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We'll Meet Again (Don't Know Where, Don't Know When)

Chapter Text

(Song – Survivor by 2WEI)

 

 

 

Brooklyn 1942

 

Darcy felt sick to her stomach, every bone in her body ached and she felt like she had been hit by a truck.  It was difficult to tell how long she lay there, trying to pull herself together.  The last thing she remembered was talking to Jane, asking her pack-sister if she thought her date would like her dress.  The world slowly fell back into focus as she pushed herself up from the ground.  The dim sounds of traffic and people filtered in slowly, but the overall feeling was off somehow. She closed her eyes and then slowly opened them again, trying to focus.  Something was really wrong, something was missing...  panic crept in, as it slowly dawned on her that she couldn't feel her pack bonds.  She couldn't feel her family.

What the hell had happened?  Mother of Thor, what had Jane done this time?  There had been some sort of light?  An explosion maybe?  A newspaper fluttered in a nearby bin and Darcy reached for it, frowning at the unfamiliar type face.  It was like something from...  Her belly flipped in fright when she read the date for the fourth time and finally caught sight of the people that were intermittently walking past the alley she found herself in.  You have got to be shitting me, she thought incredulously, nineteen frigging forty? This coulnd't be happening, it was impossible.  Except her senses weren't lying to her.  There was no link to her pack, the street she was on was like nothing she had seen, outside of old movies, and the people walking past were not cos players or extras on some set.  Even the smell was wrong, where was the stink of exhaust fumes?  Instead the smell of day's old garbage, rotting in metal trash cans in the alley permeated the air. 

Darcy looked around, desperately searching for some sort of sign, because Jane would mount a rescue, get her back right?  There is no way her pack would give up till they got her back, so she would be fine.  She would.  Maybe she just had to get them a message somehow, then they'd know where to look. But it was fine, right?  Jane would portal in or something and rescue her, right?  She could not be trapped 70 odd years in the past, unbonded and maybe only a few weeks out from going into heat for the first time since she was a teen.  This was not happening, no, nope, nope.  Not happening, she had just found the Alpha she actually matched with and this happens? 

"Okay feet let’s go." She growled lowly, she had to find out where she was and then… And then what?  Find someone to help her get back or at least somewhere safe to go through her heat.  She’d never been so happy that she had taken time at lunch to go change into a dress for dinner or she would have shown up here in jeans and a sweater.  The modest vintage dress she had looked out for her date would just about pass in this time, a dark wine-coloured print with pale pink flowers and a pair of black Mary-Jane heels wouldn’t look too out of place.  Everything was fine. 

Two blocks out from where she started she became aware of someone in an official looking uniform following her.  Mighty Odin in Asgard, how had she forgotten about the Wardens? 

“I swear to Thor, Jane, if you do not get me out of this, I will replace every pop tart in the tower with trail mix and MRE’s.” She muttered under her breath as she felt the wardens closing in.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

4 Years Earlier/74 Years Later

(Song – Tiny Dancer)

 

Life in Stark Tower was certainly never boring.  The day to day ebb and flow of personnel, scientists and super heroes became almost mundane the longer Darcy and Jane lived there.  Five months into their stay after feeding the scientists three and miraculously managing to get Tony to sign some more papers for Pepper she had been called down to Miss Potts' office.  Armed with coffee and cupcakes and ready to defend herself from whatever infraction she had no doubt made Darcy set her offerings down at Pepper's desk.  Pepper smiled quietly to her and gently asked her to take a seat. 

 

Pepper had been watching Miss Lewis for a long time, had in fact been aware of her before she and Jane came to the tower. She had already done her homework on the young assistant.  She was smart, had a doctorate in Political Science was very savvy about political and public image through social media and was a natural care giver for Jane Foster.  Darcy had already been given access to the social media accounts of Tony, Thor and Bruce, handling them with a quick wit and ensuring everything they posted was appropriate and even posted things to the accounts herself that had improved the Avengers' overall public image.  She was stubborn and unusually for an omega, was more than able to stand up for herself and make people, even Alphas, listen to her.  

Darcy, in the short time she had been there had taken over responsibility for Tony and Bruce as well, keeping their labs running and making sure they didn’t starve or forget to sleep.   She was the only unbonded Omega living on the top floors, surrounded by some of the most ego driven Alphas on the planet, people who no one ever said "No" to and she had them jumping through hoops, when needed, to get the job done.  Pepper admired and liked the young woman, she was organised and highly competent and, if she was being cuttingly honest, desperately over qualified for the job she was doing.  Darcy, Pepper thought achingly, strongly reminded her of herself.  

 

Pepper offering Darcy a position with a lot more responsibility and the pay check to match had floored her.  Overseeing the Avengers' PR and focusing on their social media in addition to managing the administration of the elite level labs in R&D was a dream come true.  It also served to draw both her and Jane further inside the inner circle of Stark's pack. The job came with an official title, fantastic benefits and a salary that would have her paying off all her educational debt within five years.  She had agreed with enthusiasm and had hugged Pepper to within an inch of her life.  The older Omega female had hugged her back and they had quickly settled into an easy friendship. Something clicked that day that Darcy couldn't quite name, but it's when life at the Tower changed from just being part of the job to feeling like belonging to something bigger.  Suddenly she was spending more time with Pepper and Tony and slipping into a comfortable place within their pack.  For the first time since she met Jane she felt accepted, she knew she had found her place in the world.

 


 

 

For the next few years Darcy had rolled with the tide of bad and good that surrounded the little pack she had become a part of.  She felt grounded in a  way she hadn't experienced before.  Connected to each of the others in different ways, but each bond she built only strengthened her.  Tony was the natural leader of their pack, it was easy to follow him.  His style of leadership wasn’t to lay down the law but to know the strengths of those around him and direct that appropriately.  Like any Alpha, he made sure that his pack was protected and safe. 

Bruce was an odd duckling, very much an Alpha but shaken from becoming the Hulk.  He acted as a good balance for Tony who respected his opinion and filled the position as his second comfortably.  The two men shared a strong understanding and friendship that Darcy admired.  

If Bruce was his right hand then Pepper, as Tony’s bonded mate, was his left.  She was the anchor not just for him but for Bruce and Jane.  She was always calm and collected and projected that to all of them. 

Tony and Bruce and Pepper treated Darcy like the unofficial daughter they had never had.  The three of them offering a stability Darcy had lacked growing up in foster homes after her Gramma Lewis had died.  For a young designate to be isolated from pack structure during formative years, especially after losing the only family member she had bonded with, had taken a tole on her.  It had been detrimental to her mental and emotional health, made her wary and defensive.  Being drawn into the warm embrace of the Stark Pack had slowly healed the emotional trauma she had suffered during those years of neglect and uncertainty.  Her self confidence grew and her ability to bond strengthened itself.  Her beliefe in herself grew, and she mothered her little family as much as they would allow, creating a home that even two prickly assassins could relax in. 

Natasha, while wary and at first a little cold had slowly warmed up to her.  Nat usually found her when she was cooking and joined her, sometimes helping and at other times simply watching and chatting while she worked.  Darcy treasured those moments with Nat, the first time the assassin called her 'Little Mother' in Russian, she thought her heart might swell three sizes.  Her relationship with Natasha evolved quickly, the two bonded deeply in a way Darcy hadn't expected.  It left her feeling vaguely guilty sometimes, when she realised she spent more time with Natasha some weeks, than Jane.  Jane had brushed aside her worry with a fond smile and a hug, telling her, Darcy had more love to give and more room in her heart than anyone else she had ever known.  Besides, she wasn't the sort to become resentful, she liked Natasha too, she thought it was good for Darcy to have another Omega to bond with other then the hyper competent Pepper who treated Darcy as a daughter.  So Darcy reveled in her new found friendship and was secretly pleased that Nat let her coddle her so much.

Barton was simpler to figure out, she could tell that he was a bonded Alpha, and at first assumed that he and Nat were a thing until he invited her to the farm after the Ultron incident.  Laura Barton and their kids were a breath of fresh air and gave Darcy hope for the rest of the team.  Clint’s family were wonderful, and Darcy soon had a large apartment at the tower available for them whenever they wanted to visit the city.  Time spent with Laura and the kids when they made it up for a week here and there brought all of them together and gave Darcy a proper taste of what real pack ties and bonds meant, what they could become.  She wished Laura and the kids would move permanently to the city, but they loved the farm and it was a better place to raise the kids, safer too, then them being in New York.

Darcy’s opinion of Steve Grant Rogers was not a positive one.  The surly Beta had upset her pack more than once.  He tended to avoid the Tower like the plague and she had still to meet him in person.  His disdain and confrontational distaste for Tony had rubbed her the wrong way for years.  Sure, he was a hero and a national treasure, but he was also, as far as she could see, a hypocrite who had taken a Shield provided file about a broken, dying man, and used it and his very public past to pass judgment without taking the time to really get to know Tony.  His over cautious approach to Bruce had also set her teeth on edge. The quiet Alpha needed people to be confident around him, to place trust in his control without question, the faint scent of caution that she picked up on after the good Captain had visited the labs made her want to track him down and slap him.  Bruce’s scent always changed after his visits and the underlying smell of discomfort and shame had her hugging and petting him like a damn two-year-old.  Sometimes Darcy just wanted to wrap Bruce in blankets and feed him soup till it magically made everything better. So, when she had finally been introduced to Captain Rogers she was already feeling more than a little bit hostile.

 


 

 

Steve groaned as he neared the conference room at Stark Tower.  He was not looking forward to this meeting.  Ever since he had woken up in this time he had felt as though he was constantly on the wrong foot.  Society had changed, how people treated each other was massively different and he had seemed to make bad judgement call after bad judgment call in an ugly chain of events that had seamlessly moved at a pace he could only react to in retrospect.  

It had taken the better part of six months to come to agreement with Tony and a lot of resentment remained between them, but he had a job to do here.  His pack mate and Alpha, who he loved as a brother, was finally starting to seem more like the man he once knew.  He wanted Bucky to be able to come back to America. 

Tony had told him to turn up today to go over the game plan to completely clear Bucky’s name and somehow figure out how to get public opinion on their side.  Steve knew he had made mistakes with Tony, he could grudgingly admit to himself he had been wrong about the man on more than one occasion, but it wasn’t in his nature to back down or admit it to those he didn’t see as pack. 

Reaching the doors, the sound of Tony’s voice floated out grating on his nerves.  The laughter that followed however seemed familiar in a way that had his hackles up.  As he stepped through the door the scent of a young omega reached him and he took a moment to take in the familiar curves and dark curls that cascaded down her back as she turned to face him, her laughter fading and a tight smile gracing her lips as she tried not to frown at him.  Her eyes held no recognition of him as he tried to make sense of her presence.  For a fleeting moment he wondered if the woman before him was a figment of his imagination, a shade haunting him in retribution for his refusal to even mention her name to Bucky.  But she was there leaning over Tony’s shoulder pointing out something in the open folder, the older Alpha absentmindedly petting her hand where it met his shoulder as he read.   

 

“Cap, meet Darcy Lewis, social media super hero and your best friends new best friend!”

 

“I…. what?” Steve stammered out completely taken aback at the name of the young woman.

 

“Lewis, Darcy, she’ll be in charge of giving Red October his new, improved, and murder free public image.  She handles most of the PR for the Avengers already, I mean who did you think handles our social media presence?” Tony rattled off.

 

“Umm, don’t you think this needs someone a little more experienced to do this Tony?”  Steve asked trying to get his feet back under him, hedging for time to think, to take this in.  “I mean, no offence Miss Lewis but…. Ummm.”  He could feel the sweat pooling at the back of his neck as he struggled to find a way to get rid of her so he could think.

 

“But what?  I’m a woman? An Omega? Too young?” Darcy bit out, struggling to keep an even tone. 

The blond beta was silenced by her sharp words. 

“Do you have any idea even, who I am or what I’ve done to get here?  I think your 1940’s is showing Captain Rogers.  I suggest you get your head out of your ass and read up on woman’s lib and the equality act.  I may be young but I’m one of the best in the business.  Do you have any idea how difficult it was remaking and salvaging the image of the Avengers after the massive temper tantrum you heroes threw during the Sokovia Accords? "

"I'm sure the public were well aware of why things happened, they understood what-"  Steve began, trying to gain back some of the ground he knew he was losing.  He felt blindsided and defensive.

"No, they didn't.  The only reason you even have a positive public image right now is because of the work I and a whole media department did cleaning up after your massive ego, both of you."  She shot Tony a sharp look and he mimed zipping his mouth shut.   She turned her attention back to Steve, pining him with a hard stare.  

"That I’m even considering helping out Sargent Barnes right now, while running interference for the Avengers with Congress and the American people, while managing the mad scientists in R&D, is nothing short of praise worthy.  But I happen to have a soft spot for this team so I’m going to work my ass off until the Winter Soldier becomes a forgotten side note in history and James Buchanan Barnes, former Howling Commando and WW2 Hero becomes the most loved man on American soil. “ Darcy was positively spitting mad at this point.  Who the hell did he think he was judging her like that without even a proper introduction.  She strode past him towards the door, pausing long enough look him straight in the eye.

 

“For the record I was prepared to not judge you on the assholery behaviour I have seen from afar, looks like you’re pretty much just what I thought though, if today’s display of dismissive condescending disregard and lack of manners is anything to go by.”  Darcy's voice rose as she ranted, but she felt very protective of the people she loved and right in that moment couldn't look past his attitude not matter what his reasons might have been for why he had done the things he had.  All she could see was Tony's battered body when they had brought him home from Siberia and hear the yells that had haunted the Tower for months from nightmares he'd had of the altercation. 

 

Steve stepped into her space and grabbed her arm as she turned to leave.  “Now look here Miss Lewis….”  He was suddenly on the ground blinking in shock as 10000 volts shot through him.

 

“Touch me again grandpa and I’ll aim for your junk next time.” She hissed down at him.

 

The sound of Tony’s hysterical cackling was hazy in the back ground.

 

“Baby-girl after that I am not taking no for an answer you are being adopted, paperwork in the mail by the end of the day!”

 

“Can it, Tin Man, I already told you, there is no way in hell I’m calling you Daddy, under any circumstances!” She trilled with sassy affection as she left the room.  

 


 

 

Darcy Lewis had snuck into Tony’s life, seamlessly fitting into and smoothing out some of his broken edges.  After the Shieldshock incident he had bit the bullet and done the DNA test, because come on, really?  How could this sassy little spitfire not be his daughter?  There was a lot about her that felt familiar.  Her hair and eyes, a certain feral smile that he was sure he had seen in the mirror before. 

When he’d dug into her background he was unsurprised to find early application for college and a degree in computer science from MIT before she had went to Culver.  She was smart as a whip and as mouthy as he was.  He had been a bit of dog before meeting Pepper, not something he was proud of, many of those encounters while so drunk he didn’t remember them the next day. 

Sure, it was rare to get someone other than your bond mate pregnant but that didn’t count those who for whatever reason never presented at the end of puberty as any of the designations.  Normals were a small percentage of the population born without the pack mentality and no extra senses, to Tony it was terrifying, like being born without one of your senses, but they were not treated much differently than Betas. The only really surprising thing about them was that they could have children without the fuss of bonding. In some ways the results of the DNA test had been both a surprise and not a surprise.  Unfortunately, Darcy wasn’t his daughter, but she was the next best thing.  His sister.  The most worried he'd ever been in his life was telling Darcy the news, he followed it up with 25 years of birthday and Christmas presents.  Pepper had been completely supportive and the two pulled the young woman closer into their hearts. 

 


 

After that meeting the only time Steve heard from Darcy was tersely professional emails centred around updates on what she was doing to remake Bucky’s public image and requests for as much information on what happened to him as possible.  Shaken by the whole thing he complied without protest and almost vindictively declassified the whole file to send to her, but not before removing certain pieces of personal information.  Miss Lewis was the spitting image of a woman who was long-gone. 

Steve tried not to think too deeply on what this meant.  It had shaken him when he had seen her there in the office.  Younger than the woman he had known and angrier too but just as forceful and stubborn.  His relationship with her had been at times strained but she had been a silent support when needed and at times a friend.  He had never really understood her, she had been a mystery to people.  Stubborn, opinionated and smart, she had handled those around her with skill and grace.  She had blown into their lives from no where back at the end of 1940.  Bucky had not allowed Steve to ask questions about her and he had been shut down immediately, the Alpha laying down the law to him that she was untouchable and off-limits when he pressed.  He hadn’t liked it then and he liked this mystery even less now. 

He resolved to keep his mouth shut about it all, deep down he knew it was her, knew that by some miracle or twist of fate that she was here in this time and he couldn’t bare the thought of loosing Bucky again, to her.  She had taken his best friend away once, how could he let her do it now, when he had just gotten him back? 

Besides she hadn’t known him when they met a few weeks ago, so she didn’t know Bucky.  The files on Buck were terrible, maybe they would scare her out of wanting to be anywhere near him.  He just needed a little longer to make a plan.  Bucky still hadn’t remembered her, what he didn’t know couldn’t hurt him.  Steve would to happy if he never remembered her at all.

 

 

Chapter Text

(Song – Tell My Mama)

 

Darcy had been pretty much just like any other girl growing up.  She liked pretty things and could dance for days, music was her god and she had watched every episode of Friends at least once.  But if there was something she secretly nerded out over it was history.  The weekends when she confined herself to her room with piles of text books about past centuries were some of her happiest. 

In her first year at Culver her assignment was on the impact of the restructuring of the military during WW2 to better reflect pack bonding within units as they made a more effective fighting force.  The most famous of those Unit’s was of course the Howling Commandos. 

She had thought she understood the whole thing pretty well back then.  She had spent hours poured over books and stories of second hand accounts of what the unit had been like.  But no matter how much digging she did all she could find was speculation and assumptions.  She hadn’t stressed over it too much at the time, just sighed regretfully that she couldn’t spend more time mooning over the pretty eyed Sargent Barnes with his carefree grin and fluffy hair and chosen a better documented unit to base her assignment on.  

Nearly ten years later Darcy sat alone in her apartment in the tower, papers spread out around her.  The files Steve Rogers sent were thick and explained in excrutiating detail just what he had went through at Hydra's hand.  Even redacted, they painted a grim and horrifying picture of his imprisonment.  The knowledge in Bucky’s file with every detail that Shield, Hydra and the SSR had on him felt like a lead weight in her belly.   As she shuffled through the notes and pictures, tears wet her cheeks and soaked her blouse.  She’d never read or seen anything so awful in her whole life. 

When she got to files detailing the conditioning the man had went through, the things they did to try and break his Alpha personality she lost it.  The things done to him were inhuman, it was more than torture, more than simple cruelty.  Taking gasping gulps of air, she fought off a full-blown panic attack to half run, half crawl to the toilet, retching uncontrollably till there was nothing left but bile and dry choking sobs.  Strong arms suddenly lifter her up carried her back to the couch.  Tony sat with her held in his arms as she sobbed into his grease marked vest. 

 


 

 

Tony had been happily tinkering with a piece of code when Jarvis in an uncharacteristically concerned tone insisted that Sir “make his way post haste to Miss Darcy’s room as my internal sensors register that she is in extreme distress.”  

Tony had been out of the penthouse and down the six levels to Fosters floor and by passed all privacy protocols as Jarvis relayed the chain of events that had resulted in Ms Darcy’s sudden and worrying reaction to the files Captain Rogers had had couriered to her. 

By the time Darcy had cried herself to sleep in Tony’s lap, he was fuming.  He held her gently while pawing through the documents and their attached photographic evidence and swore quietly at what he was seeing.  For the first time Tony felt pity for the man once known as the Winter Soldier.  The poor guy hadn’t had a chance after what Hydra had done to him.

He looked up sharply as Jane burst through the door, lungs heaving, she had run from the 3rd floor stairwell when the elevator wouldn’t turn up quick enough in her haste to get to her friend.  Once he had quietly explained to Foster what was going on she had growled and hissed while shuffling through the files and looking torn between weeping and killing. 

Between Jane and Tony, both mad enough to spit nails after reviewing the files themselves they had both decided that the next time Rogers ass came anywhere near the tower there would be a reckoning.  Darcy woke up with three Alpha’s and an Omega curled protectively around her and the low rumbling of their sub-vocal purr vibrating through her bones with love, reassurance and shelter.  This time she cried happy tears and baked enough treats for her family to last a week. 

 

Once more feeling reassured by her pack, and feeling more motivated than before to help Sargent Barnes, Darcy with the help of Tony and Jane worked through the files and used them as best she could to almost over night turn Bucky Barnes from most wanted to most loved.  As awful as the files were the information within was fascinating.  She learned a lot from reading them, both about the man and the weapon they had created.  Learned that it took them twenty years to break him enough to become the Asset.  Learned that even then they couldn’t wipe out the man he had been, the programming slipping after only days, sometimes hours.  It’s why they kept him on ice between missions, enough time for him to start thinking and he started to question things.  It’s why they used brainwashing and mental triggers and hypnagogic states to control him when the programming would slip.  Fail safe, after fail safe, put into place.  In the end, they hadn’t been able to keep him, something had anchored him to who he was, something held his soul safe while he was wiped and beaten and tortured.  It made her wonder about him, she spent months pondering the enigmatic James Barnes, she hoped they could clear him, hoped one day she would get the chance to meet him.  In the tiny spaces in her heart she started to fall in love.   The more she learned about him the harder she fell.  If James Barnes started starring in her fantasies she wasn’t going to admit it to anyone. 

By the time they had succeeded with the campaign and he could relocate to New York, Darcy had read through the files a half a hundred times.  The documents ultimately gave her a much better grasp not just of the handsome Bucky Barnes but of Steve Rogers too.   

 

The hierarchy of the Howling commando’s unit from the outside seemed to heavily imply that Captain America was the leader, the Alpha, but after meeting Steve Rogers for herself she knew without a doubt that he was as far from being an Alpha as one could get.  That man was all about the mission and could at times be more reckless than he needed to be. 

The eye opener was discovering that Barnes himself was the unofficial leader of the group, he was the Alpha the commandos had looked to for direction and guidance.  Suddenly Steve Rogers' erratic and strange behaviour made so much more sense. He was a Beta, adrift without the Alpha he needed to back his plays and help him gain perspective. Alpha’s by their very nature were long term planners, they saw the big picture, could look at chess board and be playing five moves ahead at all times.  Beta’s were the sort that Alpha’s pointed at a problem and let them get on with the job.  Efficient, good on following through and thorough. Since he woke up Steve had rejected every Alpha he had come across to make a pack with, she almost felt sorry for him.  Almost.

 


 

 

Darcy stood shifting from foot to foot in the line, restless and feeling a little off.  Being an unbound Omega in a busy building full of Alphas, many of them unbound, made her antsy. For the most part they were respectful of her boundaries, she hardly had any trouble within the Tower proper.  But the lobby was a busy place and the coffee shop a popular one, frequented by many people, including visitors or those who worked in the building surrounding the Tower.  She knew she probably was scenting quite a bit more strongly than usual and had been prepared for the likely attention and pick up lines it would encourage, or at least she thought she was.  The coffee shop was crowded from the morning rush hour.  Not wanting to be delayed getting back to Jane, she only had a brief moment to nod a quick hello to Pepper as she passed her at the elevator, before ducking into the bustling cafe.  the longer she stood waiting the more uncomfortable she began to feel. 

She was hyper aware of the eyes following her and the interested and curious posture of a number of men.  It;s time's like this she wonders what it would have been like if she'd followed her plan to go to Washington after Culver.  When she had finally got those science credits and completed her degree she had honestly intended to head straight to Washington and put the degree she had drowned herself in debt for to good use, but somehow, somewhere along the way, the thought of parting from Jane had become unthinkable. Jane had become pack.  The big sister she had never known she had wanted.  Okay so the big sister that needed a lot of looking after and constant reminders to eat, sleep and shower but she was the best friend she had ever had, the first of a family Darcy had always so desperately wanted.  

Instead she had followed Jane to London and fought off murder elves and narrowly avoided a permanent dirt nap through sheer luck and good fortune.  It helped that Jane was an Alpha, she was very protective of her pack mates, for the most part being with Jane was safe and comforting, other Alpha’s backed off rather than risk upsetting Jane in those early years but as the time of Darcy’s first proper heat in ten years drew nearer it was harder and harder to keep interested unbound male Alpha’s at arm’s length. 

Darcy knew she would have to seclude herself for the better part of a month soon, she probably only had ten days at most before it wouldn’t be safe for her to be out in public.  The problem with taking suppressants for years was that eventually there came a time when they just didn’t work.  Her doctor had taken her off them seven months ago. 

It wasn’t as if she hadn’t looked for a good Alpha candidate to bond with, she had tried damn it.  Every time she had met someone the dating just fell flat.  There was nothing that made her lady parts sit up and take notice, and none of them had made her want to curl up in their laps for snuggles.  To be honest the whole experience had left her feeling cold. The Alpha’s themselves had always seemed interested and for the most part were nice enough guys, but there was no pull to be anything other than friends.  The few who had overstepped had found themselves tased on the ground as she had walked away, fuming at their presumption to touch her.

Which led to now, standing in line feeling the sharp and very much unwanted interest from at least three unbound Alpha’s. For the third time in the last twenty minutes some asshole Alpha had deliberately squeezed past and sniffed at her, her taser was gripped tightly in her pocket in irritation.  Damn she should have just got one of the interns to come down, but they were always screwing up Jane’s order and she didn’t have time for the usual song and dance. Tapping her foot nervously she glanced through the glass, floor to ceiling walls, into the lobby and sucked in a sharp breath. 

James “Bucky” Barnes was on the other side, staring at her intensely.  Although they hadn’t been introduced yet she knew exactly who he was, everyone did. In the eleven months that he had been living at the tower, she had never actually spoken to him, somehow they always managed to miss being in each other’s company.  When Steve and Tony finally sorted out their shit and everything had calmed down the first thing they had done after abolishing the accords was to completely clear Bucky’s name both publicly and privately. 

The US government had caved to Stark and Captain America pretty quickly after they had hired some of the best lawyers and had blitzed a massive PR campaign to smooth out his public image.  Darcy had been at the forefront, organising and co-ordinating the social media campaign and had been instrumental in rebranding the damaged war hero. 

In the process she had developed a little bit of a crush.  Okay, so more than a little crush, he was panty dropping gorgeous, had breath-taking blue eyes and the sort of knowing smile that left any girl Alpha, Beta or Omega squeezing her thighs and baring her neck in response.  The files that she had had access to had been grueling to read, the information in them had allowed her to know far more about him than she thought he would be happy about, she just hoped that if he knew she’d seen them that he wouldn’t feel uncomfortable around her. 

His strength and loyalty and the tragedy of his story had broken her heart, she was amazed and inspired by his recovery.  Darcy found herself unable to look away from him, it was as though the world had fallen away around her, right now, his eyes were focused completely on her.  If eyes were the windows to the soul, then she felt like his were able to strip her bare and see the very heart of her, a tiny involuntary whine escaped her as she tilted her head a fraction automatically in submission.

Damn it, she shouldn’t have done that.  At least two Alpha’s in her vicinity had heard her and were even now subtly trying to get to her.  This was so embarrassing, she had never had to handle this before, the suppressants practically smothered involuntary instincts and responses.   Shock coursed through her as she froze, backing up into the Beta behind her and trying to step out of the line.  She had to get out of here before they decided to close in on her, she did not want a confrontation here in the lobby, she was meant to be a professional.  Too late she saw cocky asshole number one step into her space and flash sharp teeth at her. 

 

“Back off, not interested.“  She snapped at him a he reached for her arm, even his scent made her feel ill, it was all wrong.

 

“Come one little bird, I’ll buy you a coffee and we can get acquainted.” He cajoled.

 

Just as his hand began to grip her, his expression suddenly morphed from cocky, to pee your pants full on terror.  He took a few steps back and then turning fled the shop.  The musky, spicy, sweet scent of an unfamiliar  Alpha surrounded her, and she registered the almost sub vocal rumble that had everyone in a six-foot radius pause in apprehension. Who ever it was, they smelled amazing.

 

Darcy felt the hair on the back of her neck lift as she registered the presence directly behind her, she turned her head slowly and smiled immediately when she saw him, a feeling of overwhelming relief coursing through her veins at the sight of the big bad wolf who had made everyone sit up and take notice. 

 

“Hi.” She managed to squeak out in surprise, feeling a warm flush rising beneath her skin.

 

“You okay doll?”  Bucky drawled lifting an eyebrow and offering a small smile to her.

 

“I am now.”

She bit out with a flirty grin, which was all teeth. Holy mother of Thor he looked good, she felt pulled towards him, like a magnet pointing north.  Every instinct screamed at her to step into the space he had so courteously left between them and bare her throat offering submission and begging for protection.  But damn it this was the 21st century.  She was a strong independent woman and she had never wanted to buy into any of that misogynistic Alpha Omega bullshit that had dictated the lives of Omega woman for centuries.  She had been sure it was bull crap before this moment. 

People always talked about how when you met the right Alpha you would know it, that your biology would take over, lead you in the right direction, that everything would slip into place naturally.  She could control herself, she wasn’t some fluff brained teen still living in the land of Disney Princes.   But OMG he was all Alpha, he smelled like leather and fall, and cinnamon spice and she wanted to lick him, damn it, and burrow into his arms until there was nothing between them. 

Head swimming with thoughts, she admonished herself. Get a grip Darcy, he’s just being nice.  That’s what superhero’s do, rescue silly omegas in need, she though furiously.  But the look in his eyes was all invitation, the scent of him became deeper and earthier.  Goddammit, this really was a genuine Alpha level invitation to take protection.  And sweet baby Jesus she was almost panting to take him up on it right here in public.  What the fuck was wrong with her?  She had never had this reaction to an Alpha in her whole life.  Oh, crap she was stinking up the place with her pheromones and every Alpha in the enclosed space knew it, the acrid scent of territorial Alpha males increased around her, though not from him as she was once again subjected to another asshole trying to herd her out of the line. 

A low growl rumbled from Bucky’s throat as one got too close.  He looked at her intently and lifted his arm in invitation.  Fuck it she thought, I don’t care how embarrassing this is and ducked under it and burrowed her face right into his chest.   His arm came down around her back, firm warm and strong and she purred in delight, a heavy blush staining her cheeks and flushing down her neck.  Safe, warm, protected and instantly calm.  Suddenly there was three feet of space in every direction around them, every other Alpha backing off, the faint scent of caution and fear lacing the air.  Even the Beta’s in line took a step back, allowing space for the two.

 

“Thank you and sorry about that I don’t know what wrong with me” she whispered out, burying her nose deeper into his sweater. 

 

“Nothin' to be sorry about doll, I didn’t mean to come on so strong there, kinda took me by surprise when I saw you though the window.  Darcy Lewis, right?  Jane Fosters assistant and social media coordinator for the Avengers?”

 

How is it possible to blush even more she thought?  Darcy grinned up at him and nodded.  He was certainly well informed. 

 

“Yup, that’s me, twitter queen, Instagram goddess and herder of cats, or at least herder of scientists, but they’re so much like cats it’s hard to tell the difference on a good day.  And you’re Sergeant Barnes, it really is wonderful to finally meet you, don’t know how we’ve managed to miss each other for so long with both of us living here.”  Darcy internally facepalmed at how much she just rambled but held it together and decided to be upfront with him from the get go.  He was interested, that much was apparent, but she didn’t want any false pretenses here.   “Look I hope this isn’t out of line, but you should know, full disclosure, I was the one working on your social media as part of the PR campaign a few months ago.  I learned a lot about you from the files I had access to so if that makes you uncomfortable you can totally bow out gracefully no hard feelings.  I really do appreciate the save just now, I was about to bolt back upstairs.”  She told him candidly, mentally crossing her fingers that he wouldn't walk away. 

 

He smiled down at her, his eyes crinkling at the corners and positively twinkling at her.

 

“I’ve been meaning to thank you for that, although I’m getting so much fan mail because of it that Stark had to hire three new mail room staff to help organise it all.  Pretty sure that was down to you.”  He shot her wink and a naughty grin.

 

Christ on a cracker he winked at her.  Winked.  What the actual …. Holy mother of Thor.  Darcy had no idea anyone could be this attractive in real life.  She was done, just done.  Her body was practically vibrating, there was no way he hadn’t noticed what he was doing to her and now he was grinning, could he read her mind too?

 

“Listen, don’t worry about the files,”  his said with reassurance.  “I knew Steve gave them to someone, it doesn’t bother me.  The work you did to help clear my name was impressive, I don’t think anyone else could have done so much in such a short amount of time.  I’m only sorry you had to see them to do your job, there’s a lot of disturbing things in those files, I hope reading them didn’t scare you too much?”  He asked her, a tiny undercurrent of anxiousness creeping into his tone. 

 

Darcy felt concern well up inside her, he was worried that she might be scared of him, that she wouldn’t want to know him.  She grabbed one of his hands in hers and squeezed it.  “I’m not scared of you, I promise, what I am is in awe, what you came back from would have broken anyone else, I don’t know where you found the strength, but I’m glad you did because it meant you could be here now and I get the chance to maybe get to know you better.”   His eyes grew darker with her words, his expression pleased.  She wondered then at the emotion that crossed his face, it was fleeting but unsettling in it’s honesty.  It made her feel warm to the bottom of her toes. 

 

They were at the counter now and she flashed the barista a smile and rattled off her usual order.  He ordered too, she was too distracted to stop him when he paid for them both.  He had her tucked up against his side and she couldn’t help but lean in more as he herded her along beside him from the line to the collection table.   Reigning herself in she began to notice the reactions of the other patrons around her.  The majority were Beta’s only a few Omegas and the odd Mundane, not an Alpha in sight.  More than one person caught her eye and smiled knowingly at her and she could hear two bonded omega ladies giggling like teenagers and looking pointedly at his protective arm around her waist.  She stepped forward to sort the coffee and grab sugar and creamer and settle it all into the little take away tray, all the time fully aware of the arm hovering behind her as she gathered it up. 

 

Bucky held out a hand for the tray “Would you mind if I escorted you back up to the labs Miss Lewis?”  he asked her.   She grinned back and let him take the coffees from her. 

 

“Sure, but you can call me Darcy” she told him shyly. 

 

“Bucky” he said softly and gathered her back into his side as they left the shop and made their way though the lobby to the elevators. 

 

For the first time in her life Darcy didn’t have a clue what to say, but somehow the silence between them seemed full and comfortable, words just didn’t seem necessary.  It was telling she thought that as they entered the lift, no one else seemed interested in getting on with them. 

 

“Level 43 Jarvis” Darcy informed the AI. 

 

“Of course, Miss Lewis.  Dr Foster asked me to inform you that she is in Mr Starks Lab but will be back momentarily.   Mr Barnes, the Captain and Mr Wilson asked me to relay that they have been called out on a mission and will hopefully return tomorrow.”  The AI relayed his message.

 

“Thank you, Jarvis “he answered glancing down at Darcy.  “Would I be reading the situation wrong if I were to ask you to have dinner, maybe go dancing with me tonight Darcy?”

 

Darcy shook her head and smiled widely up at him. 

 

“Nope, nothing wrong with your nose, I’d love to go out with you.” She sassed back with delight.

 

 

“Good, 6:30 ok for you?” he asked as they stepped out onto the lab level.  Darcy bit her lip and nodded, smiling and looking up from under her lashes.  He handed her the tray of coffee minus his own and stepped back towards the elevator. 

 

Darcy hurried into the lab and put down the tray breathing heavily.  Darcy’s heart lurched at the thought of him leaving.  Her feet had already made the decision for her as she ran back out to him

“Wait……”  she called hurrying down the corridor before the doors could close.   Bucky cocked his head to the side and raised his eyebrow in question.  Darcy stepped back into the elevator and before she even realised what she was doing had tilted her head to one side exposing her neck to him, watching as his eyes trailed down the length of her throat.  He rumbled deep in his chest and stepped closer pressing his free hand under her blouse and pressing the length of his body against her. 

 

“Are you sure you want this?” he asked, his lips brushing the tip of her ear, his nose buried in her hair breathing in her scent.  She shuddered in response a small whimper escaping her as he used the deep resonant voice of an Alpha to ensure she was truthful.

 

“I’m sure, never been so sure of anything in my life” she managed to grind out through clenched teeth. 

 

 “I need you to say the words Omega or it’s not happening.”  Her mouth went dry at his tone.  He really really meant it.  He wanted complete consent, formal consent.  Her skin itched in response, desire pooling between her thighs.  Shit, crap, okay.  This was moving fast, but biology, right?  Nothing wrong with following instincts, beautiful, wonderful, throw cation to the wind, instincts. A formal verbal contract, she knew Jarvis would record it and log it with the legal department.  How the hell did it go again?  Ugh she should have paid more attention in health class.  The only words she could remember were from her history text books as they covered the political and cultural shift after the second world war.  Well he was like 90, right?  He would probably know those better and it might be a little formal, but the consent was covered well with them.  So, sue her if she thought they were also a little more elegant than the more modern wham bam thank you that could pass for agreeing and consent for Alpha/Omega contracts these days.  Words Lewis, use them.  She hummed and then gathered the courage to speak again.  She wanted this, she did, more than she had ever thought she would.

 

“Alpha, I make a formal petition to you, will you give me your protection? I consent willingly and happily to being marked by you.   I am unbound and seek shelter with you at this time and would submit myself into your care.  If you would agree I acknowledge that should things align we might be bound one day soon.”  She said the formal words clearly and certainly.  Her voice didn’t waver even as the answering words from him sealed the promise they were rushing into.  This was crazy, stuff like this happened in sappy romance novels and Disney fairy-tales. 

 

“Omega I accept your petition to mark you with your consent with the full understanding that this could lead to bonding one day soon.  I promise to mark no other omega unless you rescind your consent.  You have my full and unwavering protection and shelter from all others and I will defend you from all threats, my Omega.”  His lips dipped down and left a blazing path up her neck as he placed some open mouthed kisses there between rubbing a deliciously stubbly cheek against her, marking her with his scent, she sighed happily as she turned her head and he repeated the process on the other side before latching his teeth gently against the skin at the curve of her neck and shoulder, he hummed gently and sucked at the delicate skin there before licking the lightly bruising mark soothingly.  Darcy’s legs felt like jelly and her breath came in soft pants as she held onto his arms, realising he was keeping her upright, one arm holing her weight against him effortlessly.  She pressed her cheek against his and purred happily as they stood breathing in each other’s scent, basking in the warmth he offered, savouring the feeling of safety and home he somehow evoked.  Bucky stroked the skin of her back softly as she regained her senses, her legs feeling less like limp noodles now that she was marked.  He drew back and rested his forehead against her.  His eyes light and full of an emotion she couldn’t quite name.  She shook her head and giggled at the complete madness of the situation and he chuckled in response.   Darcy reluctantly pulled away when she heard Jane calling for her.

 

“I have to go, I’ll see you tonight Bucky, don‘t be late.”

 

“Doll, if I’m not there on time it’ll be because I’m dead” he promised as he let her go.  She stepped out of the lift and as the doors closed he grinned at her and give little salute “Darcy, you are a complete surprise in every time.” 

 

“Huh?” Darcy frowned not sure what to make of that and made her way back to the lab, eager to tell Jane that she had finally found an Alpha she really liked. 

 


 

 

Jane spun round as Darcy entered the lab, her nose flaring and her eyebrows almost to her hairline.

 

“Darcy!  Oh my Thor, what is that smell, is that you?  You smell  so good right now, what have you been up to?”  she asked in surprise.  Darcy always smelled sweet like flowers and vanilla but today the smell that had followed her pack-sister into the lab was like a dozen bouquets had been delivered along side a tray of vanilla cupcakes.  Darcy blushed from head to toe as she grinned back at Jane and threw herself into Jane's arms, her tiny frame shaking with excitement.

 

“Jane, it happened, It finally happened.  I met my Alpha Jane, can you believe it?  You’ll never guess who it is, go on, I dare you to guess!!!!”  Darcy had Jane’s arms gripped tight as she bounced in front of her friend, smiling from ear to ear.  Jane poked her nose next to Darcy’s cheek and inhaled.

 

“Darcy Elizabeth you did not just jump into courtship without telling me!”  she half shouted.  The strong musky scent of a Male Alpha was embedded against Darcy’s own scent, twining together tightly.  “You let him scent mark you?  You only just met him!  Darcy what were you thinking?”

 

“I was thinking that he is the best-looking man I have seen in my life and there was no way I was letting him get away when he was so clearly inviting me to ask.  Janie you know I love you, I promise it’s not a bad thing.  And ok so we just met but I know nearly everything about him, I spent four months of my life digging through his past and making him the hottest bachelor in America!”

 

Jane gaped at Darcy and shook her head “Bucky Barnes? you’re being courted by Bucky freaking Barnes?  Darcy, Tony is going to have fit.  Tell me everything, when did you meet him, what happened?  Who made the first move?  Are you sure this is what you want?...”  Darcy patted Jane reassuringly and hugged her again.

 

“Janie”  she whispered to her friend “Janie he is perfect, it’s silly and sappy as hell but I think I just fell in love at first sight.”  She drew back and looked Jane straight in the eye.  “I practically threw myself at him after he rescued me from some douche bags at the coffee shop and he walked me back to the lab and asked me out on a date.  Then I just…. God, I don’t know what I was thinking Jane I just went for it, the thought of him leaving even if it was until tonight, I couldn’t wait Jane I acted like a total idiot and bared my neck to him.  Poor guy looked so surprised I thought he might run for it, but he didn’t, just asked me if I knew what I was doing and told me if that’s what I really wanted I had to ask him properly, so I did, old style Jane, full verbal contract and everything.  I nearly fainted when he marked me it felt so damn good.  Is this what I’ve been missing out on?  Holy mother of Thor Jane, why didn’t you tell me it would feel like this?”

 

Unfortunately, at 3pm that afternoon one of Jane's experiments went a little wrong, bathing the lab in a blue light as a tiny rip in time and space came into existence and enveloped on Darcy Elizabeth Lewis in a flash of light.

Chapter Text

2017

 

After Wakanda with his head finally his own and with peace and quiet to slowly piece his life and memories back together Bucky had felt relaxed and almost content.  The problem with that was that he couldn’t help but feel there was something he had forgotten.  Steve was no help, other than sharing some insignificant stories from their past in Brooklyn before the war he refused to tell Bucky anything about his personal life.  The journals that he filled with half forgotten dreams and memories were now taking up three shelves in his apartment.  The clearest memories were of violence and blood.  The war, hydra, being the winter soldier.  Steve had triggered something when he had first called him by his name.  Memories of Steve were the first to come back, fragmented as they were there was a wealth of emotion wrapped around each one.  As an Alpha Bucky had always had a protective streak a mile wide and tiny skinny Steve with his stubborn streak of stupid had called out to those instincts from the fist time they had met.  The biggest gap in his memories was between ’41 and ’43.  It was like a blank wall of nothing that wouldn’t crumble.  There was something there.  In his dreams there were flashes of dark curls and red lips, the scent of cherry blossom and vanilla and hint of citrus.  The emotions tied to these flashes left him either waking in a cold sweat with an uncomfortable sense of loss or panting with a naked desire he had never remembered experiencing before. 

 

It had come to a head at Stark Tower, a party to welcome him to the tower filled with more people than he could comfortably stand.  He’s been aware of a familiar scent that would tickle his nose before disappearing again in a maddening game of hide and seek.  He’s went out to the balcony to get some respite when a gleeful bubbling laugh had him shooting around and zeroing in on the woman who had made the maddening sound.  It felt as though time had stood still.  His breath caught in his lungs, unable to shift, frozen in place, terrified that if he blinked she would be gone.  He knew her, knew her deep in his bones like a part of his soul, buried deep down and hidden in the part of himself that had been Bucky more than any other identity.  It was a door unlocking and a wash of memories sliding silently into place.  Darcy.  His mate.  His wife.  She was standing 20 feet away giggling like a loon at something Barton was telling her.  Fury tore through him and every instinct was telling him to get to her and carry her off to his apartment and barricade the doors and rub himself over every inch of her to claim her as his.  But his mind was telling him this was impossible.  She’d be an old woman by now, it couldn’t be her.  But it was her, the same face, laugh, the scent that had haunted him the whole night.  He felt his strength give way as he sank to the ground on the balcony, dropping back behind a planter a he tried to gather the pieces of himself back together.

 

He sat there in the dark for hours letting the cold of the night seep into his blood.  Agonising over what to do and how to make sense of it all.  The puzzle that she had been to him when he met her, the tiny hints, skirting on the edge of explanation before she would grow quiet biting that pretty mouth and offering him an apologetic smile.  A hundred moments when she would clam up, thinking she had said to  much starting to make a crazy sort of sense.  Quiet rage bubbled underneath it all.  Steve had to have known right?   He’s deliberately never even mentioned her name to him.  Never brought up the fact that he’d had a mate, an Omega who he had fallen for at first sight and bonded with less than a few weeks later.  Steve had white washed her right out of his life.  Left the memory of the love of his fuckin' life to rot in the back of his brain, never to see the light of day.  When Steve appeared panicked and looking for him just before dawn he had growled out a challenge at him.  Anger flaring dangerously.  He could feel the Winter Soldier and the Alpha both howling in his head demanding blood.

 

“Did you know?” he had bit out fists clenched, every line of his body, sharp and cutting, drawn tighter than a bow.

 

The look of guilt and worry on his Beta's face had answered him easily enough.  Betrayal bitter in his mouth, it tasted like blood and arsenic.

 

Natalia appeared behind Steve and had gripped his arm and urged him to leave.  Bowing his head, shoulders slumped in defeat he’d left shame faced, metaphorical tail tucked firmly between his legs.  Bucky wanted to say so many things to Steve in that moment, ask him why, rail at him and scream but he knew if he let go of what little control he had left he would kill him this time and nothing would hold he back. 

 

Natalia had stayed, perching daintily on the planter beside him saying nothing while he stopped himself from hunting down his best friend and beating him to a bloody pulp. 

 

Haltingly, then like a flood he had told her about his Darcy, about the woman who had meant everything to him, before the war and Hydra had turned his brain inside out and burned his memories to ash.  Told her about the girl in the red dress with the laugh like bells and lips red as sin who had been at the party.  He'd spoke of meeting her on a cold winter day, of how she had known him and had become a part of his life to fast that it had felt as though she had always been there.  Natalia had pressed a hand to his shoulder and left with a silent promise of something.  When he had made it back to his apartment he had slept for twelve hours and woke to find a file on the counter top labelled simply.  Darcy Lewis. 

 


 

 

James Buchanan Barnes 1930.

James was 12 years old when his father died.  America was in chaos, the great depression leaving more and more people homeless and hungry.  He had to take responsibility for his mother and sisters with his father gone.  It was certainly easier said than done though.  His father had been a doctor, well respected and modestly well off.  An orphan himself he had built a good life for his wife and children, they had lived in a lovely little brownstone on the upper west side and the children attended a private catholic school there which was small but exclusive.  James had done very well in school and had been looking forward to furthering his education.  Sadly, the death of his father changed everything, both for him and his mother and sisters.  They sold the brownstone using the money to buy a modest apartment in Brooklyn and he and his sisters then attended the local state school. 

 

Without a husband a widowed Omega was a target and the law was not on Lexie Barnes side at all.  Woman’s rights were mostly a pipe dream in 1930 New York.  State Laws made it impossible for a female Omega to get a job, and in the current economic climate would have probably been impossible anyway.  Lexie smiled at her children and told them that not to worry.  When one door closes, she told them, somewhere God opens a window.

 

The same week they move to Brooklyn Bucky meets Stevie, he’s a tiny little punk that thinks he can fix the world if he hits something hard enough,  the kids got spunk and he kinda admires the little brat.  Over the next 13 years he pulls Steve out of more scrapes than he could ever have imagined, somehow it doesn’t surprise him when Steve presents as a Beta a more loyal friend he couldn’t hope to find.  He loves Stevie the way he loves his sisters, he's family, his best friend, he's with him till the end of the line.

 

A year after his fathers death James left school and got a job in a mechanics shop and a second job as a courier for the Stark Industries warehouse by the docks.  His Ma’s dowry had gotten them by so far but he knew the money wouldn’t last much longer and the state school was failing to challenge the girls.  He made just enough money to keep his sisters in one of the better schools and put food on the table. 

 

No one was surprised when at 14 he presented early as an Alpha, he was already taking up that role.  It meant he could escort his mother out about the town when needed and they didn’t need Wardens to take the girls too and from school.  The Wardens employed by the state of New York worked as chaperones allowing unbound Omega females and all girls under the age of fourteen to get to and from school or emergency trips without their older male relatives.  As far as James was concerned the whole thing was stupid.  His Ma could take care of herself and the girls weren’t stupid, the law was just there to keep women in line and James knew it.  As far as he was concerned his Ma was his hero, she kept them together, she had worked alongside his father as a nurse and knew nearly as much about being a doctor, whenever anyone in the neighborhood got ill Lexie Barnes could be seen hurrying down the street her son in tow as she made a visit to sick friends and neighbors. 

 

His Ma’s ability to help out got them things they wouldn’t have otherwise.  The girls and he always had good quality clothes which when needed were well mended by old Mrs O’Hara next door.  The Browns across the way would drop off any left over fruit and veg from the stall they ran in the market and Mr Porter down by the Iron Mongers was always happy to fix any pots and pans for free on account of his Ma delivering all three of their children safe and healthy. 

 

His twin sister Rebecca sat with him every night and all day Sundays teaching him what she’d been learning in school.  Her placement test had gotten her into all the AP classes, they studied math and physics and literature and when time allowed would take some lessons in chemistry from the young pharmacist that ran the drug store down the street.  He never gave up trying to be more.  He wanted to be able to provide a better life for his family and any future mate he might have.  At the end of 1935 he sat for his GED and passed with high enough scores to enroll at night school to get an engineering degree.  Four years later all his sisters had presented as Omegas, further limiting the money they could bring together at home but Rebecca ever practical and realistic had just decided that one less mouth to feed would be the best help she could make and went and got herself married to the young man who had been teaching them chemistry.  Mrs Rebecca Proctor was very happy to take over the day to day running of the drug store from her husband and encouraged him to expand the business while she took care of the rest.    


 

(Song – Mercy by Duffy)

 

1940 December

 

The air was cold, and the weak afternoon sun was dipping closer to the horizon when Bucky left SI, his feet didn’t feel as though they were touching the ground.  He’d gotten the job he had spent years working towards.  He was going places now.  A job he could enjoy doing that paid four times as much as the two jobs he had worked before.  He was in a hurry to get home and tell his Ma and sisters the good news, they were going to be so pleased.  A commotion on the street ahead snapped him out of his day dream and the strong scent of cherry blossom and vanilla caught him by surprise.  An unbound Omega close to heat out in public?  Jesus Christ, he hoped she was safe. Her scent was like a bakery in the middle of a flower shop. 

 

Darcy was buzzing with adrenaline, she had totally seen the Wardens following her, but she had been completely taken by surprise when an Alpha had grabbed her arm and tried to drag her down an alley way.  She kicked the douche in the shins tried to slip from his grip, but he was nearly as big as Thor.  Just what I needed she thought crossly, asshole alpha getting grabby while frickin Omega Wardens are following me, how is this my life?  He tugged harder at her and she ground her heel into his instep.

 

Bucky could see two Wardens making their way closer, but he could also see the pretty little Omega struggling to get the Alpha who had hold of her to let her go.  Bucky could never explain what it was in that moment that made him act.  Every instinct he had as an Alpha seemed to go into overdrive.  His focus narrowed in on the Omega and the threat that was hurting her.  In a few long strides he was beside her and had grabbed the guy around the throat and slammed him into the brick wall of the building behind them.  The rumbling growl of challenge from the other Alpha didn’t even faze him as he responded in kind with a deeper, violent roar of rage, the Alpha before him whined and bared his neck in submission.  Bucky dropped him to the ground and rumbled threateningly as he watched the man pick himself up and run off. 

 

“Bucky?”  The Omega behind him spoke with surprised relief and he turned to her staring in shock as he finally caught the other scent which was marked all over her.  It was his scent mixed with hers in a tantalizing aroma.  She threw her arms around him and he clutched her close automatically, his head dipping down to her neck to sniff at the courting mark at the juncture of her shoulder.  “Mine” he stated with a puzzled frown.  “Yours” she agreed.

 

“Excuse me sir but you had better get your girl home, she’s too close to heat be allowed out in public.” The warden ordered gruffly.  Bucky just nodded a little dazedly and secured the curvy brunette closer to his side, the feeling of her tiny fist clutching his shirt making him want to purr with satisfaction.

 

Bucky nodded at the warden and herded her along with him at a brisk pace until they came to an alley they could duck into.

 

The little omega still clutching him was shaking a little in shock and muttering under her breath. 

 

“Hey….  Hey, you got a name Doll?”  he asked her softly while rubbing her arms gently, trying to sooth away the scent of fear and anxiousness. 

 

She looked up at him then and he got a proper look at her face.  She had pale skin, huge baby blue eyes and sinfully pouty red lips.  He knew without a doubt that he had never seen this dame before in his life, if he had there was no way in hell he would have forgotten.  She looked like a dream come true and his scent was all over her.  This was crazy, how the hell did she know him?  Why did she smell of him?  He gently reached for her collar and pulled it back inspecting the mark there.  It was light and pale, tiny pink capillaries broken just under the skin the bruising surrounded with pale, purpling, blunt teeth marks.  She shivered under his touch as he lightly stroked the pad of his thumb over it.  He knew, looking at it that it was exactly the same shape of his own bite, that if he covered it now with his mouth that every single mark would line up perfectly.  He sucked in a sharp breath as she leaned into his touch, her scent filling the air.  She blushed prettily and then seemed to gather herself together to take a half step back from him. 

 

“I’m Darcy, Darcy Lewis and you’re James Barnes and I know this seems completely bannaballs but you are my Alpha, I swear I am telling you the truth, you can totally smell that right, truth, all the truths, just please, please don’t ask me how.”  She rattled her words off so fast it took him a moment to try processing them.  She was right enough about the scent though, she was all honest sweet tones, but he could also tell she was holding something back.  And she was afraid, not of him, but something had her quietly freaking out and he’d bet gold on it being nothing to do with the asshole from earlier. 

 

“Doll, I think I would remember doing that to you and it looks pretty fresh too, what maybe ten or twelve hours ago?  I don’t think I’d forget doing that this morning, I have a pretty good memory.”

 

“Yeah well, maybe your memory isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Look I know this is, super weird, like way out there but I can’t tell you how we met right now, it’s literally a case of life or death, step on a butterfly, save the cheer leader save the world level of nuts, but you and me, we’re a thing, full verbal contract recorded with witness and logged with the lawyers.  We can like, totes do it again now if you want.”  She opened her eyes wide and looked at him innocently, hope and a hint of desperation evident in their depth.  Bucky felt a grin welling at the sight, he’s been surrounded by baby sisters who had all learned that wide eye’s innocent look and used it often enough that he was usually immune to it. 

 

“Nice try baby doll, but that look won’t pull one over on me, also ‘gotta point out I think I only under stood about a handful of words there, how bout you try it again in English this time.”  Bucky listened intently to her, her heart was fluttering around in her chest and her blood was up.  He’d be lying if a few those word she’d trotted out hadn’t made him want to almost puff out his chest with pride.  A contract, with a witness, legal?  That sort of thing didn’t generally happen to folks in Brooklyn.  Omega’s made up about ten percent of the female population and for the most part they were very restricted in what they could do or where they could go more so when they were unbonded, if they weren’t in school or at home they had to be escorted by family members.  The chances of a guy like him getting the chance to meet an omega who wasn’t family, never mind be given the opportunity to court one was almost zero.  He had resigned himself a long time ago to the hard truth that a guy like him could never hope to have enough to make an Omega ask for a contract.  

 

Omegas had options that other people didn’t.  His sisters got to stay in school and apply for scholarships to exclusive schools where the only Alpha’s males in the vicinity were rich, well to do types who could make a good financial settlement to prospective Omega brides.  Rebecca had in her practical fashion decided she didn’t have time to do that if she wanted to help their family and had found herself a nice Alpha with a kind heart and quick mind.  He remembered Michael's face when Rebecca had stood up at dinner the night they entered courtship and formally asked him to be her Alpha.  He wasn’t nearly as poor as they were but pretty little Becca with her chestnut hair and wide green eyes had decided that he was good enough for her.  Michael had looked a Bucky that night almost expecting him to chase him out of the house, but Bucky had just looked at his twin raised a brow and took her identical raised brow as answer enough before turning to Michael and telling him he better answer his sister right quick or he’d change his mind and throw him out the door.  Right now, Bucky thought he might understand a little of how Micheal must have felt.  Rebecca could have given it a few years and married anyone she wanted, someone with a fat check book that could give her the life she deserved.  Bucky couldn’t understand why Darcy would look to him for help, he was no one, just a guy from Brooklyn, he couldn’t keep her in style or give her any sort of financial security.  She was without a doubt the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on, girls like her, omegas like her married rich, in what world would he ever be good enough for someone like her?

 

Darcy huffed, and her mouth twisted a little. 

 

“Fine, but it’s a long story and standing in some skeevy alley with the sun going down isn’t ‘gonna help me explain anything.  Right now though, right this moment I am begging for you to protect me.  I am an Omega, I am completely alone right now, and I need help.  God you weren’t nearly this reserved this morning, though in retrospect that makes a whole heck of a lot more sense now…” 

 

“Doll, I ain’t got nothin’ to give you, I don’t have money or a fancy car, I live with my Ma and little sisters.  What could I possibly offer you?”  he asked exasperated by her unwavering insistence of having him.  He still definitely did not remember meeting her that morning, but she said it with such conviction her was starting to question himself. He’d take her up on her offer in a heartbeat too if he thought it was the right thing to do.

 

Darcy’s mouth dropped open in shock, nothing to offer?  Is this really how Bucky felt about himself?  He was one of the most confident and self-assured people she had ever met.  Biting her lip she nearly groaned as she reminded herself of the time she was in.  In this time Omega’s nearly always married up, for Bucky the chance to ever even meet an Omega was probably pretty slim.  He was probably freaking out a bit with how strange she was being, but she couldn’t ever let him think any of that drivel was true. 

 

 “What the hell are you talking about, you’re you, you’re amazing, gorgeous and brave and……you James Barnes, are perfect to me.  I know you’re kind, I know you’re loyal, I know you would save someone if you saw they were in trouble.  I know this all seems really odd, and maybe I’m not making much sense but the minute I saw you back there, rescuing me, I felt nothing but safe and relived.  It’s not so different from the first time we met, you did the same thing then.  One day, you’ll understand what’s going on here, but I can’t tell you the details.  I think I get it now though, why you marked me the way you did, you already knew what was going to happen, this was your way of protecting me now, so I’m trusting the Bucky I met this morning to know what he was doing when he swore he would shelter and protect me, I know he wouldn’t go back on his word and you can see your mark on me, the promise is already made. Are you going to break it?”

 

Bucky was stunned by her tirade, the way she looked at him like he was all the things she said was enough to make his heart skip a beat, he’d never wanted something so viscerally before.  He wanted to hold her and kiss her and mark her as his and hide her always from anything that might take her away.  Could he really do this?  It was beyond crazy, but she seemed so sure of him, had more faith in him he thought than even his Ma had.  He felt the deep-seated instinct to protect her, to cover her in his scent and ensure that nothing ever threatened her again.  They were caught up in this one moment and it was as though they were standing at the fork in a road, he knew the decision he made now was one that might change his life forever.  He stared into her eyes trying to read her soul.  All he found there was trust.  In that moment he realised he’s made this choice a block back when he’s found himself striding towards Darcy with a sort of single minded determination which he knew he would never waver from.  She was his north star, no matter she had just appeared from nowhere, no matter the number of questions he had about how they had come to meet without him remembering, he knew right then that the compass of his heart would never point anywhere else.

 

She held his gaze, unwavering before the intensity in his eyes, she could smell the thick spicy musk again, flooding her mind with concepts of home and safety and she almost took a step back when she realised she had raised her chin baring the pale column of her throat.

 

He moved before he could really form the thought and slid a strong arm round her waist fitting her snugly along the length of him, sighing at the way they fit perfectly together.  He felt the exact moment all the worry bled out of her as she went almost limp against him.  The weight of her was easily supported by his right arm.  His left hand coming up to tip her face up to look at him.  He lightly moved the dark curls away from her neck, marveling at the soft silky texture.  He lowered his head to press his nose into her hair just behind her ear.

 

“You want this sweetheart, then you’re gonna have to ask properly.” His lips ghosted over the tip of her ear, his voice firm but quiet.  He felt her hands clutch around his biceps, nails like kitten claws pressing intently through the wool of his jacket.

 

Darcy shuddered and had the most insane case of déjà vu as her breath caught at the deep resonance in his voice.  James Barnes was a damn troll, he had to have known this morning that she would meet him here now, this was almost the exact way he had held her the first time, almost the same words and demands.  How long had he known about this?  When did he remember her?  More importantly what did it all mean.  There would have to be a time for questions later but right now she had to do it again, say the words that left her feeling powerless and yet empowered all at the same time.   The one law that had been enshrined in stone from the beginning of time was that it had to be an Omega’s choice to initiate a relationship.  Omega’s were tied to their mates in a way no others could be.  There was no divorce for an Omega, and if their Alpha died the Omega left behind would be so grief stricken that they would never love or even want another.  For an Omega mating was for life, for the Alpha tied to that Omega there would never be any other who could come before them, the Omega became a focal point of emotion and acted like a load-stone always anchoring them down, stopping the horror and the very stark possibility of going feral. Omega’s were a gift from God her grandmother had told her when she was little, made for one man, to hold back the beast inside and deliver him from sin. Ok so her Gramma was a bit of religious nut, but the sentiment was essentially true. 

 

“Alpha, I make a formal petition to you, will you give me your protection? I consent willingly and happily to being marked by you.   I am unbound and seek shelter with you at this time and would submit myself into your care.  If you would consent, I acknowledge that should things align we might be bound one day soon.”  She took extra care with the words, knowing that for him this was the first time they had done this, she wanted to make sure he was left with no doubt about her feelings, that she happily gave this consent, that her need and want for his protection was real. 

 

It was unfathomable the words that flowed like honey from her lips, she took care with each word, placed emphasis in all the places he needed to hear it and he could feel it in the curve of her breast pressing against him, see it in her eyes, almost glowing with affection and could smell it in the sweetness of her scent.  She meant every word, was prepared to give herself to him, trusted him to care for her.  He pressed her closer still, breathing her in before he returned the words that for him were a promise set in stone, the beginning of a foundation of the home he could build with her.

 

“Omega, I accept your petition to mark you with your consent, with the full understanding that this could lead to bonding one day soon.  I promise to mark no other omega unless you rescind your consent.  You have my full and unwavering protection and shelter from all others and I will defend you from all threats, my Omega.”  

 

Bucky pressed his lips against her neck, gently rubbing his scent against her, his cheeks were smooth and glided down to the curve of her collar bone he smiled cheekily into her skin and licked a stripe right up to under her ear.  Darcy let her head fall back as she laughed, it was the sound of joy echoing through her that made him hold her even more tightly.  He felt her hand come up and wind through his hair, tugging lightly as she turned her head and his lips traveled down a similar path, he rumbled deep in his chest as she clutched him to her closely and he placed hot kisses and marked her with his scent.  When he came to the mark she had insisted he had made that morning instinct took over, he bit down lightly, his tongue dragging hotly at her skin before sucking, raising the blood to the surface hard enough to bruise, but not enough to hurt.  She let out a breathy sigh and her legs wobbled under her.  He held her for minutes that could have been hours and felt the heat rise between them, he couldn’t control the way his own scent rose around them, completely enveloping her own.

 

Darcy held her breath when she realised what was happening.  Christ on a cracker he must be running on instinct because he was about an inch away from trying to bond with her right now, he’d marked her and yes left his scent entwined deeply with hers so that no other Alpha could argue about it if they came too close but right now his blood was up and he was drowning her in the smell of spice, leather and musk, she was starting to feel sleepy from the heady onslaught.  She tugged his head up and blinked at him.  “Bucky, Bucky snap out of it or I’m going to fall asleep right here.”  Her voice finally broke through the haze, his eyes hooded as he watched her.  “Mine, my Omega” he stated clearly.  “My Alpha, always” she reassured him. 

 

He was still trying to process what happened while he led her home, wrapped in his jacket, one arm holding tightly round her shoulder and the other holding the hand she had pressed flat against his chest. 

 

It was going to be fine Darcy told herself, sure stuck in 1940, no money, no home, no friends.  But it could be worse, there was always worse.  There was also Bucky, sweet innocent Bucky before war and Hydra and blood.  He kept smiling at her like she was some sort of magical unicorn.  Honestly could have knocked her over with a feather when he had appeared out of nowhere to rescue her again.  I mean what were the odds right?  Sweet holy mother of Thor, he looked so young.  Always a surprise, huh Barnes? His words from this morning ringing in her ears.  She had a feeling she was going to be here a while, but she had faith, one day she’d go back, back to a man who would be damaged and broken by war, but who would still care for her.  The way he had looked at her this morning became clearer, it had been more than attraction and pheromones, she hadn’t been able to put her finger on it then, but now, with hindsight she realised the man who had bought her coffee and so sweetly asked her out on a date was already in love with her.  She could do this, she would survive, she would give him everything she could here and now, he deserved to be happy, deserved everything, she batted down the worry for the future and determined to focus on the present. 

 

It had been this, what was between them that had helped him hold himself together for seventy years, she didn’t know why it hadn’t been marked in his file, why there was no mention of her, but she could guess.  Steve Rogers had been a little too spooked by her the first time they met and he had been the one to send her the files.  He had known her, known who she was to Bucky and had tried to hide it.  There was no way she was going back to the future unbound she knew that now.  This was her destiny, as corny as it sounded, she could feel it in her bones.

Chapter Text


 

 

It had been a week after the party before Bucky was ready to see Steve.  He let himself into the apartment and started packing up what little he possessed, leaving it by the door then taking up station on the stool by the island.  He didn’t have to wait long. 

 

“Hey” Steve said cautiously as he came to a stop before the couch.  The silence lasted a beat too long before Bucky spoke.

 

“Hey?  That’s what you’re going with?  Hey pal, good to see you, how about them Dodgers?  Really Rogers, seriously, that’s the best you’ve got?”  he snapped.

 

“I don’t know what to say, except that I’m sorry, I didn’t want to….  I didn’t think you were ready.”  He seemed to struggle after that and rubbed his palms nervously against his jeans.

 

“See, I don’t think it was either of those things.  I think you saw her, got spooked and made the decision to hide her from me.  It wasn’t your decision to make.  My memory might be like Swiss cheese, but you knew if you had mentioned her, given me a picture, anything, I would have remembered.  You knew the block in my memories was heaviest through 41-43, you knew what that was about, and you did nothing.”  He was seething at the blank look on Steve’s face.  “I don’t understand how you could do that to me.  Even if she had been gone, if she’d lived her life out while they had me, how could you have kept the memory of her from me.  She was my one Stevie.  She meant everything to me!”

 

“You were my friend first!”  Steve shouted, hurt and anger twining in his scent.  “I wanted my friend back, not Darcy’s Alpha.  My Alpha.  I just wanted things to go back to the way they were before the war and everything changed.  When it was just us.”  Steve’s chest was heaving with emotion.

 

Bucky scowled at him, shaking his head in disbelief “It was never just us Steve.  It was my Ma and yours and my sisters.  It was Doug and Connie and Lily.  Michael and Jimmy Logan.  Jesus Steve, there was more to our life in Brooklyn than the two of us.”  Bucky snarled and brought his hand down against the marble, a spider web of cracks forming under the metal fist.  “She loved you Stevie, she looked out for you.  Who sat by your bed for a month when you got the flu huh?  Who kept you alive while I was away at basic and you had that asthma attack?  Who was that Stevie?”

 

Steve’s head bowed.  Struggling with some deep buried emotions that had been festering in him for a long time.

 

“When you fell off that train, when we went back to base, I saw her with Howard later that night when I went to his room looking for him.  She was in bed with him Bucky!”

 

Bucky stood and looked at him coldly.  The metal plates of his arm rippling in agitation.

 

“I think you saw what you wanted to see.  Howard would never have touched her like that and she would never have let him.  I don’t know what happened to the guy I used to know, but you’re not him.  He was like family to her, like a brother.  He would never have even implied what you just did, he would have seen it for what it was, her friend comforting her after she lost her husband!  You’re a fucking idiot Rogers!” 

 

Bucky made his way to the door, picking up the duffel and a box.

 

“I’m going to stay with Natalia for a while.  I can’t even look at you right now.  If you ever respected me as your Alpha, you’ll stay away till I say so.”  He opened the door, then pausing he turned to look at Steve one last time.  His voice was full of cold menace, deep resonate tones growling out.  “Stay the fuck away from Darcy, you do not get within ten feet of her, you do not talk to her unless it’s for work, you will not be alone with her at any time, am I clear?  You do anything to make her uncomfortable, step over the line with her and you and I are done Rogers.  Do you understand?”

 

Steve watched him a helpless look in his eyes, silent in the face of his ire.

 

“I said do you understand!”  he bit out, the sound more a roar than a shout.

 

“I’ll keep my distance.  I swear.  Buck, I’m sorry.”

 

“So am I pal, so am I.”  he left, the door closing behind him feeling more final than he wanted.

 


 

 

For the next month’s, Bucky discreetly shadowed Darcy as best he could, always just out of sight, not ready to meet her properly.  The file Natasha had given him was thorough, the details lined up with what he knew about her already.  Orphaned at three, cared for by her Gramma till she was six then bounced around foster care till she got legally emancipated at fifteen and went to college.  She was a trouble magnet, his Darcy girl got into more danger than he liked but had weathered it all with a kind of humour and wit he recognised with nostalgia.  Jane Foster’s research into the Einstein-Rosen bridge and the science behind it gave him a sense of dread.  Something was going to go wrong with it, it was the only thing that made sense.  Could messing with portals and space travel go wrong enough to throw a girl back in time?   More importantly could it bring her back?  He’d shared his fears and his theory with Natalia.  He didn’t quite understand why Natalia was so happy to help him research it all, but he was grateful.  They had become close, it was nice to be in her company, there was no judgement from her and she kept him grounded at the times he felt like he might break apart from the worry. 

 

He watched as Darcy took care of everyone, making sure everyone felt appreciated and needed.  Made them eat and sleep and spend time together.  Tony and Pepper were fond of her, she spent a lot of time between them and Jane, staying overnight in both apartments regularly.  Her relationship with Tony was so similar to the one she had with Howard that he considered that Tony might in fact be her biological father.  The other Alpha treated Darcy with a protective affection that was comforting for him to see.  Darcy was a tactile person but the hugs and brushes of cheeks with Tony were filled with a silent acknowledgement of familial bonding he remembered his own mother sharing with him and his sisters.   She had a pack here who cared for and loved her.  Every morning like clockwork she met Bruce for yoga and ate breakfast with him before heading to work.  She made dinner for everyone three nights a week, everyone but he and Steve got roped into going.  The closeness she had with Natalia was at once odd and yet familiar, the assassin relaxed around Darcy in a way she didn’t with anyone else.  Barton, he had met one too many times, traversing the ventilation system that made up the top ten floors of the tower it was almost impossible not to.  They had come to respectful agreement to share the space, neither one quite ready to try building any friendship but an ally, yeah, he had an ally.  The archer kept weapons caches in hidey holes stashed throughout the system.  Impressed by the convenience he had done the same, the number of knives in the tower tripled overnight.  He might have went a little overboard with the guns though, and the ammo.  Okay so he had so much ordinance stashed throughout the tower now that he could probably take down a small army, but life had taught him not to discount the possibility out of hand.   

 

He watched Steve too.  The Beta was adrift but rallied once Sam Wilson moved into the apartment with him.  Sam was one of those rare male Omega’s, the irony that the man was very much like Darcy in his manner wasn’t lost on him.  Wilson was unexpected.  His influence on Steve was a good one.  He relaxed more, tried to learn more about the future they had woken in and as the months passed he became less hostile. 

 

Bucky also found himself interacting more with the others.  He struck up a tentative acquaintance with Sam.  Stopped leaving a room whenever Steve came in but held back from speaking to him directly.   None of this had gotten past the eyes of the Alpha who built the tower.

 

 


 

 

 

Stark had been waiting for him in Natalia’s apartment one evening in late August, a bottle of scotch and two tumblers sitting on the coffee table. 

 

“Pull up a chair T100.  We both live here, work on the same team and have to hash this out before we start stepping on each other’s toes.”  Stark's tone was even, his manner relaxed.  Bucky gingerly sat in the armchair on the other side of the table.  Stark leaned forward and poured a generous measure into both tumblers.

 

“What did you want to talk about.”  Bucky asked bluntly.  Stark flashed a cocky grin to him and knocked back his whisky before refilling the glass without looking.

 

“Well, we could cover the whole two 'Alpha Alpha’s’ sharing territory and pack, cause lets face it, neither of us will ever be comfortable taking orders from the other, or we could address the elephants in the room.”

 

Bucky grew still.  He knew it had to come up some time and if Stark wanted to talk about it he owed him whatever he could tell him.

 

“What do you want to know?”  he asked.

 

“Three things.  One, what’s the deal with you and Rogers?  Two, why you’ve been stalking Lewis and three, what the fuck is the deal with the arsenal you’ve built up in the vents?

 

Bucky blinked in confusion.

 

Stark regarded him with a brow raised, reminding him so much of Darcy that he couldn’t do anything other than frown, mouth open half way to trying to find a response.

 

“Oh, you thought I wanted to talk about my parents.  Nope, water under the bridge.  They’ve been dead for 27 years, Hydra wanted them dead.  Winter Soldier or no Winter Soldier they wouldn’t be any less dead now.”  Stark's tone was calm, but the scent of grief, though brief still hit him like a punch to the gut.

 

Bucky reached for the tumbler and drained it, bringing the glass down sharply on the table.

 

“I don’t have a pack.  I’ll follow what ever lead you take so long as it isn’t a stupid ass decision.  As for the rest.  One, Steve’s a stubborn ass.  Two, none of your business and three, I like to be prepared for anything.” 

 

Stark poured another drink, drained it and stood.  “Good talk.  Feel free to visit my lab if you need anything done for the arm.  Maybe think about introducing yourself to Lewis at some point before the watching becomes any creepier.”  He’d left then and Bucky had sat in silence thinking as the sun slowly set leaving the apartment full of shadows. 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Darcy stalked to the communal kitchen grumpy and too hot to give a fuck about her state of undress.  It was hotter than hell right now and even the air conditioning in the upper floors were struggling to do anything more than generate a warm breeze through the vents.   Short sleep shorts and a thin white tank top that stuck to her sweat soaked skin was her only nod to modesty.  Her hair was pulled up on top of her head, the curls limp and tired from the humidity.  She was on a mission, ten minutes standing in front of the open freezer might just help her to cool down enough to sleep.  Stepping into the kitchen she let out a relieved moan that there was no one there to bug her.  Lunging towards the freezer she pulled the large door open and lent into the wondrous cold air that flooded out to envelope her.  She made a filthy moan of pleasure as the sweat beaded on her brow chilled and the cool air brought her nipples to stiff peaks.  Swear to Thor this was almost better than sex she thought with relief. 

 

The light overhead suddenly came on and she jerked back to peer around the door.  Captain Rogers froze half way to the island and the mask of detached indifference that he reserved solely for her fixed firmly into place.

 

“What up Cap?  Need ice?”  she quirked, throwing him a lopsided smile.

 

He paused and struggled for a moment before turning on his heel and leaving the room.  Darcy stared after him and shrugged.  “Turn the light out Capsical” she called after him, smirking as he violently flipped the switch.

 

The scent of kicked puppy he left in his wake made her brain itch. She sighed and grabbed a glass from the cupboard and filled it with ice.  Snagging a post it and jotting down a quick message she stuck it to the glass and made her way down to the Cap’s floor.  She placed the glass outside his door and knocked twice before walking back to the elevator.

 

 


 

 

Steve watched the lift doors close and bent down to retrieve the glass. He read the note sticking to the glass and felt flare of amusement at her wit.

 

‘Chill out Dude!’

 

 He shook his head and retreated inside.  A twinge of remorse twisted in his heart as he contemplated just how much he had messed up. 

 

He had been taking stock the last few months, carefully going over each event in his mind, trying to see where he could have made different decisions that would have resulted in better outcomes.  Not to second guess himself but because he had to understand where, why and when he had made choices emotionally, running on his instincts and his aversion to really becoming part of a team, a pack.  He’d not settled into one because he was rejecting the people but rather because he feared the loss, of going through what he had before.  The Howlies had been his pack, his family and before that Bucky’s family and some of the friends they’d had before the war had been pack for him, he’d lost them both.  Sam said it was common for people who were lone survivors of packs to detach from their core personalities and let their ego, the designated instincts take over.  But a wounded animal was still a wounded animal, it rejected help, pain and fear chasing those who could help away.

 

Talking with Sam was great help, his new friend was a good listener, he didn’t judge but he asked him a lot of questions that that had given him better perspective.  He had been internalising a lot of guilt about what happened to Bucky.  He’d also been grieving, first for his friend then for his lover. 

 

When he’d met Peggy he’d finally understood what Bucky felt about Darcy.  Loosing her to time and age, mostly through his own hubris had made him lash out.  He missed Peggy so much it felt like he was missing a limb.  She had marched into his life and taken charge of every situation they found themselves in.  He'd fallen fast and hard for the forceful female Alpha.  He'd thought they would build a life together, have children, work side by side, grow old together.  It shattered him that he would never get that chance. 

 

Sam said he was suffering from a mixture of survivor’s guilt, grief and PTSD.   Finding Darcy all these years later, healthy, whole and as young as she had been when he first met her had infuriated him.  Why was she here when Peggy was not?   All he could see was Bucky meeting her again and getting the happy ending he had so desperately wanted for himself.  He had directed a lot of the anger he felt onto her.  It wasn’t an excuse for what he had done though, he under stood that now. 

 

His accusation of her sleeping with Howard had been something he hadn’t really believed at the time, but the emotionless façade she had painted on in the wake of Bucky’s death had infuriated him.  He wanted to think the worst and the last conversation he had had with her in 1945 made him want to curl up with shame.  He’s confronted her before he left for the mission to the Valkyrie, had thrown it in her face.  He remembered clearly how he wanted to make her hurt as much as he was hurting.  Remembered the look of disbelief at his words.  Remembered her tiny hands digging into her hips as she had lowered her voice.

“This is why?  Really Stevie?  You know what, fine, believe what you want, but I want you to remember this.  I love you, you’re a fucking idiot Rogers, but I love you and I’m forgiving you for this because I know you’re hurt and scared.”  She had stood there for a few seconds emotions playing over her face before she had turned quickly on her heel and left.  It was the last time he had seen her till he walked into the conference room at Stark Tower.

 

He’s kept his promise to Bucky, had stayed away from her, left a room first to avoid breaking the rules laid down by his friend.  He wanted to fix things between all of them somehow.  He still wanted his friend back, but he had perspective.  The unhealthy obsession he’d had with Buck had been built on the foundations of the trauma he had went through, trauma he had to deal with now.  It wasn’t Bucky that he didn’t recognise, it was himself.  He decided then, staring at the neon pink post it and the glass of ice that he had stalled long enough.  He had to remember who he was at his core, had fix the things that were twisting his mind and soul into someone he was growing to hate.  This wasn’t who he had been.  Bucky had been right to send him away.  He’d needed the time and space to come to this understanding for himself.  He just hoped that it wouldn’t be too late to repair their friendship. 

Chapter Text

 

(Song – Next To Me by Emeli Sande)

 

The sun had just set when Bucky unlocked the door to the apartment and ushered his girl inside.  The smell from the kitchen told him that dinner was ready, and the murmured voices let him know that all his sisters were home.  For a moment they stood there in the hall, reality flooding back to both of them.  Darcy looked up at him in question, she looked worried and his instincts screamed at him to reassure her.

 

“It’ll be fine Doll, don’t worry, they’ll love you.  Come on, I’ll show you the bathroom, let you get cleaned up while I go talk to Ma and the girls.”  She nodded and gave him a watery smile and let him direct her up the hall.

 

Steeling himself he made his way to the kitchen.  He didn’t know exactly how to tell his Ma he had just tied himself to a girl he had just met.  That he was essentially bringing home his future wife because he knew that was the truth of it, there was no way they were going to back out of this.  That moment back in the alley, it was burned into his soul, it felt like the beginning of something inevitable.  In that split second, he had had the overwhelming feeling that all his life had been leading to this.  To meeting her. 

 

He stood in the door way of the kitchen watching as his Ma and sisters laid the table and sorted dishes.  His Ma looked up at him and smiled, walking across the kitchen to hug him. 

 

“Hey Ma.”

 

“So, how’d it go?  Did Mr Stark give you the job?” 

 

“Yeah, he did.  But uhh, there’s something else I have to tell you.”  His voice was bordering on shy, but filled with a wonder that Lexie had never heard in his tone before.  He reached up to rub a hand over the back of his head.  His Ma frowned at him before her face lit up a soft exclamation of surprise escaping her.

 

“Wait right there, hold that thought.”  She said making her way to the bureau.

 

Bucky frowned in confusion.  She pulled a box from the drawer and hurried back over to him.

 

“Here,” she said handing him it, pressing the weathered leather ring box into his hand.

 

“Ma what….  How on earth could you even figure that out?”  In his hand was his mother’s engagement ring.

 

“Lord almighty James, I can smell her all over you and you look like every Christmas came early and all at once.  Where is she then?”

 

“Bathroom”

 

“Well, you go wait for her and escort her to dinner like the gentleman I taught you to be James, I’ll set an extra place.  Is there anything I ought to know?”

 

Bucky sighed half in relief and half with concern.

 

“She’s all alone, got no place to go, I don’t know how, don’t even know where she came from, but she’s real cagey about it.  Prefer if the girls don’t question her too much.  It all happened so fast, we really haven’t had time to talk properly.  But she was scared and lost, and I can’t explain how but she knew me Ma, never seen her before in my life, but she knew me… my scent was all over her.  I don’t have any way to explain it and she didn’t want to tell.”

 

Lexi frowned but accepted that there were things in life that had no explanation, that sometimes had to be taken on faith and patted his hand.  “Well, I’ll get the girls to behave.  You did mark her properly right? Didn’t rush her?”

 

“God no Ma, I could never.  She asked me, twice, I didn’t even offer, then she said it all proper, told me I was special.” He said with confused wonder and a sappy grin quirking the corner of his lips.  “She spoke as if she knew me, everything she said to me, she really meant it.  I don’t care how mad it is, but I ain’t never letting her go.  Didn’t think any Omega would ever be interested.  Ma, was it like that for you and Pop?  Did you just know?”

 

Lexie gave him a fond look and patted his cheek. “It was exactly like that, quick and a little magical, like it was meant to be.  I met him one day and was offering a contract the next, he was all I could think about until he marked me then things settled down we got to know each other a bit better and married a month later.  I can see you’ve found the one, you’ll find no judgement here.  Take it one day at time.  Now go get your girl and introduce us, I want to know the girl that could make you smile like that.”  Bucky relaxed as he left the kitchen and mind made up went to retrieve his girl.

 


 

 

Darcy stood leaning over the wash basin staring in the mirror, marvelling over the mark on her neck in the reflection.  She felt safe here, she knew she shouldn’t, nothing about this situation was safe.  She had to keep it together, couldn’t do anything that would change the past from what she knew of it.  With Tony, Jane and Bruce you learned a lot about scientific theory.  One of their favourite debates was on the nature of time travel and the inherent dangers in it if you changed the past.  Tony argued that any changes made resulted in a parallel time line branching off, Bruce and Jane were convinced that the timeline would try to right itself and if it changed too far might unravel completely.  Neither option was good when she was stuck here but she was leaning towards Bruce and Janes hypothesis. 

 

Bucky knew her before he met her in the coffee shop that morning, his last words to her had implied as much too.  So, this was a causal loop. He marked her in the future because he knew her in the past and he marked her in the past because he had marked her in the future.  So at least she knew she was meant to be here.  Now she just had to dredge up everything she could remember about the history of this period and do her best not to make any changes or cause any damage.  She couldn’t tell anyone about the future, she knew in fact that she hadn’t because if she had Bucky would never have fallen from that train and become the Winter Soldier, she had stood back in this time and let it happen.  He should hate her, she could have changed everything and yet he still had come looking for her, still marked her, had looked at her like something precious in the elevator this morning.  Maybe it even explained Steve’s animosity towards her, maybe he had realised who she was and hated her for letting all those bad things happen, for not warning them.  But she couldn’t really risk it, could she?  Steve and Bucky had both had such massive impacts both here and, in the future, changing any of it could lead to worse things happening.  Things she couldn’t predict.  She’d have to watch as he went off to war, knowing he would be as good as dead to her.  She’d have to let terrible things happen to good people because of the chance that saving them would result in a terrible future or worse the unravelling of the time space continuum.  So, from a nonlinear, non-subjective view point, she was fucked.  And now she had to meet Bucky’s family.  Ok keep it simple Lewis, stick to the truth as much as possible and don’t slip up.

 

“Hey Doll, you ok in there” Bucky’s voice broke through the door.

 

“Sure, just coming.”  She dried her hands on the towel and unlatched the door.  God he was handsome she thought at the sight of him.  He bit his bottom lip and looked at her through dark lashes.  Sweet baby Thor that look, her stomach swooped, legitimately flustered by the almost shy smile he gave her.

 

“Allow me to escort you to dinner sweetheart?”  he held out a hand to her and she took gladly.

