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Darcy in Wonderland

Chapter Text

Darcy was beginning to get very tired of running around after genius scientists.

“I’m lending you to Betty,” Jane had said, just as if Darcy was a piece of lab equipment.

“It’ll be nice to work with someone sane for a change,” Darcy had said tartly, but really, what difference did it make? She was never going to be more than someone’s assistant. She’d fallen into this crowd of super-scientists and superheroes by accident. All she had to offer was her ability to take orders well.

Dr. Betty Ross had the reputation for being calm and reasonable - she was the Hulk’s girlfriend for god’s sake - but today she was just as excitable and incomprehensible as Jane, and had dragged Darcy out to some field. Darcy squinted through the early morning mist at the white lab-coated figure hurrying across the grass, looking at an instrument in her hand. As Darcy trudged after her, she spotted Betty’s latex gloves on the ground, and scooped them up. Picking up after absent-minded scientists: Darcy’s life’s work.

“Dr. Ross,” Darcy called, but the white figure in the mist didn’t stop. The sun through the mist blurred Betty’s form until it looked like she had rabbit ears. Darcy grinned at the thought, and jogged after her. Between one blink and the next, though, Betty vanished.

Darcy ran faster, thinking about wormholes and magic portals and that bridge-thing that Thor uses. Shit, she’d have to explain to freaking Bruce Banner that she let something happen to his girlfriend and oops…

Darcy was falling, and then she landed on a pile of dry leaves at the bottom of a pit.

“Well, fuck,” she said.

There was no sign of Betty, but there was a tunnel.

“Naturally,” Darcy said, “if she fell down here she wouldn’t wait for me, or call out. Naturally she’d go exploring.” Scientists. She sighed, and took her cell phone out. No bars. Of course. She looked up. Too far to climb out, and no handholds. “Okay, tunnel it is, then.”

The tunnel was creepy and dark, but not long. At the end of it was a room with lots of doors. Darcy walked around trying them all, and quickly discovered they were all locked. Could Jane have gone through and locked one behind her? There was a table in the center of the room with a key on it. Darcy tried the key in each door. The key opened a useless little door the size of a cat flap. She slammed it shut again. “For fuck’s sake.”

When she turned around, a bottle had appeared on the table. A note attached to it said, “Drink Me.”

“Yeah, right,” Darcy said. She patted her pockets and pulled out a lock picking kit. “Times like this I am glad I’ve been buddying up to Natasha.” She chose a human sized door at random, picked the lock, and went through.

She was outside again, but not in the misty meadow where she and Betty had been. It was a forest of gigantic trees and huge mushrooms. Weird. She paused. Maybe she should go and try another door.

A cloud of smoke drifted from behind one of the trees. Darcy caught a whiff of pot. She went around the tree to have a look, and jumped back in alarm.

It was the freaking Winter Soldier. At least, it was this dude with a metal arm and a pony tail, but he had some fake antennae on his head. He was lounging on a mushroom the size of a queen mattress and smoking a joint.

“Hey,” he said.

“Um, hi,” Darcy said. He didn’t seem like he was about to kill her. “Do you know where we are?”

“Kid, I’m not even sure what I’m smoking, but I don’t give a shit. I haven’t been this relaxed in decades.”

Yay for pot. Pot was probably saving Darcy’s life right now. “I don’t suppose you’ve seen Betty come by? Dr. Ross?”

“Nope.” He flopped on his back and looked up at the treetops. “These trees are really amazing.”

“Right.” Darcy backed away. “You just, ah, carry on.” She spotted a path, and hurried away before the Winter Soldier’s mellow mood shifted.

As she’d hoped, the path led her out of the forest. Darcy checked her cell again, but still zero bars. Where the fuck was she? She was going to give Stark so much hell about his phone’s “universal coverage.”

An old-fashioned cottage stood a bit away from the forest’s edge. Maybe a place like that would have a land line. She went up to the door to knock. Inside she heard crashes, and voices screaming. Wait, that sounded like…

“Jane?” What on earth was Jane doing here? Maybe Betty had already called for help, and Jane had come to get them.

There was another crash, and Jane shouted something. Darcy whipped the door open, and was almost hit by a flying saucer. Literally, the kind that goes under a teacup. The porcelain saucer smashed on the path behind her. She stepped cautiously into the room.

Jane was there all right, dressed in a frilly apron and a - chef’s hat? She was screaming and throwing things at a woman in a rocking chair holding a wailing baby.

