The first time Dr Foster was relocated, SHIELD considered it a good idea to move anyone else associated with her project as well. So Darcy went with her. New Mexico was getting hot and boring, and when she finally learned why she was being moved, she was more than okay with it. Same with the second move to Chicago and a setup in Fermilab. She saw buffalo herds and went hiking and all was pretty good.
After the third time, she was told just go back to school and finish up her degree, and that separation probably would help her not to be a target herself. School is quiet, although she can occasionally see a uniform here and there, and her advisor is legitimately freaked out of his mind when she turns in her internship assignment and half of it is blacked out as classified.
“They just do not pay me enough to read both astrophysics and Nordic Gods in the same paper, Darcy, and that’s just what I am allowed to read,” he says before reviewing her schedule for her last semester, approving her override for International Conflicts and Security. She thinks that after her internship, she should take a break from inter-realm conflicts and focus on the ones on this planet instead.
Darcy’s only regret is that her ipod was returned wiped.
Jane keeps in touch, of course, because they had bonded over the internship into something more than a mentor-thing, but less than BFF’s. She’s moved a few more times before Tony and Dr Selvig gang up on her and move her into the Tower and one of the labs is given over to her use.
“How’s the roof?” Darcy asks. Her priorities are totally in place. Jane can’t think without a good roof. She also can’t go pretend she can see Thor in the night sky without a good roof.
“They tell me it’s a magnificent view, but I can’t see anything useful,” Jane says over Skype three weeks before graduation, “Tony Stark is ruining my life. His tower puts off too much light. But he offered to do your Commencement Address, right until Pepper got this little eyebrow arch going and said something about his last speech at MIT and he choked on his whiskey.” Jane talks about the Avengers like friends, or at the very least people who aren’t getting in the way of her research and it’s a little disconcerting that she’s on a first name basis with fucking Iron Man. Then again, Jane’ also s dating the Norse God of Thunder after hitting him with a car and that’s still not the weirdest part of her life.
Jane comes to Darcy’s graduation, bearing Captain America’s congratulations, which startles Darcy just a little bit, because they have never met (because, hello, it’s Captain America. Normal people don’t just get random messages from superheroes. But apparently, Darcy isn’t normal anymore) and Jane doesn’t talk about him that much. “He hasn’t quite realized that college these days for most people is a sleep away camp with even more beer and sex. It’s a big deal to him.”
“I’m sure he’ll get over it when I’m still unemployed in six months,” Darcy’s cap is crooked, but she’s got a magna cum laude stole and is so far resisting the urge to turn it into a headband or something. Because she’s an adult now.
Jane also comes with a small complement of agents, but apparently they are like, junior agents in fucking training or something because Darcy remembers walking on the stage and then comes to in a cramped cell. It’s not even tall enough to stand up in as she finds out when she reopens her head wound she apparently obtained earlier. She sits back down to apply pressure before the rest of her is covered in blood. Her head hurts and the lack of coffee is also pressing behind her eyes, and she struggles to get her bearings straight. She’s not wearing her gown anymore, but she’s wearing the green dress and leggings she was wearing underneath it, which are all in pretty much one piece. She really could have used that stole though to put pressure on her head.
As the bleeding subsides, she takes stock of the cell. There’s light, and actually plenty of it from a ceiling panel, an empty bucket in the right corner — ew, and on her left are two plastic bottles of water and a protein bar. The walls are solid, and the door has a single small panel that doesn’t look like it opens from her side. There’s not much noise from outside of the walls, but there is some, and it’s obviously human movement. But otherwise, she’s completely alone.
She opens the water, drinks some of it — SHIELD gave her some survival training after the first safe house was compromised, and she knows to conserve whatever she can, but she uses a little more to flush the dirt out of her obvious wounds.
Darcy tells herself that all she has to do is be where she is, just like as if she got lost at the mall as a kid. Stay in one place, which isn’t really a problem, cause it doesn’t seem like anyone is coming to threaten or torture her. She can’t tell how long she’s been held, and can’t really tell how time is passing. The light never goes out and it’s relentlessly bright. She gets water every so often, and she’s had to use the fucking bucket a couple of times, and another protein bar appears a little less often than the water. Darcy mostly sleeps on and off, since the light is messing with her and sips the water. When she can’t, she sings. Sometimes to herself, sometimes loudly. During a particularly boisterous Justin Beiber session she hears a thump against the cell wall and someone yells at her. At least she knows she’s not being left completely alone. She switches to Somewhere Over the Rainbow that she can’t really bellow.
