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Breathe.

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Before she could read her words, she thought they were beautiful. They were small and trailed elegantly from her right shoulder, following along her collarbone and ending just under the hollow of her throat. Darcy was four the first time she read and understood what they meant. She went and asked her mom if she maybe read her words wrong or if they meant something else than what she thought, but her mother told her she read and understood the words correctly. She spent the day sobbing in her room.

She’s five when her kindergarten teacher sees her words. It’s summer and her mom made her wear a long sleeve shirt to school. Darcy starts to get hot so she simply takes her long sleeve shirt off leaving her in the tank top she had on underneath. Darcy let’s out a content sigh as she immediately feels cooler. Miss Karen is walking around the class checking on students. They’re supposed to draw pictures of what they want to do on their summer break, Darcy’s drawing the beach. When Miss Karen reaches her and crouches down beside her, she gets a look at the words on her shoulder. Miss Karen gasps as she reads the words on her skin. When Darcy looks over at her she’s staring at Darcy’s words, hand over her mouth and a sad expression on her face. Darcy puts her long sleeved shirt back on and doesn’t say anything for the rest of class.

Darcy is six when Missy Turnit and Jacob Gredle meet on the first day of first grade, they’re soulmates. A few months later Missy calls her weird because all the girls are sharing words and Darcy won’t show them hers. Missy tells her not even her soulmate will want her because of how weird she is. Darcy punches her in the face. She gets suspended for 3 days because she refused to apologize and her mom grounds her for a month. Darcy smiles even as her knuckles ache, worth it.

When Darcy is seven when her mom talks to her about her own soulmate, Robin. She tells Darcy that she’d met him when they were both in second grade. Her mom tells her about how he was hit by a car when they were in high school. She tells her that she’d never felt anything as painful as losing him and she’s never loved anyone else. She tells Darcy that no matter what her soulmate says she’ll love him. She tells Darcy it’s probably some misunderstanding that she’ll laugh about one day. Darcy doesn’t really want to think about soulmates right now so she asks about something else. She asks her mother about her father. She gives her the same answer as always. He’s a man she knew in college and only spent one night with. They never saw each other again and never would. She’s disappointed about not learning more about her dad and has confusing feelings about soulmates. She doesn’t think her words are a mistake or misunderstanding. Her mom says that she’ll love her soulmate no matter what, Darcy doesn’t know if she wants that. She falls asleep that night with a head full of questions and no answers.

She’s eight when she finds her mother in the bathtub. Deana Lewis is buried beside her soulmate. Darcy hopes she finds the peace she never found in life in whatever afterlife there is. Maybe she’s with Robin again. Darcy goes to live with her grandpa in Virginia.

Darcy is nine when grandpa give her his own soulmate talk. He takes her on a drive out into a clearing in the woods of the property. The clearing is what grandpa uses as a shooting range. He has a few targets set up at the other end of the clearing. He shows Darcy how to clean and handle the gun. Makes her take it apart and put it together a few times then shows her how to shoot. As he teaches her how to shoot a gun, he talks. He talks about his own words and soulmate. His words were grey meaning it was a platonic match. His soulmate, Gregg was his best friend. He died before Darcy was born. But grandpa tells her about how they were closer than brothers. Grandpa tells her that she doesn’t need words to know what that kind of love is like. Grandpa tells her about how he loved grandma, more than anything. Even loved her more than Gregg despite the fact that the two of them didn’t share words. Grandpa tells Darcy again that she doesn’t need her words to know love, hoping she’ll believe him. Darcy is silent through the one sided conversation and after, not knowing what to say. But Darcy can’t help but think his words sound more right than anything else she’s ever heard about soulmates. When Grandpa decides they’re done shooting for the day, they start to pack up their things. Before they get in the truck he gives her one last thing to think over.

“Darcy, you don’t need a soulmate for anything. A soulmate is someone by your side who will always love you, that’s what it’s supposed to be anyway. But, you don’t need a soulmate to fall in love or be happy. The words just point us to someone who might be a good match for us, but I think even the universe has to be wrong sometimes.”

When Darcy is ten she contemplates buying a box of blonde hair dye with her allowance. Grandpa finds her standing in the aisle staring at the boxes. He puts a firm hand on her shoulder and steers her away from the boxes of dye.

“You don’t need that, Darcy girl.” He says as he guides her over to the cereal aisle of the store.

