Warning for blood, death, attempted rape and a confusing mishmash of Vampire Diaries/Being Human vampire rules.
Paris, 14th July 1789
Today the streets of Paris are not a safe place for anyone to be. If she had a choice, Louise d'Arcy would much prefer to be home, safe (well as safe as anyone can be) behind a locket door and closed shutters. She's heard the whispers which passed from house to house that the Bastille had been stormed and the governor killed. She doesn't know what's happening, but the alleyways and small streets of Paris are going wild with fear of royal retribution. Her father and brother left home in the morning haven't returned. It is not yet dark, but the sun is starting to sink below the horizon. Maman is almost out of her mind with worry and her younger siblings haven't stopped crying and sniffling since midday, so Louise decided to have a discreet look around, in case they took shelter in someone's home or in a tavern. Without telling maman, Louise took her good ribbon and tied a knife to her thigh. Better safe than sorry.
Louise has been wandering for over an hour and the world is growing too dark for her comfort. Well mademoiselle, if you wanted comfort you should have remained indoors. She likes to think of herself as brave (foolhardy, papa would say) but she isn't stupid enough to linger outside after dark.
Unfortunately it takes longer to reach home than she hoped. Several times she hears brawls nearby and ducks into an alley to avoid them, taking a wide route around. She's almost home when a hand darts out of the shadows and seizes her wrist. Her heart leaps into her throat as she's pulled flush against a man. "Ma chérie, what are you doing out so late?" The sour smell of wine fills her nostrils.
"Looking for my father and brother, monsieur. If you don't mind…" She tries to pull away, but his grip holds firm. "Now, now why so hasty? Stay awhile. Keep me company." There aren't words to explain how much that idea does not appeal to her. Through the fabric of her dress, Louise can feel him pawing at her hip and moving lower. Roughly, he starts to hike up her skirts. A brief moment of panic scatters her thoughts and then Louise remembers; the knife. Sorry idiot, but not today. She lets her free arm drop and he thinks she's not going to fight. Her blood is loud in her ears when she grasps the hilt.
"Forgive me, monsieur, but I really must go!" As quick as she can, she pulls out the knife and forces it through his stomach and although she feared the blade blunt, it slides through his flesh as easily as it would bread. His face contorts as the pain hits him and he releases his hold. Not pausing to inspect the damage, Louise runs blindly as far away and as quickly as she can.
Inevitably she trips over her own skirts. She just about manages to turn the knife away from her body. When she hits the ground her ankle twists and her left arm is trapped underneath her. Crack.
Mon dieu. Papa and maman will be furious. It is a struggle to get to feet. Her ankle can barely take her weight and her arm feels broken. Limping, Louise hides herself in a shadow. Taking in her surroundings, she realises that she's taken herself further from home rather than closer. It is possible that this was not my most intelligent idea, she confesses inwardly. Out of breath, she leans back into a wall.
The male voice from somewhere behind her makes Louise scream. Stumbling around to face him, she holds the knife out in front of her. Upon seeing the black robes and clerical collar the man wears, she lowers it. "Forgive me, father. There was a man who tried to-"
The priest, bald and grey bearded holds out his hands and says, "I understand, my child. Did you kill him?"
"I," she hesitates, "I don't know."
"It is no matter. It is no sin to strike out against those who attack us. That is how nature distinguishes the strong from the weak." He looks Louise up and down as if evaluating her. I've never heard that sermon, Louise thinks suspiciously. She raises the knife again. The priest laughs.
"So fierce. Good. Don't be afraid child; I'm going to aid you."
Faster than she can blink, he's in front of her. Raising a wrist to his mouth, Louise watches in horror as he bites through his own skin. There's a horrible squelching sound as his flesh tears. Before she can scream, he forces his wrist over her open mouth. Reflexively Louise closes her lips. The priest wraps a hand around her neck, choking her until she parts her lips. Blood rushes over her tongue and down her into her throat. "Swallow," he orders. The knife is in her hand again and she plunges it into his side. The priest doesn't even blink.
"Oh," he smiles, "you will be glorious." A loud crack sounds in Louise's ears.
10th June, 1944
To keep her spirits up, Darcy imagines killing every military leader of every country involved in this godforsaken war, on both sides. She had come to France after the surrender, helping the resistance wherever and whenever she could. The number of times this involved saving them from themselves would be laughable if there wasn't a war going on. France will never live this down. Ever.
An informant had told her that the Allies had landed in Normandy, so Darcy has literally been running north for the past three days. Vampire she may be, enhanced speed, endurance and strength she may have, but come on. A girl needs to rest and recuperate.
It's getting dark. The downside of the landing is that she no longer knows what troops are where and who holds what town. Fan-fucking-tastic, she grumbles internally. A bed, a bed, my kingdom for an actual bed.
