A/N No your eyes do not deceive you! This is in fact the last chapter of V is for Victory!
I need to give a huge thank you to both Alexandra926 and phoenix_173 without these two amazing ladies this chapter would not have gotten written 3
I also want to thank all of you for reading this fic and sticking with me these past few years while I was dealing with all kinds of life stuff that kept me from finishing it for so long. It's only because of your continued interest that I kept coming back to it. So thank you!
A singular intensity had swept over the tower and everyone in it.
From the moment that they had discovered not just where, but when Darcy was stranded, Team Science! had gone into an all-out caffeine-fueled laboratory bender. The first step in Operation Gotta Get Back In Time, as Tony had christened it, (and who had also taken to humming Huey Lewis under his breath while he worked) would be to send Thor and Loki back to Asgard. Thor's mother was the obvious choice to enlist for help; and quite frankly, Earth had seen more than enough of his brother. Loki and the Tesseract had made enough trouble for one millennium. It was past time for both of them to go.
The Tesseract powered device that would be used to send Thor and Loki home to Asgard had to be completed, as quickly possible. The project had already been the top priority of the tower's scientists, but they had redoubled their efforts regardless.
Steve certainly couldn't fault them for their dedication; he'd unknowingly stepped into Darcy's shoes, practically forcing them to take the occasional break to eat, and sleep. He had to admit, if only to himself, that his motives weren't entirely pure; it didn't take a battle-hardened veteran to know that an army marched on its stomach, and science suffered from low blood sugar as well. He would have assumed that most scientists, especially a group that included four of the brightest minds on the entire planet, knew enough about malnutrition and sleep-deprivation to avoid them, but he'd have been sadly mistaken with this lot.
Some of them needed a fair amount of prodding in that general direction, actually, to keep them in peak mental condition. So even though there was a part of him which wanted to push them as hard as possible, for them to work non-stop until they figured it out, he refused to let mistakes be made because overly-focused scientists wouldn't make the time to take care of themselves. He was happy to help with that much, at least, if there was nothing else he could do to take a more direct approach to helping rescue Darcy.
And when the breakthrough finally came, in the small hours of the morning on the fourth day, Steve could have cried with relief. One step closer to getting to Darcy, to bringing her home. One step closer to having the girl he loved, the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, the future mother of his child, back in his arms.
And so the Avengers were duly assembled once more, this time in Central Park, to send the Asgardians back home. Once Thor and Loki had departed in a beam of light there had been nothing for the rest of the team to do but go back to the Tower and wait.
That had been two and a half weeks ago.
Steve was not handling it well.
He had learned all about the virtues of having to hurry up and wait during the war. It was the way the Army functioned most days. But he found his patience thinning and fraying around the edges almost immediately.
At first he'd tried to keep himself busy. Tony had given him full access to his personal gym, which had thankfully escaped damage during the battle, but there was only so many miles he could run on the treadmill before his shoes wore through and only so many punching bags he could destroy before he worried about Stark restricting his access.
Then he tried taking advantage of Stark's state of the art media center to catch up on what he'd missed in the last 70 years, but he couldn't stay focused on any one thing long enough to watch an entire movie or read an entire book.
Most days he had taken to wandering around the tower at loose ends; at a loss for what to do.
No one else seemed to have the same problem. The Science Squad, as Tony had quickly dubbed them, remained occupied up in his labs. Even though they had finished the device that sent Thor and Loki off-world, there was still much to learn from the data they had taken from both the tesseract and the Chitauri tech; enough to keep them occupied for quite some time.
Now that Loki was gone, Clint and Natasha would disappear for days at a time. Natasha had made some not so subtle overtures that SHIELD would like him to come in, but quite frankly he had no intentions of leaving Dr. Foster's general vicinity. He saw the way the Thor looked at the astrophysicist and he knew that when Thor came back to Earth he would come back to her.
Which is how he found himself sitting at Tony's kitchen table drinking coffee with Jane, the two of them swapping stories about Darcy. It wasn't the first time they had done it and it was probably the only time he felt any peace during his day. They had bonded quickly over their shared loss of the woman they both loved so much in their own respective ways, and found strength in the hope they both felt in getting her back.
He sat smiling as Jane retold the story of how Darcy managed to lock six SHIELD agents out of the dealership that they had used as their homebase in New Mexico when they wouldn't stop getting in the way. He was about to reciprocate with a story about the barbecue Darcy had thrown before they had left Los Angeles to go overseas, when a clap of thunder on an otherwise cloudless day, had them both out of their chairs and heading for the balcony.
