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It's a Ghost Story

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When she was six years old, her mother found her playing on a swing set in the park, talking to the teenager sitting on the swing beside her. Oddly, he had on what looked like some type of blue military uniform and an extremely old gun.

“Darcy, who are you talking to?” her mom asked.

“George,” she answered, pointing at the young soldier. “He said his commander is running late so he's hanging out with me.”

Her mother froze for a moment before nodding with a pained smile on her face. “That's nice, sweetie.”

When George started swinging with her, the blood drained out of her mother's face. Darcy wondered why.

. . .

Darcy didn't mean to overhear her mom and grandma arguing, but they had started to be loud.

“You don't know that,” her grandmother quietly said, trying to sound soothing.

“This isn't normal. You said this wouldn't happen!” her mother snapped.

“She's a child,” her grandmother said. “All children have imaginary friends.”

“Not like this,” her mother answered grimly.

Darcy turned her attention to the Native American girl sitting beside her. “I don't know why they think I have imaginary friends,” she whispered, voice as indignant as any six year old's could go. “Imaginary friends are for little kids.”

The girl smiled and continued to sharpen her arrow head.

. . .

It was six months after moving in with her grandmother that Darcy was sat down and told a truly unbelievable tale: on her mother's side of the family, every few generations the supernatural world needed help, so someone would be born to fill the need. It was destiny. Their purpose.

Darcy, confused, asked what she was supposed to do to help.

Her grandmother had handed her a mug of hot chocolate and said, “That's something only you can figure out, my dear. It's different each time.”

. . .

With puberty came many things that Darcy wasn't sure how to feel about. She started getting curves quicker than most other girls, and was automatically labeled a slut, even though she hadn't even had her first kiss yet. She also got her period, which was terrible.

It was also around this time that she finally started to get better at telling the difference between the living and the dead. Before, she'd had to guess based off the way people dress and spoke and whether or not people would acknowledge their presence.

Now, she seemed to know on an instinctual level. Spirits started to have an aura surrounding them that was unlike anything she'd ever felt off the living. She could feel their very moods – sad, angry, terrified, longing.

It took her years to begin to understand why she never felt any positive emotions off the spirits.

. . .

When she was in high school, she lost both her mother and her grandmother to a freak car accident. They had been driving on an empty road and the tires had caught on a piece of ice, causing them to veer into a tree.

They were dead on impact, the police had told her as she stood in her pajamas, clutching her journal full of the stories of the dead.

She wasn't sure how she was supposed to react to that news, so she closed the door on the police and went back to her room.

. . .

One week later, at the funeral, Darcy walked up to the caskets, ignoring the careful overview of her new foster parents. Her eyes were dry, but she kept biting her lip and looking around. Where were they?

She looked into the caskets, saw their lifeless bodies, and immediately looked away. Her eyes searched over the group of people who had come to pay their respects. She recognized some people, but didn't make her way to anyone. She'd always gotten along better with the dead than the living.

Where were they?

. . .

By graduation, she had figured out the truth.

The truth was that the spirits still walking the earth shouldn't be there. It was unnatural. She could feel it in her bones. She wasn't sure where they were meant to be, but it wasn't on earth.

Darcy couldn't shake the new feeling of wrongness when she talked to spirits. She decided that she had to get out of her hometown where everyone knew her as the creepy girl who stared at nothing for long periods of time. She was tired of being the girl who was a fun time until she zoned out and started talking to people who weren't there.

So she went to Culver to get a fresh start, deciding to major in political science with a minor in history. There, that was normal enough, right?

She should have known that normal was never going to be a word to describe her.

. . .

She first met him when she took a much-needed week-long vacation to New York City the summer before her sophomore year. She had been once when she was little, but she didn't really remember it, so she went again.

She loved the city and variety of people. She loved how big the city was and how much there was to do. She loved all the attractions.

She learned that she needed to be more careful when she accidentally walked past the 9/11 Memorial. She had rushed to the nearest bathroom and thrown up, then locked herself in her hotel room for the rest of the day, trying to block the sheer number of spirits bound to the earth.

The next day, she had gone to Brooklyn, trying to enjoy the rest of her trip.

She met him when she was walking past some docks. He was leaning against a wooden post, decked out in all black leather with a scary amount of weapons strapped across his body. His head was tilted down, his face obscured by his long, dark hair. His left arm seemed to be made entirely out of metal.

