Disclaimer: I own nothing.
This was suppose to be a slice of life fic but it got wildly out hand. Also, wildly un-betaed.
Jane gets an offer to an institute in Norway as a fellow and Darcy watches her salivate over the email in Puente Antiguo. It takes her about two minutes of pure joy before her thumbs start flying across her phone's keyboard ("Keyboard, really Jane, get with the touchscreen revolution," Darcy scoffs from beneath print outs and print outs of stars and galaxies). Jane lets out a trill of excitement five minutes after she sends her confirmation as another email comes into her phone telling her they wanted her as soon as possible, like within the next 36 hours possible, and that all the travel plans will be take care of as soon as she can give them a time.
SHIELD is oddly accommodating in their abrupt change of venue, offering to pack up their equipment and FedEx it to them or whatever the equivalent of a Super Secret Government-Paramilitary Group of FedEx is. There were probably ninjas involved. All Darcy sees are Hunks in Black parachuting with the equipment into the building and leaving with a stern look in their eyes, saying "Ma'am" to her and –
So maybe, somewhere along the way, Darcy forgets that she only has a degree in Poli Sci (Class of 2012 baby, whatwhat!) instead of doctorates upon doctorates and actually started thinking that she was of value to Jane. But now she's going to Norway with smart people who talked her language of rainbow bridges and equations with Greek letters.
After the whole Destroyer destroying debacle, they stayed in Puente Antiguo for the rest of the summer because there's no better place to test possible Earth-destroying experiments than New Mexico, apparently. Once they've exhausted the summer days, they all returned to Virginia because Erik and Jane still worked for Culver University and Darcy still had to finish her senior year there.
During the school year, Darcy still helped Jane collect data (i.e. drive her around the van while she screamed readings at Darcy) while Erik is recruited by some fancy research institute in New York that's all very hush-hush. Darcy may have seen Agent I-took-your-iPod-for-national-security coming out of the Physics department, but that's something that she'll never admit to because she's pretty sure she's already in their radar for the whole Thor Incident.
Jane and Darcy go back to New Mexico the summer after she graduates, Darcy with a shiny new title and a pay that's a little bit above minimum wage and Jane with more research and a grant from the government.
And for about two months, all they did was drive around the desert, following stars, eating Burger King and shop unironically at Wal-Mart. And then Jane starts packing for Norway and Darcy starts packing for Virginia because she understands the only reason why she got as far as she did with the whole assistant gig was because she accidentally peeked behind the curtains of reality. Or something.
At the end of the work day, Jane is still vibrating form excitement, intermittently whispering, "Tromsø," reverently to herself and looking at Darcy with glee and repeating, "Tromsø!"
Darcy smiles at her boss, the happiness not being something she has to fake but the disappointment something she has to hide. She starts boxing the most recent print outs and photographs and watches as SHIELD people start doing the same to the heavier equipment.
As she carefully marks the box using their ridiculously intricate labeling system, Jane calls out from the other side of the room, "Oh! I forgot to tell you, it gets colder there than Virginia or here so if you have one of those puffy jacket? Like the Stay Puft ones? Pack it. I'm not sure if peacoats are gonna cut it, but-"
Darcy is very confused. "What."
Jane stops glaring at a SHIELD agent packing to her left and seems confused at Darcy's confusion, "What do you mean what? It's like those big puffy ones? Like the skiing ones? You know, they're all shiny and big?"
Darcy continues to stare at her in confusion and says slowly, "Why do I need a puffy jacket?"
Jane looks at her with some concern and approaches her desk, "Because it gets cold in Norway?"
A flash of surprise crosses Jane's face then sheepishness, "Oh God. I'm sorry. I just thought because you signed up to be my assistant that you could come with – Oh my God. I'm sorry for assuming. I mean I know you can't just drop everything to go half way around the world with me and-"
Darcy watches her talk with a dazed look, "Wait."
Jane stops talking, and looks at her patiently. Slowly, Darcy says, "I'm… coming with you?"
The other woman smiles at her nervously, "I mean, if you want to. Because I understand if you can't. I do! I really do. And it was stupid of me to just assume –"
Darcy launches herself onto Jane, her grin splitting her face, "I thought you wouldn't need me! Oh my God, I thought you were gonna upgrade to someone who actually knows what they're doing."
They stumble back from Darcy's hug and a box or two fell on the floor with a loud bang. The SHIELD agents all stop what they're doing and reach for their (hidden) weapons. Jane makes a shooing motion behind Darcy and they all relax and continue packing while Jane continued hugging.
"So that's a yes?"
"Do we get to meet Erik's cousins or something?"
"Erik's from Sweden."
Darcy's still grinning, "Close enough."
Two days later they're in Norway and Jane is greeted by a lot of people with names Darcy can't even pretend to pronounce, spelled in a language she can't even think of reading. The most experience she has with languages that had slashes over O's was the opening credits for Monty Python and the Holy Grail and she really doesn't think anybody wants to hear about someone's sister being bit by a møøse.
Darcy thinks its super cool that science transcends the language barrier, that the solid equations on paper is enough to build a camaraderie between people. She tells this to Jane.
Who only looks at her pointedly and says, "They speak English-"
"Science transcends all!" Darcy says quickly and loudly over the other woman's voice, her hands making intricate circles in the air, somewhere between a curtsey and jazz hands.