“Jane!” Darcy ran up to her. “Stop it, you’ll hit the baby!”

Jane waved a gigantic pepper grinder threateningly. Darcy looked at the woman she was threatening. She looked familiar, but Darcy couldn’t place her. The woman smiled mysteriously, and sang some weird lullaby to her baby. Jane snatched up a saucepan and flung it at them.

“Jane, what’s the matter with you!” Darcy tried to grab her arm.

“That so-called Duchess is Loki, that’s what!” Jane swung the pepper grinder, puffing a cloud of pepper into the air.

Through her sneezes, Darcy looked at the woman’s black hair and smirk. “Oh my god.”

The baby started to alternate sneezes with his cries, and Duchess Loki turned him over to spank him, keeping time with the lullaby.

Darcy had never considered herself maternal, but leaving a baby in Loki’s hands just seemed impossible. “Stop it! Give me that baby.” She held her arms out demandingly.

Duchess Loki tossed the child to her as if it were a pillow. “I must go and get ready to play croquet with the Queen,” she said. Cook Jane threw a frying pan at Loki’s head, narrowly missing as the Duchess sauntered out of the room.

“Jane, what the hell is going on?” Darcy demanded, rocking the shrieking baby.

Jane waved the pepper grinder again, apparently beyond words.

“Give her some space,” said Natasha’s calm voice. Darcy jumped, not having noticed she was there.

Natasha uncurled herself from where she had been napping on the hearth. She was dressed for a mission, except she had little cat ears on her head, and was smiling an enigmatic smile.

“Take the baby for a walk,” Natasha suggested. “Let Jane cool off.”

Darcy looked at the incoherent Jane slamming pots and pans around, and nodded.

Outside, she followed the path away from the forest, and the baby’s cries and sneezes gradually calmed into grunts. Darcy didn’t know much about babies. What did grunts mean?

“And when did babysitting get added to my job description?” she grumbled. She stopped to take a good look at the baby. “If you need changing, I’m taking you right back to…”

She was holding a piglet.

“When did this happen?” she demanded.

The piglet struggled. She tried to free it from the baby clothes, but finally had to let it go. The piglet trotted off still wearing the baby’s bonnet.

“Fucking Loki,” she said.

Darcy figured it hadn’t been quite long enough for Jane to calm down, so she continued on the path. A minute later, there was Natasha up in a tree.

“How the hell did you get here so fast?” Darcy asked.

Natasha’s smile grew wider.

Darcy tried another question. “Which way should I go?”

“Where do you want to get to?”

“Fuck if I know.”

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

Darcy rolled her eyes. “Well, have you seen Betty?”

“No, but there’s a couple of mad scientists that way.”

“I don’t want to collect any more.”

“It’s true, there are an awful lot of mad scientists here.” Natasha vanished into the tree.

“How the hell does she do that?” Darcy headed the direction that Natasha had pointed. Maybe the mad scientists could help find Betty.

In about two minutes, Natasha appeared in another tree, magically ahead of Darcy again. “What became of the baby, by the way?”

“Turned into a pig,” Darcy said, trying to sound as if that happened all the time.

“Fucking Loki,” said Natasha.

“Right?”

Natasha disappeared, and Darcy continued on her way. She almost wasn’t surprised when Natasha showed up a third time and asked, “Did you say pig, or fig?”

“I said pig,” Darcy said, “and now you’re just showing off.”

Natasha smiled brilliantly, and somehow managed to disappear while leaving the impression of the smile behind her.

“How the hell does she do that?” Darcy asked the air, in a resigned voice.

Chapter Text

Around the next bend, a table was set under a tree, outside another little cottage. Tony Stark was sitting there wearing an oversized purple top hat and scribbling something on the tablecloth. Bruce Banner was leaning over to look at it. He had on bunny ears that looked slightly wilted. On the table, between teapots, cakes, and plates of sandwiches, was a tiny portable speaker shaped like a mouse. Darcy instantly wanted one to plug her mp3 player into.

She also wanted a piece of cake, so she went up and plunked herself down in a comfortable-looking chair.

“That won’t work,” Bruce said to Tony. “Look.” He shoved his plate aside and drew a diagram on the tablecloth.

Darcy helped herself to cake. “Have either of you seen Betty?”

“You mean Betty is lost?” Bruce looked up sharply.

“I didn’t mean that she was lost,” Darcy said nervously. She didn’t know that Betty was lost, at least.