Darcy is eleven when she’s back standing in the hair dye aisle. She uses her allowance to buy a box of hair dye. Grandpa helps her do it and she has purple hair by dinner. She dyes her hair back to black a few months later, she liked the purple but just felt so much more Darcy with black hair.

Darcy is twelve, with her hips and chest constantly getting bigger when she skips her first meal. She starts skipping more meals, cutting up her food real small at dinner pretending to eat, occasionally forcing the food back up when she actually does eat what’s on her plate. She tries to so hard to hide it, but grandpa still notices that she’s not eating. He calls her down to the living room, and that night there’s a very long, serious and emotional conversation. Darcy starts eating again and Grandpa starts taking her to see a therapist once a week. Grandpa tells her there’s no shame in it, he tells her about how he struggled after getting home from Vietnam and how seeing a therapist helped him cope and learn to heal. Dr. Garner starts to help Darcy heal wounds she didn’t even realize she had, his wife Melinda starts to teach Darcy self defence after taking a liking to her when they met in Dr. Garner’s office. She thinks Melinda might be a spy, she’s a really good fighter and is leaving frequently to go on ‘work trips’ which she often returns from with cuts and bruises. But Darcy knows better than to ask. Melinda helps her heal in a way Dr. Garner can’t. She teaches her so much beyond how to fight. Darcy wants to be her when she grows up.

Darcy is thirteen when she decides that if her soulmate doesn’t want her, after they meet she’ll tattoo over her soulmark so it’ll move and hopefully be in a less visible place.

When Darcy is fourteen she graduates high school early and leaves for university. She’s going to the same university her mother attended before dropping out to have her. The same one where her mother met whoever her father is. Her grandpa makes her promise to call every Sunday, Melinda gives her a taser and Dr. Garner tells her to call anytime.

Darcy is fifteen when a minor- okay maybe not so minor explosion happens in the chemistry lab. Luckily, Darcy hacked and looped the campus security cameras before sneaking into the chemistry lab after hours. No one at the school knows what happened so the school had no other option but to drop the investigation. Darcy is much more careful about sneaking into the labs.

Darcy is sixteen when she finishes her bachelors degrees and starts on her masters. Her professors and advisor have always tried to tell her that she should work at a slower pace so she doesn’t burn herself out but Darcy knows if she doesn’t have a full schedule she’ll get bored. Finally after seeing her obtain her bachelors degrees without burning out or breaking down they’ve stopped hounding her to take a break.

Darcy is seventeen when Melinda comes to visit her. Darcy just walks into her small single dorm and finds her sitting on her bed. Darcy can tell that something is very wrong but Melinda doesn’t say anything. Darcy knows she doesn’t want to talk, if she did she’d be with her husband. Darcy just drops her bag on the floor and sits beside her on the bed. She holds Melinda’s hand, letting her know she’s there and cares for her without being overbearing. Eventually Melinda’s shoulders start to shake as she folds in on herself. Melinda’s never been much of a hugger but Darcy knows she needs one. She holds Melinda for hours as she sobs. She wonders what horrific thing happened to make Melinda May, the strongest women she knows, collapse. Darcy does not want to ever be a spy if it makes Melinda break down. Eventually Melinda peels herself away from Darcy, wipes her tears, gives Darcy a quick kiss on the forehead and leaves without saying a word.

A month later it’s all over the news that Tony Stark is missing. Students around her talk about trying to figure out where he is, that if they find him then he’ll have give them a job at Stark Industries. She thinks them wanting to find him only to make him give them a job is disgusting. After no sign of him for almost three months, Darcy decides to see if she can find anything. She wants to help, and she’s never been able to resist a challenge. She hacks a few things she shouldn’t have and finds some evidence of dealings between Obadiah Stane and a terrorist group called the ten rings. Obadiah Stane is also the one who would inherit Stark Industries if Tony Stark died. Maybe it’s a stretch in thinking he had something to do with Tony Stark’s disappearance, maybe he’s just a greedy asshole who is comfortable making illegal weapons deals if it further lines his pockets, but it’s the only lead she’s found. Darcy sends what she found to the personal email address she found for Tony Stark and hopes it doesn’t get deleted or put in a junk folder. She can’t find the exact location of where the ten rings operate out of but she sends in an anonymous tip to a Colonel Rhodes to look into the organization. A week later Tony Stark is found alive. A little bit after that, Obadiah Stane is reported to have mysteriously died in a plane crash right after Tony Stark as Iron Man was seen fighting a larger Iron Man like robot. Darcy’s pretty sure that robot was actually Stane inside of a suit based off Tony’s Iron Man one, trying to finish Stark off.

