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She came to them on a rainy Saturday with Barton and a couple agents he didn’t recognize. Her name was Darcy Lewis and the agents only bothered to give their surnames, Jacobs and White. She was just a civilian and when Steve and Natasha greeted them they were a bit wary of her, but she ignored the faint looks of suspicion on their faces and asked asked for Thor. She told them she had met him when he first came to Earth and when The Event happened her first thought was to find him and Jane. I didn’t have anyone else to go to , she had said.

 

She somehow ended up finding Barton first, and though they had looked, Jane’s trail was cold. They didn’t know if she was ash or lost in the chaos, but they decided to head towards the surviving superheros after they were unable to find anything. Perhaps they would be able to pick something up with more resources.

 

Thor arrived and gave a small smile upon seeing her. “Darcy, it’s good to see you.” He enveloped her in a hug.

 

“Back at ya. I want to say nice haircut, but it just doesn’t seem very, you know, you. Did someone have to tie you down?”

 

For the first time in a long time Thor laughed.

 

-

 

Somehow, in the as to be expected bleakness of a universe that had half of its lifeforms turned to dust, Darcy brought a small ray of light to everyone wherever she went. Doing her best to keep everyone’s spirits somewhat up. Lightly teasing, innocent flirting, and giving encouragement where possible.

 

She was certain they could find a way to fix what Thanos had done.

 

She was endearing and bright, and Steve quickly found himself drawn in. Even if her light wasn’t necessarily just for him, it had been so long since something good had been in his life, falling was inevitable.

 

And Natasha noticed, Natasha always noticed.

 

“You like her.”

 

“Everyone likes her Nat.”

 

“Don’t deflect Steve, you like her .”

 

“Is it appropriate to still be trying to set me up? We have more important things to worry about.”

 

“You aren’t dead Steve, we can try all we want to fix everything, but ultimately we don’t know if we can. Seeking some kind of happiness isn’t a betrayal, and it’s not like your happiness is proportional to your desire to help people.”

 

-

 

It was a rainy Saturday when Steve sort of, but not really, asked Darcy out.

 

“You know Steve, asking a girl out then kind of just sitting there awkwardly usually isn’t how these things are supposed to go.”

 

He gave a small laugh, “It’s been a while since there was really any acceptable date small talk I guess.”

 

“I guarantee I will accept whatever it is Rogers, you can tell me what’s weighing on you and skip unsuccessful small talk.”

 

“To be perfectly honest, I’m not really sure this,” he waved his hand from herself to her direction, “is a great idea.”

 

“Because the universe got mega screwed and now you feel like you're not allowed any moments of reprieve until it’s all fixed?”

 

“Pretty much.”

 

“Has anyone ever told you life is short? Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you may die.”

 

“Always been from one war to another, back then we would grab at small pieces of calm when we found the moment and I never really thought about it. Then I end up in this new world and suddenly so much is happening I think I may have forgotten.”

 

“I think you should start remembering.” She smiled.

 

-

 

At the current moment he wasn’t actually very sure of himself, but never the less the next day he pulled Darcy off to an empty room, everything he wanted to say planed out. That he was terrified of never saving everyone. That even though he didn’t think he deserved her light he wanted to be able to see it everyday. He wanted to tell her that she brought her hope that the world, whether it could be saved or not, would carry on. That yes he wanted to grab at happiness because she was right, life is short. That somehow, through all the turmoil he had found someone he could say he could easily love.

 

What he said was “I, uh, damn it.”

 

“You ok there Rogers? Seem a little flustered.”

 

He put his hand on her face, not really sure if he should take the chance. But she didn’t back away as he brought himself down so he could reach her face. He stood for a second and after a few seconds she gave a small smile.

 

He kissed her, short and sweet, pulling away after a few seconds, seconds that felt like.

 

Darcy put her hands on his face. “Memento mori talk really got to you didn’t it.”

 

“I had a whole speech planed out.”

 

“Of course you did. Glad you skipped it to be honest, life is short after all.”

 

She pulled his head down and planted her lips on his, and gave a small laugh when she pulled back.

 

“What’s so funny?”

 

“Maybe I just think the kissing me in an impulsive ‘life is short seize the moment’ decision is funny.”

 

“Why’s that?”

 

“The irony.” She said with no explanation, she turned to leave and shouted back. “See you for dinner Rogers, I’m making stir fry.”

 

-

 

Jane Foster came to them on a rainy Saturday day with Agent Jacobs and a blond woman with the look of a soldier. Steve and Thor met them at the entrance. Jane was on crutches with her right arm and left leg in braces, pink scars that couldn’t be more than a few months old on her face. She looked like she hadn’t had any decent sleep in ages.

 

“Hello Jane.” Thor’s words were more level than his emotions.

 

“Hi Thor.”

 

“It’s good to see you are still alive, though how did…?” he brought his hands in a downward motion in an effort to ask the source of her injuries with out words.

 

“Got hit by a truck, driver disappeared, and lucky us, we were in the way.” Her words were bitter. She then turned a little to point to the blond woman to her left, “Anyway, afterward I met Captain Danvers while trying to find any sort of anomaly to see if it would help explain what the hell is going on. She came from space so it had set some of my equipment off. Fortunately she was close to where I was so I found her pretty quickly. Agent Jacobs found us after Carol sent out a beacon to let SHIELD know she was here. Carol this is Steve aka America’s first superhero and Thor, he’s an alien god.”

 

“Nice to meet you Thor, Captain Rogers.”

 

“Same to you Miss. Danvers.”

 

“Captain, Captain.”

 

“I apologize, nice to meet you Captain Danvers.” Steve replied, face an awkward mixed of guilty and embarrassed.