Bruce looked at her over the top of his glasses. “Then you should say what you mean.”

“I do!” Darcy took a bite of cake, and said through it, “At least, I mean what I say, which is the same thing.”

“Is not,” Tony said. Darcy hadn’t realized he was even listening. He’d been studying Bruce’s diagram. “You might as well say that ‘I see what I eat’ is the same thing as ‘I eat what I see.’”

“You might just as well say,” added Bruce, “that ‘I like what I get’ is the same thing as ‘I get what I like.’”

JARVIS’s elegant accent came from the mouse speaker. “You might just as well say that ‘I breathe when I sleep’ is the same thing as ‘I sleep when I breathe.’”

“Good one, JarMouse,” Bruce said.

“But for God’s sake stop nagging us about sleeping. You’re not subtle, you know. We’ll sleep when the science is done.” Tony refilled his cup from the nearest teapot. The “tea” smelled suspiciously like coffee. “What day is it, anyway? This piece of antique junk of Bruce’s has stopped.” He shook a pocketwatch and held it to his ear.

“Tuesday,” Darcy said. She lifted the lid of the nearest teapot, hoping they were all filled with coffee. Tony’s coffee smelled amazing. This one was herbal tea, though. Rats.

“I told you putting butter in clockwork was a fucking stupid idea,” Tony said, conversationally. “You and your jury-rigged work-arounds. You know, we have an actual budget now. We can fix things for real.”

“It was the best butter,” Bruce said. “Anyway, it worked one time when I was in India.” He took the pot of herbal tea away from Darcy and passed her a different one.

“Coffee!” Darcy tried to pour herself some, but Tony took the pot out of her hands, handing her the pocket watch in exchange. She pouted, but looked at the watch. “This thing tells the date, but not the time?”

“It’s too hard to keep track of the hours.” Tony waved his hand. “We’re on a science binge here. We’re doing good if we keep track of the days.”

“Is that why there’s so much food set out?”

“Yes! See, we’re doing science at the table! No need to take breaks to eat!” Tony moved his coffee cup off Bruce’s diagram in order to look at it again.

Darcy looked at the coffee forlornly. “So why do you need so many chairs?”

“We run out of space on the tablecloth,” Bruce explained. “Let’s move now.”

He and Tony got up and moved down the side of the long table to fresh plates and cups and pristine tablecloth. Tony moved the mouse speaker to the table between them.

Darcy ate her last bite of cake, watching them settle down and start scribbling equations again. It was probably time to move on. These two weren’t going to be much help in finding Betty. “Hey guys, I don’t think -”

“Then you shouldn’t talk,” Tony said, without lifting his head from whatever he was writing.

“Sir, if I may say -” began the JarMouse speaker.

“No more nagging, that was your last warning.”

As Darcy got up to leave, Tony was dropping the mouse speaker into a tea pot. She hoped it was an empty one.

“Got to be the stupidest tea party I’ve ever been to,” she said to herself, and then tried to remember if she’d ever been to a tea party before.

Out on the path, she considered making her way back to the house of the “Duchess” to see if Jane was ready to talk sense. She didn’t really want to run into Loki again, though. Before she’d made up her mind, she noticed a door. In a tree. She walked around the tree, and finally gave in to curiosity and opened the door.

Instead of the inside of a tree, the door led to a formal garden. Darcy shrugged. What the hell. She stepped through, figuring she could always come back the same way.

Darcy strolled along the garden path, enjoying a moment of peace and quiet, which was almost immediately broken by someone complaining, “Why the hell is this our problem? I don’t remember signing up to be a gardener.”

The voice was familiar. Darcy followed it around a corner, just as Thor’s unmistakable booming voice replied, “If the lady wishes the flowers to be red, it is my honor to make it so.”

“For fuck’s sake,” said the first speaker.

“Clint,” Darcy said. “I should have recognized your distinctive bitching and moaning.” Clint was wearing a T-shirt printed with the ace of hearts.

“Lady Darcy!” Thor dropped a paintbrush and hugged her. Darcy hugged back. Thor was the two of hearts. Both of their T-shirts were tight enough to show off their muscles, Darcy noted with approval.

Clint said, “Come on, Darcy, we are painting flowers. Tell me that’s not the most bullshit job ever.”

Darcy had to admit it was bullshit. “Why are you painting white roses red?”

