Archaic Kinds of Fun

same old same old

“I hope Darcy and Pepper are okay.” Jo whispered it to Bruce, since they’re on the jet, and she felt his temple touch against hers.

“I’m sure they are.”

“And Steve, Natasha, and Maria. I hope they’re okay too.” Her head is still pounding, because she tried to cram a thousand years’ worth of memories into her head in less than a day. She’s surprised that her brain hasn’t turned to mush. She tried to talk to Thor about some of the things she’d seen before they left, but the big guy just kinda waved her off. Said they’d both done things that they would rather forget, and she wasn’t going to push it. Still, she has memories of fighting in wars and so many other things that she doesn’t understand. Then again, it’s not her place to understand. She did what she did to keep Thor’s mind safe, and she’s completed that.

“I’m sure they are.”

“And that new guy, Sam, and the girl, Skye.” Bruce lifted up, and she turned her head so that she could look up at him. She currently has her head on his shoulder, and she’s too comfy to move.

“We’ll see them all soon. Try not to worry too much.” He pressed a kiss against her forehead, and she closed her eyes. Everything is going to be okay. They’re all alive, at least.

September 10, 2014

“Darcy!” Thor was the first one off the jet, and the god swung her up into his arms with a loud laugh. Darcy could hear Pepper and Tony talking quietly, and she caught a glimpse of them holding each other as Thor swung her around. She could also see Jo standing in front of Logan, and she had one arm wrapped around the mutant’s neck because she was holding Bruce’s hand with her other arm. When Thor sat her back on the ground, she noticed Clint and another woman. That must be Doreen; the newest member of the team.

“Hey, Clint.” She waved, but the archer walked forward and swept her up into a hug too. Once she was free from his arms, Jo and Tony were surrounding her.

“Good to see you again, kid,” Tony whispered.

“We missed you,” Jo whispered. Darcy tightened her arms around both of them and held on until her fingers went numb. Bruce and Pepper stepped up next to them once Jo and Tony were free, and Darcy could feel Thor and Clint on either side of her. Anna Marie and Remy came outside to join them then, and Jo hugged Anna Marie and thanked them both for helping out. Then came all of the introductions, which took all of five minutes.

“I think it should just be me and Jo that go in,” Tony said eventually. Go in? To see Skye, right.

“After that, me and Josie are headed to DC to pick up Steve and Nat. Everyone else can go back to the mansion,” Clint said.

“Leavin’ so soon?” Anna Marie asked. Jo slung an arm around her shoulders and knocked their temples together.

“We’ve got a big mess to clean up, but I’ll come visit once things calm down. And I better get an invitation.”

“Well, duh, you’re the maid of honor,” Anna Marie said and lightly pulled on some hair that had come free from Jo’s braid. Those two really are like sisters. Darcy couldn’t picture it before, but she can see it now.

“Mister Stark, Josephine?” Dr. McCoy was standing in the doorway to the little cabin, their safe house, and Jo and Tony straightened up.

“We’re coming, Hank,” Jo said and looked over at Tony. He nodded, and they started up the steps. The three of them disappeared inside, and Darcy looked around at everyone left. She caught Clint’s eyes and smiled.

“There’s someone inside waiting to see you too.” Yeah, Jade’s gonna be really happy to see her master again.


Skye tensed up a little when she heard footsteps approaching, and her numerous injuries did not thank her for the movement. Her entire midsection was throbbing with pain, but she heard the commotion outside. She knows what that means. The Avengers are back from wherever they’ve been, and she doesn’t want to be flat on her back when she meets her first Avenger. The door opened a moment later, and Dr. McCoy stepped inside. It’d taken a minute to get used to seeing the furry blue doctor, but he’s a nice guy. A woman came in behind him, and Skye quickly looked her over. She’s only an inch taller than Skye, but she’s got move curves. Skye can tell because the woman is wearing a pair of washed out denim skinny jeans and a purple tank top with Hulk’s face on it. Her brown hair is braided and hanging over her shoulder, and a pair of dark green eyes slowly looked her over. Skye didn’t recognize her, but there’s only one known female Avenger. Whoever this woman is, she isn’t Black Widow.

