So, she might have gotten lost. In her defense the place was massive, as in scarily so, as in it was built to be a statement and it really made one hell of one. So she was lost and in a huge place full of tiny little places and she wandered from one to another to another and wondered if the GPS on her phone was good enough for people to locate her down to like a five foot radius.
It was a StarkPhone, so the chances were yes.
No, she was not going to call for help. That would just be admitting defeat.
So was asking the scary computer system that seemed to run the whole place. Plus, see the part about scary. No building should have that much control and not be part of a horror movie.
She was about to try door number six...teen, which she really hoped might actually be an elevator at this point because if she could get to the lobby she could find her way back up to the labs and known territory, when someone else came barreling down the hallway and damn near ran her over. She was torn because on the one hand it was finally another person and maybe they knew where the hell she was, but on the other: rude. Also, the new and loud klaxon was just damn annoying.
Her mouth fired before her brain so she didn't notice the whole black-on-black and possibly heavily armed ensemble until after she she shouted with as much distain and sarcasm as she could muster, "You know, most people say excuse me!"
The man, because he was one, whipped around and she had about a second to register that the sole person she had finally found looked well and truly crazy before he slammed her up against a wall and growled, "You shouldn't be here."
There was something about him though, maybe the terrified look to his eyes or the way he was breathing far too fast and sweating far too much and was really far too pale, that made her change from frightened to concerned - and for him and not just herself. She had dealt with gods and alien elves, a guy having a panic attack in an abandoned hallway was nothing.
It was about time she put those psych classes to use anyway.
He wasn't choking her, not completely, more just holding her in place and she found she was free to do what she did best, which was to talk. "Hey," she tried in the voice she used to calm down her ex's little sister after one too many campfire mochas with an extra shot. "Take a breath before you hyperventilate, okay? Like, a real one? In... and out... Got it? Slowly."
She was frankly surprised when it worked and he did what she said.
His grip relaxed a little but the look in his eyes didn't, so she said, "Okay, and again." He did as told like a pro, but he didn't actually seem to be calming all that much.
Her hand went up to his and pushed it down slightly. It went, but in slow and jerky movements like a toddler trying to control one of those annoying stick puppets with floppy legs. She had the feeling she might be the toddler in this case, but ignored that thought to try to move his hand a little bit more instead. Unfortunately, the action made his wrist brushed up against her grandmother's old locket that she had taken to wearing because it looked cool and was large enough to fit a piece of gum in. Well, Trident, which was close enough to being real gum and worked in a pinch when she was stuck in a long meeting and needed a distraction.
He gripped onto the gaudy piece of metal like he had never seen anything so valuable in his life. The chain tugged against the back of her neck, not hard, but enough that she suspected he barely even registered she was still there. He twisted the locket back and forth, the bright overhead light catching and reflecting off of the various grooves. He was like a kid with a new Gameboy, or maybe a kitten with one of those laser things, his attention solely on the glint of bright on slightly tarnished gold, eyes dilated impossibly wide as he stared at something she was fairly certain only he could see.
More importantly though, his breathing was calming into a slow and steady huff, just enough to move the long strands of her hair against her neck in a truly ticklish manner. She tried to stay still in deference to him though, encourage his lack of freak out with a lack of freak out of her own. Though many doubted it, she could actually stop moving once in a while.
There was the sound of a door opening and closing somewhere out of sight because of course she wasn't supposed to find out where the hell an open one was, and he flinched again. She was afraid she was going to lose him, and she was afraid he would be lost-lost, like for real. Her prof had told the class about a guy so lost in his own world when he'd have an attack that he literally wandered off to parts unknown. They had found him three days later at the bottom of a set of service steps that no one ever used, neck broken when he apparently missed the fact the steps were in fact steps and took a header.
That would be of the bad, so she figured they should avoid it if at all possible.
"Try to focus on the locket, okay? I know it's next to some banging cleavage, but look just at the pretty shiny and forget about everything else that must totally suck right now," she tried, latching on to the same thing he had. He finally lowered his arm and released his on her grip fully, but only to press his thumb up against the etched in design, some art deco thing from the twenties that her grandma had found in a pawn shop and fell in love with. "That's it," she encouraged. "Forget about that annoying noise and the fact that I probably still smell like formaldehyde from running into Doc Savanti earlier and just look at the pretty, okay? And keep breathing because that's totally important."
She tried to keep eye contact with him, well, look at his eyes to make sure he was still looking at the locket, and lightly patted him on the hand that was still tracing the pattern with a single fingertip. He flinched, but didn't look away. She flinched for a different reason entirely, and pulled her hand away to find sticky red.
"Shit! Are you hurt? Like in shock or something?" she asked. It would explain the fugue state, to at least some degree.
"No doctors," he muttered, whispered really.
"But we have some really good ones here?" she promised. "I burnt the crap out of my hand on one of Jane's new thingamabobs and they patched me up like new!" She waved her free hand off to the side, the slightly darker shade of pink just barely visible on the palm. It had hurt like a son of a bitch, as had the first part of the healing process before they gave her some seriously good drugs, and she been fine since, nothing more than a fading shade of difference.
His eyes reluctantly looked away from the locket to her recent injury, and she swore she saw them darken slightly. "You were hurt," he stated as if just figuring it out.
