her again, open mouthed and exploring. Darcy resisted the urge to touch him, and oh, it was hard. He was there , all lean muscle and restrained power, and her fingers itched to trace the curves in his upper arms.
She almost jumped when his hands slid down her shoulders, briefly cupping her breasts before traveling lower, down until he could draw her thighs apart so he could move closer, pressing them chest to chest. She half imagined she could feel his heartbeat racing in his ribcage, but that was probably just hers.
He broke the kiss, keeping his face centimeters from hers, and told her, “You can touch me, if you wish.”
“Oh,” Darcy gasped, and immediately reached up to explore the fascinating movement of his shoulders. She really did need to get him out of a shirt more often.
His mouth found the pulse point at her throat, a spot of which he seemed to be fond, given his attention to it. Darcy was a-okay with that as a shiver ran through her body despite the warmth of the water. She did jump when his hand skated up her inner thigh to find her center.
Darcy squirmed, reaching down to catch his hand, hold him in place. “Look, if we’re just gonna fool around…” she said, and trailed off, because the last thing she wanted was to pressure him into anything.
Loki nipped the side of her neck, making her shoulder hitch upwards. “Are you calling me a fool?” he asked in a low growl.
Darcy let go of his hand. “Noooo,” she replied slowly.
“I have no intention of ‘fooling around,’” Loki rumbled against her skin.
“Oh, thank god,” Darcy breathed. She arched her back, pressing as much skin together as possible, and hooked her arm around Loki’s neck. “Keep doing that thing with your teeth.”
“As you command,” Loki murmured, and nipped at her neck again.
She was sufficiently distracted by his teeth against her skin that when he entered her, it almost took her by surprise, and she couldn’t help the cry that escaped her lips. The bond snapped into place almost immediately, taking her breath away.
Loki bit down harder on her neck, pain providing a counterpoint to the sensation of joining. It was all Darcy could do not to move, to urge him on, but she did as he asked; she kept still. He did not leave her in dire straits long, setting a gentle, unhurried pace.
As much as she had wanted this, as much as she knew she needed this, part of Darcy had been afraid of it, if somehow they weren’t compatible after what Skuld had done to Loki, if the bond wouldn’t work they way it was supposed to.
She was wrong.
She didn’t think the joining could have been more intense than before, but it was, ten times more. It was more than pleasure, more than simple physical sensation. It was belonging , like she found the pieces of her soul that she’d been missing all her life. It was knowing , like she was remembering the truths about the universe she thought she’d forgotten.
Darcy felt as if she and Loki were drawn out of their bodies, drawn into a space that only contained themselves, and the galaxy. Stars wheeled and crashed around them, exploding in Darcy’s brain. And yet she was exquisitely aware of the pressure and friction as Loki moved inside her.
He left off trying the leave permanent teeth marks on her neck and attacked her mouth instead with far more force than was strictly comfortable. His teeth clicked against hers, catching her lip between them and pinching painfully, but she didn’t care, she just wanted more of him.
Loki had always seemed to be in control in these situations, always held himself back. Now he seemed as desperate as she was, to feel more, to sense more, and his rhythm became sloppy, needy, and when Darcy could no longer hold herself back and wrapped her legs around his waist, he didn’t seem to notice.
Darcy clung to Loki, and he clung to her, as if their lives depended on the contact. Their minds bled together until she couldn’t tell who was who, pleasure flowing back and forth between them in an endless cycle. It built up like a wave, pressure and pain and pleasure all wrapped up in one, filling them up until it finally crested with such intensity that their senses whited out.
Awareness returned slowly, and when it did, Darcy was back in her own body, once more only joined to Loki by a thin silver thread. He was still kneeling in front of her, hands on her thighs, but he leaned bonelessly against her, pinning her back against the side of the tub, his face buried in the side of her neck.
There were bruises on her thighs, and the bite mark was a throbbing point of pain. She was sore at the center of her, but the rest of her body was loose, and her skin felt like she was glowing. She reached up and stroked her hand over Loki’s hair, and he made that silent rumble he made when he was truly content. She stroked his hair again and he kept making that noise.