Jane looks like she's about to argue with Darcy but then a groupie ("Colleague," Jane chastises, but seriously Darcy knows how to love something beyond societal norms and those? Were groupies) comes in wearing a University of Tromsø sweatshirt and starts shaking Jane's hands fervently. They start talking (in English, to Darcy's disappointment) about how excited the university was to have Jane, his voice seemingly getting higher and higher with each exclamation. Jane answers in the same pitch of voice how she's excited to work them and how amazing and honored she is to be working with the research in Auroral Light. Then the guy brings up one of her papers and then science broke out or something because Darcy doesn't even remember the rest of the conversation.
"Groupie," Darcy reminds her when he leaves.
Jane just gives her a look but then they're both distracted by the emptiness of the lab. It's much smaller than the one in New Mexico but since that was more of an abandoned used car showroom and less of a lab, Darcy's sure that Jane's content with the one they have. In Norway.
Because they were in Norway. In a university that specializes in the shit Jane does. Which is a fairly specific thing and Darcy didn't even know other people, let alone whole universities, cared about.
But now it was late and after the extensive meet and greet (there were several groupies), they were both just sitting around with nothing to really do since most of the equipment hasn't caught up with them yet. As it turns out the Super Secret Government-Paramilitary Group equivalent of FedEx is actually FedEx and first class mail doesn't necessarily mean that it can defy the laws of physics. So she and Jane are in the lab since the internet wasn't hooked up yet at the graduate housing they were staying at for the moment with Jane refreshing the tracking page every minute.
Darcy is on her own laptop sitting on one of the lab tables, legs swinging, also maybe kind of refreshing the tracking page when she notices the time and starts digging for something in her bag. When her fingers touch smooth foil she calls out to Jane, "Hey! Feeding time!"
Jane looks up from her laptop wearily, but catches the protein bar Darcy tosses at her, "Feeding time? Really?"
Darcy shrugs and opens her own less healthy energy bar and resumes refreshing the FedEx page. After a while she gets bored and logs onto facebook, contemplates posting a status about WOO NORWAY or LIVIN IT UP IN NORWEGIA, but she doesn't want to test the tensile strength of the NDA that she signed after the whole Asgard-on-Midgard action last summer and starts refreshing all over again. When she looks up, Jane has started equations that have already filled one of the white boards, the marker squeaking along the way.
She looks at her phone and makes a note to change the time and lays back, legs still dangling from the table and stares at the ceiling. Jane won't be needing her anytime soon, Darcy recognizes that particular combination of furrowed brow and hunched shoulders as one of Deep Thoughts. She lets her eyes flutter close, the fluorescent light that seemed so bright a second earlier dimming behind her eyelids.
She jerks to an upright position when someone knocks on the open door to tell them that their apartment was all fixed up and ready for civilized living. Her still wrong watch tells her that half an hour has passed and at the time, Jane managed to fill two and a half whiteboards and various pieces of paper.
She waves to get the dude's attention who was starting to stare in awe of Jane and smiles, "Hey, thanks, we know the way."
He smiles back and stumbles out an accented reply that may have included your welcome and to call if they need anything but Darcy's already packing her and Jane's things. She organizes the pieces of paper with Jane's notes on it based on the handwriting – the legibility decreases as time progressed meaning Jane starts with neat little sentences and ends with weird notations and scribbles that only she can read.
Pulling Jane out of the scientific groove is a process, usually she'd be actively doing shit that Darcy can just interrupt by grabbing whatever equipment is in her hand, but when she's doing her equation mojo, it was a bit more difficult. To startle her is nigh impossible since she shuts out everything and has the danger of making her lose her handle on an idea, which was fine since Darcy has a script that was entirely well rehearsed.
First, she calls out softly, "Jane." This will not get much other than a slight twitch, an acknowledgement of the outside world.
Then, within arms reach, "Jane." This usually gets "Hmm?" An integral step to the process.
And finally, Darcy crosses the space between them and grabs her shoulder and gives it a light shake or a squeeze depending on whether or not she's writing something. This generally gets her attention. But if it doesn't, well, rinse and repeat.
"Hey, come on, let's go see how fancy Norwegian university housing is."
Jane looks doubtful but puts down the marker and sighs, "Fine. I wouldn't get too excited though. It's still a university apartment."
"Yeah, but I mean, from the land of Ikea, how bad can it be?"
"That's still Sweden."
The apartment is entirely cliché. It's all bland plaster walls and dubious stains with the standard super heavy furniture that's suppose to stop people from stealing them but really just ends up being part of a hazing ritual. It was not at all Ikea and Darcy was not at all impressed. The pantry and fridge is stocked with some standard cereal and milk bullshit, not that Darcy doesn't appreciate it, but foreign cereal isn't exactly what she had in mind for dinner.
There is a nice little TV in the middle of the living room and a channel guide that Darcy can't read with channels that she doesn't recognize. But considering she's spent her fair amount of sleepless nights watching QVC, this was not going to be a problem.
Everything was so very standard which is why it was kind of surprising to see people in very tailored suits surrounding the building in very big SUVs. And then, before she can call out to Jane in the kitchenette, a knock on the door breaks a tension that apparently she only feels because Jane looks at her like a crazy person for freezing at the sound.
A badge is shoved in Jane's face when she opens the door, the same one that was shoved in their faces right before all their equipment was seized in New Mexico.