“Skye, I would like you to meet Josephine Holbrook and Tony Stark.” Tony Stark stepped into the room last, and he looks different than what Skye imagined. She was expecting the slicked back hair and perfectly tailored suits that were in all the magazines, but he looks like a normal guy. Six-one, so the tallest one in the room, and his brown eyes look almost soft. His dark brown hair is sticking up in a few places, and he’s wearing old jeans and a black Metallica tee shirt.

“Just Jo, please,” the woman said and cut her eyes over at Dr. McCoy. The doctor, Darcy, Pepper, and Logan have been careful not to really say anything around her. So she has no idea who this woman is.

“Hi,” Skye finally got out. Dr. McCoy smiled at her before leaving the room, and he closed the door behind him. Jo sat down in the chair next to her bed, and Tony moved to stand directly behind her.

“I know all of this seems crazy, and I want to tell you everything. I can’t do that until I know you’re not going to hurt us.” Skye felt her eyebrows furrow at that, because why would she want to hurt them?

“The woman that left you at my front gate, Viper, she’s a sneaky one. We need to make sure that you’re not working for her,” Tony explained. Oh, so they think that she’s some kind of spy. It sounds a little reasonable. Being an Avenger must not be easy.

“How can you know for sure?” she asked. They’re not going to just trust her. She can tell that Darcy wants to, but the other woman still hasn’t revealed anything about herself or anyone else.

“Well, I’m a mutant. One of my mutations is telepathy. With your permission, I’ll read your mind to see what happened. I’ll be able to tell if Viper sent you.” Skye quickly thought it over and realized that she had no choice.

“If I say no, that makes me look guilty. Okay, go ahead. Read my mind.” There’s three words she thought she’d never say. The woman reached forward, and warm hands gently cupped her right one. Her left hand is still a little useless, because of the hole in it.

“Just try to relax. It’ll only take a few minutes.” The woman, Jo, closed her eyes and so did Tony.

She’s outside eating lunch when the woman joins her. She’s beautiful, and she knows things she shouldn’t. Like Skye’s real name. Then the bullets start flying.

She’s running. She can’t stop running. Every time she stops, another bullet grazes her skin. Her shoulder has gone numb, but her leg screeches with pain with every step.

When the sun is just starting to dip below the tallest buildings, she ducks into an alley. Closes her eyes as she leans against the dirty bricks and sucks in a deep breath. Her eyes open, and the woman is there again. Swearing, in Russian? Pain explodes above her left eye, and everything goes dark.

The pain in her stomach wakes her up. That woman, the one who called herself Viper, is forcing nails through her shirt and skin. It hurts. She wants to move away, but she can’t. She can’t move. When the last nail goes in, the woman picks her up by her arm and tosses her out of the side of the van. Something in her side snaps and breathing becomes harder.

Someone is leaning above her. Big blue eyes and pale pink lips. The woman is looking at her stomach. She can’t take the nails out; it hurts. She’ll bleed out. Her right hand reaches out to grab the front of the woman’s blouse as she yells for her to stop, and then those big blue eyes are looking right into hers. She knows something that Skye doesn’t.

They keep her comfortable. Fed. Pain meds. Surgery for her punctured lung. Clean bandages for her gunshot wounds. They even put her under for the jet ride. She’s scared. Darcy and the doctor are nice to her, but she doesn’t know them. She wants to go home, but home isn’t safe anymore. She needs to disappear, to make sure that Viper can never find her again. Can never hurt her again.

“Skye?” She forced her eyes to open, and dark green eyes were staring directly into her own.

“So, telepathy is definitely real,” she said and carefully nodded her head. She didn’t have a concussion, but her head definitely still hurts.

“It’s real. I can’t tell you what to do, and none of us will hold you against your will. We can offer you a safe place to stay though. Stay with us at the mansion, heal, and let us try to find out why Viper targeted you. I promise you, we will keep you safe.” Jo spoke so slowly and quietly, because the words were just for Skye to hear, and she sounded so sincere. Jo doesn’t know her though, so why does she want to protect her so much?