“Loki,” Darcy whispered into his ear.
He didn’t respond for a long time, then she only got, “Hmmm?”
Darcy smirked. “You’re purring .”
“You know, you really should get some sleep,” Darcy said an hour later. “You’ve been awake for, like, two days straight and the girls aren’t gonna cut you any slack when they wake up in the morning.”
Loki continued mapping the freckles on her back with his tongue. “You will find,” he said at length. “They are extraordinarily well-behaved children.”
Darcy shifted enough to look over her shoulder at him. “Well-behaved or not, they’re four years old. How many four-year-olds have you been around?”
Loki paused to suck a mark onto her fifth thoracic vertebrae. “At that age, Asgardians are still infants,” he told her. “So not many.”
He travelled lower, to the small of her back, and Darcy writhed a bit when he reached more sensitive skin. “Well, I have,” she went on. “And it takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep up with one, much less six . You need to sleep.”
“How could I sleep when you are here, being so distracting ?” Loki protested, and then added teeth to his ministrations. Darcy shivered in response and resisted the urge to kick him in the chest. She was ticklish there, and he knew it.
“It’s not my fault that your sex drive has apparently kicked into over drive,” Darcy complained. “If you don’t want to sleep, then I need to sleep, because I’m not going to be able to keep up with six preschoolers without sleep.”
Loki finally stretched out next to her, leaning half against her so they were pressed together, shoulder to shank. He brushed a few strands of hair out of her face and leaned down to kiss her, slowly and thoroughly, taking his time with it.
Darcy returned the kiss with equal enthusiasm, but when his hand wandered south again, she broke away and caught his hand, interlacing her fingers with his. “Sleep, Loki,” she said, her voice almost a plea.
“I have been deprived of my wife for over a month, and I have just become the guardian of six very small children,” Loki replied, lifting their joined hands and kissing her knuckles. “I do not think we will have the opportunity to be intimate again for a while so we must take advantage while we can.”
Darcy smiled faintly and squeezed his hand. “That’s the second time you’ve called me your wife,” she said softly.
He smiled back and kissed her knuckles again. “Are you not constantly insisting we are married?” he replied. “Or… perhaps you desire an official ceremony? Mortals do have wedding traditions, do they not?”
“Yes, they do,” Darcy affirmed. “And there are some pretty specific Jewish ones, but that’s not what I was talking about.”
“Then why point it out?” Loki demanded.
“Because that’s the second time you have called me your wife,” Darcy repeated. “Instead of saying ‘spouse.’ Like we’re equals. Like you’re worthy .”
He stared at her silently for a moment. “Did you not ask me to… be better?” he asked softly. “Is this not part of that?”
Darcy had to bite her lips to stop her from grinning widely. “Well, in that case, I want a ring.”
He blinked. “You may have all the jewelry you desire, elskede . Do you wish me to shower you with jewels? I can. I carry a variety of unset stones with me. They are useful in trading, and occasionally in creating talismans. Precious stones do not store seidr, but they do channel it.”
Darcy snorted. “Okay, leaving aside the fact you carry around a small fortune in precious gems, I’m not talking about jewelry. Wedding rings, Loki. Do they not have those on Asgard?”
Loki blinked again and frowned in thought. “Married couples occasionally exchange arm-rings,” he said after a long moment. “But no, I do not think they do in the manner you mean.”
“Humans, or Americans, at least, exchange rings on their wedding day,” Darcy explained. “It represents their commitment to each other, tells other people that they’re married, that they’re taken.”
Loki bent his head and brushed his lips against the lagsmaðr markings on her forearm. “Are these not enough?” he murmured.
“Yes,” Darcy allowed. “But no one else knows what they mean. I want the world to know I’m married to you.”
“Well, that is simple enough,” Loki said, releasing her hand. He balled his hand into a fist and closed his eyes in thought for a moment before opening both again. “Something subtle, though. I do not think you are one for gaudy baubles.”