"But they made me better," she insisted. He wasn't bleeding on her sweater yet, but that might have been because his arm was raised and it was dripping more into his own sleeve than anywhere else.
"I'm not better," he whispered.
She raised her eyebrows and made the gigantic leap that he wasn't just talking about whatever he had gotten himself into recently. "Because you didn't see a doctor yet?" she guessed.
He opened his mouth as if to reply, but was stopped by the pounding of footsteps. "Bucky!" a seriously fit man in a ridiculous suit shouted as he approached. It took her mind an impossibly long time to figure out it was Steve "Captain America" Rogers, the ridiculous suit doing the majority of the work on that front. The footsteps skidded to a halt and the man he muttered something that sounded like the word "hostage" before sounding like a complete and total idiot when he said, "Just leave the girl alone, she has no part of this."
Now it was her turn to open her mouth but not get anything out. A different voice from a completely different direction replied, "It's okay, Rogers, she's been talking him down for the past five minutes."
She turned her head to the side a little too quickly at that. Her long hair brushed against the man's hand with the action and he flinched as though injured all over again. His hand jerked, and the chain jerked with it for a total of a second before he released it to let it fall back against her skin. "Natalia?" he asked, sounding like he was working his way out of a haze.
"You're fine, James," she insisted. "You didn't hurt anyone but yourself."
He looked away from what was truly a gorgeous redhead that she knew she knew if only her mind would catch up with her need to use it and then back to her, the fear turning to a look of horror. "I... I could have..."
His breathing sped up again and he was about to undo everything she had just accomplished which was just stupid. With that in mind, she managed to actually speak and say, "I'm good. I'm also Darcy by the way." She popped open the locket and offered, "Gum?"
His expression changed from horror to incredulousness and he sounded like he was choking, either on laughter or something else when he asked, "Are you insane?"
She shrugged. "Depends on who you ask. You asked me, so I'm saying no."
Now it really was laughter, but the odd almost hollow type when he asked, "Is there anything you take seriously?"
She shook her head and smiled. "Nope, not even myself. I've found the world is much easier that way."
Natalia, who now looked suspiciously like Jane's badass friend Natasha who she had hung out with herself more than once and was wearing some fancy suit of her own, snorted highly indelicately. "James Barnes, meet Darcy Lewis. She's Jane Foster's assistant and the only one of any of us to take down Thor if you ignore Wanda's mind games," she explained.
Darcy smirked because she could. "I tased him. It was awesome," she grinned. The look that said he thought she was nuts didn't waver, so she added, "He totally took it as a worthy warrior thing. We're buds, I swear."
He stared at her for a scarily long second before he pointed out, "You don't have a taser with you now."
"I also don't have my key card, which is how I got stuck on this floor at the wrong time in the right place," she agreed. She held up the locket again, the scent of over-sugared cinnamon rising to her nose. "Gum?" she offered again.
James/Bucky/Total PTSD guy stared at the tiny piece of cavity-granting goodness, and the covered his nose as if it personally offended him. "No, thank you," he managed, though sounded like he was choking on bile to do so.
She snapped it shut and let the locket fall again, watching as he watched it. The intensity had lessened, but the interest really had not. "It'll save for later," she promised. She turned to her recent audience and tattled, "He's totally hurt by the way. Blood, grossness, the whole nine yards. I don't think he wants a doctor even though I told him Stark doctors rock. So do their shrinks, or so I've heard." She waggled her eyebrows to get her less than subtle meaning across.
James-guy whipped back around to her, hand raised as if ready to strike even though he stopped like a good foot away from her. "I don't -" he started, but never got to finish before he collapsed to the ground, tiny dot of blue spider webbing out from where it dug deep into the skin of his neck.
Nat-whatever looked pissed. "He wasn't going to hurt her!" she insisted, and Darcy tended to agree.
"Couldn't take that chance," Captain Steve shrugged in total non-apology. "He was completely disassociated with the situation and posed a potential threat to a civilian. He wrote the protocols himself."
"I think I resent being called a civilian," Darcy mused. After all she had been through - multiple alien gods, multiple aliens in general, funky science, and funkier interns - she felt she earned more than a civvie moniker. However, given the way the good All American Icon was looking at her, and the fact he apparently had mystical blue tranq thingies, she relented, "But I will accept it so long as you don't fricken shoot me with whatever you just dosed him with."
She held up her hands and was surprised to find them shaking. Come to notice, her entire body decided to play along with that game and she found herself needing to lock her knees just to stay upright. Okay, so maybe she did rank as a civilian after all, at least when faced with a badass, leather-clad guy who, come to notice, was totally decked out in a ton of weapons and had a metal fricken arm.
Nat-whatever was there now, and seemed to be guiding her to the floor, where she didn't really want to go but probably needed to be. "We'll get your throat looked at, just to be sure," she was saying, which didn't really make any sense but, okay, maybe it was harder than usual to swallow. She was saying other things as well, something that sounded like that it would be easier to treat Bucky-guy's wound while he was out and maybe about how he'd feel awful if he remembered. More importantly, she totally agreed when Darcy insisted she earned her tequila tonight, and top shelf at that.