Actions

Work Header

as if we played

Chapter Text

The lights were flickering again.

Darcy rubbed her eyes tiredly and stared at the screen. You got this, Darcy. You can absolutely bullshit your way through this.

It wasn’t even totally lying about this, actually. She’d studied this crap, she knew her stuff. Of course, no one knew about it, but eeeh. Details.

In the background, her roommate was commenting loudly over new Hollywood darling Nicholas  Richard’s latest escapade, that had once again made the front page. Well, at least there was nothing important to comment on.

She focused once again and slowly typed the answers to the questions in front of her.  

Astrophysics.

Of all the things she could have picked for an internship, this was probably the last thing she imagined.

Well, not really, but chemistry, biology, heck, even maths would have been an easy, easy grade she could have totally gotten. But no, she wanted to try something new.
She chewed the inside of her cheek and tried one of the more difficult ones. Yeeah, you got this girl. Almost.

The lights flickered again, and this time the sound of static filled the air.

Oh no.

Darcy closed her eyes and tried to ignore the feeling of pressure building behind her lungs. It was the same squeezing sensation she had grown accustomed to, but didn’t really want to feel.

She pawed blindly into her bag and fished her notebook. She hastily read over the latest lines and waited for the feeling to pass.

The sky coloured vivid pink despite it being pitch black a mere second ago, the computer screen became blue and the TV restarted on itself rapidly.

All around Darcy Lewis, everything had changed and no one had was aware of it.

Her lungs were free once more.

She surreptitiously looked behind her.

Okay, her roommate was still here. “...Annie?” She called hesitantly.

“Yeah?” Came an absent murmur from her friend.

“...Nothing, don’t worry.” She could feel the memories piling up already. Nothing major had changed.

Nicholas Richards never existed. She wrote in the notebook. Who knew who else they’d lost today.


 

The first time Darcy Lewis witnessed a Rewriting, her uncle Robert forgot he was married and had four kids. Everyone but her did, actually.

As if that part of history hadn’t existed at all.

And for Darcy Lewis, four years, it had been the start of the Truth.

Indeed, 4 years old Darcy Lewis had always wondered about the strange dreams she had at night. Or the knowledge she seemed to possess (conflicting knowledge at that).
In fact, she dreamed about a world that couldn’t be, a life that certainly wasn’t and in the back of her mind, an older, much older soul acknowledged that yeah, a four years old really shouldn’t know about such things.

And yet, Darcy did.

However, no one else did. And Darcy wondered.



Darcy was eight (sixty six, an ever-growing part of her screamed ) when she watched the world Restart in a way that couldn’t possibly be ignored.

The entire news channel flickered and the headlines changed from ‘Madman kills three thousand people’ to ‘Madman kills ten in school shooting’.

Even the News lady had changed, and no one had noticed.

She had then looked up the name of the news lady, only to find out she’d never existed.

That had been weird .


 

Darcy was ten when she understood. She had by now realized she was the only ‘glitch’ in a probably misguided attempt to save the world.

Technically, sixty eight, she’d thought morosely.

She’d watched the world readjust and rewind under her own eyes, and despite the very proof that she was a ten years old kid, her memories and brain told her otherwise.

Her educated and much older mind had then promptly elaborated four possible answers.

One, she was crazy. That didn’t explain the innate knowledge, but discarding it seemed too naive.

Two, she was somehow stuck in a coma or weird dream and her body was somewhere else. Possibly with her wife. She must be worried.

Three, she had someone else’s memories, which couldn’t really be, because some differences in how things were done were staggering.

Four, the world was actually going back in time, much like the soft reset of a video game and no one was the wiser. She alone knew it was actually happening. That would mean that the world had actually reset once too many times, or something, and she was somehow reborn into another time and possibly universe. It was similar to the world in her memories, but not quite.

Well, if that was actually a possibility.

For the lack of a better option, because choices one and two were both too sad to accept and yeah, no, Darcy had started paying attention to everything surrounding her.


 

At twenty-two, she could say something for certain.

Unless she was spectacularly wrong, the world did soft reset and defragment like a computer, arbitrarily, without a care for who was forgotten in the middle of the defrag process.

History was rewritten like it was nothing, Presidents and Politicians changed.