Steve had experienced a lot of strange things in his life; considerably more than his fair share. He'd even seen the Bifrost once before when they had sent Thor and Loki home, but the Einstein-Rosen bridge, as Dr. Foster called it, was something that had to be seen to be believed. As quickly as it appeared, it dissipated, leaving an intricate pattern scorched into Tony's landing pad, and Thor, his cape billowing around him in a way that could only be called majestic, in its wake.
He wanted to immediately ask the Asgardian what news he had returned with, but instead bit his tongue and politely averted his eyes, as Thor and Jane reaquainted themselves. After what seemed like an eternity to Steve, Thor finally broke away from the tiny astrophysicist and turned his attention towards him.
"Relax, friend Steven," Thor greeted him with a wide grin, as he clasped the super soldier's forearm. "You look as if you've stumbled across the carcass of a rotting bilgesnipe! I come bearing glad tidings."
The breath that he hadn't even been aware he was holding, escaped Steve's lungs in a rush. "We're going to get Darcy back?"
"We are going to get Lady Darcy back," Thor echoed reassuringly. "But first let us summon the others, so that I need only tell my tale once."
"JARVIS?" Steve called towards the ceiling.
"I have already alerted the others, Captain Rogers," the AI responded before Steve could voice his request. "They shall be here momentarily."
The Tower's other residents arrived in pairs; first Tony and Pepper, who had been in the penthouse going over the plans for the necessary renovations, then Clint and Natasha who had been working out in the gym, and finally, Bruce and Eric arrived from the labs, all of them eager for the news Thor brought from Asgard.
Thor waited for everyone to assemble and find a seat before speaking. Even Jane left his side to sit next to Steve, slipping her smaller hand into his. He wasn't sure if it was supposed to be for his comfort or for her own, but he was grateful for the show of support either way.
"I apologize for the length of my absence," Thor began, addressing Steve and Jane specifically. "While it did not take my mother and I long to convince the All Father that it was Asgard's duty to correct the wrong perpetrated by Loki and return Lady Darcy to her correct time, it took longer for the Queen to find the best course of action. Journeying through time is a dangerous feat and not one condoned in any of the Nine Realms.
"But she did, right?" Tony interjected, not good at waiting for anyone to get around to the point. "Or else you wouldn't be here right now."
"You are correct, Stark," Thor confirmed. "Mother was not able to find a way to simply pull Darcy back to her correct time, but she did discover how to create a portal to the past. Which means that I shall have to go back in time to retrieve Lady Darcy personally," he revealed.
"When do we leave?" Steve asked, ready to go at that very moment if possible.
"This is not your journey to make, Steven," Thor turned to the Captain apologetically. "You shall not come."
"What?" Steve shot to his feet. "But I have to!"
"The time line is already too fragile as it is," Thor explained sympathetically. "Your place in the universe is now here, there is too much at risk to allow you back to the time from which you came. But I assure you my friend, I will see her home."
"Okay, so what's the holdup, then?" Clint asked. "Why are you here, and not going to get her already?"
"Because he doesn't exactly blend in," Natasha informed her partner before Thor could. "If the timeline really is that delicate, he's going to need to be wearing something a little less conspicuous than a floor-length cape and Asgardian armor."
"Precisely," Thor said with a nod in Natasha's direction.
"I'll start making phone calls."
And make phone calls she did, because a scant eighteen hours later they were once again gathered in the common room waiting for Thor to change into the uniform that Natasha had managed to procure on such short notice.
Clint whistled lowly when the God of Thunder emerged, a striking figure in a perfectly tailored blue RAF dress uniform.
"How on earth did you manage to find a period-accurate uniform that actually fits Thor in less than a day?" Bruce asked curiously.
"I have my ways," Natasha said enigmatically.
"Good call making Shakespeare in the Park British," Tony complimented.
"He'd blend in, in any of the Allied uniforms, but I figured this would be best in case he needed to speak to anyone," Natasha replied.
"And RAF because….?" Selvig asked.
"Because he flies," she said, as if it should be obvious, a smirk gracing the corners of her mouth.
"So what do you think, Cap?" Clint asked. "Is he going to pass muster?"
Steve looked Thor up and down with a critical eye, he was bound to attract some attention due to his sheer size, but there was nothing about his dress that would signal his displacement except for one thing. "The hair isn't exactly regulation."