"Dr. Foster? We need to speak with you," the man says and gives Darcy a sideways glance, like she's dirt on his shiny, shiny shoes, "alone."
"Excuse me?" the same righteous fury is in Jane's face from all those months ago, "Unless you managed to hijack that FedEx plane in Barcelona with all my equipment, I don't think we have anything to talk about."
"Ma'am, you misunderstand why were here. This is about the safety of-"
Jane waves him off, "Yeah, yeah, safety of the nation. But I'm not sure if you've noticed? But we're kind of in a foreign nation. This is stretching a little bit beyond your jurisdiction, isn't it?"
The man gives an affronted look like he's insulted that someone would suggest that there's a limit to SHIELD's jurisdiction. The expression is microscopic though because a second later it's back to normal automaton when he says, "No, ma'am the safety of you and your work."
And as an afterthought, "And Ms. Lewis."
Darcy snorts, "Of course."
The man doesn't pay attention to her retort, more intent on not noticing the girl with the insufficient clearance and pretending she wasn't there.
Jane stands her ground, "You can't just breeze through and expect me to drop everything just because-"
"Ma'am, you misunderstand. We're not here to take you back stateside. We're here to make sure you're safe here."
Darcy retreats to her room without having to be told. She can actually see the bureaucratic red tape materializing all over the conversation that was about to happen. So she settles in her new bed and checks CNN, a vestige from being a poli sci major. It's not quite the same as watching it, but she's not entirely sure if the CNN here will be in English and besides, the TV was outside. With Jane and Mystery Agent, and-
Dwarfing Anderson Cooper's magnificent hair/face combo is a grainy CCTV still from Germany. A man dressed in what Darcy can only describe as a steam-punk-Shakespearean-Viking ensemble is at the head of the steps of a building. There are roughly four more of the same man surrounding a circle of people, like they were being herded. The caption reads, in big, red letters, ATTACK IN STUTTENGARD.
Darcy clicks on the link that directs her to the full article.
The article itself is short since it was basically still happening, but something about a man being killed, then Fancy Horns freaking multiplying, like magic, and herding his involuntary audience. There are more photos from different angles. Midway through the page, is a photo of Captain fucking America and Iron Man throwing down with Mr. Shakespeare when Darcy realizes why his attire looks so familiar.
She bursts into the living room, surprising Jane and, Darcy can only assume, making the agent's trigger finger twitch. He looks like he's about to say something about national security and clearance levels but she plops her laptop down the kitchen table and moves out of the way.
The agent sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose, "We were hoping we could lock this down for at least a few hours."
"That," he points to the screen, "is Loki. He is the reason why you need to stay here and keep a low profile. An extremely. Low. Profile."
Jane looks at them incredulously and so did Darcy but for a completely different reason, "Wait. Thor's brother, Loki? That Loki?"
After almost being killed by Norse mythology, Darcy thought that it'd be smart to take a class on it.
The agent makes a pained look, "That's classified."
Darcy snorts, "Yeah, buddy, sorry to break it to you but any freshman that takes a world myth class pretty much knows that. Besides," she clicks on a youtube link in the article, "I'm pretty sure this just went beyond classified."
The video is from someone's shaky phone cam and it shows a small helicopter thing, armed to the teeth if Darcy's going by the amount of destruction, a woman's voice booms from the speakers, "Loki, drop the weapon and stand down."
He looks like he's about to have some sort of conniption so Darcy closes the laptop gently and leans back on the counter and look to Jane. The other woman is deep in thought, a different look of confusion on her face. Then, as if the right neurons connected in her head, she looks sharply at the agent, "Has the Einstein-Rosen Bridge been opened?"
The agent looks at Darcy and her non-clearance having ass with such a pained face she almost felt bad, so she says, "Dude, I was there when it opened the first time. So, you know." She makes a shooing motion for him to turn back to Jane who looks like wants to develop laser eyes or something so she can incinerate the man who didn't tell her the rainbow bridge opened.
"The bridge has not been opened. If it was and you weren't the one to open it, I'm sure you'd be one of the first people to know."
Jane deflates a bit, "But, if he's also from Asgard, how did he get here? I, can I talk to him? Just a bit?"
"Ma'am, an interaction between you and Loki is literally the thing I'm suppose to prevent."
"Then explain to me how the hell he got here, because that seems pretty goddamn relevant to my work!" Jane exclaims in a voice that Darcy recognizes is reserved for university department heads and grant committees.
He looks suspiciously at Darcy who throws her hands in the air and makes a noise of aggravation. She gathers her laptop and heads back to her room.
She walks as slow as she can, only catching, "Loki did not arrive through the same means as Thor did…"
Darcy closes the bedroom door. It didn't really matter, Jane will pretty much tell her anything that she'd need to know later.
Instead, Darcy sits back down her bed and opens her laptop again. She refreshes CNN for more shaky videos of Iron Man and Captain America (Captain America!) clashing with Loki in the middle of a German city.
She wonders if this is going to be a thing in her life now. Tasing gods and watching an old American war-propaganda fight a Norse myth with a billionaire.
Jane agrees to stay in Norway and to keep a low profile, which Darcy doesn't even understand because Jane doesn't exactly keep any other kind of profile. Well, except for that one time a wormhole opened in front of them, but she didn't even start that one. So.