“There was an error,” Thor explained gravely. “This was supposed to be a red rosebush. A white one was planted. The hawkeyed one and I are to rectify the error by painting the white flowers red.” He waved the brush with enthusiasm, splattering himself, Darcy, and the rosebush with red dots.

“The queen wants them red, and god help us if they aren’t,” Clint groused.

A trumpet sounded. Clint jumped. “Oh, shit, the queen. We aren’t done.”

Darcy looked at the remaining white flowers, and then at the guards who were filing in and lining both sides of the garden path. “Yeah, you’re screwed.”

Clint and Thor actually got down on their knees. Darcy watched them, bemused, with no intention of doing the same.

“The Queen of Hearts!” someone announced. Hang on… Darcy looked around frantically. Yes, that was Betty, in her lab coat.

“Betty!” Darcy called, but she was drowned out by a trumpet blast, and the queen and king entered.

The queen turned out to be Pepper, glorious in a flame-red designer suit, with a heart-shaped brooch on her lapel. Her hair was in an updo that looked deceptively simple.

Queen Pepper stalked along the uneven garden path on her high heels. Darcy would have broken an ankle for sure. Pepper stopped in front of the half-painted rosebush, raising one eyebrow silently.

Clint cracked first. Darcy was disappointed. She thought SHIELD trained people to be tough.

“It was a mistake,” he babbled. “We were trying to fix it but we ran out of time.”

“Please forgive us,” Thor added, humbly.

“Off with their heads,” Pepper ordered.

“What?” Darcy stepped up with her hands on her hips. “You’re going to execute them over flowers?”

“Off with her head too!”

The King of Hearts laid his hand on Pepper’s arm. “Consider, my dear: she is only a child.”

Darcy hadn’t even looked at him, he was so unobtrusive next to the vivid presence of Pepper. The King was Coulson. She bristled at him. “Who’s a child?”

He widened his eyes at her slightly, which she figured was Coulson’s version of “Shut the fuck up,” so she did.

“Can you play croquet?” Pepper looked at Darcy intently, as if the answer was very important.

“Sure,” Darcy said. “I think I’ve played before.”

“Come on, then,” Pepper said, and swept away. Darcy shook her head and followed. Had she just narrowly escaped execution or not?

Betty fell into step beside her. “Nice day for it,” she said.

“Betty, what the fuck.” Darcy didn’t know what to ask first. “Where’s Loki?”

“Quiet!” Betty leaned in to whisper, “Under sentence of execution.”

“What for?”

“Get to your places!” Pepper commanded, and everyone scurried to start the game. Darcy was given a live flamingo, which made her wonder if the game she remembered playing was really croquet. There definitely hadn’t been flamingos. People were using the birds to whack little furry things. Darcy got a good look at hers, and it was some adorable little animal that curled into a ball.

“I’m not hitting that poor thing,” she said, but Betty had left.

“How are you doing?” said Natasha. As usual, Darcy hadn’t known she was there. Natasha was still smiling mysteriously and wearing cat ears.

“This game is fucking nuts,” Darcy said.

“Can you find out more about where Loki is?” Natasha asked her.

“Who are you talking to?” demanded Pepper, behind her.

“Uh, a cat,” Darcy said. “She belongs to the Duchess, I think.”

“Fetch the Duchess out of prison,” Pepper instructed a guard. “Tell her her cat is here.”

Natasha nodded to Darcy briskly, then vanished. Right in front of a crowd of people.

Darcy shook her head. “How the hell does she do that?”

Chapter Text

Everyone spent a few minutes fruitlessly searching for the Natasha-cat, which distracted them all so thoroughly that when Duchess Loki arrived, she was free to take Darcy’s arm and walk off as if they were old friends.

“I’m so glad to see you again, my dear,” the Duchess said.

Darcy’s skin crawled, but she didn’t quite dare pull away. She looked around for help.

“You’re thinking about something, my dear, and that makes you forget to talk.” The Loki-Duchess frowned thoughtfully. “I can’t tell you just now what the moral of that is, but I shall remember it in a bit.”

“Perhaps it hasn’t got one,” Darcy said, wondering how to get out of this conversation safely.

“Tut, tut, child!” said the Duchess. “Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.” And she squeezed Darcy close to her side.

Darcy considered whether the satisfaction of punching her would be worth the risk of whatever Loki’s magic would do to her. Before she decided, the Duchess stopped suddenly. In front of them stood Queen Pepper, arms folded, frowning like a thunderstorm.

