Darcy can’t help but gape up at Heimdall.
She feels like she’s gotten close with the Gatekeeper over the last few years, especially since Jane and Thor’s wedding… apparently when you’re immortal, the honeymoon phase lasts a long time. And while Thor’s ass is a glorious sight to behold… there are limits to what she wants to know about her best friend’s sexcapades. Heimdall has been a refuge that she never expected. But what he is telling her now is not computing.
Darcy reaches out and grasps Heimdall’s cheeks. “My man… okay, no. Just try again, because I am not following.”
Heimdall sighs and shakes his head. “The King wanted to tell you himself, but…”
“Yeah, no. I’d rather hear this from you, I’m just not understanding what ‘this’ is and I need you to explain in dumb, mortal, Earth people terms.”
“You are not quite any of those things, my Lady.”
“Very well. The Guardians watch over many worlds. Did you know that there is more than one earth?”
Darcy raises an eyebrow.
“Some of the Guardians are concerned about one of these earths… and our Seers have reason to believe you can save it.”
Heimdall nods. “Yes, you. But this will not be forced upon you. There are many paths before you. This is only your destiny if you choose it, my friend.”
Darcy takes a deep breath. “Tell me about this earth?”
Heimdall smiles softly. He tells her about monsters and magic. About Hellmouths and demons. About Slayers and Watchers. About Soulmates.
Darcy cocks her head. “Soulmates?”
Heimdall nods. “In this world, people are born perfect matches. The first words they speak to each other are Marked upon their skin.”
Darcy’s hands drifts unconsciously to her ribs - to one of the tattoos she was born with that no one has ever been able to explain.
Heimdall catches the motion. “Darcy?”
Darcy tugs her tunic from her skirt and bunches it beneath her breasts, baring the Marks on her ribs and waist. “I was born with them.”
Heimdall’s expression goes soft. “Oh, my friend.”
“Send me. Please.”
Darcy stumbles off the rainbow bridge, regains her balance, and tosses a sloppy salute and a wink up toward the sky. “Thanks, my man. See ya around.”
She hitches her bag, containing all her worldly possessions - not inconsiderable, she is technically Asgardian royalty - and her shiny new identification, under her own name, thank Thor - and starts hoofing it toward the city lights in the distance. London, near Oxford, so at least it’s somewhat familiar territory. What’s not familiar is the era. Why the hell did her saving the world mean she had to be dropped in the seventies?! She’s still stewing over it when a man - tall, dark, and handsome to a T if it weren’t for the out of date plaid pants and turtleneck - steps out of the night shadows and into her path.
Darcy groans. “My dude, I do not have time for vampire shenanigans right now.”
Surprise flashes across his face briefly before his features shift. “Well, at least I don’t have to play nice… how’d you know, though?”
She rolls her eyes. “I was supposed to be dropped in the early-to-mid-seventies. Which means your get-up is about a decade out of date.”
Confusion flits across his features before she pulls a stake from the waistband of her skirt and puts the tip to his chest. He freezes.
She smiles. “Now, you can be useful to me. Or I can dust you. Your choice.”
His human features slide back into place. “I’m James.”
Darcy tucks the stake away, then tucks her arm into the vampire’s. “Good choice. I’m totally calling you Jay, by the way. James is too stiff. I’m Darcy.”
She finds some creep lurking in an alley outside a pub for Jay to munch on, then checks them into a cheap, but clean hotel a few blocks away. The next morning she closes the blinds and curtains tightly before finding a pawn shop to offload some of the gold and gems she brought with her, then goes apartment hunting. She finds a fully furnished two bedroom flat in a kind of seedy part of town, and pays up through the summer before treating herself to lunch. She finds a grocery store and a butcher willing to sell her pigs blood by the gallon and stocks up on food and blood, hauling everything back to the apartment before hailing a cab to one of the higher end shopping districts and going a little overboard on a new wardrobe for herself and an updated wardrobe for Jay. She directs the cab to the hotel and rouses Jay as the sun sets.
He blinks up at her blearily. “Huh?”