Darcy figures out the TV within the hour that SHIELD leaves, or well, "leaves", because she's pretty sure they just doubled the population of the whole campus. She finds the CNN that's (mostly) English and just watches it on loop. She shakes herself out of the daze every so often to make sure Jane eats and aggregates her notes into something manageable for posterity's sake.
Their equipment arrives the next day in heavily stamped FedEx boxes, stacked in the lab. Jane looks like she wants to gather every single box and squeeze it until they leave for college and never call home.
A gaggle of scientists comes in fifteen minutes later, inviting Jane to a makeshift conference where Darcy assumes they just sit in circle and gush about the speed of light. Jane looks torn between being reunited with her equipment and talking about science so Darcy shoos her away, promising to unpack the important things.
The boxes are numbered by the frequency Jane uses them (Jane scoffed at this system, Darcy's System of Common Sense, like somebody just told her that she loved one of her children over the another, but, well, someone's gotta be the Gob Bluth of the family) so she opens boxes one through ten and pulls out the lightest of bunch. Darcy doesn't have much by way of upper body strength.
This becomes an hour of busy work for her and by the time she organizes the equipment she can lift, she goes about organizing the rest of the lab. Jane's equations from the night they arrived are still on the boards so she takes several pictures of those on her phone, to be stored in the giant folder known as JANE'S WHITEBOARD and scans the notes she took on paper into another giant folder known as NOTES – JANE THESE ARE THE NOTES. It took her three days to organize Jane's hard drive because Jane is from the school of Save to Documents and her desktop was an even bigger mess of downloaded attachments.
Darcy's parents were CPA's. Organization is hereditary.
Procrastination, however, was something entirely hers.
She takes a break and debates whether or not to eat some of the decidedly unhealthy food they packed for snacks or to actually go out and eat. Her laptop pretty much makes the decision for her and she hunkers down for some Pop-Tarts and whatever new episode of whatever was on Hulu.
Actually, fuck that. She's gonna piratebay all the episodes. Because she's in Norway.
("Still Sweden," said no one, because even she knows that.)
On the third day, boxes eleven through twenty-five are opened with twelve through seventeen unpacked and Jane is getting into her science groove, which is actually a lot less sociable than it sounds. Grooving for Jane means she's basically down to eating what Darcy forces her to eat and only leaves when she starts falling asleep on her feet. Which isn't that much different from any other day but she talks less to Darcy.
Darcy's job has more than its fair share of downtime; it consists mostly of letting things accumulate so that she can put them in order. So she's usually left to play 3D Tetris on her phone more times than not, kind of going into this nice little period of peace while Jane talks to herself in the background. It becomes a nice buzz in the background that she becomes accustomed to, so when the room becomes silent except for the soft tapping of her nail on her iPhone she becomes suspicious.
Jane may have dropped dead. Jane may have jumped out of the window in frustration (which will only lead to more frustration because they're in the first floor). Or. Jane may have figured out Step 1 to opening the Bifrost.
Or the very least, Step 1 to Step 1 of opening the Bifrost. But Step 1 is Step 1 and this could very well be their El Alamein; the end of the beginning.
Jane looks at her with such excitement when she tells this to Darcy and all Darcy can think to say is, "Shut. Up."
They rush to each other's side of the room, meeting halfway and started jumping while hugging and hugging while jumping.
"Oh my god. You'll be the chick who opened a wormhole."
"That's Dr. Chick who Opened a Wormhole."
Getting alcohol in a foreign country where you don't speak the language is actually kind of daunting because Darcy doesn't know if they're drinking booze or what is essentially rubbing alcohol.
But as it turns out, vodka is vodka is vodka. Which is also not that hard to find in a university area, even in the summer.
They try to Skype Erik in New York (because SHIELD does not cover transatlantic drunk dials) but he's not online, though it would make sense since it's probably the crack of dawn there. At the same time, he hasn't been online in a while and it's not at all because he doesn't know how to run it because Darcy is a great fucking teacher and if her 85 year old Mee-Maw can learn then so can a man with several degrees.
Erik and the lack of his online presence are forgotten in favor of more shots. The Swedish bastard can hear about the rainbow bridge another day.
And whatever, because Norwegians throw down.
The next morning is a mess, well several hours later, because Darcy is still technically jetlagged and did she mention that in the summer there's no actual night? Something about having a really high latitude. Whatever. It only fucked up Darcy's internal clock even more.
She stands in the shower for forever, contemplating every bad decision she's ever made when Jane barges in the bathroom and demands a turn. This is the start of a very bad porno somewhere but Darcy's too disoriented to even make a joke so she just grabs her robe and wraps it around her without drying off while Jane looks like she's about to get in the shower with her clothes on.
There's a trail of water that leads to her room and what has to be a puddle accumulating under her bed because like hell if she's getting dried off and dressed. After a while, even she gets tired of the dampness and secures her wet hair in a towel and puts on a sweatshirt-leggings combo that she pretty much rocked throughout the last two years of college. Being an upperclassman means knowing which battles to fight and which to concede to. Eight am classes are battles in which you hand in a white flag in the first day in exchange for the syllabus.
She lifts her laptop from the bedside table and flops onto her bed, her body following soon after. She does the daily ritual of checking her email, all of them, then facebook, then Skype. Still no Erik, flitters across her head.
