Chapter 12 – Darcy Lewis
As Darcy regained consciousness, she became aware she was in agony. Her face twisted and crumbled as tears sprung to her closed eyes. She didn’t want to wake up yet, she was in too much pain. She stubbornly squeezed her eyes closed harder and willed sleep to come back and claim her mind once again. To take her away from whatever cruel reality she had found herself in.
There was something slick and sticky on her hands, she clenched her fists and her palms stung in response. She brought her hands to her nose and took a sniff. It smelled like blood. Tears escaped her closed eyelids and began to roll down her cheeks.
Darcy opened her eyes and let the tears flow.
She looked down at her hands and as expected they were a bloody mess. She opened her hands to reveal two twin gashes along her palms. She quickly closed her hands and clenched them. It was only then that she realized she was standing. She had never been a sleep walker…
Had she not been so messed up physically, her standing status would have warranted more attention. As it was, she couldn’t spare a thought to her odd posture.
Darcy looked around her, but all she could see was darkness. She knew she was outside, she could feel the cold dirt beneath her feet. She could see a beautiful star speckled sky above her head. And there was a crescent moon shining above like a mocking smile, providing minimal light. Her eyes squinted as she tried to look beyond the shrubbery she saw around her. The wind blew and Darcy shivered. She seemed to be only wearing a thin sweatshirt and linen pants. No socks. No shoes. No wristlet.
It was cold and when the wind blew it felt like it was stabbing at her. Her hair whipped around her face obscuring her vision even more. She was confused and afraid. She didn’t know…anything. Where she was, where she had been, who she had been with, how she had come to be here. Nothing.
“Hello?” Darcy called out, her voice sounded hoarse. A persistent pain in her shoulder drew her attention back to her body. She gingerly reached up to pat her shoulder with her trembling hand, only to find the hilt of a knife lodged there.
“Ah!” The cry of pain left her lips as her hand touched the knife, moving it slightly and causing the area to throb with fresh pain.
“Fuck.” Darcy cursed. She didn’t know if she should pull it out or leave it in. If she did pull it out, would she bleed out? Would it get infected? Darcy tried lifting the arm and let out another shout as she realized what a stupid idea that was.
Darcy looked around her empty surroundings, she took a few stumbling steps forwards. Her eyes searched the darkness looking for signs of a nearby highway or house or mall or fucking anything! There was nothing. Nothing but darkness.
Darcy fell to the ground and just…cried. Her head felt foggy and she had a massive headache. And her hands hurt. Her feet were frozen. Her knees felt bloody and banged up too. She had been stabbed! She didn’t know where she was. Or what had happened to her. And she had no phone and she just…wanted someone to come and save her.
She allowed herself a few minutes to cry and wail and just be sad and in pain.
But then, she made herself get up.
She wiped her snot and tears onto the sleeve of her sweater. The coarse material scratched at her skin, but Darcy didn’t care. She had to get moving.
She looked up and tried to remember everything she had learned about the stars and the constellations from Jane. From the color of the sky, she could guess that it was the middle of the night. Duh.
She knew that she was somewhere away from cities and probably all of civilization, just based on how many stars she could see. In the city, only hundreds of stars were visible. When she had been in New Mexico, she had seen with her own eyes how many stars were really out there in the galaxy.
The sky above her was jet black and the stars shining looked like diamonds on velvet. There were so many shining stars above her, it was hard to distinguish one from another. Darcy idly wondered which one was Asgard as she searched for the Big Dipper. Or Orion. Those were the two constellations she could always find.
Darcy let out a huff of disappointment. Either the familiar constellations weren’t there or she couldn’t find them. She felt like a failure. And an idiot. She had interned with a world class astrophysicist and spent months out in the desert staring up at the sky with Jane. She should have been able to find one measly constellation. One familiar celestial…thingy, that she could use to orient herself.
Her plan to use the stars was a failure. So, she just picked a direction at random and started walking.
Darcy felt like she had been walking for hours. She was sure it hadn’t been hours, but it felt like it. And she had the blisters and bloody feet to prove it.
“Fucking rock!” Darcy exclaimed as she stepped on another sharp pebble. She screamed loudly, “I fucking hate the outdoors!”