 

“You’re all charm Mister Barnes” he drew her closer till she was near flush against him, her hands crept up to lay against his chest he held her hips lightly under his warm hands.

 

His face grew serious and his left hand reached into his pocket to pull out a ring box.

 

“Bucky, you are going to make me cry damn it.” She let out a teary huff. 

 

“I don’t know how it happened so fast, but I don’t think I’m alone here.  We gonna do this right Darcy?  Cause I’ll wait if you want, but I already know this is it for me, kinda hopin it might be for you too?”

 

It was too much, he was too damn perfect.  She grabbed him by the collar and kissed him hard. 

 

For moment Bucky froze in shock before crushing her into his embrace and kissing her back, his lips soft yet insistent as she whimpered into the kiss.  She relaxed as he took the lead, coaxing her lips open with a light sweep of his tongue, urging her to let him in.  She moaned at the sensation as he teased her, each stroke, each brush of his lips lighting a fire in her belly.  Heat flushed her skin and her breath came in panting gasps as he eased out of the kiss, breathing hard himself as he gazed at her with heavy eyes.  She wanted him so much right now, thinks if the house hadn’t been full of people she would have happily let him fuck her against the wall right there. 

 

“Barnes, if you want to put a ring on me you better ask me properly, use you words Alpha”  she teased him breathlessly.

 

Bucky grinned at the woman in his arms and then dropped to one knee.

 

“Darcy Lewis, marry me? Be my best girl forever?”

 

“Can’t really say no when you ask me so sweetly.” Her voice wavered “Of course I’ll marry you. Yes.”

 

He slipped the ring on, the universe seemed to be working in his favour as it fit perfectly on her slender finger.  The glow on her face told him everything was going to be ok.

 


 

 

 

One of the most daunting moments in Darcy’s life was meeting Bucky’s family.  She desperately wanted them to like to like her, to find kinship with them and find a way to fit into the dynamics that made up the Barnes clan.  Lexie had welcomed her to the table, giving her a tight hug and urging her to sit down.  Rebecca had looked at her, eyes assessing and searching until she found whatever she was looking for and had smiled, a familiar twinkle in her green eyes.  Something about her was achingly familiar but pin pointing what that was would drive her mad when she looked at it for too long.  Lizzie and Natalie were identical twins, their hair a dark auburn like their mothers and the same shade of aqua blue eyes as Bucky, soft waves framing their faces.  At 15 years old they were full of light, their stories of school and friends a refreshing break from the worry still lurking in the back of her mind.  Natalie had sat next to her chattering happily away, carrying the conversation for both of them when Darcy became quiet.  Her shining eyes sparkled as she complimented Darcy’s dress and offered to show her the pattern she had made for a dress she had designed.  Surprised and impressed she had been dragged off to Natalie’s room to talk about fabric and trimmings and helped her get started on it.  Bucky had winked at her over the top of his glass as she was dragged off to learn about dress making and she had smiled back, her heart full of emotion she did not want to name just yet as she felt the full weight of his gaze against her soul. 

 

Bucky had been talkative at dinner, regaling them with a retelling of his interview with the infamous Howard Stark.  Wasn’t that a shock.  She had known of course that he had worked for Stark Industries from his files.  He had been part of their engineering division and by all accounts if the war hadn’t forced his hand he would have rose through the ranks there swiftly.  He was talented with machinery and had quick mind.  It was that he had met her father that had nearly floored her.  The reminder that he was here, alive in this time, still a young man, before Maria and Tony and her was a sharp shock.  She had been surprised when Tony and Pepper and Jane had sat her down to tell her who her father was nearly a year before.  Oh, Tony had poked and prodded and joked about her being his daughter for years, but she had never really taken it seriously.  Finding out he had run a DNA test without asking her had not surprised her in the slightest and they had told her the truth just a few days after Tony found out himself.  It had cemented something for her when Tony had hugged her tight and promised that he would always look out for her from then on.  Had apologised that he had not known about her sooner, had not been there to take her in when her Gramma had passed.  She loved Tony even more when he agreed to keep it a secret for a while longer, none of them wanting Darcy to be in danger or have a media circus.  A week later Tony had called her down to his barely ever used office and had her sign the paper work legally declaring her a Stark. “ Just in case” he had said to her when he handed her the pen. “Pepper and I aren’t getting any younger and if I die before we have a child I need to know that the Stark Legacy is in good hands.” 

 

She could never have imagined that she was a Stark.  Her mother had been born normal and lived a good life till a drunk driver had hit her with his truck just before Darcy’s third Christmas and she had lived with her Gramma Lewis in her old tenement flat in Boston until she was six.  Her mother had never told anyone about her father so when Gramma died a few years later she had been shunted from foster home to foster home.  It had been difficult to fit in, she had never felt comfortable in her own skin back then.

 

School was boring for her, the only time she paid any attention was when it came to stories.  It didn’t matter if they were fact or fiction, Darcy had loved learning about people and stories were the best way to do that.  She dragged her heels in the STEM classes.  Couldn’t bring herself to find the energy to complete homework and was bored to death with the subjects.  She tested well but mostly doodled in class and daydreamed.  She didn’t hate math and science, it was just that she picked it up so quickly and would be dying inside while the rest of the class caught up to speed with the concepts that she had memorised and understood as soon as looking at them.  This led to what Darcy often thought of as her most embarrassing moment after walking in on Tony and Pepper that one time in the kitchen at three in the morning.  Mr Harris her physics teacher had been banging on about gravity when Bobby Lynch had kicked the back of her chair out from under her.  From inside her physics text book her note book fell out and skidded across the floor to end up at Mr Harris feet. This particular notebook was full of poems, drawing and hundreds of repetitions of her signature, or at least a version of her signature.  Mrs Darcy Barnes was scrawled all through the book, complete with love hearts and flowers.  Mr Harris and held it up and looked though it, sneered at her and said the Mrs Darcy Barnes was in physics not art class and could she get her head out of the clouds and her feet back on the ground.  High school was a disaster after that and she retreated into her shell, hiding the notebook and forgetting about it till she had been combing through his files. 

 

She had finished high school early, graduating at 15 and enrolling in a computing science degree at MIT with the help of a scholarship and a ton of debt just to get away from the teens who had teased her relentlessly.  She had wrapped up the Computing degree in two years and when at 17 she had presented as an Omega had taken the chance to apply for Poli-Sci at Culver.  She liked school, liked the college atmosphere and wanted to find a way to help people.  She had gotten those damn six science credits with Jane and then quickly taken on her doctorate and finished it by the time she was 22, just in time to watch London become ground zero for the convergence. 

 

She was 26 years old and she had lived life times, his was just beginning.  Watching Bucky relax with his family, the way he had laughed and joked with his sister, the open, unguarded set of his face was at once beautiful to her and heart-breaking.  This wasn’t the man she had seen in the tower in her own time.  He was different.  Untouched by tragedy.  Could she really do this, stand by while he was torn from everything he knew and remade into a weapon for Hydra?  Guilt hit her hard.  She knew she could do it.  It went against every instinct in her, all she wanted was a safe warm home and him, nothing to ever hurt them.  But she knew she wouldn’t save him and she hated herself for it.  Hated that she was strong enough do the right thing.  Was this the Stark Legacy?  The world before your family, the world before your own happiness?  Terrible things happening to your family because you couldn’t walk away, had to use that Stark stubborn streak to right the world when it threatened to tilt the wrong way?  The prospect of meeting her father left a sick hollow feeling in her stomach.  Maybe it would be best just to avoid any contact with him at all. 

 

When the dishes were done, and Rebecca had left with words of congratulations to Bucky and Darcy, Lexie had shooed the girls off to bed and left them alone in the parlour.

 

Nerves crashed through Darcy as he watched her from the armchair by the fire.  She sat on the settee, her legs curled under her, plucking at the stockings she had picked out earlier that day.  The silence was oppressive, the tension in the room thick and draining.  She was tired and exhausted but she had promised him an explanation.  Darcy squared her shoulders and lifted her chin to lock her eyes with his.

 

“You want answers” her voice almost cracked on the last word.  The stress of the day was finally catching up to her as she struggled to hold herself together.

 


 

 

 

Bucky relaxed during dinner, the girls and his Ma were welcoming to Darcy, she fit in well with them, it felt natural to share smiles across the table at something Natalie or Lizzy said.  He was aware of Rebecca’s attention as she watched them both under half hooded eyes.  She must have resolved whatever had her on edge because she had pulled them both into a hug before she left, the genuine warmth in her tone as she congratulated them was comforting.  His Ma had pointedly left a pillow and blankets on the foot stool before she herded the girls off to bed and left him alone with Darcy.

 

He watched her as the light from the fire played over her face, the dark strands of her curls catching the light as she plucked at her stockings, the scent of worry rolling off her in waves.  Everything about her being here felt right, like a missing puzzle piece had been found.  God she was beautiful, like a princess from the fairy tale his sisters loved, pale skin, red lips and hair like ebony.  He felt like he was in some sort of waking dream.  She chewed her lip, her face a study, conflicting emotions flitting across her countenance, the line of her shoulders becoming tense as he wondered where she came from.

 

He knew she was watching him from under her sooty lashes.  When she raised her head and spoke he cracked under the weight of her fear.  He was beside her and pulling her into his lap as she broke.  Strong arms holding her to his chest, tucking her head under his chin, one hand smoothing her curls back from her face and pressing kisses to the crown of her head.

 

“None of that Darcy girl, sure I’ve got questions, but It can wait till your ready.  I aint gonna force you to tell me anything that makes you feel so scared and guilty.  Just promise me, you’d tell me if you were in some sort of trouble, right?  If there’s someone looking for you?  If you were in danger?”  he coaxed her chin up till she was looking him the eye again.  She sniffed and nodded her head.

 

“What if I’ll never be ready?”

 

“Then I’ll never bring it up again.  I just want you happy, precious girl.  Happy and safe.”

 

“I can’t tell you much.  There’s things I can’t explain, but I’m not in danger, no one’s looking for me.” She drew in a shaky breath.  “I know you, you asked me to dinner and to go dancing before I lost my head and offered to let you mark me.  I was so pleased you did, I was on cloud nine Bucky.  Then something happened,  I ended up in that street near where you found me, no warning, wasn’t expecting it.  What happened, the thing that brought me here, it’s why I can’t explain it to you, it’s something dangerous that no one can know about.   But I can promise that it will make sense one day and I am so sorry, but it’s a long time away.  Think of me as a refuge, I don’t have any papers here, there won’t be any record of me anywhere.  There is no one who knows me or where I came from.   I know I’m asking a lot here, I need you to trust me and not be mad when I’m holding something back about my past because it’s for a very good reason. “  he continued to stoke her head and make an unhappy sound of agreement.  “ I’m going to need papers if we’re getting married.  I have nothing with me except what I’m wearing.  You are taking so much on with me it’s not even funny.”  She finished with a sigh and pressed her nose into his neck.

 

“Worth it” he told her rubbing steady circles along her spine.  “Worth anything to have you by my side baby doll.  I’m your Alpha now, it’s my job to look after you remember?  I won’t even pretend to understand any of this, but I’m glad I found you today.  You’re a gift Darcy, don’t know what I did to deserve you, but I ain’t  gonna let you go now I’ve got you.”  He felt her relax as she buried her face in his chest, felt her breathing in the scent of him, he rumbled deep in his rib cage, a gentle purr forming, seconds later he felt it as she began to purr back in response.  He snorted at the unfamiliar feeling and nipped a sharp kiss just behind her ear, grinning with delight as she arched back at the touch of his lips and snuggled closer.  He grabbed the blanket from the stool and swirled it over them both, sliding his head down to the arm rest, arms securing the sleepy Omega against him tightly.  They had time, all the time in the world. 

 

Chapter Text

2018

Alarms blared throughout the tower.  The containment measures in Jane’s lab came into effect point five seconds after the anomaly opened and point three seconds after Darcy Lewis disappeared in a burst of white light.  Electromagnetic locks snapped into place and the floor was evacuated of personnel.  Jane shook with shock, typing commands and adjusting equipment trying to stabilise the tiny swirling vortex that took her pack sister in less time than it took her blink. 

 

“Jane, open the damn doors and let me in”  Tony shouted through the glass partition.

 

“I can’t, the override’s on your side Tony and needs three people with level ten clearance to do it” she screamed back.  She was not going to panic.  Jane Foster did not panic in the face of the unknown or even when in mortal peril, but right now she was as close as she had ever come.

 

"Three?  Who's stupid idea was that?"  he cried.

 

"Yours"  she snarled, thumping the machine in front of her.

 

Tony paced on the other side of the doors sending out alerts to the team and demanding Bruce and anyone else who had the clearance to get the fuck up here right the fuck now. 

 

“Jarvis lock down the tower, all non essential personnel out, those with level nine and above clearance can stay and get Pepper on the line.”

 

“At once sir.  Dr Banner and Sargent Barnes are en-route and should be on site in approximately 17 seconds.” 

 

“Shut the damn alarms off on this level Jarvis it’s just a distraction right now”

 

The silence cut through him.  The ding of the elevator signaled the arrival of Bruce and Barnes.

 

“What’s going on Tony?”  Bruce looked calm enough for now but Tony did not like the odds if he explained right away.

 

“Need to get into Fosters lab.  Barnes you’re level ten too right, over here.” Tony beckoned them both over the wall opposite the lab and used a key card and retinal scan to unlock the bank of bio-metric scanners behind a panel in the wall.

 

“Jarvis, disable all security measures for Jane Fosters lab on command, confirm. “

 

“Command confirmed, access codes requested.”

 

“Anthony Stark, access code, zero, alpha, foxtrot twenty two dash apple.”  He placed his hand on the scanner and the two other men followed.

 

“Bruce Banner, access code, gamma, charlie, epsilon, nineteen dash granite.”

 

“James Barnes, access code, whiskey, delta, sierra, sixty-three dash panther.”

 

“Access codes confirmed, disabling safety protocols.”

 

The hiss as the locks disengaged spurred Tony through the doors and into the lab, peering over Jane's shoulder as they had a heated discussion.

 

Bruce and Bucky stood in the door way staring at the swirling anomaly.

 

“Tony….  TONY! What is going on?” Bruce raised his voice to get the other mans attention. 

 

Jane pushed past Tony and wrung her hands together.  Her chin jutted out as she began to speak.

 

“I was working on the stabilisation emitter for the Einstein-Rosen bridge.  I only stopped for a moment to open a package that had just been delivered, I thought it was the part I requested but it wasn’t.  I’m pretty sure it was zero matter.  It interacted with the emitter and generated an anomaly, a portal of some sort.  Darcy was too close to the event horizon when it opened and she went through.  I have spent the last 17 and half minutes stabilizing it.  There are temporal energy readings radiating from it.  We have no way knowing where or even when she’s been taken.”  Jane’s voice went quiet then as she added the final blow.  “Or if she even survived the trip.”

 

Tony slumped on the bench, chasing away the panic, tamping it down and trying to focus.

 

“She’s alive, she has to be.  We will get her back.”  His voice was hard with fury.

 

“How could anyone get something like zero matter into these labs?”  Bruce looked close to turning green.  He paced and began counting back in Hindi as he walked out to the corridor.

 

“What was she wearing?”

 

Tony started at the sound of Bucky’s voice.

 

“What?”

 

“Foster, what was she wearing when she disappeared?”

 

Jane looked at him oddly, noted the ridged set of his shoulders and the tight line of his mouth.

 

“A dress, sort of vintage, floral print in a dark red, maybe maroon.” 

 

The tension seemed to leave his shoulders then.

 

“She’s fine, she’s with me.”

 

Three scientists stared at the former assassin.

 

“With you?”

 

“What?”

 

“When”  Bruce seemed to catch on.

 

“1940.”

 


1940

 

Lexie had found James and Darcy curled around each other on the settee that morning fast asleep.  Somehow James had tucked the tiny Omega between himself and the back of the couch, her head nestled into the hollow of his throat, their legs twined together arms holding tightly to each other.  Lexie smiled softly at the sight, desperately repressing a snort of laughter at the sound of them both purring like kittens.  It was a wonder he hadn’t landed on the floor, he was balancing on such a narrow stretch of cushion. 

 

She had gently shaken him awake and had him carry the girl to his bed and bid him to come have breakfast with her.   When he joined her, he explained what he could, and they settled on discussing the biggest problem to deal with first.

 

“So, she needs papers and quickly too.”  Lexie pursed her lips in thought.  “She’ll be in heat soon, we don’t want the kind of attention we’d get if she had a baby too early after the marriage, don’t want people talking.  Need to get it sorted out quick before she starts nesting or you can kiss goodbye to marriage till February.  I don’t know that you could hold out that long with her living in the same house while in heat.”

 

“No Ma, I want to do this right, I could go stay with Stevie if we can’t get a marriage licence before she hits her heat.”

 

“Silly boy, you’ve marked her, near as I can tell are half way to bonding already.  The only thing that will stop you getting near her if she calls for you during her heat is if you’re dead.”  Lexie told him with exasperation.  James blushed from the tips of his ears down the front if his shirt at her words.

 

“I could ask the Martinelli’s over on 5th  about the papers?  Heard the old man can get anything in a pinch.”

 

“Absolutely not James.  We do not want to be in debt to the Italians.  I know someone, a friend of your fathers.  He said he still owed your Pop a favour and I could call it in any time.  I’ll send a telegram today, you can escort me down to the office.”

 

Bucky frowned at his Ma across the table and took a long sip of his coffee.

 

“You sure he can help?  You can trust him?”  he asked carefully.

 

Lexie arched a brow and blew gently on her tea.  “He saved you Pop’s life in the Great War, brought him home to me in one piece.  I don’t know the whole of the story, but your daddy did something that James Howlett thought he couldn’t repay just by taking a bullet for him.  I saw him briefly after the funeral, came to pay his respects and he’s kept me updated on where he could be reached ever since.  I trust him, he’s an honourable man, Mark loved him like a brother.  He lived with us those first few years after you were born, he was part of our pack.  You were named for him.  He will help us.”  She reached out and squeezed his hand.  “Go get ready, let Darcy know you’re going out.  Find out what she needs for us to bring back from the market for her.” 

 

Leaving the table Lexie made her way to her room, sitting in front of the vanity and digging through her jewellery box for the scrap of paper with an address on it.  James Logan Howlett had been a handsome man when she saw him last.  She wondered if he came, would she see the same thing she had seen when he had turned up to the funeral.  At that time, she hadn’t seen him for a decade, he hadn’t changed, hadn’t aged. 

 

Life had taught her better than to question the fantastical.  How was a girl from nowhere any different from a man who didn’t age and couldn’t die?  More things in Heaven she thought as she took up the photo from the vanity and lightly stroked her husband’s handsome face.  He had been nearly twenty years her senior when she met him, tall and strong, with his curling hair greying at the edges and summer blue eyes glinting with mischief.  Lexie had known the moment she had met him that he was hers.  His silly speech about them being meant to be had stolen her heart before she thought to lock it away.  They had had 18 years together before a plane crash had taken him from her.  It had been worth it, her life with him, the happiness he had brought her, her beautiful children.  She missed him every day, the place inside her where he had lived an open wound that would not heal.  When she had seen the look in her sons face the night before she had known right away that he had found his one.  Now she would do everything in her power to ensure that he got his happy ending.  Darcy was a sweet girl with secrets to be sure, but she had looked at James with such feeling in her eyes that Lexie knew they was meant to be. 

Chapter Text

 

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Darcy was blissed out, snuggled up under warm blankets that smelled amazing.  She pressed her face deeper into the feather pillow and cooed as she breathed in the scent of her Alpha.  She could have sworn she fell asleep cuddled up on the couch last night with Bucky, but now she was waking up in a bed that was certainly not her own, alone.  Slowly the memory of him carrying her into his room this morning surfaced.  She stretched like cat as she relived him helping to strip her down to her slip before giving her a soft cotton shirt from his drawer to wear and tucking her into bed.  He was a sweetheart and her sleepy self had let him direct her without protest, secure in his protection, able to relax utterly in his care.  It was heady feeling, to just be in the moment and trust.  

 

She blinked muzzily and looked around the room.  Dark wood shone in the early afternoon sunlight that peeked through the heavy brocade curtains.  A dresser and a tallboy matched the bed frame in a sturdy chunky art deco style.  She had been very sound asleep, listening she could hear a slight shuffle in the hall way.  Bucky had come in earlier to let her know he was going out and had told her no one else would be home before he and his Ma.  He’d been sweet, refusing to sit on the bed beside her and asked her she might need from the market.  She’d given him a list of personal items that would be helpful if his sisters couldn’t spare them and he’d promised to find her something nice just for her and insisted on knowing her favourite scents.  She blushed thinking about what that implied.  Alpha’s courting were often eager to buy small treats for their Omega’s and the delight in his eyes when she had stuttered out her favourites had lit a warm feeling in her heart.  Wondering if he was back yet she stepped out of bed and made her way into the hallway then down to the kitchen.

 

Out of nowhere a blond man of medium build lunged to grab her, he got a hand round her throat and was trying to leverage her into the wall.  Darcy screamed in fright and tried to evade the hand, using a move Natasha had taught her she grabbed his wrist and using his momentum flipped him over her shoulder and into the floor.  Running on adrenalin she dashed down the hall way back to the safety of Bucky’s room when the front door was thrown open and Bucky burst into the apartment, she flew towards him and he tucked her protectively behind him before facing the intruder and letting out an inarticulate roar of rage.  Fully expecting a fight to break out she was shocked to hear a desperate whine of submission from the other man who’d dropped to his knees before Bucky.  Still shaking she reached a hand out to his back and placed her palm against the taught muscles bunching under his shirt.

 


 

 

He was pleased with what he’d bought for Darcy and was looking forward to seeing her face when he gave her the gift.  His Ma had rolled her eyes and shook her head at the trouble he had trying to decide on it, but he had weathered it with good humour, nothing could upset him right now.  They had made it to the front steps of the building when a feminine shriek of fear had rung out from somewhere above.  He was in motion and taking the stairs three at a time to get to her, that was Darcy’s scream echoing in his skull, ringing with fear.  He felt the Alpha rising to the surface and for the first time in his life let it slip happily into the front of his mind, letting all thoughts of control vanish.

 

He bust through the door to the sight of his mate barrelling up the hallway towards him, her face paler than he had ever seen her, tears welling in her eyes and his Beta, his friend, hot on her heels.  Grabbing Darcy and swinging her behind him he dropped into a protective crouch before her and roared at the Beta in anger, forcing him to his knees from the sound of pissed off, murder bound Alpha.

 

“What the Fuck Stevie.  What the hell are you doing here?”  Bucky ground out bloodlust singing in his veins.  The Alpha was at the front of him mind, furious at the threat of danger he perceived to his mate.  The petite Omega behind him stunk of fear and fright.  Looking away from Steve Bucky turned to take her in his arms, his eyes flashing gold when he saw the red mark like a wreath around her pale neck. The Alpha was torn between wanting to rip out the Beta’s throat and hiding and comforting his Omega in a safe place.  Bucky forced the anger down and steered his instincts to protection rather than retribution.  Bundling her up in his arms he had her back in his room quicker than a wink and settled her back under the covers.  He paced the room in agitation and dragged the dresser in front of the door and the tallboy in front of the window before taking off his shoes and climbing under the covers with his Omega, pulling her close, curling around her and triggering a release of scent so strong it knocked her out while the Alpha continued to prowl around in his brain, keeping watch until she woke up.  Bucky swore in the back of his mind and worked on trying to calm himself down, to get the Alpha in him under control, he’d never lost it like this before, lost himself to his instincts, then again, nothing had ever threatened his mate before either.  Steve.  Steve he would deal with later.  Once he didn’t feel the need to strangle the little punk with his own entrails.

 


 

 

Darcy came too slowly, she was so warm and safe and loved.  She hummed sleepily and pressed herself back into the warmth curled around her.  The arms banded around her pulled her in tighter and she felt a rush of satisfaction at the careful strength her Alpha displayed while holding her.  A hand splayed low on her belly, firm and hot, pressing her snuggly into the curve of his hip.  Darcy moaned lowly and arched her neck as she felt him press his mouth to her mark, she wiggled her butt back into the hardness she felt and gasped when his teeth sunk into her skin, not quite breaking it but so tantalisingly close.  Her brain had turned off, the feel of him wrapped around her, his teeth holding gently at the juncture of her neck sending a swirling kaleidoscope of colour behind her tightly closed eyelids.  Her body sung with desire, her skin felt tight, wetness pooled between her legs as he moved lower, long fingers gathering the material of her slip higher until skin met skin and the tips of Bucky’s fingers skimmed under the cotton waist band of her panties. A sharp series of knocks at the door and Lexie’s voice, gentle but insistent broke through the haze.  She felt Bucky freeze and groan with regret as he slowly pulled away from her. Feeling breathless as though she had run a marathon she sat up. 

“I’ll be out in a minute Ma!” 

Bucky sat with his back to her, arm braced on his knee, one hand scrubbing over his face as he let out a long slow breath.  She crawled across the blankets and hugged him, resting her head between his shoulder blades.

“You okay?” she asked him quietly, as he held her hands in his.

“Am I okay?”  he asked, a touch of disbelief edging his voice.

“You went full Alpha, your eyes were gold.  When you brought me in here you knocked me out you were trying so hard to sooth me.  So, yes, are you okay?” 

Bucky pulled her round to perch in his lap and buried his nose in her hair.

“I’m fine doll.  But you weren’t, what the hel…  what happened out there?  I need to know what he did to you to make those marks on your throat, to make you so scared you were running on instinct.  I saw how you handled that Alpha the other day, you were more angry and pissed off than scared of him.  I need to know what Steve did that had you running to hide instead of fighting.”

Steve, so it had been him.  Darcy shuddered in remembrance.

“He hardly got a hold of me, I flipped him and I was running back to your room when you came in.”

“Darcy, if you were to run anywhere it should have been the bathroom, there’s a lock on the door.”

“I know….  I just panicked, coming back here felt safe, I guess I’m closer to my heat than I thought, I’ve been running on instinct for days, my logic is shot to hell and it’s driving me nuts.  He just, came out of nowhere.  One minute I was walking up the hall and the next he had a hand round my neck and was about to pin me to the wall.  I floored him and ran, the rest you know.” 

“He just attacked you, no warning?”  Bucky asked incredulous.

“Maybe he thought I was an intruder, he felt really angry, furious, I think that’s what triggered me to run, no one has ever directed that much anger at me before.”  She caught her bottom lip between her teeth before continuing.  “Look, he’s your friend, lets just chalk it up to a misunderstanding and move on.”

“How do you know he’s my friend?”

“I just know.  Roll with it dude.”  He gave her a puzzled look at her words and pressed a kiss to the back of her knuckles. 

“Fine, roll with it huh?”  he scooted her off his lap and bent to pull his shoes back on.

I’ll bring you some clothes, Ma picked out a few things at the store for you.  I’ll go talk to Stevie and then I’ll introduce you two properly.”

Darcy sighed as he dragged the dresser back and left the room.  Now she had to meet Steve.  She honestly didn’t know what to think of him at this point.  Still it was almost comforting that he hated her here too.  Something familiar to hold on to.  Stripping off the shirt and shimmying her panties off she didn’t hear the door open behind her but shrieked when his voice floated from the doorway. 

“Jesus Doll, a little warning.”  He stood there smirking at her, one hand held over his heart batting those ridiculous lashes at her.

“You need a God damn bell Barnes” she giggled when she managed to catch her breath.  He handed her a bundle and backed out of the room, throwing her that look that made her insides melt and reminded her of the thoughts she had had earlier, his mouth was criminal, honestly it was more dangerous than the metal arm he had in the future.  Everything would be fine.  Everything was fine.  She repeated the words in her head thinking that eventually she might believe them.

 


 

 

Steve had sat in the kitchen shame faced and worried after the confrontation in the hall.  He’d been there to drop off some material for Natalie when he had sensed the presence of a stranger in the house.  Their scent was mostly covered by Bucky’s, but it was still alien, different.  Something in him had immediately reared up in anger and he had went on the defensive without thought.  A white clothed figure had walked past the entrance to the lounge and he had lunged trying to pin them, intent on questioning their presence in the home of his Alpha.  It hadn’t quite went how he’d thought it would.  The tiny, dark haired woman had somehow flipped him onto his back and ran, angry at being surprised by the move he had gave chase as she tried to escape.  When Bucky had appeared in the hall and grabbed her he had for a split second felt vindicated until his Alpha had tucked the slip of a girl behind him and roared at him to submit and desist.  The shear force of his Alpha’s challenging call had dropped him to his knees immediately.  Gold hollowed out his friends eyes, the scent of pissed off Alpha crushing him down till he whined with submission.  He’d never seen that expression of Bucky before, had known for the first time just how dangerous his pal really was. He’s watched from the floor as Bucky had gathered the little Omega up into his arms and stalked away to his room, murder in every step and every line of his body.

Ma Barnes had came through the door, out of breath carrying a half dozen bags and looked at him with confusion then with a resigned sort of understanding before chivvying him to help with the bags before making him a cup of tea and sitting him at the table.

He’s sat there till he heard the dresser being scraped back from the door and Bucky had emerged from the room two hours later.  He sat staring at the cold tea while Bucky and his Ma had a short, tense conversation. 

“Steve, you have a choice to make here.”  Ma Barnes told him quickly when Bucky went back to the room. “James has already made his, it’s won’t be you.  They are Alpha and Omega, you’re not an idiot, you know what that means.  His first choice will always be her, from here on out.  You need to decide if you can back him up and stand by him, be the brother to him you claim you are or walk now if you can’t.  He won’t stand to have a member of his pack be a threat to her.”  She was calm as she said this, her eyes pinning him in place before crossing to the stove filling the teapot from the kettle.

 


 

 

Bucky leaned into the doorjamb watching Steve sitting at the kitchen table, his Ma fussing over the little punk.  He was torn, on the one hand Stevie was his best friend, had been by his side for 10 years, on the other hand, he had attacked his mate, had nearly put bruises on her, certainly scared her at the least.  If he hadn’t come back what would have happened?  Steve looked up then and went pale when he spotted him. 

“Buck, I’m so sorry pal, I had no idea who she was, I wasn’t expecting anyone to be here when I came by to drop off some things for Natalie.  I….  she was just there and she smelled like she had been in your room, I thought, well I’m not sure what I thought to be honest.” He trailed off, a flush on his cheeks, eyes at the ground unable to look at him.

Bucky held himself still taking in the scents in the room.  Steve was remorseful and embarrassed and just a touch miffed.  His Ma was calm as a still pond, everything about her perfectly controlled. 

“She’s mine Steve, my girl.  She’s gonna be my wife, so you are going to apologise, grovel if you have to and swear you’ll never lay a hand on her again.”  His tone brooked no argument and the look on his face made it clear to Steve that he had just be given a command.  The first time in all the years he had followed Bucky that the other man had used subvocal resonance to make him fall in line with what the Alpha wanted. 

The silence in the room grew longer as Steve chaffed against the order.  His struggle clear in the line of his shoulders.  Eventually he nodded his head and tilted his head to one side slightly giving acquiesce.  “I swear Bucky, I’ll never bring any harm on her again, I’ll stand between her and danger any time you need me too.”  The honesty in his scent had Bucky letting go of the worry he had been holding onto.  It wasn’t unheard of for a Beta to feel threatened by a new Omega joining a pack, taking up the spot that they felt had been theirs before.  He wouldn’t have wanted to smack Steve down to get him to fall in place, but he would have done it regardless.  Nothing would come between him and the safety of the Omega who would bare his children, not even a decade of friendship.  Soft foot falls alerted him to Darcy’s approach and he hauled Steve up out of the chair and clapped a warning hand on his shoulder, “time to face the music punk.”

 


 

 

When Steve finally met Darcy Lewis and got a proper look at her he could understand what had his friend besotted.  She was tiny, with curves for days, huge blue, china doll eyes and thick dark curling hair that fell to her waist.  Her lush red lips curved in a soft smile as Bucky introduced him and he tried his best to stamp down the flare of resentment that curled around his heart when she lay her head against Bucky’s arm and accepted his hand shake and apology.  The look in his friends face as he gazed at her put it out completely.  Bucky was happier than he had ever seen him, her presence had smoothed any lines of worry from his face and his smile didn’t just reach his eyes, but his soul.  Steve relaxed and gave his friend a genuine smile and offered his congratulations, Darcy caught his eye and mouthed a quiet thank you to him, a soft smile gracing her features.   

 


 

 

Steve stayed for dinner.  Bucky sat to her left, his arm or leg brushing against her whenever she seemed to tense up as the conversation swirled around them.  She could see plainly that Steve was very much a regular guest at the table, the easy conversation and teasing between him and the twins was endearing.  He was well mannered and relaxed and laughed and joked in a way she had never seen before.  In some ways it was like meeting a different person.  He’s apologised profusely when she had worked up the courage to leave the bedroom.  Stammering and giving her these puppy dog looks that had her wanting to hug him.  The jarring juxtaposition of his character left her feeling uneasy.  How could this boy who was so relaxed and sweet turn into the man Rogers had been in her time?  There was no reserve and twice he and Bucky had made off colour jokes that landed them a swipe from Lexie’s dishtowel.  Natalie and Lizzie had begged to put on a record and shove the furniture back so they could dance.  Watching as Steve and Buck swung the girls round the floor to ‘Sing Sing Sing ‘  had her clutching her sides laughing.  Steve blushed every time he missed a step or when Lizzie flirted innocently with him.  Bucky was smooth on the floor, twirling Natalie round and swinging her over his head and spinning around, their steps fast and graceful.   Lexie watched with fond smiles and teasing comments.  Then Bucky asked her to dance.

“Come on doll, I want to dance with my best girl.” 

Darcy’s only experience with dancing had been the bump and grind, move to the music, dance how you feel.  The thought of trying dancing the way his sisters did was terrifying.

“Bucky, I can’t dance,  I never learned a step.”

“Well you’ll never learn with that attitude.  Come on, I’ll show you how it goes, you’ll catch on quick, just follow my lead, I promise I won’t drop you.”  His cajoling had her on her feet in his arms in a heart beat.  Soon she was laughing as he led her through the steps.  It was fun and he was right she picked the basics up quick enough.  When he suddenly spun her in and swung her up and around his body she had shrieked but landed on her feet before he effortlessly spun her under his arm and back into the dance. 

They stayed up till three dancing and singing.  She couldn’t remember the last time she had had so much fun.  It wasn’t the Tower she decided then, but she could see that it would become home.

 


 

 

The Tower 2018

 

“I’m sorry, I think I misheard you.”  Stark pointed a sharp look at Bucky.

“You didn’t.  She’s with me in 1940, she’s fine, she’s safe.”  Bucky resisted the urge to rub the back of his head and crossed his arms over his chest.

“And you were going to inform us of this when?”  Stark was snarling by this point.

Bucky looked at Banner who was shifting uneasily and cleaning his glasses with a corner of his shirt.  Seeing no help from that corner he sighed and propped a hip against the work bench.

“I was told it could be potentially disastrous to warn anyone of what would happen before she was sent back.”  he spoke to Stark directly, calmly.

“Bruce?”  Stark questioned a hint of betrayal leaking into his scent.

“Tony, if I’d told you she was going to be sent back in time, what would you have done?”  Starks angry silence seemed to spur him on.  “I’ve know for a month that it might happen.  You think I didn’t consider every option open to me?  You think I would want her to be placed in that position?  She is a documented part of the past.  Her very presence, even if she did as little as possible to avoid changes would be like a massive rock getting dropped into a still pond, there is no way to predict what stopping those ripples from happening could do to the world we know.  The number of variables were too many to make an accurate prediction of when it would happen or if it was even the version of Darcy that we knew that wound up in that time.  Think about it, if we had done something to stop it from happening the past would have unraveled.  Sargent Barnes knew Darcy in 1940, the last time he saw her was a week before he fell from the train.  She was there for at least five years Tony.  How much could have changed if she hadn’t went back?”

Stark brought down a fist on the work bench, the stainless-steel buckling under the pressure. 

“Fine.  You’re right I would have tried to stop it, but we could have done something, made sure she had things with her, something to protect her, fuck she won’t have a penny with her.”

"I told you, she's safe, I found her maybe a half hour at most after she got there.  And to be clear she never told me about any of this, told me she couldn't, that is was dangerous.  Banner did the same thing Darcy did, kept it to himself not to hurt you but to help her!"  Bucky broke in.  He still held back though, this was Darcy's family, her pack, there was no way he was going to challenge her pack Alpha, he'd spent the last months trying to build respect between himself and Stark, he didn't want to end up ruining it now.  Stark glared at him, but thankfully the other man had control nearly as good as his own.

Banner turned to Jane who was sitting very still, breathing heavily as she stared at the portal.

“Jane, Darcy was wearing her jewellery right?  The bracelet, the necklace, the earrings, right?”

“Yes?”

He turned to Tony his look pointedly asking for understanding.  “She’s as protected as we can make her Tony, those prototypes would hold up to a bomb going off next to her.” 

Stark slumped in the stool and ran his hands over his face in agitation some of the worry alleviated.

“Ok, she’s stuck in 1940, we know she was there at least till Barnes fell off a train.  What happened after?  If we’re going to get her back, we have to know when she disappeared from official records and preferably where.  We might only get one shot at this and we’re working with a limited window of time.  That zero matter is only going to last for approximately how long Jane?”

“Conservatively we have around 72 to perhaps 80 hours, more if I can find a way of increasing the efficiency of the emitter, but I think we have to have a plan in place by then and be ready to retrieve her.  I have no idea if we could ever replicate just what happened here again.  If we can’t figure out where to get her from and how before the zero matter runs out we might not be able to get her back at all.”

“Jarvis, hack everything, get me anything you can find from all archives on Darcy Lewis between 1940 and 1960, lets hope we don’t leave her there that long though.”

Bucky steeled himself and opened his mouth to speak.

“It’s Barnes, Darcy Barnes, that was the legal name she had in that time.  We got married a few weeks after she arrived. She’s my wife.”    

Starks jaw unhinged, Jane stared, and Bruce froze mid polish.

“That’s why you marked her this morning!  Is this a causal loop?”  Jane seemed pleased with her deduction and grinned at Bucky enquiringly.

“Marked?”  Banner managed to croak out.  This Bucky hadn’t told him.

“This is why you’ve been creeping after my baby sister for the past year?  Are you kidding me?  What do you mean marked? Jarvis?”

Sister?  Bucky thought.  Howard’s daughter.  Suddenly so much made sense. 

“Yes Sir, Miss Darcy made a formal verbal petition to Sergeant Barnes this morning at precisely 8:23am.  Sergeant Barnes accepted, made a formal declaration of intent and Miss Darcy consented to being marked.  I made a formal logging of the match with our legal department who have filed and made copies in accordance with Stark Tower policies.  The formal paperwork is scheduled to be delivered to both parties by notary by the end of the week and Miss Darcy’s file has been updated with Sergeant Barnes as her next of kin.  Would Sir like me to update Miss Darcy’s legal status to married?”

Stark's strangled cry of rage echoed through the whole floor.

The AI piped up again.  “Sir, I have received a request for entry to the building from the the X-man code named Wolverine.  Does sir wish me to allow him entry?  He says he has a message from Miss Darcy.”

Chapter Text

After the flurry of activity that passed for morning in the Barnes household Darcy and Lexie were cleaning up from breakfast when there was a sharp wrap on the front door.

Lexie took off her apron and made her way to the hall way to answer it.

“Captain Howlett!  Please come in.”  Although she had hoped to hear from him she hadn’t thought he would appear so soon.  He was as handsome as ever, the strong presence he projected a welcome feeling.  He'd been part of their lives for four years before he left, his need to roam greater than his need for home and pack.  She'd been sad to see him go, he'd been the brother she had always wished she had. 

“Lexie, it’s good to see you again, you’ve hardly changed at all darlin'.”  He brushed his cheek with hers and stood back, their hands find each other as they took it in. 

Lexie clutched at his hand, it was so good to see him again.  The good memory’s she had shared with him and Mark rushing back.

“You’re a bad liar” she told him rolling her eyes.  “I look old enough to be your mother.  But you, you haven’t changed a bit.”  The sad acknowledgement in his eyes left a bitter taste in her mouth.

“Thank you for coming James, I really need to call in that favour.”

“Someone in trouble?”  his eyes narrowed with concern.

Lexie wondered for a moment how to explain.  “My James met his match.  He’s head over heels.  I like her, but she’s a bit of mystery.  She’s different, doesn’t quite fit, it’s nothing bad, just little things, she’s either lived a very sheltered existence before this of came from somewhere…..  Well I can’t explain it and she won’t explain it.  But we are on a clock here.  He wants to marry her before her heat hits, so we have about five days before she has to be confined inside and she has no paper work.  No birth certificate, no Omega identification papers, no records of any kind.  We need a whole identity built for her and I thought maybe you might be able to help.  I have a bit of money saved for a rainy day, we can pay.  I just don’t know how or who to go to to get them.  I thought what with your own situation it may be something you’re familiar with. 

He nodded and hummed a little.  “I know a few people, how air tight do you need this?”

“I want her safe.  She’s everything to him already.  Even me, just knowing her for a few days, I think I’d burn the world down for her, there’s something about her that makes me want to fuss and look after her like I do with my own daughters.  The girls love her, even my reserved suspicious Rebecca thinks she's a doll.”

“That’s not exactly normal.”  he said with a slight shift of concern.

“I know.”  Lexie replied with a thoughtful smile. “I don’t think she’s doing it on purpose, what ever it might be.  Or maybe she’s just that likable.  Either way, she hasn’t lied to us, kept things back yes, but I think she prides herself on being straight with people.  She’s not afraid to say what she thinks, even if she doesn’t think you’ll like it.  The only time she been reserved was when she met Steve, James’ second.  They didn’t get off to a great start.  He attacked her, which if you'd met him, you'd know that as much as that boy can be suspicious and protective of pack was a little over the top even for him.  Granted she was a stranger he thought he had surprised in his packs territory but still, he's usually more gentle with females.  She said she accepted his apology but I could tell she wasn’t comfortable with him.  I can see her tying to relax around him and failing.   Can’t explain why they rub each other the wrong way but they do.  What do you think it is?”

“Hard to say without meeting her, came across a lot of people with strange gifts over the years.  You want me to bring it up with her?”

Lexie worried her bottom lip between her teeth.  Did she want to let him do this without telling James first?  She’d felt good about the girl before she even met her, just from how happy her son had looked, from how he’d described how Darcy had been with him, how she’d thought the world of him.  Instincts warring within her she spoke  “If you think I’m right about there being something there, then it’s better to find out if she’s aware of it or not.  But only if you think she can handle it.  Whatever it is she does, it’s not something noticeably there very often.  Do not scare the poor girl though, she really does love James and I don't think she's a threat to our family.”

“Fine, better introduce us then, I’ll see what I can find out.” 

 


 

 

The man that walked into the kitchen and sat at the table made Darcy freeze in shock.  Working with the Avengers and sometimes the new Shield meant she met many different people.  She had worked with Marie D'Ancanto on many occasions in the last three years when there had to be some sort of agreement on how to spin the story of mass property damage caused by the fights that the Avengers participated in.  Marie’s own team, Charles Xavier’s X-men were just as destructive while going up against super villains.  The first time they met the two teams had leveled what was left of some Aztec temples in South America.  Marie’s bond mate of few words whom she had only ever introduced as Logan was an intimidating Alpha of 6’2 and about 400 pounds of muscle.  Marie went nowhere without him tagging along.  She could tell the older Alpha’s presence was tightly restrained but it was weighty, the scent of age and history overwhelming.  He had been quiet but polite right up until Tony turned up then the two had snarked at each other, throwing insults back and forth with genuine enjoyment, turned out he was a mutant super soldier who also came with a spotty recollection of the past.   Seeing him here and now was a surprise. 

Her recognition of him didn’t get past him either.  The sharp look he gave her while she picked her jaw off the floor had her stress levels going through the roof.  Her instincts were pushing the fight or flight response, her logic reigning it in strongly.  This Logan didn’t know her, hadn’t spent time with her as she had with him yet.  She knew exactly how dangerous he was.  She hoped he wasn’t so different from the man she knew in the future, wished he was looking at her through the eyes of a friend instead of a stranger.

 

“You’re the mystery girl with no past and no papers then.”  He was blunt, the question more a statement.  She felt the suspicion that was directed at her, she kept her feet rooted to the floor.

 

“Yup”   Darcy decided to keep it short.

 

Lexie entered the room, making a quick introduction but Logan, or Captain James Howlett had shooed her out saying he wanted to talk in private with Darcy.

 

Darcy sat down and fiddled with her ring, wondering just what the man wanted to ask her.

 

“You want to explain how you know me?”  he asked her.  Logan had seen the recognition in her eyes as soon as she had seen him.  Being on high alert already meant he recognised the feeling of déjà vu, of familiarity that wasn’t his own push against the edges of his mind.  He’d met telepaths and empaths before this felt more like the latter and it was weak, untrained.  The girl's scent screamed stress and fear, he could see her steel against the instinct to bolt.

 

“Not really.”  She shot back quickly.  Logan noted how she drew herself in, every part of her being forced into tight control.

 

“Yeah, you might not want to but you’re going to if you want those papers” his tone brooked no argument and Darcy sat in silence debating on what to do.  She knew enough about him that he might believe her and he had a past crazy enough he wouldn’t perhaps dismiss the story out of hand.  He’d been Xavier’s right hand for nearly two decades, helping run the school for the gifted along side some of the most powerful mutants on the planet.  She hadn’t even considered looking for him here in this time. 

 

“If I tell you, can I trust you keep it secret?”

 

“Maybe, depends what you say.  You bring any danger down on this family and match marked or not I won’t hold back.” 

 

Darcy stared him down, she wasn’t about to let the older man threaten her, Alpha or no, she'd faced down murder bots and dark elves damn it.

 

“I’m not a threat so you can shove that Alpha crap back where the sun don’t shine, Bub.”   He stilled at the slang and took a metal flask from his jacket pocket, taking a long drink.

 

“Alright, I know how to keep my mouth shut.”  Logan decided to see how it played out.  If she was projecting emotions they were slight, not enough to force her will on another, but there was definitely a faint suggestion to the flavour of the feelings.

 

“I guess you’d have to when you don’t age and have been alive for over a century.”  She said quietly.  If she had surprised him with the knowledge he didn’t show it other than a slight stiffness in his shoulders.  “Fine, I know you, I’ve met you many times along side your bond-mate”

 

“I don’t have a bond-mate” he retorted.

 

“No, you don’t, at least not yet.  When I know you, you’ve been bonded for nearly a decade”

 

“And when exactly do you know me?”

 

“”2018, or I suppose technically I’ve known you since 2016.”

 

He regarded her coolly and tilted his head listening to her heartbeat, searching for the lie he wouldn’t find.  Not a scent of deceit from her or even that tingle of foreign emotion.  She had relaxed now, seemed more confident.  Probably because she was telling the truth, hard as it was to believe.  

 

“You’re not lying”

 

“Nope”

 

“Well you’ve told me this much, lay it out for me darlin.”

 

“There was an accident with a machine in my place of work that resulted in being flung back 78 years into the past.  I have no idea if they can bring me back.”

 

“So I’m still alive and kickin in 2018.”

 

“Just because I tell you, you are, doesn’t mean you can take stupid risks.  Time travel and knowledge of the future is dangerous.  Say I tell you you’re not going to die between then and now, because I tell you, you don’t think anything can kill you, you take a risk you normally wouldn’t and die and then the whole of time and space unravels, and the universe goes poof.  You follow?  You can’t rely on what I know as a guarantee and can’t act with that knowledge as a variable.”

 

He regarded her carefully, starting to realise just how dangerous the situation was.

 

“Poof?”  his eyes narrowed.

 

“Poof, or maybe big boom.  Bruce and Tony couldn’t agree.”

 

“Did I recognise you in the future?”

 

She srugged and seemed lost in a memory for a moment.  “I don’t know, if you did you didn’t say anything, but I would tell you not to anyway.  Forewarning me before I went back in time could have seriously messed things up.  There was already a causal loop in effect.  I was meant to come back, Bucky, he knows me in the future, he hasn't changed much from how he is now, at least not physically.  He made a comment to me that made sense once I was here, he marked me in the future, hours before I was sent back, it’s why Bucky trusted and believed me here and now, why this him marked me too.  I don’t think I’ll be going back anytime soon and I need to be able to blend into this time.  I have to ensure I don’t change anything I know about what happens in the future. That means not warning people when bad things are about to happen, it means letting people die because they were meant to.  It’s shitty and ugly and I hate it, but does the life of the few outweigh the lives of the many?  I can't tell him about this, I know too much of his personal history to hold back once I did and that could cause massive problems for the time line”  Darcy ran a shaking hand through her hair as they sat in silence.  When the familiar projection of protection from Logan began she almost cried with relief.  The Alpha she knew in the future had done this on a few occasions when both she and Marie were stressed dealing with some of the worst of the press.  The heady feeling of protection  from an Alpha she admired and trusted was like a balm to her soul.

 

Logan examined every word she had said, every feeling he had felt and tried to pin down what it was that made him want to look out for the girl.  In the end it was the tinge of sadness and loss he caught in her scent, instinctively he projected his protection to her and the brush of grateful emotion just about confirmed her story.  She was familiar with him as a protector of some sort.  He wondered how he ended up in these crazy ass situations. 

 

 “Alright I’ll get you the papers.  But tell me something you know about me from before this time, give me some proof kid”

 

Considering what she knew Darcy bit her lip.

 

“You told me you’d had that metal flask since the civil war.  There’s an inscription on the back.  Time is Fleeting in Latin, the man who gave it to was William Brandt.  That enough?”  He was silent for a moment, the look on his face indecipherable to her.

 

Logan thought his future self must have believed in her, trusted her to share that with her, he hadn’t told anyone that story before, he could tell she knew more than she’d repeated too.  She was the real deal, a time traveler.  And now he had to figure out how to tell her she was doing something he was fairly sure she didn’t know she was doing.  He didn’t think it was harming anything, maybe enough to grease the wheels when interacting with people, but it wasn’t constant.  Once she had relaxed the soft brushes of emotion had disappeared.  Normal enough for those like him, powers manifesting in high stress situations.  He wanted to find an old acquaintance of his and get a confirmation if he could though.

 

“That’ll do.”  He grunted.  “I got a few more questions for you though.”

 

“I can’t promise I’ll answer, but you can ask.”

 

Logan shifted, leaning forward, his elbows propped up on the table.

 

“You know you’re leaking emotions all over the place?”

 

“What?”  Darcy stared at him uncomprehendingly.  What the hell was he talking about?

 

“Your projecting some of your emotions onto the people around you, it’s weak, but it’s there.  Could be dangerous if the wrong people notice.  You really didn’t know you were doing it did you?”

 

Darcy breathed and steadied her heart rate.  She was not going to freak out.  She was going to stay calm and figure this out. 

 

“Can you explain what it feels like?”  she asked him.  When he was finished describing it she nearly thumped her head on the table.

 

“Empath or probably Telempath to be more accurate.  Shit, I do not need this right now, if I was home there are people I could go to for help, but here, I have no real idea how to control this”

 

“You know what you are, you understand it?”  he asked.

 

“Dude the future’s full of a lot of weird shit, there are more and more people being born who are like, you, or I guess us, than you can imagine.  We even have names for what we are.”

 

“If that’s true how could you not have known about this before you got here.?”

 

“I’ve been on suppressants for years.”  Darcy explained to him what that meant, how it held hormones in check, stopped heat and the side effect that it acted as a mood stabiliser. 

 

“It probably stopped me from triggering my powers, there have been studies done showing that mutants on suppressants generally have better control of their power or don’t manifest at all till they come off them.  I had to come off them a few months ago, I’ve been on them since I was 17 and before that I kept to myself, it might explain why my professors were so happy to give me a little more leeway while I was at MIT but it could also just be because I was so young.”  Darcy was talking more to herself now while Logan gave her a few moments to process the news.

 

“Oh god, did I make James like me?  I’ve had a crush on him for forever, did I force it on him?”  Darcy was starting to panic; her breath became ragged and she felt sick.

 

Logan grabbed her hands and held tight.

 

“Kid, get a grip.  There is no force here, you didn’t make him or anyone else do anything.  If you were capable of that level of influence no one would ever speak a cross word to you.  The only reason I even noticed you were doing it is because I’ve felt that sort of thing before, what ever gift you have it’s low level and untrained.  Maybe with time and someone to teach you, you could over power someone’s will, but right now all you’ve been able to do with it is grease the skids a bit when you’ve been stressed. Not a bad thing, it’s a survival mechanism.  Other than the thing with Steve, Lexie says she just felt like you needed a bit of mothering, felt she wanted to look after you like a daughter, she would have felt that way about you anyway, you maybe just sped the process along a bit.”

 

“Steve” Darcy stared at Logan.  He waited for her to elaborate.

 

“I might have felt a tiny bit hostile towards him in the future and when he surprised me the first time we met in this time I might have been projecting just a little.”

 

“You don’t like him in your time?”  Logan asked her with a frown.  “He a bad guy?”

 

“No, not really just, a bit of a misguided idiot.  But this explains some of the animosity.  You know you haven’t asked me about their being in my future.”

 

“I don’t need to know that, what ever it is that has them there isn’t relevant to here and now and I don’t want to know about something I might want to change.  Besides, they’re both alive and in good health before you ended up back here right?  Why borrow trouble huh?”

 

“Can you do something for me?”  Darcy asked quietly.

 

“What is it kid?”

 

“Can you take a message to the future for me?  November 17th 2018 after 3pm, tell my pack I’m not leaving Bucky until I have to, tell them not to come for me before”

 

Darcy made him repeat it word for word until she was sure he would remember it.  It was a chance at least, Logan’s memory was damaged, but it was possible the message would get through.

 

“Thank you, Logan, I’m really glad it was you that came.  I’ll figure out how stop projecting somehow, but if you know anyone that can help me, let me know?”

 

“Sure, I’ll see what I can do.  You know, if you knew me in the future did you think of looking me up here?"

 

"I hadn't really thought about it, if I had I wouldn't have known how to find you for a couple of years yet.  Besides, I bumped into Bucky about twenty minutes after landing here."

 

"Sound's like the universe put you were you needed to be kid.  Let me give you a bit of advice.  Don't second guess yourself and trust your instincts, you'll do fine.  I’ll have the papers delivered in a few days, probably won’t be back this way for a while.  Take care of them kid.  Keep out of trouble.”   He told her gruffly.

 

Darcy slumped when he left, desperately hoping she had done the right thing, that she hadn’t changed anything too badly.  But he was a man who understood the value of secrets, he’d kept more than hers safe in his long life.

 


 

 

Logan left quietly, offering a brief word of reassurance to Lexie that what she had begun to suspect was true but harmless and told her to keep the money, he’d promised to help, he wouldn’t accept payment.

 

“I like her Lexie, she’s a firecracker.” He said quietly.

 

“She told you didn’t she, told you who she is?”

 

“Not my secret to tell but It’s nothing bad, she’s just lost.  Think she needs a mother right now.  I dropped a bomb in there and she’s a bit shaken by it, she’s a smart kid though, she’ll figure it out.” 

 

Lexie locked the door behind him and took a breath.  She had a daughter to help.

 

 


 

 

 

With the papers now sorted out the excitement level in the Barnes household was rising.  Bucky sang and whistled to the music in his head as he got ready for work in the morning before kissing Darcy on the way out the door, brushing their cheeks together affectionately and giving her the most over the top complements she had ever heard in her life.  It’s a tossup she realises, on whether he is trying out all his most charming lines to make her blush or the cheesiest just hear her laugh.  The smile he gives her when she blushes is the slyest little smirk that makes his eyes twinkle.  When she laughs the smile that lights up his face is the kind that shows his soul.   She had never felt so happy and excited for something in her life.  She likes that when he's home he is never far from her, hands touching, arms brushing.  The few moments where it is them alone are intoxicating.  The draw to be near him is constant, he is her protector, the rightness of his presence beside her grounds her in safety.  The way they move in tandem, orbiting each other makes her feel as though she has been missing half of her being her whole life. 

 

It wasn’t easy trying to adjust to the restrictions in place in this time.  Before the second world war women hadn’t had the freedom to come and go as they pleased.  Once America joined the war many of the restrictions would be suspended for the duration.  After, women weren’t so happy to go back to the status quo.  The 40’s and 50’s had been an important time for Omega and Beta women who were regarded as being mostly unsuited to the very roles they had shouldered while the men went to war.  Alpha women had always been a class of their own, regarded as competent and less emotional than their sisters.  This had always struck Darcy as silly.  But it was the mindset of the time as ruled by Alpha males and mostly backed by their Beta male counterparts.  Bucky was one of the rare exceptions to this, he had been raised by a single Omega mother and surrounded by sisters who had all presented at Omega.  His love and respect for them was clear in how he treated them and listened to them.  It only made her admire him more.

 

Until she married she would pretty much be under house arrest.  Once married she would be considered safe to be in out under her own recognisance but still not able to get a job without her husband’s permission.  It was sickening that people were placed under these small minded and stifling laws.  The only real restriction other than that after she was married was a curfew, 8pm without male escort, that would only last the for the next 18 months till wartime forced their hand to suspend it.  The only law that wouldn’t change was the three-week rule.  Omega’s must stay inside for the week before and the week after heat for reasons of public safety.  That wasn’t much different from her own time if you were off suppressants. 

Suppressants, now there was the huge equalizer, when they had been introduced in 1955 it had completely invalidated most objections to Omega’s in the workplace and in society in general.  They blocked hormones and affected mood, essentially taking all the stress out of everything.  She had read the pamphlet detailing the side effects of coming off the medication in detail a dozen times.  She had noted many of them were surfacing.  Her normal chirpy mood was swinging back and forth and her anxiety was back with a vengeance she hadn’t felt this off balance since she was seventeen.  Luckily having the Barnes women there helped, they were so accepting of her, bringing her into their lives, making her feel like pack.  Natalie and she seemed to be in tune with each other about many things, both loud and opinionated.  Lizzie while quiet was steady and calm, she had sat up late with Darcy one night while the two sorted through the yarn, talking about books they had both read the younger girl leaning on her shoulder, sensing Darcy's melancholy.  Darcy had dealt with mortal peril, had been at ground zero for alien contact twice and felt fine, this time travel escapade wasn’t as immediately dangerous, but she had been on an emotional roller-coaster for months. In the meantime, she had to have something to occupy herself with, it would be a two more weeks before her heat would pretty much make her useless around the house and without access to some of the more modern drugs to take the edge off she had resigned herself to being curled up, too hot, crampy and aroused to do anything more than cry. 

 


 

 

The Barnes apartment itself was homely and in one of the better neighbourhoods.  They lived on the top floor and had a corner unit.  The bay window let in lots of light and the fire places meant the place wasn’t freezing.  A few days after she arrived there had been a coal delivery, Bucky had spent an hour hauling it up the stairs in twin buckets.  She had offered to help but had been told on no uncertain terms to stay put.  She had fizzed with irritation at first until Lexie had sat her down and told her that if the neighbours saw her out of the apartment when she was so very obviously close to her heat that there would be gossip that impacted all of them.   Bucky had chucked her under the chin and said once her heat was through she could haul a much coal as she liked.  After that she had insisted that Lexie put her to work around the house, the forced idleness was chaffing.  The past eight years of her life had been a constant stream of unrelenting activity.  So, she adapted, learned to clean out the fireplaces, dirty cough inducing work.  Helped Lexie at the twin tub sink with the mangle between to wring out the clothes, back breaking and exhausting.  

 

Finally, she had scoured the kitchen from top to bottom and asked Bucky sweetly to bring her the ingredients for baking bread.  Her only truly useful household skills were baking, cooking and knowing what to mix to make decent household cleaners. Bruce had shown her some easy bases for cleaners the week Tony and Clint got into a paintball firefight in the packs lounge.  Not trusting strangers into the den they had ruled out getting cleaners in to deal with the mess so Bruce and Darcy had mixed cleaner up and handed spray bottles out to both men.  Jane and Pepper had stood supervision on them for aiding and abetting and Bruce and Darcy had snuggled up to watch Netflix for the day. 

 

Lexie, bless her hadn’t said a word about her abysmal lack of practical knowledge and had been pleased that she could cook and bake.  Lexie although competent in the kitchen had no real love for it.  Darcy being able to make bread was a help and would cost them less too.  Having something she enjoyed doing which was contributing to the new pack she had found helped settle her.  After Logan had left the day before Lexie had hugged her and told her that everything would be fine, had reassured her that when she was ready she could tell Bucky about her gift, that it wouldn’t change anything.

 

Telling Bucky was easier than she had thought it would be.  He’d just kissed her and told her he knew she was special.  That he knew she would never deliberately use it to hurt anyone, that he knew she would be able to control it.  His belief in her and acceptance was affirming. He never once even questioned that she might have influenced him.  He told her how he had spotted her that day on the street and had come to her aid because of the incredible pull he had felt, because all his instincts had taken over the minute he scented her, that something in him just knew that she was his and he was her.  Darcy wasn't sure it was possible to fall in love with the same person twice, but it was happening now.

 


 

 

 

 A week after she arrived she was up at 4am moving silently about the kitchen pounding out the dough to make bread.  The huge Agga that Lexie had brought with her from the Brownstone, a wedding present from her husband, began to heat up as Darcy laid out three trays of bread to rise on the stove top, covered by damp cotton to stop a skin forming on the dough. 

She scrubbed down the heavy wooden table with short agitated strokes of the cloth in her hand.  Her hair was tied up with a scarf, a plain cotton apron covered the conservative blue serge dress she’s borrowed from Rebecca.  The quiet was both a blessing and curse.  It was good to have the peace that couldn’t always be found in the three-bed apartment.  Five people living on top of each other was something she had left behind after London.  Her apartment in Stark Tower had been spacious and peaceful, a quiet oasis she could retreat to when being around people got to be too much.  In the stillness of the early morning before the sun had even risen Darcy stopped, leaned the heels of her hands against the table and bit her lip hard enough to draw blood.  She missed her pack, she missed Jane and Pepper and Tony and Bruce.  She missed coffee runs and family dinners, missed tinkering code with Tony and listening to Jane’s latest theory’s.  Misses Peppers grounding presence and Bruce’s quiet company.  She missed Natasha, when had they last had a girl’s night?  Last month just before Nat went on that mission?  What did they think had happened to her, surely Bucky would have told them by now?  Had he known it would happen that day?  Would they ever get her back?  Would she be the same if they did? 

 

“Get it together Lewis.”  She mutters, feeling the first fat tears drop to the table top.

 

“Darcy?”  Natalie’s gentle hand on her shoulder is her breaking point.  The younger girl pulls her into a hug and lets her cry.  Her tears are hot and almost silent as Bucky’s youngest sister holds her close and murmurs quiet word of comfort to her, rubbing her cheeks into her hair, scents of comfort flooding from the other girl.  For a moment she imagines it’s Nat’s auburn hair she presses her tears into and her silent sobs become wailing hiccups.

Before she can collapse completely Bucky is there, he sweeps her up and carries her the to lounge.  When she finally calms down he hands her a handkerchief. 

 


 

 

 

He doesn’t know what it is that was wrong, but he could feel her distress in his sleep.  The faint scent of grief had him jerking awake and off the couch like a fire had been lit under him.  he followed the noise of crying to the kitchen.  Natalie clutched Darcy to her, her eyes wide with worry as the smaller woman wailed uncontrollably in her arms.  He’s heard people cry before, felt sympathy but never had he heard the sound that comes from her body.  It’s like being punched in the gut, for a moment he feels helpless in the face of it.  He takes her into his arms and she turns her head into his shoulder and clings to him like a lifeline.  He whispers words of comfort to her, stopping himself from soothing her to sleep with his scent.  It takes about fifteen minutes before she calms enough, her breath just catching in remembered pain every few minutes. 

 

They sit in silence as she dries her eyes on the soft cotton of his handkerchief.

 

She sighs rests her head in her hands.

 

“I’m sorry” 

 

He strokes her back soothingly and waits.  He knows not to push.  When people want to talk they will, if all he can offer is silent comfort then that’s what he will do.

 

When she begins to talk his heart breaks for her.

 

“I miss my pack.  I miss them so much and I don’t know if I’ll ever see then again.  I thought if I just told myself that everything would be fine I could hold onto that.  Finding out I have some sort of empathic power, it’s a shock and I...  They always know what to do and right now I don’t.  I miss them”

 

“Tell me about them.”  Acceptance, understanding it’s there unspoken but no less clear.

 

She blinks at him through wet lashes gives him a small smile.  He knew what she needed.  Something seemed to settle within her in that moment.

 

“I met Jane first, she needed a…. well an assistant.  She gets forgetful sometimes, we clicked when we met, she’s like a sister and she going to be so worried when she realises what happened and I worry that there won’t be anyone to look after her, cause the others are going to freak out so much when they figure it out.  Jane’s fierce, you’d like her, she really looked out for me, I haven’t been apart from her in eight years.  We became part of a pack four years ago when the Alpha offered Jane a place to do her research, she told him she wouldn’t take the offer unless I could come with her.  All of them welcomed me and I suddenly had people who really cared, people who accepted me, they became family.  Our Alpha, I didn’t know it when we met but it turned out we were blood related and well he and his bond-mate they treat me like a daughter.  He’s loyal and brave and stubborn, he’s also pig headed, reckless and a drama queen.  His bond-mate is an amazing Omega, she always knows what to say or do, your Ma really reminds me of her.   My mom died when I was three after that I went to live my Gramma until she died when I was six.  Having Pep gave me back something I had lost, she supported me and encouraged me, and she always made sure I knew I was valued.  It took me a long time to really find my place, but I did and now I’m starting over again, it just hit me so hard this morning”

 

“You want to go home.”  He said a deep sadness welling inside him.  Sad that he couldn't help her, that she might want to leave him.

 

“It’s not about wanting to go home Bucky.  I am home.  I’m here with you.  You are my home now, I feel it in my soul.  I just don’t think I’ll be able to see them for a really long time, and I don’t know when that will be, and it is killing me that I can’t tell you the whole story.”

 

“It’s alright, I’m really glad you told me about them, they sound like good people.”

 

“The best people, one day you’ll meet them too and you’ll see, they totally rock.”

 

“Rock?”  he asked confused.

 

“Roll with it Dude.”  She said, her smile widening at the adorable expression on his face.

 

“Roll with it, right, guess I’m rolling then”  he said ticking her side.  The laugh that elicited seemed to set everything back on an even keel.

 

 


 

 

 

“You’re Ma sure did manage it quick Buck.  Chapel booked, Father O’Neil agreeing to marry you tomorrow, you got the licence sorted?” 

 

They had been kicked out to Steve’s apartment for the night.  His Ma insisting it was bad luck to see the bride before the wedding.  The quick kiss Darcy had given him in the hall before he left still a warmth against his cheek.  He didn’t think he’d ever felt so nervous before in his life.  It felt like there were a hundred butterflies in his stomach flying around in a frenzy.

 

“Yeah, picked it up after work from the court house.  It don’t even feel real right now Stevie, it’s like the universe just handed me a free pass pal.  The job, a pretty dame like Darcy, feel like there must be a catch somewhere.  When has life ever been this easy for me?”  Bucky had worked hard since he was thirteen to keep his family safe.  Had struggled at times to be the head of a household.  Had extended the protection of pack to some of the friends he had made, helping others as much as he could. 

 

“If anyone deserves to be happy it’s you.  You’ve looked out for all of us for years, never asked for anything for yourself, it’s about time some luck came your way.  I’m real happy for you Buck, she’s a lovely girl.  Can see she’s completely sweet on you, no mistake on that.” 

Steve was honest enough on that.  Bucky shifted his shoulders, he knew now at least in part that Steve's first reaction to Darcy had been because her gift meant she sometimes projected what she felt onto others.  But Steve was holding onto that feeling of hostility for longer than he thought was reasonable.  “She’s a peach Stevie, got a mouth on her and no mistake, bossy little thing, all spit and fire.  But when it’s just us she says the sweetest things, she listens too you know?  Seems to know what I’m thinking or feeling before I do, somehow she just does or says the right thing to help.”  He tries to reassure his friend.

 

“She doesn’t talk much about her past though, where she comes from”  there’s a question there that Bucky hears loud and clear.

 

“She’s from Boston originally, had a hard life, lost her parents when she was practically a baby and her only Grandparent when she was six.  She’s not hiding anything Steve, just doesn’t like talking about it, state homes ain’t kind places to be, she had a tough time.”

 

“And since then?  She’s what 23, 24?  How’s an Omega managed on her own since then?”

 

Bucky grew cold at the faint hint of judgement in the younger man’s tone.  Holding back the instinct to lash out at the implied insult Bucky had hoped that perhaps some knowledge of her story might help Steve understand that she was not a threat, to their pack or him.  “She’s 25 and for the rest, if she wants to tell you she will, that’s her choice.  I know enough about her to know she’s special, that I’m damn lucky she chose me.  I’m not gonna let you make a fool of yourself making thinly veiled aspersions on her damn character.  I know her, if you can’t trust her yet then trust me.  I know what I’m doing, she’s good people Steve, give her a chance, let her get to know you too.  She’ll be your friend if you let her.”

 

Steve back pedals, realising just how far over the line he was going.  He had not meant to challenge his friend.  He had to remember that challenging Darcy was exactly that as far as Bucky was concerned.  He still can't put a finger on what it is that upsets him about her, but she feels off, her scent causing him a prickle of unease, as though she has something dangerous living just under her skin.  He sighs internally, she's been trying real hard to be nice to him.  Had sent him off with a apple pie after dinner the night before, had even fussed over the split lip he'd come to dinner with, tutting and gently cleaning the cut out and asking him to be more careful.  He could tell she wanted to be his friend, could smell it in her scent and her instinctive reaction to seeing his lip busted that she genuinely cared, cared and wanted to look after him because she loved his Alpha.  He had find a way to build a bridge with her. 

 

“Sorry, I just worry, you know that."

 

“Yeah, paranoid little punk aren’t you?  Let it go, she’s not hiding anything bad, just likes to hold things close to her chest, bit like another person I know.”  He told Steve with a pointed look.

 

Steve grinned back, "can't argue with that, give me a little more time, I promise, I'll drop it.  She really does love you, even I can see that.  Maybe I just don't want to be left behind.  Seems lately that I'm the only one without a sweetheart, maybe I'm just feeling sorry for myself."

 

Bucky clapped him on the shoulder, "you'll find your match one day Stevie, you gotta believe it.  I would never leave you behind, you've got know that, I meant it, what I said before.  I'm with you till the end of the line pal.  The end of the line."

 


 

 

 

Darcy sat at the vanity and stared at her reflection.  Her hair was pinned up and curled, there was a modest lace veil held in place with pins coming just down to her shoulders.  It was really happening, she was getting married.  Her hands were shaky and unsteady, her heart was pounding and for a moment she thought she might throw up.  Instead she slowed her breathing and counted, first in Russian, then in Hindi.  No one could have imagined any of this happening to them.  How many times had she thought of what this moment might be like?  Growing up she had dreamed about finding someone she would love, who she would marry, but in no scenario was it in 1940 to a future super soldier and assassin.  Her family weren’t even born yet.  She wasn’t born yet.  What was she even thinking, going through with this, this man hadn’t lived the life that would shape him into the one she had fallen for from afar.  Was it meant to happen like this?  How was she to know what to do?  Ugh this was so far beyond anything she was used to dealing with it wasn’t even funny. 

 

“Jitters”  the voice startled her from her pity party for one and she looked up and caught Lexie’s reflection in the mirror.  She turned and looked up at the older woman.

 

Lexie sat on the bench next to her and took her hands in hers.

 

“It’s normal to feel scared on your wedding day.”  Lexie’s voice was kind, reassuring, it brought a prickle of tears to her eyes as she wondered, if Pepper was here, would she tell her the same thing?

 

“Am I that obvious?”  she smiled tearily.

 

Lexie laughed and smiled at her warmly. “Yes.  But you have nothing to worry about.  I can see it, this thing between you and my son.  It’s small but real and it will grow till it encompasses your whole being and exceeds beyond anything you can imagine.”  She brushed a small tear from Darcy’s cheek.  “Everyone has doubts and yours won’t just be confined to today.  Marriage is an adventure, not always one that goes smoothly.  But love, love is a journey, one you walk together, at time’s you’ll carry each other, sometimes it’s one you must walk apart, but in the end, you reach the destination together.  What’s meant for you won’t go by you Darcy.  I don’t claim to understand what brought you here or where you came from but some things in life are meant to be.  Things that no matter how you run or avoid them happen whether you want it to or not.  Some things, some people are just meant to be.  I think you and James are exactly that.  Meant to be.  You seem at times to have the world on your shoulders, but he makes that burden lighter I think, let him carry you for a while, he’s strong, he’s made of steel and stubborn.  You need him sweetheart, but he needs you too.  He needs someone who believes in him, someone who can remind him that he doesn’t have carry his burdens alone.  Don’t borrow trouble with fears of the unknown, follow your heart it will seldom lead you astray.”

 

Darcy hugs Lexie tight.  “Thank you.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything so beautiful in my life.”  She sits and blows out a breath.  “I’m getting married.”  They smile at each other and Darcy feels the wonder in that tiny statement, feels the strength and determination returning to her bones.  Now the feeling in her belly isn’t lead and stone, it’s the flutter of excitement and happiness.  She can do this, she’s ready.  It won’t be easy, but she has to believe it will be worth it.  She believes in him, she believes in her friends, she’ll get home one day and they will get their happy ending. 

 

When Darcy arrives, she has a tiny moment of panic as she realises she has to walk down alone, the desperate longing for Tony has her holding back fresh tears and then Logan suddenly appears at her elbow.

 

“I thought you wouldn’t be back for a while.”  Her brow arching in question.

 

“Didn’t leave, heard some mystery girl was getting married and didn’t have anyone to walk her down the isle.”  He muttered back, his rough voice not able to mask the kindness in his tone completely.

 

Darcy grinned up at him and snorted.  “I think I understand what she sees in you now, she told me you were a teddy bear on the inside, didn’t believe her then, but I can see it.”

 

“Don’t know what you’re talkin bout darlin.”  He replies, a thoughtful look on his face as he takes her arm in his.

 


 

 

 

The chapel is quiet when Bucky gets there but he’s in time to welcome the rest of their extended pack.  People he’s known for years who he’s taken under his wing.  His Ma used to call them his strays, Stevie was the first in a line of them.  Connie turns up first with her little brother Billy and they make small talk before taking their seats.  Then it’s Lily practically dancing down the pews arm in arm with Jimmy Logan, his brother Michael a few steps behind who makes a face at Bucky as if to say ‘what can you do’ as he watches the two in front act like a couple of teenagers.  He shakes his head and smiles, shrugging his shoulders in happy acceptance.  Everyone should be happy today.  It was going to be the best day of his life.  His Ma comes in with the girls and Steve joins him at the front.  Ma is greeting neighbours who have managed to make the time.  Steve stands at his side fidgeting with the collar of his shirt.

 

“Stop worrying that collar to death Steve.”

 

“It’s stuffy, think I put in too much starch.” He tugged at it again before Bucky grabbed his hand to stop him and then straightened it himself.

 

“It’s not folded over straight.”  Bucky muttered at him, a fond look of exasperation crossing his face.

 

Steve grinned at him.  “Pressure getting to you jerk?”

 

“Shut up” he grinned back.

 

A shadow blocked the doorway then and he looked up to see a tall broad-shouldered man enter the chapel.  He felt instinctively that the man was a predator.  The way he held himself as he stalked down the side isle and made his way directly to his mother briefly alarmed him until he saw her smile at him in welcome.  Only a few moments passed before she led him over.

 

“James, I want to introduce you to Captain James Howlett, he served with your father, saved his life at Cantigny.”  Bucky knew now who it was standing before him and relaxed despite the strong scent the other Alpha gave off.  He didn’t look old enough to have served in the first war but a sharp look from his mother kept him from commenting. 

 

“It’s an honour to meet you sir.  Thank you for what you did.”  The brief nod of understanding Howlett gave him as he shook his hand let him know he understood what it was he was thanking him for.  The papers he’s procured for Darcy looked like the real thing and as far as he could see would never be questioned.  It had made today possible and kept her safe, that was something he could never repay.

 

“I was happy to do it. You know, I haven’t seen you since you were still in short pants, you grew up real well kid, remind me of your old man.  Now, I heard someone is getting married today and needs an arm down the aisle, with your permission.”  Bucky held back a snort at the way Howlett put the request, it was more of statement.  Grateful and amused he nodded and thanked the man again.  He felt the Alpha in the back of his head whisper, telling him he had found a strong ally. 

 

When the organ began to play he only kept his eyes fixed forward for a few seconds before giving in to the urge to turn and watch her as she was led towards him.  The memory of her smile as their eyes met would live in his heart forever.

 

Everything after that moment was a fog as they clasped hands and listened to the mass, when the vows were said and rings exchanged he pulled her into his arms and touched his lips to hers, both of them smiling, eyes bright and souls soaring.

 


 

 

 

Tension had been building from the moment they had kissed chastely in front of the priest five hours ago.  Every brush of his hand over hers had left her wanting.  The heated looks he had given her as they danced had left her weak kneed.  His warm hand on the dip of her waist and the way his thumb had rubbed and pressed the pulse point of her wrist teasing her to the point where she had wanted to drag him out of the room and find a quiet place where she could fall into his arms and have her wicked way with him.  The worst part, the absolute worst part was that he knew what he was doing to her.  Bucky’s knowing look through heavy lidded eyes burning into hers was kryptonite. 

 

He led her up the stairs her hand tucked in his to the empty apartment.   Her breath was short, the silence between them littered with a pulsing need.  The lights were off, the shadows in the hallway long in the dying evening light.  They would be alone for the next week.  He stood behind her his hands lifting to help her out of the long wool coat, she shivered as the cool air met her skin and then shivered again as he brushed her hair away from her neck and placed soft kisses there, his breath hot against her.  She moaned with desire able to fully let go now they were hidden, safe away from friends and family.  Strong arms banded round her waist, pulling her flush against him, his hips pressed into the softness on her ass as his hand crept up to cup her breast firmly. 

 

“Bucky”  she panted breathlessly.

 

“God Darcy, you smell so good sweetheart.”  He told her, lips traveling round the shell of her ear as her legs began to wobble. 

 

“Bucky, bedroom now, I am not doing this in a hallway.”  She shrieked with glee when he suddenly lifted her into his arms, his low laugh echoing through her.   She loved when he lifted her like that, being carried so carefully in his strong arms, safe and protected, made her swoon. Giggling like a loon she grabbed his collar and peppered his jaw with kisses as he growled at her in mock threat.

 

“I can’t believe we did that.”  She said as he sat down on the bed and she curled up on his lap.  She fit perfectly there, his arms surrounding her keeping her close.   

 

“They won’t mind.  I think it’s kinda expected for us to sneak away, it is our wedding night after all.” 

 

“They won’t think I’m some wanton hussy, dragging the perfect James Barnes off in the middle of the reception.”

 

“Pretty sure I was the one doing the dragging doll.”

 

“You took my hand and said ‘Run’, I don’t think that counts as dragging”  his warm fingers were slowly running up the leg of her silk clad thigh, her dress rucking up. 

 

Bucky pressed their foreheads together, rubbing noses with her, his other hand trailing gently up and down her side.  She let out a soft huff and dug her fingers into his neck pulling him close, slanting her mouth over his.  The moan he made as he kissed her back was positively filthy.  She felt the buttons down the back of her dress give way as he made quick work of them.  Before she could register the move he had the dress pooling at her waist, her arms still trapped within the sleeves as he twisted the material holding her helpless as he kissed a hot path down her neck.  Heat pooled in her core, she twisted on his lap, squeezing her thighs together as she ground herself against the growing hardness pressing into her.   The guttural sound he made left her insides feeling like liquid gold.  Her breasts heavy and aching to be touched.  She whimpered, dizzy and floaty when he released her dress and grabbed her by the waist to stand her between his legs.  He pulled the sleeves down and let the dress fall to the floor. 

She watched him then, this handsome man who had blazed into her life to rescue her across time.  She had fallen completely for him, body, heart and soul.  The way he regarded her, his eyes dark with desire and the naked emotion painted across his face humbled her.  She knew he loved her, wanted her.  But the way he looked at her now made tears prick at her eyes.  She was shaking, overwhelmed by the love she found there, the worship as he stripped her bare of the walls she had built around her heart. Nothing had ever felt as right as this moment.  Matched, it was the thing of fairy tales.  Being matched wasn't just love, it was instinct and fate.  Everything falling into line till a pair knew, without doubt that they had been made solely for each other.  She cupped his face in her hands and found the words which had been on her lips lost as his eyes close and he leans into her touch, the seam of his mouth pressing a gentle kiss against her wrist leaving a tiny scent mark.  Her name whispers like a prayer from his lips..   

 

Then they are all motion, hands grasping and holding, stroking and tugging, their clothes littered over the floor, forgotten in the chaos of the moment.  He lays her down on the bed and tucks an errant curl back behind her ear before laying a trail of kisses down over her collar bone.  She sobs inarticulately as he draws one aching pink peak into his mouth and hums, the feeling this elicits draws a line of molten need from his mouth to her center.  His hand cups her softly, pressing one long calloused fingers between her folds, finding the slick wetness and drawing one agonisingly slow digit up until he reaches her clit.  She begs and wriggles as he explores what she likes, listening to each breathless murmur that falls from her lips. 

 

He holds her close when she falls apart in his arms shuddering from orgasm.  Tender words telling her how pretty she looked when she came, how he was going to make her come again once he was buried deep inside her. 

 

Then he kisses her, thrusting his tongue against hers, stroking and teasing till the well of lust is rising again and she finds herself pleading between hot kisses for more. His body covers hers and she reaches for him hungrily drawing him between her legs, her hands running down the taught muscles of his back, nails lightly scraping. 

 

He feels solid and warm against her, a shelter of safety.  He curls one arm under her back tilting her hips a fraction.  He is hot and heavy between her thighs as he sweeps the blunt head of his cock through her folds, covering him in her slick.  Darcy shamelessly urges him on, canting her hips up, desperate for him to fill her and sate the intense ache inside her.

 

She feels the curl of his mouth against her skin where he has nestled his face at the curve of her neck, he’s enjoying the way she begs for him.  Before she can form another thought he’s there.  He fills her in one long hard thrust, stretching her till she can’t tell where she begins, and he ends.  He holds still, tracing his fingers lightly over her skin, soothing her, waiting till she adjusts to his thickness.  He feels so good inside her, his body a thrilling weight holding her down.  He kisses her, tongue sweeping and licking.  He groans as she shifts beneath him, lifting one leg higher, hooking it over his hip, pressing him deeper.

 

He kisses her gently before whispering against her lips.  Telling her how good she feels, all tight and wet and trembling under him.  Tells her that she’s beautiful and perfect, that she’s his.  Tells her how fuckin' incredible it is to be inside her, that he’s dreamed about this since he met her.  Tells her she was made for him for she fit to him so perfectly.

 

She tilts her head back, arching her neck and orders him to claim her properly.  When he moves within her she is lost to the pleasure he gives her.  Arching to meet each thrust as he buries himself in her over and over again, clinging to his arms as she cries out to him and God and any deity willing to listen. 

 

Her orgasm is building fast and he growls out her name as she clenches around him, toes curling and head ringing just as he roars his own release and his teeth sink into her neck.

  

Darcy thinks she might pass out from the third orgasm that hits the moment his teeth lightly break her skin, the bond forming between them in a golden rush of light behind her eyelids.  His weight against her as she cradles his body between her legs is something she thinks she will get addicted to.  She feels sheltered and safe and loved, the languorous sensation from the forming bond leaves her boneless and pliant.  Her fingers run gently through his hair, lightly scrapping her nails across his scalp as he licks and sucks at the bond mark on her neck.  There is no pain, only a gentle heat, his eyes are flecked with gold when he raised his head. 

 

This time he speaks words of love to her, murmuring his awe of her between sweet heady kisses.  He moves his weight from her and she protests at the loss even as he tucks her against his side, holding her fast.  She floats gently in their tiny bubble of bliss marveling at the bond between them, how she can feel what he feels, almost sense his thoughts, the impressions they are trading back and forth to each other are like falling in love again and again.  The sharing so intimate she wants to capture the feeling and hide it away to keep it safe.  He strokes her back, mapping her body by fingertip and Darcy falls asleep to the steady rhythm of his heart beat, now beating in time with hers.  Her last thought before sleep takes her, that now they are one, she will always find her way back to him, no matter what.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Bucky helps her move the furniture.  She hums happily directing him about.  She felt as though she was stepping on air her soul felt so light.  He was always there now, just at the back of her mind, prowling around and rumbling happily.  She thinks the silence in her mind before they bonded was an empty place which had only been waiting for him to fill it.  They are two pieces of a puzzle that have been slotted together so perfectly the places where they meet can not be found.  When she thinks it is more often in terms of us and we and they.  Darcy has always been over flowing with words, but words are inadequate for her to express how she feels about him.  The bond is more than she imagined it would be, where her words now fail her, he can feel what she needs to say.  The reverse is also true.  Again, words would fail, she can’t encompass in words how he feels for her, what she means to him.  She never imagined that bonding would feel like this, that you were somehow complete and whole, wonders how she never noticed that a part of her had always been missing.  No one told her how good it was to make love with the person who was your match but it’s unbelievable just how amazing it is.  They are slowly learning about each other, what they like, what makes her arch up to him in desperation, what makes him beg her to do that again.  But she is feeling restless today.  It’s been three days since they married and she has rearranged the room twice this morning.  Bucky doesn’t complain that he’s had to move the heavy furniture a third time.  He’s is so good to her.  This time the bed is wedged into the corner and the dresser pulled up against the open side of the bed.  Yes that’s much better.  

