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But I'll be stumbling away (Slowly learning that life is okay)

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“But I'll be stumbling away (Slowly learning that life is okay)”- Take On Me by A-ha

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“Come on, Jane, if we don’t hurry all the good stuff will be gone,” Darcy shouts as she taps her boot on the floor, flicking through her tumblr dash on her phone.

“Just go without me,” Jane calls out, running her hand through her hair as she scribbles down equations on a sheet of graph paper below a coffee stain. “Bring back—”

“Coffee. I know, Jane,” Darcy sighs. Pushing through the door of the car sales showroom Darcy pops her earbuds in and hums along to the first song to pop up on random.

It’s been two weeks since the Destroyer made like a Power Rangers baddie and tried to take out Puente Antiguo, and Thor powered up. With funding from an unknown source the town is recovering. The buildings destroyed in the initial attack have new store fronts, or new skeletons of yellow timber shining in the sun. People are selling up and getting the hell out. Darcy can’t say she blames them.

She only has another week and a half of her internship left, before she returns to Culver. As for Jane, well Jane will go where the science is, or where the funding is. Which at the moment is S.H.I.E.L.D., and comes complete with a set of agents keeping an eye on Jane, and Puente Antiguo.

The main street of town is a riot of covered tabled filled with all manner of bric-a-brac, food, and secondhand clothing. Darcy is in heaven as she rummages through tables, filling her bag with books, two vintage dresses, an awesome knitted sweater with dancing cacti on it, a smoky quartz paperweight with a leafless tree carved into the stone, and one Captain America comic book from 1944.

.........

“Jane, I’m back did you miss me?” Darcy calls out as she steps back into the showroom.

“Coffee,” Jane grunts, holding out her hand and never looking up from her computer. Darcy hands over the coffee and drops a little bag of donuts on the table. Jane slurps her coffee as she scribbles notes into her journal.

“I’ve got ten more minutes of my break left. I’m gonna go up on the roof,” Darcy says, dropping her bag onto her desk and rummaging around until she pulls out a book and the Captain America comic. Leaving the paperweight at the bottom of her bag, to give to Jane later.

Darcy climbs up to the roof and curls up in one of Jane’s chairs, flipping through the pages of the book then setting it aside to open the Captain America comic. It’s not a first issue, but she happily begins reading about Cap and his kid sidekick Bucky fighting Nazis. Her eyes grow heavy as she reads and she closes her eyes, just for a moment enjoying the warmth of the sun on her face.
.........
The world shifts, and vertigo rolls over Darcy in a wave as she opens her eyes and steps through a doorway into a crowded movie theatre. A man bumps into her arm with a mumbled ‘Sorry, ma’am,’ and Darcy wobbles on her feet grabbing onto the back of one of the theater seats to steady herself.

“I can’t see,” mutters a voice and Darcy startles, looking around and finding an empty seat next to a thin man in a tan jacket.

“I’m dreaming,” she murmurs leaning back into her seat. Clothing and paper rustle all around her, and she can smell sweat, stale perfume. Darcy pinches the skin of her arm between thumb and forefinger. Nothing happens. Glancing around in the light from the black and white newsreel playing on the screen, she can just make out the vintage hairstyles and grim faces of the people filling the seats. A woman a few seats over, in a red floral dress similar to what Darcy’s wearing, is crying. Fat tears spill over her cheeks, and Darcy has to look away. The newsreel shows a little boy as the voice over drones on. So weird.

...Nice work Timmy...

“Who cares. Play the movie already,” calls out a voice.

“Hey, want to show some respect?” says the little guy in the tan jacket beside her. His small fists clench and unclench.

Let’s go! Get on with it. Just start the cartoon,” calls out the same voice in front of them.

Hey, you wanna shuddup?” the little guy says, leaning forward jaw clenched tight as a big guy stands up and turns around.

...Together with allied forces we will face any threat no matter the size...

Don’t get involved. Don’t get involved. The words run in a circuit around Darcy’s head as the big guy drags the man in the tan jacket out of the theater. Darcy’s never been very good at keeping out of trouble, not when someone needs help. And it is her dream after all. “Damn it,” Darcy mutters, slipping out of her seat and following out the side door and into a grim alley.

“I can do this all day,” the little guy says, his pale hair catching what little light filters into the alley. Blood is dripping from his nose as the big guy hits him again.

“Dude, I really don’t think you can,” Darcy mutters under her breath. Bending down she picks up a bottle from the spilled garbage littering the alley. It feels solid and heavy in her hand, as real as the seat in the cinema felt, beneath her hand. Holding the bottle by the neck she slams it against the back of Big and Ugly’s head. “Oh shit.” The guy doesn’t go down and he spins to look at her, grabbing at Darcy’s raised arm.

“You wanna dance too, sweetheart?” he sneers.

“Not particularly,” Darcy snarks, twisting her body and letting fly with her left fist. It’s not her best punch, but it’s got enough power behind it to tilt Ugly’s face back at the same time the little guy slams the garbage can lid down on his head. The bully drops like a ton of bricks.

“You alright ma’am?”

“I think so,” Darcy says, though she doesn’t sound all that convinced. “Hey, where am I? Because this isn’t what I was reading about in my Captain America comic.”

“Who?”

“Captain America. It’s a comic from the forties,” she says to his confusion. “This dream doesn’t make any sense.”

“Never heard’a him.”

“Doesn’t matter, this is all a dream anyway,” Darcy frowns, looking down at her knuckles, red and scraped from punching Ugly in the face. “I just need to wake up.”

“You’ve got one hell of a left hook for a dame...woman. I had ‘em on the ropes.”

“Dude, that guy was twice your size. It’s Darcy. Though shouldn’t you know my name if this is a dream.”

“Uh, Steve. Steve Ro--”

“Hey, you never told me where we are. So where are we, Steve?” Darcy interjects before Steve can finish talking.

“You don’t know where you are?”

“I wouldn’t ask if I knew where I was,” Darcy says, kicking a can out of her way as the head down the alley.

“Brooklyn, New York. Where did you think you were?”

“Puente Antiguo, New Mexico,” Darcy says absently, looking closer at one of the posters peeling off the wall.

“Never heard of it,” Steve says, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket and dabbing at his bloody nose.

“You wouldn’t...” Darcy says, voice trailing off as a figure blocks the end of the alley.

“Steve,” calls out the man clad in a smart dress uniform, hat cocked jauntily to the side, lips curving up in a smirk as his eyes rake over her. “Who’s the dame?”

“Hey, Buck. I want you to meet Darc—“

“I think...I think I have to go,” Darcy frowns, rubbing her hand over her abdomen as her guts twist, her vision swims and it feels as if she is being torn apart cell by cell. “I have to go.”

Steve calls after her as she pushes open the door back into the theater. It shouldn’t open for her but it does.

…….

Darcy steps through into bright sunlight and dry desert air. The comic book lays open on the roof beside her feet.

“Darcy, where have you been? I’ve been calling you. Today’s readings are all off,” Jane says as she steps out onto the roof of the show room behind Darcy.

“I was reading and then I was...” Darcy says, voice trailing off as she looks at the knuckles of her left hand, still red, the skin split and tacky with blood. “I think...I was dreaming?”