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An Act of Kindness

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Darcy groans as she presses her hands to the small of her back and stretches. With a sigh, she slumps back over and picks up her rag to wipe down the counter. She stares mindlessly out of the the wide windows set into the front of the small diner. The night is black as velvet out there, anything could be lurking in its depths. She shivers at the implications, willing herself not to think back on the events from six months ago. It is done and over with. Time to close the book and let sleeping dogs lie. She had survived. Barely, but she is still here, which is more than she can say for some.

She picks up the pace, swiping from one end to the other at warp speed. She has already balanced the cash register for the night and locked up the safe. She doesn’t have to be in until eleven tomorrow so she can at least sleep in a little. It will be a nice change of pace after pulling doubles all week. Maybe she’ll treat herself to some pancakes. Yeah, that sounds good. She hasn’t indulged in that since before. . . shit.

“Get a hold of yourself, Lewis,” she says under her breath, recalling her Supervising Officer’s words during her first weeks of SHIELD training. Her hands shake as she tries and fails to straighten the salt and pepper shakers. The salt shaker tumps over and spills its contents across her freshly washed counter.

“Fuck,” she mumbles and begins to sweep it into her palm to toss in the trash. She hates this place. She hates this shit job with its shit manager, but she’s reasonably safe here. No one knows her. No one gives a fuck about her. No one is going to ask her to throw herself into mortal danger for scientific advances or to save the goddamn universe. She can quietly waste away here and no one will care.

It is as she is gathering her purse and jacket that Darcy feels what she can only describe as a ripping through the air. There is no noise, only a building of pressure that makes her ears pop. Moments later, she hears a high pitched shriek and a boom. Something sounds like it landed right outside the diner back where they keep the trash. Something big and not local.

Her hands do not shake as she gets the 12-gauge shotgun out from underneath the counter. She quickly loads five slugs into the magazine, pumps the forestock, and turns off the safety. For a moment, she misses her trusty old taser, but it had been time for an upgrade. Aliens from the asscrack of the universe tend not to be impressed with by a 5’3 girl wielding nothing but a taser.

Darcy slowly exhales and heads for the back door. She kicks the exit open with her left foot, pressing the butt of the gun to her shoulder and her back to the door. She sweeps the area for any threats, all of the training from her Supervising Officer coming back to her. Something rustles by the dumpster, and she circles around quietly.

Her finger is itching to pull the trigger, during the Infinity War she had learned to shoot first and asked questions later. Whatever it is, it’s dressed in what look black leather scraps, still smoldering from its descent through the atmosphere. She squints and slides her left foot back. Humanoid in shape, which means it could be any number of species.

“Stand up with your hands or whatever other appendages you might have in the air,” she says in a steady voice.

It stands in one fluid motion, spinning on its heel, and going into a crouch with its back pressed against the wall. It takes everything in her not to let her index finger hug the trigger just a little more tightly.

It eyes her warily, twin daggers gripped between its long blue fingers, ready to filet her like a steak if she gets within stabbing distance. She takes a step back to get out of range and get a better look. The alien watches her with eyes as red as blood, blades still gripped tightly. It appears to be male.

“What are you?” she asks calmly.

The intruder does not answer, only skins his lips back from short fangs.

“Who are you?”

Still no answer, only an exhalation of breath that sounds suspiciously like a hiss.

She feels the tension drain out of her. If it had wanted to kill her it would have done so by now. Whatever, whoever the alien is, it’s clearly terrified. Darcy knows the look of a hunted thing when she sees one. Slowly, she lowers the barrel of the gun and looks around at a loss.

“What the hell am I supposed to do with you?” she asks no one in particular.

The alien eyes her again but keeps his blades up.

“You can’t just stay out here,” she tells him, “you’ll scare away the customers, and they already tip shitty. Besides, you’ll piss off the possums.”

He backs himself further up into the corner, and she notices that his hands have begun to tremble from fear and exertion. His eyelids flutter until his eyes roll up into his skull, and he collapses onto the gravel.

The former intern sighs. It will not be the first time she’s slept at the diner.

****

Darcy takes a moment to examine her new guest/patient as she daubs more Neosporin onto a cut on his forehead. She has no idea if it will help at all, but figures it can’t hurt. After a thorough pat down, she has determined the alien is in fact male and oddly, cool to the touch.

She has laid him out on a table used to hold cleaning supplies. She was not about to wipe down the dining tables outside again.

He is breathing shallowly and quickly, and his color has faded from azure to almost violet. Darcy brushes a lock of sweaty black hair out of the way to get a better look at the odd patterns that flow along his skin. She can’t tell if it is some sort of ritualistic scarring or simply his natural texture.

She can tell though that the scarring around his wrists and ankles is not natural. It is rough and only half healed, still weeping and raw in some places. She binds them up as best she can. Whoever had him obviously didn’t want him getting away. The thing she finds though most disturbing are the marks around his lips. They are a series of holes lining the top and bottom lips. Almost as if . . . .. No, she thinks as she shakes her head. It can’t be. It almost looks as if they were sewn shut. She gives them a once over to make sure an infection hasn’t settled in and allows them to be. She wouldn’t know how to tackle them anyways.

Her guest is still sleeping soundly as she finishes bandaging him up as much as she can. She checks her phone. There are the usual texts from Jane that she will not answer and a couple of phone calls from a former SHIELD agent or two that she will not return. It is now past one o’clock in the morning. She groans and begins to send the text to Sadie saying she will take her solo opening shift tomorrow at 6 am. There is no way she can explain the sudden blue alien appearing in the supply closet. If she’s lucky, she’ll get about 4 and a half hours of sleep.

Grumbling to herself, Darcy pulls some towels from the shelf and begins to make herself a pallet on the floor next to the table where the alien’s legs dangle off. She uses her jacket as a pillow and toes off her shoes.

“Goodnight, you weird, extraterrestrial popsicle,” she murmurs as she sets the alarm on her phone and flips off the switch.