She knows by now that it’s had to have been days with very little to eat, but hey, she can’t really do anything other than sit in the small, bright cell when she hears a tapping sound from the light fixture and it goes out. She crawls to the back left corner as the light crashes to the ground and a head pops out.
“Darcy Lewis?” a cool, low female voice asks, “I hope you don’t have any problems with small spaces.”
“I’ll manage,” Darcy says, crawling back to the center and she stands upright and is helped into an even tighter air duct.
“Good, follow me and stay low and quiet.”
The ducts are pitch black and Darcy can faintly hear gunfire below her as the ducts slope upwards. The agent, Darcy really hope she’s following an agent, otherwise this is the weirdest interrogation scene ever, barely makes a noise as she moves through the space. Darcy bumps into the walls every few feet, so she’s not terribly surprised when a knife is pulled out and she turns towards Darcy. Her breath hitches for a second before the woman punches through the vent, letting a little light in, then kicks through a ceiling panel below. “Widow to Hawkeye. I have the package, delivering to you for safe keeping,” she says, and then looks straight at Darcy, “We should be on the top floor now. Once you jump down, there will be a door to your right. It has a ladder leading up to a maintenance shed on the roof. There will be a man with a bow nearby. Get to the floor and stay close to him. Trust me when I say that he is the safest person for you to be around.”
“Okay,” is all Darcy can really say. She slips down through the panels and follows Widows instructions. The ladder is easily scalable for a person who hasn’t been confined to a seated position or worse for an indeterminate amount of time, and she struggles to get her muscles moving in sync with each other. She groans as she opens the door to the outside and steps through. Before she can drop, she hears a low, “Hawkeye to Widow, package received. Rendezvous in 5 minutes.”
“Oh, “ she says as she hits the ground, eyes adjusting to the little light just before dawn, “I rate the A-team?” She crawls for hopefully the last damn time over to Hawkeye. He looks down at her, his bow half-drawn in front of him.
“Just a few more minutes, kid. Ride’s almost here.” He goes back to scanning the sky.
Darcy can hear the helicopter coming before she sees it, and sees Widow before she ever hears her. The agents fuss for a second, “Got it?” “Flash drive. Somebody left their computer unlocked.” She’s not quite hearing them as if they were far away, but her mind is watching the helicopter land on the roof and doesn’t register that Hawkeye is lifting her off the ground. She feels him running and then is handed off to someone inside of the copter.
Its a few minutes later, after taking off and everyone is settled that she is able to ask, “Jane?”
Widow responds, “Was never touched.”
“You went missing a week and a half ago. Barton,” she starts, but Hawkeye is already there with a medical kit, “yes, that. You’re safe with us Darcy.”
Darcy slips back into comfortable stillness, and just keeps breathing as two sets of hands check over her. She feels the sting of an antiseptic washing over her head, before she falls asleep.
This time when she wakes up, she’s in a warm, if not entirely comfortable cot in SHIELD medical with a fluid IV stuck in her, and Jane hovering over her.
“Please tell me I at least walked off the stage with my diploma placeholder before I was kidnapped?” Darcy asks, “Because I really can’t remember”
“It was more like running for cover with your placeholder diploma. You shook your dean’s hand and then there was shooting. They got me into a car too fast for me to see what happened to you, Darce, although the footage on youtube shows you elbowing one thug in the eye socket. So, good job. The agents with me said that I was the target, but you were a very good backup. Natasha recovered the data they were going to have me process for them. I’m not entirely certain what it is yet, but it was AIM that got you.” Jane’s voice is warm, and a little far off, and Darcy can tell that her mind is already wandering to the data, “When they realized they got a lab assistant who is more comfortable in the arts part of Arts and Sciences,”
“Naysayer,” Darcy objects half-heartedly.
“They tried to use your well-being to get more scientific data from us.” Jane looks down at Darcy, “We were always going to find you, but they got you out and off the grid faster than SHIELD thinks should be possible.”