 

Bucky watches as she relaxes finally, happy with how the furniture in the room is now settled.  He grins internally, already realising what is going on even if she doesn’t.  He had visited a linen store a few days ago while she slept and had put in an order for her as a surprise.  The bonding allowance given to SI employees had allowed him to perhaps go a little over board, but he was sure she would be pleased with the things he ordered.  He steps out to retrieve his surprise as she climbs on the bed and starts fussing with the bedding.

 

She is so caught up in making up the bed and rearranging the pillows for the fifth time that she misses it at first.  Then she frowns and recounts the pillows.  She was sure there had only been six a minute ago.  Now there were eight.  She turns to Bucky to find that shit eating grin on his face as he raises both brows and winks at her.  She stares at the ninth pillow he holds out to her and squeals in delight, grabbing it and rubbing her face against the soft brushed cotton.  He’s put his scent all over it already, her sappy awesome Alpha has brought her pillows, lots of soft fluffy pillows and he has been scent marking them for her before handing them to her.  Darcy grabs him and rubs cheeks with him, scenting him and purring as they mark each other over and over, it’s going to be so cosy and perfect when she’s finished.  She glances behind him and finds a large wooden chest, full to bursting with blankets of varying thickness, cotton for summer and wools for winter, all in beautiful jewel tones.  She dives towards it, sorting and stroking as she goes, finding the perfect sheets for the bed and the softest brushed velvet coverlet she has ever felt in her life.  She jumps back onto the bed and strips off the other sheets, then changes her mind as she loves the way they smell like both of them.  Pouting she bunches the old sheets up, spreads the new sheet then uses the old sheets to line the edges of the nest she is building.  When she is finally finished pillows are lined round the whole bed and there are layers brightly coloured sheets peeking out from beneath the coverlet. 

 

Bucky watches her, she’s incredibly cute right now, how she’s both humming and purring at the same time leaves him a little confused and a lot amused.  Then she finishes and stands back to admire her work before stripping herself bare and burrowing under the covers.  When her head pokes out from under the deep green coverlet she pouts at him and whines.  He happily strips and dives under with her, cuddling her close and tickling her till she’s laughing wildly and their scent is drowning the room with happiness comfort and safety.  She snuggles into him and he stokes and pets her till she’s a heavy weight, sleeping peacefully in his arms.  She is perfect for him he thinks idly.  He feels more grounded than ever, calmer.  The constant drag against his subconscious that had been there since he was fourteen was gone, he knows it’s because part of him had wanted a mate, wanted something, someone who was wholly his.  It’s a selfish biological imperative that leaves some Alpha’s unable to stay in one place for long, pushes them to never call one place home.  He’d had pack and family to keep him here, but he thinks if she hadn’t come along he would have left eventually, once the girls had found husbands of their own.  Now though he catalogues all the things he needs to do to the apartment to make it safe.  Better locks on the windows, a new front door with his next pay check, something sturdier with several locks.  Thinks he should maybe get up soon and check the perimeter.  He slowly falls asleep as her body grows warmer against him, his nose pressed into her neck, absently placing kisses against the silvery raised lines there that formed when he claimed her.

 


 

 

Darcy stretches and rolls to her side, back arching, feels the hot ache of arousal between her legs and moans piteously.  She squeezed her legs together, trying to relieve the tension.  Oh god, it was happening her heat had hit and hit hard.  Every inch of her skin felt hot and over stimulated.  She remembered that first time back when she was seventeen, it hadn’t felt like this.  She breathed in, the smell of spice and leather and cinnamon flooded her mind.  Bucky.   The musky scent of arousal rose around her at the thought of her Alpha, her mate.  Oh God, she needed him, needed him right fuckin now.  She whimpered at the brush of cotton sheets sliding against her overly sensitive skin as she twists, nothing matters but sating the need to mate.  Her Alpha, she need her Bucky.  The scent of him surrounds her but she can’t hear his heart beat or feel his presence in the room. 

 

“Bucky, Bucky” she calls for him, voice high and reedy, pushing back the sheets trying to crawl from her nest, she must find him.

 

The bed dips as he slides into her nest, gathering her against his chest, strong arms banding round her middle.

 

“I’m right here sweetheart, I’ve got you, just tell me what you need sweet girl.”

 

She shivers at his words, quivering as his lips trace the shell of her ear, his hot breath caressing her as he nips tiny perfect kisses along her jaw and down her neck.  The feral part of her mind slips forward.  She wants him to mark her, claim her, drive inside her and plant his seed deep in her womb.

 

“Please Alpha, please…”  Darcy gasps while his hand traces along the underside of her breast before cupping it gently.  She arches into his touch.  “Need you to touch me so bad…  Please… want you inside me….. want you to fuck me hard.”  She’s panting, whining, past all rational thought.  Her Alpha is here now, he will take care of her, she puts herself willingly under his power now, the trust in his protection unquestioning.

 

Bucky growls at her words, he loves it when she uses such filthy language.  He tries to reign in his Alpha just a little, he can feel it creeping into the front of his head, knows he’s going to loose control soon.  Then she turns her head and he sees her eyes, pupils blown wide and ringed with a thin band of gold.  She’s deep in heat.  His hand wanders down, fingers dip between her folds, she’s dripping wet.  He traces round her entrance teasing her as she tries to grind down on his hand.  She’s pleading prettily now, canting her hips to try and drive his fingers inside her.  His arm holds her immobile, unable to move even an inch.  He loves the sound she makes as her breath catches, the way she struggles against him as he lightly draws his thumb up to gently stoke against her swollen clit, once, twice.  He can feel her tummy clench, feels how close she is and then he’s hauling her hips up, dropping her to her knees on the bed and lining himself up.

 

She aches so badly, her pussy clenching and throbbing with each stroke of his finger.  The tension builds higher as he holds her closer, tighter, she can’t move even as she struggles to reach him.  Darcy bites back frustrated tears, she needs him so badly, wants him to fill her, fuck her and claim her.  Then she feels the rough swipe of his thumb against her clit, long firm pressure that drags against the bundle of nerves winding her tighter and tighter. Jesus god she going to come, she wants this, “please, please, please, Bucky…Bucky…Bucky” she chants while trying to ride the hard muscled thigh which has forced it’s way between her legs.  The tantalising hardness of his arousal is digging into her back, she wants him inside her now.  Suddenly she’s on her knees, her back side in the air as he pushes her shoulders down into the pillows.  Yes, please she thinks and arches her back, raising her ass higher.  There is nothing left of her mind when she feels him hot and throbbing nudging against her entrance, the width of him stretching her slowly as he enters her inch by inch and then he stops, not yet all the way in and curls himself against her, covering her completely.  One big hand holds her hip steady, the other coming to rest on the bed beside her own, he threads their fingers together and lets her hip free.  Darcy thrusts back, impaling herself on him quickly, he growls into her neck and holds her with his teeth digging into the bond bite.  Her orgasm hits her then, the feel of him hot and hard, filling her, has tipped her over the edge, she makes a keening cry and her cunt clutches him tighter, then he moves, tiny little thrusts that drive him somehow impossibly deeper till she feels the head of his cock brushing against her cervix and she feels the rising wave of another orgasm building over the first, legs wobble, she can’t hold herself up.  She’s burning from the inside out.  Toes curl, back arches, screaming her release between muttered words, she feels like stardust and rainbows, thinks that nothing will ever be the same again, he has unmade her and put her back together, her mate, her Alpha, her world.

 

Bucky feels her legs give out and brings his arm under her hips, holding her up as he pulls back and begins to thrust, this time he pulls out completely before burying himself in her over and over, fucking her through two orgasms, the way she cries out his name while she loses control and the sweet inarticulate sounds as she shudders and cries under him almost undo him, he can barely hold back from letting go himself, but he’s going to.  When her walls cease fluttering around him he slows his pace and lowers her to the bed, boneless and breathless his cock still seated deeply inside her.  He admires his mate, so small and pale, dark silky curls spilling onto the pillows, strands clinging to her neck.  The jump of the muscles beneath her skin is mesmerising as he strokes her back and sides as she calms.  She is beautiful, he thinks, her skin glowing.  He can’t believe he has her, that she is his.  He thanks the universe for setting her in his path.  He brushes his lips over her bond mark and nips a line of soft kisses down her spine. 

 

“Love you so much baby-doll, such a good girl, so pretty when you cum, love it when you make those beautiful tiny sobs, gonna make you scream for me, my Omega.” 

 

His words, rough and dirty while pressing kisses on her back, seem to dispel the weakness orgasm inflicted on her.  Oh God how can she still feel this need, but he’s there, still inside her hot and insistent.  She turns her head as he kisses back up to her neck and meets his gaze, heavy with lust and love and want, sees his eyes, golden and warm.  He pins her to the bed, catching her lips in a kiss that both claims her and begs her.  She feels his need through the bond, how much he loves her, craves her, possesses her.

 

“Love you, Alpha, want you to cum in me, need you to fill me up, knot me, claim me.”  She pushes back against him and he moans into her kiss.

 

“Mine” his voice resonates in her chest, possessive and demanding.

 

“Yours” she affirms with moan.  She is his and he is hers, there is no question of that.

 

He lifts her up, still connected to her and balances on his heels, secures her with one arm against his chest.  He spreads her legs apart, settling her on his thighs and shifts a little.  He angles her face and his gaze meets hers in the standing mirror. 

 

Fuck.  It’s the only word she can chant over and over in her mind as she sees them together in the dim morning light.  Their reflection in the glass makes her sob with need.  Her pussy is slick and red, swollen from their mating, his cock is thickening while she watches, stretching her even more, then he lifts her, sliding himself from her and she whimpers.  She watches as he pulls out only to slam back down, watches how her body willingly submits to him as he pounds into her, watches as his long fingers move south to strum against her clit.  She wants to close her eyes to the sight, overwhelmed by his expression as he watches her fall to pieces, but it’s impossible to look away. 

 

He feels it the moment she goes limp in his arms, sees it in the bright rose flush the spreads across her pale skin, hears it in the catch of her voice as she calls his name once more.  She’s given him control of this, trusts him even as he loses all thought of being gentle with her.  He roars as her walls clench around him, pulling him deeper, his knot swollen and hard as he releases inside her before closing his mouth around her neck and breaking the skin, staking his claim on his mate.  The wail she makes as she comes drives him forward till she is on her front before him, his cock buried deep, knot swelling and locking them together while hot streams of cum fill her womb.  There is nothing but the overwhelming satisfaction of instinct when he feels her fall unconscious beneath him, the pleasure of their mating and the exhaustion of heat sending her to sleep.  He licks and kisses the bite, relishes the feel of her soft curves pressed against him. He rolls them to one side, keeping her close, protecting her while she rests.

 

When she comes back to herself she realises he’s shifted them onto their sides, he’s joined with her, his knot pulsing at the base, sending tendrils of pleasure up her spine.  It’s too much, she feels so naked, all of her exposed and open.  She has never felt so vulnerable in her life, never felt so emotionally defenceless.  Her tears wet the pillow and he coo’s in her ear, holding her gently and stroking her tummy with warm gentle hands.  He presses his cheek to her and kisses her softly.  She is safe.  She realises the words she is repeating over and over are I love yous.  He gathers her impossibly closer and his own words of love sooth her as his scent enfolds her in blanket of safety.  He protects her.  She is home.  This is where her heart lives, in him. 

 

Bucky pulls the warm covers over them and tucks it around her.  His rumbling purr finding an answer in her own.  He’s claimed her twice now, feels her deep in his bones, her presence branded in his soul.  He knows if he lost her it would finish him.  She is everything, beginning and end.

 

They fall asleep, the knot of their mating still tight as they dream.  Nothing can touch them here, the future not yet lived.  Two young souls yet unbroken by time and blood.

Chapter Text

February 1941

 

Steve groaned and pulled the covers up higher.  He was freezing, his body ached, and every breath hurt.  He didn’t even have the strength to leave the bed.  He’s felt it coming on the day before, knew it was just a matter of time till he caught another damn flu.  He hated feeling so weak, hated that others had to take care of him when he got like this. 

 

The sound of someone knocking sharply on the door echoed through his skull like a drum.  There was no way he was going to make it there to open it. 

 

“Steve?  You in there?  It’s Darcy.”

 

The brunet’s voice was hesitant but concerned.  A hacking cough overtook him as he tried to call out to her.  When the spasm abated he heard the familiar groan of the key turning in the lock.  Bucky must have told her where the spare key was hidden.

 

“Hey.”  She said entering the room.  Her expression morphed to one of worry as she took in the paleness of his skin and the blue tinge around his lips.

 

“Christ on a cracker Steve, you look like shit” he thought her language should have shocked him more than it did.

 

“You kiss your mother with that mouth?”  He retorted.” 

 

“No I kiss my husband, he likes me filthy.”  The wicked grin she gave him as she spoke caused him to chuckle weakly before he was retching and coughing again.

 

Darcy pulled the covers back and sat him up, encouraging him to bend over till the coughing stopped. 

 

“You are burning up Steve, I could fry an egg on you.  We have to get that temperature down.”

 

“I’m fine, you don’t have to do anything.”

 

“Yeah, no, not happening you’re stuck with me.  Bucky said you were a stubborn idiot when it came to taking care of yourself.  No sense of self preservation I think he told me.  I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that’s an understatement.”  She handed him two asprin she had magically produced from somewhere and fetched him a glass of water.

 

Steve wanted to protest but he just didn’t have the energy.  Darcy bustled about, fluffing pillows, changing his sheets and running hot water in the bathroom till steam billowed under the door.  She helped him through and dipped into a pocket in her skirt.  Taking the dropper from a small bottle she added something to the water.  The smell of mint and eucalyptus finally fought its way through his blocked sinuses. 

 

“Now you are going sit in here for the next half hour with this towel over the sink and breath.  I’m gonna go start the soup.”  She didn’t wait for a reply and hurried out of the bathroom with a sharp look.

 

Steve let the steam surround him as he pondered the mystery of Darcy Lewis.  He liked her, he really did, she was kind, compassionate and generous.  She was all the things an Omega was meant to be.  She was also bossy, loud and swore like a sailor when she thought no one was listening.  But there was something about being around her that set him on edge, or it least it had, he didn’t get that feeling anymore.  Still it was hard to forget.

 

By the time the water had cooled he felt much better and washed up before heading out into the kitchen.  The wave of dizziness that over took him sent him straight to the floor before he passed out.

 


 

 

When he came to he was tucked up in bed, soft sheets and a thick hand knitted blanket he didn’t own surrounding him.  He took in the soft morning light and the fact that there was someone sleeping in an arm chair by his bed.

 

Darcy had dark marks under her eyes, her blouse rumpled and her stocking feet propped up on his bed, knitting needles held loosely in her hands.

 

“Darcy?”  he managed to croak out through dry lips and sore throat.

 

She jerked up and stared at him with relief.

 

“Thank Thor!  I can’t believe you’re finally awake, do you have idea how worried everyone has been?”  she stood up, placing her knitting in the chair and poured him a glass of water from the pitcher by the bed and held it to his lips.  “Here, drink, I’ve done my best to keep you hydrated but you’ve been out of it for a week.  Bucky’s been beside himself and I had to bar the door to Lexie and the girls, we didn’t want them catching what you had.  This flue damn near killed you Steve.”

 

“What day is it.” He managed as he dropped his head back, too weak to lift it for long.

 

“It’s Thursday 5th of Febuary.  Eight days, that’s how long you’ve been either unconscious or delirious. Bucky just left for work a half hour ago.  I’ve been taking care of you since you collapsed on me last week.  Sort of moved in a bit.  I got a little fidgety so I cleaned the whole place, hope you don’t mind.”

 

“No, thank you.  The blanket?”  he asked rubbing the wool with his thumb.

 

“Oh, I made that for you, finished is yesterday just in time for the fever breaking.  How are you feeling?”

 

“Tired and like I got hit by a train.”

 

“Just rest, you’re eyes are drooping.  When you wake up again you’ll finally get the amazeballs soup I made.”  She tucked the blankets back around him and fluffed his pillow as he felt his eyes close.

 


 

 

A week later.

 

“I need to get out of bed Darcy.”

 

“Do. Not. Move, Rogers.  Or I will make you regret it.”  Darcy poked him in the chest and he caved back with a sigh.

 

“I need to get up, I have to get back to work.”

 

“You are going nowhere till you’ve gained back some of the weight you lost and can stand on your feet for more than ten minutes without falling over.  You’ve already cracked your noggin having that shower cause you’re too damn stubborn for your own fool good.”

 

Two weeks later

 

“How can you not like Lizzie Bennet?  She’s the most awesome Austen character next to Emma!  I call blasphemy Rogers.”

 

“She’s just as flawed as Mr Darcy and wasn’t always kind in thought or deed to her younger sisters or her mother.”  He looked at her and noted the way she frowned at this. 

 

They had been discussing many novels the past week as she tended to him.  Keeping up his spirits reading to him, distracting him and generally entertaining him while he was cooped up.  He was coming to realise that she was becoming his friend.  He didn’t know exactly when it happened, but somewhere between Treasure Island, cold compresses and the best chicken soup he’d ever tasted she had morphed from uneasy pack mate to mother henning sister. 

 

“Maybe you have a point, but she still had the most awesome lines ever.  Just wait, one day there will be a movie or something made that will highlight just how awesome P&P is.”  She grinned at him and kicked her feet up on the bed.  He draped the blanket over her toes and smiled back at her shyly.

 

“Thank you Darcy, I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to look out for me the last month, Bucky’s a lucky guy.”

 

“Sure he is, he’s got both of us in his corner now Rogers.”  Darcy’s smiled sunnily and winked. 

 

“You gonna let me out of this bed anytime soon?” 

 

“Tomorrow, we’ll get you up, maybe head out for a walk, weather’s a bit milder, shouldn’t cause your lungs too many problems, all being well you’ll be back at work by start of next week.”

 

“I still don’t know why they were willing to let me keep the job.”

 

“Bucky went and spoke to Mr Leigh two weeks ago, don’t worry about it, he took care of it, like he’s meant to.”

 

“Just Bucky?”  Steve asked sceptically.  Darcy’s wicked grin and shrug told him everything.

 


 

 

March 1941

Darcy stared in the mirror and washed her hands.  Willing the tears to keep away.  She’d skipped two periods after the wedding had really thought maybe, after her heat that she might be pregnant.  Tiny day dreams of babies, as impractical as it would be right now had begun to creep into her thoughts.  But the bloody rag she now had pressed between her legs told a different story.  Stress and shock and everything she had went through in the three months since she had been stranded in the past had just taken her body off balance.  Add in the suppressant withdrawal side affects she shouldn’t have been surprised at this outcome.  But it stung.  No matter how inconvenient it would have been a part of her had wanted it desperately once the thought of the possibility had entered her head.  Bucky’s baby, her baby.  Why did it feel like mourning when she hadn’t even been pregnant in the first place?

 

When she crawled back into bed he held her and carded his hand through her hair.  Bucky could feel her sadness and simply waited while she struggled to speak.  When she does he clutches her closer and presses kisses to her forehead.  “There’s plenty of time” her told her gently.  She held him tighter and breathed in his scent.  “One day”, she told him, not quite convincing him that she believed her own words.

 


 

 

June 1941

 

 

“Bucky, I need a job.”  Darcy handed him the plate for him to dry.

 

“Doll, I’m bringing in more money now than I ever have, you don’t need to go to work.”  He told her.

 

Darcy shot him a sour look.  “Bucky, if I have to stay cooped up in this apartment any longer I’m going to go stir crazy.  I need to do something other than cook and clean and help Lizzie and Natalie with homework.”

 

Bucky grabbed her hands and pulled her into his arms.

 

“Ok baby, you want to work, lets find you a job.”  He grinned at the smile that lit up her face and kissed her nose. “I’ll bring a paper back with me tomorrow and we can check the classifieds.”

 

“That’s ok, I’ve got one and I have three interviews lined up for Thursday, I just need you to sign some form for me cause apparently I need the permission of my husband to work.”  The bitter tang to her words filled his nose and he grimaced at the sharpness of her smile.

 

“You really think I wouldn’t have signed them?  You know I know you’re capable and smart Darcy, never gonna stop you from doing something you want.”

 

“I know.”  She thumped her head against his chest.  “I just find the whole thing frustrating. It’s bad enough the best I can hope for is playing secretary to some arrogant idiot who’s job I could probably do better than them.  But needing permission from my husband?  Ugh, it’s demeaning and stupid and it will never last.  I can’t wait till….”

 

“Till what?”  he asked when she cut herself off.

 

“Nothing, doesn’t matter.”

 

Bucky let it go.  “Rollin’ with it Doll.”  He said lightly, determined to brighten her mood.  She kissed him and ran her hands through his hair before stepping back and sashaying away towards the bedroom.

 

“Night Lexie, Lizzie, Natalie.”  She called as she opened the door and stepped through.

 

Bucky snorted and finished drying the dishes before making his excuses to have an early night.  His mother only raised a brow as he left but he heard the girls burst into giggles as he closed the bedroom door.

 


 

 

August 1941

 

Bucky watched Darcy with his face carefully schooled into an indifferent mask as she fizzed around the kitchen.  Her hair was picking up static and curling and twisting around her head while she rattled pans and pots, slammed cupboards and ranted about her new boss.

 

“I can’t believe I work for that asshat!  Do you know what he told me today?  Said a pretty little thing like me aught not trouble my head with politics!  Said women like me shouldn’t worry our little heads over the war and just concentrate on keeping my husband happy.  I swear to God James Barnes, if you laugh at me I will hit you with this frying pan.”  She narrowed a look at him.

 

Bucky frowned in commiseration and raised his mug to cover his face, hissing at the sting of the still too hot coffee.   This was the third time she had found a job only to quit a few weeks later.  She was a pistol, couldn’t keep her down if he wanted to.  The first guy had slapped her ass when she passed his desk, Darcy had slapped his face and poured the coffee she was bringing him right in his lap.  The second one had made comments about her figure to the other men in the office and insinuated that she would be better suited in the bed room than the board room, she’d misfiled all his papers before quitting.  He’d considered very briefly paying a visit to the first for laying a hand on her but she had given him the stink-eye and told him she could handle creeps like that just fine by herself.   The second guy had got off easy.  This one, well he was gonna listen to his girl finish her story and enjoy it.

 

“I’m not laughing at you honey, just wonderin' what you did to this knuckle-head.”

 

The feral look of glee in her eye only made him a little worried.

 

“I put laxative in his coffee and had a peaceful afternoon doing my job without all those sexist comments, typed up my resignation letter and left it taped to the rest-room door.”

 

Bucky coughed as his own coffee went down the wrong way and he eyed the mug warily.

 

“Blasphemy, you tampered with the coffee?  Thought that was against your religion?”  His wife’s love of coffee was a thing of legend by this point.  She was not a morning person without at least two cups and had nearly taken Lizzies head off when his sister had tried to add chicory to make it stretch further.  Darcy had bought five pounds of coffee with her first pay-check and threatened bodily harm to anyone who tampered with it.

 

“He deserved it and coffee in that place couldn’t even be called coffee there’s so much grit in it, it deserved the laxative too.”  She paused in chopping the tomatoes sighed before putting down the knife.  “I knew men treated women this way, but I didn’t really understand it till now.  I’m going to go crazy if I can’t find a decent boss.  I need to work Bucky, I hate feeling useless.  Jane was always working, and I was always there, taking notes, checking math and if I wasn’t with Jane I was doing similar stuff for Bruce and Tony.”

 

“Tony was the engineer, right?”  he asked cautiously.  She didn’t often mention her pack by name and getting any significant details was like pulling teeth.  Today though she seemed distracted.

 

“Yeah, I liked to help him with schematics, I’ve always been good at running numbers in my head and so is he, so we took turns checking and rechecking any designs, it was always fun, especially if I ever spotted a mistake, he used to turn pink, ramble a bit and pretend he was testing me.  He knew I knew he wasn’t really and he’d let me crow about it with enough good humour I couldn’t hold it against him.”  She made her way over to him and snuggled into his lap.

 

“You know there’s a job going in my office?  Need someone good at keeping track of inventory and requisitions, helps if you’re familiar with engineering, what with working for Jane and Tony.  Maybe you should apply for that.”  He wanted to help her, she was getting nowhere fast with the jobs she had taken so far.  He also knew she wanted to do it on her own, but he had to give her the choice anyway, even if it meant she thought he was sticking his nose in.

 

“Are they really going got hire a woman to that position?”

 

“Don’t see why not Darcy, and if you like I’ll keep my nose out and won’t say a word to the department head.  You need a break here doll, I know fine well you can do the work, know you don’t need my help, but it’s there anyway, if you want it.”  She pressed her nose into his neck and kissed him. 

 

“What the hell, I’m so tired of this that I’ll give it a shot, I’ll even ask you to put in a good word for me.  Maybe the guys at your office will be less offensive when they know my Alpha’s nearby to knock em in the teeth.”  Bucky grinned at her and lowered his head to hers, their foreheads touching. 

 

“You’ll be running the place by the end of the year baby doll.”

 

“I’ll settle for doing a good job and getting some recognition that doesn’t come with a dose of surprised condescension.”

 

Darcy started her new job that week.  Getting to spend more time with Bucky on the morning and evening commute was wonderful and the men in the department were perfectly respectful at all times, if they had other thoughts they kept them to themselves.  Bucky wasn’t wrong about her taking over.  She war overseeing the requisitions department and running the boys down in drafting ragged with corrections by the end of November.  It was wonderful to be useful again and to have minions to order about and jump through hoops.  It wasn’t The Tower but it would do.

 


 

 

 December 1941.

 

 

Darcy knew it was coming and had been edgy and snappish the whole week.  If she held Bucky a little a tighter and fussed about him a little more she could be forgiven for it.  She spent an hour locked in the bathroom the night of the 6th, crying silently in the bath, she had poured lavender and rose essence to cover the scent of her grief and sadness.  When she finally felt able to open the door and go to bed it was to find him sitting in the hall waiting for her.  Darcy thought she had already cried it out, but when he looked at her, tears in his own eyes, she lost all control and threw herself into his arms.  He picked her up and carried her to the privacy of their room.

 

There was no way to explain to him, not really, the reason for her tears and there would be more soon enough.  He held her and tried his best to sooth her fear.  She had never been more grateful for him, he did not ask, knew somehow that she would not answer, but he would not let her go, only carded his hand through her hair and tucked them into their bed in the shelter of his arms.  Darcy knew she had to be stronger than this, that it was only the beginning.  Tomorrow she told herself, tomorrow would be hard, but she would endure, she had to.  It was her turn to carry him for a while, she would not shy away from this task.

 


 

 

Sunday December 7th 1941

 

She saw Bucky and Steve off at the door, apron tied tightly round her waist and flour on her cheek.  She smiled and kissed him, told him she loved him and ruffled Steve’s hair.  He and Bucky had an art class they went to every Sunday afternoon.  She knew he wouldn’t be home till seven and with it would come the future she had to ensure unfolded.  She ignored the unease that made her stomach churn and couldn’t eat a thing all day.  She spent the afternoon making pie and preparing the evening meal.  Shared tea with Lexie and Rebecca and helped Lizzie and Natalie pinning up the dresses they were making for Christmas.  The clock ticked closer and when she heard the shouting in  the streets and the banging on doors and she firmed her resolve and stiffened her spine.

 

They sat in the lounge, listening to the radio report. 

 

“…  We heard here in New York that the Pearl Harbour base had been attacked and anti-aircraft fire was heard in a telephone message from Fort Schaefer in Hawaii which said that fifty planes had attacked the island of…….”

 

Darcy clenched her fists in her lap and stared at the weave of the apron. 

 

“Said to be fifty to a hundred planes…”

 

This was the beginning of the end.  This had outraged a country which had tried hard to stay out of another war.  This was the beginning of death and blood.  How long did she have before she lost him to the army now?  How long before the life they had begun to build was ripped away?  Weeks?  Months perhaps before he went to basic, a year or so before he was shipped out to the front.  The radio continued on, the news caster calm in the face of the horror that was to come.

 

“still continuing the smoke of anti-aircraft guns rose over the Pearl Harbour Navy Yard… “

 

The radio drones on and on, repeating what they heard or knew or thought they knew of the attack.  She left the room and went back to the kitchen.  Life carried on, it didn’t stop even in war. 

 


 

 

 

When they heard the news he and Steve had headed back to the apartment as quickly as they could manage.  Disbelief, anger, confusion whirled around them, the streets full of people talking, shouting passing on the news.  He knew this was bad, knew it meant war.  He thought then of Darcy’s odd behaviour the last week, of her breakdown the night before, how she had tried to hide it.  Had she known this was coming, known something bad was going to happen? 

 

When they reached home he was surrounded by his family, everyone talking at once, questions flying, the younger girls in tears.  He felt cold when he noticed the absence of his mate and once everyone was settled back down made his way to the kitchen.

 

She was crimping the pastry edges of a pie when he entered.  The room was silent, none of her usual humming or song, it was leaden with meaning.  Her face was blank, but she knew he was there, her scent turned sour and bitter as she continued to ignore him.

 

“You knew it was coming, that something was going to happen.”  It wasn’t a question, it didn’t need to be.  She gave no acknowledgment of his words other than the slight shake in her hands as she continued to finish the edges.  He rubbed a tired hand over his face and pulled out a chair, sitting down heavily.

 

He watched as she placed the dish in the oven, her back straight as she closed the door. 

 

She didn’t look at him when she spoke, kept her back to him, placing dishes in the sink, scrubbing with a fury that he felt all too well.

 

“It’s war Bucky.  it’s here and we can’t run from it.  Can’t hide, even though that’s all I want to do.  So we face it, we muddle through.”  She looked over her shoulder a bitter twist to her lips. “ Keep calm and carry on. No other choice.”

 

“I don’t want to go Darcy, I don’t want to kill anyone.”  He told her, unsure of what he wanted her to say.

 

“I know you don’t.  But you will go, and you will kill, and it will change you.  When it’s done and over I’ll be waiting for you and in the meantime, we gather as many happy memories as we can to balance the bad that’s coming.” 

 

 “I love you Darce.”

 

“I love you too.”

 


 

 

It was Christmas Eve.  They’d made love the night before like they were trying to crawl inside each others skin.  It had been rough and desperate and heart breaking. 

 

Darcy pulled on her coat, hat and scarf and turned to wrap Bucky’s scarf tight around his neck.  He stopped her and pulled her close to him tipping his head down to brush cheeks with her softly.  His eyes were resigned but determined. 

 

“I hate this. I hate that you have to do this, that you need to.”  She said softly.

 

“Better to do it myself than wait for a draft to force it.  I have to do this Doll, if there was any other way, you gotta know I’d take it.”

 

“No, you wouldn’t.  You’re brave and stubborn and made of steel.  You do the right thing even when it hurts.  It’s why I love you.  You stick by those you love and protect them and right now that means joining the army.  I wouldn’t love you so much if you weren’t so god damn honourable.  It’s the getting left behind that hurts, that tears me apart.  I wish I could come with you.”

 

“If they let you loose on Europe you’d have Hitler crying for his Ma and running home scared in time for tea.”

 

“You’re a right sweet talker James Barnes.”  Darcy rolled her eyes at his line.

 

“Nah, I’m just sweet on you Baby Doll.”  He kissed her, long and slow, an apology and a declaration both. 

 

“You sure you want to come with us?”

 

“I look like some wilting flower ready to faint if I catch sight of some poor shmuck stripped down to his drawers?”

 

“No, but Steve might if he thinks you’d seen him like that.”  He said with a wink.

 

“Steve’s a naive idiot who still hasn’t figured out it was me giving him bed baths when he was sick at the beginning of the year.”  She grinned at the twinkle of amusement in his eyes and stepped back.

 

“Come on soldier, time to go help Uncle Sam.”

 

“Yes Ma’am.”  He gave her a cheery salute and guided her out the door, offering his arm when they reached the street.

 

They met Steve on the way down to the recruitment centre, between the three of them keeping the conversation light, no one willing to let the mood shift down in this moment.

 

Hours later they stood in the cold December twilight outside the centre in silence.  Steve looked stubborn as a mule, flushed with anger at the 4F stamped onto his recruitment card.  Bucky clutched her hand hard in his as she stared at the 1A stamped in his.

 

“Asked to be assigned the 107th, guess I’ll find out when I go to reception for basic.”  His voice was steady, sure but she could feel the roiling of conflicting emotions through their bond.

 

“How long?” 

 

“Four weeks then I’ve to report in.  Being sent to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.”

 

She nodded, kept the tears from her eyes and smiled at him.  She was strong, she would not break.  This isn’t the end she reminded herself, it’s only the end of the beginning.  He would survive this.  She would do everything she could to make him strong enough to endure.  He didn’t need her tears of grief, he needed what strength she could spare and all the love she could give.

 

“Let’s go home”  she said, determination ringing in her voice as she pulled them both along, slipping her hands around an arm of each of them.

 

 


 

 

 January 27th 1942

 

Before Steve met Bucky he had never been included in anything.  Being sick all the time didn’t help.  He missed a lot of school and never really formed the usual social bonds with other kids made.  He was always an outsider, alone.  He had hated it.  He tried to make friends, but kids took one look at his pale skin, skinny form and heard the permanent wheeze in his chest and rejected him.  His Ma didn’t understand where this need to be part of something came from, couldn’t understand why he pushed to join the other kids when they constantly put him down and sometimes hurt him to get rid of him.  She had been born mundane.  This hadn’t bothered her in the slightest, she was happy not to be restricted because of her designation.  She worked as a nurse, enjoyed and made enough money to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.  His father had died in the Great War before Sarah had even sent the letter with the news she was pregnant.  Forcing her chin up and braving through it Sarah Rogers managed to raise him on her own.  

 

The day he met Bucky the other boy had dragged him out of the trash can Bobby Davis had dumped him upside down in ten minutes previously.   Bucky had pulled him out, brushed him off, looked him up and down asked how he’s got there.  Steve explained about the argument with Bobby.  Buck had looked at him assessing the split lip and stubborn frown and asked how much bigger the other kid was.   Steve had shrugged.  When Bucky had insisted on walking him home because a stiff breeze looked like it might knock him over he had told him he could manage just fine himself.  What Bucky had told him next had changed his life. 

 

“I know you can punk, but you don’t have to.  Come on, you can show me around on the way, I just moved to Brooklyn, so really you’d be doing me a favour.”

 

The older boy had taken him home, made sure he got cleaned up and had become his friend.  He’d decided there and then that he would always have Bucky’s back.  Of course it was usually the other way around, Bucky was always there, ready to pull him out of trouble and cussing him out for being so stubborn.  So, between the two of them they stopped bully’s and slowly their circle grew to include some of the kids they’d rescued.  He became part of a pack and felt accepted, he had a place by his friend’s side, his second.  Now though his pal was leaving him behind.  Not because he chose to, but because some doctor stamped a form.  He wanted to fight, wanted to protect people and Bucky wouldn’t have someone to watch his back the way he needed.  It wasn’t right, he wasn’t scared of going to war, he could keep up if they just gave him a chance.

 

Bucky and Darcy had convinced him to give up his apartment to move in with them while Bucky was away.  It hadn’t taken too much convincing.  He knew why Bucky wanted him there, wanted someone to protect his family when he couldn’t.  knew that Buck wanted Darcy to keep an eye on him too.  Bucky was leaving this morning, Lexie and Darcy had pasted cheerful smiles on and kept up an awkward chatter over breakfast and steadfastly ignored the tearful hugs Lizzie and Natalie gave him.  Rebecca stopped by with her husband and hugged her twin close, the two of them whispering to each other in the hallway, Darcy hovering in the door of the kitchen.

 

Bucky pulled Steve to the side and clapped him on the shoulder.

 

“I’m counting on you to keep them out of trouble Punk.  Know you’ll watch over my Ma and the girls no problem.  But you gotta promise me not to step on Darcy’s toes too much, she can look after herself, my girls got moxie, she needs help she will ask you.”

 

Steve chuckled.  “Oh, trust me I know, your gal is piss and vinegar when she gets riled up, even I’m not that stupid.  You can count on me, I promise I’ll look out for them.  You just look after yourself and come back.”

 

“Steve, promise me you’ll not try recruiting again.  I need you to look after our family till I can come home.”

 

“I promise,  I’ll not try again till you come back.”

 

“Swear to god Stevie, you’ll be the end of me.  Just don’t do anything stupid while I’m away”

 

“Okay,”

 

 

He waited while Buck said goodbye to his bond mate, he stepped out onto the landing to give the two as much privacy as he could.  It was painful to watch them part, they’d been married for just over a year and now they wouldn’t see each other for months.  Darcy’s eye were bright with unshed tears and her small hands clenched, fisted in the materiel of Bucky’s jacket.  He blushed just thinking about the kiss he had witnessed between them.  Bucky didn’t want her to come to see him off, didn’t want to see her cry.  She held together remarkably well giving him her goodbye.  Smiled at him and gave him a saucy wink.   He hadn’t meant to overhear, but the words Bucky spoke to her before giving Darcy one last heated kiss were burned into his mind.

 

 

Bucky cupped her face in his hands, her eyes were glassy with unshed tears.  She looked beautiful, the most breath-taking sight in the world he thought.  Now he had to tell her goodbye, not forever, but they hadn’t been parted since they met on a cold day late in December in 1940.

“I’m gonna miss you Darcy girl, just like you’re gonna miss me.  It’s ugly, this feeling twisting inside us, it’s like an open wound that won’t heal till we’re together again.  But we are gonna come out the other end, baby doll, gotta keep those tears at bay, we gotta be stronger than all the hate and the loss.  Promise me you’ll smile every day for me, think of me often and curse me for goin till you hate me if it helps.  But don’t you dare cry baby, there ain’t nothin to cry for yet.”

Darcy kissed him them, kissed him like she could leave an imprint of herself on him that he could take with him and keep close through the months they would be apart. 

 

 

Steve had watched and felt that spark of jealousy once again, though he couldn’t pin point just who he was jealous of or why.  He saw Bucky off to the station, watching his friend leave was a bitter pill to swallow. 

 


 

 

May 1942

 

 

“Darcy, there’s a letter from James!”  Lexie called from the hall.  Darcy rushed out wiping her hands quickly on the cloth and taking the letter from her mother in law.

 

The paper was rough under her fingers and she smoothed a finger over his hand writing, the careful scrawl of her name on the front.

 

She took it to her room to read it, knowing that Bucky would have sent letters for Lexie and the girls.  The letters he wrote to her were for them alone.  The letters were always filled with his love for her and from time to time if he was feeling bold he would write of how he wanted her and of what he dreamed he would do when they were alone again.  They were also filled with little anecdotes of life, of how people had formed into packs after a short time, how co operation became easier the longer they trained. 

 

My Darling Darcy,

Got promoted to Corporal yesterday, means I get a little more pay to send home a and a little more privacy in the barracks.  They think I’m a good shot, made me a designated marksman whatever that means.   I’m not blowing my own horn darlin but I’m the best shot in the 107th, haven’t missed a shot yet.  I can’t wrap my head around the thought that once we’re over seas the targets I take will be lives and not paper.  I hate this, hate the training and the routine.  I know they do it make us better soldiers, but it’s like they’re trying to pick us apart piece by piece till we’re all made in the image of the perfect killer.

I miss you, miss your smile.  Miss the way you moan my name when I’m inside you.  Miss the smell of you, miss your laughter and your mouth.   God Darcy, I want you so badly Doll.  When the war’s over I swear I’ll never let you out of my sight again, you’ll be sick of me.  Dream of me baby doll, like I’m dreaming of you.

With all my heart,

JBB.

P.S.  Have been informed no leave till Thanksgiving.  I’m sorry.

 

Darcy breathed.  She clutched the paper and remembered her promise not to cry.  She could do this, she could wait.  Five months, he’d been gone that long and another five till she saw him again.  She could do it.  Everything would be fine. 

 


 

 

July 1942

 

Everything was not fine.  Darcy had appointed Evelyn Marks and Bryce Donald to oversee the department while she took the three-week absence.  She was ten days into her leave, she’d never felt so miserable in her life.  She wanted to crawl out of her own skin right now.  Wanted to wreck the room and everything in it.  Her body ached, and her tummy hurt.  She needed her mate.  Stupid heat, stupid war, stupid, stupid, stupid.  She was drenched in sweat; the room was stuffy and she just wanted him.  Darcy thought she might just loose her mind.  She lay in her nest, her pretty nest that no longer smelled of her Alpha and cried.  The door clicked open and Rebecca and Natalie came in, cautiously approaching her bed.  She looked at them and burst into fresh tears.  They both stripped down to their slips and crawled in beside her.  Curling their bodies around hers as she wept.

 

“Hurts” she told them, her voice was rough and cracked with crying.

 

“I know baby-girl, I know, it’ll be over soon, you’ve done so well Darcy.  It’ll be over in a few more days.  Ma’s gone to get ice and we’ll help cool you down.”  Rebecca told her softly, stoking her arm gently.

 

“Natalie, pass me the water.”

 

Rebecca pressed two pills into her hands. “I managed to make up something in the pharmacy to help take the edge off.  Want to try it?  It’ll at least help with the pain.”

 

Darcy nodded and took the pills, sipping the water from the glass Natalie held to her mouth.  Her head flopped back down on the bed and she closed her eyes.  Rebecca cuddled in close and hummed a little off key, but it was a soothing sound.  Natalie ran her fingers through Darcy’s hair, gently gathering the sweat slicked strands clinging to her face and neck away before expertly braiding it up round her head.   What ever Rebecca gave her worked fast.  The last thing she felt was the cool press of cold compresses on her skin and Lexie’s voice singing quietly as she and girls moved her to cool her body down as best they could.


 

 

When she woke it was pitch black.  She felt tired and still sore, but the constant ache and cramping was gone.  Her head felt as though it were filled with cotton.   She could smell Lizzie's sweet scent wrapped around her, felt her hand gently rubbing tiny circles into her back.

 

“Hey”  she managed weakly.  Lizzie stilled and Darcy rolled over to see Lizzie smile a sad smile at her.

 

“I’ve never seen anyone go through such a bad heat before Darcy.  Are you feeling better now?”

 

“Yeah, I feel a lot better, whatever Rebecca gave me helped.”

 

“That was three days ago Darcy, you’ve been out since then.  Ma nearly called the doctor, but your temperature started to come down this morning.  I’m so glad you’ve woke up, we’ve all been so worried.”

 

“I’ll be fine.”  Darcy said faintly, pushing herself up and grabbing the water glass from the dresser.

 

Lizzie scrambled off the bed.  “I’m going to get Ma, let her know you’re up and I’ll make some coffee and toast and start on some soup for you too, you must be starving.”  

 

“Thank you, Lizzie.”  Lizzie smiled back, ducked her head and went through the door.

 

Darcy leaned back wondering just what had happened while she was out.  Lizzie seemed really shaken.

 

“Darcy.  Oh, thank goodness your awake, we’ve been praying for you sweet heart.”  Lexie hurried across the room and pulled Darcy into a tight hug. 

 

“I’m alright, really, I’m fine.”  She tried to reassure Lexie.

 

“You were not fine.  You had a small seizure two days ago, you came out of it quickly enough, but it scared the daylights out of us.  Steve was pacing back and forward in the hall when it happened.  He came straight in here climbed into your bed and held you, I don’t know why but it helped.  You know we are all connected by pack bonds, none so closely as you and James, but we could feel it, feel him through you.  You were projecting pretty powerfully Darcy.  James called Rebecca in a panic, he could feel you loud and clear across a thousand miles.  Almost got himself thrown in the camp jail.  So as soon as your up we’ll go down to the pharmacy and use the phone there to call him back.  His SO agreed that he needed to hear your voice, needed to know you were fine.”

 

Darcy began to shake.  “I’m so sorry, I didn’t…”  Lexie grabbed her hands.

 

“Hey, it’s not your fault, you didn’t do it on purpose.”

 

“I didn’t know that would happen, is he ok?  Are you all ok?  Please tell me I didn’t hurt anyone”  Darcy was frantic,  how could this happen?  She thought she had it under control.

 

“We think it might have been the drugs Rebecca gave you.  They knocked you out, any barriers you built around your gift, we think maybe they came down while you were unconscious.  Steve knows, about it, I had to explain, he was so far from calm.  You didn’t hurt any of us Darcy, honey, you didn’t hurt us, we all just felt so sad and we all really wanted James to be home.  When you seized we could feel James, feel his worry and his need to get back to you, his panic, it’s why Steve burst into the room, he could feel James so he did what he needed to do to help you both and it worked.  You calmed down, your heart beat stabilised and you fell into a deep sleep.”

 

Darcy found herself calming under Lexie’s gentle influence and she shakily got to her feet.  “I need a shower and a change of clothes.”  Lexie helped her get to the bathroom and sorted out her clothes.

 

An hour later found her sitting at the table in the back of the pharmacy as Rebecca brought her the phone.  Lexie dialed and spoke to someone before passing her the phone.

 

“Darcy.”  His voice was full of worry, a tinge of anger giving it a bitter edge.

 

“Bucky.”  She’s faintly aware of the way her voice breaks and the tears fall.  He starts speaking, his words rushing over her giving comfort and peace.  They only get to talk for ten minutes and then he is gone, whispered goodbye’s and I love yous exchanged hastily.

 

Darcy manages to hold herself together somehow, makes it back to the house and locks herself in her room.  She feels every mental wall she had built slowly giving in.  She folds herself down into the lotus position and starts to meditate, to pull all her feelings in to her centre.  As she filters though all the knots in her subconscious she becomes aware that she’d picking up other things, feelings that aren’t hers or Bucky’s.     

 

Cold runs down her spine and she centres herself again and starts over, this time leaving a faint screen against this new stream of information.  It’s freaking her the fuck out but it could be useful later.  She sits for hours running through everything Bruce told her about how he used meditation for control, to keep calm and to stop the anger from the Hulk bleeding through and taking over.  When she’d finished she feels calm, in control.  This can never happen again.  The drugs Rebecca gave her took the pain but they had left her mentally defenceless, next time she went though heat alone she would just have to suffer, it wasn’t worth the risk to her family, to Bucky.  What if he had been in battle instead of training, her pain could have distracted him and cost him his life.  She had to do better.

Chapter Text

Brooklyn 1942

 

It had been a month since she had had her heat and things in the household were back to normal as much as it could be called that.  Darcy had found that Steve had avoided being alone with her at all costs and the tension between him and Natalie and Lizzie was at an all time high.  The girls wouldn’t tell her why they were in a snit with him and had been ridiculously protective of her since the scare.  Lexie had shaken her head and muttered under her breath every time Steve flinched when Darcy brushed too close to him.  It was driving Darcy up the wall.  Something had to be done.  She had just about given up on getting him alone without some help, the little goof was slipperier than greased eel.  She had managed to get home early today.  Work had been busy but she had things well in hand on that front.  Since Gilbert Thomson had been drafted she had been promoted as the head of the Requisitions department officially.  She had been handling contractors and suppliers all day and had had more than one bust up with ego driven asshats with more entitlement than brains.  She had thoroughly enjoyed putting every one of them in their place. 

 

The apartment was quiet when she let herself in and she didn’t realise there was anyone else there till a chilling feeling of panic swept over her.  Her senses heightened, and she listened, her blood growing cold when she realised it was Steve, gasping desperately for breath.  Dropping her bag, she ran to his room, just off the kitchen and threw the door open to find him lying on the floor unable to breath.

 

Darcy had seen asthma attacks before, one of her foster sisters had had it bad.  The older girl would take a sudden turn and their foster parents had pocketed the money for Jessica’s meds happily and with no remorse that they could be putting her life in danger.  The older girl had walked her through how to help her more than once and she had had to do so on three occasions.  That last time, it hadn’t mattered what she had done.  Jessica hadn’t been able to calm down.  Ten year old Darcy had watched the closest person she had had to a sister die before the paramedics had reached them.

 

“Steve, it’s me, it’s Darcy.  I am going to get you up, ok.  You’re going to be fine.”  She hauled him up and managed to get his feet under him, dragging him to the kitchen chair.  Sitting him down she loosened his collar and loosened his belt. 

 

“Okay, you need to sit up Stevie and we are going to breath, okay.  I’m going to talk you through it, just listen to my voice and do what I say, okay.”

 

He nodded jerkily at her unable to speak as he wheezed.  She could still feel his panic sliding against the walls she had built. 

 

“Okay, so we’re going to breath in for five slowly and then breath out for five slowly.  I’m going to put one hand on your chest and the other on your tummy.  When you breath out you’re going to feel me pressing on your tummy, then when you breath in your going to press my hand away.”  She kept counting out loud and encouraged him to breath, he kept time with her count but he was still panicking, he wasn’t focusing.  His lips were starting to tinge blue and when she glanced at his nails the beds were tinging blue there as well.

 

“Steve, you have to try and calm down, okay?  Focus on something, close your eyes and keep breathing with me.”  He was trying she could see that much but he was scared too.  She could feel his body leaning against her hands.  He was going to die if she couldn’t get his breathing under control, how long had he been like this before she arrived?  She had to do something.  The next breath rattled dangerously, and she could feel his body tense up as he forced the air in with less success. 

 

“Steve, look at me, I’m going to help you.”  He looked at her, his eyes, pleading with her to do something.  “I’m going to calm you down, your going to feel calm, serene, focused and we are going to keep breathing damn it.  I get that you’re freaked out by what happened, by what Lexie told you and I’m sorry but I’m not asking permission to save your stupid hide.”  She let down her barriers and reaches out, pushing the feelings she was concentrating on into his mind.  She watched as his eyes closed and felt him relax under her touch.  The next breath was better, and slowly over the next ten minutes she felt his breathing come under control.  She knelt in front of him still counting, her voice becoming hoarse.  His hands lifted to grip her wrists and push her away. 

 

He nodded to her and gave her a weak smile.  She pulled her emotions back and retreated behind her walls. 

 

“Better?”

 

He nodded and dropped his elbows on the table, leaning forward to brace himself there.  She got up and filled the kettle with water.

 

“I’m going to make you some coffee, the good kind.  It should help a little more to get it under control.”

 

“Thank you.”  He said eventually as she made up the coffee.  “I wasn’t freaked out by what Lexie told me.  I’ve been avoiding you because I was embarrassed about what I did when you seized. “

 

Darcy whipped round and pinned him with an incredulous look.

 

“Are you kidding me?  You were embarrassed that you held me when I was sick?”

 

“You’re my best friends girl and I crawled into bed with you when you were half naked.”

 

Darcy let out an amused huff.  “Seriously, all this time you’ve been embarrassed cause you saw my boobs?  Priorities Steve, I don’t give a shit about that.”

 

“Darcy, I promise I wasn’t trying anything...”

 

“Shut up Steve, I know you weren’t trying anything.  I know when men like me that way, I know what that looks and feels like.  You don’t like me like that, you never have.  I mean you might think I’m pretty but you’re not attracted to me.”

 

“Right, of course you know how we feel about things.”  His tone was only a touch bitter, she was shutting that shit down right now.

 

“I’m not invading peoples privacy Steve, I’m not peering into your head. I couldn’t actively feel other people’s emotions until after that happened last month.  Since then most of the time I keep my shields up around people.  It’s crappy feeling what others are feeling, exhausting and tiring in ways you can’t imagine.  No, I know you don’t find me attractive because you’ve never once looked down my dress or stared at my ass.  I’ve seen you look at my mate though.”  She stopped afraid she had said too much.  The flush on Steve’s face told her as much as she placed the coffee before him.

 

“It’s not like that, me and Bucky we nev..”  she held up a hand. 

 

“Calm down, I’m not accusing you of anything.  I know you two are just friends.  If you were anything more he would have told me a long time ago.  For what it’s worth I really don’t think he knows you like him that way.”

 

Steve struggled for a moment, trying to get his thoughts in order.  She waited patiently and sat down across from him, adding cream to her coffee and a spoon of sugar.

 

“I love him but I’m not in love with him.  He’s my family.  Maybe in the past I might have, liked him like that but, I don’t anymore and I like girls just fine too.  It’s just, I think I like some guys as well.” 

 

Darcy smiled at him and grasped his fingers with hers. Comforting scents of vanilla and cherry blossom infusing the air around him, trying to put him at ease as best she could.

 

“There’s no shame in it Steve, you can feel however you want about whoever you want.  I don’t judge, and neither would Bucky.”

 

“I think it’s Alpha’s that I’m interested in.  They smell good to me, it’s… I’m not sure I can explain.”

 

“It makes perfect sense, you don’t have to explain.  I get it, alright?  There are plenty of people who feel like you do, they just don’t talk about it.  I think they will one day though, people won’t care who you want to build a life with regardless of designation or gender.  Our family, our pack, we all love you Steve, it won’t matter who you bring home as a bond mate so long as you’re happy and they love you.”

 

“You know I’ve been really jealous of you since you turned up.  I’ve felt like I didn’t have a place anymore.  That Bucky would forget me.  I felt threatened by you because he protects you the way he used to protect me.  I’ve never seen two people match before, it’s sort of overwhelming to watch from the outside.  The two of you orbit around each other like stars, when you’re in the same room, he’s always aware of you more than anything else.  When he has a problem, it’s you he talks to first now, I felt like I was losing my best friend”

 

“You realise he’d still step between you and certain death right? He is still your best friend, me being here hasn’t changed that he loves you, that he’d do everything in his power to protect you.  What it does mean is that I will do that too now.”

 

Steve watched her as she spoke, a stunned expression on his face as he took in her words.

 

“Steve, you didn’t loose a brother when Bucky and I matched, you gained a sister, me.  I love the people he loves and one day, god willing he’ll meet my family and love them just as much as I do his.  I was never going to be a threat.  I’m your ally.  I want him safe and home with us just like you do and I know, without a shadow of a doubt that you will do everything in your power to bring him home one day.”

 

“I don’t know what to say, I…  Thank you that means a lot, though I don’t know how I’ll manage when they won’t let me join up.”  He sighed.  “Sorry, I promised him to let it go, but I really can’t stand the thought of not enlisting.”

 

“Steve, you are the most stubborn son of a gun I have ever met.  If you want it badly enough I know you’ll get there.  Don’t give up yet.  Keep trying.  If you do get accepted before Bucky gets back I’ll tell him I made you do it.”

 

Steve chuckled at that and drank his coffee.  “You really are something else Darcy.  He wouldn’t be pleased if we ganged up on him.”

 

“He’d get over it.  It’s not like he doesn’t know what he was signing up for with the two of us.  We’re probably more alike than we realise.  He’s been sitting back laughing at us all this time while we tolerated each other knowing full well just what made us both tick and why we kept locking heads with each other.”  Steve grinned and ducked his head.  Darcy grinned back and felt like she had finally made a break through with the man she had once loathed.  Perhaps there was more to his behaviour in the future that she would only come to understand with time, but for right now, she wanted to be his friend.  Bucky loved him, so much and that meant everything to her, Steve was one of the only things he would have of him family so many years from now, it was important that she find some way to build a relationship with him now, one that she could somehow fix in the future.

 


 

 

Wednesday 25th November 1942

 

The morning was cold but the sun had come out and Darcy was thrumming with excitement.   She stood by Steve waiting impatiently for Bucky’s train to arrive.  There was excited chatter all around, so many people here to see their men come home.  the sound of the train in the distance brought a momentary hush to the crowd and then the noise was back louder than ever.  The swirling scents in the air were sending the crowd of people into a nervous mess of tears and laughter. 

 

The train pulled in and Darcy’s heart was racing, she was on tip toe trying to see over the crowd, to spot him and then she was running, Steve only steps behind her as she was drawn unerringly towards the end car. 

 

Bucky jumped from the train, and pushing past the people around him made his way towards her.  She was in his arms, swept up into a hug, her feet leaving the ground as he spun her around.  She was twisted in knots on the inside, so many emotions fluttering up to overwhelmed her.  She buried her nose in his neck as he did the same, their tears wetting collars as they held onto one another. 

 

“You’re a sight for sore eye’s Darcy Doll, I’ve missed you so damn much”  

 

Darcy dropped back down onto her feet and cupped his face with her hands, lightly rubbing the stubble on his cheeks so reminiscent of how he’d looked the first time they met.

 

“I am so glad you’re home Sarge” her voice wavered on the last word as she touched the bars sewn into his uniform.  He grinned in response and kissed her quickly, a hard press of his mouth on hers leaden with promise for later before stepping back to great Steve.

 

“Missed you too punk, you been lookin’ after my gal?” he said as he pulled the smaller man into a hug.  

 

Steve hugged Bucky and thumped his back.

 

“She’s been the one lookin’ after me and you know it, jerk.”

 

Darcy signed contentedly as Bucky’s strong arm wrapped round her waist.

 

“Come on boys, lets go home.” 

 

Darcy was happy to be silent as they made their way back.  Steve catching Bucky up with everything that had went on while he was away.  There was never any doubt in her anymore that this is where she was meant to be right at this moment.  If this was all the time she would have with him, if she never returned to the future, then she intended to make the most of it.

 


 

 

 

Christmas Eve 1942

 

They lay in the dark, bodies damp with sweat, the satisfying scent of sex was heavy in the air, the scent of their arousal and release lingering.  Bucky admired the sheen on her skin from the street light which filtered through the window.  It was quiet and peaceful here in this moment.  He trailed his hand softly down her back as she lay curled against him.  Her dark curls spilling over his arm, her head tucked into his shoulder.   He’d missed this, the way it felt to be lying next to her in the silence, both happy and sated.  He’s missed the scent of her, she smelled like home and comfort and warmth.  He knew she was still awake, but words seemed redundant right now.  He could feel her so clearly at the edges of his mind through their bond, her mind was like sunshine and stars, bright and warm but sometimes cold and distant and beautiful.  There was no where he would rather be than right here with her.  He’d missed this closeness, the feel of her presence never far from him.

 

He’d struggled the first months after he been taken to basic.  The bond stretched thin and brittle, he couldn’t feel her anymore, just the awareness that she was alive, still part of the world.  The shock when he had suddenly felt her again had brought him to his knees.  He knew she was in heat, had felt her reaching out across miles desperately calling for him across the bond.  He’ felt her pain and fear and then he’d felt as though her mind had gone.  The sheer panic of losing their mental connection but still feeling her emotions had rattled him.  He’d tried to take off right then, would have done anything to get to her, crawled through fire, walked on nails, killed everyone who got in his way if he had to.  It had taken six MP’s to take him down.  They had chained him to the bars of the cell while he raged and cursed, lost all sense as the feral Alpha in him rose surely to the surface intent on protecting his mate.    He’d thrown every bit of himself through the bond, trying to reach the rest of his pack.  Then he’d felt Steve, knew he was near Darcy and encouraged Steve to help her, slowly felt her mind return even as the emotion she had been pushing slowly dialled back and calmed.   His Beta brother would protect her, she was safe for now, but he knew there was something wrong.   They’d brought down a specialist doctor from medical and given him a sedative.  It was enough to calm him down and allow him to demand and plead for a phone call home, that he had felt something happen to his Omega, that he had to check she was alright.  His SO had agreed, decent of the guy since Bucky had nearly broken the man’s jaw trying to get away.  When she had called three days later, awake, fever broken he’d nearly wept with relief.

 

Since he’d been home he noticed just how much more closely tied they all were.  Pack bonds were something even science couldn’t quite figure out.  Being aware of other members of a close-knit pack wasn’t unusual, having a sixth sense about their well-being or being able to track them down, also not unusual. Bonds like that formed over years, became deeper, stronger.   But this, what was happening here since Darcy’s seizure, it was different.  All of them could feel each other now, not like a mating bond, less invasive, but unfamiliar.  He could sense Steve down the hall, knew he was fast asleep, could even tell that he was healthy.  Same for his mother and sisters.  It was good being able to reach out and check on them and being able to get a good sense of how they were.  When they had all been together at the table for breakfast the day after thanksgiving, no one had said a word to each other, but plates and salt and food were passed wordlessly without asking and no one had noticed till the sound of Lizzie sneezing had startled them all out of their silence. 

 

“I think it’s me” Darcy’s voice was little more than a whisper against his skin.  He wasn’t surprised she could tell what was on his mind.

 

“Yeah, I think so to.  This gift of yours, it’s affecting all of us through our bonds, made them stronger brought us closer.”

 

“I don’t know how I’m doing it.”

 

“You’re scared.”

 

“I think whatever power I have, it’s growing, and I don’t know where it’s leading, don’t understand how it’s changing me.  I’m worried I’ll hurt someone.”

 

“I don’t think you’ll hurt anyone.  Stevie told me about the asthma attack.  You pulled him back, helped him calm down and focus.  You saved his life Doll.  That the first time you used your power on purpose, right?  Look what you did with it.” 

 

She smoothed her hand against his chest and pressed a kiss into his skin. 

 

“I didn’t know if it would work.  I was worried it wouldn’t.  I had to try something though, he didn’t look good, I thought he might actually die.  Maybe that’s part of why I’m here, maybe I was meant to save him.  The universe sucks.  You know my friend Jane, her lover, he’s, well he has stories about fate, his people call them the Norn’s.  He says they can change the destiny of mortals, intervene to ensure certain people live or die.  It makes me wonder, am I just some pawn in a greater game, a piece on the board being used to change how things could play out?  The day we met, I didn’t think I was meant to be here, I was worried that….”  she stopped, choking back the words.  “Sorry I can’t, I can’t talk about this with you.”

 

She tried to get up to leave but he held her tighter and pressed a kiss to her forehead.

 

“It’s ok.  I’m not going to ask.  I’m not angry with you.  Confused as hell, but you always knock the sense outa me anyway.”  He gave her a crooked smile, trying to lighten the mood and drew tiny circles in the dip of her back and held her hand gently.

 

“I don’t understand how you can be ok with not knowing.”  Her scent was sour with guilt and remorse.

 

“I trust you.  I’ve trusted you from the moment we met, and you told me I was perfect to you.  The things you said to me, you turned my head baby doll.  I could tell you meant every word.  I knew, right then that I’d trust you, always.  You’ve never lied to me.  I know you love me, I can feel that, it humbles me how much you care.  I don’t need the details of what you can’t tell me to know you would never hurt me.  I know what you keep back has you feeling guilty and sad.  That every moment we spend happy, a part of you sits back and grieves.  I know sometimes it seems like you know when somethings going to happen.  Maybe you can see the future, maybe you came from another world, it doesn’t matter though.  I trust you because you are strong enough to do the right thing.  Honestly, I try not to think of it too much because all I want to do it take that sadness from you, so I let it go, like I’m letting it go right now.”  He felt her relax against him, felt the flood of grateful emotion along their bond.

 

“I fall in love with you a little more every day James Barnes.”  He felt her lips curve into a smile.

 

“That so Mrs Barnes?  It's funny, cause I feel the same way about you.  Want me to show you again how much I love you doll?”  he rolled over her, trapping her beneath him and rubbed his nose against hers.

 

Darcy giggled in surprise as he nudged open her legs with his knee.

 

“Again?”  she asked eagerly as he kissed down her neck.

 

“What can I say, I missed you, got some catching up to do.”  He was going to distract the hell out of her till all she could feel was happy and loved. 

 


 

 

14th June 1943

 

He’d only been home a week when he received the papers with his orders.  Bucky stared at them, fighting back the helplessness he felt in this moment.  Shipping out tomorrow, less than 24hours till he left behind everything he had ever known and loved for the battlefields of Europe.  He closed his eyes, falling back on the bed, taking in the scent around him, trying to brand it into his mind.   Darcy, her scent filled the room, sweet and sensual and comforting, the smell of home and happiness.  He wished he could take it with him but knew from experience that even taking something of hers with him, her scent slowly disappeared over time. 

 

As he lay there on their bed, the lazy morning sun warming him through the glass he contemplated the last few years.  They were some of the happiest of his life.  Meeting Darcy had been a whirlwind, she had blown into his life from nowhere and suddenly he had found himself believing that things had suddenly come up roses.  He should have known that nothing he had in life could be easy for long. 

 

They’d had a year, a year of marriage, without worry.  She’d made every minute of that first year special.  He’d lived in that year, more than he had in the first twenty-three before it.  He’d been training for the last 18 months with sparse visits home for leave and during that time away he had relived each first they had had together in his mind. 

 

The first kiss in the hallway.  The first night he’d made love to her here in the bed he was lying in, buried deep inside her as he’d claimed her a his, marked, matched, wedded.  The first time they had walked the beach at Coney Island, her holding her heels in one hand and her other hand tucked into the waist of his trousers under his jacket, tiny hands pinching his side as they’d laughed and giggled over nothing.  The first time he had taken her out dancing, just the two of them, how she had fit so perfectly in his arms as they swayed to a slow romantic song.  The first time he had introduced her to his co workers at SI and the incredulous looks they had given him that he’d somehow managed to convince a dame like that to marry him.  The first time she’d smacked one of them down at the office with her sharp tongue and reduced that idiot Rawlings to near tears while loudly pointing out where he’d made errors that if she hadn’t seen them would have cost thousands of dollars in mis requisitioned items.  God she’d been spit and fire and he’d been so turned on watching he’d had to excuse himself. 

 

He could watch her for hours, it didn’t matter what she was doing, she was breath-taking.  The way her hair would come loose from the careful curls she pinned up and wisp round her neck.  The way her lips, always painted red would curl in that smile that was only ever for him, something secret and special.    The way she moved her hips when she danced in the kitchen to some melody only she could hear.  Their first fight over her pay check when she’d insisted on contributing to the household bills, she’d won that in short order and he hadn’t minded a bit because she had taken him to bed and reduced him to drooling idiot with her mouth then rode him into the mattress till he could swear he saw stars.  She was like no woman he had ever known before, her mind was sharp, her wit sharper and she could knock a guy on his ass if she had a mind to do it.  

 

He thought of his Ma then, how she had held it together when his pop died, she’d been a wreck on the inside, hadn’t wanted anyone to see how hurt she was, the pain she felt.  She’d known he was dead before the news even reached them.  He remembered that day, how she’d dropped to her knees and screamed, a loud keening cry then the crippling sobs that had left her almost unable to breath.  Like he and Darcy his parents were matched, a rare thing, there were always others you could be compatible with, be happy and bond with, but matching, that was rare.  Knowing as soon as you met your other half that they were the one.  Some folks frowned on it, called it overly romantic, but that was because finding it was like winning the lottery or finding a needle in a haystack, it could take a damn long time and might never happen.  That was what he was most afraid of about going off to war, not that he would die, but what it would do to her if he did.  He hated the thought of her feeling that same pain his mother had.  He worried what it would do to her, if they had a kid maybe it would be easier, something for her to hold to like his Ma had them.  But if he died, she’d be adrift, alone, no matter the people who would be there to help her, she’d feel that way for the rest of her life and she’d never choose another man again. Omega’s just weren’t built that way, something about how they bonded meant it would only ever happen once, she’d never fall in love again. 

 

“Bucky?”  her voice drifted across the room and he looked up to see her standing uncertainly in the doorway.  “Oh.”  Her face fell as she caught sight of the official papers.  He sat up and held out a hand to her, wanting so much just to hold her right now.  She caught her hand in his and let him pull her onto his lap.  He could feel the dread curling in her stomach, smell the bitter burnt tang of anger and sadness in the air from her scent. 

 

“Shipping out tomorrow.  England, then being deployed to Europe with the 107th.”  She was so warm in his arms, every moment they had he cherished.

 

“So we have today.  One last day.”  Her tone is cheerful but she ain’t fooling no one.

 

“It’ll be a great day” he promised, pulling her closer.

 

“The Stark Expo’s tonight, it’s going to be amazing, we could go dancing after?”  her fingers worked the buttons on his shirt open.

 

“That sounds like a great idea, we take Stevie along with us?”  his hand moved under her skirt and he unsnapped her stockings from her garters

 

“Sure, I’ll even bring him a nice girl to dance with from the office.” Her deft fingers were working his belt open now.

 

“A nice girl?”  he asked her sceptically, hooking his thumbs around her panties and tugging them off.

 

“Well, nice enough, so he doesn’t spend the whole night moping too much.”  She pushed him onto his back on the bed and straddled him.   

 

“Well that’s a whole ten hours from now, what’ll we do till then?”  He bit his lip and glanced up at her through thick lashes, the tiniest of grins lifting the corners of his mouth.  Admiring the way her eyes blew wide at his look.

 

“I’m sure we’ll think of something.”  She lent down and kissed him.  It was breathless and wet and filthy, tongues and teeth and whimpering moans as their bodies moved against each other.  There was a desperate edge to their love making, his fingers leaving bruises on her hips and thighs, her nails drawing blood down his back, both of them leaving the imprint of themselves behind.  When he pulled her against his chest and bared his neck to her she understood what he wanted without words being needed.  She fastened her mouth against his skin and with just enough force bit down, marking him forever as hers.  When he felt the mark take he came hard, deeply buried inside her, his hips jerking from the force of it and then the feeling of falling as the bond between then opened further and he lost all conscious thought, darkness claiming him.

 

 

Bucky woke slowly, feeling Darcy’s warm body lying snuggly on top of him.  He opened his eyes to find her own anxiously staring at him.  He gave her a sleepy, pleasure glazed smile and she broke into a smug grin.

 

“Now you know what it feels like when you bite me.”  Her voice was laced with amusement and fond affection as she stroked her hand though his hair.

 

“If I’d known it would feel like that I would have asked you to mark me a long time ago.”

 

 “It’s not done though, you going to be alright if people notice?”

 

“Don’t care what anyone thinks, I’m yours doll, was from the minute you batted those big doe eyes at me in back that alley.”  He reached up to feel the raised mark with his fingertips.  “how long was I out?”

 

“About half an hour, how’d you feel?”

 

“Like I slept for a week and nothing can make me unhappy.”  She moved to climb off him and he pulled her back down.

 

“Stay, just like this, just for a while longer”  he whispered.

 

He felt her relax and lay her head back on his chest.  Just a little longer, just them, for a while he thought basking in her warmth.

 


 

 

 Darcy made sure it was the best night she could give him.  The Expo was exciting and full of inventions and concepts she recognised from her future.  Bucky dragged her off left and right, excited by so many of the fantastic things on show.  Steve tagged along gamely with them but hardly said three words to Etta whom she had convinced to come along.  Not that the younger girl was in the best of moods, she had seen her brother off to Europe the day before and was worried.

 

She hadn’t really thought that she would see Howard tonight, hadn’t considered the possibility.  When Bucky dragged her down to the front of the stage to see a flying car she had frozen suddenly looking up at the young and smiling face of her father.  Wow, he looked so young and so like Tony, his expression so sure and arrogant and charming knocked the wind out of her.  Oh, to see the look on Tony’s face if he could see this, watch as their father both succeeded and failed with his demonstration.   She grinned widely up at him as he shrugged off the failure when the car crashed to the stage and giggled as he swaggered off. 

 

When she turned to talk to Bucky she saw his back retreating quickly though the crowd.  Tugging on Etta’s arm she followed after him.  The recruitment centre loomed in front of them and she knew now just what was about to happen.  Watched as Bucky spoke hotly to Steve, eventually she called for him, reminding him he promised to take them dancing and he said goodbye to their blond friend and retuned to her side.  Gentleman that he was he offered his other arm to Etta and the three left, leaving the future Captain America to his destiny.

 

 


 

 

Darcy stood at the station arms wrapped round Bucky’s neck, kissing him hard, her heart breaking.

 

“Don’t you dare cry Mrs Barnes”  he said wiping away the tear that escaped her eye, his own suspiciously wet too.  “I’m not crying, It’s just raining…. On my face.”  She choked out, trying to smile at him.  He chuckled and rubbed his scent across her cheeks before burying his nose in her neck, breathing her in and kissing her bond mark gently. 

 

“I’ll come back.”  She shuddered and drew in a breath and nodded, unable to speak at this declaration.

 

“It’s not goodbye, Darcy girl, I promise, I’ll see you again.  If I have to kill every damn Nazi in Europe I’ll do it to come home to you.”  He sounded so sure when he spoke, and she knew it wasn’t the end, that he would survive, but she wasn’t ready for this chapter to be over, wasn’t ready to let him go just yet.

 

“I love you, I love you so much.”  She pressed her forehead to his, fingers threaded through his hair. “Remember something for me ok?”  she felt him nod.  “Remember that there is always hope, even when things are at their darkest, life finds a way.  You’ll make it out of whatever hell you find yourself in, just don’t give up, hold onto me because I am always with you, I’ll be waiting for you, however long it takes.”

 

“I’ll be back”  he said, swiftly kissing her one last time before stepping onto the train.  She felt a hysterical giggle threaten to burst free at his words, inadvertently quoting a movie that wouldn’t be made for decades. 

 

She stood shoulder to shoulder with Lexie, holding Lizzies hand in hers, Rebecca behind her with her hands clutching Darcy’s shoulders, Natalie stood silent, hands wringing together and biting her lip.  They waved to him as he found a window to call goodbye from and waited an age as the train pulled away before finally leaving the station.  A very small part of her hated Steve right now, for not being here, for letting his friend, brother, packmate leave without saying goodbye.  She crushed it down and pushed it to the back of her mind. Steve had his own destiny to fulfill right now.

 


 

 

 

August 1943

 

Darcy looked at the picture on the front of the newspaper. It was Captain America, but not the Cap she knew, this was the one that preformed stage shows to convincing the public into buying war bonds.  The dancing monkey in front of a chorus line for the entertainment of the masses.  It made her sick to see him like that, he must be desperate she thought, to put up with it.   He’d sent them a letter a week after the Expo, explaining that he had joined the army, but not much else, she figured his letters were censored.  Still they hadn’t heard anything since and it was August. 

 

Shaking her head, she skimmed the following pages before stopping at the puzzle page.  Along with the usual cross word puzzles and brain teasers was a small add with a complex incomplete formula underneath the word ‘competition’ in block capitals. Darcy glared at it with a look that could only be described as utter loathing.  Algebra, the bane of her existence. Every scientists best friend and her reason for almost not graduating early. Darcy had avoided Science and Maths courses like the plague, she had found them boring because she could do it in her sleep.  Shuddering at the thought of being back in that high school classroom, she raised an eyebrow recognising the formula. She had seen it in Tony’s workshop back at the tower, hung up on the wall, it had been one of Howards early equations theorising on arch reactor technology.  After spending the best part of 4 years checking and rechecking all of Jane, Bruce and Tony’s calculations and formulas, equations had become second nature to her. Tony had bet her a pair of widow bites, saying that there was no way she would solve it without the background in the field.  She had.  She can still remember him looking fondly surprised and then grabbing her up in a hug and whirling her around before saying “I guess you really are a chip off the old block, the old man would be proud” then he had added, after a beat “and more than a little bit smug.” 

 

What on earth was this doing in a newspaper?  Darcy had promised herself she would stay away from the war, away from the danger in Europe.  She had a good job, she was contributing to the family here while Bucky was gone.  She had responsibilities to her pack.  Still, Howard had put this out there, he must be looking for something with it.  She paced the room in agitation as she wondered what it would mean for whoever got it right.  Maybe he was just looking for someone to help in the labs, maybe it was something to do with other projects he wouldn’t be overseeing personally.  She bit her lip and sat back down, picking up the paper in her hands and pondered.  Darcy walked across her room and grabbed a piece of scrap and a pen, quickly completing the formula in full.  Maybe it was just a silly competition with a good prize, but maybe it would get a job closer to Howard, where she could make herself invaluable enough to travel with him.  Maybe she could get to Europe, maybe.  Would it be worth it, to break her own rules?  To meet her father just on the chance that she could see Bucky again before he was gone?  She grabbed an envelope, writing the address given on the front and leaving a note on the inside with her address and name. She practically flew to the post box at the end of the street, shoving the envelope through before she could change her mind.

 

 

After a week with no reply Darcy had suspected she had made a mistake and not won the competition, cursing herself for not paying more attention when she had filled in the missing pieces she had continued to rewrite the formula out over and over, checking and rechecking. Lexie and the girls had just left for the market with Michael when there had been a knock at the door leaving Darcy to answer it. Putting down her knitting needles in frustration because she had finally fallen into a rhythm, Darcy scrapped her hair back in a loose bun and answered the door. She stopped in shock at the sight before her.  Howard Stark was stood with another man on her doorstep.  Darcy had to force herself to breathe before she could pass out. Her father, who she thought she would never meet was right there, standing in front of her.  So many questions flew through her mind, everything she had always wanted to ask him about nearly spilling from her lips, her mind only settling when he began to speak.

 

“Are you Darcy Barnes?” Howard asked looking down at the piece of paper and then back up at her. Darcy smiled tightly, nodding. Howard raised an eyebrow as he held up the scrap of paper she had completed the formula on a week before. “Did you do this yourself?” He questioned with a stoic look on his face.

 

 Darcy glanced down at the cuff of her sleeve where she had written it on her arm. Darcy looked up at him pulling up her sleeve to show him the formula on her arm.

 

“What do you think?” She said with a smile. Howards eyes widened almost in disbelief before a grin appeared on his face. The tall man next to him snorted at his reaction, Darcy could tell she was going to like that guy.

 

“I’m looking for an assistant, I need someone that can check the math, keep me in line and get stuff done.  Does that sound like something you can do?” Howard asked her. Darcy smiled, her heart feeling as though it was going to burst, this was so much better than she had imagined.  It had worked, if she was assisting Howard with his work then she would probably get the opportunity to get to Europe, she would see Bucky again, be there for him after Azzano, maybe.

 

“Yes, that’s something I can do” She answered with a slight smugness in her voice.  “But I’ll have to resign from my job.”

 

“You work?”  Howard asked taken aback.

 

“I work for you already Stark, at SI.  I run Requisitions for the engineering department you have building those planes and all the fancy tech you stick in them.”  She enjoyed watching him stare at her, assessing and re-evaluating her before his eyebrows rose up to his hair line.

 

“D. Barnes, is you?  Efficiency went up thirty percent in the last year and the department budget was underspent!  How the hell did you manage it?”

 

“I make them file in triplicate and check all calculations and design plans with the drafting department before allowing anyone to order anything, saving time and money on mis requisitioned items.  Do you know there’s a warehouse on 3rd filled with inventory that is useless because people don’t check data and numbers and schematics before ordering stuff?  They were bleeding money all over the place down there and I’ve got it running like a well-oiled machine, so you’ll have to find me a replacement.  Or you know, let me hire my own so I know whoever takes over won’t mess up my filing system or let the guys backslide on paper work and checking for errors.  I also want my pay to be equal to that of a man in the same position, non-negotiable, it’s a shitty system that expects a woman to do a job as well as a man and pays her less.”  Darcy didn’t hold back, she was proud of what she’d done to turn that place around.  The look on his face was priceless, he was gaping like a fish.  The man beside him was trying hard not to smile.  Darcy waited patiently raising an eyebrow as he tried to formulate a response.

 

 “You don’t pull any punches, do you?”  he seemed to consider for a moment before continuing.  “ I’ll agree to the pay.  If you think there’s someone in the department ready to take over for you we’ll hire them, also on equal pay if it’s a woman and I’ll back date your own pay since you took your position to make up for any underpayment on account of your gender.  That meet your requirements?”  Darcy could smell shocked amusement rolling off him in waves.  She nodded, a satisfied curl to her lips. “Great! You start tomorrow, Jarvis will pick you up in the morning at eight and I’ll make sure you’re escorted home every evening.” Howard said, nodding towards the taller man, Mr Jarvis.

 

“One quick question, where is the damn washing machine you advertised as the prize?” Darcy asked cheekily.

 

Howard grinned cheekily. “It will be delivered tomorrow to this address. Nice meeting you Mrs Barnes.” Howard said, extending his hand to her. Darcy took it with a firm grip shaking his hand, catching a light scent of oil and pistachio from him.

 

“Nice meeting you too Mr Stark. Nice meeting you as well Mr Jarvis” She chimed taking his hand as he extended it with a slightly softer grip.  Jarvis smiled looking down at the small brunette, thinking that maybe she would be able to teach sir a lesson or two.

 

Darcy watched from the window as they walked back to Howard's car, she smirked recognising it from both the expo and Tony’s lab, that had been his first prototype flying car, Tony had told her all about it when she had asked about the picture of it in his lab, mentioning that it eventually had ended up being a bust. Intrigued she had done a little research and found he had built one more back in the 90’s.  A little more digging she figured out who had it.  Phil Coulson, Agent iPod Thief himself was the owner of it, a red 1962 Chevrolet corvette.  It had mysteriously disappeared soon after he had been killed.  Darcy still wasn’t completely bought on that though, she was 90% sure Coulson was still alive, she had been working on a file about it before she got thrown back in time, determined to get her damn iPod back.   She whirled, full of energy and then brought herself up short.  Lexie.  She would have to tell her what she’d done.  That she was probably going to be leaving.  Her heart sunk with worry over what would happen, with her gone.  There were so many reasons for her to stay here but none of them could compare to her reason for going.  Lexie would understand why.  Lizzie and Natalie would be gone soon, off to University in September to live in the dorms there for unbonded Omega’s.  Rebecca would be here for her mother and Darcy could go to be with Bucky.  She shook her head, everything was going to be fine.  It was fine.

 

              

 


 

 

 

September 1943

 

Everything had been fine, great even.  Working for Howard was a lot like working for Tony, exciting and unexpected and fun.  His workshop was a disaster zone though, it had taken her a week to organise everything to her own liking and making sure there was water and sand buckets placed strategically around the room for putting out the small fires he seemed to be able to start from out of thin air. 

 

Darcy rolled her eyes as one of the other mad scientists eyed the calculations she was checking and finishing, a woman being smart in the 40s really was beyond their thinking. Shaking her head, she stood up walking over to the chalk board Howard had been standing at, fixing the misused apostrophe before copying it all down into the log book.  Darcy had been working for Howard for a month and she had to admit, it was some of the best fun she had had since ending up here. He trusted her opinion and was well aware that she knew what she was doing on the Physics end of the spectrum. She had found herself on more than one occasion, fixing his calculations just before a disaster could occur. Along with that she had taken it upon herself to make sure he was taking time to eat and sleep because a dehydrated scientist was never a good thing, many of Tony’s wacky experiments, most ending in explosions, had proven that.

 

Darcy starred two of Howard's cadre of scientists huddled next to the chalk board, gazing at it in confusion. Their math was wrong, not that they knew it, she itched to just go over and fix it, but she decided to leave them to it. Half an hour went by, Howard had left claiming to be back soon, however long that would be, it really did vary Darcy had noticed. The scientists still stood starring at it in confusion. With a sigh she spoke “Your math is wrong” The scientist looked at her and laughed.

 

“Darlin’, how about you go get us some coffee” The shorter one spoke. Darcy rolled her eyes, standing up and walking over to the chalk board, erasing what they had written and rewriting it correctly in record time, then stepped back to marvel at her work. The scientist looked at her and back at the board a half a dozen times. “Well?” Darcy asked, already knowing she was right. “I-I… ummmm… ehh, you see darlin’” He began patronisingly before he froze, Howard walked in, a smile on his face, coming over to Darcy.

 

“What ya doin’?” He asked. Darcy smiled looking over at the chalk board.

 

“I was just finishing that up for them, they had been stuck for a real long time.” Howard looked at them in disbelief.

 

“I gave you guys that weeks ago, I thought you had finished it already.” He spoke looking at Darcy with what looked like proud amusement. “Herman, go get me and Darcy some coffee” He ordered, then prompted Darcy to tell Herman what she wanted.

 

“Black, two sugars, sweetheart.”   She said with her sweetest voice.  The shorter scientist, Herman, nodded and shuffled off crimson staining his face. 

 

The day went by and eventually it was just Darcy and Howard left in the lab. Darcy was finishing up copying down Howards notes as he finished an experiment. Howard looked over and saw her as she yawned and shut her eyes for just a few seconds too long.

 

“I’ll get Jarvis to come and take you home just now Darce” Howard said softly, Darcy shot up and shook her head.

 

“Not yet, I want to finish these up tonight” Howard sighed, he had learnt better than to argue with the brunette. He continued his experiment and soon enough, Darcy was beside him helping.

 

“Can you smell that?” Howard asked.

 

Darcy’s eyes shot wide open as she dragged him away from the table, she knew exactly how all of Tony’s explosions began. She was too late, it burst into flames spitting bits of metal and fire everywhere, Darcy flung her hands up to protect her and Howard from the blast, squeezing her eyes shut because of her lack of goggles.

 

“Darce, what’s going on?” Howard questioned, his voice was high and stunned. 

 

Darcy opened her eyes to see a shield with an arc reactor logo in the middle and Stark Industries across it between them and the explosion before it suddenly shut down with a flare of yellow light.  She followed the projection back to her wrist, Darcy quickly took it off her bracelet in an attempt to hide it and saw the inscription inside. “Stark Industries Prototype 001: For my little sister, love TS” Darcy shook her head. “Dammit, Tony” She mumbled. How the hell was she going explain this one to Howard ‘I have to know everything’ Stark?

 

“That was a force field” Howard stated in a whisper.

 

Darcy nodded not knowing what else to do, Howard was a smart man, far ahead of his time. 

 

“Even I am nowhere near being able to make that sort of technology work-” Howard added, grabbing the bracelet from her hand despite her cry of outrage, stopping when he read the inscription inside and going pale.

 

Darcy could see cogs turning in his brain, with an uncertain smile she silently waited for him to speak.

 

“When?” He questioned, Darcy raised an eyebrow innocently.

 

“What do you mean?” She asked, knowing full well what he meant.