“You don’t know me, so why help me?” She waited for Jo to answer, but it wasn’t the woman that spoke.

“Because we’re the Avengers. It’s what we do,” Tony Stark said and shrugged. Like offering her protection was no big deal.

“I’m free to go whenever I want?” she asked, to clarify.

“Whenever you want,” Jo agreed and Tony nodded.

“Then I guess staying with you is my best bet for now.” Jo clapped, and Tony rolled his eyes. Just who are these people again? Because clearly the news has been getting everything wrong.

“We’ll be moving back to the mansion soon. Um, I’ll ask Darcy to keep an eye on you, okay?” Skye nodded, because she likes Darcy. The other woman has been nothing but nice to her, and maybe they’ll actually be able to talk now that everyone knows she’s not some kind of undercover agent.

“Sounds good.” Jo smiled at her and stood up, and she rolled her shoulders to get the bones to pop.

“Darcy! Clinton! Get in here!” A minute later, Darcy walked in with a man just behind her. Skye knows him. That’s the archer, Hawkeye. Wow, he looks even better in person. Slightly spiky light brown hair, eyes that seem to shift between all the prettiest colors, and his black sleeveless shirt is showing off some yummy arms. She might be confined to a hospital bed, but the pain meds help with the pain and her eyesight is just fine. No, wait, the archer is holding a chicken. She might be hallucinating.

“Whattaya want, Josie?” Clint was lightly petting the chicken’s dark feathers, and Skye couldn’t look away from the sight.

“We’re taking Tony’s jet to DC. Hank’s gonna fly everyone back to the mansion and then he’s going back home. Along with Anna Marie and Remy. Bruce is gonna take over medical care, Logan’s sticking around, and Darcy is going to keep Skye company. Maybe fill her in on everything?” Jo drawled out.

“She cleared?”

“With flying colors. I don’t know why Viper targeted her, but it wasn’t random. There’s a reason for this, and we’re going to figure out what.” Jo looked down at Skye as she said the last part, like she was making another promise, and Skye smiled back at her. She doesn’t know Jo, but she seems like an okay person.

“Watch Jade for me?” Clint was looking at Darcy, and Darcy laughed as she took the chicken into her arms.

“Of course. We’re old friends by now, aren’t we, girl?” The chicken seemed to love the attention Darcy was giving it, and Skye felt like her head was swimming. The Avengers might actually be crazy.

“Come on, Clinton. We’ve got some friends to pick up.” Jo hooked an arm around Clint’s neck and drug him from the room, and Tony gave her one last smile before following after them. Darcy stayed in the room, and she sat down in the vacated chair at Skye’s bedside. She put the chicken in her lap.

“Fill me in on what?” Skye asked after a moment. She’s always been a curious person. Darcy’s smile looked a little mischievous, and it was a good look on her.

“Let’s start at the beginning, huh? So, I needed an internship and wound up working for this astrophysicist…”


Sam tensed up as the hospital door opened, and he made himself stay perfectly still as footsteps walked farther into the room. He peeked an eye open, but that’s not one of the nurses. The woman is wearing skinny jeans and a tank top, and her long hair is in a braid. She stopped at the foot of the bed for a moment and then moved over to Steve’s other side. He heard the quiet screech of the chair legs as she pulled it closer to the bed, and she sat down with a small sigh. He watched her hands reach out to take Steve’s, and he doesn’t remember Steve mentioning a special lady. He talked briefly about how his team was in another country and wouldn’t make it in time, but he didn’t name any of them. Sam knows he was talking about the Avengers, but he thought Natasha was the only female Avenger.

“Dammit, Steve, look at what he did to you. Was it worth it?” she whispered. Her voice was rough, like she’d spent the night before screaming at a concert.

“Every last bit of it,” Steve answer. Huh, Sam didn’t know he was awake. The woman sighed louder, but she didn’t let go of his hand.

“Tony told me what happened. Brainwashed by Hydra for the last seventy years? Steve, there’s probably nothing of him left.” She’s talking about Bucky; Steve must have told her about his old friend, because she actually sounds upset about the whole situation.