Her head was starting to clear and now she couldn’t stop thinking. Thinking about getting hypothermia. About getting tetanus or rabies. About bears and whether she was supposed to make herself look big or run or not run. About falling down a well. About ticks. About stepping on a snake or a scorpion. About all the millions of horrible things that could happen to her whilst stumbling around in the dark woods that she had found herself in.
She hadn’t meant to walk into the woods. It was just that when she picked a direction to walk in, woods…developed around her. And before she knew it, she was surrounded by tall trees. However they weren’t fluffy with leaves, they were creepy and branchy. Allowing the sliver of light the moon provided, to still reach her.
As another rock or root or whatever, stabbed the tender bottom of her foot Darcy let out a frustrated growl. She vowed as she kept walking, “I’m never going camping….ever.”
The more she walked the more she thought about what she did remember. Last she remembered, she had woken up at Steve’s apartment. She had spoken with the Black Widow, aka Natasha. She had promised to stop drinking herself to sleep. She had planned on going to Tony and Pepper for help. She had gotten on a plane and….
That was it.
Getting on the plane, going to sleep in first class was the last thing she remembered.
She began to theorize aloud to herself, “Maybe Heimdall was testing/trying to fix the Bifrost? And I accidently got abducted then….dropped randomly?”
Darcy shook her head, “No, that’s ridiculous. Heimdall would test it on a squirrel or something first.”
“Shield? Evil government trying to ‘disappear’ me?....No, I would be at the bottom of a lake or an overpass or something with a pair of cerement shoes and my fingerprints burned off….I may be confusing the government with mob movies.”
“Horribly not funny prank gone wrong?”
“I got black out drunk and….made…someone mad enough to drive me out into the woods and leave me here?....No, that wouldn’t explain why I woke up standing…or stabbed….and am not drunk now, or hung over.”
“New power? Random teleportation plus….bodily harm?...God, please don’t let that be true.”
“Abducted by different aliens?”
Darcy honestly couldn’t think of a reasonable explanation for her current predicament. All the ideas she came up were outlandish and unrealistic. She decided not to dwell on what had happened to her. She had faith that when/if she found people again, and was able to contact her friends, they would help her figure it out. Or possibly Frigga. Yeah, Frigga could totally use magic to figure out what the fuck happened to her.
“Don’t worry about things you can’t control.” Darcy advised herself.
An hour or so later Darcy was getting very, very bored. She had been walking for ages, and still she was no closer to…anything resembling civilization. All the blood on her hands had dried and was all stiff and gross. Her shoulder still hurt like a son of a bitch, but she had resigned herself to leaving the knife lodged in her body, and the throbbing pain was so constant that it was now a numb pain. It still hurt. But it hurting, felt normal. It was the little cuts and scrapes on her feet that were really killing her.
She decided the only way to combat her ever growing feelings of fear, pain, bordom and despair…was with show tunes.
She changed lyrics as it suited her and substituted verses when she forgot what came next, but she sang surprisingly on key,
“Let’s get down to business, to defeat the Huns
Did they send me daughters, when I asked for a burger and fries?
….da, dah, da
Mister, I’ll make a man out of youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu”
“Tranquil as a forest but on fire within
Wish I had a blanket, cause I’m so..fucking cold”
Darcy began to replicate the different voices of the different characters as best she could remember from the Disney classic,
Panting, “I’m never gonna catch my breath”
Speaking nasally, “Say goodbye to those who knew me”
High pitched, “Boy, was I a fool in school for cutting gym”
Deepening her voice, “This guy’s got ‘em scared to death”
Singing normally, “Hope he doesn’t see right through me”
In a anxious voice, “Now I really wish that I knew how to swim!”
She paused to lean against a tree but continued singing in a tired quiet voice,
“Be a man
We must be swift as a the coursing river
Be a man
With all the force of great typhoon”
Darcy pushed off the tree and resumed singing and walking with gusto,
“Be a WOMAN
With all the strength of a raging fire
Mysterious as the dark side of the fuck you moon”
Darcy raised her middle finger to the moon over her head.
She wanted to stop and rest, but she couldn’t. It was too cold. If she stopped moving, she would freeze and die. She felt a little delirious, but the singing seemed to be helping so she carried on,
“Time is racing toward us till the Huns arrive
Heed my every instinct and I’ll surely die
I’m unsuited for the rage of war
I want to pack up, go home, be through
How could I make it out alive without youuuuuuu?”