 

“When are you from?  It’s clear that you’re not from this time, and not just because of this bracelet. TS, I’m guessing those are my son’s initials, making you my daughter, god it all makes sense now. That day I first met you, your scent, it was familiar, it made me feel real protective of ya, I just brushed it off as something that was just unexplainable, nature or something”  he was looking at her with awe and confusion.

 

“Stop” Darcy said, her voice quiet, yet powerful. Howard went silent, the air around them suffocating with unanswered questions.  Her head was spinning, how much could she tell him?  Could she tell him anything? He had figured most of it out by himself, would telling him more do much harm?  Jane, Bruce and Tony’s voices consumed her mind, all shouting and arguing over each other about what she should do. Her head was pounding. Have I messed everything up? Will this alter the timeline? Omg will I even be born now? Dammit Lewis, you’re smart enough to figure this out, c’mon think. Darcy straightened herself out, ready to speak. Baby steps Lewis, baby steps.

 

“Before I say anything you have to understand, that I can only tell you somethings, okay?” Howard nodded slowly, still looking at her as though he had never seen her before.

 

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to affect, actually from a non-linear non-subjective view point, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly, wobbly… timey, wimey… stuff” Darcy stopped, Howard looked more confused than Bucky on a bad day.  Oh my god, of course he looks confused, she had just quoted a time travelling alien with more lives than a cat in an attempt to explain the fricken space time continuum, for god sake Lewis, pull yourself together. What the hell would Bruce say?

 

“Essentially the time between 1940 and when I’m from are part of a causality loop, something that happened to me in the future was the cause of an event that happened after I ended up here in the past but, if the thing that happened when I got here hadn’t happened, then the future event would never had happened to make the event in the past happen” Darcy stopped and starred at Howard, going back over what she had just said, she was even beginning to confuse herself.

 

“That loop has closed… I think. But, I’m still here which makes me think there is still more that I have to do. However, if I alter anything that I know has already happened or will happen, it could potentially erase the future I came from and myself from existence, creating a grandfather paradox. So, if I tell you too much, the universe might end, but if I don’t tell you enough, it might end anyway, so I have to operate in a grey area that honestly, I know very little about.” Darcy stopped herself before she continued down another rabbit hole of endless possibilities. Howard’s raised eyebrow lowered as he began to ponder what she had said. Holy bannaballs, what had she done, had she told him something that was going to alter the timeline by trying to explain why she couldn't? I swear to Thor, Darcy thought hotly, if I ever get back to 2018 I am learning as much as I possibly can about this crap.

 

“Okay” Howard spoke.

 

“Okay?” Darcy questioned. Howard nodded.

 

“That grey area, that will be the basics, when you’re from, any information that doesn’t line up with what you know from the future, anything that seems like it should happen different we talk about.  We try and figure out if there’s anything else you’re meant to do.  Things that don’t have to do with our family or that our family is involved in should be safe to cover.  The rest, we can talk about, if you want to.  I understand how dangerous this could potentially be.  Whatever you tell me, I’ll keep secret, I won’t try to change things, I have a pretty important stake in this now.  I don’t want to do anything that results in you or your big brother not being born.”  His tone was kind and hopeful and for the first time in a long while she felt like she could relax. 

 

“Okay,” Darcy said, her head finally starting to settle down. God, she hoped this was going to be okay.  “I was in 2018 before I got sent back, it’s been sort of crazy, I landed in 1940 and, well it’s a long story.”

 

“But Darcy, you are my daughter, I’ll listen to everything and anything you want to tell me, no story too long, or too tall for that matter” He stated. Darcy laughed and then found she couldn’t stop. She couldn’t wait to tell Tony how Howard just paraphrased Darth Vader.  Without warning the laughter turned to tears and Howard caught her in his arms and got her to a seat.

 

“Damn, I’m no good with tears sweetheart, come on, take a seat, you can tell me all about it.  I promise, whatever you need, I’ll help you.”  He awkwardly patted her back and she could smell his discomfort, worry and a hint of blooming affection. 

 

That night she and Howard sat in the lab, drinking scotch and Darcy explained everything she could about what had happened to her since she got here.  She told him about Bucky, leaving out what she knew of the immediate future and felt freer for it.  When he told her he was meant to be going to the SSR base in London he didn’t argue when she insisted on coming with him and promised to help get her the permission to go.  Before she knew it she had new papers issued showing that she was Howard’s cousin so she could travel with him wherever they needed without question. 

 

Two weeks later Darcy packed her bags and bid a tearful goodbye to Lexie and Rebecca as she left for England. 

 


 

 

 

2018

 

Logan sat on his bike eyeing up the Tower before him.  He had a good relationship with Stark, the man was good in a fight, made a good ally when needed and he’s gathered a solid team here.  When he’d come with Marie to talk shop with the Avengers PR agent he’d nearly choked on his cigar.  Darcy Barnes, or rather Darcy Lewis, greeted them, welcomed them to her office and ordered some refreshments.  Logan had been too stunned at seeing his old friend to say a word.  He’d known as soon as he scented her that this was her before her trip to the forties.  The young woman was bubbly and easy, not the guarded tense woman he had first met or even the grief struck, heartbroken one he had last seen.  He hadn’t said a word to her during that meeting, not sure what he could possibly say to her without giving anything away.  The next few meetings were easier.  He got to know her better, was pleased at the friendship she and Marie had developed and came to understand just what had drawn him to her in the first place.  She was a caretaker.  Oh, every Omega was to one degree or another, but her.  She could fix people, draw them out, always knew what to do or say to help.  Probably her own power, unknown as it was in this time working in her subconscious helping her along.  Now he sat here 3.30pm watching as personnel were herded out of the tower and titanium shutters locked down over the windows of the first fifty floors.  Well he’d made a promise and he meant to keep it.  Darcy was damn lucky he had the memories of WWII mostly intact in his mucked-up brain.  He fingered the letter in his pocket and dismounted the bike.  Show time.

 

The ride up the elevator was quick.  When he stepped out onto the floor he found a group of people standing around in a lab facing off between a swirling blue portal.

 

The man who stepped in front of them protectively was a one he hadn’t seen in 70 years.  James Barnes expression was wide in shock.

 

“Hey kid, long time no see.”

 

“How?”  Barnes eyes narrowed, suspicion bitter in the air.

 

“Mutant, don’t age, don’t die” best to be blunt, no point in beating around the bush Logan thought.

 

Tony came to stand beside Barnes.  Both of them standing shoulder to shoulder now, not comfortable that he was there and knew something they didn’t. 

 

“So, you knew Darcy in the past and Barnes here apparently.”

 

“Yup.”  Tony’s eye twitched.

 

“Walked her down the aisle on her wedding day, saw her a few times after that.  She told me who she was, how she got there, wouldn’t tell me anything about the future and asked me to pass on a message.  She wasn’t sure how much Barnes remembered before she was sent back.  Smart girl, left messages with a number of people, hoping they’d make it here.  Last time I saw her she told me she had left a letter with Lexie for me to pick up, advised me to get a long term deposit box to keep stuff in that I didn’t want to lose.  Course she never warned me why.  I didn’t remember any of this till about five years ago.  Still a shock when I met her here three years ago, to see her so young.”

 

Barnes crossed his arms and watched his old friend carefully.  There was something the man was not saying.

 

Tony interrupted his train of thought.

 

“Are you going to give us the message or what?”

 

Logan hooked his thumbs in his belt and looked conflicted.

 

“Her first message was that she didn’t want anyone coming after her till after Barnes was gone.  She was determined to stay by his side till he fell off that damn train.  But I know fine well she was still around in 1948, saw her from afar in London, didn’t manage to catch up with her though. I picked up the letter from Lexie in ’49 stuck it a long term deposit box, Xavier helped me access it last week.”  He withdrew a letter from his jacket, yellowed with age and handed it to Barnes.

 

Bucky looked at the letter, recognising the handwriting immediately he turned away and opened it carefully. 

 

James,

Welcome to future, I’m hoping you will get this letter, I’m sorry I’m not there to tell you this myself.  I’m so sorry I couldn’t tell you who I really was, where I came from, by now you must have figured out the truth.  When I found myself in that alley and realised when I was, I had no idea what I was going to do, I was so scared, but then you were there, saving me.  It was the craziest day of my life.  When you approached me in the coffee shop before I landed here I felt like I had won the lottery, that you were interested in me was like a dream come true.  I’d already started to fall for you on paper, had been desperate to meet you.  I realise now you must have been avoiding me those first months at the tower. I don’t understand how you were able to forgive me for letting you go on that mission, for letting hydra get their hands on you. That you still wanted me and loved me enough to mark me, to ask me out on a date, it stuns me, but I’m so thankful you did.  It meant when you first met me, you knew what I was to you even if you didn’t understand why.  The time we had together I will treasure forever even if you guys don’t figure out a way to get me back.  I need you to know that I wouldn’t have done anything differently.  I love you, every moment we had together was worth the world to me.  If I have to spend the rest of my life without you I will still be grateful that you loved me, that you chose me.  I miss you so much, it’s like a part of me is missing, how crazy is it that I lived the first 26 years of my life not realising I wasn’t whole?  I will wait for you for as long as I can.  I hope that Tony and Jane and Bruce can figure out how to get me back but if they don’t, please don’t let them blame themselves.  Accidents happen, you all are heroes, but you can’t save everyone, I know that better than anyone.  I didn’t save you or Steve, I let you go in the hope that one day we would find our way back to each other.  Look after my family, my Alpha, and tell Steve I’m sorry, he probably is angry with me still, but I know you’ll set him right.  Look after Jane, she needs people to remind her to live.  Watch Tony, he tends to spiral when things don’t work out how he wants them to.  Give Natasha a hug from me, tell her she became one of my best friends, that I miss her and will always love her.  I’m intending to write more letters that I’ll leave with Howard.  He’s my father, did you know that?  It’s why we got on so well.  He figured me out not long after we met, he’s been helping me ever since, keeping me safe until I can come back.  Hydra are looking for me so I move every few months, hoping to stay one step ahead of them.  You’re wondering why and want me to get to the point but this isn’t the sort of thing I can trust to a letter, just in case it falls into the wrong hands.  Howard keeps a safety deposit box at his bank in New York, Tony will know which one I mean.  The deposit box is on a hundred-year lease, the key is hidden in the Stark Mansion in the compartment inside the grandfather clock in the library.  Any other letters or updates from me will be in that deposit box.  I know I can trust Howard to keep them safe.  So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find the key, access the box and, I hope, find a way to bring me home.  They’ll ask for a pass phrase when you take the key to the bank.  Natasha will know what it is, tell her “No one gets left behind, or forgotten”.  She’ll know what it means. 

I love you more than words on paper can ever convey.

With all my heart,

Darcy.

 

He looked up to find expectant faces all around, he gave a brief run down of the letter and sat down, re reading her words again as Tony donned his suit and took off to retrieve the key, hoping that the box might give them the clue to finding Darcy and bringing her home.

 

“Jarvis, what Natasha’s ETA?” he asked

 

“Miss Romanoff and Mister Barton are currently crossing the Atlantic, coms are dark till they reach American air space. Their ETA is 75 minutes.”

 

“Steve and Sam?”  he asked. 

 

“They are currently running dark and have not yet received the message about Miss Darcy, I will inform you as soon as they call in their position Sergeant.”

 

“Thank you, Jarvis.”

 

Bucky became aware of Logan sitting down beside him.

 

“You ok?”  Logan’s voice was low as he asked.  Bucky sighed.  He was worried.  She was stuck in the past, he had no way of getting to her and Hydra were after her for god knows what.  

 

“No, my mate is out of my reach in another time unable to get home and running from the very bastards that brain washed and tortured me.  I am about as not ok as I can get.  I can’t understand why she’s still there in ’48.  I’m afraid it means we’re never getting her back.  That this might be the last thing I ever hear from her.”

 

“Don’t give up yet, she’s a smart one, your girl.  Got herself out of a lot of trouble more than once.  I bet she gave Howard instructions, something will be in that box, you’ve just got to believe it.”

 

“But why like this?  If Howard knew, why doesn’t Tony know anything about it.”

 

“Think about it, she knew Howard was going to die, knew how she met Tony.  She was preserving the past.  She didn’t warn her own father that you’d be the one coming for him, that he’d be murdered.  She’s strong, stubborn and smart.  Howard didn’t leave anything that Tony could find because it’s how Darcy wanted it.”

 

“Sergeant Barnes, I have Miss Romanoff on the line.”

 

“Put her through.”

 

“Natalia, you got the message?”

 

“We got it, what happened, all we know is that there was an accident in the labs.”  Her voice was calm and professional. 

 

“It happened, Darcy’s been thrown through time, right now we have a number of problems.  I’m having Jarvis send you everything we know about what’s happened and how.  But I need to know something now.  What does “No one get’s left behind, or forgotten” mean, Darcy left a message saying you would know what it meant.  We need a pass phrase from it.”  Bucky felt the ringing of tense silence over the com.  When Natalia spoke next he felt her fear and worry.

 

“‘It’s from story she’s fond of.  ‘Ohana’ means family, it means no one gets left behind or forgotten.  The phrase will be ‘Ohana’.  Darcy always finds meaning in the strangest things.  It’s something she told me when I tried to leave after the Accords.  She came after me to bring me home, she told me Tony would forgive me, that she understood why I helped you and Steve.  That she wouldn’t let me run because I was family, I was pack.  She told me…  we were Ohana and then she brought me home and we watched ‘Lilo and Stich’ and then I understood what she meant.  That we have to stick together, even when things are hard, that we’re only human, that we make mistakes.  That family means being there for each other even when we don’t get along.  It’s why I stayed.  She is why I stayed.  We’ll be back in 30 minutes, Clint’s pushing the jet.  I’ll start a run down on the file Jarvis sent and try and get a lead on who sent the Zero Matter.  Widow out.”

 

“She sure does have a sense of humour.”  Logan said with a snort.

 

“Natalia?”  Bucky frowned in confusion, staring at Logan like he’d lost his marbles.

 

Logan threw him a look that asked if he had lost his mind.

 

“Fuck sake kid, no, Darcy.   The movie she showed the Widow, sums up the pack here as well as my own pack.  Bunch of misfits and nut jobs managing to save the world while trying not to blow themselves up.  It’s a kids movie.”  He grinned at Bucky’s confusion.  “ Well I’ve done my part.  Xavier told me to let you know we’ll be on alert for whatever fucked up shit you usually deal with.  So, while you deal with this, we got you covered.  Let me know if you need anything, still owe you one for Vienna and I definitely owe your girl one for that deposit box, got a lot of stuff in there before Stryker took my memories, stuff I would have been loath to lose.”

 

Both men stood and exchanged a handshake before parting. 

 

“Sergeant Barnes, Sir has the key and is on his way to the bank, shall I relay the pass phrase.”

 

“Go ahead Jarvis, hopefully when he gets back there will be more answers.”

 

Bucky sat back down heavily int the chair, still clutching the letter in his hand.  This was what he's been worried about for months, that when she went back he'd have no way to bring her home.  Reading her words absolving him or any of them of guilt only made him feel worse, made him worry more.  He needed something to focus on, something he could do to help.  Perhaps finding out who had set these events in motion with a delivery of a very dangerous substance would help. 

 

"Jarvis, I need all the information you have on Zero Matter and who has had access to it, where it's been stored and when.  I want to find out who sent it, we can't afford further breaches to security like this again."   Jarvis sent the files to his tablet and he began reading through it.  Finding that the last known location of Zero Matter was at the Fridge made him grit his teeth once more.  HYDRA had raided it shortly after Shield fell.  When Natalia got back they would track the bastards down.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

London October 1943

 

The reality of the Blitz was something she had only ever read about in history books.  The few reels of footage she had ever seen of the aftermath of the bombs dropped on London by the Luftwaffe paled in comparison to the experience. The smell of burning, the scorched air.  The acrid stench of smoke and dirt and fear was a constant miasma.  The people here though, were stubborn.  Their eyes hardened, the toll of living in such constant fear of death had changed them, made then both stronger and more brittle.  But there was also a sense of camaraderie and good spirit, Londoners she thought might just be a breed apart.  They smiled and joked with the American soldiers, went out of their way to helpful or just kind.  It was heartening to see such good spirits even in the midst of despair and struggle. 

 

Howard had kept her busy.  Setting up his lab in the SSR bunker was a careful balance of juggling safety and practicality.  They had briefly met with Colonel Chester Philips when they had first landed.  Before she had even stepped onto the runway the man had whisked Howard off for a private conversation, handing her father a thick file and poking one blunt finger sharply at whatever it contained.  His brief greeting to her was brisk and slightly dismissive but she had put up with that type of disregard because of her gender and designation for a long time. 

 

The first time Darcy met Peggy Carter was a week after they had set up in London.  She had returned to the lab with dinner for her and Howard to find a small brunette in dress uniform arguing with him, her tone sharp, each word punctuated by the pointed finger she was jabbing in Howard's chest.  The look on Howard's face was hilarious, each time she jabbed he flinched and looked ready to either run or kiss her. 

 

“Howard, what did you do this time?”  she asked as she set down the plates on the bench.

 

“Darcy!  You’re back.”  He managed to croak.  “Could you explain to Agent Carter that I am not in fact taking advantage of you in any way, shape or form.  She seems to be under the impression that umm….  Well that you and I are…. Ummm.”

 

“What?  Eww, Howard that’s disgusting, shut up!”  she turned her attention to Agent Carter and only just managed to stop the squeal of excitement bubbling up in her chest.  Margaret Carter was a legend.  She had been instrumental in showing the world just how capable and competent a woman could be.  She had been a high level SSR agent who had taken command of the Howling Commando’s after the deaths of both Steve and Bucky.  She had led them on raid after raid, hunting down every Hydra base in Europe and dismantling them piece by piece.  After the war, against ridiculous amounts of sexist opposition she had continued to make waves, ultimately becoming the director of Shield. 

 

“Agent Carter, Darcy Barnes, I’m Howard's assistant.”  She extended a hand to Peggy, grinning widely.  The other woman did not reach for her hand.

 

“Miss Barnes, I’m sure you are an excellent assistant but it’s just not proper for you to lodge with Mr Stark…”

 

“Let me stop you right there, Agent Carter.”  Darcy held up a hand, her smile turning to a frown.  Honestly even here and now, by this woman, she was going to be judged on her looks?  She had expected better.  “First off, you’re right, I am an excellent assistant.  Do you know how many he went through before I took the job?  Six.  In the course of three months.  Do you know why he went through so many?  None of them could keep up with him.  I can.  I understand his chicken scratch, partial thought processes and can complete the math that he leaves half finished because he’s suddenly thought of something else he has to write down or figure out.  Secondly, it’s Mrs Barnes, not Miss, I am quite happily married and bond matched.  Three, Howard is family, so no it’s not inappropriate at all and quite frankly none of your business in the first place.  I expected better from another woman trying to survive in a male dominated field than this.  If that’s all you came to talk about you can leave, my scientists need their dinner and some rest.”  She stood toe to toe with Agent Carter now, having stepped between her and Howard as she spoke, not backing down even a little from the Alpha female before her.  Darcy might be Omega but she been dealing with prejudice like this her whole life and even a living legend did not intimidate her at all. 

 

Peggy took a half step back and inclined her head to Darcy before extending her hand.  “You’re absolutely right, that was badly done on my part, I listened to rumour and innuendo and jumped to conclusions.  I apologize Mrs Barnes, perhaps we could start again.  Agent Peggy Carter, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

 

Darcy shook her hand firmly and smiled at the regretful scent and expression of Peggy’s face. 

 

“I’m sure Howard's reputation didn’t help.”  Darcy said with a wry twist of her lips.  This coaxed a huff of laughter from Peggy who relaxed at the unspoken allowance of forgiveness for her initial words.

 

“Yes, he does tend to overstep himself from time to time.”  She agreed.  Howard’s sputtering in the background made Darcy giggle as she turned to see him looking between them with a dawning horror.

 

“No, nope, you two do not get to be friends and gang up on me.  I didn’t do anything!”  he said crossing his arms defensively as the two looked at him and then each other before laughing.

 

“Go eat your dinner Howard, I think Agent Cater and I have some stories to swap.”

 

“Please, call me Peggy.”  The woman insisted with amusement.

 

“Darcy.”  She replied linking her arm through Peggy’s.

 

Howard's impassioned pleas followed them down the hall as they left.  This, Darcy thought to herself would be the start of a beautiful friendship.

 

When the news reached them that the 107th had been captured or killed in action her heart had jumped in her chest.  The thought of losing him cost her too many nights without sleep.  She knew where he was, knew what was happening to him.  Could feel him faintly over their bond, still living but worried, tired and in pain.  She didn’t dare let her shields down, let him know she was close.  The control she had over her power now was tighter, more refined.  She could reach out to those she had the best connection to and check in on them without letting them know she was there.   

 

When Peggy turned up five weeks later looking for a pilot Darcy already had their bags packed and ready to go.  She’d been waiting for this moment.  Remembered reading about Howard's daring flight over enemy lines at the behest of Captain America.  Howard said nothing as she handed him his gear and they both ignored the confusion on Peggy’s face as they made their way to the airfield.

 


 

 

They hauled him back to the cell and threw him through the opening.  Dugan caught him and dragged him to the back of the cell.  Morita helped keep him steady as he was lowered to the damp floor. 

 

“You’re a dumb son of a bitch Barnes, what the hell were you doing, we could have handled it.”

 

“Like hell you could.”  He wheezed out, feeling his ribs shift minutely as he tried to breath.  “They’d have taken Morita and shot him if I’d not stepped in.  My responsibility anyway, I’m the highest-ranking soldier here.  You think I’d let any of my guys get hurt if I could help it?”

 

Morita and Dugan shared an exasperated look. 

 

“Still a stupid thing to do, hitting that guard like that.”  Dugan said again.

 

“God, stop fussing, you’re worse than my Ma.”  He shrugged off Morita’s hands, checking for injuries.

 

“Your ribs are broken.  We need to strap them, if they shift it could puncture a lung.”

 

“Leave it, it doesn’t matter.  They’ll be back for me soon anyway.”

 

“What the hell are they doing to you anyway?  They’ve dragged you off every night for the past week.”  Jones hissed in outrage, catching sight of the needle marks littering his arms.

 

“Not sure, shooting me up with something, makes my blood feel like it’s on fire.  Think it’s killing me an inch at time.”

 

Falsworth brought over a canteen of water and handed it to him.  The coolness of the water was a welcome trickle down his throat. 

 

“The guards have changed again, these are wet behind the ears recruits, the others have been given new orders, there is obviously something afoot.  Perhaps a better chance for us escape will present itself shortly.  But to do so we all have to be in fighting condition.  Let the man strap your ribs Barnes, don’t give up on us now.”

 

Bucky rolled his eyes and sighed, nodding to Morita to get on with it.  Stepping into the fray earlier to distract the guards from finding Morita sabotaging the work they were doing had been the right thing.  They’d given him a pretty bad beating for it, but he knew they wouldn’t take it too far, knew Zola would have their heads if they killed his latest lab rat. 

 

“M' not giving up, just tired of all this shit.  Besides, my Darcy would murder me if I came back dead.”  He tried to smile, but it turned into a wince as Morita tightened the strips of cloth and tie them off. 

 

Dugan smiled and clapped his shoulder.  “You got a girl Sarge?  What’s she like?”

 

Bucky managed to grin.  “I got a wife, she’s a spitfire.  She’d hunt me down and string me up if I even thought about not making it back to her.”  He slipped his hand into a hidden pocket in his jacket and withdrew a photograph, the corners worn down from constant handling.  He handed it to Dugan who whistled in appreciation, letting the others take a look over his shoulder.

 

“Hot damn, how’s a guy with your ugly mug manage to get a good-looking dame like her?”  Jones sassed him.

 

“I still got no clue, she just appeared one day and wouldn’t take no for an answer.  She’s the only reason I’m still here.  Made a promise to her, don’t intend to break it.  But if I do, if I die in this hell hole I need you boys to do something for me.  Get word to her, tell her I tried, tell her I fought till I couldn’t anymore to come home to her.  Tell her I’m sorry for not being strong enough.”

 

“Shit Sarge, don’t talk like that.  Sweet little doll like her, you’re getting out of here and going home.  If I have crawl through France dragging your sorry ass, I’ll get you back to her.  Now what’s the plan, how are we getting out of here?”  Dugan handed back the photograph back to him, his mouth a hard line, determination and defiance reeking in the close confines of the space.

 

Bucky felt the weight of their eyes on him.  They had come together to survive here and before he knew it they were looking to him for answers.  It wasn’t something he’s set out to do, as conditions had worsened and they had all become progressively weaker from substandard rations he had organised them to work together, to hold each other up when they faltered, just hoping that one day at a time they could all make it through.  They were men from different nationalities and regiments, all trying to live long enough to find a way to escape.  Why they picked him to look to he didn’t know.  “Tell me again about the guard rotations, have they all been swapped out?  What about down on the factory floor?   What else have you managed to ferret out Falsworth?”

 

He leaned back and listened as they told him what they knew, considering the best time to get out and how to do it. 

 

“We need to make sure we take this place out when we leave.  Try and cripple their supplies of  fancy death rays.  Take what we can with us when we go.  An opportunity will present itself we just have to be ready for it.  Organise yourselves into two-man teams and pass the word through the rest of what’s left of our units.  If they’re going to swap out the better guards we’ll get our opportunity soon.  Everyone should be ready.  And if it happens when I’m not here, get the hell out and back to our lines.  Don’t come back for me.”  They grumbled about the last but reluctantly agreed.  He only hoped the would stick with the plan.

 

When they came for him again he didn’t struggle.  He had to save his strength, had to find a way to make it through this.  Talking about her had helped.  He thought back to that day at the station, how Darcy had described this nightmare he was living like she had seen it coming, how she had told him not to give up, to keep living.  She knew things, he held onto that thought, if she wanted him to hold on, maybe she knew something he didn’t, maybe help was coming.  When Zola hooked him up to the new machines he tried not to scream, he really did, but it was ripped from his lungs like barbed wire through silk, no matter what, he wouldn’t give them anything.  When Zola found the picture of Darcy he felt dead inside and refused to answer any question.  The mantra of his name rank and serial number became like a prayer, one he repeated till his voice left him and continued to mouth silently after.  As darkness claimed him he welcomed it, he was so tired of fighting, he let go. 

 

He didn’t know how much time had passed but when he came too again it was to the flurry of shouts from the guards and Zola packing things up before he left the lab, fear,heavy, stinking and acrid in his scent.  Bucky lay there in the darkness, every bone in his body burning and his eyes streaming hotly with tears. He was still alive, “Barnes, James Buchanan; Sergeant; 32557038.”  He held onto his name, his identity, tightly, he would not let this break him.

 


 

 

 

Darcy is sitting in the cockpit when she hears Steve’s voice as he boarded the plane.  She watches over her shoulder as he talks quietly with Peggy and doesn’t miss the expressions on both their faces, the way they sit just a touch too close as though they both are holding back from reaching for the other.  She knows those looks, is intimately familiar with the longing and want mirroring in their eyes.  It’s at once too intimate and too mesmerising to look away from.  She knows a match when she sees it.  What she doesn’t understand is what’s stopping them.  She knows now from experience that matching is the single most powerful force of instinct she has ever encountered.  The constant driving need to be close, to scent mark, touch, it drove her to jump head first into her relationship with Bucky the first time they met.  She had felt the world realign the first time he had tucked her into his arms.  But she could also see in every line of their bodies that they were denying it.  What had she done to get saddled with another set of self-sacrificing idiots?  It was bad enough watching it with Bruce and Natasha for the first year before they gave in and got together.  Right now, however, speculating on their relationship status and marking it as ‘it’s complicated’ would have to do.  She had a bone to pick first.  She wiggled out of her seat and stepping into the cabin.

 

“Well, if it isn’t the prodigal, all gussied up in a spiffy new suit.  Writing home once in a while too good for you Stevie?”  She let her shields down enough to reach through their pack bond and smack him with a little of the irritation she had been storing up.

 

The stiffening of his shoulders and the wide eyes look of confusion on his face almost stopped her from slapping his stupid face.  Almost.  The crack as her hand connected with his cheek was as satisfying as she thought it would be and worth the numbing sting down the palm of her hand.  She ignored Peggy’s exclamation of shock and poked him hard in his chest, feeling a little strange to be looking up at him for the first time since she had left the future.

 

“Do you have any idea how worried we all were?  You disappeared off the face of the earth and told us nothing.  Lexie was so hurt by that, she thinks of you as a son.  Lizzie and Natalie were moping around for months till they went off to college and Rebecca will give you more than the slap I just did the next time she sees you.”  All her anger was pouring out.  “Did you even consider how it looked?  One letter with a few lines about joining the army and then nothing?  What the hell were you thinking?  And Bucky?”  she felt her voice begin to break when she spoke his name.  “You are so damn lucky I didn’t write to him about what you did, he’s going to be so mad when we see him and I tell him....”  she felt her bottom lip begin to tremble and then gave in and threw her arms around him and hugged the life out of him as best she could.  When his arms drew her into him she let the tears out, crying into the silly stripes and stars of his uniform. 

 

“God, Darcy, I’m sorry, I didn’t think, everything happened to fast, I swear I didn’t mean to skip out on you all like that….. Wait a minute, what are you doing here?”  He pulled back, tone swiftly changing from conciliatory to accusing and glared down at her.

 

“She’s with me.”  Howard commented from the cockpit throwing Steve a wink.

 

“What?”  Steve’s face when from confusion to hostility in about half a second.  Peggy gave a warning squeeze to his arm and re-introduced the two beta’s.

 

“Steve, you remember Howard Stark I’m sure. Darcy has been assisting him with his work.”

 

Steve glared at Darcy.  “You are not coming with us Darcy, get off the plane.” 

 

Darcy glared back just as fiercely. “Like hell I will.  I’m going and you do not get to lecture me on life choices.  I see that judgy look on your face Judy McJudgerson and you don’t have a leg to stand on.  Volunteering for an experimental medical procedure is a stupid ass thing to do.”

 

“Darcy, if we get Bucky back he will kill me if he thinks I let you put yourself in danger like this.”

 

“Bucky won’t think you let me do anything.  He knows fine well just who I am and that you couldn’t make me do anything if I didn’t want to do it.  And we will get him back if I have to jump out of this plane with you to do it.”

 

Peggy and Howard watched on as the two bickered back and forth.  Sharing a silent conversation with wiggled eyebrows, Howard, and pointed looks and a nod, Peggy, the hatch was closed and the plane in the air before the two pack-mates noticed what had happened.

 

 

Four hours later they were heading back from dropping Steve over the target.  Howard’s flying was a thing of beauty Darcy thought as he jinked and wove, escaping enemy fire until they were back over allied territory.  He brought the plane down at the camp with barley a bump.  Darcy and Peggy shared a grim look as they heard the commotion outside the plane. 

“Well, if they court martial you, Howard can hire you on as a consultant.”  Darcy told her grimly.

“Thank you darling but let’s hope it won’t come to that.  I rather think I might kill Howard if I was to work for him, he’s not the easiest man to get along with, how you manage is beyond me.  You have the patience of a saint.”  Peggy stood and opened the hatch; her head was high as she drew her shoulders back and stepped out onto the ladder.  “Wish me luck ducky, I can see the Colonels face from here, it’s a rather becoming shade of puce.  You and Howard head down to the barracks, I’ll have Private Edwards come to take you down.  No doubt Philips will want to see you two shortly, you should get cleaned up.”  Darcy nodded watched as Peggy left.

 

Now they waited.  She felt sick and excited by turns now, it would probably be a day or two before they returned, most of the prisoners on foot and forty miles for them to cover.  She turned to Howard gave him a thankful smile. 

 

“You knew this was coming, had our bags all packed.  They going to get back okay?”  he asked as he fiddled with the dials in front of him.

 

“Yes, a couple of days and they’ll be back.  Thank you for this, for not making a fuss, for backing me up with Steve.  He can be a fussy mother hen sometimes, but he knows fine well I’m not the sort to stay back and wait like a good little wife.”

 

“Your husband going to feel that way too?”  he asked sceptically, ducking into the cabin and taking a moment to look through the open hatch.

 

“He’ll get over it.  I hope.  He knows me, respects that I know my own mind.  He won’t like it, but he won’t be angry if that’s what you’re worried about.  I really hope you’ll like him, he’s one of the best men I know.”

 

“A better man than Rogers?”  She heard the scepticism in his voice and narrowed her eyes.

 

“He is to me.”  She answered confidently, her words brooked no argument and he laughed when she blushed. 

 

“Come on ducky, let’s get cleaned up.”  He grinned happily at using Peggy’s endearment for her and she hit his shoulder in warning.

 

As Darcy followed him off the plane, praying every step of the way that nothing she had done had changed the outcome of the rescue, she recalled another man in another time who had given her the same fond look Howard had as he helped her down the steps.  Not for the first time she wished she could capture this Howard, this version of the man.  The one who was so like his son it was painful.  She’d get a camera when they got back to London, take plenty of pictures of her father, something to help her remember him always.  There were ways of leaving things to travel the slow route if she ever managed to get rescued.  A safe deposit box perhaps.  No harm in planning for the future now, especially when she knew that future.  If nothing else, another way to send her family a message… if Logan didn’t remember the one she gave him.  She’d discuss it with Howard, they’d find a way to get a message to the future, let them know where she was and when, perhaps that would help them get her back later.

 


 

 

The man calling himself Captain America appeared with no warning, knocking out the guards on duty and opening the cells. 

 

Dernier, Dugan and Falsworth shared a look.

 

“You smell that boys?”  Dernier asked with a wicked grin.

 

“Sure do Frenchie, I smell opportunity”  Dugan growled back.

 

The tall American soldier that let them out was quick to ask about Barnes and Falsworth directed him to where they had taken him last.  As Captain America jogged away  Falsworth and Dugan shared a grim look of understanding, Falsworth stepped forward.

 

“Alright gents, let’s get out of here, everyone remembers the Sarge’s orders?”  the men nodded, splitting up and moving out.  They had a base to destroy and Hydra soldiers to take out.

 

“Lets go boys, I fancy me one of them tanks.”  Duggan took off, Falsworth and the rest hot on his heels.

 


 

 

 

“Bucky, Bucky…  come on” The hushed familiar voice woke him from his stupor and he found himself staring up at the face of his brother. 

 

“Steve?”  he felt the restraints being broken as Steve hauled him off the table.

 

“I thought you were dead.”  His friend said, concern and worry drifting from him in waves.  The sweeter smell of relief tingling the back of his nose.

 

 “I thought you were smaller.”  Bucky squinted up at the man, not quite believing this wasn’t some drug induced hallucination. 

 

“Come on.”  Steve said hooking an arm round his back as he slung one arm over Steve’s shoulder.

 

“What happened to you?”  he questioned as they stumbled down the hallway.

 

“I joined the army.”  The little shit replied with smirking tone.  Steve fucking Rogers and his smart fucking mouth, this wasn’t a dream no one else could be this annoying except in reality.

 

“Did it hurt?”  he prodded further, managing to get his feet under him again and pushed Steve’s concerned hands away continuing to follow him as best he could.

 

“A little.”  Well didn’t that answer that question he thought feeling peeved.  That’s when he caught a scent he hadn’t had the pleasure of being close to for months.

 

“Tell me she isn’t fucking here Steve, tell me you didn’t bring my Omega to a fucking Hydra base in the middle of Italy.”  He would knock the little bastard out if he had, he really would, extra 12 inches of height or not.

 

“She’s not here.  I saw her before I left to come get you.  She’s safe.  I promise.”  He reassured him weakly.

 

“You’re lying, I can smell it just fine.  You were in her company less than an hour ago punk.”  His strength was returning to him minute by minute and the alpha rearing up at the thought of his mate was growling in the back of his head.

 

“I told you, she’s fine, she was on the plane that dropped me here.”  Truth, swirling out letting Bucky focus.  Good she was safe. 

 

“Dropped you?”  He said flatly.

 

“I jumped out… with a parachute.”

 

Bucky glared at him.  “Do I want to know why you felt the need to qualify that you had a chute?”

 

Steve shrugged and led them down another hallway.  The sounds of gunfire and explosions getting nearer.

 

“I could have managed without.  I might have been argued down.”

 

“Steve, when we get back we are going to have long talk about self-preservation and personal safety.  I don’t give a damn what they gave you to turn you out like this, it doesn’t make you invulnerable…  Is it permanent?”

 

“So far.”  Steve replied lightly, grinning back at him as he shook his head in resignation.  The little shit never took his safety seriously.

 

“Some day’s Rogers, I think I should have left you in that trash can.”

 

“Yeah, and who’d be pulling your ass outa the fire now if you had?”  he chuckled back.

 

Bucky laughed and shook his head again.  Bucky’s sure he’s seen it all now.  This idea lasted all of ten minutes before a nightmare with a red skull knocked the crazy out of the park and he’d cleared a jump he wouldn’t have been capable off even on his best day.  When the metal bar dented lightly under his hands as Steve made an even longer jump he pushed it tightly to the back of his mind and focused on getting out of the burning base and back to his men.  There would be time to think about it later.  Much later.

 


 

 

 

The commotion of the soldiers outside the mess tent had Darcy gripping Howard's hand hard enough to draw blood with her nails.  Howard rose to his feet and dragged her up with him.

 

“Hey, it’s okay.  Calm down Darcy.  We’ll go out and see alright?”  he peered at her, dark brows frowning as she continued to grip his hand.

 

“I’m nervous.”  She stated.

 

“I can see that.  But you won’t know till you get out there and look.”

 

The cheering for Captain America sung shrilly through the canvas.  Her heart gave a little stutter as she caught the sound of Bucky’s voice.  Still she didn’t move.  Rooted to the spot by her own indecision.

 

“I need to go out there.”  She nodded to him and continued to dig sharp nails into his palm.

 

Howard shook his head and pried her fingers away gently.  He put his hands on her shoulders and and caught her eyes with his.  Huh she hadn’t noticed before, but their eyes were the same shape and colour, the same as Tony’s.  She felt him project a tiny tendril of reassurance at her before turning her towards the exit and giving her a little push.  She could do this.  She could march out there see her Alpha and not break down into a nervous wreck.  She was here, he was here.  She let the tight shields she’d placed around their bond down and felt him flood her senses.  She gasped and brought a hand to her middle when she felt him reach back.  She was running before she could think about it again.  Her feet tripping over the distance between them even as she heard the snarls as he made his own way towards her.  Saw the widening space in the crowd as she ran, people flowing out of the way and making a path as he stalked forward then began to run as he caught sight of her.

 

Bucky watched with amusement as Steve made goo-goo eyes at the pretty dame in uniform, a pang of longing hitting him as he wished Darcy were here too.  It’s then that it hits him.  He can feel her, the bond suddenly a flood from her side.  She was close, so close his head had begun to spin.  He turned searching the crowd for her, needing to find her and hold her.  He reaches out through the link, calling for her to come to him, when she reaches back he feels it, the pull of her dragging him in.  He stalks through the crowd of soldiers, un heeding of the snarls as he pushes past them, a low rumbling growl, spiked with impatience and restrained violence emanating from him, clearing the tired soldiers around him from his path, all stepping aside, giving a wide berth to the suddenly overwrought Alpha in their midst.  They fall back before him, clearing the way and then he sees her, half stumbling, half running towards him and then he’s running too.

 

Darcy throws herself into his arms, he catches her.  Her feet leave the ground as he lifts her up, bodies pressed flush against each other. She is clinging to him, arms wound tightly round his shoulders, pressing her nose into his neck.

 

She is sobbing, gut wrenching cries that shake her whole body while her tears soak his neck and he feels the same choking relief at holding her again stinging his own eyes as he slams them shut and buries his face in her dark curls, breathing in the scent of home and love and peace. The scent of her distress is gnawing at him as she continues to cry, muttering his name brokenly as he holds her close. 

 

“Bucky…  Bucky… oh my God, Bucky.  You’re safe… You’re safe.”

 

“I’m back, I’m here, we’re safe”  he tells her, his own scent rolling in waves around them both as he tries to sooth her.  He can feel her near hysteria thrumming through their bond, smell the cloying sweetness of her distress.  He runs a hand over her back to the dip of her waist over and over, his other hand gripping the back of her neck tightly against him.   He’s aware of Steve and his dame clearing the others away, sending them to medical or the mess or barracks until it’s only the two of them left in the muddy field, clinging to each other in the damp drizzle of the late afternoon.  He doesn’t want to let her go but they can’t stay out here.  He swings her up into his arms as she continues to cry and heads towards the barracks.  He becomes aware of a man following them at a distance and stops to growl a challenge at the stranger, every instinct on edge like a raw nerve.   The man only grins at him and gestures towards the officer’s barracks, indicating that he should follow him.  Darcy sniffing now, but no longer sobbing brokenly, pushes the idea of trust and pack towards him in response to the strangers offer.  The man looks familiar and it only takes a second for him to recognise Howard Stark.  He follows him and decides to save the questions for later.  Stark goes ahead and holds the door of the cabin open for him and leads them to a room at the back before leaving them to their own devices.

 

Privacy for the first time in months is a welcome feeling.  The room is small and sparse, a wide cot, small dresser and metal chair the only furniture.  He sets her on the bed and rumbles out to her to let go.  She does so reluctantly and he goes back to turn the key in the lock.  He sits down on the wide cot and shucks off his boots, pulls her back into his arms and curls himself around her, his back to the door and her tucked safely between him and wall.  “Sleep.”  He tells her as she snuggles into him and he presses his mouth against her mark, kissing and licking and rubbing his scent against her.  She’s more tired than he is, he can feel it.  Exhaustion and stress thick in the air.  She blinks up at him and nudges him with her nose, seeking a kiss from him with the most submissive action he’s ever seen her make.

 

When he kisses her it’s not in the way she expects.  It’s not fire and teeth and heat.  The kiss is slow and soft, his lips brushing over hers with reverence and worship.  The kiss is perfect, it’s a hello and I missed you.  It’s the kiss that says I love you.  She wants all these pesky clothes gone from them, wants to mark him with her scent and have him fuck her and claim her till all she can feel is him inside her.  She whines and pressed against him again begging for more.

 

Bucky looks at her with leaden eyes, he wants to claim her, wants to feel the bliss of her hot and slick and tight around him but he’s filthy and running on adrenaline and she’s exhausted and heart-sore.  They need rest, sleep.  He lets the Alpha slip forward, it knows better what they both need right now. 

 

The musky dizzy scent that he drops and the beginning of a rumbling purr deep in his chest floods her senses.  She feels the tight tension dissipate from her body, feels herself relaxing into him, her eyes drooping, he’s sending them both to sleep, the Omega answers and she lets it shrug past her conscious mind and take over.  Her own scent of vanilla and flowers brims up and floods out of her, mingling with his scent, the room now saturated with it.  She smiles sleepily as she feels him relax around her, feels the change in his breathing as they both fall into a healing sleep, their hearts beating in tandem.  For the first time in five months she feels safe and she lets the dark claim her.

 


 

 

Howard and Colonel Philips stand outside the officer barracks. The latter looked more than a little unsettled by the situation they currently find themselves in.  Howard has theory's on what's going on but he's not about to tell the Colonel everything he suspects, that is for later and only for pack, family to know.  He has a duty now to his daughter, regardless of the the time, to protect her and her bond match.

 

“Alright, would you like to tell me what the hell is going on in there?”

 

Howard crossed his arms and faced Philips.

 

“You remember my assistant Darcy.  She’s Sergeant Barnes wife.  They’re an Alpha Omega match.  He’s been tortured and held prisoner and she hasn’t slept in three days waiting to find out if he would make it back to her.  It’s not unheard of in this situation for a bond pair to retreat to a safe place to lick their wounds and heal.”

 

“I might be a Non, but I know that whatever is happening in there is not normal Stark.”

 

Howard sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.  “I think exhaustion, high stress levels and extreme circumstances are to blame.  What we're seeing is a rare phenomenon, hibernation, it's only ever been observed between bond matched pairs.  Their pheromones are flooding out in the scenting they're doing while healing.  It's a pretty intoxicating scent, knocking out strangers in striking distance as a side effect.”

 

“That’s why anyone getting within fifty feet of them is falling asleep?”  Philips shot him a suspicious look.

 

“It’s a theory.  From Rogers report Barnes was being used as some sort of test subject.  We don’t know what they were trying to do with him, it’s possible that it’s something to do with that affecting his biology.  It could be some sort of natural self defence mechanism to keep strangers from attacking while they are both defenseless.  So far Rogers and Peggy and I have all been able to get in without falling into a stupor.  They’re both in hibernation, purring like a couple of kids.  They haven’t moved and can’t be woken up.  Again, not something unusual with this sort of healing sleep.  They should both be up and about in the next day.  Best to let them sleep it off here, but I can have them transferred to a plane and fly them back to London tonight.”

 

Philips furrowed his brow.  “There’s two cargo planes coming to transport the rescued soldier at 1800 hours.   I’d rather have them packed up and gone before we get the next reserves tomorrow.  Can’t afford word about this getting around, the brass are twitchy enough as it is.  You can fly them back on your plane?”

 

Howard nodded.  It would be straight forward enough.  Between himself and Steve and Peggy they could pull it off.  “I’ll need Steve and Peggy to help out, I’ll fly them back with me and make sure to set up accommodations for them.”

 

Philips nodded curtly and stalked off.  

 


 

 

When Bucky drifts back to consciousness he realises immediately that he is not in the room he had fallen asleep in.  He keeps his eyes closed, taking in the scents and sounds around him.  Darcy is still curled safely in his arms fast asleep.  He can also smell Steve’s woodsy scent close by.  There's a smell of fresh sheets, coffee and charcoal.  The sounds that drift through an open window are of a city and not the quiet of the continental countryside.  

 

“Hey Buck, you okay?”  Steve’s voice is a whisper, obviously trying not to wake Darcy.

 

“I’m good.  Where are we?”

 

“Back in London.  Stark’s got a building here just a street down from the SSR Base.  There’s clean clothes for you both in the wardrobes and a bathroom just through the door.  I’ll leave you to get cleaned up.  You were out for three days. Had to move you when you wouldn’t wake up.  You went into hibernation, Colonel Philips wanted to move you, I think Darcy let her shields down, everyone except Stark, Peggy and I got real tired and fell asleep if they got in about fifty feet of you both.  Howard thinks it was some sort of instinctual defence mechanism on Darcy’s part.  Only people either of you didn’t view as a threat could get close.  We've kept it between us, don't want outsiders knowing about Darcy's ability.”

 

Bucky tips his head back and lets out a groan.

 

“Sorry, we didn’t mean to do that.  I think we were both just so tired we let the feral take over.”

 

“We figured.  Stark said your eyes were already bleeding gold when he left you both.  Thinks a combination of shock, injury and exhaustion and Darcy opening the bond back up caused you to take you both over the line and into hibernation.”

 

“There’s food when you want it, just come down stairs when you’re ready.”

 

“Sure.  The guys from the prison, Dugan, Falsworth, Dernier, Morita and Jones, what happened to them?”  Bucky feels the need to check on them, now that Darcy's here his ability to sense the fledgling pack bonds that had begun to form is heightened.  He'd formed a pack bond between them a real solid one too...  His men, they were his, he could feel it now that he looked for it.  Jesus he'd fucked up, didn't realise it till now that they had all become his pack.  The brass wouldn't be happy, they were a ragtag group from different regiments and countries.

 

“They came back on the transport a few hours after we did.  They’re in the barracks.  Peggy pulled some strings, made sure they could bunk together.  They’re all real anxious to see you, keep trying to come play guard for you and Darcy."  Bucky snorted, it sounded like them, bunch of loyal idiots, every one of them. 

 

"Philips ain't amused but I told him how your men helped take out the base and took charge of the rest of the prisoners.  I think I know a way to keep them all together, but we can talk about that later.”  Steve’s voice was brimming with humour, he couldn't wait to here what harebrained scheme the little punk had dreamed up this time. 

 

“We’ll be down soon.”  He said nodding to Steve as he got up to leave. “And Steve, thank you for taking care of us while we were out.”

 

“Always got your back Buck” he said seriously before he left.

 

Bucky turned back on his side and tenderly brushed a lock of hair behind Darcy’s ear.  She looked peaceful while she was sleeping.  The lines of her face relaxed, the tiny frown she constantly wore in that week before he left for Britain wiped away.  But he knew she was awake and had been for the last few minutes.

 

“Darcy, come one baby doll, open those big blue eyes for me.”  He whispered gently.  Darcy reluctantly opened her eyes and instantly lit up with a smile. 

 

“James.” 

 

“You getting sentimental on me, using my Christian name?  I’m gonna think I did something wrong.”  He smiled at her softly. 

 

“I love you and I missed you and the man holding me right now is James Barnes, my husband and I really, really want something that’s just ours right now.  Everyone calls you Bucky except your mom, so for right now I want to have you all to myself before we have to go back to the real world and all the suck that comes with it.”

 

“You want to tell me why you pretended to be asleep while Steve was here?”  she pouted prettily and shook her head.

 

“Did it have something to do with getting on a plane flying over enemy territory?”  his tone was more exasperated than angry.

 

Darcy huffed a little and shrugged.  “Maybe, but I wasn’t waiting behind while he went to get you.  I wanted to be there when you got back.”

 

“You could have died Darcy.”

 

“I was fine.  You were in more danger than I was, stuck in that Hydra base in Thor knows what kind of conditions.  What was I meant to do?  Wait quietly at home while you risk your life and my sanity?”

 

“Yeah, that's exactly what you were meant to do, you were meant to be home, in New York, safe and happy and not having to see any of the horror of this war.  How are you even here Darcy?  Steve said you were working for Stark now, how did that happen?”  he was trying hard not to let the helpless anger in his gut leak over their bond but he was pissed that she had put herself in danger when she had to chance to be safe.

 

Darcy glared at him and hopped out of the bed and begun stripping herself. 

“I answered an add in the newspaper and impressed Howard enough that he decided he couldn’t leave the best assistant he’d ever had behind and I grabbed the opportunity with both hands because it meant I could see you sooner.” 

Her blouse dropped to the floor. 

“And yes, maybe it’s not safe and maybe it was risky getting on that plane, but I was losing my mind back in New York.  I wanted to do something useful, be closer to you.” 

She sat on a chair to roll her stocking off, ignoring the runs in the silk as she crumpled them and threw them into the waste basket. 

“Steve left us high and dry and ventured off to volunteer as a lab rat, my husband was thousands of miles away on a battlefield and Nat and Liz went off to college.” 

She shimmied out of her skirt and kicked it aside angrily.  

“Rebecca’s having a baby and your mom is volunteering at the veteran’s hospital.  I was alone and fed up and scared and I couldn’t stand being there while you were risking your life, too far away from me to help you.  So when I saw my chance I took it.” 

Darcy paced back and forward before him in her slip, ranting, her ire growing as she rattled off her tale.  

“I could feel it over the bond, I could feel your fear and pain and despair and I felt you starting to give up on me damn it!  You were sitting in a cell and you were thinking about dying. I told you not to give up!”  she shouted the last part, her body shaking with emotion.  “You promised me you would come back, but you were giving up James.  You let go.” 

 

He got up and grabbed her arms, her sudden scent of distress and genuine worry making him feel like an ass.  “Darcy, I’m right here.  I came back.”  The look on her face was torture.  He never wanted to make her feel so helpless.  “I’m sorry, I am so sorry you felt that.  I swear, I won’t do it again.  You were right before, you always are.  I survived that place, you told me not to stop trying to come home and for a moment I didn’t think I was strong enough to make it.  I won’t make that mistake again.  I will fight every day to come back to you, if I don’t it’ll be because I don’t have a choice.”

 

Darcy sucked in lungful’s of air, her panic slowly receding as she inhaled his soothing scent wrapping around her.  She hadn’t realised till that moment just how badly knowing and feeling what he was going through had affected her.  She didn’t mean to make him feel guilty over it.

 

“I'm sorry I got on the plane, it was dangerous but I couldn't not come to you, every instinct I had wanted to reach you, you were in so much pain...  What did they do to you?”  she whispered brokenly.

 

Bucky let her go and walked over to the window.  His emotions in turmoil.  How could he explain what he didn’t understand himself?

 

“I don’t know what they did exactly.  Gave me drugs or something, hooked me up to this machine.  I was so fucking scared, I thought it was killin’ me Doll, or changing me into something else.  My body doesn’t even feel like my own anymore, everything’s wrong, nothing feels right.” 

 

She stood stalk still before crossing to him and wrapping her arms around him, her hands folding over his chest as she lay her head against his back.  She said nothing, just waited, knew there was more for him to tell her, she sent reassurance to him, the calming scents and emotions steadying him under her touch.

 

“I was hurt pretty bad before, busted some ribs, was real sick and weak.  But on the way back from escaping that place, after Zola hooked me up to that machine I started healing, feeling stronger.  I could hurt someone Darcy, I could hurt you.  I’m stronger than I was and I don’t know how to tell anyone except you.  I don’t want anyone to know I’m different now, it’s still too raw and I’m afraid this is just the beginning, what if whatever they did isn’t finished?  What if…  I saw Schmitt, the leader of Hydra, when Steve got me out, he’s… twisted and wrong, he doesn’t even look human anymore.  What if that’s happening to me?” 

 

Darcy held him tighter.  “He became a monster because he already was one on the inside.  Whatever they did to you, it doesn’t matter.  It can’t change who you are and that is a good man.  The best man I know.  The man I love.  You don’t have to be afraid, they made a huge mistake when they tried to make a super soldier out of you because all they did was give you one more weapon to fight with.  They gave you it, now you use it against them.”  Her voice was filled with conviction.

 

“Why is it that you always have such faith in me?”  he asked her, turning to hold her in his arms.  It felt better voicing those fears, for her to weigh in on them and help abate them.

 

“Isn’t that how it’s meant to go?  We're bound and matched. You got me and I got you babe.  Don’t question it just..”

 

“Roll with it”  he finished, a snort of unexpected amusement wrenching from him as she smiled up at him, her eyes still rimmed red from tears.

 

Darcy relaxes into his embrace, their first conversation in nearly a half a year and there’s been tears and anger and fear.  This was not how it was supposed to go at all.  She was meant find her mate and have crazy thank Thor we’re alive sex to make up for months apart.  He’s feeling steadier in her head, the fear and worry and anger bleeding out of him now it’s all out in the open.  All that’s left between them is the strange discord of personalities.  They’d been apart longer before, but this time it’s different.  They both have changed so much in that time.  His spirit is heavy, the violence and death that’s been dealt from his own hand has coloured him.  The torture and capture at the hands of their enemies has been inked into his soul.  He’s just a touch closer the man she first met in 2018.  His eyes wearier and wrought with guilt.  He kept her afloat when she was stranded in a different time and place, feeling like a fish out of water, he carried her when she needed him, now it’s her turn to carry him for just a while.  He needs her love and her humour.  But right now, he needs a shower and to reconnect with her.  Lay his claim fresh and remember who he is.  She can do that, wants and needs to do that for him. 

 

“Can we just not fight anymore, or think about horrible evil megalomaniacs?  I’ve been in the same clothes for five days and I need a shower, clean clothes and food.  And you’re not smelling too great yourself Sergeant Barnes.  I think I heard Steve say there was a bathroom, how about we go get clean and feel a bit more human for a while?” 

 

“You trying to take advantage of me in my weakened state Mrs Barnes?”

 

“You bet your ass I am Sarge.”  She darted away and let the slip fall to her feet before flitting through the bathroom door.  He didn’t waste any time following her.

 

Darcy fiddled with the taps, adjusting the temperature until the shower was just hot enough.  Thank god for Howard and his need for the best of everything.  This was the closest she had seen to a modern shower since she landed.  The water pressure was good, it was hot and the steam billowing around the room was a soothing comfort she had nearly forgotten.  Bucky came through the door, shucking off the rough spun shirt he’d been wearing and letting it drop carelessly to the floor.  She tutted once and bent down to pick it up, giving him a stink eye look as he grinned at her and tossed the pants that weren’t worth saving either.  She wrinkled her nose in disgust, fucking Hydra, she thought throwing both into the waste basket in the bedroom.

 

Her mouth went dry when she finally looked at him properly.  He was leaner than he had been before he left, not an ounce of fat on him anywhere.  But every muscle was sharply defined now, he looked like he’d been photo-shopped.  His thighs, abbs, his chest and shoulders and sweet Mother of Thor his arms.   Her mouth watered, she licked her lips as he gave her that half smile and bit his bottom lip, she let out sharp breath as her belly flipped and a flush spread across her cheeks.  Damn he knew what that did to her.  Even covered in dirt and sweat and dried blood she wanted to lick him.  He turned her round and pressed himself against her, nuzzling her neck, one hand catching her hip and the other unsnapping her bra and letting it fall.  He cupped her tits in his palms, gently testing the weight of them, calloused fingers softly squeezing them before dragging his thumbs lightly over the hardening buds.  Her eyes fluttered closed and she breathed his name, but a twinge of worry from him made her open her eyes again, tilting her head to see his face.

 

“You’ve lost weight.”  He stated, concern marring his brow.  His hand skated over her waist, taking in the dip where her hip bones were more visible through her skin. 

 

“I’m fine, I eat enough, but even Howard's vast wealth can’t change the facts of rationing.  You haven’t exactly had the best diet either.”  She stepped away from him and into the shower, stretching a hand out to him in invitation.  “Come on Soldier, I’m going to scrub all that dirt off every inch of you.”

 

He chuckled and stepped under the spray with her, tilting his head back and moaning as the warm water hit his skin.  Darcy grabbed the soap and cloth and worked up a lather in her small hands, starting at his chest washing away weeks’ worth of grime.  There was something comforting for them both in this.  She smoothed her hands over his skin, reacquainting herself with his body.  Each time she found a new mark, or scar she stopped, tenderly kissing it as though she could take away the remembered pain with a touch.

 

He shivered under her lips, at the touch of her soap slicked hands, at the brush of skin on skin each time their bodies met.  This moment here between them felt sacred.  She took his pain, his guilt and shame and washed it from him, cleansed his soul with each kiss, brought him back to life as the water began to run clear.  She sent him feelings of love, and renewal over their bond, each emotion clear and healing his heart. He knelt in front of her so she could wash his hair, skilled fingers raking over his scalp, carefully ensuring all the blood washed out and the dirt and grit of the road was gone.  He stayed there, gripping her hips, his face resting lightly against the soft curve of her belly.  God she was beautiful, like an angel, loving him, protecting him, saving him, she was miracle brought to life.  He pressed reverent kisses into her soft skin before looking up at her with hooded eyes.  Nothing felt more right in this moment than to be knelt before her, she was a goddess of mercy and he her worshipful supplicant come to beg forgiveness and comfort.  He wanted to convey his gratitude, ensure she knew just how much he adored her.  He felt her tremble as he slowly kissed his way down to the dip above the crescent of her mound. 

 

Between one moment and the next her careful cleansing of him turned into something far more heated.  Desire shot through her at the first touch of his lips and continued to grow as he looked up at her after each wet open kiss that softly and so tentatively drew a slow path of rapture towards her centre.  She twisted her fingers in his hair and he stopped, drawing her a look of longing, begging permission to take pleasure in her.  She relaxed her grip on his hair and braced her hands against tiled walls and allowed him to gently lift her leg over his shoulder as he parted her slick folds and tasted her.  His tongue is hot and firm as he maps the contours of her sex. Her breath hitches and her eyes flutter closed.  She moans and cants her hips against his mouth, that wicked mouth that turns her insides to mush, as he traces his tongue around her clit, sending sparks of pleasure to every nerve ending.  Her back arches and she feels her leg buckle, but he catches her, both her legs now resting on his shoulders and her back against the cool tile.  He steadies her with once wide hand braced on her hip, holding her safely in place.  The thrilling heat of his mouth is quickly sending her to heaven. 

 

She cries out his name, begging, pleading for release but he’s taking his time, wants to wring as many of those breathy little sobs from her mouth as he can.  She tastes salty and sweet, the musky scent of her arousal making his cock hard with need.  He spells his name against her swollen bud and moans when his fingers dip inside her entrance, she’d slick and wet and her walls clench tightly as he thrusts inside her, stoking her gently. 

 

She clenches her thighs around his head and tries to grind herself against him, she’s so close to falling apart, the feeling of him thrusting and licking at her leaving her a whimpering shuddering mess.  Just when she thinks she can’t stand anymore he removes his fingers and replaces them with his tongue, pressing his thumb against her swollen clit.  She can’t function, looses her ability to articulate anything and comes hard, screaming his name and weeping from pleasure.  He continues to fuck her with his tongue as she rides it through.  He lowers her into his arms and folds her into a tender embrace.  She lies limply in his arms, shuddering from her release as he whispers his benediction into her damp hair.  She draws his mouth to hers and kisses him, her whole heart and soul pouring into his.  She can feel his hardness nestled against her slit, hot and thick, nudging her entrance with each movement as they breath heavily.  She mewls and squirms as he slides against her, her body tightening with each thrust. 

 

“James, need you inside me… please babe, please… love you so much, James, need you...” 

 

He lifts her up allowing her to angle her hips and glides into her warm channel.  It’s like coming home as she takes all of him inside her at once, sheathing himself to the hilt in her softness. It feels like being forgiven.

 

“Darcy.. love you Doll, feel so good, so wet for me pretty girl, so warm and soft.  I missed you, need you so much…” 

 

She offers her neck and locks her arms round him as she bounces in his lap, his thrusts becoming stronger.  He growls into her neck each time he slams back into her and she gasps as his teeth clamp down on her hard, the skin breaking easily as he roars his release.  His pleasure bleed across their bond as it opens wider at his bite and she arches her back, her inner walls fluttering powerfully as the feel of him filling her with his cum wrenches a broken cry from her throat. Her pussy milking his cock of every drop.   She floats back down from her orgasm, eyes glassy with euphoria, babbling incoherently and clutching his tightly against her chest.  Feels him gather her with him as he climbs to his feet, allowing the last of the hot water to rinse her clean before wrapping her in a soft towel. She loses her struggle to stay awake, the bond fully re-established, his claim on her as his Omega made fresh and stronger than before.  She snuggles into his arms and sleeps.

 

 


 

 

 Black Ops Mission Bolivia 2018

 

“Hey Cap, you all right there?  That looked like a pretty hard hit you took?” 

 

Steve ducked into the quin jet and threw a grimace over his shoulder to Sam.

 

“I’m fine, just a few bruised ribs, wasn’t expecting that robot to hit me through a wall and I’d lost the shield.  You okay Sam? I saw that dive you did, looked like you pulled something coming out of it.”

 

“Nah, I’m good man, just twisted my knee a little.  Some ice and Tylenol and I’m good to go.”

 

“Alright then, ice the knee and I’ll get this bird in the air.”

 

“Friday, systems check and send transmission in the clear.  Mission Successful, 084 retrieved and secured. Rogers Out.”  Steve took the jet up into the air and set course for New York.

 

“Transmission sent Captain Rogers.  Priority message logged in external server three hours ago marked urgent.  And a code Blue issued four hours ago.”

 

Sam and Steve looked at each other seriously. 

 

“What’s a code blue?”

 

“Code Blue is a breach in security on the R&D floors resulting in loss or injury of personnel.”  Friday replied.

 

“Play message Friday.” 

 

Sam came to the cockpit and slid into the co-pilots chair, hissing as his knee hit the flight control.

 

Bruce’s face appeared on the call screen.

 

“We’ve had an incident in R&D.  A package managed to get through tower security unscreened and delivered to Dr Fosters Labs.  The package contained a highly dangerous, rare and unpredictable substance we call Zero Matter.  It interacted with one of Dr Fosters latest bridge stabilisation emitters and created an unstable temporal wormhole.   Darcy Lewis was in the path of the portal when it formed.  There’s a lot going on right now, but no one is handling this well as you can imagine.  We need you to come straight back, no stop overs and bring the 084 with you, we’ll have someone from Maria’s department to fly the jet to take it to containment when you return.  Banner out.”

 

Steve felt the air leave him and his knuckles went white from the force with which he gripped his seat. 

 

“That is some seriously fucked up shit.  Wormholes, portals.  What the hell is Zero Matter anyway?”  Sam groused, trying to cover up his concern

 

Friday’s voice piped up and Sam’s tabled dinged.  “I’ve sent you all relevant files we have on Zero Matter which was first encountered in 1945 by the 5th US Infantry Division.”

 

“Thank you Friday”  Sam said dryly, reaching for the tablet and skimming over the information.

 

Steve read over Sam’s shoulder his mouth tightening into a thin line. 

 

“Does temporal mean what I think it does?”

 

Sam looked up, “Yeah, I think it means what you think it does,  Lewis just got send through time, to somewhere, or at least somewhen.  Shit, this isn’t going to go down well at all.  That girl's the glue in Tony’s pack, she’d everyone’s favourite.  They all dote on her and she holds them all together and makes sure they all function like human beings.”  Sam frowned at the look on Steve’s face.

 

“You know Cap, I think maybe it’s time you talk about whatever bug was up your but about Lewis now.  You look like you just found half a worm in your apple.”

 

Steve took a breath considering how much to tell Sam.  Suddenly so much made sense about Darcy and he wondered why he had never suspected something like this.  To be honest he had been too busy focusing before just on the fact that Darcy was the same woman he had known in the 40’s to really wonder how she was in the present.  But this, a lab accident that mysteriously made her disappear into time?  He knew exactly where she was, she was back then, living her life.  She had never told them a thing either, must have known what was coming for them.  He wanted to be angry but instead all he felt was worry.  He’d come to terms with his misplaced anger a while ago, Darcy had never deserved his animosity, she’d done nothing to deserve it.  He should never have tried to keep Bucky in the dark about her.   He trusted Sam with this, it was time to come clean.

 

“You remember I told you the reason Bucky and I fought was because I didn’t tell him about his bond mate, that he'd had one?”

 

Sam’s brow furrowed, unsure where Steve was going with this. “I remember just fine, we had a long talk about misplaced anger, unhealthy attachment and jealousy.  What are you getting at here Cap?”

 

“Darcy Lewis was the woman I was talking about.  Bucky met her in 1940 and married her two weeks later.  They were a match.”

 

Sam’s eye’s widened comically.  “Dear lord, tell me you did not try and keep that from him.  What am I saying, of course you did.  They were a match?  Do you have any idea how rare that is?  Even today with the odds of meeting your one higher because of better freedom to choose and to travel, meeting a match is still hitting less than one in every five hundred pair bonds and for an Alpha/Omega match it’s like finding a diamond in a box of Lucky Charms.  Jesus Steve, the study’s that have been done on A/O matches like that have been ground breaking, the things they’ve found about how it effects brain chemistry, recovery times, healing factors, pack bonds and a slew of other shit is insane.  Fuck, we need to get back to tower ASAP, your boy is going to need as much support as he can get right now.  Alpha’s that lose an Omega match can go mad without a good system in place.  Right now, Barnes is going to be closer to loosing his mind than he has been for the past seventy years.  If we can’t get her back from whenever she is he could go feral, you think the Winter Soldier was a nightmare?  You haven’t seen nothing.  Right now, he’s going to point himself at a target and try to obliterate it.  Every protective instinct will be revving up into over drive.  He needs an anchor and as much as the two of you have been making slow progress mending fences, you’re the closest thing he has to a pack mate right now that might be able to keep him stable.  Friday, take auto pilot and initiate emergency response time, we need to be back in New York yesterday.”

 

“On it, Falcon, initiating high yield fuel reserve, strap in and prepare for acceleration.” 

 

Steve retreated into his mind as Friday took control and tried to unclench his hands from the arm rests.  He felt like an idiot for not considering this possibility.  Bucky would not be in a good place right now.  They had to find a way to get Darcy back.  Bucky couldn’t lose her again.  Being near her in the Tower the past year, he had seen from a distance that the man he once knew was nearly whole again even if he hadn’t approached the Omega Steve knew he still loved.  He’d never thought it relevant that they were a match, but then it wasn’t something he had looked into either.  As far he was concerned his own match was gone and he had no intention of trying to find another partner.  Peggy had been the only woman he had ever wanted or needed.  Finding her in the future, ailing and so different from the girl he remembered, not being able to reach her through their bond he had felt like a failure.  He’d failed his match, lost her forever and the pain of that was incalculable.  He wouldn’t wish it on his worst enemy.  He owed it to both Bucky and Darcy to help them get her back.  He’d made so many mistakes since he woke up from the ice and one horrible one before it that he needed to find a way of fixing.  He prayed that they wouldn’t be too late, that somehow, they would find a way to retrieve her.  He thought of Tony and Jane and Bruce and how they would do everything in their not inconsiderable power to get her back.  But right now, he had to focus on Bucky, he needed to keep his friend anchored so that when they got Darcy back she didn’t return to find her mate a broken shell of the man she knew. 

 


 

                                                                                                                           

 

The Tower

Pepper’s POV

 

The group had reconvened in the common room, most standing, too highly strung to sit down.  Pepper watched them anxiously, she had never seen them so agitated.  Hearing the news about Darcy had rocked her pretty badly.  The younger woman was the closest thing to a daughter that she had.  Between the two of them they protected and cared for their pack as best they could.  Pepper in the board room and before congress and Darcy before the media.  Without Darcy around to feed and water and cajole the others into looking after themselves it fell to her.  She had Jarvis order food from a number of places, quietly pushed, prodded or guilted the heroes into sitting down and resting at least a little while they worked on tablets and made phone calls.  When Natasha and Clint came in she moved to speak to them.

 

“We’re still waiting for Tony to get here, he’s retrieving a safe deposit box we think Darcy had Howard keep for her.  Tony had Jarvis lock down the tower and the upper levels have been sealed off for now, the only way in or out is from the roof, or down the emergency elevator if we need to evacuate.”

 

Natasha nodded grimly.  “We need to do a full sweep of all levels and we have to operate on the assumption that someone with security clearance high enough to access R&D managed to get that package through without alerting security or Jarvis that something dangerous had been brought into the building.  We can’t rely on our security teams for this, we’ll have to do it ourselves.  I’ve got Maria to hand pick ten of her agents to help, they’ll start clearing from the 61st floor down but we should have another team clearing from the Avengers sub basements up.” 

 

Clint shared a look with Natasha and nodded making his way over to Sergeant Barnes.  Pepper watched silently as they left the room by way of the hidden access panel in the ceiling.  She looked at Nat quizzically.   

 

“They know the layout of the building best.  Both of them have every inch of the place on surveillance that’s not tied into Jarvis and can go anywhere in the tower without being seen.  They’ll start an initial sweep from the bottom and up and link up the footage to Jarvis to be screened for the perpetrator.  Zero Matter being brought in here is pretty much a declaration of war.  It’s a very unstable substance, it could have done much worse than what it has, we have to look at this as an attack.  Our territory had been compromised, badly.  I don’t need to spell out to you just how this is affecting the Alpha’s that count the tower as Den.  It’s caused the disappearance of an Omega, one with familial and romantic ties to two of the most dangerous men on the planet.”

 

Pepper sighed there was nothing worse to an Alpha than losing an Omega under their protection, when she had been taken by Killian, Tony had lost all sense and went on a one man mission that almost killed him to get her back. 

 

“Then we have to keep them focused and logical.  I can do that for Tony, what about the rest of them?”

 

“Jane needs Thor, I sent out a call to Heimdall hopefully he will hear it and send for him.  Clint will be fine, Laura’s been on his com since we heard about the incident.  I can take care of Bruce and maybe James, if I can get through to him.”

 

“Did you know the Sergeant had marked her this morning?”  Pepper asked cautiously.  Natasha seemed, not surprised exactly, but satisfied at a confirmation of something she already suspected.

 

“Well, that makes things harder.  I’ll speak to him when they come back from the sweep.  He’ll need an anchor.  I already knew about Darcy being his mate in the past, but a recent, fresh marking would have him even more unsettled, even if he might have been expecting this to happen.  Finding out that this wasn’t just an accident will be testing his control.”

 

The hum of a jet landing had them turning to the hallway.  Steve and Sam came in at a jog, both looking worried and tense.

 

“Nat, what’s the current situation?” 

 

She gave Steve and Sam a run down of what they knew so far and reluctantly admitted that for right this moment they were in a holding pattern. 

 

Sam however looked more concerned than he should be.

 

“Are you aware that Lewis and Barnes are matched?”  he asked them quietly.

 

Pepper felt the bottom drop out of her stomach. It dropped further when she noticed Nat’s expression tighten guiltily as she moved away and tapped her com to respond to Clint.

 

“Why would no one mention that before?”  she asked out loud.

 

Steve shrugged helplessly and tried to answer.  “It wasn’t something that we understood much about back in the 40’s.  No one really talked about it.  The only people we knew of who were and Alpha Omega match back then were Buck’s parents and Mark died before I met Bucky.  I had no idea it could be dangerous.”

 

Pepper crossed her arms and tapped her fingers nervously.  “It’s not dangerous exactly, more just the possibility of psychosis being higher on the part of an Alpha, and only then if they feel the bond break if their Omega dies.  The problem here is we don’t know how this time travel thing is affecting the bond.  The only way to know is to ask him about it.  But I think we might be ok for now, he seemed focused but tense and he didn’t show signs of having felt the blow of a broken bond, that’s usually pretty unmistakable.”

 

“In what way?”  Steve asked.

 

“They lose almost all of their higher reasoning, eye’s go solid gold as the Alpha takes over.  They go into a sort of rage, lash out indiscriminately , can kill people in that state without meaning to.  The only things able to hold back an Alpha in that situation are their children or members of pack that they are closely bonded with, everyone else they view as the enemy.”

 

Steve looked disturbed.  “And Omega’s, what happens to them if their matched Alpha dies?”

 

Pepper pushed down the feeling of panic at the thought of Darcy alone after losing James and answered him. 

 

“Omega’s typically become clinically depressed, those without children or close pack bonds usually commit suicide within six months.  But that is not happening here.  There’s been no indication that whatever bond they share has broken.  The most pressing matter now is anchoring Sergeant Barnes, all of his instincts are going to be focused on getting her back, until then anyone who had a hand in putting her in danger is going to be viewed as a threat and put down accordingly.  If he doesn’t ground himself he’ll burn half the world down looking for the people who did this and anyone complicit in it.  We can’t afford that type of response right now.  We have to manage the press, deal with whatever plot has been brewing and do what we can to get Darcy back.   He needs to be given something constructive to do in order to keep control.  I wish I had known this earlier, we’ve all been giving him space.”  Pepper trailed off as Natasha returned.

 

“They found the body of one of our security team in the subbasement, stripped and their subcutaneous security chip carved out of them.  The two of you should get down there.  I have some calls to make to some contacts.”

 


 

 

Tony POV

 

“When she said a safe deposit box I was thinking something more shoe box, less coffin sized.”  Tony quipped to the bank manager.  The man tittered nervously and left the room reluctantly at Tony’s glare.

 

The Bank vault was dark and airless.  Pulling the key from his pocket he fitted in the lock and opened the large foot locker that had been brought out by the staff.

 

It would be impractical to bring it back to the Tower right now, so he had to face this one alone. Letting out a breath he hadn’t realised he had held he turned the key and opened the lid.  Photo albums and journals dated by year took up half of the locker.  On the other side there were files in Howard's messy script.  Sitting on top of a wooden box was a letter addressed to him.  Steeling himself he broke the seal. 

 

Dear Tony,

I’ve written and re written this letter a dozen times in the last forty years.  At first, I wrote to a son I knew only from some of the small story’s Darcy would let slip.  A brilliant man and leader, a hero.  The affection and esteem she held you in made an impact on me and perhaps I’m to blame for thinking of you as the man you would become and not the boy you were.  I’ve always been hard on you, too hard.  I’m not afraid to admit that I haven’t been the best father. I wish now, too late that I had done better.  I hope one day you can find it in your heart to forgive me for that, just know it was my failure and never yours.  You are the best thing that I ever had a hand in creating.  I think though that you have thrived in spite of me rather than because of me.

 

I spent decades looking for a man who was once my friend, spurred on by the reassurance that he would one day be found, it never crossed my mind that it wouldn’t be me that found him and now my time is running out.  Darcy never knew she let it slip, and I never told her.  She was seriously ill when it happened, when she begged me to forgive her for not saving me.  That it would be Barnes that came to take my life.  That I would be dead before she was born.  I found out today that a girl I had a brief affair with is pregnant.  Her name is Charlotte Lewis.  The dates line up with Darcy’s age and birthday.  It means I’m about to die.  

I don’t know what sort of childhood Darcy will have, I’m planning to meet with my lawyers on the 18th to sort out a trust fund for her, if I don’t make it, I know you will sort it all out.  The girl you lost to time is not the same woman that will return, I can tell you that much at least.  I watched her cross the portal with my own eyes, what happens after that is the real mystery.  If she makes it back she’s going to need support, she’d going to be broken.  I never got the chance to treat Darcy as a daughter, but I know that you do and have.  She’ll need you and Pepper and Jane and that idiot Barnes more than you can possibly imagine when she returns. 

Barnes is going to need support too.  Don’t be too hard on the man, he’s completely besotted with your sister.  I’ve never seen a man look at a woman the way he does our Darcy girl, never seen an Alpha/Omega match up close before either, makes me wish for that sort of love.  It’s the kind that’s unshakable, I envy that.  Don’t get me wrong, your mother and I were always the greatest of friends, but we weren’t a love match.  I was thankful for her and so damn grateful she gave me you.

 I came to terms with how I would die years ago.  I don‘t blame Barnes for it, the things Hydra would have to do to break him, to supress the bond between him and Darcy are too sickening to write down even in a letter, but I’m sure you already know that.  Tell him, he doesn’t need my forgiveness, that I never held him responsible for it and that if he ever needed it he has my blessing for marrying my daughter, I couldn’t entrust her to a better man.  

If anything should go wrong, there are letters in the wooden box from her for all those she loved, don’t let them read them unless there is no other choice.  The other things in the box are hers, her mementoes of her life here, her personal albums and journals, don’t open them, I think there are somethings she’d rather tell you herself.   

 The box files are Darcy’s medical files, she said they should go to Bruce, that she can trust him to understand what’s in them and to keep it confidential. 

The last time I saw Darcy was on the night of the 2nd of November 1948 at a farm house just outside a village called Mary-Tavy in Devon, England.  50°35'39.1"N 4°08'10.4"W. 

 

I love you son, I’m so damn proud of you.

HS.

 

Tony heaved a breath, willing the sting on tears back and scrubbed a hand over his face in agitation.  Howard had written the damn letter two days before he died.  He’d have the box delivered to the tower by Happy tomorrow.  For now, he took the files for Bruce and locked the trunk back up.  They had a date and location now, that was good, progress.  They had an eye witness that she’d left that time, now they just had to ensure that she made it home.

 


 

 

 

The Tower

 

“Have we a lead on who it is that sent the package?”  Sam asked as he watched the security footage of the incident.

 

Clint shrugged.  “It’s not like we don’t have any enemy’s, we’ve pissed off just about every evil alphabet organisation on the planet by now and a few more just by existing.  My bet is on some faction of Hydra.”

 

“It could also be The Corporation, we locked their agents and businesses out of New York six months ago but we didn’t get all the leaders, this feels like retaliation.  Hydra hasn’t really come up on our radar for a while now and what run in’s we’ve had have shown how short they are on resources right now.  We also know that The Corporation had access to Zero Matter at some point during the 80’s even though we can’t be sure they kept it or sold it.”  Bucky spoke up gruffly, glaring as the footage of Darcy disappearing played on a loop on the holo screen.

 

“Okay, so we have a good idea of the who, but what I don’t get is the why?  Why send zero matter to the tower?”  Steve voiced the question.

 

“It could be to discredit Stark and Foster, they might have been hoping to create an event that consumed the tower and wiped out some of the Avengers and our base of operation.  If it had acted in the same manner it has in the past the it could have induced a black hole to open dragging the tower and half of New York with it.”  Natasha posited.  The others looked grim at the idea.

 

“If that was the play then why didn’t it work out like that?”  Sam asked frowning.  He was watching Barnes from the corner of his eye.  The man hadn’t moved since they had returned from completing a security check of the tower.  His large form leaning, one hip checked against the kitchen counter.  He was doing an admiral job of holding himself together but the Alpha in him had everyone giving him a wide berth, everyone except Natasha that was, she seemed to be able to get closer than even Steve.

 

“The stabilization emitter I was working on is meant to harness what we call exotic matter, using it to keep the event horizon stable and allow travel.  I’d only just hooked it to the ZP energy device Tony built for me.”  Jane told them, dragging the HLI over to her side of the coffee table from Stark and bringing up a scaled hologram of the device in question.

 

“The device itself serves as an enclosure for an artificially created pocket of subspace-time. Zero-point energy is extracted from this pocket until it reaches maximum entropy, at which point the pocket collapses, leaving behind a useless shell, but that should in theory take decades if not longer, it all depends on how much energy it’s harnessing and using, at the rate it’s pulling energy into that wormhole, we’re looking at days before it runs out.  We think after reviewing the footage that the zero matter was essentially stabilised by the emitter but somehow was affected by the fields generated by the ZPE device.  it's an utter fluke that we're not all dead.”  Stark joined Jane at the table manipulating the display to show how the zero matter had interacted with the devices.

 

“Our problem here is that all theory’s currently say that that trip was one way.  Matter transference through a wormhole is one directional.  Without an outgoing array to power and direct the wormhole, travel from the past to the present is impossible.  In fact we can’t currently explain how Darcy survived the trip without a receiving array to catch her and reintegrate her at the other end.”  Banner finished for them, reaching for his tablet to throw another hologram into the mix.

 

“So ,what do you suggest the solution is?”  Clint asked, peering at the floating holograms with interest.

 

“You’re really not going not like it, even I don’t like it but it’s the best chance we’ve got.”  Stark said mulishly.  “We have to send someone to the past with the necessary tech to create a portal on that side which will allow travel to our time with the array and emitter on this end stabilising the transport back.  It’s a huge gamble, we could end up making things worse, but Howard's info says otherwise, if we don’t go back, Howard will never see her leave.  There’s just one tiny problem.”  He finished, looking around at the gathered team. 

 

“What’s the problem Tony?”  Natasha pressed him, her tone dark.

 

Stark shared a look with Foster and Banner and called up another image.

 

“Zero Matter, we need approximately 12 ounces to power the device we take to the past and we can’t remove any from the lab, it’s currently caught in the stabilization field, if we shut it down we won’t get it back up again and we need it to send you back and provide a beacon for the incoming wormhole to link up with on the way back.  The last known quantity we had was…”

Bucky cut him off. “Stored at the F.R.I.D.G.E which was ransacked by Hydra after the Triskelion fell.  It’s not going to be easy to find and we can’t even verify the origin of the Zero Matter currently down stairs in the lab.”  He growled with anger, everyone stilling at the level of aggression radiating from the deadly Alpha.

 

Natalia stepped into his space and laid a gentle hand on his arm.

 

“We will track down what we need to get her back.”  Turing to the others she caught everyone’s eye.

 

“I called Fury an hour ago.  He gave me a number to contact and a name.  It’s one none of us would expect to here again, I’m warning you now to stay calm, the last thing we need right now is to fight amongst ourselves.  The priority must be Darcy, we can’t afford to lose focus on that.  Questions, recriminations and anything else can wait until we get her home.” 

 

Bucky observed them as they all nodded, expressions turned even grimmer, they knew whatever she had to say would not be well received.

 

“Apparently Shield is still active, underground.  The new Director, is Phil Coulson.” 

 

Stark jumped to his feet and swore, stalking to the bar and grabbing a decanter of scotch. 

 

“Agent Agent isn’t dead?  He’s been alive this whole time?  Fuck Fury and fuck Coulson.  It’s been six years, you’re telling me in all that time he couldn’t pick up a phone?  Drop a card in the mail?”  He slammed his glass down, the sharp sound echoing in the silence.   “I am so beyond done with shit like this Natasha, but I’ll deal with him if it means getting my sister back and that is the only reason I am not hunting those bastards down right now.”  He braced his arm on the bar and knocked back a second shot.

 

Steve stood then and looked grimmer than Bucky had seen him for a while.  Clint’s face was white, somewhere between anger and grief.  Natasha was still standing at his side, her hair obscuring her face.  It bothered him that he could no longer get a read on her.  When she had been younger, before the Red Room had taken her heat and her ability to scent mark she had smelled like cinnamon and honey and lemon.  There was no scent of even emotion from her, the only thing he could get from her was Bruce’s mark on her, sandalwood and chai and hickory.  She wore it like the mantle of protection it was.  He watched as Sam put a calming hand on Steve’s shoulder and turned to address the group.

 

“So, we have a potential lead and possible back up right?  This is good thing people, I’m not going to pretend to understand what all has happened between you and this Director, but what’s next?  We can’t sit around twiddling our thumbs and feeling sorry for ourselves.”  Sam stood, looking round the disparate group of people, trying to formulate a way to help.

 

Bucky pushed off from the counter and looked at Steve.

 

“We get prepared now so that if this Coulson gets back to us with actionable intel, we’re ready.  So, we suit up, sort out our tac and weapons and load a jet.”  He looked over to Stark, their eyes locking. “Stark, Banner and Foster will stay here to build the tech needed to go back with us to retrieve Darcy.  We keep the Tower locked down until further notice, we can’t afford to lose access to the labs.  We should have Maria’s people sort out a perimeter and have a no-fly restriction over a ten-mile radius of the Tower.  If whoever did this wants to take out our base of operations we make it as difficult as possible for them.  We should have the upstate facility on lock down too.  That sound okay with you Stark?” 