She froze mid-step, her breath catching at the emotions radiating off the spirit. He was terrified and so, so sad.

He suddenly tilted his head up, meeting her gaze with frosty blue eyes unlike any she'd ever seen before. Black war paint was smeared across his face, and he was muzzled like a dog. A new wave of sorrow rushed through her as it echoed from him.

His form flickered before disappearing as if he'd never been there.

Darcy shuddered, feeling a chill run up her spine. She rubbed her arms through her thick sweater and ended up tightening her scarf, but it didn't do any good. She felt like something momentous had just happened, but she couldn't figure out what was so different about this spirit compared to the thousands she'd seen before.

Shivering, she turned around only to come face to face with someone who could only be the same man. Except, his hair was cut in an older fashion, the muzzle and war paint and weapons were gone, and he was wearing a uniform from World War Two.

She yelped and jumped, and the man's icy eyes narrowed on her. Before she could say anything, his form flickered and disappeared again.

She kept looking over her shoulder the entire way back to her hotel, but she didn't see him again. The chill stayed with her for days.

. . .

During her sophomore year of college, she found what must be the purpose her grandmother had spoken to her about.

She had seen someone die. It had been an elderly man who'd had a heart attack, and she had watched from the sidelines as an ambulance was called. She knew they would never get there in time, as the man suddenly rose out of his body.

The man met her eye and smiled before looking up towards the sky. She had never felt such joy radiating off of anyone in her entire life. Seconds later, he walked forward and just disappeared. Unlike the flickering most spirits did when they traveled from one place to another, it was like the man had simply stepped through a doorway into another room that she couldn't see.

That day weighed on her for months as she did research on it, all the while keeping up with her school work.

She successfully guided her first spirit to the other side one week before Christmas. The young girl had been filled with the same unrelenting joy as the old man before she whispered, “I'm coming, Mommy. I see you, Daddy.”

The little girl turned to look at her, and Darcy did her best to smile encouragingly. “What do you see?” she had to ask.

The little girl turned back to whatever she could see and smiled, completely at peace. “They're all waiting on me. All I have to do is step into the light.”

With that, the little girl moved forward and disappeared.

Darcy stood there with tears running down her face for hours.

This, Darcy thought, this is why I was given this gift.

. . .

Darcy sent in the application to intern under Dr. Jane Foster on a Wednesday, out of options if she wanted to avoid some highly complex science courses she knew she'd probably flunk out of.

Two weeks later, she got a phone call early in the morning that woke her up.

“Hello?” she asked, rubbing sleep from her eyes.

“Is this Darcy Lewis?” a woman asked, sounding distracted.


“Great,” the woman said. “I'm Dr. Foster. You got the internship. How soon can you be in New Mexico?”

“I'll be on the first flight tomorrow,” Darcy answered, somewhat taken aback at how abrupt the scientist was.

“I'll meet you at the airport,” Dr. Foster said before hanging up.

. . .

Darcy was taking her few bags to the airport when she saw him, leaning against the wall of the waiting area for her flight. He was once again in the odd leather armor, metal arm reflecting the light from the windows.

He watched her with suspicious eyes, making no move to communicate with her. She felt crushed by the hopeless agony he felt. She didn't know how he could even move with that much guilt on his shoulders. She'd never felt a spirit quite like him before.

When she moved to talk to him, he stiffened and flickered away.

She felt like ice had been dumped into her bloodstream the entire flight to New Mexico.

. . .

Puente Antiguo was a small town with only a dozen or so spirits, most of them wearing old western gear. She resolved to seek some of them out at a later date, but first she needed to figure out what all she would be doing for Dr. Foster. It turned out, most of what she would be doing was more like babysitting than actual sciencing. She couldn't help but breath a sigh of relief.

. . .

“Hey, Janie, I'm going to the store. You need anything?” Darcy asked.

Jane made an indecipherable noise, waving her hand. Three pens fell out of her hair, but she took no notice as she scribbled something else down. The front of her flannel had Pop-Tart crumbs all over it.

“I'll pick up some food on the way in, then,” Darcy decided.

In town, Darcy bought the few things on her list. She was about to head to the best food joint in town when a spirit appeared in front of her. The man's eyes were agonized and he had a bullet wound right under his heart. He had two old revolver's holstered against each thigh, and a worn cowboy hat on his head.

“Can I help you?” Darcy asked, juggling her bags.