Darcy mimed a karate chop with her uninjured arm,
“Be a man!
We must be swift as the coursing river
Be a WOMAN!
With all the force of great doubloon…heheh, I mean typhoon
Be a woman!
With all the strength of a raging fire
Mysterious as what the fuck happened to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
Darcy was tempted to spin on her heel and do jazz hands, but she decided against it.
Just as she finishing singing, “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” she heard something. Something…people-y. Darcy paused and tilted her head, positioning her ear to face the direction she thought she heard the sound coming from.
Darcy’s eyes widened. She felt like what she was hearing was real, but she also felt like she’d gone a little crazy and she might be imagining it.
Then she heard it again, only it was clearer and sounded closer.
Darcy began running towards the voice. Stumbling and falling as she did she screamed out, “HERE!”
She got to her feet and ran, “I’M HERE!”
Tree branches hit her in the face and scratched her, but she kept running forward towards the voice that was calling her name. She had a thought that she might be running back into the arms of whoever stabbed her, but at that point she didn’t care.
Darcy tripped on a root and fell flat on her face. Which also caused the knife that was stuck in her shoulder to slam further into her body, she screamed out in pain, “AAAAGH!!!”
She rolled over, relieving the pressure on the knife which had been driven further into her arm, but she could do little more than lay there panting in pain. She clutched at her arm in vain as she continued to call out, “I’m here. HERE! I’M here….here…here.”
“I found her!” Darcy heard a voice shout. A figure rushed over to her, she tried to back away from them, but in her weakened state all she managed to do was move from laying on her side, to an even more prone position. Like a turtle, belly exposed and unable to right herself.
Lying flat on her back, too tired to sit up, or move or defend herself. Totally vulnerable. Darcy trembled as the figure came into view above her.
It was a man. He had dark short hair, pale skin like hers, and awesomely Tony Stark-like facial hair. But he wasn’t Tony Stark. He was a stranger and she was afraid. He reached out to touch her injured shoulder and she winced in anticipation of his touch but it never came. She opened her eyes to see his hand hovering over her wound.
“She’s been stabbed.” The man muttered, not loud enough to be talking to anyone but himself.
Darcy took a shot and fired back sassily, “Stabbed? Tis but a scratch.”
The man’s gaze met hers, he seemed surprised. She watched as the corner of his mouth lifted slightly, “With a wound this deep, I’m surprised you haven’t bleed to death from your scratch.”
Darcy scowled, “It wasn’t this deep before. I fell and pushed the knife in more, like, thirty seconds ago.”
“I see.” The man said with a twitch of his mustache.
Another man came running to them, breaking through the shrubbery loudly. He had dark skin and dark brown hair, his eyes went right to her but the words he spoke were for his friend, “You found her.”
“She’s injured.” The other man responded quickly. It was then that Darcy realized how oddly they were dressed.
Darcy poked the light skinned man crouched beside her with her uninjured hand, “Are you two part of a..ninja/karate club...camping group, or something?”
“What?” Both men asked simultaneously.
“You’re dressed like the Ninja Turtles when they went to China.” Darcy explained with a wince, the pain in her shoulder now seemed to be intensifying exponentially.
The man by her side put a hand on her forehead, checking her temperature. His friend behind him, began waving his arms around all…weirdly.
“Who are you?” Darcy asked as her vision began to blur.
“She’s got a fever.” The man looked so…worried, “Jesus, her brain must be boiling.”
Darcy’s eyes fell shut. She still listened though.
“We have to get her to Kamar-Taj. Now.”
“I’ll help you carry her.”
When the two men lifted her, something jostled the knife in her shoulder and she screamed out, her eyes opening to see the regretful expressions on the men’s faces.
Darcy couldn’t say it was ‘okay’ and reassure them that she didn’t blame them, because the pain had her eyes rolling back in her head and passing out.
Darcy dreamt of the stars, of flying among them. Looking at worlds, galaxies, planets she’d never heard of before. It was beautiful. Her dream...for once was not ominous. Or scary. Or cryptic. It was peaceful. Awe-inspiring. Epic.