Thor's gaze snapped to Steve's knowing exactly what the super solider was suggesting. "No."
"It's okay," Natasha interjected, before the conversation went any further. "We'll tie it up and hide it under your hat. You shouldn't be in the past long enough for it to be a problem."
It was Pepper who managed to figure out the best way to disguise Thor's shoulder-length hair, and before they knew it, he was as prepared for his visit to the past as he ever would be.
Steve approached Thor, moments before he was to leave.
"Here," he said, swallowing hard, as he placed his golden compass into the Asgardian's hand. "Take this."
"She doesn't remember her life here," he explained, "she's not going to know who you are. Show her this, and she'll know I sent you."
Thor looked down at the item and flipped open the case, reading the inscription before he realized that it might be personal, and quickly clicking it shut again. He'd seen the Captain with it in his hands more times than he could recall, it obviously being a touchstone of importance.
"It was a gift," Steve explained, his voice thick. "It was supposed to bring me home to her. Now you'll use it to bring her home to me."
"My friend," Thor said sincerely, slipping the compass into his pocket and resting his hands on Steve's shoulders. "I give you my word as the Prince of Asgard and guardian of the nine realms that I will guard your treasured item and see your Lady home to you whole and hale."
"I know you will, Thor."
Thor turned to the rest of the group gathered. "When I return from my quest, I shall have the Lady Darcy in my care." He looked to the sky. "Heimdall, open the bifrost!"
As Thor was once again whisked away in a beam of light, the Avengers left the landing pad in groups of two or three as they wandered back to their individual pursuits until all that was left was Steve and Jane.
"He'll bring her back," Jane said, stepping up to Steve's side.
"I know he will," he agreed, forcing the words past the lump that had settled in his throat.
"Until then, do you want to get ice cream wasted?"
"Ice cream what?"
"I take it that's a 21st century Darcyism then," Jane grinned. "Instead of drinking straight from the bottle, you eat ice cream straight from the carton. Both can lead to throwing up and regrets about your life decisions, but ice cream causes less liver damage than alcohol and generally doesn't come with a hangover."
"I don't know how to respond to that," Steve replied honestly.
"Just tell me if you like butter pecan or cookies and cream better," Jane responded, hooking a hand through his arm, leading him towards the kitchen.
"Darcy, what's going on?" Peggy asked, standing in the doorway of her hotel room, knowing there was something more at play here.
"I can't…." Darcy began haltingly. "I just need him to come back."
"I need more than that, Darcy." She had come all this way when she should have been prepping for the mission with the others; she wasn't going to leave without an answer.
"How much time do you have?"
"No more than ten minutes," Peggy answered.
"Come in and shut the door," Darcy sighed defeatedly. "That's enough time for a cup of coffee."
"Okay, out with it," Peggy said bluntly, no nonsense as always, once the two women had settled on the sofa with coffee cups in hand.
"I'm pregnant," she blurted. It was the first time she'd said the words out loud.
Peggy froze, her drink halfway to her lips. "Steve is the father?" she couldn't help but question.
Darcy arched one eyebrow in an unimpressed glare. "Really, Peg?"
"I mean of course he is," the agent quickly backtracked. "Who else would it be."
She didn't actually think that there could be anyone else, Peggy was well aware of how Darcy felt about Steve and that she would never betray him. It was just this was the last news she was prepared to hear. Quite frankly, she had thought that perhaps Darcy had gotten bad news about her younger brother, and had come to London to receive comfort from Steve; only to be confronted with his news about Bucky. Having lost Michael, her own brother, just a few years before, she had thought that she might be able to lend a shoulder to the other woman before she left for New York, if Steve's had been too burdened.
But a baby… this was unexpected.
"November?" she asked, quickly doing the math.
Darcy just nodded.
"Would you like me to shoot him?" Peggy offered. After all, it wouldn't be the first time she had taken a shot at Steve on the actress's behalf.
"Are you sure?" she offered again. "I mean, I wouldn't do any actual damage to him. I'd make sure he had his shield. Perhaps he could use a small reminder of the importance of protection."
That got a startled laugh out of Darcy. "I appreciate the offer, but it's not just his fault. It takes two."
"What are you going to do?" Peggy asked, concerned for her friend.