After everything with the ten rings, and finding out about Stane, Tony goes through his email. He finds an email with evidence of Stane making illegal weapons deals with the ten rings. If he’d just checked his fucking email he could’ve figured it all out sooner. Tony has JARVIS track down whoever sent the email. A few minutes later JARVIS informs him that he can’t trace the email to anyone. It worries him a bit. Someone is out there who obviously hacked into secure Stark Industries files, he’s the only one who supposed to be able to do it! Tony and JARVIS try to trace the email but even their combined efforts turn up nothing. Tony finally admits defeat after three days, whoever it is sent him evidence against Stane so it seems like they’re at least on his side. Tony instructs JARVIS to let him know if any other emails like that one turn up and moves onto another project.

Darcy Lewis is eighteen when she meets her soulmate.

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Darcy’s feeling a bit dazed as she walks across campus after leaving her advisors office. She did it. She’s got her master degrees. Opting out of doing the whole walking across the stage thing, all there’s left for her to do now is go home and wait for her fancy pieces of paper to come in the mail. As Darcy walks to her dorm she thinks about what she’s going to do now. She’s gotten a couple job offers. But she was also accepted into a political science program that she’s interested in. She’s just not sure what it is she wants to do. Darcy thinks about the pros and cons lists she made for each option trying to decide what choice to make. She’s startled out of her thoughts by suddenly being handed a flyer that she accepts blindly out of habit. Once back in her dorm Darcy makes a call to Gramps to tell him the news, and books her flight home for the day after tomorrow. While Darcy begins to pack she takes a look at the flyer that she’d blindly tossed on her desk when she walked in. Apparently there’s a frat party tomorrow night. She just finished at M.I.T., she deserved some fun didn’t she?

********

Darcy learned early on not to let others see her words, which left her with quite the limited wardrobe. Sweaters and t-shirts were what she had to wear the majority of the time to keep the words covered. But she did have one dress for parties, and she went to them infrequently enough that no one noticed she always wore the same dress. The dress was red, tight, just above mid-thigh, and most importantly had a high neckline and long sleeves that covered her words. Darcy was wearing the dress and a pair of converse now, dancing in the living room of a frat house to the beat of some horrible techno music with a bunch of strangers.

Deciding to grab a drink Darcy makes her way out of the living room serving as the dance floor and heads to the kitchen. There’s a table of snacks and a couple kegs of beer out in the backyard. But Darcy has a flight to catch tomorrow so she isn’t drinking tonight. The kitchen is much quieter than the living room and it’s surprisingly empty. Grabbing a can of coke out of the fridge Darcy leans against the counter, opens her drink and takes a sip. She’s enjoying her brief respite from the party when the kitchen door swings open.

Johnny Storm walks in with a girl on his arm. They don’t even notice she’s there and immediately start making out right in the doorway of the kitchen, which is also the only way out of the kitchen. Darcy loudly sighs and rolls her eyes at the display, drawing Johnny’s attention, his eyes open and flicker to her even though his tongue is still in the blonde girl’s mouth. Noticing he’s looking at her, Darcy fakes throwing up so he knows she’s not enjoying the display. He makes a choked noise then separates from the blonde, laughing. He shakes his head amusedly at her and then drags the girl with him out of the room. As he leaves Darcy can’t help but think that even though they didn’t talk, he didn’t seem to be as much of an asshole as everyone says.

**********

A couple hours later the party is still going and Darcy is upstairs looking for a bathroom. Opening the second door on the left of the hall she finds Johnny Storm lying in a bed with two girls asleep beside him. Unfortunately for her, Storm is still awake. And he’s looking right at her with one of his stupid blonde eyebrows raised.

“Uh- yikes. Sorry. Didn’t mean to walk in on that. Um- could you tell me where the bathroom is?” Darcy says trying to make the situation less awkward and hoping he’s drunk enough to forget this even happened in the morning.

She’s not sure what changes but after she speaks he just seems, colder. And he begins looking at her like she’s a bug under a microscope. Like he’s examining her. Darcy can’t help shifting in her place, uncomfortable under his gaze.