Darcy woke up in a dimly lit room, on a bed, indoors. She closed her eyes again and let out a sigh. She snuggled her body slightly into the pillow behind her head and just relished the feeling of not being cold anymore. Being back indoors was everything she could have ever asked for.
Darcy let her eyes flutter open, she looked around at the small room taking in the Spartan décor. There were a few windows where sunlight shone through creating a warm dull glow. The windows didn’t have screens to keep out bugs though, instead they had these…lattice like pattern things on them…she guessed for, prettiness? She watched as dust danced in the rays of light. The door across from the bed was made of wood and it also had designs on it. There…wasn’t much else in the room.
“Miss Lewis?” A voice called out.
There wasn’t much else in the room, except for a creepy dark corner she hadn’t noticed, where the light skinned guy with the awesome facial hair was sitting on a chair reading a book.
“Sup.” Darcy answered, proud that she didn’t jump or shriek in surprise. Though that was maybe due to tiredness.
The man stood up and put down his book on the chair he vacated. He walked over to her bed side and stared down at her. He introduced himself with a nod, “Miss Lewis, hello. I’m Dr. Strange.”
“Stranger danger.” Darcy whispered to herself.
“Excuse me?” The man questioned with a smile.
“Nothing.” Darcy said, changing topics she asked, “Where am I?”
Darcy’s eyebrows rose, “I’m going to need you to zoom out, map wise buddy, cause I’ve no idea where Kamar-Taj is.”
“Nepal.” The doctor answered, he gestured to her injured shoulder and asked, “May I?”
Assuming the doctor wanted to examine her gnarly stabbing wound, Darcy gave him the go ahead, “Be my guest doc.”
The doctor…Doctor Strange, lowered the bed sheet that had covered her up to her chin, she was wearing an apron like garment that didn’t obscure her shoulder wound, but covered her breasts and she assumed other naughty bits.
“Where’s Nepal again?” Darcy questioned.
“Near the Himalaya Mountains.” Doctor Strange answered as he lifted the gauze from her shoulder and peeked beneath, “You’re wound is healing nicely.”
“Yay.” Darcy said without enthusiasm, her brows furrowed, “Himalayas as in… the mountain range that separates..India and China?”
The doctor made a noise of confirmation.
“As in Mount Everest?” Darcy asked again.
“Yes. As in Asia. Not America.” The doctor confirmed, he put his hand on her forehead, muttering, “Fevers finally broken.”
“Kamar-Taj.” Darcy repeated the foreign sounding name.
“It’s a place where sorcerers and sorceresses train. People often come here after being broken or damaged, physically and metaphorically.” Doctor Strange said frankly.
“Sorceresses?...Sorcerers, like Merlin? Harry Potter? Is this the Asian Hogwarts? Are you Dumbledore? No, wait, you’d be Madam Pomfrey.”
Strange snorted a laugh, “No. Not like Hogwarts…although, on second thought, yes. A bit.”
Darcy glared at the man responding sarcastically, “Wow. What a clear and concise explanation.”
“Well, you haven’t balked at the idea that magic is real yet, so I assume you believe in its existence?”
Darcy shrugged her good shoulder before demanding, “Help me up. It’s weird conversing with you while you loom over me like a Ring Wraith the O.G. Dementor and I stare up at your nose hairs.”
Strange helped her sit up comfortably and he dragged the chair that had been in the corner, closer to her bedside. She smiled as he discreetly touched his nose self-consciously as he sat down.
“So.” The doctor began, “Magic.”
“Yeah, I know magic is real, but do you know about aliens?”
Strange looked at her flatly, “I used to live in New York. And anyone who has access to any type of media knows about the battle that happened there.”
“Oh, yeah. I forgot about that.” Darcy responded with a crooked grin, “Worms cans and bags of cats, am I right?”
Strange seemed to be fighting a smile, “Yes. Getting back to the point.”
“Yeah, so, me being here. How’d that happen?” Darcy asked.
Doctor Stranger’s eyes crinkled at the edges, “You don’t know?”
His voice seemed softer and she could see the pity in his eyes. She hated it.
“I don’t know who stabbed me.” Darcy admitted with a vicious smile, “How’d you find me? Scrying spell, a la Charmed?”
“Didn’t watch that show past the first couple of episodes.” Dr. Strange revealed, “But in any case, yes and no--”
“You do that a lot?” Darcy challenged, “The, yes and no thing?”