The man frowned and said, “My wife . . .” he paused. “My wife doesn't know the combination to the safe.” His eyes snapped to hers. “You have to tell her the combination.”

Darcy felt her stomach sinking as she looked over his outdated clothes again. “What year do you think it is?”

“It's 1857, of course,” the man replied, squinting at the sun. “My wife doesn't know the combination to the safe.”

“Sir,” Darcy said, voice faint. “Sir, its not 1857. It's 2011.”

He froze, then started shaking his head. “No, no, no. It can't be. It can't.”

It was times like this that Darcy wished she could touch spirits so she could give this poor man comfort.

“I don't know how to tell you this, but you're dead,” Darcy said, deciding to break the news quickly.

The man looked at her. “I know. That damn bandit took me out with him. But my wife needs the combination.”

Darcy swallowed. “Your wife's dead, too.”

He viciously shook his head, his cowboy hat nearly falling off. “She can't be. If she was, then she'd be here with me right now.”

Darcy smiled sadly. “Your wife passed on. You are bound to earth because you've tied yourself here.”

He looked frantic and got very close to her face. “How do I follow her? How do I go to my wife?”

“You have to go into the light,” Darcy responded. “She'll be waiting for you there.”

“The light?” the man repeated. “You mean the sun?”

“Start there,” Darcy advised. “If you feel you are truly done here on earth, you'll find your way.”

The man looked thoughtful, and he was giving off waves of longing and sadness. He turned and started moving in the direction of the sunset. He only moved about ten feet before he abruptly stopped and sucked in a sharp breath.

He looked over his shoulder at her, eyes full of radiant ecstasy and disbelief. He gave her a small, thankful nod. Then he stepped forward and disappeared, taking the feeling of unadulterated, pure joy with him.

When she turned to walk into the restaurant, the man in leather was there. His icy eyes tracked her movements.

“You could follow him, you know,” Darcy said conversationally.

The man's eyes narrowed, but when he spoke he sounded lost, “Assets operate in the cover of darkness.”

She frowned. Before she could respond, he was gone again.

. . .

When Thor fell from the sky, she had to admit that she was curious about whether or not Asgard had anyone with powers like her. She decided that asking would be a dangerous sport, especially since she had done so well in keeping her secret so far.

. . .

The Lady Sif was the one who caught onto her. The female warrior had kept her eyes on her and Jane all day, seeming to not trust either of them. Darcy had gone outside to get some air away from all the Asgardians when the strange spirit showed up, this time in his World War Two uniform.

“What's your name?” she asked him.

He frowned, blue eyes confused. “I am the Asset.”

She frowned. “Dude, everyone has a name. And you're not an 'asset'. You're a human.”

The man frowned and he flickered between his two outfits for an odd moment before settling back into the leather gear. He tilted his head down, allowing his dark, greasy hair to cover his face. “Ready to comply.”

“What the f –” Darcy started, before he flickered away as he always did. She stood there for a long moment, trying to understand what she had heard. Was the spirit's unfinished business his identity issues?

“You are Valkyrie,” Sif said from behind her.

Darcy jumped and whirled, putting her hand over her racing heart. “What?” Darcy said. “No, I'm human.”

Sif peered at her for a long moment. “Not quite,” she eventually concluded. “I can see now that you are not Valkyrie, but you are close.”

Darcy felt wary about the sudden trust the warrior appeared to be giving her as the Asgardian lowered her defenses for the first time since arriving, her posture loosening. Darcy frowned. “What exactly is a Valkyrie?”

“The Valkyries are creatures that lead those who have died glorious deaths in battle to Valhalla where they will celebrate their deaths until Ragnarok,” Sif answered after a moment. “But you are different.” The warrior paused for a moment. “Who do you help?”

“Anyone who is tied to the earth,” Darcy answered. “Some spirits can't seem to cross over without a little guidance.”

Sif nodded thoughtfully. “And these spirits are unhappy here?”

Darcy grimly nodded. “Yes. I can feel their pain – their suffering.”

Lady Sif nodded and laid her hand upon Darcy's shoulder. “You are a mighty warrior, Lady Darcy. I can understand why Thor has declared you his lightening sister.”

. . .

Many things changed over the next few years, but many things also remained the same.

Darcy and Jane remained attached at the hip long after Thor left to Asgard before coming back to join the Avengers. Although they changed locations to London, Science(!) was still constantly going on, even with her new intern and Eric losing a few more of his marbles.