“Either you or your head must be off at once,” Pepper said. “Take your choice.”

Duchess Loki let go of Darcy and was gone in a moment.

“Thank you, your Majesty,” Darcy said sincerely.

“Have you been to see the Mock Turtle yet?”

“No.” Darcy looked at the croquet chaos, and at the terrifying Queen of Hearts. “I was looking for Betty. The, ah, white rabbit.”

“Let the Mock Turtle tell you his history,” Pepper ordered.

Darcy followed her over to a sunny spot, where a lump of blankets and feathers was snoring.

“Get up, Gryphon,” the Queen snapped, “and take this young lady to hear the Mock Turtle’s history.”

The heap untangled itself to reveal a rather handsome man. He sat up, rubbed his eyes, and nodded obediently.

As the Queen headed back toward the croquet game, the man settled a pair of high-tech wings comfortably on his back. There were brown turkey feathers glued to them. Darcy asked, “Aren’t you called the Falcon?”

“Gryphon today,” he said, and yawned. “Come on.”

The Gryphon led her down a path to the seaside. Darcy longed to stop and take off her shoes, to feel the sand between her toes, but the Gryphon led her over to a cluster of rocks, where the Mock Turtle was sitting with his back to them. His shell was painted in concentric circles. Familiar-looking red and blue circles.

“Steve?” Darcy asked.

“Hey Darcy.”

“Um, I’m supposed to ask you for your story or something.” Darcy hadn’t been too clear on why.

“Yeah.” Steve rubbed the back of his neck uncertainly. “I’m supposed to get all nostalgic and moan about my long-lost past. But seriously? So many things are better now. No one gets polio, or tuberculosis. Should we just skip that part of the script?”

“Fine by me,” Darcy said.

“What’s up next, Sam?”

“I’m called the Gryphon. And what’s up next is you singing some shit about dancing lobsters. No way am I gonna let you skip that.” The Gryphon leaned back, folded his arms, and smirked.

Steve sighed, and cleared his throat. “‘Will you walk a little faster?’ said a whiting to a snail,” he sang.

“‘There's a porpoise close behind us, and he's treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle--will you come and join the dance?
Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance? Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?’”

Darcy stood up and imagined herself in a ball gown like she was in a BBC costume drama. She smoothed invisible skirts, curtseyed in her jeans and T-shirt, and held out a hand to the Gryphon. He rolled his eyes, but took it. The two of them stepped through a faked-up version of one of those Jane Austen-adaptation dances.

“‘You can really have no notion how delightful it will be
When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!’
But the snail replied ‘Too far, too far!’ and gave a look askance--
Said he thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not, would not join the dance. Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.”

An awkward move clunked Sam’s high-tech wing into Darcy’s shin. “Ow.” She let go of his hand and sat down to rub her bruise.

“Enough?” Steve asked hopefully.

Sam glared at him. “Not a chance. Finish your song, superhero.”

“ ‘What matters it how far we go?’ his scaly friend replied.
‘There is another shore, you know, upon the other side.
The further off from England the nearer is to France—
Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance.
Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance? Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?’ ”

Sam cackled. “I wish I had my phone with me to record that.”

“I feel like I should punch an actor made up like Hitler now,” Steve commented.

“Can I go now?” Darcy wasn’t sure she had a grasp of the rules around here.

Steve and Sam shrugged.

“I’m looking for Betty,” she explained.

“Oh, she’s sure to be at the trial,” Steve said.

“What trial?”

“Come to think of it, you should probably be there too, just in case,” Sam said.

“Why?”

“I’ll show you where. Come on.” Sam grabbed her arm.

“ ‘Where’ is the one question I didn’t ask,” Darcy said, as he dragged her off.

Darcy and the Gryphon found seats in the crowded courtroom. The Queen and King of Hearts were sitting on raised thrones at the front, ready to preside over the trial. The Knave was in manacles, with his back to Darcy, but she recognized his armor.

“That’s that guy,” she said. “The one who’s like Iron Man. What’s-his-name.”

“Rhodey,” the Gryphon supplied. “I mean, the Knave of Hearts. Obviously.”

There were hearts painted on the armor, incongruous next to the cannons.

“What did he do?” Darcy asked. “He’s a good guy.”

“Silence in the court!” a voice bellowed.

“Betty!” Darcy spotted her standing at the front of the room, near the thrones.

“Herald, read the accusation,” said King Coulson.