CNN though, CNN was exploding.
Darcy's pretty good with hangovers in that she's always managed to soldier through them. Puking isn't something that happens frequently because she knows better than to move when she's down for the count, but right now. Right now, she would like to chuck in the upward direction.
She stumbles into the living room simultaneously looking for the remote and calling out, "Jane! Sweet baby Jesus, Jane!"
Darcy finds the remote and it's in a local channel but it's playing a shitty camera's footage of New York getting decimated by fucking aliens.
Oh, also? Thor's there.
He's just a red blur, but Darcy sees the hammer smashing down on some weird-as-shit alien thing and Captain America is somewhere near him.
"Jesus Christ, Jane! Thor! I'm looking at Thor!"
There's a scramble of a shower curtain being pulled and for one terrifying moment all Darcy can see is Jane slipping in the goddamn shower because of her apparent inability to relay news without inducing panic, but then she's there next to Darcy dripping on the couch, clutching a towel.
They watch the news, the slow decimation of New York. Darcy tries to listen to the news, but it started becoming too foreign and Norwegian for her to understand. If the date on the corner of the footage of the fight was anything to go by, as they were drinking last night in celebration, the New York skyline was getting destroyed one building at a time.
Before she can ask Jane the cursory, What the fuck?s and What the hell?s, the other woman was gone, into her room, her door slamming in her wake.
She rises and follows tentatively; she's not entirely sure how to handle a situation like this. It's a bit more delicate than the usual, "I can't believe he didn't call me back!" situations with her other friends, mostly because "he" was the God of Thunder and the place he didn't call back from was another galaxy.
Darcy presses her ear to the door and starts to knock, but she can hear Jane's voice, steadily rising to the point that she didn't have to strain. In fact, she takes a step back and simply thanks paper-thin university housing walls.
Jane's shouting now, about being the first to be told if the bridge was opened, or any other way to travel presented itself, because she'd rather not do redundant work and really, if she's not needed, there were papers she could be writing, about non-confidential subjects, things that she can actually publish, instead of being forgotten in Norway, even though they promised to come back for her, and she's been waiting patiently and.
And Darcy's actually pretty sure science is no longer the issue here and she takes a step back from Jane's room and lets her vent to some SHIELD peon who didn't have the foresight to keep her up to date. She'll wait until Jane gets the science part of her frustration out and needs to release the Thor part. She's not going anywhere.
If anything, they still have an impeccably full bottle of tequila somewhere from last night.
She drifts off on the couch, her hair still damp, with Jane's superhero boyfriend fighting aliens on TV. She's woken when Jane shuts the fridge door with a little bit more force and immediately looks apologetic.
"We goin' back?"
Jane looks even more apologetic but determined, "Tomorrow. We have a flight at one in the afternoon to New York." She sighs, tired, "I'd tell you to pack but I'm pretty sure you still are. I just. I'm sorry for dragging you through this whole thing."
Darcy looks at her seriously, "Listen, I could be back in New Jersey working at some diner, scraping to pay just the interest of my student loans. I mean I'm still doing the second part but at least alien princes are involved. Besides, it's not like you can get anyone else to follow your crazy ass."
Jane sits down next to her, "Yeah, probably not."
Darcy hums in agreement and lets the silence settle between them. Then: "Wait. What's in New York?"
Jane grins, "Science."
Their flight's been delayed by several hours and they're stuck in Oslo for the time being. They huddle around an outlet by their gate, making dumbfounded, "Speak English only, sorry," looks at anyone who tries to ask for a turn.
Whatever, Darcy refuses to share because she's deeply engrossed in finding out how Katniss and Peeta are going to survive the Quarter Quell on her laptop and no European is going to mess with that. Jane doesn't even respond anymore, too focused on her notes and trying to contact Erik through the shitty airport Wi-Fi to no avail.
"You know this is their fault."
Darcy doesn't even have to ask the who in question is, "I really don't think SHIELD would hold an entire flight just to stop you from getting to New York. Besides, why would they even try to stop you?"
Jane gives her an exasperated look that seems to have an underlying tone of derision, as if to say, You sad, sad sheeple. Whatever, Jane probably also thinks Bigfoot is real and that they welcomed aliens in Roswell.
She apparently says this out loud because Jane snorts and says, "No, apparently we do that."
Darcy ignores this because she's distracted by Finnick and Oh my God, Mags.
Their flight is redirected to Newark since New York's airspace became basically one giant no-fly zone, what with the aliens attacking a few days before. Darcy gives Jane a pointed look, who responds with her own look, "It's still technically their fault."
They're at the carousel and Darcy's reaching for her giant suitcase when some guy in a suit reaches it first and pulls it onto the ground. She sputters, reaching for, "Hey! Buddy, I really don't think the suitcase with Hello Kitty stickers is yours."
She turns around to point out the blatant theft to Jane when she sees they're kind of surrounded by several people in suits. A woman was standing behind Jane dressed in a black (catsuit? Definitely catsuit) catsuit and looking ready to shoot someone.
She tilts her head to look at Darcy from behind Jane and Darcy's pretty sure she's having a heart attack because there's something terrifying behind those bangs.
She motions towards the exit and all the suits start dragging their luggage to that general direction. She moves so that she's between Jane and Darcy, looking at them both, "Agent Hill. Dr. Foster, Ms. Lewis, if you'll follow me."