“No. This? This isn’t going to work. You can’t be my soulmate! You’re not even my type! I prefer my women tall, blonde and thin.” He says the words quickly with a cold harshness in his tone while gesturing to the girls sleeping beside him to emphasize his ”type”.

It takes Darcy a second to realize what he said, to realize he said her words. Once she does, all she can feel is anger. Standing up straight, Darcy looks him directly in the eye.

“I don’t want or need an asshole for a soulmate.” She tells him before she turns around and slams the door behind her.

Momentarily she thinks she might have seen a flash of regret in his eyes right before she left but she knows it’s just wishful thinking. He doesn’t want her. He made it very clear. And she had meant what she said. She doesn’t want or need an asshole for a soulmate.

But that doesn’t make it hurt any less. Her own fucking soulmate doesn’t want her. It feels as if her chest is going to cave in on itself from the weight of her pain. Darcy is luckily able to make it back to her dorm before breaking down, but as soon as her door is shut she feels her legs collapse under her. Darcy falls asleep crying on the floor. She wakes up from the cold after only half an hour of sleep, manages to take off her clothes and crawl into her bed before she starts to sob again. Tonight, she tells herself, tonight she can break and sob and tomorrow she’ll pick the pieces back up.

**********

When Darcy’s alarm goes off in the morning, there’s a brief moment where she’s on the edge of sleeping and being awake where she doesn’t remember what happened last night. And then she wakes up. She’s got a crying hangover, her hands are shaking and all she wants to do is curl into a ball and cry, but she can’t. Darcy has shit to do now, she’ll fall apart later.

Her flight home is in only three hours she’s got to be on her way to the airport in thirty minutes or she’ll end up being late. Darcy throws on some sweatpants and a t-shirt, shoves her last few unpacked belongings into her suitcases, and calls a cab to take her to the airport. On the bright side, she’ll never have to see him again. And she knows what her plans for the near future are now.

**********

Darcy can feel herself starting to fall apart again with each step closer to the house. By the time she’s standing on the porch her hands are shaking so badly she knows she won’t be able to unlock the door. Raising a shaking hand Darcy knocks on the front door. Suddenly Gramps is there, standing in the doorway. He’s saying something but Darcy can’t hear what he’s saying despite only standing a foot away from him. Her knees buckle, but it’s okay because Gramps is there. And he’s holding her up and guiding her into the house. Darcy knows he’s telling her comforting things even if she can’t hear the words over her loud sobs that shake her whole body.

Darcy is only vaguely aware of Gramps gently pushing her down to sit on the couch. Her mind is consumed by her pain, unable to think of anything else.

Why couldn’t she be enough? Why would she be given a soulmate that didn’t want her? She’s never read about any cases of soulmates not wanting each other. Why did she have to be the first one not wanted? What was so wrong with her that she repulsed her soulmate? God fucking dammit! She knew this would happen. No matter what others had tried to tell her. She knew her soulmate wouldn’t want her. So why did it hurt so much?

Why can’t she breathe?

 

She feels Gramps’ hands cupping her face, forcing her to look him in the eye.
“Hey, hey, come on Darcy girl. Just look at me. Breathe okay? Watch me and just breathe, Darcy. Deep breaths, sweetie. Just breathe.” He says to her trying to soothe her.

Her breathing starts to even out and the burning feeling in her lungs eases. As Darcy opens her mouth to draw in a breath she is overwhelmed with pain. It feels like she’s being burned alive. Instead of drawing in a breath Darcy let’s out a horrific scream.

What’s happening to her?

She’s aware of nothing but her pain, the heat she feels burning through her veins. She claws at her arm trying to pull out her veins, trying to stop the pain at any cost. She feels hands pulling her hand off her arm and holding her down. She feels her body arch, fighting against the hands as she screams again at a new onslaught of pain. She feels..... cold. And it’s so much worse than the burning. She simultaneously feels like she’s burning alive and freezing from the inside out. Too hot, too cold, so much pain.

What’s happening to her?

Chapter Text

Johnny Storm is awaken late afternoon by a startled shriek.

Ugh, his head hurts like a bitch. Letting out a groan Johnny reluctantly rolls from his stomach onto his back and opens his eyes to see what’s going on. He finds one of the girls from last night staring at him and nearly crying.

“What?” Johnny asks getting annoyed.

“Your- your soulmark. It was black last night.” Mindy, or is it Cindy? Whatever her name is says to him.