Her body is crying out for blood, so much so that Darcy can feel her teeth tingling, begging to lengthen into fangs. She'll have to stop and feed soon. It's been six days genius, Darcy scolds internally. You are beyond old enough to know better. Animal blood isn't ideal but beggars can't be choosers.
The road she's walking leads north and that's about all Darcy knows. Along the roadside she can see where signs have been ripped out of the ground. She knows she passed the town of Saint Lô a few hours back, so the Normandy beaches shouldn't be too far.
Feed first. Warzone later.
Moving off the road faster than the human eye can catch, Darcy starts zipping in and out of trees searching for something bigger than mice or rats. Not a rat. Not again. Turning into a rotting corpse is honestly more appealing.
She's closing in on a rather unlucky fox when the wind changes. Immediately Darcy's senses heighten. The wind smells of earth, the animals she's downwind of and blood. Human blood that's so fresh the muscles in her throat constrict in want.
Someone's dying, Darcy notes. Well this changes things. The fox isn't so unlucky after all. If someone's a goner anyway, Darcy doesn't see anything wrong with helping the process along. It's one step away from drinking from a just-dead corpse. Changing course, she heads west.
Darcy is not ashamed to admit that she's probably on record as the worst tracker ever. Some vampires are practically blood hounds (ha ha) and could follow one human across a country. Hell, that Romanov woman can probably track people across continents. Darcy's abilities extend as far as 'It smells like the blood is that way, so that's where I'm heading'. It's properly dark now and the moon is behind a cloud. All the colour has been smudged out of the world. She can still see clearly, but everything is blanketed in a multitude of navies, purples and almost-blacks.
The soil and plants have been disturbed, and there's blood on the ground, some poor guy (a soldier most likely) has been injured and dragged himself into the woods for safety. Great plan. That worked well.
Even after a century Darcy is still unnerved by how silently she can move. Her feet move quickly but make no sound as she instinctively avoids tree roots. It reminds her that she's not human, not natural but something much darker and more frightening. This is ridiculous, she's the predator in this situation and she's the one whose hairs are standing on end. God, I'm such a child sometimes. Man up woman.
She finds him lying beside the trunk of a fallen tree, his body pressed as close to the wood as he can. To Darcy's surprise he's still conscious. His eyes are darting to and fro, looking for any sign of danger, but it's much too dark for him to spot her. The moon has come out, and some light is filtering through the leaves of the trees, and Darcy can pick out some of his features. His hair is an indeterminable shade of blonde and his eyes (unless the moon is playing tricks) are bright blue and hazy from pain and blood loss. The wound itself is hidden from her. The side he has pressed to the trunk, probably trying to stem the blood flow. Sorry sonny, it isn't working. Unconsciously, Darcy shifts her facial features. Her teeth become fangs and her pupils grow until her eyeballs are pitch black.
In a flash she is at his side, hand pressing to his chest. Then Darcy breaks one of the golden rules of feeding.
His body starts at her touch and his eyes, (definitely blue, the question is sky blue or ocean?) snap up to her face. "Madame?" He has an accent and it definitely isn't French. American, Darcy thinks distractedly, a New Yorker.
It's ridiculous. The silvery light catches the man's face and suddenly he looks…not childlike but innocent. I am a hundred and seventy-five years old and I stop because he looks like some sort of, I don't know, cherub. Vampires everywhere are weeping with despair and laughter. Her fangs retract and her eyes clear.
She's shaking with hunger and the strange instinct that made her pause. The two impulses are at war in her muscles, the hand on his chest relaxing even while she bows her head towards his neck.
"I'm no 'madame' soldier," says a voice that Darcy belatedly recognises as her own. A look of confusion flickers across his features, "You're American? How'd you end up here?"
You're an idiot and a fool, Darcy. A foolish idiot and an idiotic fool.
"French mother," she lies easily.
"In the woods at night?" His tone would be suspicious if it wasn't strained and ragged. This one doesn't have long.
"I'm working for the resistance. They make you do all kinds of crazy stuff."
Darcy needs to breathe if she wants to talk, but with breath comes smell. It hurts how much she wants, needs blood and he's dying, slowly bleeding to death from what's probably a gunshot wound.
He's circling the drain. Come on. Put him out of him misery!
"What happened?" asks Darcy, shifting so she can pillow his head on her lap.
"My team was ambushed by a German patrol, I was shot. Knew it was pretty bad so I took myself off. No use them trying to carry dead weight. Ah I'm sorry, I've been rude. I'm Captain Steve Rogers, ma'am."
"My name's Darcy. Darcy Lewis and I'm emphatically not a ma'am." God or some other deity must be mocking her. Oh look, Darcy thought she was going to feed from a human, did she? Ha! We'll send her a nice, polite soldier who'd rather die than endanger his troops and we'll make him look as angelic as possible. What is little miss going to do then?