 

Stark looked down at his drink, pursed his lips and nodded before meeting his eyes again, fire and rage bleeding through the tight control he was managing.  “Your call just as much as mine, division of labour makes sense.  You and Natasha should handle anything with Coulson, I’m not in the right frame of mind to deal with him right now.  Just make sure when you do that he knows we’re on a time window here and that if he tries to fuck around with us about this, manipulate the situation for himself at Darcy’s expense, that we will end him and his organisation.  Me and you Barnes, we will burn it to the ground, end of story.”

 

“Agreed.”  Bucky rumbled out, his voice cold and flat.  Everyone suddenly with a job to do, a direction to point themselves in then quickly left the room.

 

 


 

 

Pepper watched them go, then headed out to the balcony, Natasha following her.

 

“Why do I get the feeling you know more about what’s going on here than you’ve shared?”  she asked the spy carefully, reaching into her purse for a cigarette case.

 

“Because there is more going on and I don’t know how to tell them.”  She replied quietly, taking the proffered cigarette and letting Pepper light it for her.  “I thought you’d given these up?”

 

Pepper inhaled slowly and gave her a wry smile while she considered the woman before her.  Natasha had at first felt like a threat to her pack.  The woman smelled of suppressant and artificial chemicals.  The way she had acted around Tony had set off alarm bells in Pepper.  But when the deception was out of the way they had slowly become good friends.  She didn’t think Natasha would ever hold anything back unless she thought it was important or to protect them.  This was one of the only times she had seen the impeccably controlled assassin uncertain.

 

“Is it something they need to know right now?”

 

“Probably, but I’m worried it will make Tony and James less effective, blur their reasoning, if they make mistakes it could lessen our chances of a positive outcome.  I can’t afford to have them compromised right now.”

 

“You don’t think they’re already compromised?  That you aren’t?”  it came out more harshly than she’d intended and she huffed, shaking her head.  “I’m sorry, but honestly Natasha, we are all compromised.  Our home has been desecrated, my daughter has been taken from me and I’m scared that even if we get her back she might not be the same.  She has spent eight years there, I can’t even begin to imagine what she’s gone through.  How seeing a war like that up close has affected her. That she had to stand by and watch the man she’s bonded and apparently matched with fall into enemy hands to be tortured and brainwashed for seventy years?   How on earth can she come through that unchanged, undamaged?” 

 

“She can’t and she won’t.  But Darcy is much stronger than people give her credit for.”

 

“So, are you going to tell me what it is that has you twitching?”  Pepper asked her, not letting her worry deflect her from her original question.   Natasha sighed and perched on the edge of a planter.  “It’s a long story.”

 

“We seem to have time.”  Pepper commented dryly.

 

“It started the first day I saw Darcy.  She was leaving your office, I missed our meeting that day...”

Chapter Text

London, December 1943

 

Bucky’s never been the kind of guy that backs down from a fight when it was in front of him.  He made a point of facing his responsibilities head on but this, this was insane.  He’d been offered an honourable discharge back home.  A chance to take his wife, go home and live out their lives in peace and he wanted it, wanted it badly.  He wanted to go back to his life, his family.  Wanted lazy Sunday morning’s in bed with Darcy without having to think of anything more strenuous than what he might like for dinner.  Wanted to find a home for them somewhere nice, with a garden and space for the kids they’d one day have.  Wanted to see Darcy grow heavy with his children, wanted to build a life for them.  Yet somehow, he was still sitting here, wavering over what should be the easiest decision he should be able to make.  Why take the chance of getting killed when he could just go home? 

 

He’d felt the weight of expectation from Steve as the punk had laid out his idea.  A way to keep the guys from the prison together, a special task force headed by Captain America to go after Hydra and bring them down.  He’d not told Steve or Darcy about the discharge yet, had only spoken to his SO a few hours ago.  He wanted to be the sort of man that would take it, one who could be selfish enough to leave his best friend behind to face danger alone, but that wasn’t who he was, it never could be.  He’s got a bad feeling about it, thinks that going back out there is tempting fate just a little too much.  But he can’t leave these men behind, can’t leave Stevie, he needs someone to watch his six.  God knows what he’d been thinking charging off behind enemy lines after only six weeks of boot camp and no real experience.  Steve had been prancing on stage for the past six months, not training for war.  Punk’s always been more balls than brains.  The little shit used to think he could take on the world when he was a 90lb kid with an encyclopaedia of medical problems.  What sort of trouble would he find now he had the body to back it up?  Probably still be biting off more than he could chew, that’s for certain.  He couldn’t leave his little brother, his best friend, to do this alone.  Captain America was just an idea, a tool of propaganda that had somehow been given life, all the people saw was a hero, big and strong and brave.  They didn’t see Steve Rogers.  They didn’t see that he needed support, pack and guidance.  They had blinded themselves in his legend and one successful op that had been an utter fluke, a lucky strike when the enemy had been caught with their pants down.  He’s not underplaying Steve’s daring, his strength of his bravery, he’s being honest.  Steve has always been idealist, wants everyone to believe the way he does that life is straight forward.  Good is good and bad is bad, there’s no in between with Steve, he’s too good for The Brass that are trying to butter him and use him, too good to spot when they’re not as sincere as they seem.  It’s that naivety that’s going to get him killed if he’s not careful.   

 

And Darcy, his dame was so damn stubborn, he knows she’ll not got back home without him, she’ll stick around now she’s got Stark backing her up.  The two of them are as thick as thieves.  He likes the guy, really, he’s a likable asshole who obviously cares about Darcy but he, like Bucky himself, can’t say no to her.  She’s got the guy askin’ how high every time she says jump.  Stark keeps a close eye on her anytime they’re in the same room, watchin’ her like he’s not quite sure she’s real.  The man dotes on her like a little sister and warns off any Non’s that get in five feet of her and any Alpha’s or Bata’s just for staring at her for too long.  It’s the same thing he does when any guy looks a little too long at his mate, they skedaddle pretty quick though, he learned in that first year how to warn em off without her noticing.  She lets Stark away with it with a fond look in her eyes, him she gives a stink eye to.  Just another part of the puzzle that is Darcy Lewis Barnes.  He knows she won’t be mad at him for sticking around to help Steve.  She knows him, knows how he’s made, understands him inside out.  She thinks he’s got a savin’ people thing.  She says it like it’s funny and calls him a regular Gryffindor, whatever that’s meant to mean. 

 

So although he wants to take that discharge and run back home taking Darcy with him he’s gonna stick it out here. 

 

“How about you, you ready to follow Captain America into the jaws of death?”  Steve asks him, depreciating smile plastered across his face.  The guy’s so damn pleased with himself it hurts.

 

“Hell no, that little guy from Brooklyn who was too dumb to run away from a fight, I’m following him.”  He shakes his head at Steve and drinks his whisky before ribbing him about the uniform, Steve doesn’t have the decency to be embarrassed about it.  It’s what he’s always admired about him, he’d take what people made fun of and turn it around and wear it like a badge of honour. 

 

When Agent Carter turns up with Darcy in tow he lets out a low whistle.  His girl looks like a movie star, her hair’s swept up at the front and falling in curling waves down her back.  The dress she wears is something else, a royal blue that brings out her eyes and clings to every curve.  Steve doesn’t even notice as he takes Darcy’s hand and leads her to the dance floor, he’s too busy flirting with Carter to notice anything much at all.  Ain’t that a hoot, Steve’s never been this dizzy over a dame before but Carter’s something else.  She and Darcy could be sisters with their dark curls and curvaceous figures.  The pair of them walking in here like that had every man in the room taking notice.  He’s married, not blind.  She’s a classy lady, she also has Steve dancing to her tune.  The pied piper couldn’t have done it better.  She’d good for him he thinks, might manage to keep him alive since he listens to her.

 

Bucky pulls Darcy into his arms and holds her close.  He’ll tell her about it later when there isn’t a room full of people to listen in. 

 


 

                                                                                   

Darcy isn’t sure what’s bugging him, but James seems sad tonight.  He still smiles and flirts with her, his hands just a little too low on her back as he presser her just a little too close to his body.  But a part of him is holding back.  Usually Darcy isn’t the type to let things go, but right now she can see that what he needs is this moment with her, dancing in a smoky badly lit pub in London.  When the music changes and she hears the first strains of “Sing Sing Sing” begin she isn’t surprised by the sudden spark of joy that springs from him and she grins as he spins her out, their feet moving fast across the floor as they dance.  She can hear the whoops from his new friends, pack, as they whirl and she giggles as he lifts her up only to spin her again and around his body, her feet lightly landing on the floor.  How many nights had they practiced to this very song as he taught her how to swing dance?  He made her graceful, he was an incredible dancer, his skill was always going to make whoever danced with him look good.  For a little while she lets all the worry go and lives in the moment.  In the joy in their bond, the light in his eyes as he smiles at her, broken from whatever concern he’d felt earlier.  She revels in their freedom and laughs as the crowd cat calls and whistles.  Every thing would be fine.

 


 

 

“Hey Howard, how’s the shield coming?  Any progress?”  Darcy dumps the pile of note books on the bench and squints over his shoulder as he polishes up a circular shield, too caught up in his work to acknowledge her. 

 

Her breath catches a little as she recognises it and for a moment she feels like she’s outside her own body.  This, in front of her, is the symbol of a man who became a legend, of a hero who will one day help save the world from gods and monsters.  Her belly swoops, she feels as though she is suddenly present in a moment of history that is pivotal.  It’s broken by the acrid and bitter scent of burnt steel and gunpowder.  Peggy blazes past her and whirls through the room, her agitation and jealousy rippling from her in waves.  Darcy sighs, honestly, she thought Peggy to be one of those rare calm Alpha’s, but no, the young woman is bristling with anger, what had Steve done this time?  Nothing but him would be able to stir her to this loss of control.

 

Steve hurries in behind her and it’s all Darcy can do to stand back and say nothing, this moment is important, she steps back, out of the way.  Howard jumps up to catch Steve’s attention, she watches as Steve finds the Vibranium Shield Howard had stowed under the bench, see’s a happy surety in his eyes at the weight and feel of it and she holds her breath, this is the beginning then, this is how he truly becomes the Captain America that will inspire generations.  When he shyly shows it to Peggy as she marches back through it’s all she can do to hold herself still as the young Alpha shoots at him, four crushed bullets left at his feet.  If that isn’t a metaphor for how Peggy herself might be feeling right now she doesn’t know what is.  Darcy bites her lip at the look in Steve’s face, he’s even more in love with her now than before. 

 


 

 

When she finishes packing Howard off to bed she goes looking for Bucky and is not at all surprised to find him and the commandos consoling a shame faced and melancholy Steve.  The boys stand when she approaches the table, Dugan tips his hat to her and Falsworth pulls a chair for her and sets it next to her Alpha.   Every one of the men treats her with the greatest respect and deference.  It’s something she had never experienced before, the men are a mixture of Beta’s and lower level Alpha’s, all of them have silently elected Bucky as the Alpha they defer to, she knows, as odd as it feels to him, Bucky enjoys the level of respect it brings.  The fact that every time she moves anywhere one of them is never far, all taking it in turns to watch over her, has not escaped her.  She doesn’t think he’s given any order specifically, but none the less they are without a doubt guarding her.  She chooses to say nothing and only smiles the first few days as Bucky watches her a little anxiously waiting for her to give her usual spiel that she can look after herself.  She won’t though, it’s comforting and they need it, they are building bonds here, with her and Bucky and each other.  Protecting their Alpha’s mate is solidifying their pack bonds, that he trusts them with her is a big part of that.  She’s also not stupid, there are far more men about than women right now, men who are damaged and unstable, she’s happy to let her new pack protect her, enjoys watching them puff up in pride when she compliments them or thanks them.  Bucky’s cottoned on by now and he grins at her every time she nudges and marks her new changes, being mama of the pack, and happy to see her using her new position to care for them all the way only she can.  It’s strange to be in this position, it’s the one she has watched Pepper in for years, the one she now realises Pepper was training her for, somehow knowing that she would one day need to know how to handle it all.  She hopes Pepper would be proud of how she organises and pushes and influences carefully, making sure each one of them is happy and appreciated and ground in their positions.

 

Bucky has told her about the offer to be discharged, for a tiny selfish moment she wants him to take it.  She breaths a silent relief when he tells her he wants to stay and she kisses him and tells him he’s doing the right thing.  Tells him that she understands why he can’t, that she loves him for it, for being the noble man she saw those years ago.  He is a protector, it has always been in him and now he is changing again, changing more into the sharp-eyed man she met so far away and long ago, in another time.  He is becoming a leader, self-assured and confident. 

 


 

 

Darcy stays close with Howard as the boys go on mission after mission, dread slowly creeping closer to her as the days fly by, bringing the end nearer.  It’s those days when there is nothing left to do but wait that eat at her.  All she can do is think.  So she mulls over the possibilities, wonders at the consequences of saving them.  Considers every pro and con, every angle and each time she does her heart feels just a little heavier.  She can only work with the knowledge she has.  He met her first in 1940 and she him in 2018.  She wasn’t even meant to be in the lab when she was taken back in time, she had only come back to show Jane her outfit before going to her office to finish up some paper work before her date.  If he hadn’t asked her out she wouldn’t have changed and been in the lab to get Jane's opinion.  The best course of action is still her first.  Something in her gut drives her on, some feeling of rightness in the path she follows.  Eleven months left and after that, she has no idea what happens next.  She only knows that she will be alone.

 

As the weeks pass she confides in Howard, gets closer to her father in ways she could never have imagined.  He really cares about her, is interested in her opinion and they have so much fun just tinkering with tech.  she treasures each story he tells, each moment they share.  She starts to write journals, a record of her time here, carefully dating and adding to them a piece at a time.  In separate books she begins to write a timeline in a code only she and Tony know of every major event globally and personally for her family, her pack, both in the past and the future.  Careful recounting’s of the stories of their lives.  As she writes she realises that she knows much more than she knew she did.   Howard gives her a camera, it’s the best money can buy and she snaps pictures constantly.  When they are developed she places them carefully in albums Howard has commissioned for her.  She writes neatly under each picture the date and what’s been said or happened when the picture is taken.  Memory’s she keeps close, a record for her to take to the future or send there for Bucky to see and relive the happy moments. 

 


 

 

Darcy goes into heat at the end of March.  Peggy and Howard turn up with food and blankets and pillows and she resolves to manage somehow.  The Howlies are still on mission and there is no way to get word to James even if she wanted to.  She draws back her bonds and locks down her emotions carefully, she can’t afford to cause anyone any worry while they are in enemy territory.  She’ll get through it. 

 

Peggy, Darcy decides three days in, is the sweetest Alpha she has met, even nicer than Jane, though she would never tell her that.  She’s held her and hugged her and petted her through the discomfort and used her own scent to help sooth her ruffled nerves.  It’s far easier to go through heat with the help of an Alpha even when it’s nothing more than platonic comfort. 

 

On the fourth day of her heat she’s feeling particularly miserable.  Peggy has left her to catch up on some work for Colonel Philips.  When the door opens she doesn’t even open her eyes, she’s so sick and tired and then the bed dips and the powerful scent of her Alpha envelopes her, every tiny bit of stress just bleeds right out of her.  James strips off his clothes and then carefully strips her of the cotton slip she wears to preserve her modesty. 

 

He is so gentle with her at first, he makes her body sing with each touch.  His lips are soft as he kisses every inch of her.  The solid bulk of him makes her feel so safe.  She feels herself fly apart in his arms again and again before he takes her properly, the feel of his knotting her and claiming her is like finding her own personal religion.  Her body trembles under him as  they come together, her scream muffled as he covers her mouth and steals her breath.  They lie panting, both robbed of thought or speech unable to do anything other than moan.  The pull of their locked bodies brings them both off twice more before they succumb to sleep, exhausted and elated.  The next two days are blissful as he takes care of her, seeing to all her needs.  It’s different this time, he is different, just a little more Alpha, driven by deeper instincts than he’s possessed before, not for the first time she idly wonders just how much the serum has altered him.  She can feel the pack never far from their room, always at least two of them on watch while their Alpha and Omega are vulnerable. 

 


 

 

“So, you and Steve.”  Darcy smiled wickedly and dropped on the couch beside her, kicking off her heels carelessly.  Darcy always moved so gracefully, even slouching on a couch she looked elegant.  Peggy is sure she hasn’t always been able to look so artless and wonders where she learned such a skill and from whom.

 

“What about Steve and I?”  she asks, a hint of warning in her tone.  She is an Alpha and she refuses to be cowed by an Omega, no matter how pretty or sweetly scented.  Darcy just grins at her warning, like a shark scenting blood.  There really is something wrong with the other woman, she is more predator than prey sometimes.  Peggy huffs, refusing to say anymore.  Darcy grins wider.

 

“Do you have litter mates?”  Darcy asks.  The question is not the one she thought the older woman would ask. 

 

“I, yes I did, my brother Michael and my sister Sharon.  Michael died in 1940.”  Peggy paused, lost in thought for a moment.  “I was engaged you know, before he died.  A rather boring man I suppose, but I thought it was what I wanted.  The typical life, a husband, children one day.  None of my family have ever been particularly romantic or matched.  When Michael died I knew then that I could never be happy with that life.  I wanted to do something, be someone, for myself and for him.  Sharon supported me through ending the engagement and then I joined the SSR.  My parents are still struggling with my decision but, what else could I do?  I am so glad I did.  I have discovered myself I suppose in all of this and then…  well I met Steven.”  She smiles unguardedly at the thought of him before trying to regain her mask of disaffection.  It’s too late of course, Darcy has seen right through by now.  “What about you?”  Peggy asked with a tilt of her head.

 

“My mother was a Mundane.”  Darcy told her.

 

“Mundane?”  Peggy asked uncertain.

 

“A Non, God I hate that word, the military really know how to reduce everything down to their base parts don’t they?”

 

“Yes, I suppose it is rather dehumanising.  I don’t think they mean it to be though.  So mundane is slang for Non Designates then?”

 

“Yeah, at least in Boston.  There’s also Norms and Ordies.  Not particularly creative I suppose.  What’s the slang like in England?”

 

“Oh well, if you’re being rude, perhaps a squib, but mostly they’re referred to as gens, for Generic, it simply means having no particular distinctive quality, in other words, can go anywhere.”  Darcy grinned at Peggy’s wink.

 

“They certainly can can’t they.  God I hated having to be escorted everywhere before I was married.  It’s a little more relaxed in Britain though right?”

 

“Yes, Omega’s only have to be escorted when near their heat and there’s no curfew, not since the suffrage movement at least.  But you were telling me about your mother.”  Peggy reminded her.

 

“My mother, she was Mundane, so no litter mates for me.  I was an only child.  She died when I was young.  I went to live my Gramma after that.   Gramma was an Alpha, she was in her 70’s, she was amazing, a lot like you actually.  She didn’t take shit from anyone.  Both my uncles were dead by that point too, they’d joined the army young and got killed before they were old enough to drink legally, they were nearly twenty years older than my mom.  When Gramma died three years later I was a ward of the system.  I never really understood what it meant to be pack until I met my friend Jane as an adult.  A few years after that we became part of an amazing pack.  I learned what being Omega really meant then.  Our pack Mama was the most incredible woman.  She could be fierce, but she was also gentle and sweet.  I know how people look at me, like I’m some sort of strange anomaly.  They think I'm too forward, too aggressive for an Omega.  But growing up how I did, I learned to take care of myself.  It was much later that I learned to take care of others and yes, most of that was probably instinct, but the majority of it was from watching Pepper.  She was the mother I needed, she still is.  You’re wondering why I’m telling you all this.  I do have a point.  Steve’s a great guy, but he’s reckless and innocent and his mother was Mundane too.  He had no idea how to interact within a pack until he met Bucky when he was 12.  The only exposure he’s had to girls were Bucky’s very gentle, sweet and kind little sisters who fussed over him and looked after him.  He’s going to make mistakes with you.  He’s not going to mean it, but he will.  So, I guess I’m asking you to be patient with him.  Give him the chance to show you who he is.  It’s pretty clear to me that you’ve matched with him.  From one matchee to another, don’t deny this, it’s worth it.  Shakespeare got it right.  Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”  Peggy opened her mouth but found she couldn’t find the words to say anything.   Darcy seemed to feel that what she had wanted to achieve had happened and rose from the couch.  “Okay then, good talk.  I’m off to bake till my husband gets back.”  Darcy gathered up her heels in one hand and left the room with a nod to Peggy as she glided through the door.  When the Private relayed the news that Steve and the others had reported in she was on the first cargo plane out to the compound in Finland.  

 

 


 

 

 

Peggy waited for the men to return, nervously twisting a single curl.  They had been on a mission to rescue a battalion of soldiers who were trapped behind the German line near Stalingrad.  They had only made contact that morning five days after their last check in.  The wind was bitterly cold as she stood there, unable to bring herself to go inside.   In the distance she spotted them.  The Howling commandos trudging through the snow, leading a ragged weary group of men behind them.  They were all there, all safe and alive.  When he was close enough the look on, Steve’s face made her clench her fist tight.  He looked so tired and sick.  She went to him, closing the distance and wrapped her arms around him as the others continued on.  Steve closed his arms around her and breathed in her scent.  Even out here in sub zero temperatures he was warm she thought fondly. 

 

“What happened out there?”  she asked him.

 

He sighed heavily and pulled back, tugging her with him as they entered the compound.

 
“It was a complete snafu.  We managed to get past the Hydra blockade but the conditions the men had been reduced to were intolerable.  Some of the intel was bad too, there were five of those tanks instead of the two we were told about.  When we finally reached the men to bring them out we found that over a two hundred were already dead from starvation or infection.  The rest aren’t in much better condition.   I hate this war Peggy.  I’ve seen the things it’s done to people, good people.  Twisted them up so badly they hardly recognise what they’ve become.  For all it’s horror, I still find it hard to believe that human beings can treat each other like this.  It’s not right.  I don’t want to stop believing that there’s good in people, bit it slips a little more each time I witness some new atrocity.  How much longer can the world go on like this?”

 

Peggy guided him towards her room, grabbing the first aid kit from the desk and gestured for him to sit.

 

“People do things they shouldn’t when they feel threatened or backed into a corner.  It’s simply how people work.  The only thing we can do is carry on.  We mustn’t lose faith in ourselves and we have to believe that every act we preform will make a difference somewhere, to someone.   You are one of the best men I know Steven, you believe in a greater purpose, in self sacrifice, in justice.  The only way that we can win this is if men like you hold the rest of us accountable to those standards.  I know it’s hurtful to see how much evil is in the world, but good men stand before it, they are immovable and you are one of them.  Captain America is the symbol the men rally behind, but Steve Rogers is the heart, the soul of that belief.  Don’t let the horror change you.  We all need you, so much.”

 

He looked up at her from where he sat as she cleaned a cut on his forehead. His eye were filled with affection.  When he reached out for her, she let him pull her to him and stroked his head lightly as he pressed his face into her stomach and anchored her with his hands on her hips. 

 

“I’m sorry, about the kiss you saw I swear I didn't…”

 

“Oh do shut up Steven.  I know.  I’ve not held back because of that.  I forgave you months ago”

 

 “Then why?”  he asked looking back up at her. 

 

Peggy sat down on his knee and let him settle her comfortably there before answering him.

 

“I suppose the only real answer I can give you is that I was afraid.  I didn’t want to risk bonding with you only to lose you.  But staying away from you has hurt so badly.  I’m fed up with being scared.  So I’m taking a chance, a chance that you won’t leave me, that you’ll come back.  If you still want me, that is.”  She couldn’t meet his eyes.  The feeling of opening up and being so vulnerable to another person made her feel unpleasantly exposed.  His warm hand cupped her cheek and forced her to meet his eyes.

 

“I will do everything I can to come back Peggy.  I can’t promise that I will, we can’t know the future.  But I’ll do everything I can to come home to you.  I fell in love with you first day I saw you punch Hodges to the ground.  I knew what was between us the first time our eyes met.  For a while I wondered if it was just in my head because you never let on, not once that you’d felt it too, but you did, didn’t you?  We are a match?”  His smile was warm and so full of love she could have wept from the perfection of it.  God's nightgown!  She was as weepy as every other girl after all it seemed. 

 

“I do believe we are.”  She told him, reaching up to cover his hand with her own, her smile answering his.

 

When he kissed her it was like the world had paused, one moment stretching out into eternity.  Time stood still.  When she opened her eyes and pulled away everything had changed.

 

“Stay with me tonight?” 

 

He answered by closing and locking her door before resting his shield by wall.

 

“Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

 


 

 

 

On the flight back to London Steve sat between Peggy and Bucky.  Bucky spotted the badly concealed goofy look on Stevie’s face and tilted his head, zeroing in on his scent.  The distinct aroma of jasmine and cloves was tightly twined with Steve’s woodsy scent.  Raising his eyebrow, he caught Carters eyes and grinned.  “About time.”  He told them both and slumped back down.  They had danced around each other long enough.  Darcy had said she would sort out Peggy and just like always she'd come through.  He was looking forward to going back to his own mate.  For once they would probably get peace when they got back.  He wondered if Darcy had moved Peggy's things to the spare room in their suite.  Probably, she was good at anticipating the needs of the pack, usually before they knew what they needed themselves.

 


 

 

 

Darcy knows the other army units and pack squads aren’t quite as bonded as theirs.  She is aware of the whispers that circulate about the Howling Commando’s.  The first time she over hears the phrase Turbela Basilicus  she feels light headed.  Pack Royal.  It’s a phrase that had long been out of use by her own time. The title bestowed on a pack that was seen as having an elevated status, one other packs could pledge fealty too.  It’s was how most monarchy’s had begun, how the Royal courts that had taken massive swaths of territory had maintained them for hundreds of years.  It was startling in it’s implication.  There hadn’t been a new Pack Royal in hundreds of years.  Civilization had bred it out of them some had thought.  The days when a strong enough Alpha could gather that many strong Alpha’s and Beta’s under them were long over, but now in this war, the right circumstances had created one.  Pack groups now mostly consisted of families.  People lived separately in small family groups.  There was no need for the Alpha’s of other packs to make alliances, to need stronger ties.  That had been thrown out the window now, a whole continent was in turmoil.  The Howling Commando’s had reached legendary status.  They had a match bonded Alpha and Omega, a secondary bonded Alpha/Beta pair and a half a dozen warriors following them without question.  The other special operations units had all given deference to those of her pack, would follow their orders happily. That they were all constantly running on adrenaline and on alert for danger was heightening the need to find a leader.  Instincts were stronger, following that instead of chain of command was a problem that was creeping into the battle field more and more.  The fact they were all living in pack groups was also strengthening that instinct and building better bonds.   But she had never heard of any of this in the future, there hadn’t even been a whisper of speculation about it.  When she brings it up with Howard he looks grim and unsurprised.

 

“The Brass had a good idea going in this was going to happen.  There have been a couple of other packs since 1939 this has happened to.”

 

“Why haven’t I heard anything about it?”  she asks him, feeling confused, this is the sort of thing that gets talked about, gets noticed.

 

“It’s mainly happening out there, on the front lines.  The packs that have shown these tendencies. The Top Brass have sent them out till they don’t come back again.”  Howard holds her shoulders as she takes this in, her eyes widen at the implications.

 

“They’re sending them out to die?”

 

“Of course they are Darcy, can you imagine if a genuine Pack Royal actually emerged victorious from this war?  If it gathered enough satellite packs sworn to protect the Alpha and Omega?  We’d be looking at a territory grab, possibly more war.  Can we really afford that?”

 

“But what about my pack, what about us, are they just going to send them into more and more dangerous situations till they kill them?  How is that just?”

 

“Darcy, I swear I am protecting you and your pack as best I can, I’ve got enough influence with Philips to keep him from reporting it all the way up the chain.  The best thing you can do it warn your pack, have everyone keep their mouths shut about it and try to not let others observe what’s stated to happen.  The Howlies were already doing the most dangerous jobs anyway Darcy, they are also the most effective SO unit we have, they’re in no more danger than they would have been.”

 


 

 

She does what he suggests.  When the men come back from their next mission she calls them all to the den in the SSR Barracks and tells them what she’s found out.  Bucky uses his aura to keep them contained.  Even Steve, usually so reserved these days and in control of himself looks ready to go marching out and challenge someone.  After the initial round of growls and shouting dies down they form a plan. 

 

Peggy is the one that voices something she had not even considered herself. They are by themselves when Dernier and Flasworth join them.  Peggy sits her down and ask her how much she knows about Alpha/Omega matches.  Darcy’s veins run cold.  She knows what Peggy is getting at, understands why it’s two if the most level headed Beta’s she’s called in to discuss it with.

 

“You think the government might have me killed if they get too spooked by the pack’s growing power.”

 

“Yes Duckie, I do think that is a ditinct possibility.  Not one I think we have to inform everyone of right now.  I think perhaps we have to consider that they might make you a target.  If they take you out, they also take out Sergeant Barnes.  He could go mad, get himself killed.  The best way to destabilise a pack like ours is to kill the leader or make him ineffective.  I’ve already spoken about this with Jacques and James here.  They will co-ordinate so that you will have protection at all times.  They have the best ties to the other units beta’s.  Even when the Commando’s are on mission there will be allies of our pack here to protect you should it be needed.  Howard also has various plans in place to get you out if things take a bad turn.   But it means you have to agree to this and accept the danger you could be in.   I know it chafes to be so coddled, but if Bucky found out that this was a possibility…  well it’s best we deal with it ourselves.”

 

Darcy agrees.  She can’t even think about what he would do if he thought she was in danger from their own people. 

 

By September she finds herself more relaxed again.  There has been no threat to her life.  Philips watches them from a distance.  He’s a Non.  He doesn’t really understand pack dynamics and how they truly affect people within that web.  He’s seen the discrete protection detail that follows her everywhere, seen the way some of the soldiers place themselves around her like a shield.  When he confronts her she isn’t surprised.  When he corners her for a chat, it’s Dernier who is with her.  He growls in warning when he realises Philips has gotten her alone.

 

“I’m no threat to your Queen Bee Jacques, I just want a private word.”  After a beat Dernier allows him to lead her to an office room far from the throng of personnel.

 

“I know I’m not the easiest man to get along with, I know being a non designate means people don’t know how to treat me in a dynamic sense.  I don’t understand how all this works.”  He made a vague motion with his hands to indicate his confusion.  “But I’m also not stupid.  You’re being protected like a damn head of state.  What is it exactly that has your pack so alert?”

 

“You really don’t know?”  she asks him, leaning against the desk.  He really doesn’t she realises after a moment.  In fact, he looks genuinely concerned.

 

“Some of the pack believe that if the government feels threatened by the growing influence of our pack leaders that they might use me to take out our Alpha.”

 

“How could they use you? I’m not sure I follow.”

 

“If they kill me they take out the Alpha too.  Bond matching is pretty intense, but between an Alpha and Omega, it’s a whole new level of intensity.  If I die, he will feel it, no matter how many miles sperate us and if that happens he won’t just go feral, he’ll go mad.  There is nothing more effective for destabilizing a pack than that.”

 

“You’re telling me that men under my command think I’d allow someone to kill you?   An innocent woman, an Omega?”  he looks a mixture of shock an outrage.

 

“We really don’t understand what you might be capable of Colonel.  Your lack of pack status leaves us with questions.”  Denier’s tone is neither accusatory or judgemental.  He is simply stating a fact.

 

Philips looks pensive for a moment, his outrage at the thought of murdering her was genuine.

 

“I’m not a cruel man Mrs Barnes.  But it’s true I can be ruthless as required.  However, despite this, I can assure you that there is no world in which I would ever find it acceptable to murder an innocent civilian woman even if I was given such orders.  I’ll have base security stepped up and I’ll let you recommend two people to do background checks for any new personnel coming in.   If you really believe this is a credible threat then we’ll not take any chances.  The Howling Commando’s are one of the best units I’ve ever seen in action.  I’m not going to risk them being crippled if I can help it.  Just because I’m a Non doesn’t mean I don’t hold loyalty to those under my command.  If you feel threatened or anything else comes up, you can come to me.  I give my word that I’ll help if you need it.”

 


 

 

Fall rushes in fast and the near constant rain keeps Darcy holed up at the base more often than not.  Philips has been trying harder to forge ties with the pack.  Perhaps somehow realising for the first time in his life just how much he has been missing by not acknowledging how pack dynamics work.  She hears he and Howard talking about pack and bonds and just what is going on between them all.  Howard, always more of a loner than someone happy to live within a pack, struggles.  Soon enough it’s her and Philips ensconced in the man’s office as Darcy gives him a crash course in just how everything works.  The man is surprisingly funny in his own dry way and she feels warmed by the respect he now shows her, so very different from the way he treated her nearly a year before when she had stepped off the plane with Howard.

 

They are all together for Christmas, three weeks down time for the pack to decompress and relax.  Darcy and Peggy organise the best they can with the resources they have.  Howard manages to dig Mr Jarvis out from Bletchley Park where he’d been working to join them.  He brings a beautiful red head with him that she can see he is completely besotted with.  Her name is Anna.

 


 

 

Bucky snuck up on her in the commissary.  He had just returned for a mission, they had liberated over five hundred soldiers and civilians from a Hydra prison camp.  Darcy was elbow deep in enough dough to feed a battalion. 

 

Every time he saw her again he was stunned by how pretty she was.  It would never get old, coming back to her.  Her hair was tied up, errant tendrils escaped the sloppy bun and caressed her neck, lightly moving as she kneaded the dough.  A small smear of flour decorated one cheek and her tongue was caught between her teeth in concentration.  He slipped his arms around her waist and revelled in the way she melted against him, knowing instinctively it was him.  He breathed a sigh of relief as she opened up the bond from her side. 

 

When they agreed to keeping it open only in the most basic of ways while apart he’d been hurt.  But he also understood her reasons.  She didn’t want to distract him in the field, so he’d agreed unhappily.  Every time she reopened the bond it felt stronger, more solid.  It was growing and changing with them.  The rush they both felt when they connected was a heady one.  He had her up and perched on the counter opposite in seconds, pressing between her legs and kissing her desperately.  He pulled her flush against him and rocked his hips into the cradle of her thighs, both of them moaning at the contact.  Three weeks away from her in the cold had been unbearable.  He kissed his way down her neck till he found his mark, the silver lines shining in the dim light as he bit lightly and kissed it.  She shuddered locked her legs around his hips.  “You are an utter tease Mr Barnes.”

 

“It’s only teasing if I don’t follow through.”  He muttered darkly against her collarbone as he kissed down to the neckline of her dress.  Darcy’s laugh bubbled up and broke like bells over him.  He chuckled into her breast and nipped her for the cheek.  She ran her fingers through his hair tugging at the strands which were getting long again.  He looked up at her, a lazy smirk and hooded gaze making her catch her breath and tighten her legs.  He loved that he could still do that to her, that she seemed to think him just as pretty and enticing as he found her. 

 

“James Barnes, we are in a kitchen, anyone could come in.”  Her tone though teasing was serious.  He groaned and dropped his head back onto her chest, nuzzling between her tits and breathing her in and enveloping himself in her scent.  She giggled when he licked her and let her legs drop as he pulled away, regret clearly displayed on every line of his face. 

 

“It was really bad this time wasn’t it?”  she asked him quietly as he ran his hands over her legs.  He took her hands in his and kissed the back of each knuckle before answering.

 

“Yeah, some of the worst fighting we’ve seen in months.  And the men, the soldiers we went to get out.  It was real bad Doll.  Don’t think any of them will ever recover form what they went through.  A lot of then are going to be missing limbs and digits either from frostbite or gangrene.”  When he looked back up at her face, her eyes were glassy and her expression guilty again.  He hated when it happened, knew it was something she knew that she couldn’t say causing it.  He wrapped her up in his arms and held her as she struggled with it, willing her to find her center again.  He hated to see her cry.  No one as sweet she was should ever have to be sad.  “Hey, it’s alright Doll, we’re okay.”  She nodded into his shoulder and held on tightly to him, not ready yet for him to let go.

 

“Come on sweetheart, lets go to our quarters, it’s late, leave the rest till morning huh?  We’ll get some sleep.”

 

She nodded and jumped down, quickly splitting the dough into loaf size balls before setting it up on a high self above the oven and covering them with muslin.

 

In bed he drove away the dark thoughts for them both.  Loving her till all he could feel along their bond was contentment. 

 


 

 

The next morning he woke to the scent of vanilla and flowers permeating the air and Darcy whining in her sleep.  He knew it could happen, highly stressed Omega’s sometimes went into a spontaneous mini heat, but he hadn’t thought she was so upset that she would trigger.  It was just as well they had a week down time before their next mission.  The following days were some of the most intense he had ever had with her.  Darcy disappeared behind the feral in her mind, she was every bit an Omega in heat.  His Alpha answered and he allowed it after giving the pack a warning to behave while he was taking care of her. 

Food was delivered on schedule and Peggy and Steve took turns making sure both of them were healthy.  He was aware now of Peggy more fully than before now that she and Steve had bonded and trusted her to be in his space happily. 

On the fourth day he woke up to find all four of them sharing the bed.  Darcy and Peggy cuddled up between the two men, happy contented scents swirling in the air, the musky scent of her heat already gone.  He frowned at Steve who shrugged and muttered about Darcy calling for Peggy over the pack bond during the night.  When they had come to investigate she had pulled Peggy in beside her and told Steve to shut up and go to sleep too.  Bucky shrugged and snuggled back down watching as Steve did the same and both men grinned knowing what the other was thinking just fine.  They were both beyond lucky in finding matches and this was far from the strangest thing either had ever heard of or seen.

 


 

 

When Darcy finally regained her senses and woke up properly she felt a pang of grief.  It was January 27th, three days till they left on the mission to take Armin Zola’s train.  She roped the pack into games and entertainment for those days.  On the last night she had managed to get the commissary for their use after hours and organised a band to come play for them, got sheet music and lyrics to popular songs and a microphone ready.  It was the best she could do, she couldn’t tell anyone that this was the last time she would be with Bucky for Thor knew how long.  Only Howard had picked up on her manic mood.  He didn’t press and let her get on with her plans.  He’s found the notion of Karaoke a little odd but fun and helped her set up the audio equipment.  She made contact with squad leaders wives that were on base and got everyone invited to the little party, determined to make it a memorable event for everyone.

 

The night was a rousing success.  The men laughed and told stories and she was on her feet the whole night as she danced with each of the commandos and even with Colonel Philips for a very nice waltz.  Peggy was just as much in demand, laughing as she spun about the floor, her eyes never far from Steve.  Darcy had even managed to convince the Colonels wife, Alice, to come up and sing with her and Peggy.  Their rendition of ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ had been an uproarious success.  Darcy had nearly stumbled over the words when Peggy had given Steve a saucy wink when singing about the Captain.  His face had went bright red and Dugan had had to slap him hard on the back to prevent him choking. 

 

Then their boys had got up to sing to them.  Steve and Bucky both sang well.  Their deep baritone voices blending together in harmony.  It was the song though that did it.  Made her walls crumble to dust.

 

A tear slid down Darcy’s cheek as she heard the opening lines to the song.  She had always loved this song.  Bucky had taken her to see ‘Shall We Dance’ during the summer of ’41.  He’d sang it for weeks after to her.  The bitter irony of it wasn’t lost on her, the song was about lovers parting, that even though they were gone from each other’s lives the memories would be with them always.  But that wasn’t what was going to happen.  He was going to forget her, for a long time he would be without her or her memory. 

 

“The way you wear your hat,

 the way you sip your tea,

the memory of all that.

No, no, they can’t take that away from me”

 

They sang softly. Darcy’s heart grew heavy, she smiled through her tears. As much as she fought against them, they would return every time she wiped them away. Part of her was longing to tell him not to go tomorrow, to stay with her, but she knew that she couldn’t. It felt like a rusted blade, broken in her heart.

 

She was going to miss him, she was going to miss the feel of his body pressed against her, hot like a furnace, the cheesy one liners and the way he would look at her like she was the only person in the world. Darcy listened to them fondly, trying to push back the fact that he would leave at daybreak and she may never see him again, to focus on him now, to be happy there with him while he was still here, while they still had each other.

 

“We may never, never meet again, on the bumpy road to love.

Still I’ll always, always keep the memory of,

the way you hold your knife,

the way we danced till three.

The way you’ve changed my life,

oh, no, they can’t take that away from me.

No, they can’t take that away from me.”

 

It felt like a gut punch, the lines of the song settling deep within her soul. In just over seventeen hours he would fall from that train, and she couldn’t change it, she couldn’t save him, as much as she cares about him and loves him, God does she love him, she can’t.  It has to happen the way she remembers it. It’s because she loves him that she’s letting him go now, letting him go to shape the future as Hydra saw it. Letting him go to become the man she would fall in love with, shaped by pain and horror, and blood. Letting him go so he could lead her to this moment nearly 70 years from now.  She could feel the guilt building up in her chest, eating away like a cancer, not the benign kind that can be cleanly cut out, but the kind that riddles the whole body and can only be removed with the poison of radiation. Darcy glanced up at the clock as the song finished off, it was nearing nine, each minute passing by faster than the last. She clapped as they took a bow and jumped off the stage, coming over towards them. Bucky raised an eyebrow, asking if she was okay, Darcy nodded and smiled as she stood up and hugged him, Bucky supporting her as she clung to him. She smiled into his shoulder as he lifted her off the ground slightly.

 

Bucky led Darcy out to the dance floor, waiting for the next song to begin. His smile full of love and happiness reaching his eyes made Darcy’s face light up, seeing him so happy was something she knew she would be clinging to for the rest of her life. Every time she saw him was a homecoming, she was always home when he was there, and soon that home would be gone. Despite her efforts to avoid the topic and forget what would happen tomorrow she failed, her brain and guilt coming full circle every time. The song began to play, and Darcy could have crumbled and died on the dance floor, right there and then.

 

“We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when.

 But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.

 Keep smiling through just like you always do, till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away.”

 

Tears slide down her face, one after the other, an endless stream of pain and regret. Her face resting against his shoulder as they slow danced, Bucky began to rub circles into her back, his chin resting atop her head.

 

“What’s wrong doll?” Bucky questioned, a slight twinge of sadness in his voice. Darcy looked up at him, searching his eyes for something.

 

“Promise me you’ll come back to me James, promise me that this isn’t the end.” Darcy spoke, her voice breaking. Bucky starred down at her with a confused, pained look on his face.

 

“I promise I’ll come back to you, nothing on this earth could ever stop me from getting home to you. Darce, I’m going to be okay, I know how to look after myself and Stevie would never let anything happen to me. Everything will be fine, and I’ll come home to you, just like I always do.” He promised. Darcy cringed, tears welling up in her eyes again. He never has lied to her.

 

“I love you James Barnes and I always will” Darcy’s voice trembling as she spoke. She smiled at him, hoping that everything would work out, a part of her hoping that maybe, just maybe, he will come home tomorrow. Bucky’s eyes looked into hers lovingly as he spoke, “I love you too Darcy Barnes nothing will ever change that.” That was all the reassurance Darcy needed, that was all she needed to hear, to know that he would forgive her for this, for letting him fall, for letting him suffer for 70 years, because in the end, it all would work out, and their love would defy all odds.

 

 

Terror ran through Darcy like a train, the sound of a bustling freight car echoing throughout her mind as she slept, entrapping her in a never endling cycle of shame, grief and sorrow.

 

 


 

 

Darcy sat at her desk rewriting out Howard’s notes, trying to ignore what was going to happen next, she had felt it when he fell, the terrifying lurch as he plummeted.  Felt him reaching for their bond, begging for her to open it.  She had, she’d held his mind in hers as he dropped, sent all the love and comfort that she could manage.  Then it was like he was gone.  The bond wasn’t broken, but he was gone from it, probably unconscious.  She didn’t know how long it would take before he woke.  She had pulled back and closed off their link unable to face the emptiness right now. 

 

She was finishing the last set when they returned. Peggy smiled at her, briefly clutching her shoulder as she passed, walking away to meet them.  Darcy’s head was spinning, getting up she walked to the sink to get a glass of water. It’s going to be okay, you are going to be okay. You survived the Destroyer, the bloody Dark Elf’s, Ultron and the battle of New York. You are going to be okay, you are strong, she repeated to herself silently. Darcy had barely made it to her desk when she heard Cap’s shield fall to the ground. It’s going to be okay, everything is fine. She could hear her heart in her ears. She took a last sip of her water, finishing it off, her heart pounding.

 

Peggy walked towards her cautiously, figuring out what to say. Darcy looked at Peggy with sorrow, she knew what this was about, why her friend’s eyes were red, why she had raised a hand to lay gently on Darcy’s shoulders. The Howling Commandos had left with six and returned with only five. He was gone, the timeline was intact.

 

“I’m so sorry Darcy” Peggy almost whispered. Darcy fell back to lean against the desk she had been working at. Pain was surging through her, she knew this was coming but it was too soon, she wanted more time, she needed to tell him how much she loved him one more time, just one more moment with him.

 

“He’s gone” Darcy choked out, Peggy nodded enveloping her in a hug. Tears stinging in her eyes she went limp in Peggy’s arms, sobbing. “I could have saved him” Darcy mumbled, the air in the room seemed to disappear as it became harder and harder to breathe. Guilt started to rise within Darcy, she could have saved him, she could have stopped this. As much as it killed her this had to happen, it had to so that she would be here, so that she could have this chance to know Bucky before everything happened, so he would get to be happy, have something to hang onto for the next 70 years. She shut her eyes and his smile appeared, his whole face smiling, not the smile she had seen him give reporters years from now, not the smile he gave Steve or even his family, a smile that was solely reserved for her.

 

Darcy looked up from Peggy’s shoulder long enough to see Steve disappear into a different room. Her guilt growing as she watched, she knew that there was only a few more days left before Steve would be gone, Peggy needed to be with him, she deserved to spend as much time as she had with Steve. Darcy let go of Peggy, wiping her eyes and looking over at the closed door. “Steve is gonna need you right now, don’t worry about me, I’ll be okay” Darcy spoke. Peggy’s worried eyes glanced at the door and then back at her, asking if she was sure. Darcy nodded, and Peggy left to comfort her mate. She watched as the door closed and everything went silent, everyone had gone back to work, the world continuing to spin, the war continued being fought even though her world had stopped spinning and she had lost the war with her heart.

 

Before she had even registered it, she was walking, dragging herself forward even though it felt as though gravity had increased and she was being pulled down. Everyone watched her with knowing eyes, all feeling sorry and bleeding with sympathy. Darcy stopped outside the door to the chapel, was she really about to go in there. She had never really believed much in a greater, higher power, but Bucky had, that was all that mattered. That somewhere out there he was in pain and was about to go through 70 years of suffering and trauma, he deserved to have someone praying for him. Darcy entered the chapel to find it empty, she walked up to the alter, genuflecting like she had when they had attended Sunday mass. She walked over to the candles, lighting one for Bucky, before kneeling in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary. She prayed, for the first time in her life she prayed, she prayed for Bucky, praying that he would be given strength for what was to come, praying for someone to watch over him. Wet, hot tears streamed down her face as she asked for forgiveness, she asked for Bucky to forgive her for not saving him for him to understand that she had no choice despite how much she wanted to, she couldn’t save him. Darcy prayed that somehow, she would make it back to the future, so that she could see him again, even if only for a moment. Praying that she could live long enough to see him, to see his smile, to hear his voice, so he could tell her that everything was going to be alright and that he was here now. Long enough for her to tell him how sorry she was and how much she loved him.

 

She heard the door open, quickly trying to wipe her tears away to get up and leave she felt arms wrap around her. She looked to see who it was and saw her father. She could feel the sobs tear through her body as Howard pulled her onto his lap, holding her while she cried, mumbling soothing words.

 

“It’s gonna be okay Baby girl, I promise, it’s gonna be okay” He whispered, tears escaping his eyes as he rocked her back and forth.

 

She clung to him, the only thing keeping her from spiralling, and she howled, every inch of her in pain. A part of her was missing, her heart ached, all of the walls she had built leading up to this came crashing down as loud, heart breaking, ugly sobs wrenched from her throat. She battered her fists against Howard’s chest and struggled to get away, desperately wanting to run and run until she escaped from the pain that was threatening to kill her. He held on tightly to her, not allowing her to get away, repeating the same words over and over, his voice cracking with emotion.

 

“It’s not the end Darcy girl, it’s not the end.” Darcy went limp in Howard’s arms and for a moment, just for a second, Tony was there with her too.

 

Howard took her back to his room and tucked her into the bed, settling on top of the covers to hold her as she slept.  Darcy stayed there for two days, unable to leave the bed, grief and guilt weighing her down.  When she emerged she had shut down her emotions totally.  Held everything in and closed down her pack bonds.  She couldn’t do anything about the scent of guilt hanging around her like a shroud.  Steve’s almost predictable reaction to her own method of dealing with everything hurt far more than she had expected it to.  She had avoided him till the day he left to go on the mission to capture the Valkyrie, his harsh words felt almost deserved, part of her was happy to have him hate her right now, she certainly hated herself too.  She struggled as she stood before him.  Unable to find the right words and then she realised that as much as she too wanted to lash out, she had to forgive him now, she couldn’t bare the thought of him feeling bad about his silly fight 70 years from now the idiot was great at self-blame and when he did figure things out he would spend ages feeling bad for his words. So she did the right thing and told him she forgave him, told him she loved him and watched as he left to fulfill his destiny. 

 

VE Day 1945

 

The cacophony of laughter and joy rang out endlessly in the streets, people everywhere hugging and kissing and celebrating the end of a brutal and bloody war that had brought Europe to it’s knees.

The Commandos were gathered together celebrating the defeat of Hydra and mourning the loss of Steve and Bucky.  The men had all been wonderful to Darcy and Peggy both.  Still keeping watch of their leaders’ mates and ensuring their safety.  It was comforting to have them here.  All too soon they would have to part ways.  Darcy wonders if the boys had not disappeared would they all have stayed together as pack?  Probably not, The Brass were still wary of them even if they did like holding the image up to the public of the Howlies as some sort of group of mythical heroes.  She was going to miss them.  They raised their glasses again, toasting the dead before reluctantly parting ways.  All promising to keep in touch.  She believed them, she did.  They had forged bonds in the flames of hell together.  There was something in that which could never be changed.

Darcy sat amidst the din as Londoners celebrated, nursing a glass of wine in one hand and soaking up the atmosphere.  She wished she could feel the same happiness they were all experiencing but it just wasn’t in her.  It had been three months since she’d lost him and there had been no sign of her going back home.  Nothing to indicate that Jane or Tony had managed to figure out how to bring her back.   She felt eyes on her and looked up to see Peggy.  Her friend didn’t look much happier than she did.  They had both lost something precious.  

“How are you feeling Duckie?  You still look a little peaked.” 

 


 

 

Peggy was worried for Darcy.  The woman hadn’t really recovered since they had lost Bucky and Steve.  She had withdrawn from them all.  The men had tried hard to make both she and Darcy smile, to give them hope.  But it had been too long.  Steve was never coming back, he’d died that day when the plane went down.  Darcy had lost not just her husband, her mate but also her brother.  Darcy smiled wanly at her and shrugged.

 

“I’m fine Peggy, really.  I’m going to be fine.  Right now I’m just glad that it’s over.  There’s been enough death and pain and blood here to last generations.  This war has changed the world, you just can’t see it yet.”

 

“What do you mean?”  Peggy asked her carefully.  Darcy looked at her, head tilted and expression maddeningly neutral.

 

“You know, I know you heard what Steve accused me of the last time we spoke, but you’ve never asked.”

 

“I didn’t have to ask anything.  I see the way you and Howard act around each other.  You’re his family.”  Peggy was firm as she spoke, there would be no misunderstandings between the two of them.  Darcy had become a sister to her, closer than her own over the past year.  There was no way she would allow them to fall apart now.

 

“It’s really that simple for you huh?”

 

“Yes, it really is.  Steve didn’t mean what he said Darcy, you must know that, he was angry and hurt and wanted to upset you, he wanted to see you hurting like he was, couldn’t comprehend why you were so unshakable after , well after the train.”  She sighed and grasped one of Darcy’s hands in her own.  “Darcy, I tore a strip off him for what he said to you.  He would have apologised if he’d come back.  I know how much you both loved each other.”

 

“That’s just it, I’m not sure he did love me.  We got off to a bad start when we first met.  It took me months to get past his walls, to get to know him.  It took a while after that for us to even be friends.  I used to find it easy to make friends.  I used to be soft on the inside but now I’m all hard edges.  Steve and I, it took a lot of time to earn each other’s trust.  Bucky loved him like a brother and I…  I miss him, I’m so angry with him but I wish he were here hating me instead of…”

 

“Darcy, I know there is something going on here, something you know but aren’t telling me.  You clam up all the time, biting off words I know you want to speak.  We’ve known each other for two years Darcy.  I’d like to think that in that time, through the things we’ve shared and suffered that we’ve become friends, good friends.  What is it that is so burdening you darling?  You must know I would never betray your trust.  You can tell me anything, please don’t hold it inside.”  Peggy begged her earnestly. 

 

Darcy felt her eyes sting.  She wanted so much to tell someone else, to tell them everything, but how could she share such knowledge?  If she did share it, she couldn’t hold back and the good friend she found in Peggy would be gone.  But maybe it would be better to be honest.  Peggy could manage it, she could hear Darcy’s secret and live with it, but would she be able to forgive her for not warning them, for letting the love of Peggy’s life be lost to her forever?

 

“Darcy?  Please just tell me.”  Peggy entreated her again.

 

“I’m from the future.”

 

Peggy frowned at first and then Darcy watched as she seemed to still, replaying every interaction they had shared and reviewing it against this impossible declaration.

 

“You’re a time traveller.  So many things make much more sense, I don’t know what to say.”  Peggy paused as some more of her thoughts caught up and she froze, her bottom lip catching in her teeth tightly as she swallowed, not meeting Darcy’s gaze as understanding dawned.

 

“You knew what was going to happen to them, to both of them.  I don’t understand, why didn’t you say something?”

 

Darcy put down her glass and looked Peggy in the eye.  “I’ll tell you everything, but not here.  Come by Howards rooms tonight.  I’ll tell you everything.”  She left the table and walked away, afraid to see the look of betrayal and disappointment in Peggy’s face.

 


 

 

The room rang with a terrible silence as Darcy waited for Peggy to pass judgment on her.  Howard had taken over telling the story when she had broken near the end.  Had explained as best he could just why Darcy had kept quiet.  When she felt Peggy’s warm arms wrap around her she started to sob, she held on tight and cried for her boys.  For her lover and for her friend. Peggy held her close and shed tears of her own.

 

“You poor thing, I’m so sorry Darcy, what a horrid burden you have had to carry.  I am so sorry.  I don’t know how you’ve done it, knowing you would lose them, you were so strong my darling.”  Peggy’s words brought fresh tears to her.  When she looked up she realised Howard had left them alone. 

 

“I managed because I know that they’re not dead.”  She whispered into Peggy’s ear.

 

Peggy pulled back, hope lighting up her face.

 

“But if they’re not dead, then, what happened?”

 

“Steve is trapped in the arctic, sleeping in ice and will be for the next 70 years.  He won’t have changed a bit when they find him and revive him.  Bucky is in enemy hands he’ll be in them for the next 70 odd years, till he escapes, just as unchanged in appearance as Steve.”

 

“Oh.”  Her face fell, hope taken once more.   “Do you think you’ll ever get home?”

 

“Honestly?  I don’t know.  I think if they haven’t come for me yet, then they probably won’t be able to.  I think I’m here to stay.  Or maybe the universe isn’t done with me yet.  Maybe there’s still something I’m meant to do here.”

 

“You will always have Howard and I, Darcy, you won’t be alone and Bucky’s family back in Brooklyn.  Don’t give up just yet.” 

 

“I don’t know if I’m strong enough.  I’ve been feeling so sick lately, and tired.  I fainted in the bathroom yesterday.”

 

Peggy frowned at her and lent close and pressed a cool nose to her neck and sniffed then sat back with wide eyes.

 

“Oh Darcy.  Sweet heart.  You’re pregnant.”  

 

Time stood still.  “I….”  she couldn’t understand. “But…  what..  oh”  The week before the train.  Her heat, Bucky being there with her, taking such good care of her.  She hadn’t even considered it.  They had been married for over four years and she hadn’t caught.  Had thought perhaps the suppressants she’d used for nine years had messed up her fertility.  “Peggy, do you really… are you sure?”

 

“Yes, very sure.  Come on, lets go down to medical, we’ll get a blood test and confirm officially okay?” 

 

Darcy nodded and let the other woman lead her away.  A baby.  She was going to have a baby.  She didn’t know if she wanted to laugh or cry.  She pressed her hand against her abdomen, trying to feel if something had changed.  There just under her skin and muscle, a tiny hard bump was forming.  Our baby Bucky, she thought sadly, you were so sure it would happen, I wish so much you were here.

 


 

 

Four weeks later she found herself ensconced in Peggy’s child hood home being fussed over terribly by her friend and her mother.  As soon as her pregnancy had been confirmed Peggy and Howard had insisted she get out of the city, that she needed somewhere quiet and calm until they had packed up and wound down everything with the SSR.  They had finally joined her here yesterday and preparations were underway to return State side.  Peggy insisted on coming with her, telling her that she would not let Darcy go though this alone. 

“I will be with you every step of the way Duckie, we may not have our boys, but we shall have each other.  You will need an Alpha to stand with you through this and as much as it will be lovely to have Bucky’s mother and sisters you need someone who can offer protection.  I can do that for you, if you’ll let me.” 

Darcy had thankfully agreed.  Howard had offered them the use of the mansion in Manhattan and she had taken it, not able to face going back to the home she had shared with Bucky just yet.

 


 

 

Being back in New York was jarring after war torn England.  It hadn’t changed since she left, the streets were the same, the people carrying on with their lives.  They had arrived last night and had found out that the Mass and funeral for the boys would be today.  She looked out the town car’s windows as Mr Jarvis drove them to Brooklyn. They would be burying empty caskets.  A painful reminder that both men were missing but not gone for her and Peggy.  They had dressed in black, lace veils pinned over their hair and covering their faces.  They were on the way to the chapel where she had married Bucky. 

 

She was nervous, Peggy had tried to talk her out of coming.  Chatter the SSR had picked up indicated that certain organisations now operating knew about her, about the child she carried.  Hydra had had held intel on her because of what had been done to Bucky.  When Peggy and Howard had sat down with her on the plane to show her the files they had found in their raids on Hydra bases she was unsurprised, she’d known already what had been done to him from the same files Steve would give her decades from now.  They had given Bucky a version of the same serum Steve had.  Howard had a few theories about why it had worked for him when they had experimented with it on thirty other prisoners without success.  Every alphabet agency on the planet was trying to find a way to recreate the serum that had made Captain America so special.  They wanted her because the baby had been conceived after the experiments that had been carried out on Bucky.  Whatever serum they had given him they were interested to find out what that meant for a child.  She had reluctantly agreed to no contact with Lexie and the girls, worried that seeing them might put them in danger.  Instead of sitting at the front with her family she and Peggy would sit in back, arrive late and leave early and watch the burial from afar.  But she couldn’t not go, couldn’t stay away from what might be her last chance to say goodbye. Could she?  She placed a protective hand over her bump and struggled with the decision.  What would Bucky want her to do here, an ugly feeling twisted in her gut.  He would never have allowed her to go in her condition.  Neither would any of the rest of her pack.  Tony and Jane especially would have insisted she stayed home, protected. 

 

“Jarvis, stop the car.” 

 

Peggy gave her a look of pained understanding.

 

“I can’t do it, I can’t risk going to say goodbye.  He wouldn’t have wanted me to put myself in danger, especially now, not when I’m carrying his child.  God Peg this is mess.  I’m sorry"

 

“Hush now, nothing to be sorry for.  Jarvis back to the mansion please, take a different route back.” 

 

He nodded to her in the mirror and took and next left turn.

 

“I know this isn’t easy for you, I know just how much you are hurting, I am too.  But your baby is worth every sacrifice.  Never apologise for keeping her safe.”

 

“I feel terrible that I can’t be there, that I can’t even contact Lexie to let her know I’m alright.  I owe her so much, she was so good to me, she’s lost her son.  She shouldn’t lose me too, she should know about the baby.  She’d be so happy to know a part of him would live on.”

 

Peggy pulled her into a hug and stroked her hair, soothing her gently as the scent of verbena and jasmine and cloves enveloped her. 

 

“From everything you and Steve have told me about Lexie, she would understand completely.  She won’t blame you for any of this Darcy.  You’ll get to see her again, we just have to give it time, see what we can uncover about the people after you and lay enough false trails to be sure they won’t be watching.  You will get through this Darcy, you are stronger than you believe.  You are doing the right thing, it’s a hard choice, but it’s the right one.”

 

Darcy stayed where she was, wrapped in Peggy’s arms and closed her eyes.  The other woman had been a pillar of strength for her these last months.  In truth they had been there for each other.  She’d known from the minute they had met that she had found another friend in this strange time.  Peggy had been vibrant and full of life, she was incredibly focused and clever and never let anyone tell her who she was.  The first time she had seen Peggy and Steve in the same space she had been so surprised.  In the time she had known him she had never seen him look at anyone that way, not even Bucky who he adored.  Peggy had looked at him the same way, as though she couldn’t quite believe he was real.  Even in the midst of the fighting when the four of them had been together there had been an awareness of something special falling into place.  The quarters they had been provided with in London curtesy of Howard had been a three room suit with a sitting room and kitchenette.  It had been comfortable the four of them sharing the space, they had all bonded in that time.  Although Bucky and Peggy hadn’t hit it off right away it hadn’t taken long for them to find a happy equilibrium.  They had bonded over Steve’s inability to know his limits and take reckless risks.  For over a year they had been pack.  Solid, united, in sync.  She had felt strong bonds forming between them all and had been both elated and heart broken.  It was so unfair, to have her pack torn apart once again.  To have felt that happiness and sense of family only to lose it.  Darcy wiped her tears away and held Peggy’s hand tightly.  Peg was her anchor now, she need her to ground her and keep her safe from herself. 

 

“I need protection Peggy.  Mark me?”

 

Peggy met her eyes and reached for her other hand, gently rubbing their wrists together before brushing cheeks with her.  Darcy felt her nerves steady. 

 

“Thank you.”

 

“Always Duckie, you are my sister.  Till the end of the line.”  She echoed the words Steve and Bucky used with such certainty that Darcy couldn’t not crack a weak smile at the reminder of their mates devotion to each other.

 

“Till the end of the line.”  Darcy nodded.

Chapter Text

Finding out Darcy was pregnant was incredible news.  Peggy couldn’t possibly be happier for her.  However, it did pose with it a brand-new set of problems.  Problems that in retrospect, she really should have anticipated.  It was Philips who warned her.  Thank god for Darcy’s ability to make friends and influence people.  He’d come to her quietly after they had sent Darcy off to the country to stay with Peggy’s mother.  He’s shown her the recovered Hydra files with notes in Bucky’s imprisonment, torture and the experimentation done on him. 

 

“There’s a General Ross up the chain of command who has been asking questions.  Questions about our Queen Bee.  I don’t like it Carter, somethings off about it.  He knows she’s pregnant and he’s seen these reports.  We have a leak in medical who must have sent this info because I haven’t written it down anywhere.  Not army business as far as I’m concerned.  But this baby, I think they are going to be very interested in it.  They never managed to recreate the serum that made Rogers, but there are more than enough notes and information between these files and Zola to help them recreate the one that changed Barnes.  This child of his is going to be in danger, I don’t have to tell you what could happen if they get their hands on the child.  There’s also this.” 

 

He placed another file in front of her, the manila folder stamped with a half a dozen warning codes far aboveher clearance level.  Peggy flipped it open and quickly scanned through it.  It was not light reading, bile rose in her throat as she turned the pages. Their own government she understood just fine, they were desperate to get something out of Project Rebirth, Erskine’s formula had been destroyed by the man himself, all of his notes burned and the entire procedure for recreating it lost when he died.  The amount of money and resources they had poured into it was staggering, to get only one super soldier out of the deal and have him die and his body lost was to many, a massive waste.  But the Russians?  How would they even have found out about this, even with access to classified intelligence?

 

“The Russians?  What on earth, why would they be interested in Darcy?”

 

“I imagine for the same reasons Ross is.  And it means that leak in medical is more than one person or possibly that Ross is colluding with the Russians.  Neither makes me feel particularly comfortable.”  Just his voicing such thoughts out load to her was yet another warning, he knew more than he was saying.

 

“What about the Commando’s?  Is there any word on where they will be posted?” 

 

“Breaking them all up, decommissioning the squad.  I don’t expect Falsworth or Dernier to be able to get into the States anytime soon, got a feeling any visa they apply for will be denied.  They don’t want your Pack together Carter.  After Rogers and Barnes fell, when you took over command of the squad, the Brass got all jumpy again.  They see you as a threat Carter and I can’t say I disagree.  You are every bit the leader that those boys of yours were.  Four months, you led them through enemy lines and hit base after base.  I’ve never seen anything so surgically focused as you were on those missions.  And now?  You taking in a pregnant Omega carrying the child of their Alpha?  Jesus Carter, they’re going to stay twitchy for a while and watch you like a hawk.  There’s also the fact that where you and Mrs Barnes go Howard is never far behind.  They don’t like him either, he’s not a team player.  Arrogant, opinionated and has damn fine mind, he’s got too much money and too much influence as it is.  All of you are in danger to one degree or another.  Colonel Grant wants you in New York at the office there.  They are going to try to demean you, discredit you, try to get you to quit and go home.  The job they give you will be far below your capabilities but they also want to keep an eye on you.  Try not to step on too many toes Carter.  Keep that kid safe and for gods sake, make a plan for your pack, one that will help you all in the long run.  Don’t be stupid about this, play the long game Carter.”

 

She nodded numbly and thanked him before leaving his office, files tucked securely under her arm.  This was not how it was supposed to be.  She couldn’t possibly dump all of this on Darcy, not right now.  Darcy was already struggling with her pregnancy.  She couldn’t afford this level of stress.  But she couldn’t be in the dark about the possible danger either.  So, they would have to tell her at least some of it.  For now though, she had to meet with the pack, had to warn them and make a plan.  A plan to keep them all safe as she could.  

 


 

 

The pub they met in wasn’t in the best area but the clientele were few and far between and inclined to mind their own business. 

 

“So, what’s going on Peg?”  Dugan sat down and brushed off his hat before setting it on the table before him.  Morita and Jones took up seats on either side of her, wile Falsworth and Dernier stood on alert, holding positions to keep eyes on the exits.  They were all jumpy.

 

Peggy got straight to the point.  She placed the files on the table in front of her and gestured for them to look through them.  Gabriel’s brows rose and a sharp hiss of expletives escaped his mouth.

 

“They were not messing about with this shit were they.  Christ this is fucked up Carter.”

 

“I am aware.  Philips felt the need to show me this in light of some new developments.”

 

“Like the fact our pack bonds are still as strong as ever?”  Falsworth snapped at her, eyes bright with suspicion. 

 

Peggy tried not to let it rattle her.  She had no idea the pack bonds were strong enough for the others to feel Bucky or Steve now.  Even she only had the faintest glimmer of lasting coldness at the other end of she and Steve’s bond and they were mated. 

 

“What exactly is it you’re getting at Monty?  Be clear here, because after this meeting we will have to stay apart for quite some time.  The last thing any of us need is miscommunication or resentment.  We are pack.  That will never not be true.”

 

“We have all been getting flashes.” Dernier began.  “At night, in dreams, tiny slivers of ice and cold and blood.  None of us thought anything of it until we realised we are all seeing the same things.”

 

Dugan leaned forward.  “We want to know what’s going on Peg, the truth, all of it.   You know we can be trusted, know we’ll follow you if you ask us.  We’d do anything for both you and the Sergeants little Lady.  You’ve spent too long keeping things bottled up and trying to deal with this cluster fuck on your own.  We just want to help.”

 

Her nails bit into her palms.  Clearly the fear the higher ups had had in relation to Pack Royal’s forming wasn’t so strange after all.

 

 “Clear the pub out while I talk to the Landlord.”  She told them before making her way to the bar.

 

She spoke with the man at the bar and handed over a number of notes.  He handed the keys to Morita on the way out, the door locked firmly behind him.  Peggy gathered a number of bottles of whisky from behind the bar and approached them, her face a mask of calm.

 

“Drink up Gentlemen, what I’m about to tell you is for us to know only, no one else.  But Dugan is right.  We are pack and our pack aren’t dead, our bonds haven’t broken and they won’t.” 


She looked around at them, her good friends, her pack and carried on.  If you couldn’t trust your pack then it wasn’t pack at all.    “We forged powerful links between all of us over the past two years.  I believe that we became exactly what they feared.  Pack Royal.  There is very little understood about the phenomenon.  Packs like ours never kept records to do with the dynamics of such bonds.  For their own protection and for protection of future packs like ours.  If our Alpha and Beta were both dead our link would have died with them.”  She waited as they took that in and waited some more. 

 

“So, they are both alive.  Somewhere.”  Falsworth was decisive, seeming to have come to some definitive course of action.  “But it is more than that I think.  Much more.”

 

Peggy nodded and began to tell them what she knew.  About Steve and Bucky and how they couldn't be found or rescued.  that for now there was nothing they could do to get them back, finally about the baby and the danger it faced from powers both foreign and domestic.

 

The bottles were near empty by the time she had finished.  The mood in the room a curious mixture of determination and anger and hope.

 

“So we protect our Omega and her child.  And we can’t be seen to do so openly lest we put her in more danger.  This is unacceptable.  What did Philips suggest we do?”  Morita’s tone was cold and clinical.

 

“He suggested we go along with the plans, work behind the scenes and keep our heads down.  They will split us up, keeping as much distance as possible between us.  We have to set up dead drops.  Organise covert emergency communication and gather as much intelligence as possible.  We should also make sure that the Barnes girls and their mother are safe, the last thing we need is one of them being used to lure Darcy out of hiding.  We have to be smart about this.  We can’t afford to make mistakes.  They could decide to take us all out quietly if we make trouble for them.  Our only chance is to set up a network of intelligence and safehouses.  Have back up identities and plans in place in case we have to run for it.  We need protocols and backups and money.  Howard will help with the money, the rest of us will have to do the leg work.  Unfortunately, I will be under almost constant surveillance at least for a while once we get to New York.  So, it’s up to the rest of you to put our plans in motion.  Once the baby is born Darcy will have to be kept moving every few months to keep them safe.”

 

When Peggy left them, she felt a sense of relief.  At lest now there was a safety net being formed for them.  Now it was up to her to protect Darcy.  She prayed she was up to the task.  It wouldn’t be an easy one, when even the forces in both the British and American governments were interested in her charges it made the odds of keeping her family safe almost insurmountable.  But she would prevail.  There was no choice in that at all.

 


 

 

Her pregnancy wasn’t easy.  Darcy felt every strain and stretch as her body changed, her centre of gravity shifted almost overnight and nothing fit comfortably.  She was six months into her pregnancy and still she could hardly eat anything without feeling sick and worse vomiting.  Her skin, pale before, had become almost translucent.  Mrs Jarvis, Ana, was a god send.  While Peggy went to work at the SSR Ana cooked and cleaned and watched over her.  The woman was fast becoming a good friend and ally.  Mr Jarvis fussed like an old English sheepdog over every cough, sneeze and shiver.  The stories Tony had told her of Mr Jarvis didn’t do him justice but she could see clearly just how much of an influence that he had had in her own Jarvis’ creation. 

 

Darcy kept her journals faithfully, filling them with every thought she had.  Detailing her pregnancy and a picture in the same pose every day in the hope that when/if she got home James could see this, feel included in the journey she was making without him.  She was determined to document every moment of her pregnancy for him and the rest of her first pack. 

 

Peggy brought her regular letters, all suspiciously without postmarks from the rest of the Howling Commando’s.  Their letters and stories of what they were up to and how their families were gave her a much-needed look at the outside world.  Dugan’s were oddly sweet and filled with stories of his daughter’s antics.  The picture he included of three tow headed girls of about six years old were adorable.  Dernier wrote to her in French determined to keep her fluent in the language, he told her he did not spend so much time helping her to learn simply for her to get rusty and forget.  Gabriel wrote of his mother and sisters and their determination not to be pushed back into the place they had occupied before the war.  Morita wrote that he had got a job teaching in a community school and wrote down all the helpful advice his own mother dictated to him to give her about her pregnancy and child care.  It was sweet of them all to care so much and go out of their way to stay in touch.  James "Monty" Falsworth was the only one who had not written her.  When Peggy brought his letter, her face was pale and her lips tight.

 

My Dear Lady,

I wish to inform you that I am shortly to be married.  I hope that you will forgive me, that I have not written before but due to the particulars of my assignment I felt it wrong to write to you when I could not tell you the truth of my placement here.  I’m sure Peggy will be rather miffed at my recent news, but I hope that both you and she understand my reasons for breaking protocol as it were. 

 

“Peggy?  What assignment?”

“I felt it prudent to ensure that our Alpha’s sisters were watched over, from a distance I might add.  To ensure they were safe and not under surveillance by other interested parties.  A job I gave to a number our pack mates.  Falsworth was given the job of watching over Lizzie.  She’s been at Oxford for the last three months on an exchange program.”  Darcy frowned and read on

 

I met your sister in law, the very lovely and wonderful Lizzie.  She is a great beauty and I find myself in the enviable position of being her match.   She has agreed to bond with me and we have planned our wedding for the end of next month.  I hope you will be happy for us, I am very much in love with her. We plan to stay here in England for foreseeable future, our door will of course be open to you should you ever need it.  I will of guard her with my life.  If you should have need of me I will endeavour to do all in my power to help you and your child, always.

Your Servant,

James Montgomery Falsworth.

 

Peggy at least had the grace to look contrite Darcy thought idly as she folded the letter and stored it in her writing desk carefully.

 

“So, what’s going on Peggy?”  Darcy had known there was something else bothering her.   Both Peggy and Howard had been shifty for a while now.  The stress and shock of all the changes in the last few months had let her ignore it, happy just to focus on the baby she was carrying.  This however changed things.

 

“There is more to the danger than just left-over Hydra agents.”  Peggy sighed heavily.  She had not wanted to tell Darcy like this, but there was little she could do to change it now.  “There is a great deal of interest in your baby, both from the US and British governments and Russia.  They all have copies of the hydra files on Bucky and they all know your child was conceived after that experimentation.  The truth is we really don’t know who to trust except ourselves.  Unfortunately, there is still too much fear of our pack from the government.  They spilt us all up for a reason.  Howard is even now caught up in this, certain powerful people are trying to have him branded a traitor and discredited.   I’ve been working within the SSR trying to find evidence to clear him.  It’s why he left.  He had to hide.  I am so sorry for not telling you Duckie, but you were so ill in the beginning….   I just wanted to protect you for a little while longer.”

 

“Peggy, I appreciate that you didn’t want to stress me out, but I’m nearly six months gone, I can handle it now.  Besides, don’t you realise what a fantastic resource you have sitting right in front of you?  Peggy, I know an amazing amount about Howard, I’ve read his journals from this time the few that were still around.  Now tell me everything that’s going on, I’m going to help you find the information, I just need to jog my memory.  Now spill.”

 


 

 

Darcy sat in the window seat, forehead resting on the glass, watching the rain come down in torrents.  The house was quiet and empty.  There was no sound but the ticking of the grandfather clock and the patter of rain on the window pane.  She tugged the shawl tighter round her shoulders and tucking it over her rounding belly.  The world looked washed of colour, the rain and the dark clouds bleeding the brightness from every tree and leaf and flower.  It was a good metaphor for how life was at the moment, colourless and washed out.  She could feel him from time to time.  He was in pain and cold, so cold.  Her arm tingled in sympathy.  She had woken last night in agony, his screams ringing in her ears.  Flashes of scalpels and men in white coats leaving her shaking with fear.  He was suffering and she was safe.  She had broken her rule, reached down their bond and soothed him as best she could.  He’s reached back, broken and desperate.  She wanted to go to him so badly.  She’d cried herself back to sleep eventually.

 

The tinkle of broken glass startled her from her thoughts and she sat up, still, Darcy feels the faint impression of strangers in the house.  Before she could act a cloth covers her face, the sickly-sweet smell of chloroform drowning her before she passes out. 

 

This wasn’t the first time she had been kidnapped.  Working for the Avengers and Jane had prepared her well for this situation.  It was however the first time she had had so much to lose.  It wasn’t just her life on the line, but her child’s too.  The sterile smell of hospital made her gut churn with anxiety.

 

She kept her eyes closed, listening carefully.  The room was empty, it was just her.  That didn’t mean she wasn’t being observed though.  Carefully letting her power unfurl, she sent it questing, looking for some sliver of emotion.  A few rooms away perhaps, there was man, content and focused working on something he was pleased with.  Further away the numbing boredom of what she assumed were guards faintly bled through.  Her wrists and ankles were restrained.  She could feel the cool air of the room against the bare skin of her legs.  The gown she was wearing was basic scratchy cotton.  Something was digging into her arm on the inside of her elbow, a needle most likely. 

 

Darcy slowly opened her eyes.  The room was dimly let, a desk lamp in a corner the only illumination.  Everything she had been wearing had been taken from her, including the jewellery Tony had given her so long ago.  She tugged experimentally at the cuffs on her wrist, there was barley any room to shift her arms at all.  She kept a tight lid on the panic welling up inside her.

 

There weren’t many ways to tell how long she had been here, but the small bruise on her arm that she gotten from waking during her vision of Bucky was a dull yellow.  Again, the feeling of nausea threatened to overwhelm her.  Four days at least for the bruise to go that colour, she’d been here longer than she thought.  Opening her mind to her pack bonds she reached out slowly, trying to find Peggy, the sharp edges of agitation drummed from Peggy’s side, she could feel the Alpha female howling on the other side.  Darcy shoved with her mind and opened the bond, flooding through to Peggy’s side.  She felt the shock and relief and determination flood back as Peggy tried to send reassurance and comfort to her.  If she was lucky, the faint images of the room she was in might help.  It was far harder to send pictures across the bond than emotions.  She had never tried to do so with anyone other than Bucky.  She tried anyway, hoping that she could follow back along the bond to get a location.  The only thing she could do now was wait. 

 

Darcy eyed the pale blue solution in the IV bottle with concern.  Just what were they giving her?

 


 

 

Peggy nearly wept when she finally felt Darcy reach out.  For three days there had been nothing, almost as though she were gone.  But she knew her little Omega sister was still alive.  In truth it was the only reason she was still standing.  There had been no time to sleep.  When Ana Jarvis had telephoned in a panic about broken glass and Darcy being missing the cold icy feeling of fury had pushed her on and past the crippling fear of worry to try and organise the hunt.  No matter how many times she had tried to reach Darcy over the pack bonds all she had felt was a wall stopping her from going further.  But she knew Darcy had trained her power to the point that especially when unconscious she wouldn’t use it.  It meant though, that while she was unconscious there was no way to reach her. 

 

In the three days since she had been taken she had manged to gather Howard, Dugan and Morita to help.  Gabriel Jones was in Main watching over Natalie and Falsworth and Dernier couldn’t even enter the country.  They had planned and prepared and started looking for clues.  The fact that the SSR were keen to have her come into work and were throwing cases her way was clearly a break from the norm in the office she had been assigned.  It was also clearly a distraction, which meant it was someone powerful in their own Government that was responsible for Darcy’s abduction. 

 

“Do we have a lead yet?”  Morita asked as he came back from picking upguns and ammunition.

 

“Darcy’s awake wherever she is.  I got a glimpse of some sort of hospital like room.  Sterile and bare, concreate walls that had been whitewashed.  No windows so I’m guessing some sort of underground facility.  I don’t get the impression that she’s been taken out of the city.  From the feel of it she’s roughly east of here, across the river I would guess.  There are plenty of warehouses and empty buildings down by the docks.  I think it would be our best place to start looking.” 

 

Morita and nodded and started passing out equipment.  Jarvis entered the room and placed a stack of files on the table.

 

“I think I may know where to start the search.  There is B. Rivera Trade and Export Company located on the east river by the docks.  It seems from what I can gather to be dummy corporation for a subsidiary of the SSR something my CIA contact says is now code-named Weapon Plus.  I believe they are continuing the work of Project Rebirth.”

 

The atmosphere in the room is grimly silent.  Even as controlled as the members of the pack are the sour bitter scent of anger and disgust still begins to fill the room.  Mr Jarvis scenting their distress quickly opens a window and lays out the floor plan of the building.  It doesn’t take long after that to make a plan and head out.

 


 

 

 

Logan flexes his wrists, twisting them sharply trying to relive the tension in his bones.  He’s not often in New York, but the constant press of people and scents is uncomfortable and unsettling.  He’s just landed from a cargo boat and had decided to make his way to Lexie’s apartment when he catches a familiar scent.   Concerned he back tracks looking for the source.  It’s an outside ventilation grate on the side of an aging and crumbling building.  Something feels off.  The hair on the back of his neck rises and he steps into the shadows as a couple of goons leave by the door.  The door itself is just swinging closed when he slips a hand in the space and slips inside.  He’d know that scent anywhere.  Darcy Barnes is one of the most sweetly scented Omega’s he’s met in his life.   There is no way she would be in a place like this willingly. 

 

He finds an access door for the stairs and travels down.  The place is clean once he reaches the lower levels.  Every sense is on high.  There are a couple of men in a room not far away.  He can hear them arguing over the results of some test.  Logan’s seen a lot of strange things in his long life and he’s come across a few places like this before.  He saw a lot of it during the war while fighting Hydra and Nazi’s.  The camps, the testing facilities.  The things they did to the prisoners there.  It’s the phrase they use that triggers all his protective responses.  The Essex Factor.  He’s more than aware of exactly what they mean by that.  People with power like him, like Darcy.  He represses the growl that threatens to come to the surface.  It’s the sudden scream that has him hurtling down the long hallway. Unerringly traveling towards the wounded sound.  As he gets closer the scent of burnt sugar and cherry blossom rises, her distress distinctive and jarring.  As she screams again he feels the push against his mental walls and he hears the screams of someone else.  The air seems to thicken the closer he gets and he feels as though he is trying to wade through molasses. 

 

The room she’s in is white washed and bare.  The only colour here is the colour of blood, redder than her lips and staining the sheets under her thighs.  He can clearly see the she’s pregnant.  Her back arches off the table as she screams again and he ruthlessly paints the walls with the blood of the doctor trying to hold her down.  Her eyes are glassy and unfocused, her wrists and ankles rubbed raw by the leather restraints.  There’s no time for finesse.  He wrenches the straps of the restraints and pulls the IV from her and lifts her into his arms.  She whispers his name before passing out, her head resting on his shoulder.  He’d offered his protection to her once five years before and he won’t make a liar of himself now. 

 

It’s full dark when he leaves the building.  Logan takes every short cut and back alley he knows and makes it to Lexie’s place a scant fifteen minutes later. 

 


 

 

Natalie shows up at the door, flustered and agitated, she hopped on the first train she could get when she felt it. Rebecca has been here since the day before.  The anxious phone call from Lizzie still rattles in her mind. 

 

Lexie paces the hall.  She’s been doing so for hours.  She can’t sit still, none of them can.  Natalie and Rebecca share a silent looks and whispers. 

 

At first after Darcy left she had been worried that the young woman was pushing herself too far.   A month later they had all felt an overwhelming joy surge through the bond.  Darcy and James were safe and together.  It had felt right and so reassuring.  From there things had spiralled.  Over the next year the Barnes women had felt the ghostly presence of new pack mates that they didn’t know. 

 

Lexie had researched all the old medical files she had on pack bonds and designates.  Nothing made sense.  How could they have new bonds with people they didn’t even know?  But it was unmistakable.  They might not be able to reach out and call through the new bonds, but they could still tell they existed, all of them so strongly connected to James and Darcy and Steve. 

 

When they had got the news that Steve and Bucky were dead none of them had believed it.  There had been no contact from Darcy at all, although they could feel her grief.  But James and Steve were still connected though the pack bonds.  They were still out there, somewhere in the world.  It was unprecedented the level of information and solidity they had over these bonds, it was like nothing Lexie had ever read about or experienced before.  The only factor that was different was Darcy.  Lexie could only conclude that her mental and emotional gift extended to all of them through the bonds, allowing each of them far better control and perception.  They had had a funeral, had went through all the appropriate steps, quietly waiting for some word of what had really happened.  Then three days before they had felt a surge of fear from Darcy and then nothing.   Natalie had packed up and got the first train back to New York.  Rebecca had come over and they all sat waiting.  Not sure what for, but something had happened, something big.  A few hours ago, they had suddenly felt Darcy again, felt her overwhelming fear and could tell she was close.  The pain that had ripped down the bonds dropped all of them to their knees. 

 

Finding a blood-soaked Logan banging on her door carrying Darcy in his arms was almost expected when it happened. 

 

Lexie ushered them inside, directing Logan to bring her to her room and lying her down on the bed.  Darcy’s skin was pale, her hair limp and greasy.  The red soaked hospital gown had all of them shuddering in horror. 

 

“She’s pregnant Lexie, I don’t know what they did to her, but she’s bleeding out.”

 

“Rebecca, get my medical kit, Natalie, fetch your fathers surgical bag.”

 

Lexie had to be professional right now.  She pushed down the horror of her pregnant daughter in law and focussed on the patient.  She was bleeding sluggishly onto the sheets.  Her pulse was thready and her skin when pinched didn’t retract properly, dehydration then could have contributed to the early labour and the stress or trauma. 

 

Lexie worked with Natalie to set up an IV and monitor the baby’s heartbeat.  Natalie sat dutifully head bent listing through the Pinard horn, jotting down any changes at timed intervals. Thankfully it was a steady racing beat.  Rebecca was sent to fetch medicine and magnesium sulphate from the pharmacy, there was a chance to stop labour now, but much longer and it would be ineffectual.  Darcy’s colour came back slowly, they treated her with the Magnesium sulphate and managed to stop contractions.  Three hours later by some miracle the baby was still alive and the contractions stopped, but the bleeding wouldn’t. 