“Rise and shine, Jay,” Darcy sing-songs.
“What’re you so fuckin’ cheery for?”
She tugs him up out of the bed. “Got us some new digs. Let’s go. Meter’s running on the cab.”
Jay grumbles, but follows her out of the room.
Darcy points him toward the cab. “I’m gonna go settle up. Don’t eat the cabbie.”
He pouts. “No fun, pet.”
He observes her silently all the way to the flat, and helps her haul all her bags up the stairs before stopping outside the apartment door.
Darcy snorts. “You don’t need an invitation, dumbass. It’s your home too.”
He hesitantly steps across the threshold and into the living room.
Darcy winks at him and points toward the three doors to their right. “First bedroom is yours, bathroom, then mine. It’s not much, but it’s better than a seedy hotel. There’s pig’s blood in the fridge if you’re hungry.”
Jay’s eyes go wider and wider as she starts unloading the bags they just hauled up, separating her purchases into clear ‘his’ and ‘hers’ piles. “Who the hell are you?”
He groans and drops into a chair. “Okay, what the hell are you?”
She grins. “Now you’re asking the right questions.”
He eyes her, half wary, half expectant.
She finally looks up at him. “What’s your stance on gods?”
Darcy’s first year on this new earth passes rather uneventfully. She establishes herself with polite society, with various levels of not-so-polite society, and makes a bit of a name for herself among the supernatural community. No one quite knows what to make of the apparently human woman followed around like a puppy by a vampire and Darcy loves every second of it.
Jay doesn’t look up from his book. “Yeah, D?”
“What would you say if I offered you the chance to walk in the sun again?”
He looks up sharply at that.
“I have to go back to Asgard soon… not permanently, but I had to promise the check in every year or so.”
“What does that have to do with me?”
“Come with me?”
Jay shakes his head. “To what end? The equivalent of the sun there would just as likely fry me.”
“Ever heard of Idunn’s apples?”
He raises an eyebrow.
“I’ve been talking with some of Asgard’s healers… it’s never been done before, so we can’t be sure, but we have theories on the results.”
“And what are those theories?”
“The prevailing theory is that it would allow you to walk in the sun and decrease your reliance on blood. They can’t bring someone back from the dead, so it wouldn’t restore your humanity, but…”
Jay nods. “I’m willing to try.”
The apples have an unforeseen side effect.
“I can feel my fucking soul, D,” Jay groans, writing in agony at her feet.
Darcy drops down next to him and pulls him into her lap, holding him until the worst of the tremors pass.
“I don’t know whether to thank you or curse you,” he mutters weakly, marveling at the afternoon light streaming in through the windows and across his skin harmlessly.
Darcy has been on this new earth for almost three years without seeing any hint of her Soulmates, and she’s starting to get twitchy about it.
Jay shamelessly laughs at her over the whole thing. “Can’t your Seer friends find ‘em for you?”
“They refuse,” Darcy pouts. “Distract me.”
“Couple of sods been messin’ about with some minor chaos demons. Hear rumors they’re lookin’ to stir up a fair bit more than minor trouble here soon.”
Darcy’s eyes light up. “Find out more.”
Jay comes back a few hours later smelling like a pub and demon guts.
“One of them is an Oxford dropout. Rumor has it he also left the Slayer’s Council.”
Darcy scrunches her nose. “How’d he end up tangled up in something like this if he has a Council background?”
Jay shrugs. “Council is full of straight-laced ponces, pet. He doesn’t strike me as the type that would hold well with that for long.”
“What about the other one?”
“There’s a few, actually, but these blokes seem to be the ring leaders. Second one just seems to be in it for the magic and the chaos, though. They keep hintin’ at something big. Second one doodled this.” He tosses a bar napkin at her with a symbol sketched on it.
Darcy frowns. “I’ve seen this before… where have I…” she scowls down. “Okay, come on, we gotta get out of the city.”
Jay shuffles her into the little car they bought last year and drives until they reach their favorite clearing in the woods. Darcy is still scowling at the napkin.