"Well, Miss Lewis don't you have a job to do?"
Darcy gapes at him, "What?"
"You said you were with the resistance," Captain Rogers reminds her. Thankfully he's too woozy by now to question her confusion deeply.
"I can stay here for a little while," Darcy tells him.
Steve shakes his head 'no' and his eyes go unfocused for a second. "You're losing blood and you're lightheaded" she informs him, "just a thought, but you may want to lay off the sudden movements."
That's a bit rich coming from her. Darcy's own senses are going haywire. They're too heightened now; every movement of every animal nearby is picked up by her ears, even the insects. The wind is loud enough to be painful. She can hear Steve's too slow heartbeat trying to force blood around his body.
Darcy can't explain why she doesn't want to kill him. There's something about him. The image of him dying here alone with only a vampire for company is wrong, it doesn't fit. He looks like a man who was born for greater things than an ignominious death in the middle of nowhere, reduced to a name on a memorial somewhere in New York.
"You have to try to stay conscious," she says softly, "tell me about yourself."
Steve Rogers grew up in Brooklyn, she learns, and was the sickliest, shrimpiest kid to ever get beat up after school until he hit a couple of growth spurts in his teens. His team are called the Howling Commandos and they landed four days ago. The whole thing was a disaster, but they and a few other small groups got past the Germans. One member of his team is Bucky Barnes, his childhood best friend. The war hasn't been all bad for him; he met an English girl called Peggy who he's crazy for. Before he was in the army he was an artist, doing quick portraits of people he met in the street.
"Pity. If I'd ever met you in New York I'd have liked you to draw me. I bet you're brilliant."
"M'okay," he mumbles, eyes starting to drop.
Gingerly, Darcy brushes some hair out of his eyes. There's still time to save him if she- No. You can't go around pulling every handsome man you find dying back from the brink. I'm pretty sure there's a rule. Somewhere. Ah, there are the familiar warning bells chiming in her head. Darcy you are about to do something stupid. Again.
Here's the hot gossip that would put every doctor out of a job. Vampire blood isn't toxic to humans, or even dangerous; it heals them. Any injury or illness will vanish in less than an hour if a human drinks it. As long as they're alive. If they die while the vampire's blood is still in their body – well the blood will fix that too, by turning them into a creature that is notoriously hard to kill and will never die from natural causes. In other words - a vampire.
She sighs. In nearly two hundred years she's done crazier things without thinking. Besides, this is a good thing even if her body is screaming while it burns and starts to shrivel with thirst.
"If you're smart, you won't do anything tomorrow that could kill you. Take a day. Recuperate. Ponder the meaning of life or something. Believe me, the alternative isn't something you'd want."
Raising her wrist to her mouth, Darcy extends her fangs and bites through skin and vein. Her blood (what little is left in her veins) trickles out. Before she heals, Darcy presses her wrist to Steve's mouth. He's too far gone to struggle or even question what she's doing. "You need to swallow, handsome. Come on now." Something moves in his throat and that's good enough for Darcy. Less than a minute passes before her blood clots and Darcy takes her wrist away. That's about as long as Steve can resist Lady Unconsciousness's siren call and he slips under.
That is my good deed for this decade done.
Losing some of her own blood has not helped matters. Hovering around Steve while his spilt blood is sinking into the soil would be masochistic in the extreme. The entire argument with herself would be invalidated if she rips his throat out now. God knows I am never one to waste a moment of madness. And it is madness that's starting to descend - brought on by the punishing, all-consuming thirst. She wants to make sure that the wound on his side is beginning to close, but contrary to popular belief Darcy knows her limits (it's heeding them that she has problems with). She lays Steve's head down gently and flees, leaving him behind, human and healing. In seconds she's back at the edge of the woods.
As wonderfully over-dramatic and sappy as that was, I still need to feed before I either start to rot or go so crazy I make Bruce's alter ego look controlled and reasonable.
Apparently fate is on her side tonight as well as Steve's. Darcy can hear voices, probably a mile ahead of her on the road. Men. A few dozen at least. Luckily (or unluckily depending on your point of view) it isn't Captain Rogers' squad. Germans. Maybe even the ones who attacked Steve and his men earlier.
Darcy has always avoided killing as much as possible. She was strictly an animal, corpse or occasionally someone on Death's doorstop drinker. But in over a hundred years there have been slip ups. First one this century. Au revoir clean streak.
I saved Steve's life once tonight, Darcy reasons; I may as well do it again. As the soldiers continue on their way down the road, Darcy listens and tries to count how many different voices she can hear. Upwards of twenty, below forty. Hey, a wide estimate is better than none at all.