“There is. Look and see. I trust you.”

“I don’t think I’m strong enough for that again. Thor nearly wiped me out for good.” It was said with a small laugh, and Sam felt his confusion grow. What are they talking about? And how is Thor involved?

“I thought it through. I’m vulnerable right now, and I trust you to keep me safe.”

“It’ll knock us both unconscious for a while. Clint knows where we are, but he won’t be here for a while.” Yeah, Steve’s a little banged up, but Sam wouldn’t say that he’s vulnerable. Definitely not vulnerable enough to do something that’s gonna knock him unconscious for a while.

“We can trust Sam. He won’t let anything happen to us.” Even though his eyes were closed, he could feel the woman’s gaze on him. He held perfectly still, kept his breathing even, and heard the woman huff.

“Just, don’t fight me, okay? It’ll only make things harder.”

After ten minutes of complete silence, Sam opened his eyes and leaned forward in his chair. The unnamed woman was leaning on the edge of her seat so that her head was next to Steve’s on the pillow, and their foreheads were lightly touching. She was still holding his left hand with both of hers, and tears had slipped from beneath their closed eyelids to track down their cheeks. Despite that, their faces were completely relaxed. Sam could almost believe they were sleeping, if it wasn’t for the crying. A little over an hour later, the woman hiccupped and blinked her eyes open. Steve’s eyes opened too, but they were both blind to Sam watching them.

“You’re a good person, Jo. One of the best.” Steve’s smile was small and painful, and the woman’s laugh was wet.

“We’ll get him back, Steve. We’ll get him back.” With that, her eyes closed and her body slumped against the side of the bed.

“Sam? Can you move her onto the bed?” There’s no way he can say no to that voice, so he made his way over to the other side of the bed. The woman didn’t stir as he lifted her from the chair and laid her on the bed next to Steve, and Sam sat in the now empty chair.

“You wanna tell me what the hell just happened?”

“Jo’s a mutant, a telepath. There’s a woman after some of us that was able to get into Tony’s dream, so Jo has been creating mental links with everyone to keep our minds safe. We just created a mental link. She knows everything about me, and I know everything about her.” Steve’s voice was quiet, and Sam slowly shook his head. Just when he starts getting used to super soldiers, a telepath shows up.

“So she’s one of the good guys, huh?” He can’t imagine what it must be like for someone to know every corner of your mind; it’s terrifying to think of. From what Steve just said, she’s already done this multiple times. It’s a miracle she hasn’t gone crazy. Vulnerable…Steve’s hurt physically, but he’s mentally vulnerable. Or, he was.

“She is,” was the last thing Steve said before he passed out again.

Sam sat next to them and read a book for the next three hours, which is when the hospital door opened again. Natasha walked in first, and Sam raised a hand in greeting. That is one tough woman, and he’s glad he’s on her good side. A man walked in behind her, and Sam raised a brow at Natasha. He doesn’t want to talk, since he’s right next to the sleeping duo, and Natasha and the other guy stopped at the foot of the bed.

“Clint, Sam. What happened?” Natasha asked.

“Some kind of mental link. You know about that?” Natasha looked over at Clint, and the guy just shrugged.

“Jo’s better than Viper, and it looks like Steve agrees,” Clint said and crossed his arms.

“Does someone wanna explain what’s going on?” Steve gave a very brief explanation, which raised more questions than it answered.

“We’ll explain everything on the ride home.” At his confused look, Natasha let a small smile curve her lips. “Congratulations, you get to come to the Avengers Mansion.”

“Alright, what about them?” he asked and looked at the bed.

“I’ll get Jo. You can have Cap,” Clint said and moved to where the woman was lying. Natasha helped Sam get Steve up, and the guy stayed unconscious. So did the woman.

“Is this normal?” No one tried to stop them as they walked out of the hospital room, and he was only a little surprised when they headed towards the roof instead of the ground floor.