Jay rolls his eyes and lifts his eyes to the sky. “Heimdall, be a gem? Princess here is wrapped in her own head.”
The rainbow bridge engulfs them a moment later.
Darcy immediately shoves the napkin at the Guardian. “What’s it mean?”
Heimdall frowns. “It is the mark of a demon called Eyghon. He is a creature not to be trifled with.”
Jay kicks in the door of the basement flat, startling the group inside.
Darcy strides up behind him and eyes the group in disdain.
The one closest to her - tall, built, mussed sandy curls, whiskey and moss eyes, hoop gleaming in one ear, denim covering solid legs and a white tee stretched across impressive shoulders - recovers first, standing and muttering under his breath with his hand extended.
Darcy rolls her eyes. “I wouldn’t try that if I was you.”
He stumbles back as if she slapped him.
The next closest guy - not quite as tall and a little leaner, darker, more styled curls and a flashy button up over dark jeans - catches him and glares toward Darcy and Jay.
Darcy rolls her eyes even harder. “Don’t get your panties in a bunch.”
The second guy’s jaw drops. He gives Darcy a slow once over, then turns and has one of those we-know-each-other-better-than-ourselves silent conversations with the first guy.
Darcy taps her foot impatiently.
Jay gives up on patience entirely and starts dismantling the summoning circle on the floor, ignoring the protests of the parties in the room.
The two men step toward Darcy in tandem, stopping in front of her, but not obscuring any path of escape. She raises an eyebrow.
Guy number one smiles a little bashfully and shuffles his feet. “I suppose you’re here to save us from ourselves, then, darling?”
Darcy’s lips curl slowly upward. “Something like that.”
The second guy steps into her space, worry bleeding into his eyes and his shoulders. “What if you need saving from us?”
Darcy would laugh if he didn’t sound so genuinely concerned. She shakes her head. “I came to this world for you. I came to save this world because of you. I’m not scared of you.”
“Maybe you should be,” the first guy mutters, something self-depreciating in his tone.
Darcy glances over their shoulders. “Tell ya what, tell your friends to stand the hell down before my vampire rips their throats out, then we can go somewhere less summony to talk.”
The second guy glances over his shoulder and snaps out something harsh sounding to the rest of the group, then turns back to Darcy. “It’s daylight out,” he observes idly.
Darcy raises an eyebrow. “Gold star. Jay?”
Jay shakes his head. “This one’s gonna be all you, D. Your ponces there carved the damn summoning circle into the bloody floor… and I do mean ‘bloody’ literally.”
Darcy scrunches her nose in distaste. “We’re going to have a very long talk about how to wisely play with magic, boys.” She lifts a hand and lets the lightning flow from her fingers, obliterating the summoning circle… and a bit of the surrounding floor. She smiles in self-satisfaction - she still gets a bit of a thrill every time she does that, even decades after she was first gifted with the power. She lets her gaze drift past her Soulmates to the rest of their little gang, all looking a little shell-shocked. “You guys think you like the chaos of magic and demons? Forget it now. Put yourselves on the straight and narrow and I’ll forget I ever saw your faces. Keep going down this path, and I will show you true chaos. Loki bores easily and he likes me. I wouldn’t hesitate for even a second to hunt you down and hand your over to him if you pissed me off. Everyone understand?” She waits for everyone to nod. “Great. You two,” she gestures to her Soulmates, “can come with me… if you want.”
They follow her without hesitation. Both gape when Jay follows them into the afternoon light.
The first guy opens his mouth and Darcy holds a hand up to cut him off. “Sorry, but I can’t keep calling you ‘Hottie 1’ and ‘Hottie 2’ in my head.”
Both men laugh and the taller steps forward, grasping her hand warmly. “You can call me Ripper.”
She raises an eyebrow.
He blushes. “Rupert. Rupert Giles.”
She eyes him up and down. “We’ll stick with Ripper for now.” She turns to her second Mate expectantly.
He smiles, sharper than Ripper. “Ethan Rayne.”
Darcy smiles back. “Darcy Lewis.”