It's actually rather poetic, she muses. A group of soldiers meet a young woman on the road who lures them into the woods and are never seen again.
If they have any supplies with them I'll take them back to Steve.
The thirst roars and Darcy is lost.
15th of July 1789
Louise wakes to hands pulling her out of water. How in the name of God..? Everything hurts. As if she's burning up from the inside and being skinned alive. The world is noisy. How has she never noticed that before? The voices of whoever rescued her are so loud that she can't make out what they're saying.
As if moving a mountain, Louise opens her eyes. At once she's seized with the desire to claw her eyeballs out. Everything is too bright, too sharp. There are two men and a woman standing above her, but she can't study their expressions because her eyes are drawn to their clothes. She can pick out every stitch and even see the fibres that make up the fabric.
More pressing than the pain and confusion is the thirst. Her throat feels raw and her limbs weak. Louise needs a drink. Now. More urgently than she thinks she's ever needed anything in her life.
The woman puts an arm around Louise's shoulders and helps her sit up. Mon dieu, I'm on fire. I'll die if I don't get something to drink. She's acutely aware of the woman behind her. Maybe it's her imagination, but Louise can hear her heartbeat and the wet push of blood moving in her body.
In an almost motherly fashion, the woman brushes some wet strands of hair out of Louise's face. As she does so, her wrist passes in front of Louise's eyes and nose. Without really understanding why, Louise grabs the woman's arm.
For a moment it seems as if her very being is balancing on a rope and about to fall into the unknown. What is happening to me? Something is wriggling in the back of her mind and trying to claw its way out.
Too much pain. Too much thirst.
The something breaks free. Louise yanks the woman's wrist to her mouth and bites. At first she can't break the skin, then there's an ache and her teeth grow. The woman's skin tears open and blood flows over Louise's lips and into her mouth, hot and tasting like metal, like the blade of her knife. It's wonderful. Instantly all the pain ebbs away. Power beyond the physical courses through her body and her lamb-like limbs grow strong.
Dimly she's aware of screaming and of someone trying to pry her away from the blood. No. All thought vanishes and the world turns red.
By the time Louise comes back to herself enough to remember her own name; she is covered in blood. It's around her mouth, on her hands, under her fingernails and staining her dress. What have I done? How could I- What am I?
She's on the river bank. The sun can't have risen more than a half hour before. There is no one around her now. Just oh Dieu me pardonee body parts. She runs. Her muscles feel impossibly strong and supple, and she runs faster than any mortal should be able to into the bowels of the city where only last night she'd have feared to go.
A lifetime of her mother's lectures (maman must think I'm dead or dying somewhere) tell her she should go to church, seek the counsel of a priest and make confession. The image of the priest from the previous night rises and Louise wants to be sick. He did this. Of course. He made me drink his blood. Then…he snapped my neck! He killed me. I should be dead, not-not this! Louise decides that she's not going near a church even if her life and the lives of half the city depend on it.
She can't wander the streets painted with blood as she is. As the sun climbs higher in the sky her skin starts to tingle uncomfortably under the heat. Louise moves so quickly that very few people see her, and for those who do she is merely a momentary shape at the edge of their vision.
In light of all the recent trouble some families have fled the city. The first house Louise tries is bolted shut. The owners probably left what they couldn't carry inside and meant to return when all the chaos in Paris calmed. With terrifying ease she snaps the locks, but she can't step over the threshold. It's as if some invisible force is pushing her back. This is magic. I'm cursed. The next house she tries barely deserves to be called a house. It obviously once held several families, all of whom have left most likely without intending to return. There are no locks on the door or the shutters and mercifully nothing stops her from entering.
All day she stays huddled in the corner, eyes shut and trying to wish away what happened. It's still daylight when the door to her hideaway bursts open. A black-haired man about the same size as her father, bearded and well-dressed steps in. "There you are!"
"I've been looking for you all day. When I heard about those people by the river I thought that bastard Obadiah had done it. Of course when I saw your handiwork I realised that it had to have been someone new. And besides, Obie always dumps the bodies in a river. I followed the trail you left, which if I may say went in one huge loop around the Île de la Cité – I've spent the last few hours running around in literal circles. Et voilà! Here you are."
Louise blinks and repeats, "What?"
"Is it my French? The accent I mean. I've been speaking French for four hundred years, but I've never managed to get the accent right," he shrugs, as if his poor accent should amuse her.
Four hundred years? Louise grips the wall behind her, wishing it would swallow her whole.
The man's eyes widen. "Ah. You're very new." Taking what Louise suspects are deliberately small steps, he comes and sits beside her. Immediately she tries to flee but he grabs her hand and pulls her back down to the ground. "Easy, easy. I'm Sir Anthony Stark. I'm not going to hurt you."