 

“We need to give her a transfusion.  She’s losing too much blood and the IV solution isn’t going to help for much longer.” 

 

Lexie dug through Mark's surgical bad searching for the transfusion equipment, it would be messy and basic but they had to do something. 

 

The sudden pounding on the door had everyone freeze.  Logan stood, cracking his neck and motioned for them to stay out while he went to the door.


 

 

The warehouse was empty of life when they arrived.  Blood painted the walls on the corridor and they had found five dead bodies of guards and who Peggy assumed were doctors. Jarvis appeared from a laboratory carrying a stack of files.

 

“These appear to be records of tests they have done on Miss Darcy and the baby.  I took the liberty of destroying all the samples they had collected.  There is no indication they were planning to move her.”

 

Morita ran his fingers lightly over the parallel gouges in the door to the examination room. 

 

“I don’t think they planned on moving her at all, they were set up comfortably here.  Looks as though someone interrupted them.  I’ve seen marks like this before.  There was a Canadian with a special task force we ran into back in ’44.  Barnes knew him.  We were at a Hydra base just outside Vienna, they’d been experimenting on children with powers.  Logan was all sorts of crazy, a good man though and Barnes trusted him.  Anywhere he fought, these were the marks left behind.    He’d been held prisoner there, they were doing tests on him, bad ones.  He was pretty thankful we got him out.  It’s possible the people here got their hands on him too and it back fired.  He was a strong son of bitch, strong as Rogers or Barnes is.  He could have taken out the guards and doctors really easily.  Would have taken Darcy too is he found her.  No way he’d leave a woman behind to this.”

 

Peggy nodded and looked around.  The room was the same as the one in the vision Darcy sent.  The bloody sheets on the exam table made her want to hit something. 

 

“Right, Morita you’re with me.  Dugan get Jarvis back safely to the house.  Howard, where exactly does Lexie Barnes live?”

 

“Lexie?”  Howard asked her.

 

“Yes, if this is the same man who Morita say’s knew Bucky there is the very real chance that he would have taken her to the closest help he could find.  I know they lived in Brooklyn, that’s not far from here.  We’ll go and check, it’s the best lead we have right now.  Morita will come with us to vouch for us if he’s as dangerous as has been implied."

 


 

 

When they reached the stairwell of the apartment the scent of blood and Darcy lingered.  When they reached the top landing, Peggy thumped the door impatiently. 

 

The man who opened the door was as tall as Steve, his hair dark like Bucky’s.  The scent of Alpha male hit her violently, she held her breath, determined not to cave under his stare.

 

“Where is she?”  Peggy demanded, stepping closer, determined to get past him.

 

“Logan, it’s me Morita, you remember Vienna?”  the man Morita called Logan stilled and relaxed.

 

“We’re part of Darcy’s pack, we’ve been looking for her for days.  Peggy’s real anxious to make sure she’s alright.”

 

Logan stepped closer to Peggy and sniffed.  He nodded then and stepped back.  Peggy pushed past him and found herself making her way directly to Darcy.  The Barnes ladies were gathered round her bad, standing protectively in front of her. 

 

“Please, she’s my friend, my pack sister, I would never harm her, we’ve been searching for days since she was taken.  The older woman, Lexie held out a hand to her and she took it shakily.  The thrum of a bond jumping into existence made her knees weak.  Lexie smiled at her and nodded.  There had never been a dull moment since she had met Darcy, this of all things, a new bond with no previous contact snapping into place was no exception.  Peggy took it in stride.  Of course, they were pack, they all followed the same Alpha and Beta and Omega.  When she thought about it, it seemed silly not to have thought of that before.

 

“She’s not well.  We don’t know what they did to her.  The baby’s pulling through for now but I can’t stop the bleeding.” 

 

Peggy sat on the bed and drew Darcy’s hand into her own, leaning over and brushing a damp curl from her face.  She smoothed back her hair, pressed a kiss to her temple and whispered.  “I’m here Duckie, all of us will take care of you.  But you have to keep fighting, don’t you dare let go.” 

 

Turning, she looked to Howard, hovering in the door, tension in every line of him as he stared at his daughter. 

 

“What do you need?  I’ll get anything you think will help.”  He assured them.

 

Lexie ran a hand through her hair.  “Is there no doctor we can get?  Someone you would trust with her?”  Peggy and Howard shook their heads grimly. 

 

“No, we don’t know who to trust.  The people that took her work for a division of the government.  We can’t afford to bring attention to her like this.  We can’t have them find her.  We have to do this on our own.”  Howard told her, regret rolling in waves from him.

 

“She needs a blood transfusion.  Does anyone know her blood type?”  Lexie went back to the table, setting out the equipment she would need.  It was Peggy who answered her.

 

“Her blood type is very rare. D+ mutation.  I’m afraid we don’t know anyone with a compatible type.”

 

“I’m a match.”  Logan sat beside Darcy’s bed and wrenched up a sleeve, Lexie didn’t waste any time preparing his arm and inserting the needle.

 

“Have you done this before?”  she asked him.

 

“Once, back in ’16.  Mark got shot, needed blood, took a chance, he was dying anyway.”  Lexie sucked in a breath.  She hadn’t known that.  She looked at Logan speculatively.  “We are talking about this later.”  She warned him with a tight look.

 

It didn’t take long before they saw the change in Darcy.  Her breathing evened out, her heart beat steadied and the colour came back fully to her cheeks.  Lexie examined her carefully after clearing them all out of the room.   The bleeding had stopped.  It was a miracle. 

 

Lexie allowed Howard and Peggy back into the room while Rebecca prepared tea in the kitchen.  Natalie had cornered Morita in the parlour.  Lexie shook her head, that girl of hers was a chatterbox.  She caught Logan’s eye and turned to go to her room.  He took the hint well enough and followed.

 

Lexie had had enough secrets this past year, she was sick of it.  Confronting Logan now was the best bet for getting her own truths.

 

“You don’t age, you don’t die and you heal instantly.  You know I always just thought it was some sort of miracle when I got pregnant with James and Rebecca.  It happened right after you and Mark came home, my first heat.  We’d been married six years and nothing, I knew Mark thought he was sterile.  Mumps when he was in his twenties.  I never questioned why I suddenly conceived, just put it down to luck, too busy thanking god for a miracle to think about it.  But it was you wasn’t it.  Your blood healed that bullet wound and everything else that was wrong with him too.”  He nodded, sitting gingerly on the bed as she stood by the window.  “Do you ever get sick?”

 

“No, haven’t been sick since I was a boy.  Soon as my power triggered I was always as healthy as a horse.”

 

“My kids have never been sick a day in their lives do you know that?  No childhood illnesses, no broken bones.  They can get hurt, get bruised and bleed but they heal fast.  Not as fast as you but, faster than normal.  What is it going to mean for them?  Are they like you?  Will they age?  They’re still young so I can’t tell if they should have aged more by now.  Rebecca, she’s 28, could still pass for early twenties, but that’s not so strange.  What has it done to them and what is it going to do to Darcy?  Her bleeding stopped, she looks fine now, we barley gave her a pint of your blood before she improved.  So, I need to know, what is it going to do them?”

 

Logan stood and came to face her.  He never thought he’s have to have the conversation with her.  Mark had studied what he could when they all lived together, testing Logan’s blood for god knows what in an effort to understand how it had saved his life and made it possible for him to give Lexie children.  He’d left when the twins were only a few years old, happy to see that they were healthy and bright.  Part of him hated leaving them, they had felt like they were his in a way.  But something still drove him to go off, looking for that elusive scent he knew he needed to find. 

 

“The truth is I just don't know.  Mark did a lot of tests, I know he kept records hidden in that old desk of his.  They should still be there.  Hidden in a false panel in the chair well."  Lexie crossed the room and crouched down under the desk, she found the panel and pried it lose.  Just like he had said the files were there. 

 

“I’m sorry Lexie, we should have told you.”

 

“Yes, you should have, but so should he.  I need to talk with Stark about these, Darcy say’s he’s one of the smartest men she ever met.  I’ll need a second opinion on what it all means.  Don’t you dare think of swanning off again.  We’re going to need you here to help protect Darcy.  Whatever else is going on here, my grandchild is in danger and we were pack once.”

 

“I’ll stay.” 

 

Lexie met his eyes and read the truth in them.  She let out a breath and crossed the room quickly, hugging him.   “Thank you for speaking up in there, I think you just saved her life.”

 

Logan brings his arms around her and holds her close.  “We’ll always be pack Lexie, even when I’m not around, you know that right?”  She nods her head against his shoulder and sighs.  There is so much going on right now.  So many questions that need to be answered.  It’s time to go ask them.

 


 

 

 

The parlour is crowded, a pack tense and uncomfortable trying to find their feet, figure out where they stand with each other.  It’s not the best first meeting, in another world it would have gone differently.  Their Alpha would have introduced them, silently giving everyone an idea of standing and hierarchy.  Peggy has always been good at taking things in hand but right now she is running on fumes, it’s been 72 hours and she has hardly slept in that time.

 

“You don’t know me, and you have no reason to trust me but right now, I am asking you to.  I knew your son, he was good man, a strong leader and I respected him a great deal.  I was bonded to Steve, I loved him and having him gone from me is one of the most painful things I have ever endured.  Darcy is under my protection, what’s left of the pack we made during the war follows me in Bucky and Steve’s stead.  We should have contacted you sooner, but none of us wanted to put you in danger.”  She breaks off, wavering in the moment, wondering how justified they really were in making this decision arbitrarily for them.   

 

It’s Howard surprisingly who takes the lead then.  He explains as much as he can to the Barnes women about the serum, the people after Darcy and her child and the danger they are all in.  After that the questions come think and fast from both sides.  It’s like finding missing pieces of a puzzle.  It doesn’t surprise Peggy that they too knew that Bucky and Steve were still alive, the bonds of the pack were strong still.  The new bond between Lexie and she had solidified quickly.  For right now there would be no question of who was expected to make hard choices, it would fall to her as it had since February.  The talk turns to Darcy’s condition and what had happened to her.

 

Logan explains about his own power, what it did for Mark Barnes and Howard pours over the files.  It doesn’t take long for him to reach some conclusions.   That there is a chance whatever change Logan’s blood had in Mark could have been passed to his children, could have been what made the difference when Zola’s serum had killed everyone but Bucky.  Thankfully he is for once tactful in asking about testing for Rebecca and Natalie and blood samples.  Lexie agrees with stipulations of her own.  Logan growls a bit but agrees to a blood sample.  As for Darcy, both Howard and Lexie seem convinced that she is going to be alright, that she just needs rest right now.

 


 

 

Darcy knows she’s dreaming, it’s a strange feeling.  it’s as though the world is somehow dimmer yet brighter all at once.  She can’t quite describe where she finds herself but, in the distance, she hears the whistle of a train.  She finds herself sitting on a bench, it’s familiar, the bench is one she has taken residence on many times, the grooves in the wood well worn and smooth against the back of her knees.  The sun is warm on her skin, the cotton tank top and jean shorts she is wearing, comfortable.  She was somewhere else before, somewhere painful and cold.  She closes her eyes and tries to remember, the flash of red on white jolts them open again.  Darcy brings her hand to press against her belly to find it flat and wonders why this makes her feel panic.  There’s something important she’s forgotten.  The glide of a calloused hand against the skin between her shoulders startles her.  When she turns her head, it is him sitting beside her.

 

“James…”  she whispers.  He doesn’t look to her, he’s staring into the distance, his hand still gently rubbing her back.  She curls into his touch and lays her head against his chest, her hand, fingers splayed resting on his abs.  It’s peaceful here, the calm steady presence of him has her melting into his embrace as he tugs her into his lap.  She traces the lines of his arm in the stillness, following the twisted scars to the blunt stump below his elbow.  He rests his chin against her head, she can feel his stubble catching in her hair.  This is a dream, a wonderful, beautiful dream she never wants to leave.  They sit there for a while, the strange sun never moving, the air still. She’s missed him, has been so lonely without him. 

 

“I don’t think I’m coming back from this” he says eventually.  Her heart clenches in her chest, the pain in his voice cutting her to the core.

 

“Don’t.  Don’t you dare say that.”  She manages to speak.  Her words are anguish and heartbreak.

 

“I promised you I’d always come back to you, that I wouldn’t give up, but I’m tired Darcy, I’m so tired and it hurts.  I’m trying so hard to hold onto who I am, but it’s slipping away a little more each day.  I wish this wasn’t a dream, wish this were real.”  Darcy snakes her arms around him, wondering for the first time if it really was a dream.  He felt so real in her arms, the smell of him clear and calming.  When he presses his lips against her mark it burns with liquid fire, the feel of their connection thrumming into life. This is no dream, it's something else entirely.

 

“It is real, I’m here, I don’t know how, but I’m here.”  She clings to him then and feels her tears start to fall.  When he cups her jaw with his hand and wipes a tear away she finally looks into his eyes.  He looks so lost and scared.  There is still nothing she can do but be here in this moment. 

 

“I miss you so much Doll, I can’t remember who I am anymore, but I know you.  When they put me in this place I see you when I’m out, but it’s never real.  Just for a minute I want to pretend it is though.” 

 

Darcy holds him tighter, burrowing her head against his neck, tears squeezing out from eyes shut fast with pain. 

 

“I’m here, I’m with you.  You’re my mate, you are James Buchanan Barnes and you are my hero.”  She took a breath trying to shrug away the tears.  “You have to hold on, I promise, one day you’ll be free, you’ll see me again.  You have to keep going no matter how much it hurts because I promise we’ll be together again, me and you and Steve and you’ll meet my family.”  She gently took his face in her hands and pressed their foreheads together, meeting his eyes as she spoke with a soul deep certainty.  “I love you so much and I miss you.  I miss this, I miss the way you make me feel like nothing can ever hurt me.  Meeting you was the best thing that ever happened to me and I thank the universe every day for it, no matter how much this hurts.”  He stares into her eyes, a spark of hope finding its way back.  “Promise me, promise you’ll keep fighting, that you’ll try, for me and when they make you forget me, don’t forget that there is someone waiting for you on the other side.  I’ll remember for both of us, I’ll remember everything and I’ll remind you, because I have to have faith, that one day, we’ll find out way back to each other.  I’ll never forget you.  I love you, no matter what they make you into I will always love you and fight for you.  So, you have to fight for me too, because I need you to come home.   I need you to be strong for us, to believe, even in the darkest moments that it’s not the end of our story, we have so much more to do in this life.   You were my first love and you will be my last, however long it takes.” 

 

He kisses her then, soft and achingly careful as he holds her.  His lips gently tease at hers till she kisses back, all passion and fire and love.  She sighs into the kiss, her lips begging him to feel every ounce of love she has in her heart for him.  It’s not good bye, it’s a kiss of affirmation, one that reminds you and reaffirms everything that is between them.  She is his and he is hers, always and forever, in this life and the next and in every universe that has ever existed there has always been Darcy and Bucky, saving each other and living lives from the mundane to the exceptional.  She feels the fabric of the universe in their kiss, hears the beat of the drums of time and sees the hands of fate as they weave the story of their lives out in the tapestry of life.  She feel’s him slip away from her then and the dark and cold envelopes her.

 

 

In that moment they come to her, three indistinct figures surrounding her, whispering of timelines and warning of the end of creation.  She knows who they are the fates called the Norns.  They tell her of Ragnarok and she sees the destruction of half a universe as it turns to dust.  She’s sees her friends and family fall trying to bring down the Mad Titan.  Watches, powerless to stop it as her pack dies, one by one, each of them alone in the end or far from home.

 

Time to make a choice little sister. 

 

The voices resonate together shaking her whole being with their power.

 

Live or Die tonight, this will be their fate.

 

She begs them for a way to save them.  A way to stop this madness.  She would do anything to save them.

 

Anything?

 

Whatever it takes.   She answers.

 

Sacrifice.

 

Darcy stills, to keep them safe, her life was a small price to pay.

 

The price is high little lightening sister.

 

I’ll pay it.  She thinks, desperately willing them to help her.

 

That’s what you said last time, you failed. This time the price is higher still.

 

How did I fail?

 

Temptation

 

I don’t understand. 

 

It hits her like an avalanche, memories that weren’t hers, of a Darcy that hadn’t existed in this time line, of a choice and a promise and her inability to resist using the power within her to save someone she loved, of the destruction that followed and the end of a universe.

 

Tell me what I have to do.

 

Nothing.

 

They show her what they want from her and in the end, she understands their meaning.  Her curse will be the inability to take action with the power at her fingertips.  They’ll give her something to protect and keep safe and in the end no matter what will come she must not act to use the power she carries within her.  It will be hidden in her soul, untraceable unless she uses its power as her own.  If she resists temptation, Thanos cannot win, but if she gives in he will find her and rip her apart to take the Soul Stone from her and destroy the universe.

 

Why me?  She asks brokenly, the burden heavy on her shoulders already.  Out of all the beings in the universe why give this burden to me?  I’m no one special, I’m not powerful, my destiny was unremarkable till now.

 

Avatar’s are both born and made.  Bloodlines tracing back eons came together to make you, a nudge here, a push there for thousands of years, until the time was right and you were conceived.  Created to become a keeper.  God Blessed.  The ability to draw those powerful enough to protect you around you, unremarkable in your own way, but extraordinary beneath the surface.  What good a keeper who draws attention?  Now you must choose, this is the last time we will ask.  Will you be the keeper, even knowing the cost?

 

Somehow, she thinks the cost they speak of will be an unbearable one, knows it deep in her bones.  The other Darcy met him later, never travelled back in time and couldn’t bare to lose her Bucky, sacrificed the secret to save him and doomed a universe.  This time, this her, had already stood against temptation so many times, but hope had kept her sane.  Would it mean losing him and not being able to help?  Or would it be something worse?  Did it matter in the end what she chose?  Might she still make the same mistake and give in to temptation?  If she rejected this chance they would all die anyway, lifeless on Thanos’ alter of death.  In the end there was no choice, what did her own selfish happiness matter when the lives of so many hung in the balance?  I’ll do it.

 

When you wake you will be different and all those lives connected to yours will never be the same again.

 

What do you mean?  No, you didn’t tell me anything about the others,  what do you….

 

Pain lances through her and the last thing she sees is the emerald green light of an infinity stone.

 


 

 

Darcy wakes to a world unknowingly different.  A world unaware of the fate that had been turned aside.  She knows where she is, feels the members of her pack close by.  They’ve saved her, brought her home to her own bed, nest.  She feels better, not sick or in pain, her baby kicks within her womb and the wet stickiness of blood is absent between her legs.  There are so many things she has to think about now, too many world altering events to contemplate.  She can feel the Soul Stone’s power pulsing in time with her heart, feels that the ties she has to her pack have changed, at least on her end.  There’s a permanence to them, as though nothing can break them from her.  She’s afraid to think about what it means but understands anyway.  If she dies, she’ll take them with her, they’re not just bound to her, but linked.  Her soul and theirs, forever.  The implications aren’t lost on her.  Darcy wonders if there is a way to break the bonds of the pack, to protect them from her fate.  The problem is that finding out could be fatal.  She closes her eyes and rests, no ready to face her new reality just yet.

 


 

 

When Peggy slips back into Darcy’s room she can’t help but climb into the bed and curl around her friend.  Not knowing what they had done to her there, what she had went through was torture.  She had never had anyone under her protection before.   She had been honoured that Darcy had trusted her to look out for her but she had failed.  She hadn’t been there to stop them from taking her.  Hadn’t thought that anyone one be so brazen as to try and take Darcy from Howard’s home in the middle of the day like that.  It was quickly becoming apparent that the people interested in the baby were not going to be easily deterred.  They had slipped up once in not taking Darcy from New York.  But it had been utter luck that Logan had found her before whatever they were trying to do had killed her.  She gently placed a hand on Darcy’s bump and felt the tiny flutters of a kick against her fingertips. 

 

“Stop thinking so hard Peggy.  I’m fine” Darcy mumbled, turning onto her side and snuggling her head under Peggy’s chin.

 

“You are not fine Duckie, I nearly lost you.  I am a terrible Alpha.  I’m so sorry.”  She hadn’t cried since Steve’s plane went down, but she did again now.  “I lost my mate and now I nearly lost my best friend.  I was meant to take care of you both and…”

 

“Can it cupcake, you’re a great Alpha.  None of it was your fault.  Steve was always going down with that plane, that idiot never could pass up the chance to be a big damn hero and what happened to me?  None of us thought they’d strike so soon or so blatantly, but you all got me back, that’s all that matters.  This time, we’ll be more careful so don’t you dare blame yourself.  I know you hero types, you always try to take the sins of the world on your shoulders, it’s a thankless fruitless task.  You’re an Alpha, act like it.  Plan your plans and plot away.  I know you won’t let anyone get one over on you again after this.  Now I plan of sleeping a while longer, I’m back in my own bed I’m going to enjoy it while I can.  Either go to sleep or go annoy Howard.”

 

Peggy wipes the tears from her cheeks and rests her hand again against Darcy’s belly.  It had been too close.  Far too close.  She wonders sometimes what it would be like to have this, a child growing within her.  Longs for it to have been her, carrying Steve’s child.  She could have had that chance if she’d wanted it, but war and uncertainty and her place within the SSR meant it hadn’t been right time or place.  She would never have a piece of him to carry with her the way Darcy had Bucky and it made her ache terribly.  Sometimes she’s not sure what was worse, thinking he was dead and gone from the world forever or Knowing he would live but that she could never see him again.  Each idea a hellish sort anguish that leaves her unable to breath without wanting to sob.  She knows she hasn’t grieved, not really, she’s still stuck at anger.  Anger at the world, at Hydra, at Steve for not fighting harder to come home to her.  Peggy wonders if she’ll ever feel whole again, thinks that even time, for it’s lauded healing ability can never close this wound she feels right down to her very soul.  Perhaps if things had been different, if she was different, she could move past it, find someone else to love.  She could, she was an Alpha, there was nothing to stop her, but even then, how could she when she could still feel that aching cold if she concentrated on the bond.  The longer she spent with Darcy, the more she felt it, him, just out of reach, alive, waiting.  Waiting for the world to turn and people to change, a for new world to replace the old one.  And when he did, if she was still a part of that world she might see him again.  See him when she was old and nearing her end, what good was that, how was that fair?

 


 

 

Darcy can feel Peggy’s heartache, knows what she’s wondering and wonders the same thing herself.  Nothing in this world was fair.  Not when fate, the Odin damned Norn’s, had just fucked with timelines and reality to further their own agenda.  She can see much more now, understands that landing in 1940 alive and unharmed hadn’t just been luck, but them, reaching out and catching her and putting her here to walk a path they thought would make her stronger, that would give them a better candidate to be secret keeper to a glowy death stone of destruction.  They had been twisting her path since the day she was born, shaping her to do this, moulding her into the perfect pawn.  She hated them, hated what they had done.  Given her so much that could be so easily taken away.  If, no, when she got home she would be having words with Thor.  He had to have some inking that there was something different about her, he’d been her friend and treated her as a sister.  The Norns had used the title he gifted her to call her, to tie them to her.  God Blessed, indeed.  He’d marked her by that very act.  Given them a way to reach her by linking her to his pantheon.  All magic had a price.

 


 

 

It was the beginning of October.  The trees had turned, the beautiful golden and red leaves a riot of rich colour.  Darcy was bored out of her mind and more than ready to have her baby.  She had been cooped up in the apartment in Brooklyn since she had been brought here, dying, by Logan three months before.   Since then there had been a constant careful watch over her at all times.  With no one left alive in the facility she had been rescued from, Peggy had decided that the best way to hide her was under the noses of all those looking for her.  No one had seen her arrive and they had deemed it not safe to move her for at least a week after she’d been brought here.  It was nice at first being back in her own home.  The familiar scents comforting and peaceful.  She had pulled out her glory box and changed all the sheets on her bed, the beautiful colours and fabrics each held a treasured memory.  His wedding gift to her brought a soft smile to her face as she sorted through the linens.  In the end she had stored away all but one set of sheets, the rest tucked carefully into the linen chest ready for removal once the baby was born.

After that first week Darcy had talked Peggy into letting her stay.  She wanted to be here, in her own bed when she had her child.  The months had run in slower than she had liked but she never wanted for the company. 

Peggy got on well with Lexie and Natalie and Rebecca, they listened to her opinion and worked with her to keep Darcy safe.  Peggy had been working hard with the SSR, still finding them happy to side-line her no matter the commitment and talent she had for her job.  She had confided that she really just wanted to quit as soon as she could and the ground work for the move to LA had been placed. When she was offered the chance to move to the SSR field office in LA she had jumped at the unexpected opportunity, a reason to be there not connected to Howard would be invaluable if she wanted to be close to Darcy. Howard had taken his samples and tests and left for LA two weeks after Darcy had recovered, intent of laying groundwork for the new organisation he was building.  He and Peggy had talked extensively about starting an organisation, eventually, that was independent from the government, one that could protect them all if needed.   He was going to start a Movie Studio as the first cover for the new intelligence agency.  It would be slow going, they would have to be careful how it was handled but it was doable if they moved carefully.

Just knowing that SHEILD existed once more made Darcy feel both sick and happy.  She had pulled both Howard and Peggy aside and explained what she could about the Fall of Shield in the future and how it had come about.  Dismay had crossed their faces at the news of Hydra’s continued existence but they had agreed to let things pan out the way they had to.  Quietly they were working on ways of vetting new agents for a small counter agency they were trying to set up, one that could step in eventually, from the shadows after the Shieldra incident, a covert organisation ready to monitor the larger one, hopefully keeping the best Agents safe from the peril of the viper in their midst.  At least in this there was some measure of comfort, something good that would come of this whole sorry mess.

 


 

 

7th October 1945

 

“Push Darcy, you can do this!”  Lexie encouraged her as the contraction built to it’s peak.  Darcy had been in labour for five hours, everything had happened very quickly.  The pain wasn’t unbearable, but it was close.  She clutched at Peggy’s hand on one side while Natalie supported her from behind. She pushed through the pain, trying not to scream, her chin tucked into her chest.  The sudden release of pressure had her gasping for breath and her eyes widened as Lexie placed her baby on her chest. 

 

“It’s a girl!”  Lexie said with a proud smile.

 

Overwhelming emotion bubbled up as Darcy looked down at the tiny pink skinned, blood streaked creature.  She had a daughter. 

 

“My baby…she’s so small, should she be this small?”  She carefully brought gentle hands up to cradle her daughter head, the silky cap of damp dark curls warm under her fingers. “Your Papa would love you so much if he were here little one.  He’d be so happy to meet you.”

 

She was so caught up in meeting her daughter, Darcy hadn’t registered anything else going on until Lexie spoke to her.

 

“Darcy, honey, give the baby to Peggy.  It looks like we’ve had a tiny surprise hiding behind our first arrival.  You’re going to have to push again.”

 

“Wait, what?”  What was Lexie getting at?

 

“Darcy girl, it looks like you’re having twins and baby number two is not going to co-operate.  I need you not to panic, but I can see a foot.  This one’s coming breach, I need you to stay calm.  Alright?”

 

“Another… breach, that’s bad, that is so bad.”  Fear tore through her; a breach baby could kill them both. 

 

“You’re going to be fine Darcy, just do what I tell you and everything will be just fine.”  Her tone was soothing and Darcy trusted her in this.

 

Three hours later Darcy woke to the sound of crying.  She remembers passing out at some point, still straining to bring the second baby into the world and panicked for a moment before Natalie spoke.

 

“It’s alright Darcy, the babies are fine, you have a second daughter, a little smaller than the first but twice as fierce.  Here, you should hold her, she’s been waiting to meet you.”

 

Suddenly she finds herself holding a tiny baby with cap of red fuzz on her head. 

 

“Natalie, she’s got your hair.” 

 

“I know, baby one has darker curls like you but this one is all Grey”

 

“Grey?”  Darcy asks confused.

 

“Ma’s last name before she married Pa.  A whole family of red heads, it’s where Lizzie and I get our colouring.  What about you?  Any red heads in your family?”

 

“My Gramma, she was a red head too, I guess she gets it from both sides.” 

 

Darcy stares down at her new daughter in awe.  Everything about her is tiny and perfectly formed.  She’s so pretty.  Natalie passes her a second baby and tucks pillows around her so she can rest comfortably while she holds them.  Twin daughters, she’d had no idea.  They were so beautiful.  She hadn’t even thought about names yet. the love that wells up as she hold them is indescribable.  She is so blessed to have them, safe and healthy and alive.  She can never thank her family enough for being here for her.

 

Lexie and Peggy entered the room, bringing hot water and towels and settled on the bed around her.

 

“What happened?”  Darcy asked when they had finished cooing over the adorableness of the twins.

 

“Do you really want to know?”  Lexie asked her.  She nodded.

 

“Little Red got stuck, we had to turn her, when you passed out we had to make a decision.  We had to turn her internally, Natalie’s hands were smallest so she’s the one who performed a miracle today.  If we hadn’t I think it might have killed you both, the cord was wrapped around her neck, Natalie’s the one who realised and managed to untangle it before your body decided to get back to work on delivering her, it was quick once she was in position.  I’m pretty sure if we hadn’t been able to get her round you’d both be dead.  I’m so sorry we didn’t realise sooner that it was twins.  It happens sometimes, we can only hear one heartbeat because one hides behind the other.  They are both healthy and hale and perfect.  You did wonderfully Darcy.”

 

“I couldn’t have done it without you, any of you.  Thank you so much.  I have to find names for them now.”  She bit back the tears threatening to fall, her smile watery as she looked back down at her daughters.  “I know just what to call them.”  She smiled up at her family and introduced them properly to her little girls.  “Meet Natasha Jane and Alexandra Virginia Barnes.”  Lexie and Natalie cried as they fussed over the babies named for them and Peggy gave Darcy a hug. 

 

“Well done Duckie, they are perfect” she whispered into her hair.  “He would be such a proud Papa if he were here my dear.”

 

Darcy clutched her babies closer when they left her to rest and whispered to them of the family they were so lucky to have, of all the wonderful things in the world for them to see.  She told them of their brave father who would love them so much, who would move heaven and earth for them if only he could to come home to them.  They couldn’t stay here much longer, would have to move soon to protect them all from discovery.  Tasha and Sasha, tiny names for tiny babies she thought as she pressed kisses to their smooth cheeks, round and flushed from feeding.   She would do anything to keep them safe, no one would ever take them from her.

 

 

 


 

 

 

2014

 

The mixture of shock and confusion that had filled Natasha had stopped her short.  She had lived a long life; had seen many people she had cared for live and die.  Standing in that hall way watching a young woman with dark curls and an open smile leave Pepper with a hug and good bye had left her rooted to the floor.   For a moment she considered that she was imagining it, that years of grief and loss and guilt were causing her to hallucinate.  Yet the impossible had walked by her and left in the elevator.   The scent she caught as the young woman breezed past had her moving quickly into the stairwell where she sat and bit back a rush of emotion that was threatening to cripple her.  There was no mistaking her face, her scent.  But it wasn’t possible, it couldn’t be real.   At first Natasha considered that perhaps the woman had some relation to her mother, an uncanny genetic resemblance.  Then she had considered it might be some sort of trap, a plot against her by enemy’s.  Natasha spent months researching Darcy Lewis, back ground checks, surveillance, but her past was clean.   As she had spent more time with Darcy she had become sure that somehow, improbable as it seemed, she was who Natasha thought she was.  Once she had come to terms with that, came the how.   She tried to dig deeper into her own past, trying to find out what she could about her family, but the Red Room had burned down long ago and Hydra files on where Natasha came from were redacted and Shield knew nothing.   She had been so young when she had been taken that her memory, as good as it was lacked detail.  She couldn’t remember her mother’s name, wasn’t sure where they had lived.  She knew she spoke four languages as a child English, Russian, French and Hindi.  They had lived in the countryside, far away from other people.  She remembered her sister who had hair like their mother and remembered a dark-haired woman she had called Auntie who lived with them.  Before that she remembered that they had moved around a lot but it was a long time ago. 

 

 In a time when almost anything seemed possible she had a lot of theories, all seemed plausible, even if they were a little fantastical, because they lived in Stark Tower in an age of God’s, aliens and magic.  Natasha had had her childhood lost long ago but getting these precious few years with the woman who had or would be her mother was a blessing.  She enjoyed the attention Darcy gave her, how she hugged her and fussed after missions.  How they could sit and chat about so many things.  Sometimes she would lie on the couch, her head in Darcy’s lap and just listen as she told her about her day, Darcy’s tiny hands, so like her own smoothing through her hair.  She never told a soul why she had begun to cling so much to the other Omega, happy to keep this treasure to herself and not knowing how she would ever explain it if she did. 

 

2018

 

“So, I kept it to myself, I had no idea of how or if it would happen, I just tried to keep her safe.”  Natasha told Pepper, grabbing a bottle of vodka from the patio’s wet bar.

 

Pepper took the glass of vodka and knocked it back quickly.  Trying to find something to say to the revelation. 

 

“You did keep her safe you know, I remember how you saved her life.  God, this is insane Natasha, if you hadn’t saved her that day, you would never have been born.” 

 

“I know.”  Her voice was quiet as she thought back to the day after the kidnapping when she found Darcy in the kitchen baking up a batch of cherry filled pirozhki.

 

“маленькая мать” Nat had greeted her fondly; the blinding smile Darcy had gifted her had been like a balm to her soul.  Darcy had been taken the day before, when Natasha had found her, the fire fight that ensued had nearly killed them both.  Natasha has pulled Darcy behind her and taken six bullets centre mass, knocking them both to the ground, the force luckily not piercing the custom Kevlar weave Tony had designed for her.  Nearly losing Darcy had shook the red head to her core, the feeling that she had cemented something important with her actions had stuck with her for days.  After that Tony had had the sense to start giving Darcy jewellery with trackers in it and force shield bracelets that would stop high velocity objects and other perceived threats, not that Darcy was ever told that.  It was then that she had started teaching her Russian, that day in the kitchen with her little mother who smelled like love and home and safety.   It occurred to her now, that she had taught Darcy the language that Darcy would tech her.  Another loop, another layer of complication to this tragedy.

 

“But if you’re here now then…  what about your sister, what happened to her?”

 

“I don’t know what happened to her, she wasn’t taken with me.”   Natasha smiled sadly as Pepper looked at her with new eyes.  But Pepper could never be put off for long.  “That’s not the end of it though is it?  Oh my god, Sergeant Barnes, he doesn’t know about you, does he?  Did you know?  That he was your father I mean?”

 

“No, I had no idea until the night of his welcome back party.”  Natasha leaned back on the bar and recounted the evening to Pepper.

 


 

 

The party at Stark Tower had to be one of the classiest events Tony had ever thrown Natasha thought idly as she sipped the cocktail Bruce had handed her across the bar, but that might have had more to do with Darcy and Pepper than him.  Steve had told her that Darcy had suggested it when she found out James would be coming to the tower, there had been a hint of disquiet in his voice at the mention of Darcy that had sent a frisson of unease down her spine.

 

1940s Jazz echoed through the pent house, obviously it had been chosen to make James more comfortable although the fact that Natasha couldn’t see him made it hard to think that it did.  It was an open bar, so most people were spending their time there, all seemingly nervous that the Winter Soldier was within a hundred meters of them. 

 

Clint was regaling Darcy with stories about Laura and the kids, causing her to burst into fits of giggles.  She waved Natasha over intent on sharing the story with her.

 

Darcy began to retell a story about Clint and the kids crawling through the vents to prank Tony. Natasha laughed with them finding herself spending the rest of the night talking to them.  She noticed Steve staring over at them with a look of well concealed hostility aimed at Darcy, she had moved between then, disrupting his line of sight and glared at him with the intensity of thousand suns.  She almost laughed at the way he had stumbled back from her gaze.  She continued to watch him after that, he was nervous and skittish and seemed to have lost something.  It took longer than it should have for her to figure out what had him so worried. 

 

Everyone had started to leave the party as it crept towards the early hours of the morning, but she couldn’t see James anywhere. She said good bye to Darcy and Clint as they left for the night and followed Steve out to the balcony. Natasha could see James curled up in one corner looking at Steve with utter fury, his hands in fists.

 

“Did you know?” he fumed directing his gaze, gold tinting the iris, towards Rogers.

 

She quickly stepped forward and pulled at Steve’s arm silently telling him to go when she could see that the Alpha was a second away from issuing a challenge to the blonde beta.

 

Natasha cautiously made her way towards a planter next to James, sitting herself down daintily in silence.  She said nothing, letting the quiet settle around them.  If he wanted to speak he would and she would listen, he had helped her once even if it hadn’t worked out, he had tried, she owed him this at least.  When he began to speak she listened intently as his story unfolded.  Her gut twisting as a kind of bleak understanding settled in her soul. 

 

“December 1940 this Dame fell into my life.  She was short and curvy, dark curly hair and cherry red lips.”  He told her wistfully.   “Everything about how I met her was odd, slightly off, she had already been marked by me even though I could swear I had never seen her before, and she had this faith and unwavering trust in me from the first second I met her.”  He paused, shifting to his feet before turning to look out over the city.  “We matched, knew right away, no mistaking it.  She was my mate, my everything, the love of my fuckin’ life.  I couldn’t remember her until tonight, when I heard her laugh…  When I saw her, it-it was her, Darcy.  All the memories I had of her came rushing back.  I don’t know how but it’s her, that girl was my Darcy or at least a slightly younger version of her.”  The longing in his voice twisted with anger as he continued.   “Steve… he-he knew, he remembered my mate, my wife and he knew she was here and never told me, tried to hide her from me…” James spoke, the depth and emotion in his voice shaking Natasha to her foundations, as she processed what she was hearing and it all clicked into place.  The Alpha before her was her father.  Natasha could feel her chest getting tighter. She had to leave, now. Her breathe catching in her chest she reached out one small pale hand and gripped his shoulder, she had some digging to do… for both of them. She left without looking at him, if she did, she thought she might break.

 


 

 

Natasha finished recounting that portion of her story and watched as Pepper digested the news.  She could see the wheels turning in her head, she knew the questions it all brought up.  What happened to Darcy?  When was she taken?  Why hadn’t she told anyone?  Answers she didn’t want to give, all of them too painful to think about let alone talk about.  Bruce was the only one who knew and she’d only told him because he could feel that she was upset and worried, because she had broken and needed him so badly to be her rock, he hadn’t disappointed her.  Clint appeared then and gestured for her attention, excusing herself she accepted the tight smile Pepper gave her, this was not finished yet.  Dread curled in her belly, she’d tell them later, when they were closer to going back in time.  Right now, the key players had jobs to do.  As she followed Clint down to the briefing room she thought of how her father had come to her, looking for answers she couldn't give him.

 

When James showed up at her apartment a few days after the disastrous party she let him in without a word and grabbed two good bottles of vodka and a pair of shot glasses.  The spoke long into the night, slipping easily from English to Russian and back again.  He spoke, more than she had ever heard him speak as he told her of Darcy and the life he had had with her.  Her heart was breaking for the life she lost and for them, for her parents who had won a war but lost each other. 

 

Over the next months both of them dug through data bases, historical records, government and enemy records, trying to find anything they could about what happened to Darcy during and after the war.  Other than a misfiled marriage certificate for James Barnes and Darcy Lewis all other information was wiped from public and private records.  Natasha smelled a rat.  This was something Shield would do, wipe a person from all records as thoroughly as they were able.  The only files that mentioned Darcy by name were Hydra’s and then, only as to her relationship to James Barnes.  Well that wasn’t entirely true.  She did find something.  She found herself.  Again it was misfiled, a birth certificate in Los Angeles for a baby girl born in Brooklyn, New York, October 7th 1945.   Natasha Jane Barnes, birth parents Darcy Elizabeth Barnes and James Buchanan Barnes.   That was the night she crumbled, she had never been sure of her birthday, never known the date. 

 

She’d turned up at his door in the middle of the night.  Bruce had ushered her in without a word and had taken her into his arms.  It was the first time she had cried since she was a child, since she had thought all her tears had been taken from her in the Red Room.  He was safety and comfort, strength and warmth.  He accepted her broken pieces, gave some of his in return.  What they shared had taken time to build.  But it was worth it.  She had been holding back for so long but she couldn’t in that  moment, it had all tumbled out. 

 

Lightening flashed across the sky and the rolling growl of thunder echoed across the city startling her from her memories.  Thor was here.  One more defender to join them in this.  Natasha wondered what the God of Thunder would make of this whole mess.

 

 

 


 

 

Bruce convinced himself a long time ago he couldn’t be a good bond mate for anyone with his problems.  Then Tasha had come into his life.  She was different to any woman he had ever met before.  She was Omega, but the things the Russians had done to her had altered her so much that she never went into heat, her glands produced no scent.  They’d made her into a weapon, one that could get close without being noticed.  Both the Hulk and the Alpha inside of him wanted her.  Wanted to protect her, care for her, keep her safe.  Not that she needed it, the woman was terrifyingly competent in that department.  He’d wanted to run, after Ultron, but the Hulk wouldn’t leave his Tiny Deadly.  So, he’d turned the jet around and headed back.  He’s still not sure how it had happened, why she had chosen him, but she had.  They’d taken things slow, not needed to rush into a bond.  She’d asked him to mark her, wanted his scent to wrap around her, a blanket of protection.  This half way state had went on for nearly two years, he’d half convinced himself that she had changed her mind.  Then she’d turned up at his door in the middle of the night and broke down in his arms, soaking his shirt with tears that seemed never to end.  She’d let him take care of her, trusted him in a way he’d never felt she had before.  This was the woman he had seen glimpses of for six years finally letting him in, trusting him at last. 

 

She spoke of her mother, how she had been lost to her.  She spoke of the Red Room and the things they had done to her and made her do.  Then she told him about Yasha, the Winter Soldier and how he had tried to help her escape that prison, how they had failed.  Then she told him about Darcy.  About the birth certificate she had found and why she had come to him. 

 

The next day over her notes and coffee they had tried to come up with a timeline of what they knew, there were more holes in the story than he liked.  He’d spoken to Barnes too, uneasy at keeping the secret from Natasha’s father.  Bruce had explained why they had kept quiet, why even now they had to keep Darcy’s identity a secret.  The theory of what was going to happen was solid.  Darcy would be moved through time somehow and end up living a life in the 1940’s.   He’d hoped they could find a solution to getting her back, but the final nail in the coffin was Tasha’s recounting of the night she was taken.  She’d hoped there was a way to change what happened, but he’d explained about time, about causal paradoxes and how they worked.  Explained that if they changed anything it might not just be her life that could be wiped from existence but it could also change how things in the present happened.  Darcy had lived in the 40’s for nearly a decade, the people she knew, the things she had done were a part of history, to disturb them meant unpredictable change.  Sokovia going another way, the Chitauri winning, the loss of any of the people invaluable to the defence of the world could spell disaster.  The week after their conversation she had brought her things to his rooms and moved in.  When they’d made love that night she had offered her neck and ordered him to claim her.  When they had bonded there had been positive side effects for them both.  His control of the Hulk was effortless now, it was happening slowly, but he was certain that soon they would integrate completely, both personalities merging into one.  Natasha had went into heat.  They didn’t know why or how but theorised that instead of using chemical blockers to suppress her designation they had instead used conditioning and brain washing to separate and program her unconscious responses, essentially training her to be her own suppressant.  He’d held her and loved her through it.  He’s given her a prescription for suppressants soon after, neither wanting to take the chance of baby right away.  At her insistence he’d given her pheromone blockers too, to conceal her scent as it returned.

 

Then she was gone on a mission and three weeks later he found himself standing in a lab trying to explain to Tony why he’d let his baby sister who was more like a daughter to him get whisked back in time and not warned him.  He waited impatiently for Tasha to return, she had her own story to tell here, he couldn’t tell them himself, this was for her alone.  He watched Jane scribble on the smart glass, calculations flying, holding back her worry and anger to deal with the situation.  He watched Tony barely hold it together until Pepper stepped into the room, her stiletto heels clicking a tense staccato on the tiles.  Mostly though he watched Barnes.  The man had the weight of the world on his shoulders.  Bruce struggled internally.  Then, making a decision, he left the room and placed a hushed call to Helen Cho.  There was a chance, a small chance and he had to take it.

 

Chapter Text

1946 Los Angeles.

 

In a small secluded cottage on Howard's estate lived a young woman and her twin daughters.  No one knew they were there.  The only visitors they had were Ana and Edwin Jarvis who stopped by once a week with grocery’s and other necessities. 

 

Darcy found it lonely at first but the good weather and the constant feeding and changing and playing with the twins made the day go by faster.  The girls reached all their milestones early.  At ten months old they were already speaking in full sentences and spoke a mixture of English and French and Russian.  The girls were inseparable, constantly playing together and working together to get things or build things.  Darcy was so immensely proud of them, the only unhappy note in her life right then was the person missing from her side.  James would have been fascinated with his children, captivated by their cleverness and charm.  Both of them were equally as charming as their father was.  Ana and Edwin were besotted by them both.  The girls came running every time they dropped by, looking for hugs and presents.  Both girls had been walking by seven months, their tiny bodies sturdy and graceful as they would hurtle themselves around the play room or climbing the furniture every time she turned her back.  It was both exhausting and exhilarating being a mother.  It bought so much joy to her life, she could never have imagined loving anyone so much as she loved them. 

 

When Howard and Peggy arrived flustered and worried she had known it was time for them to move on.  Her only worry was the thought of being so far from them both.  When Peggy explained her plan to her she had cried in relief.

 

“There is woman we have crossed paths with whom we have brokered a deal.  She’s a former Red Room operative, she cut ties with the KGB years ago and wants a fresh start here.  She’s agreed to take my place at the office here in disguise for as long as I need.”

 

“How did you get her to agree?”  Darcy asked curiously. 

 

“Let’s just say we came to a mutually beneficial arrangement.  My boss was murdered last week and the man taking over is a friend, someone we can trust.  He’s agreed to the switch with some persuasion and he’s transferring the remaining agents who know me out to other offices.  When Dottie takes my place there will be no one to identify her as anyone other than Peggy Carter and Howards to perpetuate the charade with her for all our sakes.  So, I’m coming with you.  Jacques has secured a lovely little place on the Rivera for us and the girls, we’ll leave tomorrow.”

 

Darcy nodded, it was all a little fast, but it was to be expected.  Three days later she was greeting her funny French man and crying into his shoulder as he hugged her.  Kissing both her cheeks and then exclaiming over the ‘petites filles’.  The both greeted him in perfect French which had Dernier grinning from ear to ear and congratulating her on teaching them to speak properly.  Their new identities took some getting used to.  She was now Mrs Darcy Reine and her daughters Natalie and Sacha.  Peggy took the name Marguerite Cartier. 

 

 


 

 

1947

 

Life continued, it was peaceful in France, the war was long over now, and the people were back to living their lives.  It couldn’t last of course but it was good while it did.

 

The girls continued to grow.  Thick as thieves and twice as mischievous, laughter rung out through the tiny town house, the four of them slowly bonding into a family.  Tasha and Sasha were in constant need of distraction.  In order to keep them focused and not running about willy nilly as Peggy put it they were both learning to read and write in all three languages and being taught the basics of maths.  This dissolved very quickly when they discovered the girls, like Darcy, could calculate easily without paper any sums they were given.

 

Darcy sat in the little garden cradling a glass of wine in one hand while writing a small list of things to get on their next run into town. Peggy came out onto the patio, both girls in tow chattering excitedly in their own special language.  Tasha ran over to her and thrust a small posy of wild flowers at her.

 

“For you Mama.”  Darcy ran her hand through the red gold curls on her head and kissed the little girl, thanking her for the flowers.  Sasha climbed up onto her knee and snuggled as Tasha skipped off to the low swing under the sycamore tree. 

 

“What’s wrong little bug?”  Darcy asked the toddler.

 

“I just missed you Mama.”  She replied, burying her head into Darcy’s chest.  She ran a soothing had through the dark curls and hummed a little tune to her. The late afternoon sun was pleasantly warm and the baby soft scent of Sasha made her hug the little girl to her tighter.  She hated the feeling that so often overcame her now, that time was running out, that something bad was on the horizon.  It made no sense yet it persisted. 

 

“Why don’t you go play with Tasha for a little while before dinner poppet.”  Peggy suggested softly.  Sasha looked up and nodded, climbing down, her little dress riding up against Darcy’s knees.  She lent over and straightened the dress, kissing Sasha on the cheek, sharing a smile with her.

 

Peggy reached a hand across the table and caught hers in a tight grip.

 

“Bad dreams again?”

 

Darcy nodded.  The dreams were always different to begin with, but each time it ended the same way.  Darcy alone, her children taken from her and James trying to reach her but never quite making it in time.

 

“Darcy, you’ve been unusually quiet the last few weeks, what’s bothering you?   It’s not just the dreams or missing Bucky.”  Peggy was always on the ball, nothing got past her.

 

Darcy sighed and ran a fingertip around the edge of the glass.

 

“It’s just a feeling, something not quite right, a little off.  Occasionally I feel as though someone is watching us.”

 

Peggy stilled, her whole demeanour changing, Darcy could see her go on high alert, casting out her senses looking for danger that most probably wasn’t there.

 

“I don’t think it’s anything earthly.  It feels…  it feels as though someone very far away is watching, someone with power.”  Darcy goes quiet for a moment, gathering her thoughts.  She had said nothing before to any of them of the Soul Stone or the Norn’s but she felt she had to explain it now. “There’s something I should have told you before, about the day Logan rescued me from that lab.  I dreamed, or at least I thought it was a dream at first, it wasn’t it was real.  I was contacted by The Norn’s, they are the Asgardian fates.  They brought my soul to some place outside of time and gave me a choice between letting the universe burn or saving it.  Oh don’t look at me like that Peg, I’m not crazy, I know it was real.”  She glared without much venom at Peggy’s concerned frown. “Anyway, then they showed me the mistake I made in another timeline, one that ended because a monster was able to assemble a weapon he should never have been able to get his hands on.  I chose to do the right thing, if there was any chance taking on this burden would save lives, how could I say no?  I chose to save them.”  She held her breath for a beat before sipping her wine, not daring to look at her friend just yet.

 

“Who are the Norn’s?  I mean I know the mythology, but they aren’t real surely?”  Peggy raised a sceptical brow, disbelief plain on her face.  Darcy sighed and shrugged.

 

“It’s all real, well the people anyway, Thor, Odin, Loki, Frigga.  Some of the stories we have aren’t true, but the foundations of then, that’s true enough.  They come from another planet, they’re aliens.  The Norn’s are the goddesses of fate, their powers let them step outside of time, some sort of pocket dimension I think.  Their main purpose is to preserve the cycle of the universe.  This monster, the last of the Titans is disrupting that.  So they decided to step in and use me to do it.  I’m probably not the only one.  God knows how many times they’ve changed things by this point to get here, I get the feeling that the previous version of me had a very different life.  I guess they decided to keep going till they got it right.”

 

“What did you do Darcy?  What did they do to you?”  Peggy was picking up her scent now, could smell the truth in it and through their bond.

 

“I agreed to let them put something dangerous in my keeping.  Something I can’t use, but something that has changed me and perhaps changed anyone I have a connection with.  What it is isn’t important, what it’s done is.  The longer it’s been with me the better I understand it, how it works, what it wants.”

 

“What do you mean what it wants?”  her voice was shrill in the walled garden, concern rippling out.

 

“It’s sentient.  Alive, it whispers sometimes.  It wants me to use it and it’s the one thing I can’t do.  If I use it, well it won’t be pretty.”  Darcy tells her honestly.

 

Peggy leaned back in her chair and tipped her head back, closing her eyes.  Darcy’s lips twitch slightly at the look of pure resigned exasperation that Peggy exuded. 

 

“Honestly, you’ll be the death of me Duckie, the worry will kill me.”

 

“Yeah, that’s the problem Peggy.  I think I just might, kill you all, I mean.  This thing, it’s linked me to all the people I have a bond with, linked our souls, it’s unbreakable.  It’s solid, unwavering and strong.  I think if die, then I take everyone connected to me with me.”  Peggy seemed to take the news better than she expected.  The silence between them was comforting.  She watched the emotions play out as Peggy thought. 

 

“Well it’s not as though any of us would ever want to see you hurt, you dying was never going to be on the cards anyway.  I think a better question here is what happens to you if one of us dies?”

 

“I don’t know.”  Darcy replied running a nervous hand through her tangled hair.  “I can’t figure it out.  I think I’ll know if it happens but…  you might just die and that will be it, but it could also mean that your soul can’t pass on.  It could doom you to eternal hell for all I know or some sucky life in limbo.”

 

 

“Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it then.  No use crying over spilled milk now, is there?  What exactly were you saving the universe from?  You didn’t explain that part. What weapon could possibly have that much power?”

 

“it’s probably best not to go into details.   Let’s just leave it as a Magic Mitten of Doom.”

 

Peggy shakes her head and smiles.  “Never change Duckie, never change.”

 

Darcy smiled sadly at Peggy, “you’ll tell the rest what they need to know, right?”

 

“All in good time, I’m not sure how I would explain this to them.   Why tell me now though?”

 

“Just…  a feeling, a bad one.  If people come for us, if I get injured, promise me you’ll get the girls away, you will won’t you?”

 

“I’ll protect them to the last, I promise.”

 

They go back to watching the girls in companionable silence.  If Peggy hugged her a little tighter that night, if she fussed over the girls more than usual neither commented on it.  Her life was full of crazy, what was a little more? 

 

Across realms, a green eyed gaze frowned thoughtfully while on a desolate mountain an Ancient One felt less troubled than before. 

 

 

 


 

 

Constanta, Romania, January 1948

 

It’s one of Dottie’s safe houses they finally stop at.   They hadn’t the time to really consider where to go when the warning had come for them to run.  So run they had, half way across Europe.  Howard was on his seasonal Antarctic trip to find Steve and Dugan, Morita and Falsworth had problems of their own to deal with.  Dernier had shoved a packet to them and told them to go east, Dottie had already given Peggy emergency papers and keys for various safe houses of hers if they ever ran into trouble.  For now, they would have to wait it out here until Howard could come get them and sort out another, safer place for them to go to.  

 

They had travelled to Italy on the papers provided by Dernier and then on to Bulgaria before changing to the papers Dottie had given them and heading on to Romania.  Darcy had frowned at the names on that last set of papers.  Darya Romanova and her children Natalya and Anna.  The twinge of unease at the names was quickly forgotten as they settled into Constanta, luckily a large portion of the community spoke Russian so they managed fine in town.  The cottage was a little remote, but they felt safer for it.   

 

 

 

It was the beginning of April, the spring unusually warm.  The children were playing in the field behind the house, Tasha climbing a tree, Sasha following behind.   Tasha wobbled as she tried to walk along the branch.  Sasha heaving a long suffering sigh as she calls out to her.

 

“Tasha, you’re going to fall and Mama will be mad at us, come back.”

 

Tasha throws a grin at her big sister and does a pirouette balanced on tiny toes in response. 

 

“I won’t fall, I have perfect balance.  Come dance with me Sasha.”  She holds her hand out waiting for her older sister to join her.

 

“I am not dancing on a branch, we don’t have wings Tasha, please come back?”  Sasha pouts and bites her bottom lip reaching out a hand in return, begging her sister come back to the trunk of the tree so they can climb down.  “Come on, we can climb a bit higher and see all the way to the shore, wouldn’t that be more fun?”

 

“You always want to explore, why don’t you want to dance, it’s more fun?”  Tasha edges back along the branch.

 

“I’m going to see the world one day, I’m going to travel everywhere, even the cold places and look for polar bears.  You’ll come with me right?”

 

“Of course I will, who else would want to, but that means you have to come dance with me too, promise Sasha, promise we’ll dance together one day.”

 

“I promise, now come back.” 

 

Just as they grasped hands the branch broke away beneath Tasha’s feet, the only thing stopping her fall the firm grasp of Sasha’s hand in her own.  Both girls cried out, one in fear, the other from the sudden weight wrenching her shoulder. 

 

“Don’t let go.”  Tasha cried out, hanging in mid air, her dress fluttering around her legs.

 

“Hold on.  Listen, I can’t hold you for long, I’m going to have to swing you over to the next branch, can you land on it?”  Sasha asked her.

 

Tasha eyed the next branch a few feet below and few feet over.  She could do it.

 

“I’ll manage, just swing me over, when I say go, drop me.”

 

With a few false starts, Sasha managed to swing her over and let go on Natasha’s signal, the smaller girl landing on the branch like a cat.

 

When they were both finally on the ground Sasha hugged Tasha fiercely.

 

“I’m going to put giant frogs in your bed.”  She threatened her half-heartedly.

 

“No you won’t, it’s your bed too.  Besides, even if you did I’d kiss that big green frog and turn it into a prince.”  Tasha giggled back, dancing out of reach as Sasha lunged for her.

 

The shrieks and laughter drew Darcy and Peggy to the back door as the girls chased each other round the field. 

 

Darcy felt their joy from here, the girls both so full of life and promise.  She leaned against Peggy as they watched them.

 

“I wish we didn’t have to run like this all the time.  It’s nice here.  The girls are loving the open space.  They’re too young to realise that we’re in danger, I wish I could give them a normal life.”

 

“They have a wonderful life Duckie, look at them, they are always happy.  Even with all the traveling to them it’s just adventure.  They will remember all the good things, the places we’ve been the wonderful childhood you are giving them.  They have you, that is all any child ever needs, a mother to love them.”

 

“And a father.”  Darcy sighs, she misses him a little more every day. 

 

“One day we’ll sit down and explain everything to them.  Right now they’re not old enough to know all our secrets, it’s part of what keeps us safe, they can’t tell or let slip what they don’t know.  He would never want them to be in danger because of who he is, you know that.”

 

“I don’t even have a picture of him to show them.  It feels like I’ve forgotten him, like I’m betraying him and them by not telling them more about him.”

 

“They will understand, one day.”

 

“I know.  I just wish…”  she trails off, she wishes what they both wish, that their mates were here with them.

 

“I do too.”  Peggy says sadly, her own longing plain in her eyes.

 

 

 


 

 

 

They spend a scant two more months before getting word from Howard to meet him in Bucharest.  

 

They had reached the capital without incident, but someone must have been following Howard, there was an ambush waiting for them.  Trying to think on their feet Peggy took Sasha while Darcy took Tasha.  They almost made it.

 

Darcy felt it like a blow to her gut as Peggy’s mental presence was suddenly struck from the bond.  She bundled Natasha into Howards waiting arms and lifted the gun he was carrying, running back towards the hanger Peggy had crossed behind, desperately hoping to find Sasha.  Armed men were retreating with a wriggling screaming girl in their arms as she arrived.  Taking aim, she shot three of the men, injuring two and killing the third.  They had dropped her daughter who tried to run back towards her when another man swooped her up and continued running towards their waiting van.  Darcy’s cry of anger echoed between the buildings as she tried to follow.  Another black clad operative threw a cannister and she was enveloped in a sicky choking gas.  She fell to her knees, retching in the mud.  Unable to stand she crawled to Peggy’s body.  The other woman’s lifeless glassy eyes were wide with shock, a thin line of red across her neck showed where her throat had been slit.  Darcy sobbed as she fell beside her friend.  There had been no time to save either of them after all.  There was poison in the gas, she was sure of that.  The last thing she heard was Howards voice calling for her.

 

 


 

 

 

“She’s not getting better.”   Monty’s words rang in his head.

It had been three days since Bucharest.  Howard had brought Darcy and Peggy’s bodies to the plane and flown as fast as he could for England, a crying Natasha curled up in the co-pilot seat.  Monty and Lizzy had been waiting for them at a private air strip.  Half way across the channel Peggy’s shriek as she came back to life had nearly had Howard downing the plane in the water.  Unflappable Peggy had thrown up and then sat shaking in the cabin after pulling an unconscious Darcy into her arms.

 

Peggy hadn’t spoken a word since stepping off the plane, other than to gather a shaken and traumatised Natasha into her arms and tell her that everything would be all right.  How much comfort the girl took in it was debatable.  The tiny red head had only tucked her head into Peggy’s blood-stained neck and went silent. 

 

Monty was right.  Darcy was not getting better.  Whatever compound they used on her had been toxic, it was slowly killing her.  Whatever healing properties Logan’s blood had had, it had worn off.  When she did wake she wasn’t lucid.  Her rambling and desperate pleas were heart breaking to listen too. The kid blamed herself for everything it seemed, including his own death, years from now.   Howard had sat by her, held her hand and tried to cool her down.  Nothing they had tried had worked so far.  Monty wanted to contact Chester Philips days ago, but Howard had held him back, sure that with enough time he could figure something out.  But they didn’t have time anymore. 

 

“Contact Philips then, let’s hope he has something we can use.”  Howard finally relented. 

 

He didn’t like this feeling of defeat, of failure.  Stark men were made of Iron, but this whole situation had him buckling like tinfoil.  His daughter was on her death bed, of his two grand-daughters, one was missing, kidnapped by some shady organisation and the other was catatonic, refusing to leave her Auntie’s side even to go to the toilet.  He shoved a hand into his pocket and took out his cigarette case.  He opened the window and hung over the sill while he smoked.  He was too young for all this crap.  He’d never had to look out for anyone but himself until Darcy had come into his life, the responsibility was too much.  He’d gotten too attached to her.  His heart, the one he hid so well broke over the sight of his granddaughter tear stained and silent.  It broke over seeing one of his best friends in a pool of her own blood dead with her throat slit.  That was another fucking thing to get answers about.  Peg hadn’t been too forthcoming or in fact forthcoming at all since they had arrived.  It seemed whatever had happened to her had left her shattered as much as the rest of them.

 


 

 

 

Her fingers grazed the unblemished skin of her neck lightly.  Her reflection in the mirror was perfect.  Every line, each wrinkle she had gained smoothed out, she looked as though she were no older than perhaps 21.  Dying had changed her.  Physically she was probably at her peak.  Her muscle tone was good, her body strong.  Injury’s she’d incurred during the war, all gone.  It felt like a rebirth, as though every cell in her body was brand new, untested.  Dying had been quick, she’d bled out in seconds, the soldier who slit her throat had been quick and efficient.  But it had hurt, it had been terrifying.  Waking to a green desolate haze, the distant sounds of wailing had made her think she had gone straight to hell.  Howard said she had been dead for four hours, it had felt like weeks trapped in that place.  Wandering around, unable to find anything or anyone.  Constant whispers invading and following her with every step.  Eventually she had found a well.  The gaping darkness of the void within it.  As she had turned to get as far from it as she could a voice had stopped her.

 

“Hello Peg.”

 

“Michael?”  her brother stood before her. 

 

“No, not your brother, this is just the form I chose to speak to you with.”  Anger thrummed through her, how dare this entity use her brothers form like this.

 

“What do you want?”

 

“It’s not what I want, but what you need to do.”

 

“And what’s that exactly?”  she asked acidly.

 

“It’s time to go back.  You can think of this as a stopover point.  This is where you’ll come each time you die until the Keeper passes on.   The Norns were smart about it this time.  I’m thoroughly trapped within her soul.  Do you know what makes her so strong?  All the single minded and determined souls she’s linked to.  It was clever of them to let her make so many low level soul bonds, she’s a nexus, a focal point and now each of you is trapped just as I am.  The soul gem amplifying every bond and giving constant renewal to all those linked to her.  But I’m patient, I have time, she’ll die eventually or I’ll talk her round.  Each time any of you die a little bit more of your soul will belong here, in this place I look forward to that day, it’s so dreary here, all the other souls went mad eons ago.”

 

With that he had shoved her hard and she fell screaming into the dark well before slamming back into her body and feeling a jarring pain shake her as she gasped for breath.

 

To say she had been shaken by it all was more than an understatement.  If there had ever been a time in her life to let go of the near constant control she prided herself on it would be now.  But she couldn’t.  Natasha was clinging to her like a lifeline, the little girl had seen her dead, seen her mother nearly lifeless and had lost her twin.  Peggy had to be strong for her, had to move on and past this.  Looking at Natasha, pale and exhausted, caught in another nightmare made her feel murderous.  She crawled back into the bed and lifted the girl into her lap, holding her close, rocking her gently.

 

“Auntie?”

 

“Yes poppet?”

 

“I want Sasha to come back.”

 

“I know sweetheart, we will find her, I promise we will.  I don’t know how long it will take, but we will get her back, if I have to search everyday for the rest of my life we will get her back.  Can you still feel her?”

 

“Yes, she’s scared and cold and hungry.  The people that took her are really mean to her.”

 

“You can tell all that, over your bond?”

 

Natasha nodded her head.  “I dream about her, when I sleep, it’s really scary.  When will Mama wake up?”

 

“I don’t know, would you like to go sit with her for a little while?”

 

Natasha nodded, her tiny hand clutching Peggy’s blouse. 

 

 


 

 

Chester Philips had always been a soldier, like his father and grandfather he had served his country unfailingly.  That the first time in has career that he had to question his country was when he knew for certain, that heroes, people who had put their lives on the line for their countries were in danger from the very system he served, well it had been a hard blow.  He questioned everything after that.  He knew whatever went on with the Barnes Pack Royal, and make no mistake that’s what they were, was going to change the world and the world didn’t like it one bit.  His bosses didn’t like it and they wanted to get their hands on two little girls, badly.  When Falsworth called he’d been unsurprised and furious at what had happened.  For the first time in his life he was going to betray his country, it seemed like the right thing to do.  If he got caught, well he was old, he’d lived his life.  The little Queen Bee was just starting hers and she had people, children relying on her.  He took the lockbox from the secure facility and hoped on the private plane Stark provided.  He could give them a chance.

 

Howard's drawn and worried face, the pallor Carter was sporting along with reddened eyes and devastation on a little girls face only strengthened his resolve.  He’d made the right call.

 

They were gathered at the country home belonging to Falsworth and his wife, who he soon found out was the sister of James Barnes.   It seemed as though they were all connected here.  Ties within ties. The young woman, Lizzie, had been sweet enough, but she couldn’t hide the same dark circles under her eyes any more than the rest.  Here was a woman who had lost her brothers, her niece and was now in danger of also losing her sister in law.  She had a quiet strength about her, he felt badly for her, especially in her current condition. 

 

Never being a man to beat about the bush he placed the box in Howard's hands. 

 

“This was recovered from the Hydra facility near Azzano.  After the place burned down the allies combed through the rubble.  They found this, some files pertaining to the procedure used on Barnes and samples of the serum itself.  I had it confiscated and put in storage, misfiled.  I didn’t think anyone should ever try to repeat that experiment again, but I also couldn’t bring myself to destroy it at the time.  I think it might be your only shot at curing her.  I’m hoping you know more about how to make this work Howard because this is the only help I can give you.”

 

Howard took the box, opening it reverently.  “I can’t believe you kept this from me.”  He shook his head and rifled through the files.  “I can work with this, thank you Philips.”

 

 


 

 

Howard had been working on and off on the formula, or least what he knew of the formula from Erskine for years.  This was the last piece of a puzzle.  There was a good chance that between this serum and Darcy’s mutant gene it would work, make her stronger, able to regenerate the damage caused by the poison.  He’d have to do it without the Vita-Ray capsule, but these notes of Zola’s provided an alternative.  The screams Darcy made as he carried out the procedure made him sick to his stomach, but it worked.  Her fever dissipated, and she woke up.  She woke up screaming for her daughters.

 


 

 

Natasha ran away that night.  Slipping out of the house in the confusion as Grampa and Auntie and Uncle Monty and Auntie Iz fussed around her mother who was screaming and twisting on the bed.  She ran into the woods, crying and scared and just wanting to go home.  Wanting to find her sister.  It was no one’s fault what happened next.  They couldn’t have foreseen it.  In the darkness she tripped, falling down an embankment and striking her head hard on a rock.  She was dead before her body stopped rolling. 

 

On another continent Sasha woke up screaming, feeling her sister’s death like a blow to her own soul.  Something in her mind snapped and she walled off everything she could feel of her bonds to her mother and the other pack members, the pain singing down through them, all too much for her fragile psyche to handle.  When she woke again all the memories of those she missed so painfully were gone.  When the doctor she saw the next day asked her name she shrugged.  She didn’t know her name.   The nurse who looked at her with sorrowful eyes gave her one, Anna-Marie, she accepted it without question.

 

Darcy stumbled out of the house against the protests of everyone to find Natasha.  It didn’t take too long, she followed the bright pulsing link between herself and her daughter to find her sitting huddled against a tree, hair caked in blood but not a scratch on her.  Natasha stood when she saw her and walked calmly towards her before placing a cold hand in hers.  Darcy hauled a stiff limbed Tasha into her arms and hugged her close.  But no amount of hugging or soothing words could cure either of them.  Sasha was gone from both their minds.  Neither could find her or feel her.  Darcy had no idea how she could explain it to Natasha, that even though she was seemingly not there anymore she was still alive.  A tiny tendril of life still pulsing through the link the soul stone gave her.  There was the temptation, the voice constant in her mind, use me to find her, to track her down.  It was a torture she had never known before, there was no guarantee she would ever find Sasha again without using the stone.  Darcy steeled herself against it and swore viciously in her head.  She had to be strong.  It broke her, but each step she took hardened her resolve.  She was a mother, she protected her children, but what about all the other mothers in the universe, they all wanted the same thing, a world give their children, a safe one.  This was her burden, her sacrifice, she made her choice so they woulnd't have to.

 

She trudged back to the house as the sun rose, barefoot in a nightdress holding Natasha to her tightly.  Her pack and Howard were waiting for her, there was nothing any of them could do or say.  The scents of grief and heartbreak filled the air, all silent as they gathered back together.  She had known before, had felt it coming.  Sacrifice.  She was out of tears, she couldn’t cry anymore.  It was Tasha’s carefully blank face and the hardness in her expressive green eyes that sealed it for her.  The tiny inkling of an idea she had been worrying over for months since she saw the identity papers Dottie had provided them blooming into life before her eyes.  She had lost one daughter and now she was destined to lose another.  Natasha Romanoff, the future Black Widow was three years old.  Her failure as a mother was complete. 

 

They were quickly tucked away in a tiny farm house in the middle of nowhere.  Peggy had left, trying to find any lead she could to try and retrieve Sasha but Darcy knew it was a lost cause.  She’d failed her, would fail Tasha and had failed her Alpha, she had not been strong enough or quick enough to protect their children.  The pain of her heartbreak, the real physical pain of her hurt could not be described in words.  She knew she was sinking into depression. 

 

For weeks she hardly left her bed.  Managing to function just enough to look after Tasha.  She focused all the energy she had left in loving her, telling her stories and teaching her as much as she safely could.  Hoping that some knowledge she passed on might help keep Tasha alive.  Help her survive the dark future she had doomed her to.

 

 She found the guns Peggy kept and taught Natasha how to take them apart and clean them, taught her how to shoot and bought throwing knives and set up a target practice in the small clearing in the woods not far from the cottage.  It left a bitterness in her that sunk deep into her being to be doing this, training a baby for war.  It felt as though she was giving up, it tasted like defeat.  She couldn’t even find James anymore.  She was pretty sure he was deep in cryo now, a simulation of death or a pause button on life, did it matter which?

 

 She felt the future racing ahead, the feeling of an end approaching.  Hope was supposedly the last thing left in the box.  Pandora had nothing on her though, even hope had been lost now.  There was no rescue coming.  No happy ending.  In the darkest parts of night she wondered if future Natasha even knew who she was?   If out there in the world she came from, had she crossed paths with Sasha and never made a connection?  Mostly though she wondered about James.  She couldn’t bring herself to write yet another letter to him.  Couldn’t bare to tell him of the daughters she had, would lose, fail.  Sacrifice.  A word that brought to mind noble or tragic deeds.  The Norn’s told her there would be sacrifice, naively she thought they meant hers. But it was the sacrifice of her daughters they had meant.  She’d inadvertently served her own daughters up at the alter of fate.  He would never forgive her for this, she would never forgive herself. 

 

 

 


 

 

 

  1. Seattle Grace Mercy West

 

The hospital is busy, nurses and Doctors constantly moving, tracking charts, checking patients, running tested.  Two interns come barrelling down the hall way bringing a crash cart.

Lexie watches Meredith from the stairwell as she sat against the wall outside Marks room.  Derek was in there, watching his best friend die.  None of what had happened was how she thought it would all turn out.  She’d woken up from death number three in her younger form and dear little Thatcher Grey had been there to see it.  Her nephew had been orphaned as a child and it had fallen to Lexie to take him in.  She’d done the best she could with him, but he had lost his way after Elis and he broke up.  She had aged over the years, she was an old woman waiting to start again.  Thatcher was meant to be gone but he had returned home to find her dead and then brought back to life, young and fit once more thanx to her link with Darcy.  She explained it to him gently and she had asked him and his new wife Susan to act as her parents.  He’d been sworn to secrecy along with his wife and with a little help from Jim Morita she had a new identity as Alexandra Grey.  She’d went to medical school, this time the prejudices of the past were long gone, she had loved every minute learning how to fix people, how to heal.  It’s the same passion she had shared with Mark, the need to make things better.  The life she began to build in this new time was the happiest she had had since her first.

 

The day when she had seen him again it was like the world had stopped.  Her husband, her bond match standing feet away from her.  Dr Mark Sloan.  It had to be reincarnation, there was no other explanation.  But he didn’t know her, hadn’t recognised her.  He also had a massive commitment phobia.  Didn’t want to bond even though every instinct was telling him to.  He’d been hurt before, she could see that, was still reeling from it.  She had gotten close to him, wove herself into his life and before long it felt like they had never been apart.  Except she knew, he still didn’t know her.  It had been luck, pure and simple that he had come to her the night before they got on the plane, after she had blurted out her whole heart to him the day before.  It had been different, the way they came together that night and when she had offered her neck to him to bond with her he’d taken the invitation.  No longer running from the way she made him feel.  The feeling of matching again had her higher than a kite the next day.  Their plane went down in the middle of nowhere a few hours later.

 

Lying under the fuselage in that Forrest, feeling her body broken and dying had been frustrating.  Then he was there, babbling at her, talking about love and children and meant to be, that’s the moment she had seen it in eyes, he remembered, he remembered the life he’d had before with her and it was tearing him apart.  With the last of her strength she had clutched his hand back and affirmed his belief. “Meant to be.”   Of course, they were meant to be, they had found each other against all odds across time.  The universe had brought them back together and then cruelly torn them apart, again.  But this time was different.  It had to be.  She was bonded to him, they were linked together, a match bond went soul deep. 

 

Lexie had woken in a morgue in Seattle, her body slightly younger and whole again.  She had snuck out in a pair of scrubs and managed to call Dernier to come pick her up.  She had to start over again, frustrating, and she had to go find out how Mark was, if he had survived.

 

He was dying, it was slow and drawn out, but she’d live long enough to recognise the spectre of death hovering over him.  She couldn’t lose him again, she really couldn’t bare it.  Lexie prayed to every god she could think of, begging them to listen, to let him come back the way she had.  She heard the time of death called and with one last look of longing and regret towards Meredith she left to wait in the morgue. 

 

She had called in a favour from Morita to have a discrete Pathologist with the right clearance working this week a body was on standby to take his place if he came back.  When Dr Mallard let her in to wait by the table in the lab she had thanked him.  He was a serious faced man, but his eyes held compassion.  He handed her the keys and left.

 

It felt like hours as she waited and then she heard it, the gasp of breath and movement as he sat up, eyes wide and staring, panting as though he had run a marathon.  It always felt like that, the soul stone could be intense, being flung back to a newly revitalised body felt as though you had been bungie jumping, the sudden snap as your soul fell back into mortal form was jarring.  She stared at him, hardly believing it was real, that the soul link she had with him had brought him back to her.

 

“Lexie?”  He zeroed in on her unable to tear his eyes away from her.  They met in a clash of teeth and tongue, his strong arms hauling her up to meet him, her clinging to his shoulders.  The kiss was perfect, it said everything that needed to be said.  Thank god you’re here, we are together, never leave me again, I love you, I missed you. 

 

“Lexie, baby what the hell?”  he pulled back, taking in for the first time where they were. 

 

“We died, both of us, but now we’re back and we have to get out of here.  No one can know that we didn’t die Mark.  I’ll explain everything later.”  She shoved a bag of clothes at him. “Put these on and let’s go.”

 

He looked at her mulishly, he never did like it when she got bossy, but she cocked a brow at him and he gave in as he always used to with sigh and shake of his head.

 

Explaining the past 70 years to him was hard, everything that had happened to their family.  It took days of story’s, questions, explanations and everything in between before he finally accepted it.  In the end she had called Logan.  Seeing his old friend had went a long way to helping him believe the crazy. 

 

They were sitting together beer’s in hand catching up when both Logan’s and phone and hers had rang.

 

“Lexie, turn on the tv.  Shield has been compromised, stay put and wait for further instructions.”   Gabe’s voice was serious, they had all known it would come, Hydra’s roots ran deep.  Right now calls were going out to all Alpha-one priority agents in warning to get them out of OP’s and hopefully redirecting them to safe houses that would eventually get them back to their lives.  Some would be recruited for Old Guard, while others would be taken in by other agency’s hopefully letting their operatives get a better grip on what went on in all arms of government.

 

Lexie switched on the tv and they watched as news footage showed Steve, Captain America, battling with a dark-haired man with a metal arm.  She gripped the edge of her seat as he fought.  She would always worry about Steve, even if it had been a lifetime since she last saw him.  The powerful blows the men were trading were brutal.  She felt herself still as the dark clad soldier spun a knife into play, the shift of his shoulders and the way he held himself familiar.  A glimmer of an idea rose in her mind as she watched the fight unfold.  Then it happened, his mask was knocked from his face and she cried out, dropping to her knees.  No, no, it couldn’t be him, it couldn’t be her little boy.  He would never hurt Steve, never.  But it was.  Her baby boy looked at his oldest friend without a bit of recognition. 

 

“Lexie, what’s wrong?”

 

“That’s our son.”  Her words fell heavy into the air, her grief and pain painting the air with bitter scent.  Anguish so strong Mark could taste it in his mouth.  He lifted her to her feet and gathered her up in his arms before sitting down, Lexie cradled carefully in his lap.  He looked up to the screen again and really took in the face of the man fighting Captain America.  The bow of the lip, the shape of the eyes.  He hadn’t seen his son since he was twelve years old, still a child.  This man was tall and strong, the expression on his face hard.  There were so many questions to be asked but all he could do right now was hold his sobbing wife, trying desperately to sooth the distressing scents she filled the room with.  Logan turned the screen off and gave him a look.  He picked her up and took her to the bedroom, lying down with her.  He held her till she cried it all out, his hands rubbing soothing circles into her back.

 

“I can’t calm down Mark.”  Her breath was strangled and laboured.

 

She was seconds away from a panic attack.  He knew what she was asking.   It didn’t take too much to send her into a sleep, a small mental nudge and a flood of his scent took her under quickly.  She needed to rest, the shock to her system too big for her to handle.  If they’d been at the hospital Meredith would have sedated her.  He wished they could go back to them, to their friends.  He understood her reasons not to, she had been hiding who she was for too long to stop now.  The danger they could both bring down on the people they loved at Seattle Grace was too high and not worth the risk to their families.  He left the bed and tucked the comforter around her shoulders, heading back to the lounge to speak to Logan.

 

“You seem to know more about all of this than Lexie does, why have you been keeping it from her?  You weren’t surprised to see my son, your godson trying to murder Captain America.  We were friends once, it’s been a long time since then, but I know you wouldn’t lie to us, not when it comes to family.”

 

Logan looked at him for a moment before nodding and standing.

 

“Half the players in this little drama are people you’ve never even met.  You can’t begin to understand the complexity of it all.  Even I don’t know the whole story, only what I was warned I couldn’t interfere with.  It all started when James met his match.  She was never meant to be there, she travelled through time, she was alone and stranded, she met him less than an hour later and he recognised his own mark on her.  A courting mark.  Instead of getting as far from all the crazy shit she brought with her as he could, he dived in head first with a god damn smile.  I don’t blame him, she’s the sort of person you want to be around, she’s like Lexie, kind and fierce and funny.  She’d known him in this future, met him as you can figure out easily enough, so we know he’ll get back to himself one day.  I met her a about a month ago, her younger self.  She works for Stark, she’s the PR manger for the Avengers, part of Stark’s pack.  She won’t go back in time until 2018 and we can’t interfere with anything until then.  Can’t turn up and rescue him or fix him, things have to play out the way she remembers so it’s a waiting game.  For now though I think the best plan is to get the two of you to New York.  Start over there and wait till I tell you it’s safe to make contact.  Lexie understands some of the danger, but Darcy could never bare to tell her exactly what happened to her son and that girl knew in excruciating detail everything Hydra did to him.”  The two men held each other’s gazes, an understanding passing between then.  “I have to go, I have my own problems to deal with right now.   Xavier wants me back in Westchester right away.  I hate to leave you like this, but you two will figure it out.  If you need me just call.  I’ll help anyway I can.”

 

Mark stood at the window, watching as Logan left.  It had been a shock after the plane fell out of the sky to suddenly feel memories of another life falling into place, seeing his Lexie pinned under that plane had been the worst thing he thought he would ever experience, thinking she had died left him on the verge of madness.  To find her after all this time only to lose her was a nightmare.  He hadn’t wanted to live after they were rescued, he’d felt numb and empty.  His injury’s had been too much of a strain on his body, he had slowly given up and let go.  He thought he had dreamed her that night in the hospital, leaning over his bed, placing a kiss to his cheek before walking away.  Hoped it meant he would see her on the other side waiting for him.  She had been, just no the way he thought. 

 

Crazy enough to have to believe in reincarnation but everything she had told him sounded like something from a sci-fi show or a comic book.  Now he was living it.  He walked to the table and picked up the packet Logan had brought them, paperwork and ID.  He found his face staring back at him on his drivers licence and the name underneath caught his breath.  Dr Mark J Barnes.  He had his old name back.  For all the madness that was around them, all the complications and problems, he was glad to be back.  To have his name, his wife and he knew his children were out there.  There would be plenty of time to meet up with them all, to reconnect.  He couldn’t wait to meet the twins, they had been four years old the last time they saw him.  He hoped he could build a relationship with them again.  Thinking of seeing Rebecca was more nerve racking, she had been the apple of his eye, he had had a good relationship with her, he only hoped he could regain that.  Right now he had to focus on Lexie, convince her to stick to the plan.  It wouldn’t be easy, James had always been her favourite, though she’d never admit it.  His son, a man turned into a weapon.  He sat at the computer and started researching.  When the Shield files hit the internet a day later he found more information than he wanted to.  The Winter Soldier.  A ghost, an assassin, a monster.  His little boy full of bright smiles that would bring home stray animals for him to doctor, turned into a soulless machine.  Logan had been right, he didn’t want to know what Hydra had done to change him.  His boy had been strong, breaking him to change him so drastically must have taken time and unimaginable pain.   

 

 

 


 

2018 Stark Tower

 

Jane’s calculations were coming along nicely, she had the co-ordinates and the machines were all running fine.  She was currently building part of the operating system for the portable dimensional array.  Her eyes squinted with strain as she input the coding.  A headache had been building behind her eyes for a while now.   She looked around the lab to find Tony and Bruce both passed out at their work benches.  She felt responsible for all of this.  She should never have let Darcy into the lab while there was active equipment, should have properly checked the package before opening it, did something differently but she had been so caught up in her work, as always, and so happy for Darcy as she had twirled in her new dress that she had let this thing slip past her watch and it had taken away her sister before she had time to react.  Knowing that she was at least safe in the past was a blessing.  Not knowing if they could bring her home safely left her questioning her own abilities in this.  Could she make this work?  The sound of someone clearing their throat brought her out of her reverie.  The smell of coffee being placed beside her halted her work for a moment.  She was almost taken aback to see Natasha’s face when she looked up instead of Darcy.   She gave her a wan smile and nod of thanks bringing the coffee to her lips.  She made it the same way Darcy did which was both nice and a little sad. 

 

“Thor has arrived, I came down to get everyone.  He said he brings us dire news and warning.”

 

Jane raised her eye brows incredulous.

 

“That’s some sucky timing.  Did you tell him about Darcy?”

 

“He already knew, says he has something to tell us about all of that too.”

 

“Ok, I’ll wake the other two and bring them up with me, give me five minutes.”

 

Natasha nodded and made her way out of the lab, stopping for a moment at the door.

 

“It’s not your fault Jane, you know that right?  All of this had already happened.  It was meant to.  Whatever blame you’re laying at your feet, don’t.  Darcy wouldn’t want you to.  She loves you.  That won’t change.”  Jane let her shoulders relax. 

 

“She loves you too Natasha, I know she misses us all, but you and her, well I know you two have bonded deeply.  I’m not blind to my own faults, I know I sometimes focus on work more than friendship.  Darcy accepts that about me, but I’m not a jealous person.  She’s become your best friend and you hers.  I know you are hurting just as much over this as I am.  That you don’t blame me for this… I don’t know what to say except thank you.”    Unexpectedly she found herself with an armful off a red headed assassin, the comfortingly tight hug making her feel so much better.  The whispered threat at her ear made her grin.

 

“If you tell anyone I did this I will end you.” 

 

“Your secrets safe with me.”  She assured her gently.  Brushing a stray red curl behind her ear.  “We will get her back, alive.  I promise.”

 

Natasha gave her a tight smile and nodded before leaving her to deal with her lab partners.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Thor’s reappearance was both welcomed and unexpected however it quickly became apparent that there was much more going on than previously thought.  He recounted his tale of Battle against his sister Hela and how Asgard had fallen.  That the cycle would start again anew.  They had come to Earth in hope of finding sanctuary until Asgard rose again, whatever the hell that meant, Tony thought a little uncharitably.  Point Break was down an eye and up a brother.  Tales of Loki’s death being greatly exaggerated it would seem.