“They just swapped brains. They’ll sleep for a while,” Clint said and adjusted Jo on his shoulder. A jet was waiting for them on the roof, and Clint strapped Jo onto a vertical table before going for the front of the jet. Him and Natasha strapped Steve in and then took their seats. Once they were in the air, Natasha started talking. About everything. Clint threw in a few comments, here and there, but it was mostly Natasha that explained everything that’s happened to the Avengers over the years.

By the time they were landing on top of the Avengers Mansion, Sam was caught up. Steve and Jo were also starting to wake up, and Sam helped Steve stand up.

“What have you gotten me into?” he asked as they staggered off the jet onto the roof. Jo was clinging to Clint’s back, while Natasha lectured her on overextending herself.

“You can still back out.” Steve’s look was serious, and Sam shook his head with a smile.

“And miss out on all the fun? Nah, I think I’ll stick around.”


“Bruce! Catch me!” Jo slipped off Clint’s back and into Bruce’s waiting arms, and she snuggled into his chest. Her brain feels almost too full, but she knows it’ll wear off soon. It always does. They’re all in the den, and it feels so good to have everyone under one roof again. Even with some extras thrown in. Everyone shuffled around and got comfortable, because they are way over due for a team meeting.

In the end, she wound up between Tony and Bruce. Pepper was sitting on Tony’s other side, and it was just the four of them on the couch. Doreen, Thor, Darcy, and Skye were on the other couch across from them. Steve and Sam were sitting on the loveseat. Clint was in one of the chairs, and Natasha was sitting on the arm of his chair. Logan was in the other chair, and he kept glaring over at her and Tony. When this is over, she’s gonna have a long talk with the older mutant. At least he’s not glaring at Bruce.

“First order of business! New Avengers!” Tony called out. Jo’s pretty sure they have bigger things to worry about, like Hydra still being around and Viper lurking around them, but whatever.

“I nominate Squirrel Girl!” Clint yelled. Doreen’s cheeks flushed a light pink, and Thor clapped a giant hand on her shoulder.

“All in favor, say aye!” At Tony’s declaration, everyone in the room yelled an affirmative. Even Pepper and Darcy, who aren’t technically Avengers. Jo isn’t either, but she still called out her agreement. She’s pretty sure even Skye, who’s sitting stiffly in her seat because of her injuries, called out an aye.

“I nominate Falcon!” Natasha yelled. Sam stood up and bowed, and everyone in the room screamed out another “aye.” She saw plenty of Sam in Steve’s memories, and she knows they can trust the man. He stood up for what he thought was right, followed Steve into a battle that he could have easily stepped away from, and she respects him. Also, he flies. It’s pretty awesome.

“Welcome to the team,” Steve said and smiled over at Sam. He also waved at Doreen, who waved back before burying her face in her hands. It took a few minutes for the room to calm down, and Jo felt herself tense as everything slowly turned more serious.

“Is everyone caught up on everything?” Tony looked around the room, and everyone slowly nodded. Hydra is back in a big way, which might explain Viper’s continued appearances. “Then what do we focus on first?”

“Fury and Hill will be here in a couple of days, to figure out where we go from here,” Natasha said.

“What about our files? Is everything out in the open?” Jo asked and looked at Natasha. She knows that the woman did what she had to do, Hydra had to be exposed, but they’re all exposed now. None of them are really safe.

“It’s encrypted, but yes. We’re all out in the open,” she said and looked around the room.

“I’m working on getting our files down, but it’s slow moving,” Tony said and tapped his temple. Even now, in the back of his mind, he’s scouring databases.

“I could help,” Skye said quietly. When Tony cocked his head, she huffed out a breath and carefully crossed her arms. “Not to brag or anything, but I’m a good hacker. I’m really good at removing things, and I want to help. As a thank-you, for taking me in.”

“I’ll get you set up, but everything you do will be monitored.” Tony wasn’t saying it because he doesn’t trust her, they both saw her memories earlier, but he wants her to know that he’ll be watching.

“I’ll behave,” Skye said with a sweet smile. Ooh, another snarky one. She’ll fit right in.