“Obviously. What’s your point here?”

“It’s- I- just go look.”

Getting up Johnny walks to the full length mirror he has in the corner of his room and turns around to see the soulmark that rests on his back.

His soulmark is faded, like an old worn sign. The mark of a dead soulmate.

 

**********

The pain is cut off so abruptly it takes her a few seconds to realize she no longer feels as if every atom of her being is being torn apart. It’s takes her longer to realize she no longer feels the hardwood floor beneath her back. She can’t feel anything at all beneath her. Opening her eyes slowly Darcy sees the night sky above her; the stars look impossibly close. Why is she outside? Darcy turns her head to see where she is and let’s out a quick shrill shriek when she does. There is nothing but an infinite amount of stars stretching on for eons in every direction. There’s no ground, no fucking earth in sight. She’s somehow suspended in fucking space! Which would have been pretty cool if she had any idea what the hell was going on. Darcy pinches herself and rules out this being a hallucination or very vivid dream when she feels the slight pain. But she can’t really be in space, she can’t be. Wherever she is does not obey the typical rules of space. She’s breathing fine and can make noise meaning there’s oxygen, space is a vacuum. So, where the hell is she?

“You’re in the astral plane, dear.” Darcy jumps slightly in surprise at the unexpected sound of three ominous voice speaking simultaneously.

Darcy watches three blurry forms materialize in front of her. They look as if they’re made of the stars themselves.

“Who the hell are you? What’s going on?” Darcy demands wanting answers.

“We are the Norns. The fates. The three. We have many names through out the universes.”

Darcy opens her mouth to say something but is cut off by the self proclaimed Norns speaking in perfect unison once again.

“You will have your explanation, but do not interrupt. Perhaps you are unwilling to believe but look around you, we brought you here. Do you need anymore proof? We have seen all that has been, what is, and what will be. Well, almost all. You, Darcy Lewis of Midgard have been a mystery to us for eons. We waited for your birth for many years, curious about you. It has been so long since we’ve been curious about anything. We see all, we know all, but your destiny somehow managed to evade our gaze.

We do not decide people’s destiny as many believe, we are simply the witnesses of the universes. We see it all at once, past, present, future, time does not matter to us. You are the one exception, the one who’s fate we do not know. So many paths are laid before you, we do not know which of the billions you will take. And because of you and the impact you’ve had on the lives of others, some of the destinies around you have been blurred to our gazes. Perhaps that is a good thing, perhaps it is not. That remains to be seen. But that, is not the reason you are here in the astral plane with us. The soulmark you wear on your skin was the one that had the best chance of being your soulmate when you were born. That percent lowered to 0.3% before you were 5. You are the first soulmark we have ever gotten wrong. That is the reason you are here, Darcy Lewis of Midgard.

The soulmarks are an ancient duty and magic that was entrusted to us. Never, in all of these millennia have we failed in our most sacred duty of bestowing soulmarks, we are not about to start that practice now. It would ordinarily be impossible to remove a soulmark, magic or not. But you, Darcy Lewis of Midgard have never quite been ordinary. You have the blood of an ancient species in you. An ancient species that is the only species to bear no soulmarks. Your blood is very diluted, more midgardian than not. But enough to serve our purpose. The pain you were experiencing was the result of us awakening the dormant genes inside your DNA. There may be some, what’s the midgardian term? Side effects? Unforeseen circumstances may arise with the awakening of your dormant genes.”

Darcy swore she saw the Norns or whoever they are fucking shrug.

“You will no longer bare any soulmark until the moment you meet your soulmate or soulmates and exchange words. The extra magic we have threaded through your awakened DNA will only recognize soulmates that are without a doubt your fated, there will not be another error. Once they speak your words they will write themselves into your skin and once you speak theirs the same will happen.”

Suddenly the Norns or whoever they were all simultaneously looked to their left, seemingly seeing something she didn’t.

“We must go now. We have told you what you need to know. Good fortune to you, Darcy Lewis of Midgard.”

*********
Darcy Lewis woke up with one thought ringing through her head.

What the actual fuck just happened?

