“You’ve been ignoring my calls,” Jane accuses the next day in the hall.
“My head still hurt when I got upstairs, so I took some aspirin and went to bed early.”
“You’re lying. It’s something to do with Steve Rogers.”
“Excuse me for being tired from being freaked out by people shooting off guns in the diner,” Darcy says. She turns away from Jane to shove her History book into the locker and pull out a textbook and a dog-eared paperback. She should have known it wouldn’t be that easy to put off her best friend. Jane was tenacious. She hugs the book to her chest and gives a halfhearted smile. “You better get to class before Mr. Banner gets his rage on. Science waits for no woman.”
“Darcy, we’re not done here,” Jane shouts, but Darcy’s already threading her way through the hall towards purgatory: Mr. Wilson’s English class.
The bell rings as she slips into her seat and Darcy’s eyes dart around the classroom while she digs into the bottom of her backpack for her pen. Steve Rogers is sitting diagonally across from her doodling in the margins of his spiral bound notebook. She can’t see what he’s drawing from her seat, and she is almost tempted to lean over. Steve leans back and flicks his gaze over to Darcy and a little jolt of electricity sparks down her spine as their eyes meet. Darcy swallows hard, takes a steadying breath and tears her eyes away. Mr. Wilson arrives late, dragging an ancient TV with him. He slams a hardcover book on the desk making everyone but Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff jump in their seats.
Natasha sits in the front row flanked on either side by Maria and Bobbi. Her hair is perfect. Smooth and glossy. A red to make men weep and fall to her knees. Natasha is smart, beautiful, and popular. She is also Steve’s sister.
Darcy pays little attention to the movie and focuses on the puzzle that is Steve Rogers. Twice she stops herself from pressing her hand to her belly. The handprint is still on her skin despite two showers. The bell rings and Darcy shoves her books into her bag, watching as everyone files out of the room. Steve’s at the front of the classroom talking with Natasha in hushed tones.
“Can I talk to you for a second, Steve,” Darcy calls out before she loses the nerve altogether.
Natasha levels Darcy with a stare that sends fingers of ice skittering down her spine.
“Hey, Darcy, sure,” Steve says, offering up a smile that doesn’t touch his eyes.
“Steve,” Natasha says, eyebrows rising up.
“I’ll see you at home, Tasha,” he says, lips pressed together in a tight line. Natasha looks from Steve to Darcy, turns on a slender boot heel and stalks out of the door, red hair swishing back and forth. The door clicks shut, muffled sounds of kids in the hall filters through the door. It’s the first time she has ever been alone with him. Part of Darcy wants to run but the rest of her wants answers. She’s probably been hanging out with Jane for too long.
“Sisters,” Steve says to fill the silence between them. He stuffs his hands into the pockets of his jeans and bounces on his toes. He wants to run too, she thinks.
“I wouldn’t know,” she says with a shrug. Darcy only has her dad, ever since her mom got the hell out of Roswell when she was six. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“It’s fine.” He offers up a small smile, shifting his weight from foot to foot. “What did you want to talk about?”
Taking a deep breath Darcy lifts the hem of her t-shirt.
“Um,” Steve says.
“So help me out here, Rogers, what is going on? What are you? Because I’ve watched a lot of bad fantasy movies and this is….I don’t know what this is. What is this,” Darcy barks out a half hysterical laugh and yanks her t-shirt back down.
“I’m...I’m not from around here,” Steve says solemnly.
“So where are you from?” Darcy asks, and Steve takes a deep breath, squares his shoulders, and points up.
“ So what you’re from up north? You’re Canadian,” Darcy asks. Which is kinda weird as Steve couldn’t be more of the all-American poster boy if he tried.
Steve shakes his head no, still pointing up. Darcy raises her eyes from Steve’s hand to the water stained tiles on the ceiling.
“There is nothing up there unless you’re an alien and you can’t be an alien because you are a sixteen year old kid in high school. You’ve been watching too many X-Files reruns,” she says, not sure who she is trying to convince. “You are not an alien.”
“I prefer the term ‘not of this earth’. It has a better ring to it don’t you think?”
“That’s not funny, Rogers.”
“It’s a little funny,” Steve says, tugging on the strap of his backpack.
“I think...I think I’m going to be late for... the rest of my life. So I’ve gotta go.” She steps backwards towards the door and the metal of the door knob is cold in the palm of her hand.
“You can’t say anything,” Steve says, reaching out to her. His fingers graze her arm sending a jolt of electricity down her spine to settle low in her belly. “Please.”
“I won’t,” Darcy says meeting his eyes. They’re so close now she can see flecks of gold in the blue of his eyes, feel his breath tickling against her face and the warmth of his body seeping into her.
“Not to your dad. Not to Jane.”
“I promise,” she breathes out, leaning heavily against the door. Steve’s gaze drops to her mouth, and Darcy’s brain stutters to a stop.
“It’s in your hands,” he says, taking a step back and avoiding her eyes.