"I don't know," she shrugged, with a sad little smile. "I'd really only thought as far as coming to London to tell Steve. I wanted him to be the first to know, but I didn't want to tell him in a letter, But once I got here... after I found out about Bucky," she paused and sighed sadly. "It didn't seem like the right time. I didn't want to put one more thing on his mind right now when he needs to focus on Hydra."
"I understand," Peggy said genuinely, reaching across to lay a gentle hand on the younger woman's arm.
"Do you?" Darcy asked. "I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do. But it felt like it was."
"I do," Peggy confirmed. "Our world is full of hard choices these days, and I think you made the best one you could, considering the circumstances."
Darcy didn't reply for a moment as she took a slow, steadying sip of her coffee. "Do you ever take a step back from your life and wonder how you got here?" she eventually asked. "We've both lived rather improbable lives. Do you ever wonder about all the things that had to happen and all the choices you had to make to lead you to this exact moment?"
Peggy laughed lightly. "You have no idea. A few years ago, I was working at Bletchley Park as a code breaker, engaged to a bore of a man, who thought fieldwork was something I wouldn't be suited to, and that I should turn down the offer I received from the SOE. And I almost went along with all of it just to be the lady my mother wanted me to be," she revealed. "So yes, I think about the importance of the choices we make a great deal. But I don't regret a single one of them, and I don't think you do either. We're women of action, each in our own way, and we're right where we're meant to be."
Peggy was right. Of course she was right. She was Agent Peggy Carter.
"I wouldn't change a thing," Darcy agreed with a gentle smile, one hand moving to rest on her stomach.
"That's what I thought," Peggy said primly, placing her cup back on the room service trolley and rising to her feet. "I need to go meet up with the others. I've been away too long already."
"Of course," Darcy nodded, standing as well, walking the Agent to the door.
Peggy paused with one hand on the knob. "Now you take care of yourself and that baby, you hear me?" she ordered. "And when Howard finds out, promise me you won't let him talk you into naming it after him."
"I promise," Darcy laughed, before becoming serious once more. "And promise me you'll look after the boys?" she requested, both of them knowing she was really talking about Steve. "They can get themselves into so much trouble,"
"As much as they'll let me," Peggy agreed, also talking about Steve.
"Go get 'em."
Peggy nodded. "I'll see you soon."
At that, Darcy found herself once more alone in her hotel room. She crossed to the window, which overlooked the front of the hotel and waited until she saw Peggy exit the revolving door and walk down the street towards the nearest tube station; with a sigh, she continued to watch until her friend had turned the corner and was out of sight.
Glancing at the clock on the fireplace mantle, Darcy knew that she too needed to prepare to leave. By rote, she prepared for the day ahead. Wearing a fashion-forward pantsuit, makeup done to perfection, and not a hair out of place, she knew that despite the long day of travel, once she stepped back on American soil she would once again need to be Darcy Lewis, movie star and America's Sweetheart. She called the concierge, and had him send a porter up for her bags and made sure her car was ready to take her to the airport.
Time seemed to speed up and slow down all at once and before she knew it she was in the back seat of a car headed across town towards Croydon Airport. She slipped her hand into her pocket, rubbing her fingers over the carved ivory handle of Bucky's pocketknife like a worry stone, her heart heavy and a pit in her stomach, knowing the vague feeling of nausea that rolled through her had nothing to do with morning sickness. Staring idly out the window, watching the London streets pass, she hummed softly to herself, the lyrics to her song swimming through her thoughts.
Some day he'll come along, the man I love.
And he'll be big and strong, the man I love.
And when he comes my way,
I'll do my best to make him stay.
Darcy was so distracted that she never noticed the eyes that followed her through the airport. Of course, she was used to being noticed, it came with being a movie star. Nor did she notice when she got up to visit the powder room before her flight boarded, that the large blond soldier who had been quietly leaning up against the wall opposite, surreptitiously moved to follow her inside.
She did notice however, when he entered the room and locked the door behind him while she was touching up her lipstick.
"Excuse me, sir! This is the ladies!" she scolded sharply.
His eyes widened, but not for the reasons that Darcy thought. "You are with child," Thor said surely, with the knowledge he possessed as the god of fertility.
Darcy's hand flew to cover her stomach protectively. "How did you know that?! Who are you?!" she demanded.
"I am a friend, Lady Darcy," Thor reassured her, taking a step towards her, hating the look of fear from the woman he considered a dear friend.
"Don't come any closer!"