Chapter Text

Between one blink and the next Darcy finds herself looking at the glow in the dark stars on the ceiling of her room at home rather than the stars of the cosmos. Darcy doesn’t want to, she can’t think about what just happened. She just, she doesn’t want think at all right now. She feels as if she can barely even breathe. It feels like she’s being crushed, like there’s an unidentifiable weight suffocating her. Perhaps it’s the weight of what her future might hold if what just happened wasn’t just some pain induced hallucination. Perhaps it’s just the weight of pain and rejection. Perhaps it’s fear that she really does have another chance at a soulmate, that she’ll have to feel this pain of rejection from her soulmate all over again. Darcy begins to sob, too overwhelmed to do anything else right now. Tears uncontrollably fall from her eyes, her nose runs, loud sobs escape her and she’s unable to care about the noise, her breaths are shaky and shallow right on the verge of hyperventilating. Darcy rolls on her side and curls into a ball as her mind whirls and she’s overcome with a hundred different emotions at once. Darcy is so consumed by thoughts she doesn’t want to have and feelings she wishes she didn’t feel she doesn’t even question that she was moved from the living room floor to her bed at some point. She doesn’t even notice Gramps sitting in a chair by her bed watching her and not knowing what to do.

Darcy jerks in surprise when her hand is unexpectedly grabbed in a tight grip.

“Darcy girl, I don’t know what to do. Let me help you. Tell me what you need.” Gramps says to her in the most desperate voice she’s ever heard escape him as he holds her hand.

Her mouth opens a little but all she gets out is a high pitched noise before the sobs over take. Darcy makes herself move over a bit to the other side of her bed. She pulls on Gramps’ hand until he gets the hint and lies down beside her.

Felix Lewis holds his granddaughter as she sobs unrelentingly. He’s reminded of the many nights he held her just like this when she’d first come to live with him. Back then it was the reoccurring nightmares about when she found Deana dead that tormented her, now, he has no clue what it is that’s hurting his little girl so much. He feels just as useless now as he did then, just holding her and hoping whatever pain his little Darcy feels goes away.

***********

When Darcy wakes up next, she spends an unknown amount of time just staring at the glow in the dark stars stuck to the ceiling that are no longer glowing in the daylight filled room. Gramps left at some point after she fell asleep. She’s glad because she doesn’t know what she’s supposed to tell him happened now. God, she isn’t even sure she knows what happened last night. She would have gladly dismissed it all as some kinda of hallucination her brain conjured up to help her cope with being probably the first person ever to be rejected by their soulmate. But the first thing Darcy had done upon waking up was take off the oversized sweater she wore that was over heating her, leaving her in the simple light blue tank top she wore underneath. The next thing she did was take off the incredibly uncomfortable bra she ended up unfortunately sleeping in as fast as possible without having to take off her shirt as well. And then, that was when she noticed it.

Her soulmark was gone. The skin usually marred with those cruel words was now blank of the harsh, jagged print. She hadn’t gotten out of bed to look in the mirror yet, to see herself without those words for the first time. She was terrified that as soon as she looked in the mirror they’d reappear as clear and stark against her skin as ever. She was also just as terrified that when she looked in the mirror, her soulmark would really be gone. The disappearance of that mark meant that she didn’t have a pain induced hallucination or some psychotic break last night. It meant that last night she really did meet the ‘Norns’, the ‘Fates’ or whatever other names they went by. She really didn’t want to think about what either situation meant for her, she only knew she wanted to avoid facing reality for a little longer. So, Darcy remained in her bed, doing her best to ignore her bladder screaming at her, because she was terrified of both answers to the question she was too afraid to ask.

When Darcy can no longer ignore her protesting bladder she slowly gets up and makes her way to the bathroom across the hall from her room. She keeps her eyes on the floor the whole time, to avoid catching sight of her reflection in any mirrors she passes. Darcy does what it is she needs to do and washes her hands afterwards with her eyes still downcast to avoid the mirror over the sink. She cups her clean hands under cold running water. She closes her eyes and splashes the cold water on her face. Darcy takes a few deep breaths with her eyes still closed while her face drip dries over the sink.

“Fuck it.” Darcy mutters to herself before she forces herself to open her eyes and looks straight ahead, right at her own reflection.

She’s not wearing her glasses, but she can see clearly enough to know she no longer has a soulmark. She closes her eyes again, just taking a minute to try to calm her racing thoughts. What’s the worst that could happen? You’ve already been rejecting by one supposed soulmate, what’s another? Darcy thinks bitterly to herself. She goes back into her room and crawls back into her bed, where she buries herself under her blanket.