“What are we going to do about Viper?” Darcy asked. Skye and Logan both tensed up at the question, and Jo knows that Logan and Viper have a long history. It’s not a good one either.

“Tracking her is usually impossible, but we can’t let her just get away with all of this,” Clint said.

“I’m more worried about who she’s working with.” Jo looked around the room to see if anyone had any ideas, but she just got blank stares.

“I want to do one of the mental links. I don’t want anyone using me to get to Tony,” Pepper said and leaned forward to look her in the eye.

“Yeah, I don’t want Viper anywhere near my head ever again,” Darcy added.

“If you guys think I’m really in danger of being mind controlled, I’m up for it,” Sam said and aimed a look right at her.

“I don’t want you in my head, but you are a better choice than Viper. Or whoever is working with her.” Jo nearly passed out at that, because she never thought that Natasha would allow her into her head. The one time Jo ever tried, back when she’d first gotten the telepathy, Natasha shot her. In the head.

“Alright, I’ll do the last of the mental links tomorrow. Is there anything else we need to go over tonight?” Jo asked. It’s been such a long day, such a long week, and she’s ready to collapse into her own bed with Bruce.

“I think everything else can wait until we rest up some. We’ll figure out our next steps when Fury and Hill get here. Sam, Doreen, Skye, you’ve got rooms to choose from on the third floor. Darcy can show you the way.” Darcy nodded and stood up, and everyone else slowly started to move around. She felt Bruce squeeze her hand, and she looked over to meet his eyes.

“I want to help Skye to her room and get a few things set up for her. Meet you in your room later?” She nodded, and Bruce placed a quick kiss against her lips before standing up and moving over to where Skye was leaning on Darcy. Jo said a quick goodnight to Tony and Pepper, and she turned around just in time to see Logan walking up to her.

“I’m thirsty. You?” She grabbed his hand and pulled him from the room, and she didn’t let go until they were in the kitchen. She pulled out a bottle of water and drank nearly half of it before setting it down on the counter. For a moment, she thought Logan was going to yell at her for being reckless or for getting herself involved in something so dangerous. He definitely had his “yelling” face on. Instead, he wrapped both arms around her shoulders and pulled her to him. She pressed her cheek against his chest and wrapped her arms around his back, and it felt good to just lean against him.

“You’re doing too much, Jo,” he said quietly. She felt one of his hands move up to press against the back of her head, and she sighed against the feeling of his fingertips on her scalp.

“I can feel them, all of them, at the back of my mind. Like little doors. They’re shut, so I can’t hear or see anything, but I can feel them. I know that they’re safe.” Each one of them feels different, but the overall feeling is the same. If one of them called out for her, she’d be able to hear them because they’re always going to be with her now.

“Have you thought about what will happen when they’re not safe? If they get hurt, so do you.” Maybe not physically, but mentally? Yeah, she might be screwed, but they’re going to keep each other safe. She’s sure of it.

“We’re a family, Logan. Family protects each other. You taught me that.” She tipped her head back to look at him, and dark brown eyes stared down into hers. He’s worried about her, but he shouldn’t be. Things are a little bleak right now, but they’ll be okay.

“Did I?” He’s smiling, so that’s a good sign. She lightly butted her head against his chest and grinned up at him.

“Yeah, you did. Will you stay for a little while? I think Steve would like to talk to you.” She saw Logan in Steve’s memories too, and that was a little surreal. Her team leader and her father figure fighting off Nazis isn’t something she thought she’d ever get to see, but it happened.

“I’ve been meanin’ to talk to Rogers.” He scratched at the scruff on his cheek, and she leaned up on her toes to press a kiss against his cheek.

“Good, and be nice to everyone. Especially Tony and Bruce.” Logan grumbled but agreed, and she laughed as she pulled him towards the elevator. He got off on the third floor, and Jo continued up to her floor. Bruce was already waiting for her in her bedroom, and he returned her tired smile.

“It’s good to be home,” he whispered into her hair once they were lying down.

“Mmm, it really is,” she agreed and let herself fall to sleep.