"I am not going to hurt you or the babe." He remembered the compass in his pocket. "I am here on Steven's behalf," he tried again to soothe her, showing Darcy the item he possessed. "He bid me to return you to his side."
"How did you get that?!" She snatched it out of his hand before backing up against the wall. It didn't take long for her to recognize it that it was, in fact, the compass she had given Steve for Christmas. But she also knew that Steve had had it with him when he'd left her hotel room that morning. She couldn't believe he would have willingly given it to anyone, especially when he should be in the middle of a battle with Schmidt at this very moment. "Where is Steve?!"
"He is waiting for you, and I am going to take you to him."
"I said don't come any closer!" she shouted, one hand clutching the compass to her chest, the other protectively around her stomach.
Unfortunately, her screaming had garnered unwanted attention, and Thor could hear someone trying to gain entrance to the bathroom. He had hoped to calm her down before they proceeded, but they no longer had the luxury of time.
"I am sorry Lady Darcy, we must go now," Thor said, closing the distance between them and easily drawing her into his arms, despite her best attempts to fight back.
Thor pulled the potion his mother had prepared and threw it against the wall. From where it burst, a vortex began to form; the portal that would lead them back to Asgard and their proper time.
Darcy fell silent as the vortex grew, her fighting giving way to shock.
Right before he stepped into the portal, he heard a whisper escape Darcy's lips. "Please don't hurt my baby."
When Thor exited through the portal on the other side, Darcy now unconscious in his arms, his mother was waiting for them.
"Is she alright?" Thor asked, worried, as Frigga laid a gentle hand on Darcy's forehead.
"She will be fine," Frigga assured her son. "Midgardians are not made for traveling through such means, but she will regain consciousness in due time, no worse for it."
"She is with child," he added, concerned.
"Yes, I see that," Frigga agreed, placing her other hand on Darcy's stomach. "The babe is also safe."
"I am heartened to hear so."
Frigga smiled at her son before turning her attention back to the woman in his arms. "Poor girl," she said, brushing an escaped lock of hair off of her face. "She has a difficult path to walk yet. Your brother has much to answer for."
Before Thor could ask his mother what she meant, what the Norns had showed her, Frigga spoke again.
"You should take her home now," she told him, handing over mjolnir which he had left in her care while he traveled into the past. "It's best she wake in a familiar setting, with those she knows."
"Of course, Mother," Thor obeyed, waiting for Heimdall to open the bifrost so he could finally return Darcy to where she truly belonged.
Thor had scarcely gained his footing on the landing pad of Stark Tower, before Steve was right in front of him, taking Darcy from his arms. He handed her over readily, completely understanding the Captain's actions, as he would have done much in the same had the situations been reversed.
"What's wrong with her? Why is she unconscious?" Jane asked worried, as she followed Steve inside where he was now gently laying her on the couch.
"It's a result of portal travel," he explained. "Midgardians are not meant for it. But my Mother assured me she will soon wake."
Kneeling at Darcy's side, Steve couldn't take his eyes off of her. He couldn't believe that the woman he loved like no other was actually there, right in front of him. He had lost so much, but to have her back meant more than he could ever describe.
Placing one of his hands over hers, he realized that she was clutching his compass tight. A joyful smile crossed his face; it had worked, they were finally together, and nothing would tear them apart again. They were home .
Steve couldn't help himself; leaning over her, he brushed the hair off of her face and bent down to place a soft kiss against her lips. As he pulled back, he grinned as he watched her eyelids flutter as she slowly regained consciousness.
"I thought it was supposed to be Prince Charming who wakes the girl with a kiss," Darcy said weakly.
A bright smile spread across Steve's face, and he wondered if his heart could actually burst from happiness. "Prince Charming couldn't make it, but Captain America was happy to step in," he teased, beaming down at her.
He leaned in to kiss the woman he loved again, but before he could, his blood ran cold and his heart stopped when her brow furrowed in confusion and she said one word.
The compass slipped from her hand and fell to the floor.
A/N *Ducks flying fruit* Don't hate me?
This is the end of this story but it's not of Steve and Darcy's story. Keep an eye out for the sequel which is called Keep Calm and Carry On, I'll also be posting a series of outtakes from Darcy's adventures in the 40s that had to get cut for pacing issues, so if there are any moments you wished you could have seen but I didn't write let me know and I might add it to the list :)
So I really fought and struggled to get this chapter written so it would mean the world to me if you let me know what you thought!