“Whoever grabbed me is just lucky that I couldn’t get the taser underneath my gown.” Jane’s starting to look at her with sad puppy eyes, ones that she’s had to have learned from Thor because they were not that good in New Mexico. “I like my taser,” Darcy babbles, “and it’s never leaving my side again.”
Doctors make it in after that, and Darcy learns that she’s malnourished and dehydrated and had a concussion approximately the size of her coffee addiction, all things that she could have told them had she been awake when she was brought in. They want to keep her for a day or so before moving her, just to make sure her vitals get back to normal. Jane comes and goes the next day, obviously distracted by her work, but keeps the conversation light and only a little physics-centric.
Widow visits once, introducing herself as Natasha. She stays near the door, but chats for a few minutes before Darcy thanks her for getting her out of there. Natasha nods, turns and leaves.
“When did this become my life?” she asks herself when she thinks she’s alone. Her brain is putting together more and more of the week, and Darcy is pleased to find that she spent so much of it sleeping and trying to annoy the crap out of the people who were holding her by singing Baby. But she also finds she can remember gunshots and pain, and a small bright cell and her spine curving over her body.
“I believe that started when Jane ran Thor over and you tased him. Everything else followed a natural progression of fucked up,” Hawkeye says from the door. Unlike his partner, he walks all the way in, grabbing a chair and turning it around to sit, “I’m kinda supposed to tell you what happens next. For the time being, you are being moved into the Tower and a small ‘we’re sorry you got kidnapped’ stipend. Whether the move is permanent or not depends on whatever you decide to do.”
“I’m supposed to be safer in the Tower that is damaged on a fairly regular basis?”
“For certain amounts of safer,” he smirks, “SHIELD just wants to keep you in its grasp. We could just offer you up as professional bait. That could be a fun job.”
“I’ll pass on that. Although, maybe I could write a travelers guide to prison cells. I rate mine as a two-star. Had all the amenities, but very low ceilings.”
“You had a bucket, that gives it at least a three-star. You don’t want to see a one-star. You’ll be given an apartment in the tower, nothing fancy. You’ll have to figure out something to do, but Dr Foster expressed an interest in some more unpaid labor. We got your studio packed up and moved already. We’re hoping this will be temporary, but we misjudged that the interest in Dr Foster had tempered, and as long as she’s a target, so are you. We’ve already displayed that you are important and the footage is all over the internet,” he says in a quiet voice, just loud enough for her to hear, but it’s direct. Jane’s been treating her too delicately and talks a little around her and the directness is a pleasant change. “You are a youtube sensation, actually. AIM went for the grab just as you walked and at least one video made the rounds that keeps you in frame.”
“But I thought I wasn’t the target. Why did it start when I walked?”
“You weren’t the main target, but you were identified already as one. SHIELD got Jane safe in seconds, but we didn’t have anyone near you. You took down a guy with your elbow, and that’s where the youtube footage stopped,” he pauses, “well, for the public. The rest of the footage has them throwing you to the ground then dragging you off. We kept that off of the media, mostly, except for the few people coherent enough to see you taken out.”
“Poor Jeremy Liu,” Darcy deadpans, “Never got to walk, did he?”
Barton snorts, “You’re going to be alright kid.” He stands up from the chair, starting to leave.
“Wait. I caught your codename but not your actual name.”
“It’s Clint,” he says, walking out the door with a little wave.
“Thank you!” Darcy calls out after him and takes a long look at his butt, “Come around any time!”
The apartment they move her to does not seem like it should be a city apartment. It’s just a one-bedroom, but it’s nicely laid out and the bathroom is roughly the size of her freshman dorm. She’d always heard that New York City apartments were shoeboxes but this was more than comfortable, this was a kind of killer pad for a first out of college place. She unpacked her things, ordered groceries, and bought a new used couch off of craigslist, enlisted a couple of agents (the ones that were guarding Jane at graduation) to deliver it for her and settled.
She didn’t move much off the couch for a couple of days; enjoying blankets, Pop-tarts and her Netflix queue. Freedom rocked and she doesn’t dream. She figures eventually that’ll be worrisome, but right now, she can’t bring herself to care.