Darcy allows herself to think now. About the implications of everything that’s happened since she arrived home. She’s safe on her bed and under the thick comforter, and she can breathe again. So she thinks. She analyzes the talk she had with the Norns, who she’d decided to just call the Norns as it sounded the most badass and was easier than thinking ‘the Norns/the fates/ whatever’ every time she thought of them. Darcy makes a list in her head about the conversation. Going over everything she remembers and adding important things to the growing list in her head. The list begins to grow to a length too long to recall easily and Darcy is forced to admit defeat. She pokes her upper body out of the blanket and half way off the bed to reach an old notebook and glittery pen in the bottom drawer of her nightstand. She writes what she has on her mental list down, and adds the rest of the important information from the conversation down as she continues to think on it. Just as Darcy thinks she’s done the list, she’s startled by a knocking on her bedroom door.

“Come in.” Darcy says as she shoves the notebook under the blanket and pulls to blanket up to her chin, hiding the now blank skin on her shoulder and collarbone from view.

She can’t tell Gramps about the Norns. He loves her, and has been the only person who’s ever understood her at least a little. But he’d think she’d gone crazy, he’d call Dr. Garner and they’d put her in a padded cell out of concern. But she will tell him about meeting her soulmate, about being rejected. She’ll tell him that whatever happened last night must have been because of that, no one else has ever been rejected by their soulmate or if they have it’s been kept quiet so it’s not as if there’ll be conflicting reports of what happens when you’re rejected by a soulmate. It’ll be a believable story. The real story is much less believable.

Gramps comes into the room, carrying a steaming bowl of soup. He places it on the nightstand and comes to sit on the side of Darcy’s bed. Looking at the nightstand, Darcy sees the soup he brought her is his homemade chicken noodle soup. Her mouth waters just looking at it. She’d been living off of ramen and TV dinners for too long.

“Thanks, Gramps.” Darcy tells him with a small smile.

“Darcy-girl, what’s wrong?” Gramps says getting straight to business.

Darcy sighs and tells him about her meeting with her soulmate. She’s proud to say that while she sniffles and her eyes water, no tears fall down her cheeks. She tells Gramps that when she got home yesterday she was suddenly in a lot of pain, she tells him it must’ve been something to do with what happened with her soulmate. Gramps just smiles at her sadly and hugs her tightly for a few minutes. He never has been a man of many words. But his familiar warm hug comforts her more than any amount of pretty words.

“What do you need?” Gramps asks her as he pulls away.

“Nothing, maybe just a little time.” Darcy tells him with a small half smile to try to reassure him that she’ll be okay.

Gramps nods at her and gets up from where he’d sat on the side of her bed. He walks to her bedroom door but pauses right before leaving. He looks at her over his shoulder.

“Make sure you eat that soup while it’s hot, even through that blanket I could tell you were freezing.” Gramps says to her concernedly before exiting her room and closing the door behind himself.

At Gramps’ words Darcy realizes that he’s right. She’s cold, but not exactly in an uncomfortable way. She’s just, aware that she’s cold. It’s a bizarre kind of feeling. Darcy decides to just brush it off, it’s nothing some soup won’t fix she thinks as she grabs the bowl off the nightstand.

After devouring the soup, Darcy fishes out the notebook from under the covers to go over her list and make sure it’s complete.

1. The Norns? Real!
2. Astral plane?
3. Norns see all apparently, except for me
4. Unknown why they have no clue about me, which is kinda disturbingworrying
5. Norns said they don’t have control over things only watch them happen “witnesses of the universes”
6. Apparently they can’t see other people’s futures either because of me
7. They choose soulmates (they used a percentage so they have to use some kind of mathematical equation to find soulmates with 100% certainty that the people are in fact soulmates)
8. Storm had highest chance of being my soulmate at birth.
9. Storm’s chance of being my soulmate went down to 0.3% before 5
10. First soulmark wrong apparently
11. Usually impossible to remove soulmarks
12. Also magic?
13. Removed my soulmark
14. Could only do so because of some ancient alien DNA in my DNA 15. One of my ancestors fucked an alien
15. Alien DNA belongs to only species to have no soulmates
16. Norns ‘woke up’ alien DNA and used it to take away my soulmark
17. If I meet a soulmate their words will appear on me once spoken and vice versa
18. Side effects from alien DNA?

With a sigh Darcy flopped back down onto her bed. There really wasn’t much she could do now besides get on with her life and wait to see what happened. It terrified her.