Not to be unjust, buy my experience in the last day or so doesn't exactly fill me with confidence in the male species. Anthony speaks again, "Right, ma petite, why don't you tell me the no doubt horrific story of how you came to be here. Please, don't skip the gory details."
After some coaxing, Louise does tell him. Searching for her father and brother, being accosted by the man, the priest finding her, waking up and slaughtering the people who found her, it all pours out like blood from a knife wound.
"Do you have any idea what's happened to you? What you are?" Louise shakes her head. "There are a dozen different names for us, several of them unpronounceable and a few others entirely unflattering. Vampire. That's what we are."
"That means nothing to me," Louise tells him. Proper, understandable French. Speak it.
"Alright. Don't – I don't know- swoon or anything, but you're technically dead."
Louise feels that she's said 'what' quite enough times today and so stays silent. "The blood is what keeps you alive."
"If I don't have it I die?"
Anthony snorts, "You should be so lucky. No, your body will just shrivel up like rotten fruit and start to rot. There are only two ways you can die now; wooden stake through the heart or decapitation. So, congratulations, you're immortal." Anthony sounds bitter to Louise's ears. If he's four hundred (he doesn't look older than forty) how many people has he killed?
"That man, you called him Obadiah, why did he do this to me? He didn't feed from me. He made me drink his blood and-" Louise chokes on the words.
Anthony's jaw stiffens, "I told you he's a bastard. I turned him about a hundred years ago. If I'd known what he'd turn into maybe I wouldn't have done it. Maybe. He's vicious, brutal – in short a power hungry monster in the very real sense. I've been trying to kill him for the past decade but he keeps getting away. He knew I was closing in on him, so he turned you as a distraction. You'd just stabbed someone; he probably hoped you'd massacre half the city when you woke up."
Louise sniffs, "Well, it worked, save the massacre. You're here and he's doing god knows what."
Anthony sighs, "I know. But leaving a new vampire to run riot is never a good idea. Believe me; I've done it often enough in the past." She's known Anthony a little over two hours, but Louise has the distinct impression that his past isn't a pleasant one. Despite his lively demeanour, he isn't a happy man. He gets up and brushes himself down, "Come along then. As…quaint as this place is, I'm not actually that fond of slumming."
She stares at him as if he's grown two heads. "Where?"
"Out of Paris. Obadiah's long gone by now and my experience tells me that France isn't going to be a bundle of laughs for the next few years. Mark my words, it's England and Charles I all over again. And do you know what comes after that?"
Louise shakes her head, mostly because she has no idea what he's talking about.
"Cromwell. Misery and ridiculous laws and death. Except in French this time. I can help you, at least until you're able to live on your own."
It is not Louise's custom to run away with men who claim to be blood drinking four hundred year old immortals, but what choice does she have? She could go home, but what if she kills her family? The thought brings tears to her eyes. She nods and Anthony helps her up. In a surprisingly gallant gesture, he wraps his cloak around her shoulders.
"Very well. So begins our grand adventure! Louise- No. That won't work, 'Louise' is boring. There are hundreds of you in France. What's your family name?"
Louise raises an eyebrow. She had always rather hated her name. "D'Arcy."
"Hmm. A little awkward, but we can work with that. Try 'Darcy'. I'm almost sure that's Irish. Or Scottish."
Darcy. Louise tries the name out on her tongue. If I'm dead it makes sense. I'm leaving everything behind. Leave 'Louise' too.
As Darcy steps outside, the evening sun chafes her skin. She looks back at the empty little hovel.
Here lies Louise d'Arcy.
16th August, 2012
New York is probably Darcy's favourite city on earth. She loves the variety, the strangeness that you find tucked away in its corners. It's been nearly twenty years since she's been back. Tokyo had been her latest home. She'd come to stay with Tony, who recently moved back into his old Manhattan townhouse. By 'old' she means he bought it new when they first came to New York in the 1840s. They hadn't seen each other in five years when Darcy arrived three weeks ago. "It's Bruce's fault," Tony had informed her, "do I look like I wanted to be dragged around India?"
Make no mistake, Darcy loves Tony. He's been her family for over two hundred years. She loves Bruce, Tony's boyfriend as well. But they (okay mostly Tony) are best savoured in small doses. So Darcy's spending the day checking up on all her old haunts in Brooklyn. The twenties were the bomb dot com man. 'Roaring' does not cover it. Some of the old speakeasies are bars now, but many of the more shady (and fun) establishments have been replaced with apartment blocks. God, modernisation can be a bitch.