They follow her all the way to New York.
Somewhere between Newark and the Holland Tunnel in an SUV with tinted, bulletproof windows, Darcy's clearance gets upgraded to something that suggests a higher pay grade than a little bit above minimum wage. Though, she senses then and there was not the right time to hash out benefits and copay. Agent Hill is a bit agitated with the fact that Jane all but forced her hand with the whole clearance-to-top-secret-information thing, but Jane throws the most dignified tantrums that usually ended up with her getting her way. Darcy's pretty sure she spoiled Jane in this regard.
They're not even out of New Jersey and Jane is starting to get fidgety, either from the lack of science or the lack of leg space, Darcy can't decide. She starts to nod off (jumping between time zones pretty much wrecks her internal clock and even though its two in the afternoon, her body is telling her its sleep o'clock) when Jane breaks the silence.
Agent Hill looks at her expectantly.
"Where are we going?"
Hill looks out the window for a second and turns back to Jane, "Where were you planning to go when you got on that plane?"
Now Jane is fidgety and getting agitated and Darcy does not think this SUV is big enough to handle the Foster Hissy Fit so she cuts in, "Oh, just you know, look for the hole Thor dropped out of and recreate it. Maybe storm your castle and harass Agent Search and Seizure. Which, by the by, he's usually the one that deals with us. What up with the disappearing act? Is he too good for us now? Did we break up?"
"What? I thought we all agreed that I'm officially rocking the DEFCON One clearance thing?"
Hill makes a face that looks like she wants to snort but was valiantly holding it in. For America.
"Your clearance is nowhere near high enough. Let's put it this way, outside of Dr. Foster's research, you're basically only cleared to know the pin to the bathrooms."
"What, not even the code for the copy machine?"
"Hey," Jane cuts in, which is a shame because Darcy's pretty sure she was building a rapport, or as much rapport you can build with a woman who looks at her like she's something stuck to the bottom of her boots, "you didn't answer my question. Where are you taking us?"
"And you never answered mine."
Jane takes a deep breath, like the one she takes when Darcy doesn't know the difference between dead white guys who have numbers named after them, "I. We were going to investigate Thor's reappearance. I need to talk to him about how the Bridge was reopened."
And why he hasn't called after disappearing then reappearing into the void, Darcy adds.
Hill raises a brow that looks like it's brought lesser men to their knees but Jane has her Dr. Foster face on so it's a pretty even match. "And how were you planning to track him down?"
Darcy sighs because this is obviously not leading them anywhere other than to more questions and she stopped watching Lost for a reason, okay?
Hill plows on, "Suppose you did find him, what would you have done? You have no facilities here, no equipment, no resources. What were exactly planning to do?"
Jane is starting to look agitated again but before she explodes, Agent Hill answers the question that started it all, "We're taking you to the SHIELD facilities."
"And Thor," Jane's starting to look hopeful, "he's going to be there?"
Darcy's pretty sure Agent Hill only looks out the window to avoid Jane's hopeful look because they're under the Hudson River and the only view is fluorescent lights and white tiles.
Thor is not in New York.
Actually, Darcy wants to amend that statement.
Thor is not in this plane of existence.
Is that too dramatic? Probably. But Jane's face, her carefully blank face when they tell her that Thor has left the realm kind of made her heart clench. And if the Dread Pirate Roberts ("Director Fury," Agent Hill introduced) wasn't there to simultaneously glare and look pensive with his one eye, Darcy would have placed Jane in the safe bosom of her…bosoms. Or something. Either way, Jane is devastated and Darcy is sad and New York is fucked up and no one will tell them anything about anything.
They're shuffled into an apartment that is slightly better than Norwegian university housing but ten time creepier in the same way that hospital rooms are creepy. It was all too non-descript. If it was possible for an apartment to say, "Move along, nothing to see here," their place pretty much screamed it. Their equipment is still somewhere over the Atlantic so there wasn't much to distract Jane with. Neither of them are really sleepy considering they pretty much slept throughout the whole flight from Oslo to Newark and Jane had worked herself to a tizzy the moments when they were awake. All that adrenaline that could have been used for a different kind of Asgard-on-Midgard action was now being redirected to being forlorn and maudlin. It was a lot of adrenaline, like pre-midterms adrenaline. Which meant that only one thing could get rid of it: getting-your-grades-back stress relief.
Darcy drapes her arm on Jane's shoulder and asks, "Have you ever played Despair?"
Jane doesn't even answer, but Darcy plows on, "You should ask me how to win Despair."
Jane sighs, "How do you win-"
Darcy interrupts her with a flourish of her other arm, "You win the game of Despair by being the first to get your stomach pumped."
She pauses, "Or by being the first one to pass out. Whichever. Sophomore year was hard."
Which was true. It was the year that Darcy and her high school boyfriend decided that shit really wasn't working. It was also the year she had to switch majors because halfway through her History requirements, Darcy kind of realized she hated every single professor in the department and switched to Political Science. Her parents were still clinging to the hope that she'll come to her senses and do something sensible like Accounting or Econ. She got through the year with empty promises of law school. Junior year was a little bit better if just because her classes were enjoyable and the poli-sci department was apparently were they hid all the hot TA's Darcy was promised.
And then she kind of sort of ran away to New Mexico. But, hey, she got a government job from it!