Sokovia was actually bombed thrice in the span of six months before the last reset gave it a temporary government.

Wakanda had completely disappeared from the maps, officially a desert of poverty and criminals.

She’d watched silly things being overwritten, like a sentence edited by a drunkard writer that suddenly decided the dress of her character was blue instead of green, right beside big things like a woman President of France.

She had no idea what happened to the people deleted by the memory of the world, but she feared they were displaced in time much as she had been (because she was totally not born in 1990, yeah? yeah).

The realization that time displacement was a thing had been a hard pill to swallow.

She was out of her time, out of her body, out of her world.

Her previous life was gone . Forever.

Accepting her death would have probably been easier.

She’d cried over her loss for days. Mourned the loss of her wife, her friends, even the bloody cat she’d been almost coerced into taking in because ‘he’s so lost and cold, we can’t leave him out like that’.

Then had come the apathy.

But then she’d gotten up.

Because she hadn’t studied for med school for over twelve years to become a field medic to let go at the first obstacle. Because she was a fighter and she didn’t let go. And yes, fine, maybe she wasn’t born Darcy Lewis, but she was now and crying over spilt milk was not how she was going to live the rest of her life.

She’d taken to carry notebooks in which to sign the names of the people she saw disappear, to keep track of who and what changed, and wove stories in order to never forget them.

She liked to think her people, wherever and whenever they were, cheered for her.

Chapter Text

At age twenty-four and sitting in front of the acceptance letter to her Astrophysics internship, Darcy Lewis had a pretty clear idea of what ruled her world, in spite of the wool put over everyone’s eyes.

It had to be the dumbest, blindest Luck in the whole Universe.

Oh, my God, I got the spot? Darcy couldn’t quite believe it. There was bound to be someone more qualified than she was for this kind of job. She read the email quickly; apparently, she was the only applicant.

That had to be a mistake. Okay, some requirements were sketchy (‘must be able to use a microwave for PopTarts’ was her personal favourite) but as far as she could see, the research was genuine and Dr Foster seemed kinda cool…

‘You start next Monday, we leave for New Mexico on Wednesday…” She inhaled sharply.

“Annie!” She scrambled to the door, hitting her roommate’s door with impatience.

Annie’s face peeked from the room, sleepy. Oops. “What?”

“I got the spot!” Darcy exclaimed, excitedly. Hey, it was still a great achievement.

Annie’s face brightened, “that’s great!” She exclaimed, and then sneezed. Her eyes widened and inched closer to the door.

Darcy took in her friend’s face at once. “That cold has been going on for like three weeks, Annes.”

Annie shrugged, “I’ll live, I’ve got aspirin with me… somewhere.”

Yeah, no. Okay, Aspirin was cool if you ignored the thinner blood, so yeah, but three weeks for a common cold was plain stupid. “I’m going to make you something for that.”

She could feel her blonde friend’s head hitting the door in resignation.



“So, repeat that again?” Annie blew on her mug, curling her lips in distaste.

“New Mexico.” Darcy stared pointedly at the still warm liquid until her friend had taken a very long sip. “Me. Internship. Two days from now. Drink that thing or I will force feed it to you.”

Annie took another gulp of it, “man, thirty-six hours of warning is sooo stupid. You’ve got like, two days to pack and pray you don’t forget anything.” Her eyes widened, “you don’t expect to move your greenhouse, do you? Because that thing is huge and it took us three days to set up.”Darcy winced. “Oh God, you are.

“...In my defence, most of those plants are extremely valuable and I can’t replace them so…” Technically irreplaceable, actually they were unique. Some she had literally grafted herself and others, like Frank, she had been growing and experimenting on since she was twelve.

Annie’s mouth opened and closed a few times. “We’re going to need sooo much help, dude. Is your new boss even okay with this?” Darcy nodded quickly and Annie shrugged.

She took the last of the red sparkly liquid and put the mug back in the sink “I don’t know why you stress with your old-timey grandma remedies, one pill of paracetamol will fix me right up in a week or so. And this one tastes like death.”

“Humour me.” Darcy smiled. “You’re the best, Annes.”

“I know.” Annie waved a finger carelessly. “I’m calling my cousins, and Ethan. He’s got a truck we can use to store your green loving shit in.”