Darcy continued to see spirits and help them when she could, even after she finally told Jane what she could do.

“Wait, what?” Jane asked, pausing the movie they were watching.

“I see dead people,” Darcy quickly repeated again.

“You . . . see dead people,” Jane slowly repeated, incredulous.

“Okay, less dead people and more ghosts. I've seen them since I was little, and they like to talk to people who can, ya know, see them, too. And then I realized that they're all so sad, so I was like 'okay, I should try to help them,' and I couldn't not tell you anymore because it's just who I am, and you're my best friend, and I hate keeping secrets from you,” Darcy said in a rush, feeling like a weight had been lifted from finally telling someone her closely guarded secret.

“Okay . . .” Jane said slowly, seeming to think for a long moment. “Okay,” she said again, surer this time. “This is hardly the strangest thing to happen to us.”

Darcy launched herself onto Jane in a tight hug.

. . .

“Barnes,” the spirit whispered one night in World War Two gear.

She looked up at the soldier who was standing by the wall. “What was that?”

“Barnes,” he repeated, sounding mystified. “My name is Barnes.”

She stopped entering data, turning in her chair so she could give the spirit her complete attention. “Hey, that's awesome, man! Say, do you want to try to go into the light?”

Barnes frowned at her. “The light isn't for me.”

“Sure it is,” she answered. “All you have to do is walk into it.”

Barnes shook his head, opening his mouth to answer, but suddenly he dropped to the floor convulsing. Heart-wrenching screams left his mouth. Before she could do more than wildly stand up, he was leaning against the wall again, this time in leather.

“Ready to comply,” said Barnes, icy eyes blank.

The entire room seemed to have dropped at least twenty degrees during his episode, so her breath was visible in smoky clouds.

He flickered away, leaving Darcy with her hands clasped over her mouth in horror.

. . .

Two weeks later when he reappeared, he was muzzled and in leather. His eyes flickered quickly over the lab before landing on her for a split second. He quickly looked down.

“Do you know who I am?” Darcy asked him warily.

“Ready to comply,” Barnes answered, voice emotionless and at ends with the horrible sorrow she could feel coming from him.

Darcy shivered.

. . .

By the time the Convergence had happened and the two women were back on a flight to the United States, this time to Stark Tower, she had Barnes responding to her again. He had even referred to himself as a human the other day, a near miracle with him.

He had even laughed at something that she said the other day, and he was starting to spend more time in the World War Two uniform than in the leather. That's why she was devastated when he had another episode and forgot everything again.

She may or may not have cried herself to sleep that night. She'd grown fond of the spirit who'd been with her since college.

. . .

Less than two weeks after Jane and Darcy moved into Stark Tower, SHIELD fell to Hydra. She never got to meet Captain America as he was searching all over for his lost best friend.

Darcy was more concerned about why Barnes had stopped appearing.

She hoped he'd managed to pass over and was in a better place where he wouldn't be so agonized all the time.

. . .

Months passed with no sign of her favorite spirit, and she lost all hope of ever seeing him again. To distract herself, she threw herself into her work with Jane and spent most of her free time wandering the streets of New York to try to guide as many lost souls as she could.

She was pretty positive that she'd led almost three hundred spirits through the light in the past two months alone.

She still couldn't shake the feeling that she had missed something.

. . .

Over a year after the fall of SHIELD, Darcy had started seeing less spirits. She wasn't sure what was happening, and she wished more than anything that she had her grandmother around to ask.

There was simply no way that she had managed to help enough spirits that there was a substantially smaller ghostly population, so she dug into the boxes she'd packed up from her grandmother's house and started digging through her journals, hoping for some information. She hadn't managed to find anything.

She'd approached Jane with her concerns.

The astrophysicist frowned and said, “Didn't you say that the only reason someone in your family would develop powers would be if the supernatural world needed your help? Maybe you're almost done with what you were supposed to do.”

Darcy thought about it for a long moment, biting her lip. “But if this isn't what I'm supposed to do my whole life, what is my purpose?”

Jane pulled Darcy into a hug. “Your purpose is whatever you make it. You could be free from having to deal with spirit's troubles.” The woman stepped back. “Besides, maybe they're starting to figure out how to cross by themselves.”

And that gave Darcy an idea.

. . .

“Hey, Dom?” she asked when she caught sight of the police officer, standing near the police station as always.