Darcy hauls Jane into the kitchenette and makes her sit on one of the chairs around the table. Jane looks like she just wants to go boneless on the spot but before she can drop her head onto the table, Darcy squeezes her shoulder and says, "Listen, I am going to procure enough alcohol to make this place look like a frat house, okay? Then, we are going to drink until you can't feel feelings anymore. But first, I need you to not melt into a puddle of sadness. Because I only funnel drinks into people who are conscious and willing."
Jane makes an undistinguishable noise. Darcy squeezes her shoulder again and maneuvers out of the tiny area and towards the door. Before she reaches it, three heavy knocks echo from the other side then the door swings open, almost clipping her in the face.
She takes a step back so she can give their visitor, a red head in a leather jacket and a familiar catsuit who manages to look both deadly and innocuous, a look, "So, this is awkward, because I totally remember locking the shit out of that door."
There's a small twitch under the woman's left eye like she wanted to smile but it's gone before Darcy can confirm anything. She reaches in her jacket pocket and for a second Darcy wants to recoil and duck for cover, but instead of a grenade, there's a folded manila folder all up in her face and she doesn't know what to do with it.
The woman shakes the folder at Darcy's face when she didn't grab it after a minute, "Most people take what's handed to them." Darcy swears she sees another twitch and hears a sighed, "Most."
Darcy makes with the grabbing and starts to apologize but the woman is already sweeping, sweeping, away in a blur of red hair. She knows that outfit. Last time she saw that outfit her security clearance skyrocketed from nil to something.
The woman is practically at the end of the hallway but she turns around anyway. Then, Darcy doesn't even remember why she called out. It's not like she's looking for a confrontation. She knows her limits and it ends way before alien-ass-kicking women. Her face must have been pitiful or something because then the woman is talking.
"We would have gotten that to you earlier," she nods at the folder still hanging from Darcy's hand, "but it needed to be catalogued and documented. Send Dr. Foster our apologies."
Then she disappears into the elevator and Darcy is left alone in the hallway, alcohol procurement adventures forgotten.
She's still standing there with the blank manila folder when Jane sticks her head out of their doorway. She looks at Darcy questioningly, "Were you talking to somebody?"
Darcy turns to her and waves the folder at Jane's face, "I think I just got handed Secret Shit by a lady that can kill me with shoelaces."
Jane makes that incredulous face she makes when Darcy tries to make her drink her intricate mix of Slurpee flavors. She grabs the folder from Darcy's hands and ushers her back into the apartment.
"Weren't you promising alcohol?"
Darcy sputters, "Yeah, but then I got sidetracked by the hot-ass death-dealer with a letter for you."
Jane looks down at the creased folder in her hands while they both threw themselves at the couch, which groaned from the impact of their bodies. Darcy's about to go reprimand it for commenting on their weight when Jane suddenly has a death grip on her left kneecap.
"Oh, my God."
Darcy's still trying to pry Jane's tiny hands of death from her knee, saying, "Fucking A, oh my God. Jesus, you have the grip of kung fu master or something. Jane, you're grinding my knee caps into powder!"
Jane loosens her fingers and Darcy glares at her but then a piece of paper is between them, Jane all but wiping it on Darcy's face, "It's a letter! From Thor!"
Darcy grabs the offending piece of paper and looks it over. It looked like something that belonged in the Viking heritage section of a museum.
She turns it over, in what may or may not be the right side up, "How can you even tell. This is, like, in runes."
"Yeah, that's why there's a translated copy here," further paper shaking in Darcy's face.
By the time she gets over the fact that people seemed to think she needed things pushed to her face to accept its existence, Jane is already engrossed in the letter.
After a few minutes of watching Jane memorize every line of the letter, Darcy's head started to loll back onto the couch. It's not that she's bored by Jane's happiness, it's just that she's just bored. And she might be rocking a nice little adrenaline rush after staring at the hottest incarnation of death. She needed to do something.
Celebrations still needed alcohol, didn't they?
She comes back from the liquor store that was basically three steps from the safe house (which, you'd think a government safe house would be somewhere less… shady, but, well, it's not) with a box of alcohol, a box given to her by the old Korean man at the register out of pity that the customary paper bag would rip under the sheer weight of the bottles. Jane is on the couch and there's a very distinctive sound of science happening, meaning there's a thunderous (ha, jokes) tapping on a keyboard with brief pauses for the sound of a pen scratching at a piece of paper.
Darcy approaches with caution.
"Hey, bosslady. What's up with the science?"
Jane turns to her from the couch, looking maniacal with her hair trapped between two pencils and the laptop screen illuminating her face from below, she grins, "It was in the notes! Thor – I mean, of course he didn't just leave! Oh my god, Darcy! Darcy! This is just beautiful!"
And then she's hugging her notes and Darcy's starting to get the idea that there was something sexier than sweet nothings and the Asgardian equivalent of sexting in the letter Thor left, like, trans-dimensional travel sexy. She's about to say so to Jane but the other woman is already back to working.
"I gotta say, this is probably the most complicated booty call in the history of booty calls."
Jane looks scandalized. "Well, I mean, also, yes. But I really hope you understand that I find the wormhole way sexier than Thor."
Darcy sighs, "The sad thing is, I really do."
