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End of the World in Yellow

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In Darcy's opinion, the only way to handle an apocalypse is to get roaring drunk.

Okay, maybe "roaring" is a strong term.

Yelling very, very loudly to be heard over the screams of the damned. That's an alright description for it.

They leave the screaming behind on their way out of Philly. She can't even remember why they'd been in Philly in the first place, but ever since New York had fallen into the abyss, they'd been moving west. Darcy isn't entirely sure that on their own, Steve and Bucky would've gotten out, but they've got her with them, so that's a thing. And there's "willing to take a chance on a suicide mission if you think you'll save the world" (or, hell, anyone at all) and just taking a flying leap into a pit of demons and fire and brimstone for the fun of it, which none of them are inclined to do. Even if Steve has trouble identifying a no-win situation, Bucky's gotten really really good at it over the years.

He was also the one to hot-wire the car they "appropriated", but that was mostly just because Steve had been bleeding all over everything at the time.

"How much blood can a super-soldier stand to lose?" isn't anyone's idea of a fun game.

She pours some of the alcohol (terrible, terrible cheap-ass vodka) over the deep cut on her arm and bites her lip when it stings, then tosses back the last inch or so still in the bottle, tilting her head back and closing her eyes at the awful taste. When she opens her eyes again, she stares up at the yellow sky, tinged a little green around the setting sun. Pestilence's doing, she thinks. It wasn't just spreading disease, It was polluting the whole planet. Lovely.

"Enjoying the view, doll?"

She snorts.

"Sure. It's kind of like art, you know? End of the World in Yellow, or some shit like that."

She drops her head back a little more, as far as it will go, and she can see his face in her upside-down view. Sober it would make her dizzy, but she's passed buzzed and moved into languid and doesn't notice or care. Despite that, she's still depressingly aware of their situation.

Bucky arches an eyebrow. "And how much have you had?"

"Not nearly enough."

Hands come to rest on her shoulders, and he drops a quick kiss on her lips before nudging her back upright.

"In my experience and super-metabolism not withstanding? There isn't enough booze in the world to forget something like this. No matter how badly you want to."

Darcy nods and sighs a little. No, she's definitely never going to forget.

*****

The fire they get going when they stop outside Pittsburgh burns brighter than Darcy's used to. Or at least she thinks it might. Things have started looking strange to her lately. Certain things she's taken for granted - what trees look like, the way rain smells, or how the wind feels, all of it is changing. As the portals open wider, as the hell dimension creeps out and encroaches further and further into the world it's tainting things.

Steve and Bucky won't talk about it. Bucky tries to be sarcastically cheerful to keep their spirits up, but Steve... she thinks maybe he's seeing it to.

*****

There are rumors in St. Louis about what happened in New York. Here, they aren't what's left of the Avengers, they're just another group of strangers passing through. People talk without asking them too many questions. They whisper about a yellow-haired girl with eyes like blood surrounded by silver fire, about demons and devils and all sorts of terrible things that broke free, and about horsemen and hellhounds that run in their wake.

Darcy wishes she could blame it on overactive imaginations.

She can't.

*****

A lot of people are gone. Enough that Darcy wonders if more is going on than just a rip in the fabric of the world. New York was the epicenter, and most of the state is twisted wreckage crafted by magic gone haywire, but that doesn't explain why some cities they pass through are virtually ghost towns. In Dallas, there's snow on the ground, and she can see footprints that make her think of Jurassic Park.

Maybe everyone left of their own volition.

Probably not.

*****

Despite how bad it is, it's not a horror movie all the time. The sky is a constant reminder, but most days are full of nothing but long hours in the car, where they take turns driving and arguing over the who gets the front seat. At least, Darcy and Bucky fight over it - Steve always lets her sit up front when it's Bucky's turn to drive, and when she drives, Bucky always takes the back and sprawls across all the available space he can get.

There aren't as many cars on most roads until you get to the major cities on the west coast. Those are filling up with refugees. The back roads stay empty, and sometimes they can go for days and days without seeing other people. Bucky went off for a while when they pass through one of the abandoned map-dot town and shows back up with camping gear. Steve looks like he wants to comment, then visibly clenches his jaw and helps Bucky load the stuff into the trunk. The next time they pass through an area that used to be a National park (Darcy isn't entirely sure there's much of a nation anymore) they set up camp and stay awhile.