 

Ethan arrived the next day before it was even a decent hour to be awake. Darcy had known him since she started at Culver. He was a no nonsense guy with a heart of gold.

He came with the old van and with at least five more people that were all apparently related to Annie and despite being burly and intimidating were all unfailingly polite and managed to eat everything Darcy cooked for them without complaint.

It was the kind of company that got the job done and quickly, thankfully.

They had managed to get every plant under control, put Frank in a lot of red strings and tape so that its brittle, sparkly blue leaves wouldn’t be knocked all over ( ‘That is one weird looking plant, dude!’ ) and even wrestled Brad out of the ceiling (well, he was a little overachiever, that ivy plant was).

And then, of course, came the problems.

Because no matter how much she called and how many requests she was filing, no company was willing to ship the plants to New Mexico. Of course, Darcy herself had been hesitant to let people tag and prod her very experimental and possibly frowned upon stuff, but there was no other way to ship something from Virginia to New Mexico.

So, with disappointment, she was forced to admit defeat and just leave them there.

At least until Ethan actually offered to take her and the whole shebang to New Mexico with the plants. They would leave on Tuesday with the truck and be in New Mexico by Friday if they didn’t take turns with driving.

Dr Jane Foster was understanding, if a bit disappointed they couldn’t get to work right away. Darcy liked her more than she already did for this.

As they packed the last of Darcy’s unmentionables, the woman looked around her room with pursed lips. She would miss this place. By the time she came back, Annie would probably have graduated and left.

She’d been the bestest of friends, really.

Even if she got to keep Bruce.

“You’re absolutely certain you can spare him, right?” Annie asked for the tenth time. She was holding the tiny pot containing a single, ugly stem with no leaves.

“Absolutely, Annes. Keep it, Bruce the Brussel Sprout is yours.”

“...It’s not a real Brussel sprout plant, is it?” She eyed the thing dubiously.

Darcy laughed. “No, not really, but as long as you don’t try to eat it you’ll be fine.” Her lips wobbled a bit. “I’m going to miss you so much.”

“I’ll miss you too, Miss ‘What day is this wait are we still a Democracy?’ weirdo.”

Darcy grinned unrepentantly “I need to keep you on your toes.” And keep me from losing it too much.

“You ready to go, Miss L.? ” Said Ethan, dropping noisily the last of her boxes in the back.

“Yeah, sure, thanks. Take care Annie, yes?”

And yeah, maybe it wasn’t, but this felt like it was the last time they’d see each other.


 

Three days in a van were as close a nightmare as she could imagine it.

It wasn’t even Ethan’s fault, as he was really good company (fun, didn’t comment on her stuff and had a very deep voice so they could sing along the radio, despite being both almost completely tone deaf).

No, it was the cramps and the headache that had started on the second day.  

The world had to be sentient, or something . Unless Someone was pulling the strings, that was possible too.

Earth was essentially an asshole that reset the moment something threatened Armageddon. A bomb was a tad too close to destroying the planet? Reset.

The president was about to press The Button? Hard pass. Hard pass, see you later.  

History would be rewritten up to thirty years or so, sometimes more, without anybody being the wiser.

And then, there were the ones she called soft resets. They were nothing special or impressive and yet the story would be edited and tailored to suit different needs. She didn’t know why these lesser movements were even a thing, since no strong menace could be stopped in a reset of merely fifteen seconds or heck, even four hours,  but they were and the nausea that came with them wasn’t consoling.

Unfortunately, the bigger the change, the most physically painful it was watching it happen. It was just like the world really didn’t want her to know or understand.

I get it dude, me neither. She grumped, as she massaged the sides of her chest, trying to discreetly ease the discomfort.

“You okay, L.?” Asked Ethan, without taking his black eyes off the road.

“Yeah, I am.” She laughed nervously. “I just had this… weird nausea thing out of the blue.”

“Ooh boy, don’t I know it. Must have been the tacos.”

“...Yeah, must have.” She would check the news as soon as they stopped for the night.


 

So, Darcy didn’t think she could ever hate anyone at first sight.

Donald Blake was proving otherwise.

He’d come to fetch her (out of the goodness of his tiny dried up heart) and Ethan at the Bus Station.