It was Darcy’s turn to blink. She looked down at the object in his palm. He was right, it was subtle, a golden ring fashioned to look like a tiny twig, bent in a circle and set with a small, leaf-shaped green stone.
“Oh,” she breathed. “Loki, it’s perfect .”
“I assume it is meant to go on this finger,” Loki went on, taking her left hand and carefully sliding the ring onto her third finger. “Mortals have a superstition, that this finger has a direct connection to the heart.” He pressed a kiss to the ring. “Darcy Lewis. Do you agree to be my wife?”
Darcy squeaked and pushed him over onto his back, rolling atop him. She leaned down, her hair tumbling around both of them, and kissed him deeply. “Loki Odinson,” she murmured against his mouth. “Do you agree to be my husband?”
He smirked up at her with hooded eyes. “I will say yes if you do,” he replied.
Darcy kissed him again. “In that case, yes.”
Loki grinned, hooked an arm around her waist, and swiftly reversed their positions.
The room was freezing cold, so cold her breath puffed out in a white cloud in front of her. The room was also empty and stark, the golden walls bare of any decoration. The only thing in the room, other than her, was a tiny crib. It was carved from a single piece of wood, a thing of artistry and beauty.
“No,” she said, taking a step backwards. “I’m not doing this again.”
Then she heard a small sound from the crib, a tiny burble, followed by a quiet mewl. She froze in place, staring at the cradle. That was new. She felt a pull, undeniable as gravity, towards the cradle. Despite every cell of her body crying out in protest, she stepped toward the cradle, and then again, and then she was standing over it, looking down, and she burst into tears.
There was a newborn infant in the cradle, wearing a white silken garment that seemed to glow against the baby’s sapphire-blue skin. Scar-like ridges scored the infant’s face and arms, and glossy black hair covered its scalp. But its eyes, rather than being Jotun red, were human blue.
Tears continued to stream down her face as she stared down at the child, but she had the sudden urge to laugh. Her hand shook as she reached down and touched the child’s cheek. It--his--skin was ice cold, but soft and pliant under her touch.
“Hi,” she whispered down at him. “Hi. I’m your mother.”
Darcy woke up with a jerk and a mad scramble to get upright that resulted in her planting her hand almost squarely on Loki’s face, which caused him to teleport halfway across the room to land in a defensive crouch with his knife in one hand.
He blinked a few times and scanned the room for danger. “Darcy?” he muttered, not fully awake. “What is it, my love?”
Darcy stared at him for a long moment, brain still fuzzy from her dream. “I don’t know,” she said unsteadily. “I think… I think…”
Loki made his dagger disappear and ran his fingers through his hair, walking back to the bed. “Did you have a dream?” he asked gently, climbing back into bed beside her. He gathered her in his arms, cradling her to his chest. “What did you see, elskede ?”
Darcy clutched his arms where they encircled her, trying to come to grips with what she had seen. “Loki…” She looked up at his face. “Loki, I think I’m pregnant.”
She felt him go absolutely still, and then his body temperature plummeted several degrees. His arms tightened around her. “Are you sure?” he demanded, his voice low and hoarse. “Darcy, are you sure ?”
“No, I mean, I don’t know,” she stammered, and wriggled, trying to free herself from his suddenly frightening grip. “I think I am, I’m not sure.”
“Darcy, I need you to be sure,” Loki said in that same rough, intense voice.
“Why?” Darcy demanded, and stopped struggling against his hold. “Loki, for heaven’s sake, tell me what is going on!”
He held her in silence for a long moment, then relaxed his hold on her, finally letting her whirl around to face him. “What the hell is wrong with you?” Darcy snarled at him, grabbing the front of his sleeping shirt and yanking him toward her. “I tell you I might be pregnant , and that is your reaction? I get you’re still wiggy over the ‘Father of Monsters’ thing, but this is not the time to be thinking about that!”
Loki shook his head, and then reached up to take her face in both hands. “Darcy,” he said, his voice shaking slightly. “Darcy, if you are pregnant, if you are, then this pregnancy will kill you.”