Skye woke up as her door creaked open, and she struggled to lift her upper body. She managed to reach out and turn on the lamp on her bedside table, and she saw Darcy. The other woman was wearing a pair of blue shorty shorts and a white tank top, and her hair was hanging behind her in a sloppy ponytail. She had clearly just gotten out of bed, and Skye rubbed at her eyes.

“Darcy? Something wrong?” The other girl told her literally everything that’s happened, from the time that she worked with Jane Foster to coming to work for Tony Stark. Well, now she works for Pepper Potts. These people have become her family, which is a big thing for a foster kid. Skye would know. For the longest time, all she ever wanted was a family. Darcy talked like it was possible.

“I wanted to avoid doing the same old-same old, but you’re not giving me a choice.” Darcy’s voice sounded off, like there was some kind of echo behind it, and her eyes are way too dark.

“What are you talking about?” Darcy was nearly to the edge of her bed now, and Skye felt something at the base of her spine tingle.

“I’m talking about you. You haven’t even healed a little bit.” Darcy leaned forward and pushed the heel of her hand against Skye’s left shoulder, and Skye screamed as the stitches holding her skin together ripped. Darcy crawled up onto the bed and straddled her, and she moved her now bloody hand to press against her left ribcage. It felt like the bones of her broken rib were grating together, and she tried to push Darcy off.

“Darcy! Stop it! Get off!” Knuckles slammed against her cheek as Darcy backhanded her, and her breath was cut off as slim fingers wrapped around her throat.

“Sorry, Daisy, but Darcy isn’t here right now.” The words were whispered, and Skye thought she saw Darcy’s eyes flash green for a second. Daisy…the only person who’s called her that is Viper. So, that means…

“How’d you do it, Viper?” It was hard to talk, since a hand was cutting off her airway, but she managed.

“Friends in high places. I was hoping you’d heal faster, but it looks like I’ll have to do something drastic. Again. I really hate being repetitive.” The hand on her throat was removed, and Darcy’s body slowly sat up. She reached behind her, and that’s when Skye sucked in a deep breath.

“HELP! IT’S VIPER! SHE’S GOT DARCY!” A hand slapped against her mouth, but it was too late. Skye could hear running footsteps, and her door slammed open a second later. Darcy’s head turned at the same time that she moved her arm back to the front of her body, and Skye’s eyes went wide at the sight of the gun. The barrel pressed against the center of her forehead, and she moved her eyes over to the doorway.

“Viper, don’t.” Logan’s voice was all growl, enough to make goosebumps raise across Skye’s skin, but there’s no way he can reach them before the trigger is pulled. She’s going to die.

“Oh, Logan, why would I do that?” Her hand was steady, and the smile on Darcy’s face wasn’t one of Darcy’s. Skye fought to lock eyes with Logan, and he finally met her eyes.

“Tell Darcy it’s not her fault,” was all she was able to get out before the gun fired.


She woke up to JARVIS announcing an emergency, and she was able to connect with Tony’s mind to get a visual. Darcy was in Skye’s room, straddling the injured girl, and the gun that Jo gave to Darcy all those months ago was pressed against Skye’s forehead. Jo was moving before she could explain to Bruce what was happening, and it felt like the elevator was moving through mud. She was running as soon as the doors opened, and she had to push past everyone. She couldn’t even tell who she was pushing to the side, until she reached Skye’s doorway. Logan was holding Darcy’s biceps and holding her in the air, and the laugh coming out of Darcy’s throat sounded insane. She had blood on her hands and streaked across her clothes, and Skye wasn’t moving.

“Give her to me.” Logan released Darcy, and Jo locked her arms around her thrashing body. Her arms pinned Darcy’s arms to her sides, and she pressed her forehead against Darcy’s.

“You’re too late, Josephine! Couldn’t save ‘em all!”

“When I find you, I’m gonna rip you apart!” She could feel Viper in every corner of Darcy’s mind; she couldn’t feel Darcy anywhere. Jo knew she had to force Viper out, but she couldn’t think of how. Especially since she doesn’t know how Viper was able to get into Darcy’s mind in the first place.