He’d been completely unapologetic about dissing Ethan because of his skin’s colour, dismissed her right off the bat because it was clear that she wasn’t a professional ( excuse you? ) and he’d refused to help her carry her plants, despite having a very big truck at his disposal.

So, in the end, it was Donald alone in his van, guiding Ethan and his own van, carrying Darcy’s plants, to the Gas Station that was apparently their Base.

He’d then proceeded to say hello to Dr Foster and leave without helping or a backward glance.

What an asshole.  

She would have probably ranted more, possibly straight in his face, but then she met her new boss and her mentor, and she opted out. Out of respect for the woman. For now.

As different as her boyfriend as possible, Jane Foster was the nicest being in the universe and Darcy was just about ready to declare herself a die-hard fan of the tiny woman.
Jane Foster was clearly the better half of the two.

She’d helped Darcy move all of her stuff, even offering the empty room on the roof to improvise a greenhouse. And man, could that woman move heavy stuff around.

Darcy was no slouch, but the tiny woman could outspeed Ethan while moving the heavy stuff like it was made of paper.

Then Ethan left, and it took Darcy about two hours for the tinted lenses to come off.



Three days in and the tinted lenses were long forgotten.  

Jane Foster was by no means perfect.

First, she had the worst taste in boyfriends, of course.

Second, she was a terrible, terrible terrible cook. Her entire repertoire was composed of microwaved Pop-Tarts (that were just about her whole diet, because preservatives made for the best nutrients) and sometimes omelettes. She could, however, mix the coolest drinks (and could even do flips and twists with the bottle. ‘ It’s just a tiny flair, Darcy, it’s nothing special…’ Yeah sure.).

Third, she and Dr Selvig were extremely… passionate about their job… well, they were actually incapable of taking care of themselves, if given the chance. She watched them take no breaks whatsoever for thirty-six hours. Then Erik had crashed on the desk, while Jane had feverishly kept checking her instruments. She probably hadn’t even realized she was alone, as she rambled aloud about Spectrometers.  

Darcy, or well, past her, had gone through med school, she knew what it was like to desperately look for answers and not finding any. She could relate Jane and her Science!Benders, but enough was enough, at least for today.

“Bosslady?” She called from upstairs.

No answer.

Huh.

She peeked out of the designated plant room and suppressed a giggle.

Jane Foster, astrophysicist extraordinaire, had crashed much like her mentor, and was now sleeping on the chair she was sitting on.



It became painfully obvious that it would fell on Darcy to keep the two alive, if she wanted her credits and graduate.

She didn’t exactly mind. Annie had been just as hopeless in the kitchen, even if she didn’t have to nag her about going to bed or actually eating.

So Darcy’s job became mostly cooking and running around with coffee mugs, mostly.

At least until Erik noticed that, despite having no complete understanding of physics, Darcy could instead do equations and some of the work needed- and thus be employed in the calculations involved.

And so the intern did graduate from Pop-Tarts machine to Smart Pop-Tarts machine, which was a plus and now she could actually start familiarizing with the subject (and collate the data, which prompted more questions than she thought possible).

Jane had a limited amount of patience she could abuse with stupid questions, and it was usually condensed around meal times, when she was paying attention. Erik Selvig, however, was one of those people who had learned ‘slow’ instead of Genius Pace, and was happy to help her with understanding the subject.

She understood why he’d gotten honours as a physic professor, he was extremely patient with her, even if she was just a Poli-Sci major, and knew his stuff from top to bottom.

She resolved to learn some Swedish dish to repay him of the help.

After a while, the reading they had compiled were finally translated into something they could work on, and thus driving in the middle of the night while basically Stargazing became a thing. They would pack a few instruments and drive around the desert, looking for the ‘perfect spot’.

Of course, so far they were only getting false positives.

“Jaaaane, where do I put Bobby?” She whined. For a better understanding, all the equipment had been properly name-tagged. It was much easier to ask for Bob than the thingamabob or whatchamacallit for the readings, right? She had just started on astrophysics, sue her.

“Back in the van,” grumped Jane, disappointed. “I was so sure we’d find a storm today… The readings…”

“...Will be there tomorrow?” She offered cautiously. “It’s almost four, Janey, we’ve been driving for hours… We’ll be back here tomorrow first thing, yeah?”

