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Fake Plastic Trees

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Wanda nodded at Darcy when they first met. Darcy was vaguely aware of the Sokovian’s story.

It was a heart-wrenching one, but she was glad the teenager was on their side, now.

She was safe enough.

Her poor brother, though.

Darcy did not dare mention him.


It took a few weeks, but they ran into each other when Darcy went to get coffee in the middle of the night. Jane was having a breakthrough, and Bruce was enabling her.

Darcy just had to keep up somehow and caffeine usually helped.

She almost collided with Wanda, who was going for the same drawer as her.

“Oh, sorry,” Darcy muttered.

She glanced at Wanda, whose cheeks were streaked with tears.

“Are you okay?”

Darcy knew the answer was no. It was a dumb question. She watched Wanda wipe at her face with her sleeve, sniffling.

She took a spoon out and Darcy took her own, partway through portioning out sugar in cups.

Wanda turned away to one of the freezers, getting out a couple cartons of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream with her expression still blank.

“Wanda?” Darcy pressed.

“You can ask about my brother, you know,” she muttered, giving Darcy a quick glance.

She indicated her own head with a finger. “I’m clairvoyant. It saves time.”

Darcy let out a short laugh. “Right. Forgot about that.”

“Sorry. I can’t switch it off easily when I’m emotional.”

Darcy nodded. She set her spoon down on the counter, watching Wanda take the lid off a carton of Stark Raving Hazelnut and dug her spoon into the ice cream, before shoving it into her mouth and chewing glumly.

“I know it seems like a cliché. But I actually haven’t eaten all day.”

Darcy blinked. “I can make you a sandwich.”

“I felt like ice cream,” the Sokovian rasped, and then she ate another mouthful.

“I’ll stay with you.”

Darcy knew why she wanted to. The girl reminded her a lot of herself when her older brother passed away when she was a kid. He was drunk driving. He became her town’s very own PSA and Darcy never was the same.

It was partly why ending up in New Mexico happened; she was never able to settle for that long, and then Thor changed everything again.

She felt like she had a purpose.

Wanda was in a world of hurt, with the added dimension that she was an orphan with a dead twin brother.

Darcy knew loss, but she knew she had no idea really how Wanda felt.

“You don’t have to. We don’t know each other.”

“We’ve got time.”

Darcy got out her phone and messaged Jane that she needed to take a break, not referring to Wanda in any way, in case it was a violation of privacy.

Never mind that Wanda was reading her mind without her consent. Darcy believed her when she said it was hard to switch off those powers.

Darcy dug into the ice cream, too, not talking much.

She went to bed that night a little nauseous, but she made Wanda stop crying for a little while. She considered that an improvement.


Darcy was relieved to find that Wanda had the ability to get drunk.

She heard Steve couldn’t, and knowing at least one enhanced person she knew could enjoy alcohol gave her the excuse to imbibe, and to hell with all the disapproving glances Jane gave her when she poured Wanda a drink.

“She’s nineteen,” Jane hissed.

“It’s not underage in Sokovia,” Wanda retorted, and Darcy gave her boss a smug look.

Jane left them to it, still shaking her head.

Darcy and Wanda had taken over the common room with its plush couches and surround sound.

Darcy hadn’t had a drinking buddy in a while. Natasha was inconsistent and Jane often got sad when she drank.

She hoped to dance and sing, and Wanda did not disappoint.

“You have so much music,” she mused, scrolling through Darcy’s iPod tracks with one hand while she sipped at her screwdriver in her other.

“No sad songs,” Darcy said, sipping her schnapps. She was very aware of her childish tastes.

She liked sweet food and sweet drinks.

“What about Whitney?”

The fact that Wanda referred to her by first name alone made Darcy’s heart soar.

How Will I Know began to play, and by the chorus they were singing along.

Steve walked in a minute into another song, and began to back out seconds later.

“No, come back!” Darcy called. “Come dance with us.”

Steve just shook his head, wide-eyed. He left them, Darcy sighing dramatically.

“How perfectly disappointing. He doesn’t dance.”

Wanda just giggled.

They danced to each song, and the further into the night they went, the drunker they got.

Wanda overdid it, but Darcy expected it.

They got to a sadder song and Wanda stopped still, tilting her head.

“Pietro loved this band.”

Darcy put her drink down, getting up to change the track.

Wanda stopped her by putting up a hand.

“I want to listen.”

“Is that a good idea?” Darcy asked, and Wanda shrugged.

“Probably not,” she muttered.

It was a song by Radiohead. Darcy adored the band as well, but they rarely made her jump for joy. She felt bad that this happened by accident, that Wanda was reminded of her brother without much warning.

“Everything reminds me of him.”

Wanda read her mind, but Darcy didn’t feel violated for once.

She nodded, her throat feeling tighter with emotion.

“I’m sorry.”

Wanda sighed. She would hear that all the time from the people around her.

Darcy remembered it well, the pity people projected onto her and her family. It put pressure on her to put on a different face.

“Does it get any easier?” Wanda asked, her voice a whisper.

“No,” Darcy murmured, her answer immediate. Her throat bobbed. “But you stop wanting to drown yourself eventually.”

Wanda laughed a bitter wet laugh, tears spilling over. She set down her empty glass.

Darcy looked at Wanda’s hands, her dark polish and silver thumb ring in the low light. Her hands were shaking.

Without much warning, she took the few steps to reach Wanda and pulled her into a hug, wrapping her arms around her and holding her to her body as the girl shook with tears.

“I’m here if you need me, okay?” Darcy whispered, and she felt Wanda move her head in a nod.


It took a while, but Wanda began smiling sometimes, and it made Darcy’s day whenever she got her to laugh, even if it was some dumb joke or a silly face she made.

“Pietro would have liked you,” Wanda said, her head resting against Darcy’s shoulder as they watched the sun rise one Sunday.

“I think so, too,” Darcy murmured, squeezing Wanda’s hand in hers.