Four days later their equipment is all ready and set up in one of the few buildings in Manhattan that wasn't completely decimated by armored whale aliens. Which is pretty impressive considering it was in Midtown with a nice, un-destructed view of the Chrysler Building. Darcy thinks back to the footage of Grand Central Station in ruins and wants to weep a little.
The windows stretch from the ceiling to the floor, reminding Darcy of their little hub in New Mexico. She's pressing, squishing really, her nose against the glass, trying to give herself vertigo, muttering, "Cool. Cool, cool, cool," when Jane makes a huffy noise because highly trained government spies (assassins) aren't handling her equipment delicately enough. She has enough sense of self-preservation to pull Jane away from her watchdog duty and forces her forehead against the cool glass to look down Midtown.
In two minutes, she has Jane grinning along with her and then she nudges Darcy with her ridiculously pointy elbows, "So, this is kind of more impressive than our last place, huh?"
Darcy presses her nose harder against the glass.
Darcy gets a desk, but it's right under the air conditioner so she always needs a sweater and her boiling coffee turns into a cool, refreshing beverage in an inexplicably short amount of time. Nothing much has changed, apart from location. She still wrangles Jane into eating and sleeping and other general human necessities. She still hasn't broken the two million mark on Temple Run. She still types out a status on facebook before she realizes that pressing enter might be treason. She still stares hard at the offline icon next to Erik's name on skype. She still skirts around promises of law school with her parents. She's still just doing the Darcy thing.
Which doesn't mean SHIELD hasn't tried to mess with the Jane and Darcy Train of Tranquility.
Someone gets the bright idea of sending Jane assistants to help her science it up because apparently Darcy's just been chopped kidneys or liver or something. She was highly offended when two randos in a lab coat came barging in, declaring themselves Jane's assistant two days after they get settled into the lab. She was highly amused when they requested transfers after Jane started kicking and punching air when she couldn't translate magic into science. And it's not that Jane's a bad team player, she's just always kind of Lone Ranger-ed things for most of her career that she doesn't know how to work with people not already on her level of understanding. Sure she's had Erik and Darcy, but the only way Erik understood half the shit she spews is because he's been there from the start.
After the fourth assistant requested (demanded) a transfer to another lab, mumbling, "I'd rather be with Banner than this," on his way out, Tony Stark barges into their lab in an AC/DC shirt that looks older than Darcy. He looks around the mostly deserted lab with only Darcy in her arctic corner and Jane buried behind a literal mountain of printouts and a rolling white board.
He slips his sunglasses (they're indoors and it's been three hours since dusk) off and onto he neck of his shirt. He hasn't spotted either her or Jane since he's still squinting so Darcy takes pity on him and clears her throat. He whips around to her direction with his finger pointing accusingly, "You!"
Darcy looks around because there has to be someone else in the room that offended the billionaire with access to weapons that can decimate the entirety of the state of Rhode Island. She replies eloquently, "Um?"
Stark looms closer, well he tries to, but he's not exactly of Thor height so he just kind of stalks over, and with his finger still pointed he says, "You are the reason why I've been getting an influx of interns! Every. Other. Day. There's a lost lab coat knocking around my lab because you displaced them and because apparently Fury has a sick sense of humor!"
His arm is still extended even though there's only a lab table between them now but apparently being Iron Man means having arms of iron because, wow, Darcy can barely keep her arms up after Wii Tennis. He's still ranting when Darcy manages to rip her eyes away from his arm.
"… I didn't need assistants when I was six and I don't need them now." He pauses and then looks at her desperately, whispering, "They keep coming in and trying to help. And they keep wanting to talk and be mentored. And they're touching my stuff."
Darcy doesn't know if handling billionaires having an emotional break because other people are touching his stuff is the same as handling scientists having a conniption because other people are touching her stuff, but she's willing to give it a try.
"Listen, dude," she glares at him as he scoffs but presses on, "just give them something to play with. I mean can't you give them some project that's so stupid it actually offends their Ivy League education? Because that's what we've been doing. Well that and suggesting breaking the space-time continuum with magic, but I think we have that brand of impossible copyrighted so, basically, you know. Tough shit."
She twists her ergonomic chair a bit, surveying her domain and what not, deciding not to steeple her fingers under her chin because, well, that might be over kill. Stark kind of pulls back to stare at her through squinted eyes. Darcy raises a brow and guesses nobody ever told Tony Stark 'tough shit' regarding any subject, but well, inter-dimensional travel was Jane's deal and not even Iron Man is going to fuck that up by dumping doubting lab assistants on them again. Because honestly, they questioned Jane's sanity more than her equations and that is not cool.
Stark leans back in a bit and gives her a once over, only flitting for a second over her chest. He puts his elbow on the lab table and drops his chin on his hand and asks, "What kind of magic?"
Darcy grins, "The science-y kind."
Now both his elbows are on the table, his chin rested between his palms. He searches her face, looking for any trace of lies (which is bullshit, because even if she was lying, well, let's just say poker was roughly 40% of her income Junior year). Apparently finding none, he leans forward a bit more and says, "Really. Care to expand on that?"
Darcy turns her chair to the right and takes one of crumpled pieces of paper she's been using to get Jane's attention and tosses it over the mountain of science journals and shouts, "Yo, Jane, I got a nerd for you!"
She swirls back to Stark who looks both offended and amused. "So," she points at his glowing chest, "is it weird to have sex with a nightlight or."