By mid-afternoon Darcy's soul has been destroyed enough and she heads to Prospect Park and finds a comfortable piece of grass under a shady tree. The whole myth about vampires dying in sunlight is a load of rubbish that was probably made up to make humans feel better. But their skin is more sensitive and Darcy doesn't fancy getting sunburn. Taking her iPod out of her pocket, Darcy pops her headphones in and promptly shuts herself off from the world. It's not as if anyone is going to bother her. They'd be in for a rather nasty surprise.
A short while later, Darcy feels eyes on her. At first she ignores it. Hey I'm hot. Let them look. But it becomes uncomfortable, so Darcy sits up and looks around. About twenty metres away, a man is sitting at the base of the tree with a sketch pad resting on his knees. Huh? That's too far away if he's drawing me.
Darcy gives him a once over. There's nothing special about his jeans or his shirt with the rolled up sleeves but his comb over reminds of the 1940s. He's blonde and well-built and Darcy is confident she's not the only woman who's appreciating the view. Looking up from his sketch book, his eyes meet Darcy's. There's something about him. Has she met him before?
No way. He's late twenties tops. I haven't been in America since the nineties. My math isn't great but come on, that just does not work.
Unless he's a vampire. But let's be real, if I met someone who looked like him I'd have hit that. Hm, maybe someone Tony knows? It's possible, B.B (Before Bruce) Tony could have charitably been called a manwhore (the appropriate term at the time was 'rake' or 'cad' but Darcy feels they lack bite).
Curious, Darcy gets up and heads over to where he's sitting. Casually(read; every movement was planned) dropping down beside him Darcy grins, "Y'know, some people would find being sketched from a distance creepy."
Okay. Let's get one thing clear. Darcy is over two hundred years old. She is not some giggling school girl.
(But his smile is seriously the most adorable thing she's ever seen. Ever)
"Sorry, ma'am; artist's prerogative."
"Yeah, well-" No way. His sketch is a close up. As in head and shoulders. Drawn from twenty metres away. Definitely a vampire.
Well, that explains the hairdo.
An epiphany is dancing on the edge of her conscious thoughts. All of sudden Darcy feels like she has a 'kick me' sign on her back. He's looking at her as if he's trying to place her face, his blue eyes muddy with confusion.
Wait, blue eyes? Ma'am. That means something.
France. Just after D-day. The woods.
Oh god. No.
"Steve Rogers?" she tries, hoping against hope that she's wrong. If that's Captain Rogers, it means that she- and that she left him to…no.
The man's face clears. "It is you. From France. I thought I knew your face. That's why I started sketching you; to see if your features would jog my memory."
Oh fuck a duck.
"Oh god, you're…and I…" Darcy has never known a vampire to throw up, but god knows she's close. That's one of the first things she'd ever learnt. Don't turn anyone. If somehow you do, you stick with them and help them through it. Darcy remembers waking up. She remembers the searing pain, the confusion, the first time the thirst gripped her.
"I'm so sorry," she reaches for his hand. "I didn't mean for this to happen."
"What?" He says, "you turned me into a vampire by accident?" Strangely, he doesn't sound angry, just bewildered.
Darcy shakes her head, "Of course not. I gave you my blood to heal you. Vampire blood will only turn you if you die while it's in your body. I tried to warn you not to die the day after, but you were pretty out of it."
"That's true," Steve says musingly, "it's a wonder I can even remember you. It was dark and I was half unconscious."
"You never forget who turned you, no matter what the circumstances," Darcy mutters darkly. Obadiah. Well, he got his, didn't he? "Why aren't you angrier?" Darcy questions, "I helped kill the man who did this to me."
Steve shrugs, "I guess I always figured you did it out of kindness. I remember some of what you said to me. You got me to talk and kept me company. I always felt that harm wasn't your intention." His sigh is the first thing that betrays him as an old man. "I dreamed of you in the first few years. Before I learned more about what I am, I thought you were an angel."
Darcy can only stare at him. This man is not real. No one is that…nice. Was that almost a star wars reference? Dude. "So what happened?"
Steve looks confused again. "You mean after you fed me blood? I woke up the next day, before noon. I felt fine. Nothing was there to show that I'd ever been shot. There was some water and clothes left beside me. That was you?" Darcy nods. "Anyway. I headed back onto the road. I had a rough idea of where my squad was heading. A few hours later a group of American soldiers found me. They assumed I was a deserter and lost their tempers." He's angry for a moment, as if the slight on his character was the most terrible thing he'd ever suffered. Steve sighs and runs a hand through his hair, "Two fatal shots in as many days. Someone upstairs had it out for me. I don't know how much time passed before I woke up again. I'd never felt agony like that in my life, it was like every part of me was being scrubbed raw. I went to the nearest town. A soldier met me as I approached. I can't even remember what side he was on. All I know is that he ended up dead my feet."