He turned to her, and she carefully didn't look at the mess that was his abdomen and chest littered with dozens of bullet holes. “What can I do for ya, Miss Lewis?”

“I was thinking,” she said, “about how it's been getting a bit harder to see everyone, and I want to have an insurance policy in case worst comes to worst.”

He frowned thoughtfully, but nodded for her to continue. His curiosity managed to overcome his constant aura of regret for the way he'd treated his teammates before he'd died taking out a crime circle who'd been attacking people in the streets at night in a bad part of town.

“Anyway, since you refuse to move on, I was wondering if you'd like to help me guide other spirits. You're not doing any good hanging around this station anyway. If you won't move on, at least let your death mean something more than this, Dominic,” she pleaded.

His eyes warred for a moment, but he eventually sighed. “All right. You know I can't turn down the resident translator. But you know I don't know what I'm doing. There's a reason why you were chosen for this and not me.”

“I know,” Darcy agreed. “But I was thinking, and why would I be chosen to fix the supernatural world for the next few generations to enjoy if I can only help a few people at a time. My record per day is ten. Even if I were to help ten spirits a day, I wouldn't even be done with New York City by the time it was my turn to enter the light.”

Dominic's eyebrows shot up. “Your goal is to get every ghost to cross over?”

“Not every ghost,” Darcy said. “I can't force anyone to if they don't want to, but I want to help as many as I can. I just can't do it by myself. You're not tied to any one place as much as some of the other spirits. You could try to make a team to help cross people over.”

Dominic raised an eyebrow. “The Ghost Avengers?” he proposed.

She laughed, delighted. “Yes, the Ghost Avengers. So you'll do it?”

He nodded thoughtfully. “I'll do it. It's going to take a lot of us if your goal is global relief. If each of us manage to do ten a day, that could still take centuries unless we get a really high membership.”

Darcy grinned. “And that's why I came to you. If anyone in this city can organize a global spirit-relief organization, it's you.”

Dominic rolled his eyes, but Darcy got the impression that he was glad to have a purpose again.

. . .

Darcy heard rumors that Captain America would be bringing the newly reformed and deprogrammed Winter Soldier into Avengers Tower in the next few months, but she was too busy to pay much attention.

Jane was nearing another breakthrough, and she was helping Dominic train their newest recruits. On the bright side, it seemed that the spirits actually had an easier time convincing others to leave than even she did. Every once in a while, Dominic would have to personally take her to someone who refused to listen to someone who wouldn't even leave earth themselves, but all was going pretty well.

Their biggest obstacle was that the spirits couldn't go anywhere they hadn't been to in life. It meant that they quickly had dozens of spirits that could help out all over the city, but they were having to be diligent to recruit spirits that could help expand all over the United States and Canada, their first two goals.

“How many have we got?” she asked Dominic one day.

“Bout four hundred, but I'm about to relieve fifteen from duty,” he answered. “They feel like they've done their parts and are ready to move on themselves.”

Darcy nodded, understanding that. They were already expanding much faster than they had expected.

. . .

Darcy walked through the common room of Avengers Tower one day, furiously drawing on her tablet as she shaded in areas of a world map and typed out percentages and estimations that Dominic was feeding her. They had managed to expand so much quicker than she had ever hoped. Only six months in to the Ghost Avengers and they already had agents on each of the continents easing the way for those who had stayed bound to the earth.

Dominic was predicting that they'd already relieved the world of maybe two or three percent of the spirits. He said they were collecting a lot more agents than expected from Europe because of all the wars fought there.

Darcy tried not to think about how she'd been steadily losing her sight of spirits over the past year. Now, she had a hard time seeing a spirit at all unless she was specifically looking for one. Then, she could see their outline and hear them as if listening through a tunnel.

Her only comfort was that Dominic was still coming through loud and clear and completely visible. She had a theory that it was because of how much time he spent with her. She wondered if he might even be using her as a ground now that he spent less time at the police station.

Darcy was so involved in her thoughts and notes that she didn't even notice the Winter Solider staring at her from the couch having a panic attack while Captain America stared after her in horror as he tried to calm his long-lost friend.

. . .

“Darce,” Dominic said, waving a hand through her headphones, making her music crackle as static overtook the beat. “Jane's been trying to get your attention for the past few minutes.”

Darcy looked up and took her earphones off. “Sorry, Dom said you needed me?”

“Yeah,” Jane said, frowning at her. “Why has Captain America walked by the lab seven times in the past two hours, peering in here?”