“You’re right. Yeah, tomorrow.” Jane didn't sound convinced, but relented. 

They drove back in tired silence, both struggling to keep her eyes open and very thankful there was no soul they could barge into in the desert.

When they came back, the sun was rising.

Darcy took some time to open the windows of the rooftop, and went straight to sleep.

 

By the time she woke up, the sun had almost set. 

 

Chapter Text

“Good gracious, Chère, you’re terrible at this!” she laughed loudly.

Chère didn’t even try to hide her pout, her face smudged with dirt as the blue plant she was tending to whacked her on the head.

She laughed harder.

“Are you really going to mock me for this? See if I give you another Anniversary gift!” her wife puffed her cheeks in mock indignation, then joined her in laughing.

She wound her arms around her and smiled “Happy Anniversary.”

 



 

Darcy woke up crying.

For as long as she could remember, she had always suffered from this kind of dreams. Her old memories came back to her at the most inappropriate moments, pulling her from sleep and feeding her false hopes.

Sometimes she would notice it was all a dream and a memory.

Sometimes she wouldn’t, and she’d wake up alone and confused.

This was one of those times.

The woman curled under the covers, choking a sob. She knew it would be coming. She was due to one of these anyways, it was their Anniversary, after all.

It still didn’t hurt any less.

She idly considered staying in bed for the day. Jane would hardly need her today, right? She had said they would move out in the evening, so she could totally forget the outside world existed.

The intern lay in her bed for another hour, before the first stubborn pang of guilt got to her. Thoughts of a disappointed Chère started to enter her mind relentlessly, and yeah okay, fine. Darcy could stubbornly argue that she deserved one day of grief a year. But it didn’t matter. She was getting up, after all.

And she was going to get another hobby. Soon.

For now, she would just take care of her scientists as if nothing was wrong.


 

The day passed in sluggish boredom and monotony, and Darcy was secretly glad.

Monotony was good for days like these. It was comfortingly safe.

She was lazing idly on the couch, absently reading over Jane’s notes before turning in early, when a loud boom and a squeal made her jump.

“Jane!” Erik Selvig cried, worriedly.

In a second Darcy was on her feet and in the lab. “Boss lady??”

Thingamabob Five had exploded. Like, really exploded. There was smoke and everything, the smell of smoke almost overpowering.

Erik was opening the windows one after another. “Jane?” he called, coughing.

“Here!” she mumbled, crawling from under the desk.

Darcy released the breath she didn’t know she had been holding.

Jane was fine. A bit battered, but fine. Fingers and toes were probably accounted for.

“Ow, ow, ow,” the astrophysicist was complaining, holding her left arm.

Sure enough, a trickle of blood was lightly staining the green shirt she’d worn that day.

The intern didn’t know if she should laugh or cry. It was just like Jane to blow something up and get hurt, and of course, hurt so superficially she was either the luckiest or most unlucky person on Earth.

“Let me get the First Aid kit, boss lady,” she sighed. “I’ll patch you up.”


 

“You’re very good at this!”

Jane’s awed comment almost made Darcy grumble under her breath. “Just be thankful you won’t need stitches, boss lady.”

Darcy could now state with certainty that Jane Foster was one lucky creature. The astrophysicist had been grazed by flying plastic which yes, wasn’t pleasant, but hardly lethal.

Once the ex-doctor had cleaned and sterilized everything, it was clear that some medical superglue on her forearm would be enough, and probably the only thing Darcy would attempt in this lab. As much as she was confident in her stitching skills, this was hardly the place to attempt such a thing. On the bright side, there would be no need to go to the ER.

“Pass me the disinfectant, Erik,” she demanded.

The man passed the required items wordlessly, watching her like a hawk. The judgemental stare should have been intimidating, but it would hardly be the first time she was subjected to such a thing.

“Okay, boss lady, my verdict is: you’ll live,” she nodded, as she applied a light bandage over Jane’s forearm.

“Thank you, Darcy,” Jane smiled happily.

“You’re really good. Have you done this before?” asked Erik curiously.

“Huh-uh,” nodded the girl absentmindedly. “I’ve been at like… ten to fifteen first aid seminars or so. It’s really important stuff when you’re around college kids.”