 

“So let me get this straight.  You want to settle your people here on Earth and leave Loki free to do whatever the hell he likes?  Are you high?  Have you lost your mind?  He’s a complete nut case, the guy was a whole basket short of a picnic the last time he was here.”

 

“Aye, but his mind was not entirely his own.  He was under thrall to a greater being, just as Barton and Selvig were.”

 

Cold ran down Tony’s spine.  

 

“What the hell do you mean a ‘greater being’?”  he asked, the threat in his tone had everyone taking a half a step back. 

 

“His name is Thanos.  He is one of the race called the Titans.  He is the last of them, an immortal with great power.  He has plans to collect the infinity stones and use their power to wipe out half of the universe.  Even now he heads to earth, we have perhaps a month before he reaches us.  We would not even know this much were it not for the Norns contacting us just as Asgard fell.  They told me much I find unsettling, including Loki’s innocence in the attempt to conquer Midgard.  Loki can give us much needed information on the Mad Titan and I come baring the knowledge of my Lightening Sister, the Lady Darcy.”

 

Tony’s jaw clenched and he noted the similar reactions of everyone else in the room.  Barnes looked a hairs breath away from flying at Thor and hitting him with his own hammer.  Natasha placed a careful hand against his arm.  It was interesting to watch their interactions and gave him a moment to compose himself too.  He’s seen her make the same motion a number of times in the last day since she had returned.  Each time the same thing happened, Barnes dialled back the Alpha and settled.  He’d seen her do the same thing for Bruce many times over the last six years.  There was just something slightly off about the gesture, unsure, almost reluctant.  Barnes seemed oblivious to it.  He reigned in his thoughts and really looked a Thor.  The god held himself differently than he had before.  The short hair, the eye, the way he seemed to carry himself like a leader, a true leader.  He’s been through hell and back again from that look, Tony considered thoughtfully.  No more the carefree overgrown puppy and more the watchful guard dog, he decided with a huff.

 

“Fine, so we have to stop an immortal psycho with a hard on for a blinged out mitten of doom.  Are you holding info on Darcy as a bribe for that help or are you holding it out for sanctuary on Earth?”  he asked pointedly, wondering how Point Break would respond.

 

Thor’s shoulders slumped.  “Man of Iron, my friend, I would never hold such information in payment for anything, I give it freely, but with a heavy heart.  The Norn’s told me of what happened to her, they stepped in to save her life and allowed her to land safely at the other end of the portal.  But they have also asked of her a great boon, one she willingly accepted.  The Lady Darcy is now the keeper of one of the infinity gems.  I regret there is nothing that can be done about it now, no way to relieve her of this burden but the Norn’s have assured me that she will return to this time.”

 

“What does that mean exactly, keeper?”  Barnes piped up with a growl.

 

“They have hidden the gem in her soul.  It cannot be removed by any but the Norn’s safely and only then if another keeper is found worthy of the burden.  They warned me that we have lived this cycle before, that in that timeline we were unsuccessful in keeping Thanos from assembling the gauntlet.  That the Lady Darcy attempted to wield the stone in her own favour and in doing so was quickly found by one of Thanos trusted and killed to retrieve the stone from her.  The safest place for her right now is the past.  We should try to defeat Thanos before we bring her back.”  Thor was tense, knowing that this news would not sit well with the Pack before him.  Humans were a strange bunch, but Loyalty to pack was sacrosanct.  Even knowing this he was unprepared for the sudden and immediate way the humans moved into line with each other, their eyes tracking him as a threat, each ready to fight if needed and defend each other.  To see the Man of Iron and the Winter Soldier stand together, shoulder to shoulder at the apex of the assembled formation gave him pause, Friend Bruce and the Captain as their seconds flanking them, grim faced and serious.

 

“Or perhaps we could retrieve her with much haste and hide her somewhere safe.”  He finished with a hesitant smile, his hands held out in a placating gesture. 

 

Jane pushed forward between the two lead Alpha’s and stopped a few steps away from Thor.  Her eyes were hardened by grief and dark circles drew her eyes inward from lack of sleep. 

 

“My Lady Jane..”

 

“No.  we don’t have time to deal with immortal overlords right now.  We have a very limited window to get her back in.  Less than 36 hours now.  I know I speak for all of us here when I say this.  But friend of not, Prince or not, great threat on the horizon or not.  Nothing takes more priority for us all than getting her back safely right now.  I don’t expect you to understand what this like for us.   Asguard doesn’t have the same biology, you don’t get where we are coming from and I don’t fault you for it, but right now none of us would be effective in this as we could be if she were home safe.”

 

Pepper came to her side and nodded to her.  “Thor, right now we can get the ball rolling on organising sanctuary for your people.  Why don’t you come down to my office and I’ll make some calls.  I don’t imagine so many people stuck on a ship can be comfortable.  Maybe come back when they’re all settled and we’ll be in a better position to discuss this Thanos then.”

 

“Aye, perhaps that would be for the best, but if there is anything I can do to help, only call for me and I will come.”  He let Pepper lead him away, this time not looking back at Jane, perhaps realising for the first time that what they had was truly over.

 

 


 

 

 

The Playground

 

Skye listened intently at the door to Coulson’s office.  She had a good guess of who was calling.  When she had first been brought into Shield she had quickly realised that there was something odd about Coulson.  He always seemed to be one step ahead, he and Ward would share looks and wordless agreements about things when they thought no one was watching, but she was.  She had known the first time Grant Ward touched her what they were to each other and she had flirted up a storm with him, thrilled at they way he stuttered and blushed at her forwardness.  What she couldn’t understand is why he held himself back from her.  It had stung, the rejection, finding a match was still the thing of fairytales, why would he not want to be with her?  Skye, however, was persistent.  There was no way she was going to let him get away.  She’d known it was partly Coulson that was stopping him.   She’d confronted him about it three months in, determined to get to the bottom of his problem with her and Ward being a pair, the next day she had been shot and Ward had told him to go fuck himself and bonded with her.  After that she’d been reluctantly let in on their little secret by Coulson.   His voice drifted through the door and the fair scent of irritation caught her nose. 

 

“Yes sir, I understand.  Yes, I’ll make sure we do that.  No I won’t let this…...  of course, sir.  Thank you.”  She peeked in as Coulson hung up the phone and stared thoughtfully at the painting on the opposite wall.  It seemed there was more drama than usual this week. 

 

Skye popped her head in after briefly knocking his door.

 

“DC, Quin Jet just landed.  Avengers are here.”

 

“Do we know who came yet?”  He asked, cocking his head to one side as Skye shifted excitedly.

 

“Widow and the Winter Soldier and Captain America it looks like.  Hunter’s bringing them up.”

 

“Alright, could you get in contact with our asset?  I’ve been instructed by the Old Guard that it’s time to instigate operation Hercules.  Tell him that and that it’s time to come home.  We’ll have a team meeting after I’ve met with the Avengers and you’ll all be briefed.”  Skye frowned, her hand tightening on the door knob.  She didn’t like handing out orders she didn’t understand, especially in this case.  Pursing her lips, she nodded tersely and headed back to the control room, taking a communication booth and securing a line.

 

“Hey honey, I forgot to get Hercules his dog food, could you pick it up on the way home for me?  He really needs it right away.  Last thing we need is a howling dog in the back yard all night, what will the neighbours think?”  She smiled when he spoke.

 

“Neighbours giving you trouble?  They don’t usually bother to notice we exist most days.”  He bantered back lightly.

 

“Well they popped in for tea today, still sitting gossiping with Dad right now in fact.  I better get back and make sure they’re doing okay, you know what a grump he can be.”

 

“Sure, I’ll sort it out on the way home then.  Take care Honey, love you.”

 

“Love you too sugar.  See you soon.”

 

Skye placed the phone down carefully and let out a breath.  He was coming home.  Four years and finally he was coming home.  Ugg she was not going to get all emotional right now.  She’d been fine thus far, a few more days wouldn’t matter. 

 

 


 

 

 

“Natasha, it’s good to see you again.” Phil’s voice was the same pleasant tone Steve remembered.

 

But Steve could feel the cold venom that laced Natasha’s words as she took a seat at the desk, crossing her legs elegantly in front of her. 

 

“I would say the same, but the circumstances and time passed would negate it entirely.  You broke all bonds with Clint and I the moment you kept your survival a secret.  We have a new pack now, one we can rely on completely.   I’m only here because there was no other choice.  I’m sure you remember Steve.”  She nodded to him and he gave the Director a thin smile.  “And of course, everyone knows Sergeant Barnes.”

 

“Of course, your reputation precedes you Sergeant.”  Coulson shook his hand, wincing slightly at the grip.  It was a clear warning. 

 

“I can’t claim to know what brought you all here, Fury only told me that there was something I needed to help you with.  So what do you need?”  His tone was polite but professional.  Any hurt Natasha had landed was carefully hidden behind a bland smile.

 

“Zero Matter.”   Coulson startled at the sharp words from Bucky and reeled back a little.

 

“I see.  Well, I think you may be in luck.  There’s an operation just about to go into effect that will have us take down Hydra’s remaining bases of operations in around two hours.  We’re taking them all out simultaneously.  The last list of assets that we had intel on had Zero Matter stored at two of their facilities.  We think the Zero Matter taken from the fridge four years ago was split into two containment units.  They wanted to make sure they had a backup if one got stolen or taken back.”

 

“Good, we’ll split ourselves between both teams then.  Have you enough agents to do this safely?”  Steve asked him, the look he sent was his best, be honest with me son, expression he could muster.  Coulson caved quickly, still not immune to Captain Americas charm.

 

“It could be better.  Why?  Do you have people in mind?”

 

Barnes and Rogers traded a look.  “I’ll call Logan, he said he’d help, I'll ask him to bring some of his team.”  Coulson looked askance at Steve as Barnes left, pulling a phone from his tac gear as he went.

 

“Wolverine.  He’s an old friend.”

 

“I see, and do I get to know why you need Zero Matter?”

 

Natasha stood and shook her head, a tiny twitch at the corner of her mouth as she answered him.

 

“Sorry, that’s classified.” 

 

Steve held back his smile, she really did like needling people, keeping them off balance.  For a moment he was reminded of another red head with a sharp tongue and he shook his head fondly, before stopping dead, turning back to look at her again.  The light caught her profile just right in that moment.  Her hair at a shorter length now than it had been in years.  She hadn’t straightened it today, the curls bouncing around her face as she turned her head.  Piercing green eyes bore into his and he was suddenly back at a table in the Barnes household, chuckling as Natalie dressed down Bucky over something, her red hair glinting in the light before his eyes caught Rebecca’s green eyes in shared mirth.  The look of warning Natasha shot him was pure Darcy.  The tiny finger digging into his chest giving even more credence to the impossible conclusion he had drawn.

 

“Not a word Cap.  This is none of your business.”  Her words were low enough only he could hear them.  He nodded once, his mouth dry as he held back from asking the question.  She stepped back and the mask she always kept up slipped, just long enough for Steve to see the truth.  She was terrified.  He nodded and accepted what she refused to say and knew enough to let it be for now.  It was her secret to tell not his.

 

 

 


 

 

 Phil led them to the briefing room, uneasy despite his calm demeanour.   He’d understood the necessary sacrifices the job entailed when he took it.   Knew there would be a time when he had no choice but to betray some of those closest to him for their own good, for the greater good.  Skye would tell him not to let his inner Dumbledore get the better of him, but sometimes there was no other choice. The choices he made had broken trust, he couldn’t take that back, his only regret was that he had hurt those closest to him.  When Director Fury had approached him ten years ago and let him in on the secret of the Old Guard and why they had let Hydra fester so long in the ranks he’d been angry.  Furious really.  The organisation he had dedicated his life to had been corrupted by the very people it had formed to defend against.  Giving him contingency instructions and introducing him to a very old Director Dugan he had been overwhelmed.  The story they had told him had been almost unbelievable if not for the fact that the man had promptly shot himself and a few hours later revived, younger in great health and ready to lock down his commitment to their cause.   Since then Phil had been a man on a mission.  That was when project Hercules had been born.  An operation decade’s in the making.  Double agents and triple agents slowly building up through Hydra’s ranks waiting for just the right time, the right moment to strike and defeat them once and for all.  That time was now.  The sacrifices made by hundreds of men and women would now not be wasted, it was time to make those deaths meaningful.  As he addressed his team and the Avengers present he held back nothing.  Gave them the whole story.  Well everything except the truth of who the Old Guard were.  That was something they would come to later, something that had to be done in person by the people who had waited patiently for this day to come. 

 

A few hours later everyone was gathered, ready to depart, strike teams armed to the teeth with the appropriate tech support and powered individuals ready to carry out the most important mission of their lives. 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

The Old Guard. 1948

 

Peggy was good at keeping things organised for the most part, but this was a little outside even her scope.  The pile of journals Darcy had written, filled with details and histories of the future she knew took up a whole book case on one side of the office.  Darcy had reluctantly given her the key to decode them, making her swear to use the knowledge carefully and guard from Hydra ever getting their hands on it.  It would be the work of decades to use it safely to hopefully save good people and prepare for a future that somehow now contained a monster hell bent on killing half the universe. 

 

The large Bunker the pack met at had been well hidden at a remote site on the border between the US and Canada.  Howard bought the large tract of land and set it up as a private nature preserve.  The first phase of construction was almost finished, tentatively called the Playground, this would be the their new base of operations for the foreseeable future.  With Darcy and Natasha in England the rest of the pack had taken the opportunity to gather together for the first time in over three years.  The chance to really sit down and discuss their problems properly was a god send.  For many of them it was their first meeting.  Ten people hoping to change the world and keep their families safe from dangers they all knew were coming.  Ten people living with secrets that bordered on the unbelievable.  Ten people ready to wait the better part of a century out of loyalty to two men that had made the ultimate sacrifices.  Now armed with more knowledge than was safe these ten people planned to build a safeguard and a network of spies that would span a globe.  To make things a little more difficult they would be acting from the shadows, never being seen, sometimes having to make the wrong choice in order to further the objective.  The objective here was clear to them all.  Pack first and foremost.  Taking out all threats to that was their primary objective.  In order to do that they had to get feet in the door, plant their own spies and gather intelligence.  None of them were really prepared for this, it would be a learning curve for them all.  It was Gabe who brought it up, a haunted look in his eye.  Peggy shared the same look not so long ago.  She knew exactly what had happened to him.  They both told their stories, the experience of dying and coming back and what it meant for all of them.   As unpalatable as it was, it also gave them an upper hand, an ace in the hole if you will.  From here on out they were prepared to do whatever it took to bring down the people responsible for Sasha’s kidnapping and hopefully find her.  To build an organisation ready able to protect their pack from all sides.  One that would be ready to save a world when called on. 

 

It was Dottie who called her.  Department X had Darcy’s location.  Not this time, Peggy thought furiously.  They wouldn’t win this time, wouldn’t take anymore of her family.

 

 

 


 

 

2018

 

Ward made his way through the base confidently.  He’d already shut off all the proximity detectors and disabled communications.  Skye had sent him a priority target thirty minutes ago, three words.  Secure Zero Matter.  He reached the storage room and took out both guards.  The sounds of gunfire and vibrations through the building told him his old team were here.  There was finally an end in sight.  He’d been waiting for this day for a long time.  He retrieved the objective and made his way back to the surface incapacitating Hydra operatives as he went.  Their looks of betrayal meant little to him, they had all signed on knowing exactly what it meant.   He let his guard down for a half a second when he saw her.  She had just turned into the corridor, god it was good to see her face, she was as beautiful as he remembered, maybe even more.  The cold metal of a gun was suddenly digging into his temple, the angry face of Melinda May filled his vision. 

 

“May!  No!”  Skye called out, running towards them.  “He’s one of ours May.  He always has been.  Let him go.”

 

“He’s the head of Hydra Skye, you should be pointing your weapon at him, not protecting him.”

 

“Exactly, do you know how long it’s taken to get one of our own into this position?  He did this, so we could finally take them down once and for all.  Four years under cover, going against everything he believed in so that he could climb to the top of the pile and have enough power to know all their secrets, gather all the intelligence we needed for this day, where we cut off every head and burn the rest to ash.”  Skye had slipped between them, trying to protect him with her own body.  Every instinct he had wanted to push her behind him, but she wouldn’t appreciate it, so he let it be.  If May even twitched though, he’d move her before she could get hurt. 

 

“Melinda, I’m not your enemy, I’ve always been loyal to the Old Guard.  Coulson knows, get him on com, he can confirm it.”

 

“Damn it Ward you were meant to be out of here before we arrived.”  Skye hissed, her irritation and an edge of fear drifting in her scent

 

“Hit a snag, Malik turned up, had to get rid of him before I could retrieve the objective you sent.”  He stayed calm, if he got worked up he’d set Skye off, she was barely keeping her control on her power as it was, they didn’t need a friendly fire incident from her. 

 

May watched the exchange between them, eyes full of suspicion and distrust.  She tapped the com and waited for Coulson to answer.  She glared at him as she listened to the com and flicked the safety back on the gun before holstering it.

 

Ward sagged, for a moment there he thought she would shoot him anyway.  A split second later his arms were full of Skye, her arms wrapped tight around his neck as she rubbed her cheeks against him, marking him with her scent.  He handed off the container to May then held Skye closer and dipped his lips to her throat and placed a kiss against the bond mark he’d put there five years before. 

May wrinkled her nose and stalked off as the scent of them filled the narrow space.

 

“Come on babe, time to go home.”  Skye kissed him hard and let go, her smile lit her up from inside.

 

Ward grabbed her hand in his as they made their way back to the jet.  He’d done what he set out to.  Fifteen years since Victoria Hand had found him and brought him in after Garret dumped him in the middle of nowhere, he was finally free.  He’d made the right decision to go back to Garret, to be the loyal puppet.  The chance to finally get someone in deep enough, who Hydra thought they could completely control had been too good for the members of the Old Guard.  There had been no pressure on him to go back, he’d made that choice on his own once he saw exactly what was at stake.  He was glad he did, it had eventually led him to Skye.  She was the light at the end of the tunnel, her love a gift he wasn’t sure he was truly worthy of, but she was his and he was hers.  In the end that’s all that mattered.  Grant Falsworth Ward was finally going home.

 

 

 


 

 

Hydra Base, Romania.

 

 

The base they went into was one of the larger outposts in an abandoned castle deep in Romania.  Natasha went ahead to the left, Rogue bringing up the rear while James and Logan went right.  They were clearing down from the top floor when it happened.  A blast took out the hallway, knocking both women off their feet, blowing out the wall and leaving Natasha dangling over a drop of hundreds of feet over the edge of the clifftops the castle was perched on.  She held on with one arm, the other hanging uselessly at her side, broken and bloodied from the blast.  A few painstaking moment later she felt the gloved grip of Rogue grabbing her forearm.  They had never met before now, the two women strangers to each other.  

 

“Sorry sugar, can’t get a good grip on you through the gloves, I’ll try not to hurt you.”  She said gripping the other glove with her teeth and yanking of off in order to change hands and try to pull her up.  She had control of her power now, the gloves she wore mostly from habit, but it didn’t hurt to warn the other woman in case she slipped a bit.  As soon as their skin touched a thrumming bond jumped into place causing both to lose purchase as Rogue buckled forward, hanging half over the edge herself, still determinedly clinging to Natasha’s arm.  Their eyes locked on each other, one set green the other blue, understanding and forgotten memories slamming into both women hard.

 

“Tasha”

 

“Sasha”

 

“I thought you were dead!”  they both said.  Twin glares crossed the space between them.

 

“I’ll pull you over with me, let go Sasha.” 

 

“Not a chance in hell sugar.  Just got you back, not gonna drop you now little sister.”

 

They slipped forward again, Rogue straining to keep balance against the crumbling stone.

 

“Just hold on Tasha, Logan’s not far, I can feel him, he’ll get us both up.”

 

“Trust you to find the scariest Alpha on the planet” Tasha said dryly.

 

“You’re one to talk, Mama told me you were going steady with Big Green, who’s got the scariest Alpha now, huh?”  she cackled weakly. 

 

“You knew it was her too?”  Natasha asked, trying to find some footing to take the weight from her sister.

 

“Knew it the moment I walked into her office.  She smells like home Tasha, she always will.”

 

“Logan didn’t mention is to us when he came by.”

 

“He doesn’t know.  I didn’t even know till I met her.  It was like everything I had forgotten came back in pieces.  The only thing I knew for certain was that somehow, someway, I’d found my Mama.  It took years to get as much back as I have now.  Department K had me a long time, kept me in cryo when they weren’t doing tests.  The lab I was held in got raided by military when I was out being tested.  I think I looked about seven by then.  It was 1977 and the Colonel who headed the operation took me home with him, new name, new life.  I think I blocked everything before that from my memory, too horrible to live with it and function like a human being.  When they kicked me out in ’86 I wandered all over for years, grew up a little but I was aging slow, too slow.  Eventually bumped into Logan in Canada back in the 90’s.  He was freaked out by the age I looked and tried running for a few years before I manged to pin the old grizzly down.   He could never stay away for long though, the match was too strong for that.  What about you?”

 

“KGB, Red Room, Department X.  Defected to Shield then joined the Avengers.”

 

“I meant Big Green and you know it.”

 

“I fell in love.  He did too.  It just took me while to accept it.”

 

“But you’re okay now, right?  I can smell him all over your scent Tasha, even if you are using blockers, they’re wearing off right now.  You bonded, when?  Mama said you hadn’t yet.”

 

“You were always too nosy for your own good Sasha.  Stop digging and leave it or I’ll put frogs in your bed.”

 

“You haven’t changed little sister.”  Rogue smiled at her through gritted teeth.

 

“Neither have you.”  She replied as her hand slipped.  From above Logan dropped down and swung himself out, claws digging deeply into stone to anchor him in place before reaching for Natasha and throwing her up into James’ waiting arms.

 

“Little Natalia, always throwing yourself off of high places.  You’ll make me grey Princess, gootta stop or I’ll tell Darcy on you.  I heard about what she said the last time she saw you hanging from a building.”  He chided, a hint of fond exasperation in his tone. 

Natasha grinned as he set her on her feet and quickly set her arm in one of Tony’s emergency braces.  She watched Logan haul her sister up and press a kiss to her forehead with a growl.

 

“Thanks Sugar.”  Sasha said, rubbing the blood from the back of his hand before kissing his knuckles softly.

 

“Enough chit chat ladies, this base isn’t going to empty itself.  Let’s go.”  his gruff demeanor was ruined by the obvious tenderness he held for his mate.

 

Logan shepherded Rogue away, muttering about damn fool hero’s and not wanting to pick up the pieces when she went and got her fool-self killed, again.  Rogue looked back at Natasha and mouthed the word ‘later’ to her with a wry smile. 

 

Natasha couldn’t stop herself from smiling.  James gave her a wary look and followed them.  Her smile gave way to a frown.  This was an unexpected complication.  She would speak to them both when they got back, she couldn’t keep this to herself any longer.  They had to know the truth, about each other and about what happened to her mother.  She flexed her arm, feeling bones quickly knitting back together, the skin growing back a little slower.  She could still fight like this, the brace was a good support in a pinch.  By tomorrow she’d only be bruised and by the day after it would be as though she had never been hurt at all.

 

 


 

 

Stark Tower

 

Bruce poured over the medical notes Tony had given him and swore under his breath as he looked at the information.  The things that had happened to Darcy, that had been done to her, were shocking but they had also upped her chances of survival.  He called back Helen and sent her the copies. 

 

“Before we use the cradle we’re going to need a very good surgeon, preferably two.  These notes, how accurate do you think they are?”  she asked him.

 

“Very, the man that made them had a good eye for detail, he witnessed it as it happened.  I think we need one specialised in Neuro to, I don’t want to take any chances here, do you have anyone in mind?”

 

“I know a couple, they have a private surgical practice near Gramercy Park.  They’re probably the best surgeons in New York.  Lexie’s done ground-breaking work in Neuro surgery and Mark has the steadiest hands I’ve ever seen, watching him work is like watching art in motion.  They’re tremendously discreate though, they don’t like attention.  I can have then there in around two hours if you can have Maria issue them clearance.”

 

 

“I’ll call her right now, get them out here and then pack the cradle and whatever else you need and fly in.  I think we have about three hours before anything happens on this end.  Thank you Helen, I know it’s a lot to ask of you…”

 

 

“Nonsense, anything I can do help.   I’ll be there soon.”

 

 

Tony walked into the lab as he hung up the phone.  Slumping onto a stool across the bench. 

 

 

“So, I know everything’s up in the air right now, but getting Cho here?  You know something you haven’t told me.  I’m not stupid, you’re keeping quiet because of Natasha.  I don’t like pulling rank here Bruce, but I will if you don’t come clean.”

 

 

“When Tasha gets back she’ll tell you.  Until then, can you trust that I am doing everything I can to keep the people we care about most, safe?”

 

 

“Fuck, you bonded with her didn’t you!”  Tony muttered, the truth of his statement reinforced by the blush creeping up his friends face.

 

 

Bruce felt the flush rising in his cheeks as Tony grinned at him in triumph.

 

 

“Yeah, we did.  Just before she left on the last mission.  We were waiting to tell everyone till she got back and then…  well all of this happened.”

 

 

“Fine, but as soon as she gets back, no take backs.”

 

 

“As soon as she gets back, this has gone far enough.  Just, be patient with her Tony, please.”

 

 

Tony nodded and turned back to the circuit board he was working on.  Nothing else needed to be said he would wait.  Bruce slumped in relief.  He texted Tasha and went back to the files.  He had some more work to do with these and would have to make a strong enough sedative that could be given safely to Darcy before her surgery. 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Natasha got Bruce’s text when they were finally in the clear.  They had destroyed the base, rounded up operatives and taken scientists into custody.  The zero matter hadn’t been there but the other team had successfully recovered theirs.  They were going to take it as a win and it had been a good distraction.  The files they found had also made it clear that the people Hydra sold the Zero Matter to had been a faction of The Corporation.  They now knew who had set everything in motion.  James was silent beside her but the earlier tension was missing.  They had what they needed and now they were on their way back to wait for the equipment to be ready.  He was closer to his goal of getting Darcy back and it settled him to have a clear path before him. 

 

 

Logan and Marie, as her sister had insisted she call her, were with them.  She’d already decided she had to come clean when they got back, but perhaps talking to Tony first would be a better gage of how it would be taken.  She was nervous about how her father would react. Marie would be fine, happy in fact to know one more thing about her past, she had suffered in her own way, but Natasha was thankful that her sister had never went through what she had. 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Stark Tower

 

 

Natasha stood, arms crossed defensively in front of her. 

 

 

“Ok, what is it that you’ve been keeping from me, time to fess up Natashalie.”  He was calm, that was a start, he’s left plenty of space, not wanting to crowd her, she appreciated it.  Bruce must have said something to him. 

 

 

“When we retrieve Darcy we can’t arrive at her location till after nine thirty five pm GMT.”

 

Tony frowned at Natasha, there was something right there, just out of reach which was niggling him.  It was only the two of them and Bruce and Pepper here, she’d come straight down to the lab the minute she got off the jet. 

 

“How can you know that?  No, why ?”

 

“Because the last time I saw my mother she was lying in the snow in a pool of her own blood.  The men who took me shot her, I thought she was dead.  There was no one else there, I remember that.  It’s the last thing I saw before I was knocked out.   I was four years old.” 

 

Tony went white, his face drained of all colour.  Pepper gave his arm a squeeze.  Biting her lip hard to keep tears from welling up.

“Your mother…  Darcy is your mother.”    It wasn’t a question.  It was clearly a statement.  He looked shocked, his scent, the Alpha prowling close to the surface, filled the room.  Bruce stepped closer to her, his own scent encompassing her.

 

“The medical files Howard sent included his own assessment of Darcy’s wounds.”  Bruce began, his stance was confident and reassuring towards Tony, he projected a feeling of certainty that they all needed.   “I’ve shared them with Helen, she’s bringing the cradle and we’re getting two surgeons in to remove the bullets.  We have as much of a working surgery plan as we can get before we bring her back.  She should heal quickly, very quickly.  At some point Darcy was poisoned and Howard was able to give her the same knock off serum that Barnes was given.  It saved her life, from Howards notes she was a little stronger and healed faster after the treatment.  I’m convinced that we can save her.  But timing is going to be everything.”  Tony nodded and let out a breath, pacing back over to the bench and tapping his fingers impatiently against the metal.  Natasha felt his eyes as he stared at her again, taking in the discomfort still present in her shoulders.  She saw him come to a realisation as he rolled his eyes.

 

“Barnes’s doesn’t know, does he?”  Tony sat down and ran a hand over his face, tension pooling in his skull.  It was like a fucking episode of Day’s of Our Lives right now.  “Any more massive revelations I should know before we go further down this rabbit hole to crazy town?”  he finally asked with a resigned sigh.

 

Natasha blinked.  It wasn’t the reaction she had been expecting.  Tony never did live up to expectations though.  She might as well make it quick, like a band aid.  Saying it out loud though sounded even more ridiculous than it did in her head.

 

“I have a fraternal twin, Alexandra, she was kidnapped six months before I was.  I thought she was dead but it turns out she’s not.  I met her a few hours ago.”  She paused before dropping the next bomb.  “She’s Logan’s mate.”  Tony raised a brown and motioned for her to continue.  “She goes by Marie now.  She’s upstairs with Logan and she has no idea who our father is yet.”  Natasha trailed off not sure what to say next or how to put into words how confused and worried she had been since this all started, how to explain to him why she had kept quiet.  Tony stood and crossed the space between them.  He reached out and placed his hands on her shoulders.  He looked as much at a loss as she was for a moment before he seemed to come to a decision.

“You have to tell him about this, now.  He can’t go into this blind.   If it was me, if Pepper was taken from me and I found her dying, our child being kidnapped, I’d lose it Natasha.  He has to know before we send him back.  About you and her and about Darcy.  The timing sucks, yes, but if he goes feral in the chaos of rescuing your mom, everything in him will be primed to go after you and get you back.  That can’t happen, because you lived through the intervening years, you’ve changed the world. You have to tell him to truth, all of it. He has to understand that he can’t save you.”  The sorrow and apology in his tone made regret and shame twist in her gut.  Pepper’s eyes shining with compassion were making her feel so exposed.

 

“I know…  I just.  When I was young in the Red Room he trained me.  I never knew him as anything other than The Soldat, The Asset.”  Her lip curled in distaste.  “He told me I could call him Yasha and he saved my life.”  her voice wavered for a moment before she continued.   “He spent extra time training me, made sure I was at the top of my class, he ensured I survived the program with the training he gave me.  He was kind to me.  Deep down under all the wipes and the programming and the torture, part of him, instinct, must have known what I was to him.  He made me feel safe, the only person I could rely on.  He tried to help me escape and they caught us, took him away and punished us both.  They wiped his memory and then they had him beat me half to death.  They did it to prove no one could defy them.  That none of us could escape.  That we were weapons, not people and that free will was pointless.  How do I tell him who I am and not break him?  I don’t want him to hate me.  I gave up on him and thought he couldn’t be saved.   When I escaped, I left him behind.”  She felt her body start to shake.  Faint tendrils of distress and guilt beginning to swirl around her. 

 

“God Tasha, he could never hate you.”  Tony placed a gentle hand on her neck and brought her into a hug.  She felt the touch of reassurance and protection he offered over the pack bond, he was still her pack Alpha.  “He’ll hate what happened, he’ll hate that he couldn’t protect you and your mom, but he will be so fuckin grateful that’s you’re alive.   He will never blame you for surviving, for doing what you had to.”  The hug was nice, he held her like she might shatter.  He’d always been tactile with all of them, but this time was different.  He knew now, what she was to him. 

 

“Wait, that means you’re my niece.”  He stepped back and looked at her like she was some science experiment went wrong.  There it is she though, internally rolling her eyes. 

 

“I’m not calling you Uncle Tony.”  She told him dryly.  Bruce snorted and placed a hand at the small of her back, pulling her back to solid ground.  She relaxed against his touch, melting into the warm shadow he cast.

 

“Well, it seems like we have some news to break and a rescue to plan before the rest of the shit storm that is our lives comes back to haunt us.”  He muttered as he grabbed a bottle of scotch from under the desk.  “Shall we?” 

 

Natasha nodded and followed him.  Time to face her father.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

The Red Room 1962

 

“Again.”

 

The girl took her starting position and ran through the moves once more.  Her body trembling from stress and exhaustion.  The Soldier watched, cataloguing every inconsistency, stopping her each time she faltered and corrected her position.

 

“Again.”

 

She glared at him from behind the curtain of red hair that fell in front of her face and resumed her starting position.  She had good form, her endurance was better than the other girls her age but her anger made her sloppy.  She was different from the rest of the girls he had been ordered to train, there was something about her that made him want her to do better, to survive.  She was familiar.  He worked her harder than the others, was harsher with her.  He did not want to let his handlers know his weakness for her green eyes and red hair that made him feel as though he should know her.  The longer he spent training her the more certain he became that she did not belong here, that he had to protect her, get her out.  He’d watched as six other girls in her class were executed, one after another for failure.  The thought of it happening to this girl made something inside him howl. 

 

“Enough.”  He told her, she was steps away from collapse now.  She stood, back straight, eyes front waiting.  She was so stubborn.  Even now, after eight hours of training she would not ask to sit, would not ask for a break.  Proud, stubborn, angry and strong. 

 

“You did well today Принцесса.  Sit, before you fall down.”  She looks at him warily.  He hasn’t given anyone a name before, only called them by a number, hers is six.  He brings her a cup of water and she tries not to gulp it down greedily. 

 

“That’s not my name.”  She tells him boldly.  They were told not to speak to the asset, but no one else it here.  It is only them in this cold room, it’s late and only one dim light hangs from the ceiling, swinging gently in the draft from the windows which were old and nearly falling out of their frames if not for the bars holing them in place.  He regards her with strange expression.  It’s then she realised she has spoken in English.  She stills, expecting a slap for both speaking to him and for using the wrong language.

 

“What’s your name then Princess.”  He speaks English now too, an American accent that sends a pang of homesickness through her heart.  He sounds like her mother. 

 

“Natalia, Natalia Romanova.”  She tells him, it was the last name her mother told her to answer with if someone asked.  It was close enough to her own name that it wasn’t really a lie and she had never known her own last name. 

 

“It’s a pretty name little Princess.”  He smiles at her, the coldness in his gaze softens and she thinks this is the first time since her mother that anyone has looked at her so warmly.

 

“What’s your name?”  she can’t help but ask, she’s been alone for so long now, she misses just talking with someone.

 

He frowns, he had a name once he thinks, he struggles to find something familiar.

 

“Yahsa, you can call me Yasha.  But only when we are alone.”  He cautions her.  She understands, it will be their secret.  He slips a hand into his pocket and brings out a small square of chocolate.  Her eyes widen as he offers it to her.

 

“Tell no one.”  He says as she takes it, popping it into her mouth and smiling at the velvety taste.  He grins back at her as she tries to make it last as long as possible. 

 

“Time for bed Natalia, go on, and I will see you tomorrow.”  She climbs to her feet and starts to leave the room before pausing, it’s a silly thing to do but in that moment the longing is too much.  She turns and runs back, throwing her arms around his waist and hugging him.

 

“Thank you.”  She says quickly before letting go and running out.

 

The solider stands frozen in stunned shock.  She feels like she belongs to him.  When was the last time someone had touched him without the intent to cause pain?  His resolve to ensure she survives this hell increases.  He will train her, he’ll make her the best and one day he’ll find a way to get her out of here.  That nights he dreams of the faces of people he does not know, people who look at him with love and call him brother, husband, son, friend.  He was a person once, he had a life.  The feeling that something, someone is waiting for him somewhere grows inside his mind, he grasps it and holds on.  Hope where before there was nothing begins to bloom.  He doesn’t remember the dream when he wakes, but the feeling remains.

 


 

 

Months turn into years, four years since they brought him here to train the girls.  She barely looks older than she was when he first arrived.  It’s 1967 and Natalia still looks more like a girl of 15 than 22.  She’s the best in her class, she’s worked hard for him, determined to succeed and to make him proud, he knows this.  If he calls her daughter in the deepest parts of his mind he tries not to think of it.  The program is coming to an end.  There is only Natalia and two others left.  He watches as Elena and Katarina circle Natalia, two against one and he knows Elena wants Natalia dead.  The girl is full of jealously and hate.  It’s meant to be unarmed combat, but he can see the thin knife she has hidden so carefully in her sleeve.  When she reaches for it, he can see the intent in her eyes, she means to slit Natalia’s throat.  His little princes has not spotted this.  When she goes to strike he intervenes.  He catches the knife in his metal hand and crushes it breaking three of Elena’s fingers in the process.  The response of his handlers is immediate.  Heavily volted stun batons bring him to his knees, he makes no sound.  Natalia crouches wide eyed and panting, wavering on what to do, she wants to defend him, he throws her a look, stand down, do nothing.  There is fury in her eyes, but she holds back and stands to attention.  Elena spits at him as he is dragged away.  He smiles coldly at her and feels a thrill of satisfaction when she stumbles back a step.  She sees her own end in his eyes. They will have to make a move soon, he’s put it off too long.

 

They escape the next week, it lasts six months before they are found.  They are the best six months he can remember.  She smiles often and learns to do the things a young girl should.  In a tiny apartment in Turkey they live as father and daughter.  He wants to give her part of her childhood back, wants to protect her from harm. 

 

Even away from the Red Room she loved to dance.  He watches her as she creeps through the apartment and up onto the roof, follows her on silent feet.  The joy on her face as she moves to music only she can hear is beautiful.  It’s not the precise, regimental steps she had to learn as part of the program, it’s free and without artifice.  Even this he thinks, they somehow managed to spoil for her.  He leaves her a note and drives to the nearest city determined to give her the tools she needs to express herself best.  A pair of green satin ballet shoes and a selection of records to go with the record player he buys sits waiting for her on the kitchen table that night.  Her shriek of delight at the gifts make him feel that navigating this strange relationship will be easier than he thought.  When she kisses his cheek and thanks him she calls him Papa and suddenly there is a rightness in his world that has been missing.

 

She continues to shyly call him Papa and he is almost brought to tears each time by the simple, yet heart felt title.  More and more he remembers the faces of those he dreams of.  Of two little sisters with hair as red as Natalia’s who laugh and dance and smile at him in his dreams.  He remembers china doll eyes and full red lips that smile wickedly for him and wakes reaching out for her in the middle of the night, he can almost taste her name on his tongue.  For a while he pretends that Natalia is his, a foolish idea, but one that persists.  They wait too long to move again, both happy and settled in the little town.    

 

 

When they are caught it’s back to the chair for him.  He knows what’s coming and struggles hard to escape, for her.  When they are done with him he remembers nothing of his princess.

 

 

Natasha calls him Yasha and Papa but he doesn’t respond.  He no longer knows her.  Gone is the love and warmth and affection from his eyes, they are cold now, unfeeling and empty.  She does not want to fight him, does not want to hurt him, she loves him.  He beats her, she will not fight back, part of her hopes he will kill her, the pain in her heart far greater than the bruises and breaks he leaves her with.  When he stops she lies broken on the floor, silent tears running down her pale cheeks.  As he walks away she whispers his name, pleading for something.  He turn and regards her without emotion before leaving the room.  Her tears stop, he is not coming back.  The Red Room has taken everything from her, love is for children and she is a child no more.  Natasha dies on that floor, it is the Black Widow who rises back to her feet, chin lifted stubbornly, ready to comply.

 

 


 

 

1948 Devon, England.

 

They sit on the bed together, Tasha damp and sweet smelling from her bath.  Darcy draws a brush through her hair gently, singing a song that is yet to be composed.

 

“A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you’re fast asleep.

In dreams there can be no heart ache, what ever you wish for you keep.

Be true to your dreams then someday, the rainbow will come shining through

No matter how your heart if grieving, if you keep on believing,

the dream that you wish will come true.”

 

Darcy braids the rose golden curls back in a French braid as Tasha hums along with her.  They don’t sleep separately anymore, Darcy can’t stand to be very far away from her daughter.  She knows she’s smothering her a little, but Tasha doesn’t seem to mind, happily snuggling up with her at night and never straying far from her shadow in the day time.  Braid in place and nightgown on it’s no surprise that instead of bedtime stories Tasha ask to dance for a little while.  They put on a record and Darcy joins her in the middle of the room dancing alongside her, both singing and giggling as they spin and twirl. 

 

“Can we go exploring tomorrow?”  Tasha asks as they climb into bed.  It’s nearly nine and the sun has long since set.

 

“Where would we go?”  Darcy asks her with an indulgent smile.

 

“Into the woods to see how far they go?  We could look for bears?”  Her little nose wrinkles and Darcy can’t resist kissing it.

 

“If you don’t like bears why do you want to go looking for them?”

 

“Sasha likes bears, she wants to look for polar bears one day.  I thought since she’s not here anymore I could find her some so that when she comes back we can show her.”

 

It’s a near thing to choke back the sob bubbling up in her chest.  Instead she smiles and agrees.

 

“You know, I know a story about that.  Going on a Bear Hunt, would you like me to tell it to you?”

 

Tasha grins back and nods, snuggling down as Darcy begins the tale.

 

“We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one, what a beautiful day, I'm not scared…”

 

A moment suspended in time, perfect and sweet.  A moment neither will ever be able to return to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

2018

 

Logan led Marie down to the common room, every sense prickling with unease.  Marie had been jubilantly happy for the last two hours and just kept giving him a secret smile every so often when he questioned her over the bond. 

“Marie.”  He started, his tone one part pleading two parts suspicious.

“Logan.”  She sassed back, a tiny half smile gracing her lips.  The look he shot her was long suffering and impatient.  She pouted and batted her eyes.  He narrowed his in return.  His Omega could keep him on edge like no one else.  She relented and tugged him over to a quiet corner, getting him to sit before dumping herself in his lap with all the gracelessness of a five year old.

“So, I should have brought this up a while ago but I never really knew what to say or even how to explain.  I mean you didn’t even tell me you’d met Darcy back in the forties until three weeks ago when you had Charles help you get that letter you brought here the other day.”

“Didn’t want to mess up the time line.”  He said shortly.

“Well, I’m not gonna beat around the bush here sugar.  You remember I told you the D’ancanto’s were my adoptive family?”  he nodded, wondering exactly where she was going with this.

“I had a sister, a twin, I thought she died a long time ago.  I mean I hardly remember that far back, I was only three.  The memories I have of my Mama are hazy, memories of Tasha were clearer.  Natasha Romanoff, we recognised each other today, knew as soon as we touched what we were to each other.  Turns out she was only a little bit dead.”

“Are you telling me the Black Widow is your sister?”  Marie nodded.  “Mmhmm.”

Logan felt as though the other shoe was about to drop.  Marie looked uncomfortable and was still holding back.

“You remember the first time we met Darcy, how much I liked her right away and made plans to meet up outside of work?”   Logan cocked his head, there was something he was still missing.

“I liked her so much because I felt safe as soon as I met her, she smelled like home and safety and love.  The more I met with her, the more memories of my childhood came back.  It all started to make sense about a six months ago, we went out to the Hamptons for the fundraiser for veterans.  I couldn’t get my hair to behave and Darcy braided it up for me.  She brushed out my hair and sang to me while she did.  She’s always singing you know?”

“I remember, she never stops when she’s happy, always some tune kicking about in that brain of hers,”

“She’s my mother.”  Logan lets the words he half knew were coming sink in.  Marie smiled and gave him a tiny wave of jazz hands as if revealing a magic trick. “Surprise.”

“I’m getting too old for this crap.”  He exhaled, letting his head rock back to thump off the back of the couch.  Marie reached out and carded careful fingers through his hair.  He stared at the ceiling before his head shot back up again to gape at Bucky Barnes.  “They’re all gonna kill me.  Everyone of them is going to kill me.”

“Logan?”

“Did I mention to you who Darcy’s match was?”

“Her match?  You mean you know my father?”  she asked, eyes lighting up at the news.  Logan let his gaze drift back to Bucky.  Marie followed it and took in the stance of one pissed off, on edge, Winter Soldier.

“Oh…  Really?  I wasn’t expecting that.”

“I’m betting he didn’t either, or isn’t, since I’m pretty sure he has no clue right now that he became a father.  You and Tasha were born eight months after he went missing.  Do you realise I was there when you were born?  That is wrong on so many levels Marie.”

“Don’t get your panties in a twist hun, we’re not related.”  She paused for a moment and glared from behind a white streak of hair.

“God no.”  he bit out with a muttered curse.

“Well, that’s a relief.” 

“A relief?  Tell that to your Pa once he finishes me off.”  Logan facepalmed and muttered a bit more, curing the Barnes clan up one wall and down another.  Trouble, the whole lot of them, everyone.  Sometimes he thinks he should have let Mark Barnes croak while he had the chance.  Mark and Lexie, Marie was their granddaughter, he groaned internally, he was dead meat.  Then he looks at his mate and relents.  She’s the best thing that ever happened to him, never a dull moment with Marie around to keep life interesting.  He’s starting to think he should have seen this coming, for now he would rely on his spotty memory to explain his mortifying inattention to details.  He looked at Marie with a different eye, taking in the slope of her nose, the curve of her jaw and the playful gap toothed smile.  The same gap toothed smile that had greeted him when he walked a young bride down the isle on her wedding day.  He sure as shit should have seen this coming.

 

 


 

 

 

Bucky took his usual spot leaning against the island as he surveyed the room.  There was something going on.  Steve had been tense since before they left the Shield base, he kept shooting him guilty looks.  The little punk never could keep a secret, he knew something and wanted to spill the beans, he kept glancing at the elevator as he’d done since Natalia had disappeared. 

 

Across the room Logan and his mate Marie seemed to be having an intense whispered discussion, which again had both of them looking at him every so often.  Logan looked a little green around the gills and Marie looked by turns amused and nervous.  The last few hours it had felt as though there was something tapping at the back of his mind, the ghosts of old pack bonds still lingered there, it felt like phantom limb syndrome.  He knew they were gone but part of him still felt the echo of where they had existed in his mind.  What he wouldn’t do to have them there again for him.

 

Marie suddenly grinned at him when she caught him looking and he felt a twinge of recognition at her gap-toothed smile.  It made his brain itch.  Clint was perched on the back of a couch quietly checking every arrow head in his quiver with meticulous care, he was the only one other than Foster who wasn’t hyper aware of the others in the room right now.  Sam seemed to be in the same boat he was, he’d noticed the odd behaviour of Steve and Logan and Marie and was pretending not to watch him watch them.

 

 Waiting for something to happen was a tiring business.  He wanted to go to Darcy now and bring her home, but Jane had told him it would be a few more hours yet before everything was ready.  The chiming as the elevator doors opened bringing Stark, Banner, Pepper and Natalia back had everyone look up expectantly.

 

 


 

 

 

Natasha followed Tony out of the elevator and made her way to Marie.  She noticed the look Logan gave her, assessing, careful and concluded that Marie had told him of their connection.  Marie’s pointed look in James’ direction let her know that her sister had already figured out who their father was, the small nod of confirmation eliciting a happy smile. 

 

“So, is it time for show and tell sugar?”  Marie asked grasping her hand tightly.

 

“I’d like to do this in private, Tony’s promised to fill in the others.  I’ll get James and we can go to the other room for this.”  Marie nodded her acceptance and dragged Logan along with her to the small tv room off the den. 

 

She made her way over to her father without stumbling, managing to keep her tone even as she asked him to talk with her in private.  He followed her without question.  Her insides turned and twisted, she felt Tony’s eyes on her as she crossed the room and took the tendril of comfort he shot along the pack bond gratefully.

It would be a lie to say she had not considered this moment carefully for months, wondering how to break the news to him.  She realised now that her mother, that Darcy, had probably thought that she would return home with both her daughters and be able to tell her husband the news herself.  That is had probably been one of the most special moments she had looked forward to.  The situation being what it was had destroyed that happy day dream her mother had once had and now it fell to her, who had the whole of the story to step up and break the news that he was both a father to twins and that they had been abducted and taken from their mother while he was not there to protect them.  The final nail in the coffin, that when he went back to get Darcy she would be gravely injured. 

 

 

Bucky watched Natalia with concern.  Nervous distress rolled off her in waves and her heart was fluttering in her chest like a bird.  Worry rose in his own chest and instinct drove him to grasp her hands in his.

 

“What’s wrong Natalia?”

 

“There’s something I haven’t told you… I didn’t know how to tell you…  Yasha I am so sorry.”  She gripped his flesh hand in both of hers. She stopped for a moment, her gaze troubled, seeming to struggle internally with what to say. She feels Marie approach behind her and she turns her head into her sisters neck, her whole body shaking.

 

“Oh Tasha, it’s okay honey, we’ll be okay.  I’ve got this bit.”  Marie croons in her thick southern drawl.  Marie turns all her attention to him, her expression and scent a mixture of nervousness and calm determination.

“We don’t know each other, maybe it’ll be better comin’ from me.”  She says, laying her own hand over theirs. 

“Tasha and I are twins.  We were taken separately about six months apart by different organisations when we were very young.  A Canadian/American government sanctioned department took me and you know the Russians took Tasha.  What we’re trying to tell y’all is that…” She stopped, gazing over towards her sister, before turning back to him. “We’re your daughters, with Darcy.  She’s our Mama.” 

 

 Marie was a direct person, she’d always say what needed to be said, didn’t like pretending when the truth would do better.  For a moment she wondered if she should have broken the news a little more carefully.  The strangled cry that broke from his throat made tears well up in her own eyes.  In less time than it took to blink she was hauled along with Tasha into strong arms that crushed both girls against him as he muttered in Russian, the same words repeated over and over.

 

“No, no, please no... I'm so sorry”

 

Marie’s quiet southern drawl as she told Bucky what they were to each other had him reeling and he wonders how he could have been so blind as not to see it before with Natalia.  She is nearly a carbon copy of his sisters Natalie and Lizzie, her eyes are Rebecca’s forest green and her lips, they have the same full pout as his Darcy.  That they are here now when their mother is not tells its own story, this is why she had been running, why Hydra had been after her, for them, for his daughters.  As soon as he holds them together in his arms he knows without a shadow of a doubt the truth of her words.  The reality of the situation is stark and cold in his belly.  Twins, the idea filters into his mind and shock, joy and horror simmer to the surface of his thoughts.  He knows intimately Natalia’s story, the horror she suffered, much of it at his own hand.  Guilt and denial rear up, of all the things for him to find out, this was one of the worst.  To know he was party to his own daughter’s torture, fury bubbled up sending the Alpha forward in his mind, looking for threats.  He clutches the girls tightly to him.  He feels the moment the bond snaps into place with Natalia, she reeks of fear and hurt, how can she ever think he would blame her for anything that happened?  The Alpha in him howls in pain and rage and wants nothing more than to take these precious girls and run, far from all that might hurt them, but it’s too late to do that for them.  They are grown and matched and bonded, no longer really his to protect.  They have been stolen from him, taken before he could even know them.  He holds them closer and a cry of pain escapes him as his legs give way and he takes them all to the floor.  

 

Marie felt the intense need to comfort the Alpha holding her, his pain was tangible, the taste of grief saturated the air, he needed an anchor and Tasha was almost as hysterical as he was right now so it would have to be her.  Marie hadn’t let down her mental shields in so long it was difficult to do, desperation gave her the push she needed to break the last of the walls in her mind down.  The bond between father and child was one that normally formed the first time he held the child in his arms, it grew over time and deepened, this one when she let it in nearly knocked her out.  Papa bear was a huge overprotective worry wart.  She reached down the bond and submitted herself to him, he was her father, he had seniority as her Alpha.  She held up a hand to his face and made him look at her, tears wet both their eyes and she stared into the mirror of her own.  Flecks of gold swirled in the blue and she gave him a smile, sending soothing scents to envelope all three of them, determined to help him get control back. 

 

Bucky felt hollowed out, this wasn’t the way he had expected things to work out.  He had failed his mate, he had not been there to care for her, to look after their children, to protect them.  The thought kept hitting him again and again, twin girls, he had daughters.  Shame and grief fill his mind, he retreated trying to find a way to make sense of what he had learned, still unwilling to let the little ones go.  They are his, his cubs and someone took them and hurt them and stole their innocence, the Alpha snarls in his head.  Marie cups his jaw and a second bond joins the first, the natural sweetness that flows from Marie is all her mothers and he hopes that she has not suffered as badly as Natalia did, but he knows whatever happened to her would have marked her forever just as it has her sister.  He feels her trying to calm him, feels her place herself under his protection without hesitation.  His Alpha growls and surges forward, confusion and indecision overwhelm him, he has to take them somewhere safe.

 

“We’re alright, we’re safe.  It wasn’t your fault and Mama would never want you to feel like this.  I know she loves you, we both do too.  We survived.  But you need to get control Alpha, we need you to get our Mama back.  Can you do that?”   Marie asks him, compassion rippling from her.

“Need to put you both somewhere safe, not here, too many threats.”  The Alpha grits out.

“Tasha, little help here sugar.”  Marie tried to shake Tasha out of her daze.

“Papa.”  Natalia’s voice broke through the golden haze of furious protective instincts that surfaced.

“Papa.  Please come back, we need you to focus.”

Bucky shook his head and dipped his chin.  Breath, he thought furiously, just breath.  Both girls were trying to ground him now.  This was not the time to go feral.  His pack needed him.  He had a pack again, the thought left him bewildered and happy.  He had a family who needed him, a wife who was in danger and waiting for him, waiting heart broken and grief sore.  His fault.  The Alpha tried to surge forward again at the thought of their mate in pain, alone.  His grip on his daughters did not waver, but somehow, he lifted himself back to his feet.  He buried his nose in Marie’s hair and committed her scent to memory, from now on he would always know her, he nudged her face up and gently rubbed cheeks with her, she let him scent mark her, her breath catching as she returned the gesture and tucked her head against his neck, baring her own.  Trust, acknowledgment and acceptance.  He felt Logan hovering and gently gave her back to her mate.  Natasha’s tears had soaked his shirt, the daughter of his heart was also the daughter of his blood.  He ran his fingers through her hair and brushed his cheek against her jaw.    He pressed his lips to her ear and spoke.

“I’m glad you got out of there, I’m glad you ran when you could.  You never failed me Natalia, it was me, I failed you.  I’m so sorry princess.”

Bruce entered the room, feeling Natasha’s distress was enough to have him on edge.  He waited till Barnes gave him a nod of greeting before closing the distance to take Tasha in his arms.  Barnes placed a hand and his shoulder and gave him a thankful look as Tasha curled into him before heading out to the balcony.  Tasha was in no state right then to tell Barnes the rest.  Bruce reached out to Tony and the other Alpha appeared at the door.  Tony was quick to understand the message and followed after Barnes. 

 


 

 

Bucky ducked out into the cold air the balcony provided and hung over the rail, steadying his emotions, or at least trying to.   His grief was quickly turning to fury.  They knew, the Red Room.  They knew she was his daughter, had watched as he trained her and tortured her and beat her.  Had they enjoyed it?  Found humour in twisting everything that was meant to exist between a father and daughter?  Had they laughed round a table, drinking their vodka and taken pleasure at turning him into her jailer and very nearly her executioner?  And his own government, they took little Marie, a baby even younger than Natasha and did what exactly?  Experiments?  Did they hurt her?  What sort of childhood had she suffered through.  Who had signed off on that?  He knew why, he thought grimly, always meddling in things they had no right to, testing and experimenting to push further and further.  They were no better than the men Hitler had employed, men like Mengele and Zola and Shaw.  Bile rose in his throat.  What sort of world did they live in where it was acceptable to experiment on children?  The Russians had done batteries of tests on Natalia, used her blood to make a knock off serum they had given the other Red Room students.  No one could compare with her though, she had been the best, the fastest, the strongest.  Every other girl a pale imitation. What had his own government done with Marie’s blood, what had they created?   The metal rail under his hand crumpled.  The legacy of these agency’s was still out there, it had to be.  People like that existed everywhere.  He’s see all of them brought down if it was the last thing he did.  He felt Stark before he saw him, the other Alpha a calmer stone in the raging river of his emotion.  He waited.  Darcy’s voice seemed to reach through time.  A good man she had called both him and Stark.  The world needed more good men.

 

Tony had struggled with James Barnes, no he would not call him Bucky.  Their shared history wasn’t one that could be easily erased.  Oh, intellectually he understood that Barnes was a victim just as much as his parents had been, but that didn’t do much when the mans face filled his nightmares as he relived his mother’s death over and over.  Maria Stark had been a warm and caring mother when she took the time to notice him, took his side when his father was at his worst.  Of the two parents he had, she was the one he held more affection for, if only by default.

The mess with Rogers and the brief dissolution of their team had hurt.  He had tried so hard to make them a pack, give everyone what they needed, it had felt as though Rogers had happily spit on his every effort.  But even with all the struggles of personality he had really truly believed that he and Rogers were friends.  He hadn’t lost it in Siberia over the video of their death, it had been that Rogers had lied to him.  Lied to his team mate, his friend.  The same man that called him out for the exact same thing.  How dare that Beta lie to him, an Alpha who had protected him, offered shelter and friendship, the fucking ungrateful little bastard.  Betrayal had twisted in his gut till the only thing he could do was lash out.  That had been a mistake, he should have kept it together, he’d always prided himself on his self-control but in that moment blind rage had ruled his instincts.  He’s went for Barnes only because he was closer, and he knew, knew it would drive Steve mad.  Knew it would provoke him into the very fight that had been brewing since the day on the hellicarrier when the beta had the audacity to challenge him and try to reduce his bravery down to a suit of metal and nothing more.  It had stung, in all truthfulness most of the vitriol he had felt for Barnes could be boiled down to one person.  Captain America.  The man he had always thought his father had idolised, wanted him to be like.  Tony shook off the thoughts.  It wasn’t relevant anymore, Steve had apologised months ago for his behaviour, the most surprising part was that he could tell the other man had meant every word.  Now it was time to build some more bridges.  He’d held off long enough on making things right with Barnes.

Tony regarded Barnes carefully from the patio entrance.  The man was on edge, he could smell the bitter stench of rage and guilt and grief washing the air with cyanide and burnt rubber.  This man was not his enemy, he was his team mate, his sisters bond match and in the last months a reliable ally.  He had to let it go, he couldn’t hold onto the past any longer, it would bring him nothing but misery if he did.   Barnes had lost his life, his agency, been stripped of his memories and used as a weapon.  Had killed friends on orders he would never have willingly followed.  The sick assholes had even had him train and torture his own daughter.  He’d lost his mate and children, the very thing each Alpha was primed and built to protect.  Tony couldn’t really understand exactly what he was going through, but he knew where he was coming from.  He’d had Pepper taken from him and had nearly lost her in the process.  Peter was like a son to him, but he’d been able to keep the kid alive this far.  When the lockdown went into force he’d had Happy sent to take May and Peter to the compound, to safety. 

Tony joined Barnes at the edge of the Balcony, the sun was directly overhead, the cold winter light illuminating the city beautifully.  He sighed.

“I’ve been known for my glib wit and motor mouth.” He begins dryly before turning serious.  “But I’ve always prided myself on having an answer, knowing what to say in every situation, so I’ll be straight, there isn’t much I can say right now that’s going to help.  I know self-recrimination, intimately.  Ultimately, it’s useless, it only hurts you and those that love you so I guess I’m asking you to listen.  We’ve been building something between us these last few months, so I hope you’ll give my words some weight.  I don’t blame you for what happened to my parents, I know for a fact that Darcy doesn’t either.  You married my sister seventy-eight years ago and you protected her, built a life with her.  For that alone I will always be grateful.  The one thing she always wanted was to have family, you gave her that and no matter what happened after, no mater the pain and heartbreak of losing you and her daughters she will be grateful, be so damn happy just to have you and them back, you did nothing wrong, none of this is your fault.  She’s going to need you to hold it together, for her, for them, but I promise you, I am right here.  I will be here for you, in any way you need form here on out.  We’re family Barnes and that means something to me, it’s more than pack, it’s a connection we’ll never be able to sever.  I’ve got your back and you have my trust.”  The ring of sincerity and truth made Barnes look up at him, he held his gaze, no posturing, body relaxed and open.  He meant every word he just said.

“Thank you,” Barnes told him seriously.  “I mean it Stark, you’ve kept it together with me this whole time, I’m grateful.”

“Tony.”  He said firmly.

“Bucky.”

“Nope, not calling you Bucky, how old are you?  Ten?  I’ll stick with Barnes.”

Barnes offered his arm to him and he locked it with his own, the arm clasp firm.

“Pack.”  Both said in agreement.

“Good, now I have something else I have to tell you, don’t panic we have everything under control.  When you go back to get Darcy it will be the night of Natasha’s abduction, she told us Darcy was shot, so she’ll be injured, you need to stick to the plan we lay out, no running off to try and save Natasha, we are going to be working against the clock, we need to get Darcy back as quickly as possible and into surgery, can you keep a lid on your instincts and focus on her, even if she begs you to go after Nat?”

Gold flared in Barnes eyes for a second before he set his shoulders and nodded.  He would do it, he had to.

 


 

 

Bucky really didn’t think he could take anymore shocks but the powers that be had of course looked down from on high and decided that today was the day for revelations.  Everyone in the tower was now up to speed on the news about Darcy and the twins.  Twins, how was this his life?  He had two grown daughters who were bonded to Alphas just as dangerous as he was, they had to take it from their mother, she was a trouble magnet.

He and Steve and Wilson would be the ones to go back in time and rescue Darcy.  It had been tough to argue Natalia down, she had been adamant about going herself.  He had turned the full force of his position on her when she tried to argue and made her stand down.  The hurt look on her face stung, but he could never live with himself if she was injured or lost on this mission and he knew it would destroy Darcy if Natalia was hurt trying to protect her.  Banner had agreed with him and the glare she threw at her bond mate had him smiling internally.  Thor had shown back up, much to Fosters initial chagrin but he and his brother had both offered their services in looking over the technology, Loki being of more help oddly enough, but he seemed certain that if the containment on the zero matter was breached that it could be safely contained with the technology available.  Jarvis had announced the arrival of Doctor Cho shortly followed by two surgeons that would be on hand to help Darcy when they got her back. 

Bucky decided that he really needed to talk to Dr Cho before he left, not entirely ready to trust Darcy’s safety only to Wilson.  He headed down to the next lab which was currently being set up as a surgical field hospital.  Tony true to his word was taking the whole thing seriously, it was inches shy of being one of the best OR’s in the state.  Dr Cho was speaking to two other doctors who had their backs to him as he entered the room.  They seemed caught up in taking an inventory of everything on hand, prepping for what they expected to encounter.  As he opened the door the voice of woman had him stopping dead in the door way.  He’d know her voice anywhere, it was the voice that had sung him lullaby’s and read him stories, he felt reality slipping away, the rush of cold chilling his spine, denial roaring in his ears.  He gripped the door frame hard, feeling the wood splinter beneath his fingers.  The groan of metal on wood had all three doctors turning to look at him.  At first it was only her he could see.  His mother, her hair a dark auburn, looking younger than he had ever seen her, her eyes widened in recognition and she tugged at the man beside her.  Bucky did a double take, at this point, now absolutely certain that he had finally lost it.  His brain was nothing but a giant ball of yarn with a clowder of cats in residence.  His father’s face looked back at him.

 

“Ma?  How?”  he trailed off.  Still staring in disbelief.  Lexie moved towards him slowly as though he might bolt.  She wasn’t wrong, he felt as though the world had turned itself inside out.  “But you’re dead, you’re both dead.”  His Ma bit her lip and stopped a few feet away, offering out a hand for him to take.  Maybe he was hallucinating.  Still, the offered hand called to him and involuntarily he reached out to take it.  He felt his knees go weak as the bond they shared flared to life and she smiled weakly, tears welling in her eyes.  He let out a startled laugh and swung her up and around in his arms.  Happy tears spilled down from his eyes as he hugged her and then he met the eyes of his father.  Mark smiled as he made his way over, reaching for them both.  For a spilt second, he felt as though he were twelve years old again, his father’s steady presence and assurance of safety sprung back into being.

 

He should be used to the crazy by this point, he really should.  Super soldiers, spys, assassins, cryofreeze, aliens, gods and time travel, but this?  His parents back from the dead?  How is a guy meant to deal with all this and stay sane?  For a minute, standing in the lab, both his parents hugging him, he thinks he’s gonna crack, but then he doesn’t.  Seventy-eight years-ago a girl knew his name and him and carried a mark he would give her decades from then, his life took a turn for the better the moment he met her.  Everything since then was a part of it, the good and the bad, and he’d bet his right arm this was just another layer to the madness that was Darcy Lewis.  Everything that had happened had led to this point, what was one more leap of faith?

“You’re the doctors that are here to save Darcy.”  He states as he steps back from them.  He breathes in the familiar scents and lets then settle in his mind.  His Ma frowns in confusion.

“Darcy?  They didn’t tell us who we were coming to operate on, Dr Cho’s had us fill in a dozen NDA’s.  What happened?  How did she get hurt?  Wait, is it now?  She’s getting rescued now?  I mean I knew from Howard she’d been hurt, but he said she’d be ok, that people had come back to take her to her own time.  What the hell?”  Lexie shouldered past Dr Cho and grabbed the medical files and started flipping through until she found Howards notes.  Bucky feels a rush of worry and smells the scent of fear as she reads with a grim face. 

“Mark, look at this, we’re going to need a lot more than what Dr Cho has on hand.  Do we even have enough blood for the transfusions she’s going to need?  She might have a better healing factor than Natalie and Liz but it’s still not going to be enough to save her if we can’t replace the blood she’s probably lost.”  Dr Cho looks like she’s about to have a fit as Lexie keeps the files away from her, handing them to Mark.

Bucky grabs Helens shoulder and tells her to let it be.  “They have full clearance, let them work.”  Helen nods and whines, tilting her head in submission.  Fuck he didn’t even realise he was projecting so hard.  “Sorry.”  He mutters apologetically to her, but she gives him a careful smile and accepts it with good grace.

“James, we’re going to need a bit of time to sort this out, Dr Cho, you better give him a run down on the first aid he’s going to have to do when he gets there, I need to make a call.”  Mark nods to him and he follows Helen to the supply room.

 


 

 

Lexie Grey does not freak out.  This is much more serious than she is ready to let on to her son.  Mark’s carefully blank expression is at once familiar and unsettling.  She’s seen it a million times when they worked in Seattle.  James is far enough away that she risks the words.

“I don’t know if I can do this.  We’ve done a lot of work in the last four years, had patients that put my skill to the test, but this.  If Howard’s notes are right?  Mark?”

“I know.  We need Derek, he’s the only one I’d trust with this besides you and you’re compromised, you know her, love her, there’s a reason we don’t let surgeons operate on family.  I’m going to call him.”

Lexie knows he’s right, the thought of contacting Derek is daunting though, she knows it means seeing Meredith again, means explaining in some form what they are.  But she can’t be the one to do this.  Darcy was a daughter to her, she was her son’s wife.  “Do it.  We’ll deal with the fall out later and once they’re here they’re under NDA’s anyway.  Mer is going to be so mad at me.”

“You think Derek’s going to be any less angry with me once he get’s over the not being dead part?”

Lexie wraps her arms around her husband and relaxes into his embrace.  This wasn’t the reunion she had imagined, none of this was anything like she expected.  Once more into the breach she thought with morbid humour.  Mark pulls out his cell phone and makes the call.

 


 

 

 

Phil hangs up the phone and calls Ward to his office.

“They want you to go ahead of them and deliver the Zero Matter.  Take Skye with you, I’m sure your grandmother won’t forgive me if she has to wait any longer to meet her.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to come?”

“I think it’s for the best if I keep my distance, I broke trust with all of them when I faked my death.  Perhaps later when things have calmed down we can address it then, try to build trust again.  I don’t think it will ever go back to how it was before and I’m alright with that.  I have my team here, the family I’ve made, I wouldn’t change that.  If I had to do it all again, I’d do the same.  Clint and Natasha needed a good leader, a strong pack to be part of, it wasn’t the one I thought they were getting, but it was the right one.  Stark is a good man and a great Alpha, he’s taken care of them, protected them and given them a chance to be who they needed to be, better than Shield ever could.   I’m also giving you and Skye some time off to consider your future.  You’ve made sacrifices, both of you, and now the work is done, it’s time to revaluate, figure out where to go from here.  It’s been an honour working with you Grant, I hope the two of you decide to come back, but if you don’t, I understand and wish you both the best of luck in the future.”

 His tone was sincere and Ward bit back the wave of emotion building in his chest.  Coulson had had a big impact in his life, he was good man who could always put the mission first.  He’d broken ties that mattered to him to complete his mission, but it didn’t mean he wasn’t torn about it.  Ward could understand why he did what he did, but in his position, he’s not sure if he could have done the same thing.  He nodded and shook the older man’s hand.

“Sir, it’s been an absolute honour to serve with you.  I’ve learned a lot.  If we don’t come back, don’t be a stranger, you will always have a place in our lives.”

Phil smiled softly. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Dismissed Agent Ward.”

 


 

 

Old Guard Base NY. 

 

“It’s time then, we’ve finally caught up with the world.”   Duggan grinned

Ten people met in a small conference room.  In the corner a book case of old Journals filled one wall.  They were the journals, painstakingly filled out by Darcy some seventy years before detailing everything she could remember that affected her family and her pack.  Histories detailing every major event that could be relevant to their survival.  They had been a roadmap to the future for those who gathered here.  An invaluable tool that allowed them to keep themselves safe, to build a foundation strong enough to one day stop Hydra once and for all.  Today they had succeeded in that at least.

“It would seem so” Dernier said, popping the cork on a bottle of Champaign. 

“I think it’s time to toast to the victory which has been seventy years in the making.” Lizzie smiled as she helped with the glasses.

“I agree, there will always be more work to do, but now it’s time to celebrate.”  Gabe passed around the glasses.

“When do you think we should come forward?”  Natalie questioned.

“I think it’s best to wait until we feel her again.”  Rebecca answered, taking a sip from her glass.

“Do you think we will?”  Dugan looked concerned.

“Of course, she is powerful and those who are bringing her home will not allow anything to stop them.”  Dernier reassured him with a raised brow.

“I have new identities for us all.  Time to go back into the world I think, we’ve stayed in the shadows long enough.”  Gabe, tossed the packets onto the table.

“True, but it has served us all well hasn’t it?  Allowed us to move unseen and unimpeded.  We’ve all done things that have helped the world, even if they don’t know it.  I’m not sure they’re ready for what we’ve become.”  A handsome man reached forward for his own packet and chuckled at the name and picture.

“Yes, and some of us can’t go forward yet, there is still work to be done and we know the importance of never letting the enemy know we exist.  Our best work began when Hydra thought us all dead in our graves.  They never looked for us, because they didn’t know to do so.”  Morita intoned lightly, not making a move for his own packet.

“Anonymity has been both a curse and a blessing.”  Falsworth growled quietly.  The rest shared a wince as he and Lizzie shared a look of regret.  Their own supposed deaths had meant missing out on what had been happening to their grandson.  They both felt guilt for not being there to help him when he really needed them.

“I’d like to continue my job for a while longer”  Morita told them as he leaned back on his chair.

“You like running a school so much?”  Duggan chuckled.

“No, they drive me up the wall, but Parker is still enrolled, I think it best for someone to be there to ease his way while he keeps his secret, at least till he has finished school.  Then, perhaps I’ll retire for a while.”

“What about you Gabe, still going to join up with Coulson?”  Rebecca asked the man, her hand clasped gently with the handsome man at her side.

“I think it could work, but I’m not making a final decision till I’ve spoken to our Alpha.” Gable tells her from the other end of the table.

“True, it’s hard to discern what the dynamic is at Stark Tower, but if our Alpha rises again, I want back under his command.  I only hope he can understand we did our best.”  Dernier backed him up and the two nodded to each other.

“He will.  He’s far too good a man to think any less of us.  Besides we know what he went through, he more than most understands that difficult decisions had to be made.  That at times we could not act while our hands were constrained by the promises we made to Darcy.”  The others nod, some tension bleeding out of them at her opinion.

“He will, we did all we could.  Got that Department K or X or whatever they were calling themselves at the time busted and little Sasha out.  It’s a damn shame she took off before we could help her, but she still ended up where she needed to be, even if we didn’t immediately realise who she had become.  That was a shock ain’t no denying it.   Still once she met up with old Wolverine she was safe as houses.”  Duggan offered.

“True and as soon as Natasha was visible we sent Barton straight to her, worked out just like Darcy’s journal told us it would and with Coulson and Fury we kept her close and safe.”  Gabe chimed in.

“There was only so much we could do without altering things Darcy knew about.” Rebecca said to Dernier, patting his hand comfortingly.

“All of us did a very difficult job, one that broke our hearts sometimes, the most important thing is that everything is as it ever was.  Now we have to gear up to take the information we’ve managed to gather on the infinity stones and Thanos to the Avengers.  I’ve been informed that Thor has brought refugees to earth from Asgard, that he brought warning that Thanos moves now to collect the infinity stones.  It would appear that we have at least a month before he reaches us.  We have to contact the Avengers to co-ordinate our response and get the city shields distributed.”  Natalie said, her expression serious.

The red phone at the back of the room rang.  Gabe answered.

“What do you need?”  he asked after a beat.  “I’ll have someone there in fifteen minutes.”

“What’s going on Gabe?”  Rebecca asked him.

“That was Mark, they need Derek Shepherd in NY, now.  Mark and Lexie didn’t realise but they got pulled to Stark Tower for emergency surgery, Lexie can’t operate on Darcy so they’re calling in the only man either of them trusts to do this.”

“Well that’s going to be a headache, and there is no way Meredith is going to let him out of her sight after he nearly died in that accident.   It’s a lucky thing we kept monitoring them after Mark and Lexie ‘died’ but Lexie insisted, if she hadn’t there’s no way the doctors would have caught his brain bleed in time.  If an agent hadn’t been arriving at the location as the truck hit him we wouldn’t have had time to get a specialist in there.”  Lizzie voiced, still shaken at the close call.  Her mothers stories of Meredith and Derek had made her feel very close to the cousin she had never met, the thought of her losing her mate so horribly was still a sore subject. 

 

“I’ll have Ward pick them up, he texted me five minutes ago, he just left the Playground, it’s a short hop to Seattle for him and then they can be back in NY a half hour after.”

Lizzie nodded, her grandson could be relied upon to get the job done.

 


 

 

1948

Darcy felt the tell-tale tingle of other humans as they drew closer to the house, none were familiar to her.  The moment coalesced, clarity brought a frightening certainty to her mind.  This was the close of the causality loop, she had felt it drawing closer since she finally recognised Tasha for who she would become.  She slipped out of the bed and pulled on a dressing gown, quietly retrieving her gun from the bedside drawer.  She looked down at her sleeping daughter and felt indecision weigh on her.  She opened the closet and pulled back the panel from the back, tossing a few blankets in before going back to the bed.

“Tasha, come on baby girl, time to wake up.  You have to hide for me, okay?”  Natasha’s green eyes opened wide as Darcy lifted her up and wrapped her in a tight hug.

“Mama?”  The fear emanating from the little girl made Darcy’s teeth ache. 

“Bad people are coming little bug, I need you to stay quiet, no matter what you hear, alright, can you do that?”  Darcy tried to keep her voice calm, but it was a struggle to even breath.

“Yes Mama, I’ll be good and quiet.”  Darcy grabbed a pillow from the bed and put it into the crawl space, tucking Natasha in on top and wrapping the blankets around her.

“I love you, so, so much.  I am so sorry baby.  I will do everything I can to come back for you.  Be good and if they find you and you can’t get away, don’t struggle, I don’t want them to hurt you.”

“They’re going to find me and take me away, aren’t they Mama?”  The finality in Tasha’s statement stunned her and robbed her of breath for a moment before she found her voice again.

“I really hope they won’t, I hope I’m wrong.  I’ll do my best to stop them.”  Darcy felt the tears welling up in her eyes and pressed a firm kiss to her daughter’s head.  “If they take you away, I want you to remember that I love you, that I will always love you no matter what.  You will see me again Tasha, I promise, this isn’t the end of our story.  One day, when you are much older you’ll understand all of this, I hope you can forgive me for not being able to protect you.”

“I’ll find you Mama, if they take me, I’ll get away and I’ll come back to find you.”  God, she loved this little girl, adored her fierce spirit.  She reminded her so much of her father, so stubborn and sure.  Darcy reminded herself over and over again that Tasha would survive this, that she was strong, that it wouldn’t break her.  That far in the future this little girl would be a loving and caring human being who protected her pack fiercely.  That she would become a good friend to those she cared about and would help save the world.

“I know you will.  One day baby girl.”

“Why don’t you hide too Mama.  I don’t want them to hurt you.”

“Oh honey, I can’t.  I have to fight, it’s what I’m meant to do, I’m your Mama, it’s my job to try and stop them from taking you.  Sometimes the only thing we can do is fight, it’s an ugly thing, but it’s necessary.  I am Omega, I am a mother, a mother never stops trying to protect her cubs, it goes against all my instincts.  I love you Natasha Jane, don’t you ever forget it.”  With one last kiss Darcy drew back and slid the panel into place.  She was going to make this hurt, she really was, they wouldn’t take her daughter without a fight. 

 


 

 

2018

“This isn’t going to work”

Tony Bruce and Jane were doing a final run down on how to set up the equipment once they reached the other side. 

“Tony’s right.  As much as we all admire how good you all are at your jobs, you need to take a tech for this.  There’s no way you’ll be able to put this together on the other side without help.  One of us has to go.”

Bucky growled in frustration.  He paced the length of the lab several times as the scientists bickered back and forth.  He didn’t have time for this.  He wanted to go now, not sit about uselessly while Darcy was waiting for him.  Jarvis’ voice reached over his com, informing him of the arrival of the Zero Matter retrieved by Skye’s team.  He nodded to Steve to follow and they made their way up to the roof.

Four people were debarking from the jet as they arrived.  The first, Agent Skye, was carrying the containment unit.  Behind her a tall man of a similar age to her followed.  He wore dark tack pants and was armed to the teeth beneath his leather coat.  Bucky had his gun out and pointing at him before the thought had left his mind.

“He’s Hydra.”  He informed Steve.  The agent lifted his arms in surrender and stood still, relaxed, his posture unthreatening.

“I’m not Hydra, I was working for Coulson, undercover.  I can prove it.”

Skye had yet to speak.  She looked on edge but kept a cool head as she passed off the Zero Matter to Steve.  Bucky gestured for him to go back down to the labs, Tony and the others would need it right away.  Skye then placed herself between Bucky’s gun and the Hydra agent.

“Sargent Barnes, I know we only met once a few hours ago, but I need you to wait.  Just give us a chance to prove it to you, please.”   She held up a cell phone and raised an eyebrow.  He nodded shortly and let her make a call. 

“We’re on the roof, we brought Drs Shepheard with us, could you come up?”

His eyes never left the threat behind her, cataloguing every twitch and tell as the man continued to stand there.  The mask was good, excellent even, the relaxed posture, the non-threatening scents.  Everything looked good on the surface but underneath he could see clearly, the shift internal in the dark-haired man the moment the young woman got between them.   They were clearly mates, the girl on suppressants was an Omega and the man behind her an Alpha.  Bucky kept the gun in his hand but lowered it till it pointed to the ground.  He didn’t flinch as the Alpha tugged the girl back beside him and angled his body in front of hers.  Skye rolled her eyes and huffed, elbowing her mate in the side. 

The door to the roof was flung open and his mother came running out, she didn’t seem to see the stand off and barrelled past him before he could stop her and pulled the man he had thought a Hydra agent onto her arms.

“Grant, it’s so good to see you again!”

“It’s good to see you too Grams.”  He said as he hugged her back.

Bucky felt the intense need to punch something but holstered the gun instead.  His mother then patted Grant on the cheek and turned to Skye giving the young woman a hug and kiss. 

“This is Grant, he’s family, look after him James.”  She told him before walking over to the two people behind them.  It didn’t look like a positive meeting.  Shaking his head and turning his attention back to Skye and her partner he held out his hand.

“James Barnes, you can all me Bucky.”

“Grant Ward, it’s good to finally meet you.”

“So, you called my Ma, Grams, that make you one of my sister’s kids?”

“Lizzie’s my grandmother, my own mother died shortly after I was born.  I think you know my grandfather too, James Falsworth?”  Ward grinned as they shook hands, enjoying the shock on his great uncles face at the revelation.

“Lizzie married Monty?  Jesus Christ, what the hell else did I miss?”

“Probably more than we have time for right now.”  Grant allowed with a shrug.

“Yeah, I’m getting that.  I think we better leave Ma to it.  How’d the good doctors take it when you picked them up?”

“Not happy about the lies, but really glad that Grams and Grampa were alive anyway.”

They followed Bucky back to the elevators and down to the labs.  Steve was already there, handing off the Zero Matter to Tony.  The two agents hung back as he went in and was quickly surrounded by the same bullshit argument they were having before he left.

“I told you, there is no way the 40’s rejects can handle this equipment safely.”  Tony argued with Jane.  Bruce hung back, muttering under his breath as Natasha placed a calming hand on his arm. 

“Okay, that’s enough.  If we can’t do it then we need someone else to come who can.”  Bucky cut in.   “What skills do they need to make you happy about it?”

“Someone good with computers that can understand the tech and possibly also fix it if something goes wrong.”

“Skye can do it.”    The voice of Grant Ward pipes up from the front of the room.  Skye waves a small hand and smiles.

Tony looks at her considering, then hauls her over to quiz her.  After a few minutes of the three scientist’s interrogation of her Tony nods and agrees. 

“She can do it, she seems capable.  Who’s tall dark and broody over there?”

“Meet my great nephew, Grant Ward.”  Bucky grins and claps a hand on the shoulder of his newest family member.  The reactions from the rest of the room as they all seemed to do a double take made Bucky feel at least a little better. 

“Should we be expecting anymore of the Barnes clan to spring out from the woodwork then?”  Tony asks dryly.  They had found out an hour ago about Mark and Lexie Barnes being back from the dead, miraculously.  It seemed like a conspiracy at this point.

Ward shrugs apologetically.  “There are a few us, I’m sure you’ll be hearing from them soon.  Most of us go into this line of work.”

Natasha regards his carefully.  Ward holds her gaze steadily, there is much more he is not saying right now and the comment about the kind of work the family does tells far more than some of the others have guessed.  “I thought I trained you better than to give so much away?”  she scolds him, watching for any tell that might give more away.  He smiles at her, all sharp teeth and mischief. 

“I think family can be the exception in this case.”  Natasha smiles back sharply, he knows exactly who she is to him, oddly it’s almost endearing.

“As fun as this is we have to prep Skye here for the mission, so the rest of you can go throw cryptic comments around elsewhere.”  Jane calls from her station.  That gets Natasha,
Bucky and Ward out of the lab quickly.  Jane sounds as though she’s about a step away from murdering someone.

 

The three of them stand in an awkward circle in the hallway.  Natasha is the first to break the silence.

“It wasn’t a coincidence you were the one to come, is it?”  she asks him

“No, I was sent ahead to… break the ice… as it were.”

“Consider it broken.”  Bucky says tersely, he can see from the way Ward holds himself that he’s got more to say.

“I don’t have the full story, only parts and I know the others will want to fill you in on what’s went on the last seventy years.  It’s not really my story to tell, Grams knows more but she seems to be pretty busy right now, so I’ll say this.  Everyone that was part of your pack during the war, they’re still alive, the same way Lexie is still alive.  They’ve been waiting for you and Darcy to come back.  And they haven’t been idle; they’ve worked to bring all the pieces together that will be needed to protect the pack and stop Thanos.”

“The titan?”

“Yes, him.  You know about the soul stone?”  Bucky and Natasha nodded, both now tense and wary.

“It’s the reason they are all alive.  Whatever it did to Darcy, it affected the connections and bonds she has.  No one connected to her stays dead, they come back, whole, new and young.  None of them talk about what happens when they die, but when one of them does, there is always new information.”

“And Darcy, does the stone affect her too?”  he’s not sure if he should hope it does or not.

“Honestly, I have no idea exactly what it does to her.  I only know that she told Agent Carter that if she dies, the stone is released.  Her soul is the only thing keeping it hidden.  She had a theory that if Darcy dies, she might take everyone she’s bound to with her.  Only three people know that and now you do too.”

Bucky sighs and wonders why the universe is determined to fuck with him.  Darcy being in danger is draining, now, knowing that her death could mean death for them all?  It’s horrifying and yet, well, at least they all go together, there’s comfort in that.  He wishes this was all over, that she was back, that there wasn’t a megalomaniac out there trying to slaughter half the universe.  What was so wrong with wanting a quiet life?  A nice house, a garden and a couple of kids, that was what he wanted, what he’d always wanted.  They never asked for any of this, either of them.  He’s just so damn tired of fate and destiny and the crap it brought with it.  Grimly he wonders if he did something terrible in a past life to deserve all this.  He lets it go, there is no point of letting ‘what if’ scenarios play out.  They had to deal with the hand they were dealt.  No matter how difficult or how much blood had been spilt.  No matter who and what they had lost, in the end he had to keep going, had to keep believing that it would be worth it.  He wasn’t normal, Darcy wasn’t normal, and neither were their daughters or their pack members.  All of them, every single one, extraordinary and special.  Each with a skill set or power that set them apart from everyone else.  He looks between his daughter and his nephew.  Both of them stronger than they should be.  He could see the lines of suffering in them.  What price had his family had to pay for the sake of the world?  He knew Natalia’s story, and looking at Ward he thought he could see the shadow of his painted clearly in the mans bearing.  Suffering sacrifice and duty. 