Darcy raised her hands. “Whatever you think I did, I have evidence that I didn't do it.”

Jane rolled her eyes. “So you don't have anything to do with the way he looks like he's been stabbed every time he walks through?”

“Pretty positive I'd know if I somehow traumatized a national icon, Janie.”

. . .

When Darcy turned around in the kitchen with a glass of water to come face to face with the spirit of Barnes, she dropped the glass. It shattered on the ground, and water went everywhere.

“Dude!” she exclaimed, wishing (not for the first time) that she could hug a spirit. “Where the hell have you been? It's been, like, two years. I thought you'd crossed over.”

He looked conflicted, so she asked, “Wait, do you know who I am?”

“Darcy,” he said. His voice sounded a lot less rough than how she remembered it.

Wait a second.

He was wearing a Henley and some jeans, a massive difference from the two outfits she'd seen him in before. She took in the way that his facial expression looked, the way that he didn't seem as tortured as before.

Then, she abruptly realized she couldn't feel his emotions and that she really hadn't been able to see any spirits anymore. Even Dominic was getting blurry to her eyes.

“Dude,” she said again. “Are you – are you alive?!”

He looked sheepish and his metal fingers caught the light as he shifted them. “I – yeah, I guess I am.”

“But how?” she asked, entire body twitching before she gave into temptation and threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around him.

He froze for one second before relaxing and wrapping himself around her. He hugged like a koala, like he never wanted to let go of her. She wondered if he was touch starved. She certainly wasn't going to complain. She'd wanted to hug the guy since she'd first met him. He was warm and he smelled good, so that was another plus. Plus, he was actually an amazing hugger.

“I have no idea,” he admitted in a huff of hot air against her ear, tightening his arms around her. “I don't think I ever was dead.”

“Then what?” she asked, pulling just far enough away to look at him, craning her head up.

He huffed. “I'm going about this the wrong way. I never even introduced myself.” He extracted himself from her hold and held his hand out. “James Buchanan Barnes. You can call be Bucky.”

She shook his hand before she registered what he's said. “Wait, Bucky Barnes like Captain America's BFF Bucky Barnes? The Winter Soldier.”

He gave a small, self-depreciating smile. “That's me.”

“But weren't you just frozen, not killed?” she asked, before wincing at how insensitive that sounded.

“It's fine, doll,” he reassured her, noticing her panic. And wow, okay, pet names were new. “I honestly don't know why I was like a ghost or why I kept coming back to you.” He hesitated before adding, “I don't regret it, though.”

She had to hug him again. He apparently returned the sentiment because he immediately latched onto her again.

She spoke against his chest, “I got my . . . abilities because of a tear in the supernatural world that needed to be repaired. My particular abilities tied into spirits with unfinished business that needed help entering the light.”

She could feel his frown against her hairline. “Tied? As in past tense?”

She sighed. “Of course you caught that.” She closed her eyes to ground herself. “My abilities are slipping away. I've set up a team of spirits that are going to continue to do my work until most of the earth-bound spirits have crossed over, but I'm already having trouble even communicating with my people. I'm probably going to try a Ouija board while I can still see and hear Dominic, the cop in charge of the operation.”

“You created an elite ghost team?” he laughed against her hair, arms naturally tightening against her.

“Excuse you, they're called the Ghost Avengers, thank you very much,” she answered with a grin, leaning into him. If he thought there was something odd about how long they'd been hugging, he didn't say anything.

“And what do your Ghost Avengers have to do with you seeing me?” he asked, correctly guessing that she had a theory.

“I'm not sure, but I wonder if you mind was so whacked by those fuckers that your soul itself was reaching out for help, and since it was my job to help lost souls, you came to me in spirit, possibly while you were in cryo,” she mused.

Bucky thought about it for a moment. “It's possible,” he agreed.

Darcy reluctantly pulled away because she really needed to clean up the broken glass before someone stepped on it. Bucky looked disappointed when she stepped away, so she said, “Want to help me clean this up? Then we can watch a movie or something?”

He lit up, icy eyes bright. She'd never seen him so happy. It was a good look on him. She resolved to try to keep that expression on his face.

Perhaps she'd found a new mission, she decided, as she thought of the little family she'd built around herself.

Darcy couldn't remember ever being more content.

She never even noticed Dominic giving her a sad smile before slipping away from sight. She would never see him again.

Well, at least not in life.

Her job was done.