 

Silenced washed over the room, no one quite sure what to say next.

 

“Ah” Thor broke the silence then paused for a moment before he turned to Steve, “Steven, can you go fetch Darcy? I’m sure Jane would like to see she is well.”  

 

“Did you say Darcy?” Jane asked, a confused look on her face. “Darcy can’t be here.” She shook her head

 

“She is, she made it here safely with our archer friend. We will keep her safe as we will keep you safe. I’m sure she would like to see you as well.”

 

“No, she really can’t be here Thor, it’s impossible.”

 

Thor and Steve both gave Jane a questioning look.

 

“Darcy’s dead. Not turned to dust dead, she was with me when we got hit, she was killed instantly.”

 

-

 

Steve walked into his room, Jane’s words echoing in his head Darcy’s dead .

 

She’d been dead for months, and something had fooled all of them.

 

Something that he had gone and started having emotions for.

 

His thoughts were interrupted when a presence materialized in the room, and even though he couldn’t see anyone, he could feel eyes on him.

 

“I imagine you have questions.”

 

Imagine? What the hell are you and what the hell is your goal? Why were you playing with me?

 

Steve opted to go the straight faced route and put on his flat expression unimpressed superhero face.

 

“What exactly are you?”

 

“I have been over your shoulder since the day you were born. Just as I am with every living thing. It’s odd don’t you think, that a inevitably can hover more closely to some and further from others? From your ill health to the never ending streak of recklessness that you have never lost, I have always hung a little too heavy on you like a weighted shroud.”

 

Not human.

 

“Why Darcy Lewis?”

 

She, it, appeared before him sitting on the dresser. Faint at first but quickly becoming almost, but not quite, solid.

 

“I needed someone that could be brought in to your circle on one person’s trust alone, and I can only show myself as something already dead.”

 

Darcy can’t be here, Darcy is dead. Jane had said

 

This thing was never her. This thing that had fooled even Thor, someone who had lived in the same space as the real Darcy

 

“We didn’t know Fury or Hill were dead, you could have picked one of them.”

 

“You think those the Mad Titan turned to dust are truly dead?”

 

How can they be alive, I watched my friends turn to ash. They are gone.

 

“They sure aren’t here to prove otherwise.” He was careful not to let any hint of the frustration he felt seep into his words.

 

“They were taken from this reality into a kind of in between. Death cannot come to them there, but they aren’t really alive either. As a result i can’t use their images, trust me if I could have found an even easier way in, I would have.”

 

“So that means we really can bring them back, with them being stuck in the middle.” His eyes widened. Hope starting to creep into him.

 

Shrugging she said,“With the right choices at least some of them if not all, yes. Please don’t assume I was simply playing an optimist when I said I was sure you guys could all find a way.”

 

Not human, not a monster.

 

“Shouldn’t you know at least? Who’ll make it?”

 

“Believe it or not, futures and deaths are rarely set in stone. Those things require a lot of choices by a lot of people lining up just so.” The knowing look she gave him as she said this made his stomach clench, “And even if I did know, this is still a highly unusual situation, with the whole breaking reality and all.”

 

A force of nature.

 

“Death can’t control death, seems kinda odd.”

 

“It’s what I am, not what I do. I suppose I could influence it in this form, and even if I could measure out lifespans, why would I? Everything dies. And it’s not like i have a daily quota. However Thanos did kind of break me by putting half the living universe into a limbo, I find it annoying. Part of the reason I showed up to your little group was to see the people who might just fix everything. I want you guys to fix it.”

 

Fixing it should be the only reason.

 

”Part of the reason?”

 

“Like I said, deaths are rarely set in stone Steven Grant Rogers, tell me what you think the other part is.”

 

I’m not making it out of this alive.

 

-

 

It was a rainy Saturday when Steve Rogers died.

 

He was sitting on a bench in Brooklyn, after all  no one ever said you had to sit and watch your dead body get hauled around.

 

It wasn’t long after that Death was standing before him.

 

“Congratulations Rogers, you and the dream team fixed the universe.”

 

“Not a terrible way to go I suppose.” He paused then asked, “Why do you still look like Darcy?”

 

“What? Expecting a skeleton in a robe?” She gave a small laugh, “This is how you met me so this is probably subconsciously how you picture me.”

 

“You gonna meet everyone else who kicked it in person too?”

 

“Nope. I am a fragment of consciousness for an inanimate force, I usually just observe things, mostly deaths obviously, so coming to the newly dead in person to say hi isn’t my usual schtick. But you’re special,” she brought a finger to her lips, “don’t tell anyone else if you see them.”

 

“You realize that makes no sense right, consciousness of an inanimate force.”

 

“Time, space, and reality can be controlled by some rocks and and that doesn’t make sense?”

 

“I guess it all just continually manages to surprise me”, he replied dryly, Steve waited a moment before asking, “so what do I do now?”

 

“Move on, stick around on the incorporeal plane, come back for another ride on the rollercoaster, whatever you would rather do. And before you ask, no, I don’t know what’s on the other side.”

 

“The whole ‘actually an unconscious force’ thing lock you out?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“What about sticking with you?”

 

“Eventually you would fade away as an individual entity and just be part of me. Just gonna add though, being a formless idea that can project in physical form isn’t as sexy as it sounds.”

 

“Is it bad that sounds somewhat appealing on some level or another?”

 

“Not really, but it’s part of what made me to begin with, so probably biased.” Darcy, Death, Steve reminded himself, shrugged.

 

She turned to leave and after a couple steps she looked back.

 

“You’re choice Rogers.”

 

He stood up.