 

 

Natasha crosses her arms.  Ward’s words leaving her cold for a moment before she gathers herself together again.  She remembers training him and how at the time she had liked his spirit.  He was as capable as she was at keeping emotions out of the mission.  It had been five years since she saw him last but he had changed.  The careful guard was lowered, his stance relaxed in a way she had never seen before.  His smile reached his eyes now.  It was a novel idea, having a cousin.  It helped that she already knew him, now this, the fact that he had been a deep cover agent all this time, it was impressive, she had never suspected.  He was almost as good as she was.  The best since Romanoff some of the agents at Shield had said, and from the looks of it, not going anywhere anytime soon.  His being here was no coincidence, there was a purpose beyond meeting family or even joining the pack, which she suspected was part of it.  He was showing all the classic signs of taking ques and commands from her father.  He was looking for direction, for someone else to take the burden of decision making.  He was burned out she realised, he hadn’t had a break in probably over a decade if he’d been playing double agent since the academy. 

“I’m going to fill the others in on this, when you’re ready the armoury is down a level.”  She presses a kiss to her Papa’s cheek and briefly runs her hand over Wards upper arm as she goes past him with a nod of acceptance leaving a faint scent mark on him. 

 

Bucky watches Natalia go, she had made her stance clear on the young Alpha before him.  Ward looked to him, seeming to wait for something before he spoke again.  Bucky can see exactly what he’s about to say.  He speaks before his nephew can.

“Let me guess,” he says turning to him, “you’re coming too.”  Ward lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding at his Uncles words.  He gives him a wry grin.

“Well, I’m not about to let my match walk off without back up.  You all have your own mission, she’s mine.”

Bucky nods, the two men sharing an understanding.  He gets where the other man is coming from, if there had been any other choice he would have went back with Darcy himself.  Once he has her back, she’ll be going no where without him for a long while.  He’s gonna stick to her like glue till she’s sick of the sight of him.  He waves Steve over and asks him to get Ward and Skye kitted out. Steve takes the two agents with him and Bucky finds himself sitting on the floor of the lab, his back to the glass wall, dozing softly.  He’ll grab what ever rest he can get right now, the day had been overwhelming and emotional.  His parents are alive, his sisters too from what Grant had said and the rest of his pack… He tries to take in the idea of his men, his friends still out there in the world waiting for him.  At this point he’s so far down the rabbit hole he knows there is no way back.  He chuckles internally, Darcy would have told him to just roll with it.  Well, why the hell not? 

 


 

 

1948

 

The mess they land in is one that none of them expected.  It’s a quiet country lane, the sun is long down, the darkness spared only by the light of a full moon that peers down from the clouded sky.  They have landed in front of a jeep filled with people.  It had screeched to a halt in the seconds after they exited the portal.

The faces of his Howling Commandos and Peggy and Howard were a sight to see.  It seemed they were all there on the same mission, to save Darcy.  The explanation of them being from the future was piped to the post by Peggy.  She seemed to be aware of exactly when they had come from.

The strangled cry that left Steve as he saw his match left Bucky biting his lip till it bled.  The indomitable Peggy Carter threw herself into Steve’s arms with a sob, before stepping back and slapping his face.  His broken apology got cut off just as swiftly as she went up on her toes to kiss him.  Bucky shook his head and turned back to his men. seeing their faces again after so long brought back memories he thought he had long forgotten. 

“It’s good to see you all again.”  He nodded to them.  The sudden surge as they whirled around him, left him overwhelmed.

“By god it’s good to see you again.”  Monty said, gripping his shoulder tight as he slapped his back.

“I heard you married my baby sister.”  He said with a grin as the other man ducked his head and looked extremely uncomfortable.  “I’m happy for you both.”  He told him sincerely,  “just look after her.”

“As much as we would all love to have a reunion, we have to get to Darcy, the people looking for her have found her, we might already be too late.”  Peggy said as she locked eyes with him. 

“Peggy, we have to be too late.  This is the way it happens.  I’m not going to go into too much detail, but we have about twenty minutes before we can go in.  I need you all to trust me, no matter what happens.  I know how this ends.“  The serious faces and the bitter twist on Peggy's lips told him he could count on them.  Bucky checks his watch, 9.12 pm.  Natalia had been specific about the time.  

“Ward, Skye, we need somewhere safe to set the equipment up.  Monty, you’re familiar with the area?”

“Yes Sergeant, half mile from here.  There’s a small clearing a few hundred feet from the house.  Out of sight, safe for whatever you need to do under cover.”

“Take Ward and Skye with you, help them do what they need to get their job done, don’t ask questions and don’t touch anything.”  He tells his brother in law.  Monty gives him a quick salute that warms his heart.  He’d missed the unquestioning loyalty of his men.

He gave a quick briefing to the rest and told them not to go forward till he gave the signal, no matter what they saw.

 


 

 

 

Darcy took out the first two soldiers with a table lamp and a fire poker.  They were trying to come in through the kitchen door.  She waited after they fell, trying to feel for the other minds in range.  The next one hit her over the head with the butt of his rifle as she took out a third man slipping through the hall window.  The blow drove her to her knees and she let out a yelp, she retaliated by driving all her fear towards him, it dropped him long enough for her to smash the ugly vase Howard gave her over his head with enough force to fracture his skull.  From the other side of the house the sound of Tasha’s screams had her scrambling to reach her. 

No longer pretending to be quiet she raises the gun and starts shooting.  There are too many though and as she leaves the house following Tasha’s scream she tries not to think about the five men she’s just put bullets through.  The soul stone whispers in her mind.  Offering solutions, way’s to save her daughter, she is so tempted to do it, to rip their souls from their bodies and rescue her child but she can’t be weak and give in.  She can’t risk the world for one person, no matter how precious and this after all is what was meant to happen isn’t it?  She reaches out with her own power and manages to halt the men taking Tasha, she’s forcing her will, her emotions on them, urging them to feel guilt and remorse, urging the to want to bring her daughter back.  It’s working and she thinks, perhaps it’s not this time that Tasha will be taken after all.  Darcy doesn’t hear the shots that stop her, doesn’t even feel the pain until she’s staring at the blood coating her hands as she clutches her side.  How many times have they hit her?  Three?  Four?  Pain floods in, but somehow she hold onto their minds, they are still bringing Tasha back to her and then everything goes black and she drops into the snow. 

 


 

 

He finds the sniper that shot Darcy a split second too late, he fires and watches the mans head explode, but not before he has taken another shot at Bucky’s mate.  He screams when he see’s blood bloom across her forehead and she drops to the ground.  In the moon light the sight of blood on snow is a morbid and horrifying.  He holds back from allowing his men to attack until he see’s little Natalia drop unconscious in her captor’s arms.  He lets the one holding his daughter leave as they take out the rest of the initial forty man team. 

When he reaches Darcy, he doesn’t know what to do.  She looks dead, lying pale and lifeless in the snow.  Sam drops down beside her and starts checking her vitals then tries to stabilise her.  Bucky follows his instructions without thinking.  She’s still alive, but her heart beating in her chest just a little too slowly.  When Sam gives the all clear Bucky lifts her into his arms, he presses a kiss to the side of her head not swathed in bandages and talks to her.

“Doll, I came back for you, I’m here, m’not leaving you again.  You gotta hold one for me, please just hold on Darcy girl.”

She whines and nuzzles her nose into his neck, even in pain and half conscious she recognises his scent, his voice.  At the touch of her skin against his the flooding warmth of their bond bursts to life.  It’s been dormant for seventy years.  He didn’t realise how much he had missed being able to feel her presence in his mind.  Her breathing stutters and he looks down in concern to find her baby blue eyes looking back at him.

“James.”  Her voice is like music to his ears. Her wide eyed stare and the desperate plea in his name leaves his mouth dry.  She doesn't believe he's here.  He knows now how she felt all those years ago, he can see that inside she's ready to give up.

“I’ve got you doll, I’m here.  We’re going home Darcy.  Everyone one is waiting on the other side of the portal.”   He pleads with her, desperate for her to believe, to hold onto the hope he knows is real if she could only see it.

“Tasha…”  she said weakly, trying to struggle out of his arms.  His grip on her tightens, there is no way he’s letting her out of his arms.

“No, Darcy, Natalia’s fine, she’s waitin’ for us to come home.”  With his words he sends impressions of Natalia as she is now, grown and changed through the bond.  He sees Darcy grasp his words as she understands exactly what he is saying.  Tears fall down her face and he can smell the grief on them.  Their hearts break together.  She sees that he knows about his children, feels it from him, how much he loves her and them.  He wants to hold her tightly, to kiss away the fear she feels, that he blames her for the girls being taken, but he can’t.  Instead he lifts her higher in his arms and rubs his cheeks against her jaw on her uninjured side.  Uses his scent to tell her what he can’t say.  She is his always, he loves her, she is his to protect.  “Just rest Darcy, save your strength, we’re going home.  Don't you dare let go of me doll.  We're going home.”  He'll happily repeat the words as many times as he needs if it can help convince her to keep going.  She falls back in his arms, some of the struggle leaving her as she bows to the inevitable, he is not letting go of her she is going home.  Home.   Once it would have filled her with joy, the thought of her first home, of the people there who were her family.  Now all she can see is that she is leaving her babies behind, they were her home too, just as she was theirs.  It's the utter devastation in his sent when he tries again with one last "please Doll."  that brings her back to herself.  He didn't give up on her, she couldn't give up on him.  She wills herelf to keep breathing, the stay awake through the pounding in her skull.  "Take me home."  she manged to say through sharp shallow breaths.  Darcy Lewis Barnes is not a quitter. 

 

They make it to the clearing just a Skye shouts for them to be ready. 

“Portal opening in 90 seconds, everyone on the mark.”

“Steve, get the hell over here now.”  Sam shouts to his friend.

It breaks Bucky's heart, it really does to see his friends heart break all over again.  Steve has to leave Peggy behind. 

“Just go Steve, I’ll be fine.  This isn’t your time anymore.”  Peggy tells him, stubbornly trying to do the right thing.

“Go with them” Howard tells her.

“What?”  Peggy stared at Howard in confusion, tears and blood streaking her face as Bucky shifted Darcy in his arms.

“Go with them Peggy.  Dottie’s played you for over a year and no one has questioned it, you’ve been my friend.  As your friend I’m telling you to go be with your guy.  This is your second chance Agent Carter, take it.  There’s nothing for you here, you’ve been marking time since his plane went down, pinning over the blond wonder.  Just go, I’ll look out for the rest of the pack, I’ve seen Darcy’s journals, I’ll keep the time line intact.”  Howard's expression was kind, he wanted this for her.

“I … I can’t ask you to do that…”

“You’re not asking.  Peg, go.  We’ll stick with Darcy’s timeline, even if it means letting the Hydra scum rebuild.  I’ll keep searching for Rogers and Dottie will help me build contingencies for Shield.  You deserve to be happy, I don’t want to watch you lose him all over again and the sister you’ve made of Darcy.  We’ll be fine.” 

Peggy turned to Steve.  He was looking at her with a desperate hope burning in his eyes.

“When you saw me in the future.  Was our bond still there?”  Peggy’s voice was breaking as she tried to wrap her mind around the beautiful possibility before her.

Steve’s face took on the sort of stunned disbelief she was beginning to feel herself.

“No, I thought, we had been apart so long, I was effectively dead, I thought….   I assumed it was broken.”

“Bonds don’t break you moron, unless you actually die.”  Darcy managed to croak from where her face pressed against Bucky’s chest.

“Now or never Peg.”  Howard said.  She wanted to go with him, so badly.  she could see it now, walking to his side and stepping through into the world Darcy had told her about, but could she leave her pack behind, without proper leadership for seventy years?  There was still so much left to do here.   Peggy stepped back from the circle, regret in her eyes as she lifted her chin.  She had responsibilities here, it would be a long time, but she could wait.  She had promised to find Sasha and now there was also Tasha to consider.  “I’ll see you tomorrow Captain Rogers, I just need a date and time.”

“I don’t understand….”

“The date, Captain.”

“November 21st 2018”

“Until tomorrow.”  She tells him as the world goes white.

 

 


 

 

2018

 

“Jane keep the fucking vortex stable, the temporal readings are fluctuating.”  Tony was calibrating the pathfinder, trying to keep the doorway open.

“I am keeping is stable, zero matter down to 5%.  Bruce dial down the emitter 3% let’s try and buy a little more time.  Tony, how does it look now?”  Jane shouted across the lab, her hair was sticking to her face as she worked to stop the pathfinder from over heating and blowing the lab to kingdom come.

“Ok, temporal readings now stable.  Wait a minute.  Jarvis do we have the strange matter scaners running?” 

“Yes sir, current readings are spiking, it seems there is unknown radiation now gathering in the event horizon.”

“Shit, they’re knocking the door.  Open the emitter full now, this is it.”

Bruce adjusted the machine and the corona of white light hovered in the portal steadily expanding until a violent blast of displaced air washed though the lab knocking everything back, the crack of sound like lightening tore through causing glass to crack and splinter.

Tony pulled himself up, gasping as he took in the blood-stained sight before him.    

Jane covered her mouth in shock, trying not to cry out at Darcy’s limp form in Bucky’s arms.

Bruce acted, going straight to them.

“Natasha!”  he called, giving her a look.  She wrenched open the doors and admitted Helen Cho and the gurney to the lab.  A small gaggle of medical aids rushing in as Bruce directed Bucky to gently place Darcy to the gurney. 

Natasha was by Darcy’s side instantly, reaching out to take her hand as they worked to stabilise the gun-shot wounds.  Natasha held Darcy’s hand as they got her stable and didn’t leave her side as they wheeled her through to the waiting OR.  Bruce checks over the rest of the people that came through and gives a sigh of relief finding them all alive and breathing even if they all show signs of confusion and dizziness.  He leaves to go find Natasha, giving Tony a nod as he goes.

 

Tony ignored the gaggle of people in the room, each of them looking stunned and dizzy, intent in shutting down the portal and containing the zero matter that was left.  Barely a few grams he thinks grimly.  He and Jane work tirelessly for the next twenty minutes, winding down all the machines, closing the portal and preparing the containment unit.  Finally the delicate job was done, Zero Matter contained and rescue accomplished.

Tony rolled his eyes.  Five grown people clutching their heads and stumbling about the trashed lab was no good for anyone.

“Go down to medical, Lexie’s down there with some of the nursing staff.  You should all be fine, Bruce checked you all out while you were out of it.  No injuries, just a bit of temporal displacement sickness on the way forward, probably because we were cutting it neat with the emitters.”  Steve nodded to him and dragged Sam out with him.

 “What the hell happened, it wasn’t like that on the way out?”  Barnes gritted out as his vision slowly returned and the room slowed it’s spinning.

“Like I told you buddy, temporal displacement sickness.  Knocked you out a bit.  Darcy’s in surgery next door.”

The other man bolted from the room.  Tony sighed.  He looked over at Jane and rolled his eyes again.   She was swaying in her chair.  The poor woman had had about three hours sleep in the last three days. 

“Jarvis, tell Thor to come collect his scientist.” Foster can thank him later for that one.

Ward and Skye seemed to come back to themselves and Tony raised an amused eyebrow as Skye started ranting at her Alpha. 

“What happened?”  Tony asked, not having picked up much from Skye’s tirade.

“Sniper in the tree’s, my grandfather told me just before we got here.  He said he’d never known what the guy had been aiming at but I was the one that spotted him and took him out just before the others reached us.  I’m not sure that forewarning counts as spotting but it all seemed to work out ok.”

“So, you knew coming here, that you would be going on the mission.”

“I didn’t know how, the opportunity presented seemed to agree.  I’ve been told that things generally work out how they’re meant to.  Something about fixed points.”

Tony hummed and regarded the two agents.  They certainly seemed like a competent team, but they were both a little twitchy around him.

“There’s a whole mess of things we’re about to get hit with, right?”  He asks them, by this point resigned to the fact that someone, at some point must have cursed him to live in interesting times.

Ward had the decency to look apologetic as he nodded.

“Can it wait a day or two?”

“Yes Mr Stark.”

“Ok, you kids can go get cleaned up, Jarvis will show to a guest room.”

“Thank you Mr Stark.”  Skye said with a genuine smile.

“No problem.  If you need anything just ask Jarvis, he’ll sort it out.”  They left hand in hand.

Tony made his way out to the corridor.  On the floor sat a line of people waiting patiently for news.  Pepper rose to her feet and took his hand.  Tony hated waiting, it really wasn’t his thing.  Unable to keep still and refusing to sit on the floor he texted security to send up some chairs.

 

 


 

 Interlude.

 

1948

 

None of them move or say a word as they stare in wonder at the now empty circle which had been sprayed on the grass.  Peggy slumps, regret and relief surge through her in equal measure.  It would have been so easy to take the offer, to step inside the circle and take the easy road, but that’s not who she is.

“Peggy?”  She smiles sadly at Howard.  Knows he doesn’t understand, not really. 

“Why didn’t you go, be with him?  You going to be alone for the next seventy years?”  he asks incredulous.   “I thought you loved him?”

“I do love him, more than I could ever put into words but there is more to my life than Steve Rogers.  People who have put trust in me to keep them safe.  A future that we have to ensure will be of the most benefit for both the world and our pack.”  She sees the others nodding.  The respect in their eyes floors her for a moment before she continues.  “I am not defined or validated as a person by my bond mate, I have my own worth, I know my value Howard and that value is best spent here, with all of you.  We are going to change the future with no one being the wiser and when we come out on the other side there will be very little left that will threaten any of our pack or our families ever again.  We are going to bring every one of them down, all those who participated in taking our Alpha’s cubs, we will destroy them and their organisations, root and stem gentlemen.  Governments think they can take people as experiments, ignore and hide from the people, Hydra thinks it can shape a century, lets show them just how wrong they are.”

 

 

1955 New York


“We need a name for this organisation Peggy, every good agency needs a name.”

“We are not an agency Howard, Shield is an agency, working with government sanction, we are a covert, secret organisation with potential plans for world domination, we do not need nor do we want a name.  Nothing flags a spy’s interest more than a secret alphabet agency they have never heard of.  We need to stay off the radar not paint a target on our backs.  Especially not one of those ridiculous acronyms you come up with, I mean really Howard, H.O.P.E?  I.D.E.N.T.I.T.E?  they make even less sense than the words you cobbled together to spell Shield.” 

Howard frowned and looked a step away from pouting.  Peggy sighs and retrieves the lock box from the shelf. 

“Take this, we managed to get a lead on Darcy’s jewellery, Jones brought it in this morning.”  She hands him the box and grins as his face lights up.  It may take him the next sixty years but she knows he will figure out how they work.

“This is great, I’m off down to the lab, can you let Jarvis know I won’t need the car tonight?”  Peggy nods as he goes to leave the room. 

Dottie sweeps in and for a moment Peggy feels the sudden jerk of shock as she takes in Dottie’s appearance. Slowly, over time the woman had had small surgeries done to change her appearance to look identical to Peggy.  The only way anyone would see a difference now between them was if they stood them side by side.  Peggy would have been pipped as the imposter these days, her youthful face giving her an age ten years younger than the one she should currently wear.

“Here, I thought we could go over out plans for S.T.R.I.K.E before you go back to hibernate in the dungeon.”  Dottie said with a sly smirk to Howard as she passes him a folder.

“STRIKE?”  he asks, confusion in both his face and scent.  Peggy stifles a laugh.

“Yes, our Special Tactical Reserve for International Key Emergencies.”  Dottie tells him, face straight as she looks to Peggy and gives her a tiny wink before Howard can notice.

“I thought we didn’t like acronyms anymore.”  He said glaring at Peggy.

“Well, it’s not really on purpose, it just describes exactly what it is.”  She manages without breaking into giggles. 

“You two are the worst, the absolute worst.  What did I do to get saddled with the two of you for pack sisters?”

“Howard, the list of your possible crimes that merit punishment grows from year to year, if I were you I’d quit complaining and start thanking the gods we’re here to keep you in line.”  Dottie needled him some more.  Howard grumbled and flipped the file open, scanning through it quickly.

“The proposal is sound, but we need to make sure to get an emergency clause into the Shield contract, so we can have them cross borders without pre-approval.   The last thing we need is an international incident because some jobs worth government agent decides we needed permission to enter a country.  We really will have to vet team members carefully, I know we know at some point it will go wrong and we’ll end up with Hydra operatives in the ranks there, but it burns me that we could be handing them almost diplomatic level immunity if they make the STRIKE team.”

“I’ll talk to our people in Europe and Africa to see if we can’t get approval pushed through, I’m not holding out much hope for Russia or China though, either we hold back if it goes that way or we have to hope for the best and disavow them if they are caught.”  Peggy handed him another paper with the standard contracts.

“If we keep cultivating our assets in those countries we might be able to extract them with minimal fuss and some bribes if it does go wrong.”  Dottie interjected.  Peggy curled her lip in distaste, an unsavoury necessity, but clearly one they had to pursue.

“I’ll let you handle it Dot and I’ll get my lawyers to look over the contracts.” 

“How are the Old Guard anyway?”  Dottie asks Peggy, her tone nonchalant.  Peggy smirks and turns her focus on Dottie.

“You mean how is Jacques?”  Dottie shrugs and says nothing.

“The Old Guard are just fine thank you…”  Peggy tells her when she doesn’t rise to the bait.

“You know, that’s not a bad name.”  Howard says standing in the doorway leaning against the jamb.

“Name?”  Peggy asks, uncertain what he means.

“For our super secret club.”  He throws her a wink and she shakes her head at his silliness.

“The Old Guard, really?”

“Why not, as good a name as any for an almost immortal secret society.”  Dottie pipes up from her perch against the desk.

“Never on paper, Howard, swear it.”  He smiles his most charming smile and nods.

“On my mother’s grave duckie.”  He ducks out before she can throw the stapler at him.

“Honestly, that man.”  Peggy says fondly.

“Don’t knock him Peggy, that man is the only reason you’re still sane.  You’re far too serious sometimes, he brings out the humour in you.  Be honest, you’d be lost without him.”  Peggy hums noncommittally before she finally meets Dottie’s eyes.  The sharp quality to Dottie’s gaze has Peggy giving up with a roll of her eyes.

“Fine, yes, I’ve grown very fond of him. Now go, I have work to do and so do you Agent Carter

Dottie’s wicked look and cheeky salute on the way out makes her grin.

 

1963

 

“Did you get eyes on Barnes?”  Dugan asks over the coms.

“Negative.  We did get a bead on Lehnsherr though.  It happened just like Darcy wrote, I was five feet away from him, he tried to stop the bullets, one got through.  Fed’s came out of nowhere with tranq guns and took him down.  Doesn’t seem right letting the man get lynched like that, locked up for something he didn’t do.”  Gabe’s voice was dripping with disgust.  Dugan didn’t blame him, it didn’t sit right with him either.

“He’ll be out in ten years, it’s not ideal, not what any of us want but we have to stick to the timeline.”

“Eye’s on Barnes.  Following now.”  Morita called in.

“Keep safe distance.”  Peggy kept calm.  This was crucial, they couldn’t afford to get it wrong.  This was the first time any of them knew for certain that their Alpha was on American soil.  The plan had been hashed and rehashed for nearly a decade.  The only safe thing they could try was to attempt to track him from here on out.

“Looks like they’re taking him to a safe house.  Coast is clear.”  He rattled off the co-ordinates and waited.

Dugan and Gabe joined Morita at the café.  The three men sat swapping small talk, grim of face as the listened to the cries and sobs of the people around them.  A president had been assassinated, a good man, a mutant, if the things Darcy had written were true.  Hydra going so far as to assassinate a President made more sense once the mutant factor was thrown in.  He’s been promoting equality for all and the people had loved him for it.   His administration had clamped down on the less than legal projects, stopped them when they come across them and helped clean up the mess left over. Between JFK’s credentials, his real want to help and the fact that he had shown privately and publicly that he had no intention of compromising his beliefs had made him a massive target.  Plenty in the Military had bucked the changes he had wanted made and The Old Guard were certain that this had prompted some of those high in government to collaborate with Hydra. 

“How do you want to do this?”

“We’ll wait till they change out guards.  There’s no way they’re getting out of Dallas tonight, not with the number of cops about.  We need a distraction, something innocuous enough to be brushed off but serious enough to give us a few minutes to plant the tracker.”

“Well, I guess we use the mess they made to get us an opening.  Vigil procession down here towards the church might be what we need.”

“So we have about three hours till they change out if they stick with the standard SOP.  I’ll go talk to the preacher, make some suggestions.”  Gabe said heavily.  He hated the thought of using people like this, but needs must when the devil is at your door. And Hydra was very much the devil.

The massive crowd of mourners that made their way down the street and right past the hotel did exactly what the three men had predicted.  Gave them enough cover and distraction to plant three trackers into the two cars and the van they had identified as belonging to the Hydra operatives.

Three day’s later they had five confirmed safe houses and two bases.  Peggy read the report on Barnes.  They had seen him only briefly as he was led out dead eyed and compliant into the base.  Five hours later they confirmed what they already knew.  A large coffin sized metal case had been transported from the base to the airport and onto a plane with what was likely to be an incorrect flight plan back to Russia, no doubt containing a cryo frozen Alpha as his pack watched on, unable to act.  They had also managed to confirm his destination.  The Red Room was now the proud owner of one Winter Soldier.

“It infuriates me Howard, it makes me sick and ill with anger.  How dare they…” 

“Peggy…”  Howard begun then quietened.  He could see the struggle in her, the utter desperation to do something.  The only thing he could offer was words.  “They will get what’s coming to them Peg.  We will dismantle it all and burn it to ash, there will be no place left for them to hide or rebuild, we will crush them, take every piece of their organisation and everything connected to it and make it as though it never existed.  Legacy?  In the end there will be no legacy for them, their ideals, their grand plans?  All of it will be utterly gone.  In the end we will stand on their graves and build a new world.  One where no one will ever have to fear the kind of order they worship.  We will flourish, and they will wither on the vine. Besides, we already know how this story ends, at least in part. They can’t hold him forever and when it’s time and we can act? They will never see us coming.”

Howard pulled her into his side and she lay a tired head on his shoulder.

“Fifty more years Howard, I feel burned out and it’s not even been twenty since we were all last together.  I think I see now, understand more of how Darcy must have felt watching it all tick by, unable to do anything to stop it.   She was so strong, is so strong.  Is it selfish that I wish she were here with us now?”

“No, not selfish, just very human.  I think you need a vacation Peggy, when was the last time you had a break huh?  All you do is sit in this office and run OP’s and pour over those journals.  Why don’t you go back home for a bit.  See how the old country’s changed.  Or if you like, come back to LA with me, I’m heading back west tomorrow, just broke ground on a lovely little place in Malibu, right on the ocean, gorgeous views, great weather, beaches?”

“And party’s and women and drink, am I right?”

“Well, a man has needs Agent Carter.”

“You Howard, are a cad.”  Peggy looks up at him.  “I think you’re right.  I could do with a break, can I use your jet?”

“Anytime, just give Jarvis a call, he’ll sort it out for you.”

“Thank you Howard.”

“No thanks needed, what else is family for?”

 

1969

 

Peggy stood at the window of her apartment studying the construction on the other side of the Potomac.  The new Shield building was going to be an impressive edifice of steel and glass.  Beautiful to look at on the outside but harbouring something ugly beneath the surface, an apt analogy for the state of the organisation she had headed for years, or at least they thought she had headed for years.  Dottie lounged on the daybed sipping a drink from a fine stemmed glass.  She had aged well, Peggy thought studying her friend.  It was like looking in a mirror of what should have been.  She herself had died again briefly last year and was back looking like a twenty something.  The new fashions were not at all anything she liked.  Bell bottoms were far to easy to trip over when you had to fight your way out of something and the colours, good lord, garish didn’t begin to describe them.  The faster this decade and the next were over the happier she would be. 

“How was the wedding?” 

Dottie smiled widely. 

“As much of a spectacle as you would have expected.  It must have cost Howard a pretty penny.  The groom looked ill and the bride resigned.  Dugan, Morita and Dernier all made it of course.  I think it helped Howard to have them there.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man so disappointed to be getting married as he was.”

“It’s understandable, he’s not getting any younger and he knew already that she’s meant to be Tony’s mother.  I think he was devastated to realise she wasn’t his match.”

“He’s been moping ever since, but he’s dated her for two years Peggy he must find something in her to be agreeable at least.”

“Yes, her dowry and old money connections.”  Peggy said uncharitably.

“If I didn’t know better I’d think you were jealous.”  Dottie said uncertainly.

“Oh don’t be ridiculous.”  Peggy growled, rolling her eyes.  “I just don’t like the girl.  She’s a vapid insipid little ninny with no back bone and no love what so ever for Howard.  She doesn’t even try to hide it.  I heard her mother and her talking a few weeks ago when I was running some last minute surveillance.  ‘An heir and spare and then I can be free of him’  that’s what she told her mother.  Howard deserves better.  Oh don’t look at me like that.  I know the stakes involved, I knew exactly how important her son will be.  I don’t refute it.  But he deserves so much better, everything he’s done for decades, helping us all, watching as each of us has paired off, found matches.  It breaks my heart to know how badly he wants it, even if he will never admit it.”

“He’ll be alright Peggy.  He has his work and his company and us.”

“I know, but I worry.”

 

1978

Rebecca Barnes made her way down the stairwell and punched the passcode into the key pad.  After her husband’s death ten years ago and the devastation of finding out that unlike Lizzies husband Monty he wasn’t coming back she had thrown herself head first into work.  She wasn't the first to lose a spouse in their little pack but it still stung.  The running theory was that matches made a difference.  Dugan's wife was his match and she had come back.  Morita's wife Val had died of cancer but not come back, they had not been matched.  It certainly shed a certain light in how bonds and matches worked and exactly what they most likely were.  Soulmates, a word many had been reluctant to bandy about.  she had moved on since then, it hadn't been easy but she was in a good place now and this new opportunity was just what she needed.

Since 1965 she had had to change her identity every ten years or so.  The blood Logan had given her father had changed his DNA, or at least the DNA he had passed onto his children.  Like him they did not seem to age after a certain point, or at least, they didn’t age very fast.  She was sixty-three years old and could pass for a young looking Thirty five at best and if she tried hard enough could even fit in with the college crowd with the right makeup and clothes.  In all the time the pack had been working towards their goal it was only now that she was coming to work directly for the organisation, for The Old Guard. 

She now held an impressive number of degrees under her belt the latest a Doctorate in Bio Chemistry.  She and Howard had been sharing findings remotely for years.  This would be the first time they had seen each other since a 1957.  His work on the super soldier serum had hit a snag and she was now coming to work directly with him on the project.  The work itself was exciting, ground breaking even.  The properties the original had carried, could be, they thought, used to develop cures for all sorts of degenerative disorders with enough tweaking.  That was the real purpose of the work they were doing here.  Finding a way to help people, to save lives.  She couldn’t wait to get started.

 

It was mid afternoon before she heard someone clear their throat in the lab behind her and she broke into a welcoming smile when she saw him.   They had become friends somewhere in between the letters and phone calls.  He was still a handsome man, even at sixty five he still had a debonair look about him, a charm that time had only made more appealing. He reached to take her hand in greeting and the world stopped.  The bottom dropped out from under her feet.   The smile fell from both their faces. 

Rebecca couldn’t pull her hand from his.  It felt so right, the feeling of his rough callouses pressing into her soft skin.  She shook her head and closed her eyes tight, willing the  knowledge that had settled in her heart to go, leave, be forgotten immediately.  But she couldn’t.

“No.”  she finally managed to say.  Whether it was a denial or a plea she couldn’t tell.

He let go and stepped back as they continued to look at each other.  Matched.  How was that even possible? 

“I was bound to Michael for thirty-five years.  I’m an Omega, there isn’t meant to be anyone else ever for me.  How is this happening?”  she whispered angrily.

Howard turned away and walked over to the other side of the lab, taking a seat at the desk there.  In that moment he looked all of his years. 

“I don’t know, we could throw around any number of theories but the number of variables in our lives are a little more out of the ordinary than most.  I’ve never heard of this happening before either.”

Rebecca sat down at the bench and tried to clear her head.  An explanation for the unexplainable?  Her mind drifted over her life looking for a moment that would help this make sense.  Oh…  of course.  Her death. 

“I think I know.”  She couldn’t meet his eyes as she told him.  “I died, six months after Michael passed on, when he didn’t come back, when…   I was in a dark place, the children were all off leading their own lives.  I don’t know what I was thinking, just that it hurt so much to be so alone after so long.  And I…  well I’m sure I don’t have to say it.”

“No, you don’t.”  he agreed, looking both angry and horrified.

She buried her face in her hands.  She felt his arms wrap around to hold her while she cried.   Weak and shameful as it was she was grateful and relieved by his touch.

“I’m so sorry Becca.”

“Renewal.  That’s what we all agree happens when we die and our soul gets it vacation to that accursed infinity gem.  No ties when we wake up, only those that still exist dormant till they are rekindled after we come back.  There was no mating bond waiting on this side when I came back and I was so happy not to feel that pain of a broken bond I never even thought about what it meant.  I never even considered I might have another chance.  But it still doesn’t make sense Howard, you’re married to Maria, you must have bonded with her.”

“Maria is painfully, wonderfully normal.  No bond.  I was thankful for that when I married her.  Now I’m not so sure.”

Rebecca buried her face in his chest and felt his grip on her tighten.

“This can’t go anywhere Howard.  I can’t…  I’m sorry but I can’t.”

“I know, I’d never ask you to.”

“I think it would be best if we kept our distance.  At least until I can find a way to move past all this.”

Howard’s face was inscrutable as she lifted her gaze to meet his.  He seemed to struggle internally for a moment before letting her go.

“You’re right.  But we keep working on this, exchange letters, phone calls.  I won’t give up the friendship we’ve built.”  She nodded.  That would have to be enough.  For now they still had work to do.  They could keep a distance and be professional.  She wasn’t a teenager, she had self control and though it would be difficult, painful even to deny the match they both felt, they had to do the right thing.

 

When she got home she fell into bed and cried till she had no tears left before phoning her mother.  The next day Lexie turned up on her door step and she cried again, safe in her mother’s arms.  Weeping for missed opportunities and bad timing.  Over the next thirteen years she watched from afar as Howard spiralled down a dark hole of alcohol and depression.  The phone calls came less often, and the letters stopped entirely.  When she got the news that he had died she got on the first flight to New York she could find.

 

December 1991.

 

They sat vigil in the mortuary in the sub-basement of the The Old Guard’s New York base.  Ten men and women tied together with unbreakable bonds of pack.  The body on the table had been both pack and not pack.  He had never bonded with any of them.  Had always held back, but they had to believe there was a chance that the bond he held with his daughter would be enough to save him.

Lizzie and Natalie sat on either side of Rebecca, holding her hands tightly in theirs.  Willing her to breath, to keep going.  It had been 19 hours since his death.  Rebecca had arrived six hours ago and refused to leave for food or rest.  The silence of the people around her was deafening.  Slowly over the next three hours they left one by one looking defeated and grief worn.  She refused to believe this was the end.  Eventually it was only her in this antiseptic leaden room, praying to a god she wasn’t sure anymore existed for a miracle.

The strangled cry and gasp of breath startled her from the light sleep she had fallen into and she felt as though she could breath again.   His stupid face was as young and handsome as it had been during the war.  His dark hair and sharp jawline and bright eyes took up her vision.  He was sitting shuddering, on the edge of the gurney.  His voice broke as he spoke her name and then she was in his arms, where she was meant to be.

“You came back, you came back.”

He held her tight and cried into her neck.  She had never been so happy in her life. 

“You’re mine Rebecca, mine.”  His tone was firm and brooked no argument.  She had none left to give him.  She had made them both miserable, no matter how well intentioned.

“I know, I am, and you are mine.”  She agreed.

“Never send me away again Becca, I can’t… please, the last thirteen years, they’ve been torture, I can’t do it again.”  He whispered against her skin.

“I won’t, never again.  We got our second chance and I won’t let it go, not this time.”  She promised smiling through her tears.

Peggy watched from the hallway, wiping away a stray tear, Lexie standing next to her.  They shared a silent look of disbelief and joy. 

“I am so happy for them.”

“I know, my baby hasn’t been the same since they found out they matched.  She wanted to do the right thing but…”

“I know what you mean, it was hard on them both and inadvertently hard on Tony.  Howard’s been a mess for the last decade.  We’ll have to send them both away somewhere for a few years, keep Howard out of sight.  At least now I won’t have to worry for him, she’ll keep him in line and happy.  They both need a break anyway, neither of them has done anything but bury themselves in work.  This will be good for them both.”

The later whoops of joy signaled the start of a party that lasted long into the next day as the pack celebrated a small victory, they had one of their own back, safe.  They were another step closer to their goal.  Twenty-seven years left and they were more united than ever before.

 

 

1995

 

“Alright gentlemen we’ve dealt with the situation in Algiers and Gibson sent a report stating that the laboratories there were working on an incomplete version of the Russian serum developed by the Red Room.  We’ve had all the data sent to Howard and Rebecca and the remaining test subjects are being flown out to our private facility in France for assessment and treatment.  Is there anything else on the agenda for today?”

Dugan stood first and handed out manila folders.

“Project Bluebook.  An alien artefact was found on a dig just before WW2.  We have a few Airforce grunts at the Cheyanne base in Colorado.  The Artefact was taken there sometime last year.  The intel we’ve been given says they managed to get it working and that is creates a stable Einstein-Rosen bridge between the artefact here on earth and one on the other side of the Milky way.  A recon team was sent though and then the project was shut down shortly after their return.  I’d like to keep at least one of our people based there for the foreseeable future.  We can’t rule out anything if this thing works they way they say.  Better to be safe than sorry.  Of the people on the team that went through was Daniel Jackson.  We had him marked for later recruitment.  We can’t get any info on just what happened to him but I want a flag on his file.  Until I see a body I’m listing him as of interest and MIA.”

“Thank you Dugan.  Any objections to keeping an operative on site?  No?  good, moving on.  Yes Dernier.”  Peggy was not expecting him to bring anything up this meeting.

Dernier cleared his throat and leaned forward.

“There had been some concern previously that Section One has been compromised.  My contact at Centre has sent some troubling rumours, I would like approval to send an operative in undercover to assess and report.”

Natalie tensed and regarded him coldly. 

“You want Nikita.”

“Yes, she is exactly the sort of recruit they look for.  I’ve seen her training records, she is at the top of her class.”

“She is also my niece.  Her next assignment was meant to be Stark Industries.”

“You know as well as I that she is over qualified for that operation. 

Natalie stood her ground.  “She is too inexperienced for this.  You are asking me to send her into a situation we have, as you admitted yourself, no intel on.”

“She is the best option we have available, the right age and look.  Her scores in hand to hand and weapons are exceptional.  Only yourself and a few other are better.  Natalie, consider, we have no idea what they are doing there, who they are really dealing with.  The power they have and the sanction from the government makes it the ideal breeding ground for Hydra.”

Peggy looked between the two and signaled for the both to sit.

“I think this might be best put to a vote.  We can not afford to have dissension like this.”

It was a close run thing but a month later Nikita was in undercover and reporting back sporadically on Section One.

Three years later when Nikita turned up with her partner in tow Natalie nearly had a fit.  Peggy however could see the opportunity it presented.

“You understand that once you both go back in the operation turns from one of infiltration to what is essentially a coup.  Are you sure you want to go ahead with this?”

Michael Samuelle was a very quiet and calculating man, if Peggy had met him under different circumstances she would have treated him with great caution and even greater distrust.  Nikita on the other hand was fierce in her defence of him. 

“We can do this, we have spoken in depth and constructed a plan we believe will work.  It will not be quick, it will take time and careful manipulation, we shall have to be adaptable, but I am confident that between us it can be done.”  He told them, handing out the folders to the people sat at the conference table.

“And the complication of your son?”  Natalia asked candidly.

“I think it best if we stage an accident and have him taken into protective custody.  I’d like to send him to my grandmother in England.”  Nikita’s tone was cold.

“Have you spoken to Lizzie about this?”  Natalia asks her niece sharply.

“Not yet, I wanted to wait and get your approval first.”

“Now you want approval.”  Her aunt bit out acerbically.

“We do not mean to cause trouble, you understand.  But this cannot be helped, there is something truly rotten in Section.  Operations has brought more people in who we are finding to be less and less reliable, we should not wait until the only option left is the complete destruction of the agency, it can still do good work.  I believe under Nikita’s leadership it will do just that.”  Michael told them firmly. 

“Very well, if you are sure.  I want reports weekly, I don’t care how you do it but I want this done with minimal loses and all those with direct ties to Hydra will be transferred here, not to Centre.  Agreed?”

“Of course, Director.” 

“A nice beach holiday, somewhere remote but unlikely, though not so far off the beaten track it will take them too long to bring you in.  I’ll have options for you tomorrow to look over and I insist you visit Howard and Rebecca down in the labs.  We have some excellent bio trackers that can’t be detected that should put some minds at ease.  If anything and I do mean anything should go wrong you will contact us immediately for extraction.  Am I clear Agent Samuelle?  Agent Falsworth?

“Crystal.”  Nikita said with a smile. 

 

 

2000

“Well I think all in all it went rather well.  We now have control of both Centre and Section One.  This is bringing up a great deal of new intel.  Nikita and Michael have done remarkable work in so little time.  We’ll be able to start moving in some of our own agents in rotation for better field experience.”

“I still don’t like him.”  Natalie bristled from the other side of the table.  Peggy heaved a pained sigh and shook her head.

“He is an excellent asset and Agent, completely loyal to Nikita and none of us would ever question her dedication to the cause.”  Peggy was putting her foot down.

Natalie huffed but remained silent.  Michael Samuelle was entirely too difficult for her to read.  It’s what made her so uneasy around him.  His first two wives meeting similar fates had also been unsettling.  Finding that he had matched with her niece set her on edge.  This was not the sort of man she had hoped the younger woman would fall for.  Peggy was correct though, he was thoroughly dedicated to Nikita, had, on more than one occasion risked his life for her.

“Our next order of business is the reactivation of Project Blue-book.  I believe we have three operatives stationed in Colorado, Dugan?”

Dugan nodded and handed out the files.

“We’ve kept an eye on them since they first started working in that artifact.  Daniel Jackson went missing in  ’94 but he’s just be flagged in the data base, new drivers licence, apartment, bank accounts.  The last operative we had at Cheyenne Mountain was moved upstairs to Radar Telemetry when the Base commander, General Hammond brought in a new second in command.  Col. Jack O’Neill.”

“Wasn’t he the leader of the original mission through the gateway?”  Peggy asked him skimming the notes.

“He was.  Natalie’s assessment is that he was suicidal when he took that mission but that he seems to be stable now.  Most of his jacket looks like an inkpot got spilled on it but word with the lower level fly-boys is that he’s a good man, a reliable CO and honest to the point of insubordination.”

“Sounds like our sort of guy.  You want to bring him in on this?”  Gabe asked curiously.

“Well, I’m not sure if we’re ready for that.  I want permission to read in my granddaughter Samantha.  I got word yesterday that she’s being transferred from the pentagon to Cheyanne effective immediately.  She’s unaware of the family business, my daughter Debra died when Sam was just a kid.  Hydra took her out in a messy drunk driving accident back in ’86.  Sam’s Air-force, a good pilot, smart too, astrophysicist and she made Captain last year.”

“And how would you approach her?  You were meant to be dead ten years ago.”

“I’ve been thinking about it.  We need someone with enough credibility to be believed and I think we all know just the person.”

“Dottie.”

“Well it can’t be you Peggy, you don’t look a day over 45.”

“Does anyone have any objections or concerns?”  she asked the assembled people.  “Very well, I’ll brief Dottie and have her meet Sam as soon as possible.  Jim how are our newest recruits?”

“Doing well over all.  The new class has two of particular interest.  Matheson and Monroe.  I’m tapping them both for leadership roles.  Good heads on their shoulders and they work exceptionally  well together.  I think I’m going to put them under Murphy and Libby, start them off shadowing early, they’re both ready for it.”

“And how did Agent Libby respond to that?”  Gabe asked with surprise.

“I thought I’d leave that to you, they need the experience with communication and tech, your department.”

“Oh no, I ain’t gonna fall for that again.  The last time you made me hand Libby some new recruits I couldn’t get a decent cup of coffee for a month.  She had every machine on base working against me.”

“I’m sure you’ll think of something.”  Gabe glared at Morita and nodded once.

“Speaking of Libby and Murphy, I have new intel on the Red Room.  They found multiple accounts on the dark web of a hit out on Natalia Romanova.”

The room went silently still.  Four heads looked up from perusing files and Gabe met their gazes equally as seriously.

“Darcy was never sure when it happened, but this seems about right on the timing.  Barton just got promoted to level 7, he’s Coulson’s top asset these days.  Have Libby and Murphy keep a close eye.  I’ll brief Coulson after the meeting and have Barton on hand as soon as we get a location.  Keep us all updated on this Gabe, we can’t afford any slip ups.”

“Yes Ma’am.”

When the room was empty again Peggy stood and went to the window.  She stared across the New York skyline and bit her lip hard.  The loss of Natasha had been one of the hardest.  Knowing where she was all this time and not going to get her had been a special kind of torture.  The thought that it might all be over soon, that her god daughter would be safe and under her protection even if she didn’t know it had her praying fervently for things to go well.  All she wanted was to go after her herself, bring her in and coddle her.  But the time for treating her as child was long past.  The file they had on the only living Black Widow that anyone in the spy community knew about was inches thick.  Her confirmed missions and kills read like a Le Carre novel.  She wondered what was left of the child she once knew.  Only the knowledge from Darcy’s journals offered hope on that front.  Peggy sat at her desk and turned the framed photo towards herself.  The picture of Darcy and the girls sat there, both mocking her and spurring her on.   The other photo of herself and Darcy, Steve and Bucky sat opposite.  “I’m going to bring her home Duckie, wish us luck.”

She lifted the phone and dialed a number she memorised by heart.

“Hello Jack, it’s Maggie.  I have a request.  I need you to put me in contact with Irina… I don’t care what you think she’s done I need her help…  she won’t Jack, this is her only opportunity to pay me back for getting her out of America, I imagine she’ll be glad to have that debt off her back…  alright, thank you.  How is Sydney doing, last I heard she was at Georgetown…  I see, well that is turn up for the books…  no I don’t mind…  Get Vaughn on it, he’d make a great handler for her, I trained him myself, you can trust him to do right by her… I’ll be sure to let him know.  Yes go ahead I have a pen here.  Thank you Jack, I won’t forget this, I owe you one.  Good bye.”  She hung up and examined the number and pass phrase before dialing once again.

“Hello darling it’s Margot, just thought we could have a catch up, it’s been entirely too long.”

“Why I don’t think we’ve seen each other since Paris, Margot.”

“Was it?  I seem to recall it was Edinburgh.”

“That’s right, I remember now, the Lecture at Heriot-Watt wasn’t it?”

“That’s the one.  So, how have you been?”

“Oh, doing this and that, you know me, never sit still.  What about you, how are the family.”

“All doing well, although we’re a little concerned for my niece, I’m sure you remember her, the little red head with the temper.  She’s been back packing through Europe, If you see her could you let me know, we’re ever so worried about her.  You know how she is, too much like you in some way’s, I worry she’ll get trapped in her own web one of these days.”  The pause of the other end of the phone was enough for Peggy to know that her message had gotten through.

“I’ll keep an eye out Margot and let you know the moment she drops by, I’m sure she won’t miss the opportunity to see my fair city.”

“Thank you darling, it will take a load of my mind.”

“I’ll call you soon and we can arrange a meet up Margot, I have to go right now, I think Victor had set the toaster on fire again.  Take care.”

“You too darling, good luck.”

Peggy hung up and felt immediately better, if anyone could find Natasha it would be Irina Derevko, she had most of Eastern Europe under careful watch, if Natasha was there they would know by tomorrow. 

 

Her intercom buzzed and Maria let her know her 2 o’clock was here.

“Send him in Maria.  Thank you.”

Peggy stood to greet the man who entered and shook his hand firmly. 

“It’s good to meet you Agent Brandt.  How was your flight?”

“It was fine.  I’m still a little confused as to why I’m here or even who you are?”

“My name is Margaret Carter.  As to why you’re here, you’ve been doing some excellent work for the FBI under Director Skinner.  He was so impressed with you that he recommended I meet with you for a special project group I’m on the supervisory committee for.  It’s all rather hush hush.  Officially, it doesn’t exist.  We call them the IMF, they deal mainly with counter terrorism and things of that nature.  The work will be challenging and difficult but from your file it’s the exact sort of thing that gets you up on the morning.”

“Do I get to know anymore about it before I make a decision?”

“No, classified.  I can tell you that the work will be rewarding and that you will be saving lives and making a difference in many others.  I’d also like to bring up the fact that I know exactly who you are.  You’ve done a wonderful job of covering it up, but you see, both of your brothers work indirectly for me and so seeing your face rather gives it away Mr Barton.”

Brandt tensed and stepped back.  Every line of his body strung for flight.

“I don’t care about your past Mr Barton.  The last ten years have shown exactly who you truly are.  You made mistakes, that’s true, but you have turned a new leaf as they say and have shown great dedication and moral grit in your job for a decade.  Knowing your brother too grants you a little more credibility.  Clint and Kenneth, although he goes by Aaron these days are highly respected here at my agency.”

“Which Agency is that Ms Carter.”

“Director Carter.  And well, we don’t have a name officially, we just sort of exist.  If you don’t want contact with your brothers we can ensure that doesn’t happen.  Neither of them know the other is working for our agency.  So really the ball is now in your court Mr Brandt.”

He struggled for a moment before taking a seat and hanging his head.

“I thought…   I thought they were dead, that I’d killed them.  How….  How are they?”

“Clint is good, he suffered hearing loss from the blow to his head but made a full recovery from the other injuries.  Aaron, well, he was badly mentally impaired from the beating.  He was admitted to the army by a dirty recruitment officer and then badly injured.  At that point a very black CIA agency used him as a test subject for a drug trial.  It turned out to a be very bad miscalculation on their part, the drug repaired the damage done and increased his intelligence and proficiency to a much higher degree than would be humanly possible.  They trained him to be a killer and when they felt the need to burn the project he escaped them, took his match and went of the run.  His match thankfully knew someone who worked for me, she brought him in and he’s worked here ever since.  Both your brothers have made good lives for themselves.  When you are ready we’d be happy to help put you in touch.”

“I’ll take the job Director, but I don’t think either of them will want to see me again.  I’m okay with that, I’m just glad they’re happy.  You’ll let me know if anything happens to them?”

“If that’s what you need Agent Brandt then that’s what we will provide.  You’ll receive you’re orders tomorrow.  I wish you luck in your new role, it will be a challenging one.  One more thing before you go.  I want this to be absolutely clear.  If you get an inkling of anything odd or underhanded while working for the IMF you contact me directly.”  She handed him a cell phone. “Do not lose it.  If I don’t answer you’ll be put through to communications.  If that happens give the code phrase Greek Tragedy.  If you need immediate extraction give them your ID number and nothing else and do not hang up the phone.  Our techs will track you.”

“Thank you.”  He said shaking her hand, before leaving the office.

Peggy eyed the pile of paper work on her desk and shook her head.  She needed a break and some lunch.  She grabbed her coat and headed out.

“Maria, have my calls routed to my cell and cancel my three o’clock.  Tell Mulder I’ll speak to him tomorrow.”

“Yes Ma’am.”

 

2008.

 

Howard lay in bed exhausted and equal parts scared out of him mind and proud as punch.  He’d watched from a distance for years as Tony had partied and drank his life away, certain that he’d messed up and changed things by not being a better father.  The tv was on mute, the ticker at the bottom scrolling with the infamous words just spoken by his son.  “I am Iron Man.”  Howard snorted and rubbed his face, grimacing at the feeling of three day old stubble.

“Howard, are you alright?”

“I’m fine Becca.  Did you see him up there?”

“He was incredible.  Just like Darcy told you he would be.”

“My son’s a hero.”  The disbelief in his voice was shared with the smug tone of pride.

“Just like his father.”  Rebecca told him with a fond smile.

“He hates me you know.   I’m not sure how he’s going to take it when he finds out I’m alive.”

“If he is even half the man Darcy told us he is he will be happy to have you back.  Ten more years and you’ll find out.  In the mean time we have some work of our own to complete.”

“I made a break through last week with the force shields.”

Rebecca’s happy gasp made him grin.

“I think it can safely cover a city block now.  The only thing left is to scale up and find a power source that can support the requirement.”

“Have you thought about contacting Sam?  She’s been doing some off project work on naquadah generators.”

“I looked over the schematics and although it’s a great design I think it needs to be much more stable to generate the required load that the force shield would draw right now.  If I can refine my design a bit we might make it work but I’m more interested on getting a good look at the ZPM they have.  That would be more inline with my research.  What about you?”

“Marta’s research has been a great help.  I think we can look more at genetically targeted treatments.  The more we dig the more apparent it becomes that the people the enhancement serums work on are all carriers of the x gene, active or inactive it doesn’t seem to matter.   The serum seems to kill or make people very sick if they don’t carry the gene.  You know we did three sample pools in 40 countries back in 91.  Each pool 1000 samples from new borns.  We’ve repeated every five years.  The number of children born with the x gene is growing.  In ’91 it was one in seven.  Today the number is closer to one in three.  You can see where this is going.”

“Evolution at it’s best.  How the hell are they managing to keep this out of the public eye?”

“Well I think most people would rather not know and there are our own people keeping things under the radar for a reason.  The last thing we want is to see a rerun of WW2.  Don’t think for a minute that there wouldn’t be people out there willing to round all the mutants up for their own safety or that they wouldn’t start sterilizing x-gene carriers.  I could see it happening so easily.  In another two to the three hundred years there will be no baseline humans left.  Everyone will either be a carrier or an active.  The world is changing Howard, who can say what we will see in our lifetime?  We have, potentially, hundreds of years, maybe even thousands of years…  one day we may wake up and not recognise the world we’re living in.”

“I think that day might come sooner than you imagine.”  His voice was heavy and serious as he took her hand.  “There’s a war coming Becca, we know it.  Who knows what will be rebuilt from the ashes.”

“Do you really think it will be that bad?”

“I think if it isn’t, change will still come fast.  You know yourself the plans we’ve all made, what it will mean if we have to execute all our contingencies.  If it comes to the worst, if those in power really do decide to brand our pack a threat…”

“None of us will spare pulling the trigger, I am aware.  I just have to believe that it won’t come to that.”  She pulled him to his feet and straightened his tie.  “Enough bad thoughts.  We are going to forget about work and everything else and go out and have a nice dinner and celebrate the fact that your son is safe and well.”

Howard smiled and brushed her cheek with his.  “What the hell would I do without you Becca?”

She grinned.  “Let’s never find out.”

 

 


 

 

 

 

2018

 

Mark finished scrubbing in and made his way into the temporary OR.  He couldn’t fault Stark’s commitment to this.  They had everything needed for the operation.  Lexie had taken blood from both Marie and Natasha earlier.  The girls had the same blood type as their mother, between them able to give eight pints of blood.  If normal humans had even attempted that they would be close to death if not dead.  Knowing they were his grand-daughters was something that shook him deeply.  The two seemingly young woman who were much older than he had been when he died in his second life.  Marie had chatted pleasantly with him, it wasn’t the first time they had met.  Realising his old friend was bonded with his grand-daughter had left him unsure how to feel about it.  In a normal world, things would be different but in theirs?  It seemed it was all just another day at the office.  From the pictures he had seen of Darcy, Marie seemed to take her looks more from her mother’s side than her fathers.  Natasha on the other hand was clearly a Barnes, for all she had the younger twins looks, her sharp green eyes and the cool assessing gaze was purely Rebecca.  She had been less chatty than Marie, more reserved but he felt her judgement of everything he said and did.

Derek nodded to him as he approached the bio bed.  The operating table was a thing a beauty.  Stark built of course, not even available yet to hospitals but here it was at their disposal.

“I want one for the Hospital.”  Derek told him with a pointed look.

“You’re not the only one, Lexie was eyeing this up like it was candy earlier.  Let’s hope we get through this alright and maybe we can talk them into letting us get first dibs.”

“I never imagined we might see tech like this in our life times.  We’re going to get a real time holographic representation of all the internal organs, this is going to save so many lives.  No more searching in the dark for bleeds and bullet fragments and internal injuries, the time saved alone from not needing to get MRI’s is going to revolutionise everything.”

“I know, when I think of the cases where this would have made a difference… well it’s going to be whole new world when this hits the market.  I don’t want it impacting surgical skill though, I could see that happening, surgeons getting lazy, relying on tech instead of knowledge.”

“I agree, too soon though to tell if that would happen.”

“Oh, it would”  Meredith said approaching the table.  “Have you talked to any of our new interns?  They think the robotic aids are the future of surgery.  They’re not wrong, but they’re not right either.  I’ve seen more of them struggle with keeping a steady hand than I like.  Too much time on simulators and not enough with a good old banana and a suture kit.  Mark”  she nodded to him.

“Meredith.” 

“Hmmm.  So, you and Lexi set up practice here in New York?”

“Yes.  Consultant work mostly and a number of private clients that allow us to take on pro bono work too.  Mostly kids from third world countries, although we ended up with a number from Sokovia over the past few years.”

“We’ve had a few from there too.  Burke and Christina adopted a young girl from Sokovia who was left orphaned after, well…...”

The silence that fell then took on a slight tension.  Mark sighed and shrugged.

“Look, I know this whole situation is insane and awkward and that the two of you must have more questions than answers right now, but I promise we’ll explain everything after.  I called you because you’re the best, both of you, Lexie couldn’t work on the patient because she’s family.  I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am that you both came, it means a lot.  Just give us a chance to tell you the whole story after.”

Derek and Meredith shared a look and nodded.

“Alright, after.  But Mark, it really is good to see you.  And Lexie.  You have both been so missed.”

“We missed you all too.  I am so sorry we didn’t contact you before….”

“It’s fine, I think we can guess from where we’re standing right now that it won’t be an easy explanation.”

Mark looked up as the door jolted open and Dr Cho and the surgical nurses brought their patient in.  Natasha was clinging to the hand of the woman on the gurney.  Mark’s attempt to remove her from the room was pointless.  She was already wearing full scrubs and glaring at the medical staff when they attempted to move her.  Mark huffed back a laugh and instructed an intern to grab his granddaughter a stool.

“You sit, you hold her hand and you do not talk.  This is my OR and I am king here, do we have an understanding?”  he added a tiny bit of resonance to his voice to make sure she understood his seriousness; the miniscule tilt of her head was a surprise.  He hadn’t expected such a gesture so soon from her. 

Natasha nodded sharply “Yes Dzyedooshka.”  Mark focused back on the patient.  Darcy.  He could do this.  The three surgeons shared a look, Meredith and Mark waiting expectantly, smiles hidden behind their masks, for Derek to begin.

 

“It’s a beautiful day to save lives everyone, today everybody lives... Bring up imaging.”

 


 

 

Darcy’s surgery had gone well, Mark and Meredith were able to remove all the bullets and get her stitched up with minimal fuss.  Even the bullet that had clipped her head hadn’t penetrated her skull.  Derek had had to relieve the pressure on her brain from the major concussion she sustained but once the swelling went down he had gotten her fixed up and removed the clots.  Under supervision Dr Cho and Bruce had her placed in the cradle to heal the remaining tissue damage.  Eight pints of blood donated by Natasha and Marie had sustained her through the surgery. 

 

Mark left the OR alone to speak to the people waiting for him.  He’d known for a while now some of the back story behind the people he was going to meet.  It didn’t make going out to talk to them any easier, especially when one of them was his son.  The sight of the worlds heroes sitting slumped on a line of office chairs was surreal.  All of them looked dead on their feet, the worry palpable and jarring.  It was the interactions between them that seemed to shed some light on their dynamics.  His son and Tony Stark sat side by side, on either side of them sat Steve Rogers and Bruce Banner.  The red head on Stark’s knee was another familiar face, Pepper Potts had fallen asleep in Stark’s arms, curled up as she was it was clear how small the woman actually was.  Like her mate she never seemed anything other than larger than life in front of cameras.  There were other familiar faces too, Hawkeye and Falcon.  The sight of Logan waiting there too, his granddaughter tucked into his side brought it all the closer to home, just who he had been working on minutes before. 

He managed to smile for them first as the two lead Alpha’s stood. 

“The surgery went well.  There were no complications.  She did lose a lot of blood, it was a close thing but she did well while we removed the bullets and repaired the damage.  We saw the early signs of healing while we were closing.  She did suffer a severe concussion, but we were able to relive the pressure and the swelling came down very quickly.  Her healing factor is doing a lot of the work right now, but the Cradle has done a great deal to speed up her recovery. As things stand just now she needs rest.  I wouldn’t expect her to wake up for three to four days.  From early indications we’re looking at about five to ten days for her to be completely recovered, that’s a conservative estimate based on what we saw.  You’ll be aware the recovery process can be massively helped along with proximity and skin on skin contact of pack, especially her children and her match, so we’re going to recommend bed sharing since we won’t have to worry about infection since all her wounds have been closed.  Lexie and I will stay and monitor her for as long she needs.  Natasha and Lexie have taken her down to the recovery room you had ready so we’ll give her an hour to get settled and then I’m going to restrict visitors to two or three at a time.  I don’t think I have to tell you that bringing any sort of negative emotions into that room will result in getting kicked out until she’s fully recovered.”

The nods were quick and the sight of the smiles and relieved laughter that broke out gave him a great deal of joy.  James’ look of thanks made him swallow a lump in his throat.  His son looked uncertain for a moment before Mark stepped forward to draw him into  a hug. 

“She’s going to be alright?”

“She’d going to fine son.  You’re girl’s a fighter.  Are you alright?”

“I’ll be fine.  It’s just been a long three days.” 

He sent them all off to get showered and preferably into bed.  Every one of them needed the rest badly.  When he made his way down to medical and the recovery room there he found James and his daughters had already beaten him.  He’d stopped at the guest room he and Lexie had been given to have a shower and change into fresh scrubs.  Lexie drew a finger to her lips as he looked through the doorway.

James, Natasha and Marie were already tucked into the bed around Darcy, all four of them fast asleep.  The comforting resonance of their purring had him crack a grin of amusement.  Lexie grasped his hand in hers, her face lit up with mirth.  

They closed the door and made their way through to the other room were a bank of monitors were set up, remotely tracking Darcy’s health.  Lexie had a coffee pressed into his hand before his ass was on the seat. 

They sat in silence for a while drinking their coffee and enjoying the peace.  The tower had been a difficult place to be since they arrived.  The people that lived here and called it home were all in survival mode, the scents in the tower would have overwhelmed most people.  Working in hospitals, especially ER’s made both of them mostly immune to the cacophony of scent that assaulted their noses.  Fear had been primary, anger a close second.  The worst though was the scent of helpless frustration.  When he had told them about Darcy the scent of happy relief had taken its place.   The agitation and edginess was gone and he felt able to relax for the first time since he got here.

“I know exactly how he felt today.  Watching your mate nearly dying.  All I wanted was to help him, make sure he didn’t have to feel that pain but I didn’t know how to talk to him even if I could have before we took her into surgery.  Do you think we can ever regain the years I’ve lost with our children?”

Lexie tilted her head and smiled sadly at him.  To a certain extent she understood what he was asking.  It was different for him though.  Reconciling the boy with the man he had become would be a difficult task in normal circumstances, but James had changed again, war and his capture by hydra and the life he had been forced into making the distance even greater.

“He will never be the boy you remember again, but it doesn’t make you any less his father or him any less your son.  I think with time, it will get better, just like it has with Rebecca.  You work on building a relationship, a friendship with him, get to know him again.” 

Mark sent her a grateful look and lifted her hand to his mouth, kissing her fingertips.  They lapsed back into silence.  For the first time in a long time he felt hopeful for the future.  He knew without a doubt that his daughters would be here soon along with the rest of the pack his son had built.  He wondered how things would work out when all the secrets were out in the open.  One thing he was certain of though was that whatever was coming would wish it hadn’t. 

 

 


 

 

 

Darcy feels herself slowly swimming back to consciousness.  It’s a slow process, she feels warm and safe, that’s the first thing she notices, there is a strong body curled tightly around her on the soft bed.  She feels the hum of his skin against her and smiles.  She doesn’t feel the need to open her eyes yet, thinks if she tried she wouldn’t quite manage it anyway.  The second thing is the twining scents of her daughters and light grip of two different hands in hers.  She feels Sasha and Natasha there, both of them holding her hands, it’s Natasha she thinks who is curled into her front, head tucked under her chin.  For a while she drifts in this formless place, half-awake half sleeping, and she wonders if it’s all a lovely dream brought on by blood loss.  But no, it’s real, she can feel the bed shift and feels James’ hot breath against her neck, feels the rise and fall of Natasha’s chest and even hears the tiny little snore that Sasha has made since she was a baby.  That’s not so bad, she has them back, seventy years late, but they’re here, maybe that’s all that matters.  She’s still so tired though, she wants to sleep for a week.  The need to check on everyone else though gives her the strength to gently open her links to her whole pack, when she does she can feel them all.  Everyone one of them still alive and well.  Her links to Tony’s pack haven’t been broken either, they flood back to life and she feels Tony reach across, brushing her mind with a whisper of love.  The rush of affection and relief she gets back from everyone lets her relax.  She drifts back to sleep, happy and safe, the curl of James’ mouth against her neck in a sleepy smile letting her know there is nothing left to worry about.

 


 

 

Without conscious decision they all eventually congregate in the den.  The large open plan kitchen come lounge filled with Avengers and company.  Thor and Jane seem to have made up, Pepper is glad to see.  Bruce and Logan have taken up residence at the breakfast bar sharing stories of their mates with each other.  Pepper thinks if they try to outdo each other with tales of how reckless the two women are they’ll be there for a year.  Tony is happily chatting to Skye who is showing him some code she seems to be tinkering with while Ward watches her with a fond smile, his body always in contact with the young woman.  There is story there she thinks, he acts as though he hasn’t been near her on a long while.  Lexie and Mark Barnes and their friends Derek and Meredith are at the dining table having a long talk.  The tension had eased from where it was yesterday and Lexie and Meredith have their hands clasped together across the table.  Maria comes into the room, a little unsure and Pepper goes to her, she likes Maria.  The woman is good at her job and is still blaming herself for letting strangers get into the tower in the first place. 

“What’s going on?”  Pepper asks her quietly.

“We sent out three teams last night and raided bases run by The Corporation.  It was them that sent the package.  We have all of them in custody with evidence and Sharon Carter is coming by to take them.  I thought you’d all like to know.”

“That’s wonderful, thank you.  I’ll let the others know.  Keep the Tower on lock down for now, Tony or Sergeant Barnes will let you know when to give the all clear.  And Maria, get some rest, you look like you need it.”  Pepper gives the woman a quick hug and feels the tension drain out of the younger woman.

“Thank you Pepper, I’ll see you later.”  she says as she leaves.

Pepper makes her way over to Tony, briefly stopping to share a few words with Bruce and Logan.  Before she can reach him nearly everyone in the room stills.  Darcy’s sunny chattering bond suddenly surges to life within her mind.  Pepper lets the last of the worry she had been holding go.  The sudden smiles on faces and bursts of laughter makes everything feel better.  Tension in the room disappears and they all gravitate together, hugging and laughing.  Everything is going to be fine.

Tony lifts her into a hug and spins her round before holding her close.

“Our baby girl is back.”  He whispers into her hair.

“She’s home.”  Pepper agrees, holding tightly to him. 

 


 

 

This time she feels more aware when she drifts awake.  The stiffness and achiness is gone and her head feels clearer.  For a moment she revels in the happy feeling tingling along all her bonds, both with the packs and with her mate and children. 

“You gonna open those baby blues for me Doll?” 

At the sound of his voice, husky from sleep with a hint of the old Brooklyn drawl she loved, her heart skips a beat and she opens her eyes to meet his.  She breathes, trying to dispel the tightness from her chest and she sees him struggle too.  When he cups a hand to her face she leans into it.  She is drinking in each touch, each line of his face, the way the tiny laugh lines around his eyes crinkle as he manages a smile.  She catches his hand with hers and holds it there. 

“I’m sorry.”  Her voice breaks a little and she chokes back the tears threatening to rise in her eyes.

“No... no baby doll.  You got nothin’ to be sorry for.  I’m sorry, I’m sorry I took so long to get you back, I failed you.  I was meant to protect you, I’m so god damn sorry I couldn’t.”

“I let them take our daughters.”   She can’t stop her tears now, can’t help it that they spill down her cheeks in a torrent.  He pulls her into his embrace, crushing her to his strong chest and holds her.

“It’s not your fault Darcy.  It had already been written.  You know that.  I knew it coming back, I could have stopped them taking Natalia, I let them go, that’s on me.” 

Darcy clung to him and let all the sadness out.  She was so tired of keeping everything in, for so long, she had held herself together with sting and brown paper.  She felt him reach out over their bond, calming her, loving her, needing her to know he didn’t blame her.  She did the same in return, it was no one’s fault, it was exactly how it was meant to be.  Feeling him wrapped around her, grounding her was like a dream.  She had waited for so long she had almost given up hope of seeing him again.  When the bullets had hit her, she had been sure that was it, the end, she hadn’t seen a way out.  When he had appeared from nowhere and she had woken up in his arms it had been surreal.  Everything she had hoped for, for so long, suddenly right there.  His strength, his scent agitated as it was, had given her the impetus to hold on.  Darcy couldn’t have said how long they lay there holding onto each other, it felt like forever and a moment.  The feel of his warm skin against hers, the heady scents of cinnamon and leather and crisp autumn leaves filling the air around her.  Her own scent rose in response, vanilla and cherry blossom twining with his.  He rumbled in reply and nuzzled into her neck inhaling slowly before pressing a kiss to her bond mark.

“I missed you so much.”  She mumbled into his neck. 

“I missed you too.”  He pulled back and rested his forehead against hers, his blue eyes holding her in his gaze.  “When I saw you go down, I thought we might have been too late.  I know about the soul stone, I know what happens if you die.  All I could think was that I had to get to you, that if we were going to go I had to get to say goodbye, hold you so we could go together.  Jesus Doll, what were you thinking going after her like that?  I need you to promise me you won’t run into danger like that again.  Swear to Thor Darcy, I was so close to breaking my cover when I saw you come running outta the house.  I need you to promise you won’t do anything so fuckin foolish again.”

Darcy felt her hackles rise.  In all the time they had been apart she had forgotten what a control freak he was when he was scared.  How a conversation could turn on a dime from one moment to the next.   She bristled under his gaze for a moment before rolling her eyes.  The worst part was knowing he was mostly right.  It had been stupid to put herself in danger, especially when she knew the consequences for everyone else if she did die. 

“I won’t, I promise.”  She conceded half chastened half resentfully. 

“Hey, don’t pout, I get it, I do.”  His tone was apologetic and soft.  “I understand why you went out there like that.  You’re so damn stubborn and brave, s’why I love you.”  He cajoled her lightly, a grin tugged at her treacherous mouth in response.   “We good Doll?”  God, that face, she couldn’t say no to that face of his.

“Yeah, I guess we are for now, for however long it’ll last.”  She huffed and slid herself up to sit against the pillows.  He followed her and half turned so he could look at her properly, his big hands reaching out to engulf hers.    “How long was I gone, catch me up Sarge?”  He made a face and then grinned as he started to recount it.

“Three days, three long, stressful days.  Then three day’s while you healed. Jane and Tony nearly lost their collective minds and did lose their collective shit more than once.  The lab looks like it got hit by a tornado and Bruce has polished his glasses so much I think he wore a hole in his shirt.  Pepper went into full Mama mode and scent marked anyone in reach of her.  Clint’s arrows have never been sharper.  We had a visit from our old friend Logan with that damn letter you left.  Natalia was like a cat on a hot tin roof and I caught her and Pepper out on the balcony smoking at one point, don’t tell them I told you.  Let’s see, what else happened?  Hydra are officially done for, another version of Shield has been operating in the dark since the Triskelion fell, Coulson’s alive…”

“I knew it.”  Darcy shouted, fist pumping the air in triumph.  James grinned then carried on.

“My Ma and Pa showed up, I now have a great nephew, one of Lizzie’s grandsons, he came on the mission as support and he’s the one that took out the sniper in the trees before we came back.”

“Wait, did Peggy come back with us, or was that a dream?”

“No, she stayed but she turned up here two days ago with some old friends in tow.  She’s with Steve right now, I promised her I’d let you know she wants to see you.”

“And you said Lexie’s here too?  Wait, how the hell is your dad here?  He died before we even met.”

“Your guess is as good as mine doll, I’ve adopted a new philosophy, I’m fuckin’ rollin’ with it Darcy, cause if I don’t, I think I’ll end up gibbering in a corner somewhere before they lock me up in a padded room.  Oh, also, Sasha is Marie, Logan’s bond match.” 

“WHAT?”  Darcy scrambled out of the bed and tried to make it to the door before James swept her up and deposited her back on the bed.

“Doll, she’s a grown up.  She’s fine.  You know him, he’s a good man.”

“He’s old enough to be her grandfather.”

“And she’s old enough to be your mother.”

“Shit.”

“You calm now? Not gonna go out there and eviscerate him?”

“Why didn’t you?”

“Sure, send me out to challenge an Alpha nearly twice my age with metal claws that can cut me into julienne size chunks.”

“Marie?  Really?  God, how fucked up is it that I didn’t even guess that before now?  I knew Tasha was Natasha right after Sasha got kidnapped.  How did I not see…? I’m a terrible mother.”

“Hey, you’re being ridiculous, there’s no way you could figure out about Sasha being Marie.  Besides, I knew Tasha from the Red Room, I trained her for five years and never figured it out even when things were starting to add up three days ago.  They had to tell me.”

Darcy winced, she really should have found some way of writing that letter, explaining things, she just couldn’t ever find the best way to put it.

“Where are they?  I felt them, earlier, both of them.” 

“They outside, waiting.  Wanted to give you a chance to wake up first.  Give us a chance to talk.  Call them, they’re both in a state out there, I can smell they’re nervousness from here.”

Darcy looked at him hopefully.  When was the last time she had been able call for her girls, together?  For a second she felt sick, they were both older than she was now, grown up and bonded.  They didn’t really need a mother anymore did they? 

“Hey, none of that.  All the two of them have worried about is seeing you again, talking to you.  Natalia’s been in knots wondering if you’ll even see her as your daughter anymore and Marie’s terrified you’ll be mad that she blocked you all off.  They will never not need you Darcy.”

“I feel like I’ve lost any right to act like a mother to them.  I as good as gave them up when I let the Norns sucker me into that deal.  I’ve missed so much with them and you never even got the chance to know them as children.”

“Darcy, I’ve listened to them for the past three days.  The happiest memories they have from being young are all with you and Peggy.  That reunion was a like a bad chick flick.  Peggy hid them both in her room for three hours and refused to let anyone else in, she’s a bit protective our Peg.  I think finding out just what the two of them are capable of was the only thing that got through to her.  You should have heard what she said to Logan about his bonding with Marie, just be glad she didn’t have a gun or she would have shot him.” 

“You’ve enjoyed watching the chaos unfold haven’t you.”  She stated dryly.  Her mate was highly entertained watching other people get thrown off balance.  The shit eating grin he shot her made her laugh.

“There’s my girl.”  He reached out to tuck a curl back from her face gently.

Darcy was silent as they looked at each other.  She was back, she was home.  Eight years of her life had gone by, but for the people on the other side of that door it had been six days.  She wasn’t the same girl she had been.  Every decision she had made between the moment she had arrived in 1940 and arriving here now had changed her deeply.  A girl left, and a woman returned.  Would she be able to fit herself back into this world?  Pick up where she left off without feeling as though she were lost?  Were they ready to accept the woman she had become? 

“I’m not the same as I was.  I’ve changed so much since I walked into Jane’s lab to show her my dress for our date.  I don’t know how to be that girl anymore.”

“You don’t have to be."  he told her gently.  "What you went through, the things you lived through.  They made you stronger and a little harder.  None of your pack are strangers to events that leave a person so fundamentally different from the original that they won’t be able to see past who you have become.  In the end they’ll see the same thing I do.”

“And what do you see?”

“I see the woman I love.  A little older, a little fiercer, perhaps a little dented.  But underneath all that you’re still Darcy.  Still the woman who likes to sneak off to the kitchen at four in the morning to bake.  Still the girl who dances to the music she can hear in her head.  Still affectionate and kind and the most caring person I know.  You’re the girl that fell in love with a broken man and saved him from his past, the same girl that fell in love with a cocky young guy from Brooklyn that still believed in happy endings.  I am and was both of those men.  I’m not the same as I was when we were last together, before I fell off that damn train, does that change how you feel about me?  Does it change who I am deep down?”

“No, you’re still my James, all of you.”

“And you are always my Darcy Doll.  You remind me of the man I used to be, you grounded me even when you didn’t know it,  the moment I set eyes on you at the party back in January.  Let them remind you of who you were, and them get to know who you’ve become, trust me on this doll, they will only love you more.”

“When did you get so good at pep talks?”

“I cheated, I’ve had a year to think about it.”  She laughed at his answer and steadied herself.  “You’ve got this Doll, let them in.”  The touch of his mind to hers, full of reassurance, was all she needed to take the final step and reach out across the bond for her daughters.

 

Marie was the first through the door.  She stood a little uncertainly before meeting Darcy’s eyes and then she was in motion, throwing herself across the room and onto the bed and into Darcy’s arms.  Darcy caught her and held on for all she was worth. 

I’m so glad you’re alright Mama.”  Marie told her softly.  Darcy sniffed and reached out to cup Marie’s face in her hands, staring at the woman, mapping her features and finding there in the bones of her face the child she had last seen.  When Marie smiled Darcy laughed.

“You got my smile.”

“And your hair.  It never wants to do what it’s told.”

“Just like you then, always making with a pretty nod while you got a telling off then going off to do whatever you wanted anyway.”  Darcy said fondly.  James snorted beside her and drew her a look.

“Wonder where she got that from?”  He offered sarcastically.  Darcy elbowed him in the chest and winked.

Natasha, stealthy as ever, was standing by the bed, hanging back a little until Darcy reached out her hand to her. 

“Hello Mama.”  Darcy’s heart cracked at the uncertain shyness in Natasha’s voice, as though she wasn’t sure if she should have called her that.

“Tasha.”  Darcy reached out and pulled Natasha onto the bed beside them.  Whatever words Darcy thought she would need seemed redundant as Natasha melted into the hug, holding her back tightly, breathing in her scent.

“I am so glad your back, I thought for so long that you were dead, that I couldn’t save you.  I’m so sorry Mama.”

“No baby, no.  I’m here, I’m okay and you helped, you helped save me.  We’re all together now, all of us.  We are pack, we are blood.”  She held both her girls.  “I love you both so much, all I wanted was for all of us to be here, be a family and now that’s exactly what we are getting.  I promise, I’ll never leave you again.”  She met James’ eyes as he placed his arms around them all.  His mouthed I love you made her heart flutter and she mouthed the words back to him. 

The four of them stayed there together for hours, talking, cuddling and when Darcy finally fell asleep again it was with her girls on either side of her, snuggled into her arms.  James on the other side of Natasha his fingers running through Darcy’s hair.  There was a gaping chasm of years between them all but somehow it didn’t matter.  They were family, they were safe.  She would never have to lose them like that again and if she did, she had all the others of her pack to help her.  She was home.

 

 

Chapter Text

The amazing Chellacat has finally made this a series. Go take a look at the companion piece “Keep Smiling Through” about Dotties life as Auntie Peggy.

 

~ JamesBestGirl

 

P.S. Sorry for any heartbreak or tears this may cause ;)

Chapter Text

On a distant planet, in a binary dwarf system a star-ship, heavy with armament crawled into orbit.  

On the planet a stranded scion of a dead idea stood guard at the entrance to the temple of souls.

A shadowed figure confronts the solitary soldier.

“Show me.”

“There is nothing to show, no vision or prophecy nor gem of infinity.”

The hood of the Titan falls back as Thanos snarls in anger, he lifts the creature once know as Red Skull and crushes his neck. 

 


 

 

Manhattan, 

Stark Tower gleams in the dawning light.  A town car pulls up to the doors of the building, the street strangely empty.

A woman and a man exit the car.

In the foyer a tall blonde man breaths a name longingly.

“Peggy.”

 


 

 

The Ancient One steps into the Mirror World.

“Hello, Doctor Strange. Come, join us, we have much to discuss.”

Stephen Strange follows, unable to understand how this came to be.

 


 

 

Cut to a montage of an ancient war between Frost Giants and Asgardians.

“Once, long ago, a great war was fought on Midgard.  Asgardian and Frost Giants tore apart large swaths of land in an effort to bring about the end of the other.  Eventually Odin won, pushed them back to Jötunheimr and slaughtered every human child that held a drop of Jötunn blood.”

The Asgardians win eventually and then as one they turn to slaughter the humans who have fought by the giants side, down to the last child.

 The scene rewinds and the voices of the Norns are heard.

“We’re going to change what it means to be human.”

 


 

 

On a broken battlefield The Ancient One bids farewell to a small child.

“Was it a good life?”

The Ancient One smiled contently.

“It was an adventure.”

 


 

 

“Time was altered, events changed.  This is our last chance to stop him.”  Darcy’s voice rings through.  In the back-ground Loki frowns.

 


 

 

“He is not a god.”  Thor intones.

“Maybe not, be he certainly wants to be” Jane argues back.

 


 

 

“And the soul stone?  What happens when this is all over?”  Bucky growls at the hooded woman.

 

“It will return to where it belongs.  The people it touched, forever, altered by its power.”

 


 

 

 

“It’s like Day’s of Our Lives and Game of Thrones had bastard offspring, that’s what our lives play out as these days.”  Tony quips, to an equally inebriated James Barnes.

“Tell me about it, my sister is now my mother in law.”

“And she’s my step mother.”  Tony snarks back.

Bucky pulls out another bottle of vodka. 

Tony slides over his glass.

“Hit me.”

 


 

 

“What purpose did this great theater you orchestrated have?  Why make it so convoluted?”

“Because, there is power in stories.  The Orphan Child, the Stranger in a Strange Land, The Once and Future King, the Band of Brothers, the Hidden Princess.  Think about it.  With each role a person can fulfill the more power they are granted by fate.  Their story has power, it’s known and understood a thousand worlds over.  The same stories, told over and over since the beginning of time.  The power of belief, the strength of conviction.  You think mortals and immortals alike tell stories for fun?  No, it’s because the myth, the legend, it is the birth of Gods.  When the weakest among them can suddenly become strong enough to topple a titan.  When the power of love can reunite star crossed loves in the face of death and time and war.  When the path of redemption leads to a saviour capable of beating all odds.  Each obstacle, each sacrifice, can bring The Myth to life.”

“Myth.”  Loki says as he realises something.  “No, you said The Myth.  The first one, the creation myth.”

“It was the only way.”

“You have courted Chaos and mean to draw her attention, you don’t know what she may do!  You may have doomed us all.” He intones grimly.

 


 

 

A red headed young woman screams, glass shatters and death closes in.

 


 

 

Thanos forces draw in around earth.  Transport ships drop from orbit.  The battle for Earth begins.

 


 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

 

The appearance of the pack dynamic was a subtle thing.  It happened on the fringes of the world.  The north of the British Isles among the Picts which became the Clan’s, the nomadic tribes on the African plains and Arabian Deserts, the Maori and Aborigines, the tribes of both North and South America, among the Vikings.

The Alpha’s rose first, charismatic and powerful men and woman who were natural born leaders and warriors.  Their voices enough to sway even the most stubborn, loyalty given absolutely to them as they proved themselves to be exactly what the people needed.  They were alone at first, all of them searching for something they couldn’t name.  Then came the Omega’s.  Mostly women, who were a perfect balance to the Alpha’s who were drawn to them by their scent.  Voices of reason and compassion, nurturers who felt the need to care for not just their Alpha but all those who followed them.  Omega’s became prized for their ability to calm and sooth even the most dangerous among the tribes and clans.  They were treated with respect and love, protected at all times because they were the glue that held everything else together.  Omega’s were always healthy and strong, none died in childbirth and nearly always they would give birth to twins and triplets.  They were seen by their packs as blessed by the gods.  Beta’s appeared next, the urge to build bonds between themselves and Alpha’s was strong, they looked for leadership, direction, they felt most settled when they had a strong leader to follow, they enforced the Alpha’s laws, ensured the compliance of the rest of the clan or tribe.  They were foot soldiers and healers and scholars.  The idea and reality of pack became set in stone.   Alpha’s naturally had more children than others, some even took more than one Omega to mate, it could be difficult but worked as Omega’s didn’t tend to be threatened by each other.  Their children were stronger, less likely to die in infancy and went on to become the next generation of the pack.  No child born to someone with an Alpha or Omega was normal. 

 

But it wasn’t always like this…

Chapter Text

Hello my lovely readers,

The first chapter of the sequel to 'We'll Meet Again' has been posted, I hope you will check it out! It's called 'Seven Devils'.

A side story starring Peter Parker called 'Little Do You Know' has also been posted, it's set between 'Spiderman Homecoming' and 'We'll Meet Again'.

Thank you all for sticking with this so far, I hope the next stories will be just as entertaining as you have found this one.

Much Love

Chellacat and JamesBestGirl. xxx