Darcy's still holding his hand and squeezes it sympathetically. "Everyone's first time is like that. Most are worse if that comforts you. I killed three people, though you wouldn't have known what they were once I'd finished with them," she winces, "I should have stayed with you until I knew you were safe. If I'd known you'd turned I would have helped you. No one should go through that alone; no one should have to learn it all on their own."
"It's past now. It was…difficult at the start, but some research cleared everything up," Steve tells her, looking at his feet. Darcy takes this to mean that it was more 'difficult' than he's letting on.
"Uh, if you don't mind me asking, ma'am, how old are you?"
Seriously. Stop being so cute. It makes me feel more guilty. "I'm pretty sure I told you not to call me 'ma'am'."
"As I said," Steve blushes, "I don't remember."
"I was born sometime in 1769, turned on the 14th of July, 1789. I only remember because that was the storming of the Bastille."
"That makes you two hundred and forty three." Steve sounds a little awed. Darcy laughs, oh to still be in double digits. "There are vampires much older than me. My best friend is an Old One, he knew Chaucer. Seriously, for him the 'Canterbury Tales' is like a sitcom."
"An Old One?" Obviously Steve's self-taught vampire course neglected some details.
"A vampire over five hundred, which is rarer than you'd think. In-fighting is a problem when we come together in groups, most don't make it past a hundred." Increased life experience does not equate to increased common sense. How Tony managed four hundred years without me is one of life's great mysteries.
Steve nods, "I get that. I've come across a few communities here in New York; none of them seemed particularly appealing."
That's the understatement of this still very young century. Most newly turned vampires flock to big cities, especially those who have no problem killing for blood, or worse enjoy it. What's one more dead homeless guy? One more body in the morgue? New York is particularly bad. Darcy can spot the signs of a vampire attack a mile off. The NYPD on the other hand needs its glasses checked.
"So Captain Rogers, what do you keep the hunger pangs at bay?" asks Darcy nonchalantly. Steve doesn't seem like the serial killer type, but that means nothing. That's the other thing. If you turn someone, sure you're responsible for their death but you can also be considered responsible for the people they go on to kill. She'd never understood that before. When Tony was young (i.e. Darcy's age) he'd murdered and turned at will. The result was Obadiah and dozens of others like him who Tony spent centuries hunting and killing. Although he doesn't talk about it anymore, Darcy knows he feels responsible for the people they killed and the ones they turned, and the ones they killed and turned etc. That's why he took her in.
Now Darcy gets it. Any blood on Steve's hands stains hers too.
"Animal blood, the butchers do it cheap." Woah. I'm relieved and disgusted. Weird combo. Huh, it's better than the good old days. Darcy has some very fond memories of trying to find the bodies in morgues that had died most recently or stalking city streets for rats or stray dogs.
"You poor, poor man. Bags from the blood banks are the way to go my friend. Human blood with a handy 'No humans were harmed' label."
Steve makes a humming sound "I don't mind it. I can handle the cravings. I haven't killed someone for blood since that first time."
Damn. Is he vampire Jesus or something? Am I the Madonna? The not-so-virgin Mary?
Seeing the awed expression on her face, Steve grins shyly and looks down at his hands, one of which Darcy realises she's still holding. "Oops, sorry." She takes her appendage back. It feels strangely empty now that his hand isn't resting there.
Oh no. No. No. We are not going down that road. You didn't kill him because of some dubious reasoning and accidentally turned him into a vampire, only to meet him again nearly seventy years later. You know how much that sounds like a crappy 'dark romance' teen novel, right? That is some Stephanie Meyer shit right there. Tony would never let you hear the end of it. Worse, Bruce will think it's 'sweet'.
"So," Darcy says after shutting out her inner monologue, "what have you been up to these past seventy years? Go anywhere nice?"
Edinburgh, 20th of February 1886
"He's who?" Darcy's nerves can't take this. The Scottish winter isn't even winter, it's just wetter. She is bored, restless and has spent the last two months dragging Tony away from the university while he cries, "This is the future, Darcy! This is science! Five more minutes!" Now he's come home, clothes torn and sporting almost-healed injuries with a skittish academic in tow.
"I told you, this is Doctor Bruce Banner, he's a ten year old vampire, a fellow in Old College, teaches anatomy, and his secondary personality is responsible for those grisly murders we came to investigate," says Tony, sounding as if he couldn't be happier about this development. I don't know what part of that sentence to get angry about first. Standing behind Tony, looking as shy and harmless as a kitten is the good doctor. He certainly doesn't look like a ruthless killer. In fact when his eyes slide to her, he looks a little frightened.
"I need a drink," she moans, "Where's the claret?"
"Ah, gone? I may have drunk three bottles-"
"I will kill you."