Erik frowned. “I meant a bit more professionally than first aid seminars.”

Darcy froze, but thankfully Jane shook her head first. “Darcy is a Poli-Sci major, Erik.”

“Yep!” the intern was quick to confirm, eager to hide behind her boss’s words. “Anyways, do you need painkillers, Janey? No? Good.”

She was so. Fucking. Done. With this day.


 

The lab exploding had the only added benefit of rescheduling their nightly stroll in the desert for the time being. At least until Jane repaired the spectrothingy or got a new one. According to Erik, the second option was almost impossible, for grants didn’t rain from the sky and no one was particularly interested or involved into Jane’s research anyway.

Darcy felt bad for her boss, but she wasn’t exactly going to say no to a free evening, especially today.

She holed up on the roof, and prayed no one would come and fetch her.

For once, as if sensing her discomfort, no one did.


 

When Darcy woke up the next day, looking more like a human being than she had the day before, Jane was already at work, determined to repair her very important apparatus that was now nothing more than scraps.

It took them three days and two nights, but ‘Billy’ was finally brought back from the Realm of Junk on a Tuesday night.

The astrophysicist was so happy to have her instrument back that she even paid for drinks out.

Looking back to the last few days, the intern found herself surprised at just how much she’d felt more personally involved in the reconstruction than she thought possible.

It was very relatable, if she actually thought about it, the feverish search for your path and everything that led back to it. She was doing much the same with the greenhouse upstairs, trying to reach for the link to her past and meanwhile recreate what was an essentially more efficient pharmacy.

Jane’s roof, that had once housed a couple of chairs and some other curiosities, had quickly become a modestly sized greenhouse.

The ‘room’ Jane had lent her became two rooms, then the whole roof with no warning whatsoever.

Neither the boss lady nor Erik were complaining, for now.

Darcy wasn’t really sure they had noticed, frankly.

She spent an absurdly small amount of time with her little creatures already, they needed more love than she was giving them.

So, she resolved to give them more the following day.

She automatically scooped up some fertilizer and dumped it on Frank. The blue leaved plant had grown another four inches since she’d come to New Mexico, the sunny weather rapidly improving its health. Darcy hummed, pleased. If they kept this rhythm up, she would be able to harvest the berries and begin proper testing.

So far, all of her babies had been deemed ‘human safe’, but you could never be too sure with experimental plants, lest she actually made a mistake and poisoned someone.

Recovering her old medical arsenal was proving more difficult than she had foreseen at the beginning, but it was nonetheless a fascinating pet project.

Flu, cold medicines were stupidly easy to reproduce. Others were trickier.

She didn’t care, she loved the challenge. And the familiar motions soothed her in a way not even equations could do, no matter what Selvig swore by.

Besides, her creatures were beautiful. Like a colorful rainforest, their multicoloured leaves shone brightly under the morning sun.

It was impossible not to love them, even a little bit.

She was just about to start pruning #238, a thick, menacing looking shrub with round, angry red berries timidly facing the sun, when bosslady woke up.

“Darcy?” Jane called groggily from downstairs.

“The greenhouse, boss lady!” she hollered back, before turning her back to the door and focusing once again on #238.

There was some shuffling and the sound of steps, and then a gasp. “...Since when did this greenhouse become this big?!”

Darcy coughed awkwardly and dropped the pruning scissors. “My babies needed more space. This cool? I mean, we hardly ever use the roof anyway and there’s just the right light.” Should she try the puppy eyes? Would she get away with it?

“Oh, no it’s… it’s cool.” Jane waved her off. “I just didn’t remember them being quite this big. Or this colorful.” She eyed Frank. “Or this… exotic. What kind of plants are they anyway?”

“Dunno,” Darcy said quickly. She’d practised it enough times to seem perfectly oblivious by now. “But I like them. They’re pretty,” she shrugged.

“That they are,” the astrophysicist agreed.


 

One thing Darcy had noticed, but not properly realized until a few weeks later, was just how much Jane loved the stars.

She breathed the sky and adored the stars.

To one Jane Foster, interstellar travel was going to be a thing, soon, and she was confident in her theories to a point Darcy really believed in them too.

She kind of wanted to pick Jane’s brain about her predicament.