Dr. Strange ignored her, “I-we used magic to find you, but it wasn’t ‘scrying’ as you alluded to.”
“You used magic to find me?” Dr. Strange nodded. Darcy narrowed her eyes at the man, “Why were you looking for me in the first place?”
“Someone asked us to.”
“I’m not at liberty to say.” The doctor answered evasively.
“Because he does not know the answer.” A person announced from the doorway.
Darcy’s eyebrows rose high on her forehead as she watched a bald, pale…lady, enter the room, draped in colorful robes.
“Who are you?” Darcy asked.
“I’m known as the Ancient One.” The woman acknowledged with a slight bow of her head.
Darcy pointed at the doctor, “So, you’re Doctor Strange and she’s the Ancient One, and I’m…looking for a vowel here people, come on. Enough with the pseudonyms. Who the fuck are you!”
The bald chick and doctor exchanged a look; it felt like they were having a discussion about her but without words. Darcy fumed internally, “What the fuck! Where am I? What is going on! How did you find me? Where was I? Where am I now? What do you want with me? Who STABBED ME!? Why---why… Just, why?”
Darcy felt her eyes begin to tear up as she worked herself up, her breath started to come in gasps. She felt like she couldn’t breathe. She was hyperventilating.
The bald lady walked over to her and sat on the bed with her; she put a hand on the back of Darcy’s head and pressed their foreheads together. The action, though weirdly intimate, had a calming effect on her.
“Breathe in.” The older woman coached. Darcy did as she directed and she felt her mind expanding, her emotions dampening enough so she could think clearly.
Breathe out.” The Ancient One advised as she slowly backed away from Darcy’s forehead and sat up right on the bed. Darcy followed her instruction and the woman removed her hand from the back of her head.
“Calm yourself child. You have been through much, and have more to endure.”
Darcy scrunched her face, “That sounds ominous and foreboding.”
“But, does it sound like the truth?” The Ancient One questioned.
Darcy rolled her eyes and crossed her arms underneath her breasts, she muttered, “I guess.”
“Good. The truth is a good place to start.” The Ancient One tipped her head to Darcy, “And the start is sometimes ominous and foreboding.”
Darcy turned to Doctor Strange who sat stiffly on her other side; she pointed her thumb at the Ancient One, “Tell me you’re not going to start talking like a fortune cookie too.”
Doctor Strange let out a laugh, but quickly ducked his head and coughed, trying to cover it up.
“There are forces at work in the universe far beyond your understanding Miss Lewis,” The Ancient One said, bringing Darcy’s attention back to her, “Far beyond my understanding sometimes.”
“So what good is it being the Ancient One if you can’t understand the forces of the universe and their ‘mysterious ways’?” Darcy questioned, not really caring about the answer, she chattered on, nervously, “By the way you have a very good head shape. Very, round.”
The Ancient One raised her eyebrows at Darcy before smiling bemusedly, “Thank you.”
“We saved you, Miss Lewis, because someone asked us too.” Doctor Strange said, causing her head to whip in his direction.
“Who?” Darcy demanded.
“I already told you, he doesn’t know.” The Ancient One said. Darcy clenched her jaw and turned to the woman.
Glaring, she asked, “Then you tell me.”
“I don’t know either.” The Ancient One said with a shrug.
“Blarg!” Darcy exclaimed, she banged her fist onto the bed, beyond frustrated with this game of verbal merry-go-around-and-around-and-give-you-no-answers.
“It was asked of me to draw you here. So I did. I called to you, and you came….not exactly where we were expecting you to be, but close enough.” The Ancient One said calmly.
“You called me here? Like a dog?” Darcy questioned incredulously.
“Like a homing beacon.” Doctor Strange supplied, “Like a moth to the flame.”
Darcy nodded, feeling better about his analogy than the Ancient Ones.
“When we found you, we brought you here.” Doctor Strange continued, “You were gravely injured, feverish, your wound was infected, your ankle sprained, you had various cuts and bruises all over your body, you were nearly hypothermic-”
Darcy’s eyes grew wide as the Doctor listed off the condition he’d found her in. She interrupted the doctor, stopping the flow of words from his mouth with one quiet one from hers, “Thanks.”