"Now Darcy be reasonable. Bruce doesn't do it on purpose. Bruce," Clicking his fingers, Tony points to Darcy, "explain."
Bruce looks vaguely green at the prospect. "Honestly Anthony, I'd rather leave…"
"Nonsense." Tony bounds over and stands beside him, flinging an arm around his shoulder.
"You see, when Bruce here loses his temper something happens. He loses complete control of himself and a separate personality takes over. It's fascinating. This 'Other Fellow' (Bruce's words, not mine) calls himself 'Hulk' and is much stronger than your average vampire. It's like that novella that came out last month, "Strange Case of Doctor something or other." Anyway, from what I have observed he is not a murderous entity, merely a defensive one. In the right environment he would pose no threat. So we're keeping him."
"By 'observed', do you mean you deliberately taunted and attacked the doctor until he tried to kill you?"
"…that scenario bears some resemblance to what happened, yes."
No two ways about it, Bruce's facial expression speaks of untold agony but it's impossible to discern whether this is because of his unfortunate condition or Tony.
He wants to keep a possibly insane man? Why doesn't this surprise me? Tony knows her well enough to guess at her thoughts, as he starts protesting that "you'll adore him Darce" and "he's a genius like me!"
Later, when Bruce has been shown to his room Darcy feels it is her christian duty to ask, "Science or sex?"
20th August, 2012
Steve is gaping open mouthed at the townhouse. "You didn't say that this Tony was rich."
Darcy grins, "That would be a lie, apple pie. Tony was rich when he was human, his father was a lord. As in lived at court, hunted with the king and all that jazz. He has a castle in south east England, I shit you not. In the past seven hundred years he's gone from 'rich' to 'insanely rich' and then on to 'practically God."
"And he's your-"
"Father/brother substitute slash best friend slash pet monkey."
Dragging Steve up by the hand, Darcy doesn't even bother with the doorbell, just letting herself in and yanking Steve through the door.
"Woah, how does that work? I haven't been invited in."
"Vampire ownership doesn't count. Anyone can walk in here if they feel like it and can get past the security system," Darcy tells him, "they won't come out again, but they can certainly come in."
She'd gotten to know Steve rather well over the past week. Apparently he's lived in Brooklyn ever since coming back from France except when he ran off to fight in wars. He was in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, even Afghanistan for a while. Vampire G.I Joe, limited edition.
Tony and Bruce are in the second floor sitting room and to Darcy's shock aren't alone. Two other men and a woman are there too. Tony is lounging on a couch while Bruce stands behind, two hands resting on the couch's back. The tension in his frame isn't at a dangerous level yet, but with the strangers in the room, Darcy is immediately on edge.
She knows the woman standing by the window. Natasha Romanov was deadly when Darcy first met her as a new vampire. Darcy avoids thinking about how she's improved since then. The three men are human. One stands by Natasha, the others are in armchairs. The one sitting nearest to Darcy is missing an eye.
"Darcy!" Tony cries, "So this is your little accident. He's good looking, well done."
"Shut up. Who are all of these people?" Natasha quirks an eyebrow. "Except you Natasha. I know who you are."
Pulling Steve across the room, Darcy shifts Tony's legs of the couch so they can sit down.
"Steve, this is Tony. The cutie behind him is Bruce. The redhead by the window is Natasha Romanov, though I have no idea what she's doing here. We haven't seen her in nearly a century."
"1924, Saint Petersburg," hisses Tony. Someone still carries a grudge.
Bruce comments, "It was Leningrad then."
It turns out that the man beside Natasha is called Clint Barton, the two others are Phil Coulson and Nick Fury. They (along with Natasha) belong to an organisation called SHEILD who specialize in protecting humanity from supernatural threats.
"You're vampire hunters," Steve clarifies.
"Among other things," agrees Phil at the same time Tony says,
"Yep, Buffy and the whole Scooby gang."
"We have a problem," Fury explains, "we have reason to believe that one of the Old Ones, Loki is plotting something big."
Steve's brow creases, "How big and how old?"
"World domination, and as far as we can tell he's over a thousand," Barton supplies.
Tony scoffs, "Get your facts right. The Odinsons were turned around 800 AD."
"One thousand two hundred then."
"Last year he tried to overthrow the Norwegian government. This brother Thor stopped him," Phil explains, "we all thought he was dead."
Natasha cuts in, "Until five days ago when he showed up in Germany and massacred an entire auction house."
Tony yawns dramatically, "This is a fascinating story. Will someone please inform me why I care?" Darcy rolls her eyes. You already care, idiot.
"Look," Fury tells him, "my organization is outmatched. Thor is already trying to find him. But we need more. SHEILD already works with some vampires, such as Ms Romanov and Thor, I would like to build on that."
He smirks, "I'm here to tell you about the Avengers Initiative."