It's actually kind of nice. In the woods - and these woods still look remarkably normal to her - she can go for hours pretending that the world never ended. She's just out on vacation with two of her best friends. (She will not think about her other friends right now. She won't. Just for a little while, just to take an edge off the pain.)

*****

Their relationship is complicated.

She and Bucky have always flirted. Outrageously so, but she's never been stingy with her touching, her hugs or her kisses. It's damn hard to get her into bed, because she respects herself, thank you very much, and she has to respect whoever she sleeps with and that's harder than it sounds. But casual flirting and general affection she has no qualms about passing around, and like in so many other things, she and Bucky are on the same page.

Darcy's relationship with Bucky may've always blurred the lines between friendship and sexually charged affection, but she can track a steady progression with Steve. With Steve there's never been casual flirtation, just a slowly building backdrop of support, comfort, and a warm glow-y affection. She knows it started the first time she'd curled around him while he slept, when they thought he was dying from blood loss and too many injuries for her to count. They'd hid in an abandoned building with Bucky keeping watch while they waited for the serum to do it's job and fix him. Every night since, she hasn't been able to sleep until she's felt him warm and strong and alive at her back, his arm looped around her stomach and his fingers tangled with hers. If he came to bed at all, Bucky would lie in front of her so she could huddle into his back, effectively sandwiched between them. Usually, he sleeps while they drive, or naps during the day while they watch over him.

Steve has never said anything about it, but at night he holds her like she's something precious and cherished, and that tells her a hell of a lot more than words ever could.

*****

Once they start camping more and more often, a new routine emerges. There's less need for one of them to stay up all night, for one thing. Both Steve and Bucky have some level of super-hearing, and in the quiet of the abandoned wilderness they can hear something coming over an impressive distance. Days are spent doing menial sorts of chores, washing up, cooking whatever they can hunt (or making do with the dwindling supply of MREs when they can't), and just generally coming up with busy-work so that they don't have to think about things. This isn't an enemy they can fight with. There's no plan that will just fix things.

Neither Steve nor Bucky handle that well.

So they're living in a bubble halfway between denial and make-believe. Darcy gets that. She does. She's just not immune to it.

It's over a campfire one night when they decide to stop moving for awhile that Bucky leans down to kiss her, lightly, just a brush of lips, when another fire catches, and she feels herself slip, over the edge from friendship to something else, something more. Maybe it's that sense of unreality that gives her the courage to break off the kiss with Bucky and look over at Steve, where's he sitting with his fists clenched, not as if to fight but like he's trying to hold it together.

Darcy doesn't need the nudge on her shoulder to get her to go to him, she's already standing up and crossing the fire to where he sits. She sinks down into his lap, hyper-aware of Bucky's eyes on her, but not looking away from Steve's, not once, not until their faces are so close together that she can't tell for sure which one of the two of them starts the kiss. Then she lets her eyes close and sinks into him the same way, and her stomach flips over when he starts to kiss her back.

"Darcy, what-" he tries, when she breaks away to breathe just a bit, but she sets a finger over his lips and makes a shushing noise. A glance over her shoulder confirms her suspicions, there's nothing on Bucky's face but interest and heat, and Darcy isn't quite sure which of the two of them it's for.

"New world," she whispers, but she knows Bucky can hear her too, "new rules." Another kiss, another breath, then she continues. "Do you want this?"

"Yes," Steve manages. "Yes, but-"

"Good. Me too."

*****

The first time Bucky kisses Steve, they're about to dive headlong into a pack of hellhounds because Darcy and the door are both on the other side. It's short and rough and Steve can taste the blood in Bucky's mouth where his lip is split, but as they lean their foreheads together for just that one moment after, he hears everything he's not saying loud and clear. Here, between them, there are no questions anymore, no need for them.

For weeks it's been him and Darcy, or Darcy and Bucky, even though they've all three been in the tent. If they survive this, it won't be that unbalanced ever again.