Betty unrolled a scroll and read, “The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts, All on a summer day: The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts, And took them quite away!”

Darcy rolled her eyes. “Oh please. Since when does Pepper like baking? And if anyone stole food, it was Clint, not Rhodey.”

“Consider your verdict,” the King said to the jury. They looked like a bunch of nervous rookie SHIELD agents.

“Not yet,” Betty said. “We must call the first witness!”

“Call the Mad Hatter!” someone shouted, and Tony ambled down the aisle with a sandwich in one hand and a coffee cup in the other hand. He sat in the witness box.

“Take off your hat in the courtroom,” the King said.

“It isn’t mine,” Tony said.

“Stolen?” The King looked at the jury meaningfully. The rookie agents all tried to look busy.

“I keep them to sell. I’m a hatter.” Tony took a swig of coffee. “At least, one of the subsidiaries of Stark Enterprises owns a hat shop, so indirectly, I’m sort of in the hat business.”

Queen Pepper narrowed her eyes at him. “Don’t get off topic, Tony. Give your evidence, or I’ll have your head cut off.”

“I’m a poor man, Your Majesties,” Tony began piteously.

“Tony, please try to stay somewhere in the neighborhood of the truth,” said Queen Pepper.

“I don’t know anything about the tart theft,” Tony said.

“Then you may go,” said the King.

“Cut his head off outside,” Pepper said to the guards, but Tony was gone before they could.

“Call the next witness!” the King ordered.

The next witness was Jane. Darcy was glad to see she was all right. She was still wearing her chef’s hat and apron, and she still seemed just as angry. She’d brought the pepper grinder too. People started sneezing all over the courtroom.

“Give your evidence,” said the King.

“I don’t answer to you,” said Jane.

“Cross-examine her,” Betty told the King.

Coulson regarded Jane from the height of his throne. “What are tarts made of?”

“Dark matter,” Jane said.

“Einstein-Rosenberg particles,” the JarMouse piped up. The Hatter had left the little speaker behind in his hurry to escape.

“Have the Dormouse removed from the court,” the Queen snapped.

The guards hastened to obey, and Jane took the opportunity to leave.

“Never mind,” said Coulson, “call the next witness.”

“Darcy!” called Betty the White Rabbit.

Darcy jumped up, startled. Everyone was looking at her. “I don’t know anything about this at all!”

“Write that down,” Coulson told the jury, who scribbled obediently.

“Then there’s one more piece of evidence,” Betty said. “This is a set of verses written by the Knave.”

“Who was it sent to?” Pepper asked.

“Nobody,” Betty said. “It was found.”

“I didn’t write that,” Knave Rhodey protested. “It’s not in my handwriting, and it’s not signed.”

“Aha!” said Coulson. “You disguised your handwriting and didn’t sign your name! You must have been up to no good!”

“That proves his guilt,” Pepper agreed.

“It does not,” Darcy said. “That’s just stupid. What’s the matter with you people?”

“Remove her from the court!” Pepper ordered.

The guards surrounded Darcy.

“I’m not afraid of you,” Darcy told the courtroom at large. “Even if you are a bunch of superheroes, super-scientists, and CEOs. You still need someone around with common sense.”

And she woke up.

“Darcy!” Betty was calling down to her. Darcy was lying at the bottom of the pit she’d fallen into.

“Betty! What happened to your rabbit ears?”

“Darcy, just hold still and I’ll try to get down there.” Betty sounded worried.

“I’m fine.” Darcy tested her arms and legs to see if this was true. “Are you okay?”

“Am I okay?” Betty laughed wildly. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you. You were right behind me, and then you were gone. You had quite a fall.”

“Nothing’s broken,” Darcy decided.

Betty breathed a sigh of relief. “Jane would kill me if I let anything happen to you. Hang on, I’ll call for help.”

Betty whipped out her cell phone. Darcy took hers out to look at it. Now she had a god-damned signal. She put the phone away, listening to Betty talk. She felt vaguely like it should be embarrassing. Betty was probably calling the fucking Avengers because Darcy fell in a hole. Somehow she just didn’t give a shit, after seeing Captain America sing about dancing fish. The Winter Soldier getting high. Bruce Banner in bunny ears. Coulson and Pepper forgetting how to think.

“They’re just people,” she said.

“What was that?” Betty’s worried face appeared at the top of the pit.

“Nothing,” said Darcy. “I’m fine.”