“What’s the matter, tank? It’s not so easy to win when you can’t just snap the enemy’s neck, huh?” She could hear Viper laughing, taunting her, and she tried to push deeper. Past the green fog that was completely clouding Darcy’s mind. Deeper, deeper, deeper…Eventually, she found Darcy. Starting at her youngest memories, of being alone despite living in a house full of kids. Always being alone.

Viper faded as Jo absorbed more of Darcy’s memories, and she realized that she was creating a mental link. She’d latched on to what she could find of Darcy and pulled her into her own mind, so now she’s seeing all of Darcy’s memories. The mental link was driving Viper out, until the woman was completely gone. The link wasn’t complete though, so Jo held on. She has to finish this and keep Darcy safe.


Bruce walked into chaos. Everyone in the mansion was on the third floor, but only three people were inside of Skye’s room. Four, if you counted Skye herself. Logan was sitting outside of the doorway, knees pulled up and head in his hands. Thor was sitting across from him, and it looked like the two of them were guarding the doorway. Bruce stepped past them and into the room, and Tony looked up as he walked into the room. He was standing next to Skye’s bed, and the girl was slightly propped up against the headboard. Jo and Darcy were lying on the floor at the foot of the bed, and Darcy was covered in blood. Skye’s blood.

“Viper took control of Darcy. Skye didn’t stand a chance against Darcy’s strength,” Tony said. He quickly went over what Viper had said before shooting Skye, and Bruce met Tony’s eyes.

“You think it’s the same?” Bruce asked.

“Same old same old,” Tony parroted.

“Do you think they could be?” He moved to stand next to Tony and looked down at Skye, and it was hard to look at the young woman while she was still covered in blood. There was even a smear of it across her forehead.

“I’ll get JARVIS to run it and see,” Tony whispered. Bruce leaned forward and raised Skye’s left hand, and he carefully peeled back the gauze. The hole in her palm was already closed.

“We should get them cleaned up. They don’t need to wake up to this,” he said and looked around the room.

“Pretty sure Jo’s doing a mental link. That’ll take a while,” Tony said and looked at the two of them. Jo had her arms wrapped completely around Darcy, and Darcy looked far too pale.

“Doreen? Natasha?” The two women stepped into the room, and Doreen looked like she was going to be sick.

“Is she…?” Doreen couldn’t even finish the sentence, and Natasha wouldn’t look at the bed.

“Viper got in Darcy’s head and made her do this. Skye’s already starting to heal.” Both women looked shocked at that, but Bruce is starting to put the pieces together.

“Doreen, can you take Jo and Darcy up to Jo’s room? Maybe get Darcy a change of clothes?” Bruce asked. The shorter woman nodded jerkily and moved over to where the two were lying.

“You can count on me,” she said and bent down. She managed to get each woman over a shoulder, which Bruce didn’t even know was possible, and he turned to watch her walk away. Once she was gone, Bruce turned to look at Natasha.

“I’ll get her cleaned up and make sure she doesn’t wake up alone,” she said quietly. She carefully picked up Skye’s body, and the woman looked too limp in Natasha’s arms. Natasha walked off, and Tony rubbed the back of his neck.

“JARVIS, do we have any spare sheets nearby?” Skye’s bed is splattered with blood, and there’s a bullet embedded in the headboard.

“In the closet, sir. I’ll put in an order for a new headboard immediately.” Tony thanked the AI and moved over to the closet, and it only took him and Bruce a few minutes to remake the bed.

“Meet in your lab in five?” Bruce nodded, and he managed not to make eye contact with anyone as he walked back to the elevator. Tony can choose how to answer their questions, or not answer them as he probably will. They need to be sure first.
♠ ♠ ♠
Now, I know what some of you are probably thinking. Could she be any less imaginative? I just need some trust and a few chapters, several chapters, and I promise that I’ll show you that not everything is as it seems. Don’t take anything at face-value. Everyone is under a lot of stress, a lot of pressure, and sometimes small details slip through the cracks. Especially when you already think that you have all the answers. So, trust me on this.

I think that’s all I really wanted to say. If there’s any questions about anything, I’d be happy to answer them!