Strange closed his mouth and looked at her with surprise. She extended her hand and grabbed his, squeezing it, “I forgot to say that. I-It should have been the first thing I said really. I mean, you saved my life. For reals. So, thank you.”
She kept her gaze on his hands as she spoke. Noticing how scarred his hands were she traced the raised lines with her thumb. She raised her eyes to meet Strange’s gaze. He looked surprised, flattered, and a little uncomfortable with all the ‘feelings’ talk. Darcy gave him a sincere smile, “Thank you Doctor Strange.”
The doctor’s cheeks flushed as he answered in a breathy voice, “You’re welcome.”
The Ancient One loudly cleared her throat and Darcy let go of the doctor’s hand. Turning her attention back to the bald woman Darcy smiled at the woman in an exaggerated fashion, “Thank you too. I assume this whole place is yours? So, thanks for letting me stay here while I recover and stuff.”
The Ancient One nodded in acknowledgement, “As I was saying. We were asked to bring you here to Kamar-Taj. Doctor Strange has healed you using conventional methods. When you are well enough we will escort you home. Our half of the bargain fulfilled.”
“What bargain?” Strange asked.
She ignored most of what the Ancient One had said though, lost in her own thoughts. Darcy mused aloud, as pieces fell into place and an idea formed in her mind, “You were asked to bring me here, to Kamar-Taj, Karmar-Taj being a magical Hogwarts. In answer to a magical force, that…you don’t know what it is, just that it asked you to save me.”
The Ancient One wobbled her head before nodding, “Not exactly, but yes.”
Darcy turned to Strange, “I see where you get that from.”
She turned back to the Ancient One, “Would your request to save me, by any chance, have come from Asgard?”
There was silence as the Ancient One narrowed her eyes and stared at Darcy. Unflustered, Darcy continued, “Cause, I got connections. And…I’d put money on Frigga or some other Norse-y magic connection of hers, being the one to ask you to find me and save me.”
The Ancient One said nothing.
“Hey, I could be wrong! But maybe I’m not. I mean Thor did promise to find me a teacher, to help me with my power, before he left Earth.” Darcy said with a tip of her head, “And Thor’s a pretty reliable dude in my experience.”
“Thor? As in--” Strange asked.
Darcy smiled at him, “As in the God of Thunder and Fertility and my close personal friend. And Frigga’s son. Frigga being the magical expert on Asgard.”
Strange’s forehead crinkled as his eyebrows rose, Darcy smiled smugly to herself, he looked impressed and that pleased her to no end.
“You said something about Kamar-Taj being a place where witches and wizards come to learn stuff after being broken and damaged.” Darcy gestured down to her body, “I think I qualify, dontcha think?”
“You wish to stay?” The Ancient One asked at the same time Dr. Strange argued, “I didn’t say witches and wizards.”
“Tomato Potato.” Darcy said breezily. She turned her gaze to the Ancient One, “To answer your question, hell yeah I want to stay. Before leaving Asgard I learned how to make an apple, look like two apples.”
“Did you now?” The Ancient One said.
“Yup.” Darcy confirmed, “You think you can teach me how to control my uncontrollable teleportation powers?”
“You can teleport?” Strange asked sounding amazed.
Darcy gave him a molasses slow grin, “Dude, I wake up in strange places with strange people almost on the daily... You see Mr. Strange-”
“Doctor.” He interrupted, correcting her, “Doctor Strange.”
Darcy leaned toward him, putting her hand on his knee; she used a honeyed voice, “Dr. Strange…I’m no stranger to the world of weird that makes up this wacky universe we call home. Me, being here, it’s almost kismet, dontcha think? I’m meant to be here. You’re meant to teach me.”
Dr. Strange swallowed thickly and pressed his lips tightly together. His gaze shifted over to the Ancient One.
“Kismit isn’t the right word.” The Ancient One announced. Darcy suppressed the urge to roll her eyes. She got the feeling that if it were up to Doctor Strange; she wouldn’t even have to ask to stay! He’d be begging her to put on a school girl outfit and play naughty professor with her. The Ancient One however…
Darcy turned to see the woman staring at her with an unreadable expression.
“I’ll meditate on your request and give you an answer in the morning.” The Ancient One stood and left the room abruptly.
Darcy turned to Strange and declared, “I think she likes me!”