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Dazzling Lights

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There were days when Darcy wondered why she stuck with Jane. Days when she was frustrated, days and she was bored, and days when she was in the middle of superhero battles. All of these things made her wonder why she wasn't just at home working hard as a barista to pay off her student loans.

And then came the day that made her sure she should have left long before: one minute she was in the lab and the next in an alley somewhere in New York. One look around told her what happened. The sounds of the city were different. The look of the city was different. And the looks people were giving her were definitely different.

She had to go somewhere. She had to do something. There had to be someone here who could help her get home.

"Excuse me, could you possibly tell me where I can find the phone company?" she asked the first slightly friendly-looking person.

"You sure you don't need a department store instead, honey?" she asked, giving Darcy a once-over as she gestured to her left. "It's that way."

Darcy breathed some thanks and wrapped her jacket tighter around herself.

She had only walked six or seven blocks, but it felt like she had trekked across Manhattan. The phone company stood before her, its blandness blending well with the high rises around it.

Darcy had focused on walking, but now that she had stopped moving, her situation had time to blindside her. She nearly fell to her knees there on the sidewalk, but saw salvation in a neon green sign that announced the existence of a restaurant in the building behind her.

Darcy shuddered and fell onto the revolving doors, letting momentum carry her inside to the counter. She grasped for a stool, and managed to prop herself up on one.

"What can I get you, Sweetheart?" a friendly voice asked. "Coffee?"

Coffee sounded great, but Darcy couldn't speak. She couldn't lift her head. She couldn't move. She could hear the girl's concerned voice saying something else, but she didn't hear it. Darcy realized she was terrified. She was in shock. She needed help.

And then arms were around her, hugging her, holding her up. A voice was soothing her, a hand was patting her shoulder. Darcy took deep breaths like she was trying not to drown.

"Is everything okay over here?" a new voice asked. It was a little familiar. Darcy opened her eyes.

"I dunno what happened, but I think she needs help, Peg," said the girl Darcy was cradled against.

Peg appeared in front of Darcy, examining her. Recognition flashed through Darcy. This was who she needed!

"Peggy!" she cried, trying to stand. "You can help me! Stark—"

"Stark?" Peggy repeated in a hushed tone. "Do you know Howard Stark?"

Darcy shook her head. Somehow she thought that Peggy would understand immediately. She opened her mouth to set her straight, but the world went black.