More often than not, the astrophysicist was focused on her calculations and data and equipment, but sometimes she would take a couple chairs and reach out to her on the roof, where they’d share a beer and talk, usually about the stars or her plants.

Lately, it was mostly the latter.

Darcy took a long swig of her beer, “I can’t believe you’ve agreed to watch #457’s birth with me, boss.” It was bound to sprout at any minute, being #457 a nocturnal plant.

“Oh, you’ve been driving me around the whole desert for two months, it was the least I could do. Besides, it’s quite exciting! A plant that only sprouts during the full moon, how… weird. How did you get one, anyway?”

“I bred it myself,” she shrugged, and then she cringed. It was probably the beer that made her talk. She was going to blame it until her death.

“You bred it yourself,” Jane’s eyes widened to the size of dinner plates, “Darcy, did you breed all of these plants? Entirely new species of plants?”

“...Yes?”

Her boss just sat there, on the chair, uncomprehendingly blinking and gaping for at least one minute, “These plants have uses, haven’t they?”

At Darcy’s blank look, she scoffed. “Oh please, don’t tell me that they’re just aesthetics. There would be no way you’d purposefully try and get… Frank? because it looks exceptionally pretty. I don’t know you very well, I admit I can be a bit focused on my stuff,” she grinned sheepishly at Darcy’s snort, “just… why are you not in biology? Why are you studying political science if you can do… this!” she gestured to the greenhouse, “why!?”

“It’s just a project I like doing, Jane,” she almost whined, “I like playing with them, but it’s just that. It’s nothing big…”

“Nothi… Darcy! You- The science behind this-!”

‘And how exactly do I explain it?’ the intern thought bitterly, ready to bite her cheek to just avoid talking. Because while she really wanted Jane’s opinion on the meaning of life, she really really didn’t want to expose herself so quickly. The bosslady was ...friendly, but would she still be once she found out Darcy had a whole set of memories and knowledge stowed away in her head? Would she expect her intern to just give these secrets away? Because call her an egoistic prick, but she wasn’t going to be put into a research facility and pumped for information. Her plants were there because she was going to use them for herself and her people, not for some trigger happy government that would abuse them.

Yes, she had no faith in this world. The fact that these plants had been the norm in her old one didn’t concern her at all.

“I’m not sharing, Jane,” she bit out with finality.

That shut the other woman up. Darcy shook her head, “the moment I present any of these to any faculty, I’d probably get… so much funding, but it would be the end of the line.” She blew through her nose, “if one of these babies was something important… I can’t even think of what would happen, frankly.”

“That is a very pessimistic view..”

“No, it’s realistic,” she rebuked right away. “Do you think that the government wouldn’t jump at the chance of Interstellar, interdimensional travel, Jane? Because it would, but not for ‘science’s sake’!”

The woman became a mask of horror, petrified.

“When I first started,” Darcy could sympathise, she had been young and naive back in the day, “I was just like that. Science for the sake of knowledge. But then one of my babies gave unexpected results.” If we wanted to call them that. Accelerated Regeneration was more like a miracle. “And at first I was elated. The benefits, I said, could be huge. Then I realised I was giving this country something that should never have been brought to life. I destroyed my notes and the plant.”

The astrophysicist looked distraught, if still thoughtful, “I guess I never thought about it like that.”

She looked Jane in the eye. “That’s because you are good people, Janey, and yes your research is going to give so much to humanity. And it’s your right to pursue it. But don’t expect everybody to think like you. Because most don’t. And sometimes the question is not ‘can we’, but ‘should we’?”

She huffed and turned away. She was feeling very guilty about her harsh words, but she wasn’t going to cave in. Her research wasn’t going to be shared with anybody else.

“Oh!” Jane breathed at one point, and Darcy’s eyes snapped to her face. Her eyes wide with wonder. “Your plant!”

Darcy turned. #457 was blooming, its red leaves a flurry of motion as they unrepentantly sprouted from the soil. “My baby!” “It’s beautiful,” said Jane, smiling widely at her.

It was. It really was.


 

The next day Jane was pensive throughout the day and kept shooting her intern strange looks.

Erik wasn’t going to comment on it, whatever it was.

But Jane offered the kid coffee, so it was probably okay.

The kid’s smile told him it was definitely going to be okay.