“It felt like spring time on this February morning
In a courtyard birds were singing your praise
I’m still recalling things you said to make me feel alright
I carried them with me today
As I lay me down to sleep
This I pray
That you will hold me dear
Though I’m far away
I’ll whisper your name into the sky
And I will wake up happy”
~ As I Lay Me Down by Sophie B Hawkins
Darcy Lewis-Barton lay in her bed, wide awake watching the sky lighten with the approaching dawn. It was, she thought idly, unseasonably warm for Valentine’s day. She sighed, and hugged her pillow closer, well really, it was her husband, Clint’s pillow, but she’d been using it as a touchstone ever since Director Fury had told her that the Avengers were missing in action.
Darcy’s husband was a super hero, and while she knew that his life was always in danger, it hadn’t really hit home for her until she was sitting next to her boss/best friend Jane Foster, who even though she was married to Thor Odinson, refused to change her name, and Pepper Potts, Tony Stark’s wife, in a conference room in Stark Tower, watching footage of the team fighting some truly ridiculous robots Doctor Doom had created before they all disappeared in a bright flash of light. S.H.I.E.L.D. and Jane were convinced it was a wormhole, created by a bastardized version of the Bifrost, and therefore Jane’s work on with Einstein-Rosen Bridges was going to be the key to bringing The Avengers home.
That was six months ago. Six months without Clint’s hugs, or kisses, or smart ass comments, or his voice telling her how much she was loved. Six months with a terrified, and quite frankly terrifying pregnant Jane Foster and a ridiculously overbearing Pepper Potts, who, in the absence of Tony Stark and turned her organizational skills on Darcy and Jane and their lab. And, while this was a huge help to Darcy in getting Jane to take proper care of herself and the baby, it was slightly less helpful when directed at Darcy.
She was well aware of the fact that she hadn’t had an entire night’s sleep in six months. Sometimes it was because she and Jane stayed up late working in the lab, but most of the time it was because she couldn’t sleep without Clint nearby to keep the nightmares at bay, and her current nightmares all centered around losing him forever, something she refused to accept, so Darcy did what Darcy does best: take care of “her” scientists. Technically, Darcy was Jane’s assistant, but Darcy had adopted Bruce Banner and Tony Stark after the first few weeks of working for Stark Industries. So, in their absence, Darcy made Jane take care of herself, such as eating appropriately, and actually sleeping. She made Pepper slow down, come out of her office and stop to take care of herself instead of everyone else. And, well, in attempting to take care of Bruce Banner in his absence, she’d done something a little reckless.
Darcy had cornered Nick Fury and Phil Coulson five months ago and demanded that they help her track down Bruce’s girlfriend, Betty Ross. Her main argument had been that once Jane got the Einstein-Rosen bridge generator working, and the team was home, each and every member was going to need someone to lean on. Tony had Pepper, Thor had Jane, Clint had Darcy, Steve had his best friend and fellow team member James “Bucky” Barnes, also known as the Winter Soldier, and oddly enough, Natasha had Loki, who’d gotten his act together and joined the team a year ago. But, she’d asked, who does Bruce have? Everyone on the team knew he was still in love with Betty Ross, and Darcy was determined to have Betty there when the team got home. Betty was also an amazing scientist in her own right, and Darcy was sure she could help Jane with the bridge, since both Bruce and Tony were missing from their normal brain trust.
Fury was concerned about Betty’s father, General Ross, who was determined to rid the world of The Hulk, even though Bruce was now safe from him and everyone else, via a presidential pardon and immunity through S.H.I.E.L.D. Darcy didn’t give a flying fuck who Betty’s father thought he was. Betty loved Bruce, and all the research Darcy had done suggested that she wasn’t afraid of The Other Guy and had spent years fighting with her father about it, so, Darcy was going to find her, offer her the job Tony had promised Bruce he’d give her, and move her into Stark Tower with the rest of them.
It took two months to track her down, and another month to establish good contact with her, but seven weeks ago, Betty Ross had escaped the prison that her father’s home had become, and was firmly established in Bruce’s suite at the tower. With her help, Jane had made amazing progress with the bridge, and they estimated they were only days away from getting it to work. Jane was determined to have Thor on this planet at the very least, if not in the delivery room with her in six weeks. This was causing Jane be slightly more obsessive than usual, but in this case, Darcy was right there with her. She wanted Clint home. He’d been missing for six months, which was twice as long as they’d been married when he disappeared. Once she got him back and in good health, they were taking a month or two off, and spending it some place where it was warm and clothing was optional.
The sun was finally rising and Darcy closed her eyes for a moment and gathered every ounce of courage she possessed as she got ready to face the day. Clint’s parting words to her had been a promise to come home in one piece and an extraction of a promise from her to be brave and hold down the fort, so Darcy held up her end of the deal. She climbed out of bed every morning, put on a smile, hopeful that today would be the day that she’d get him back, and took care of Jane, Pepper and Betty.
Darcy was just starting her second cup of coffee after her shower when Jane came waddling into the kitchen as fast as she possibly could. “We did it!” She screamed at the top of her lungs. “We got the Einstein-Rosen Bridge generator running, and JARVIS says he can get a lock on Tony’s signal once we get the portal open!” Jane was dancing around the kitchen, laughing and crying at the same time, waving a piece of paper over head.
Darcy let her coffee cup fall to the ground, her mouth wide open. “You can bring them home?” she whispered, her voice breaking on the last word as she too began to cry.
“Yes!” Jane cried, “I really, really think so. This is going to work, I can feel it!” She grabbed Darcy’s arm and began tugging her towards the elevator, to the lab. “The machines are warming up, Betty’s inputting all of the information we got from the scans we got from the original scene, and JARVIS is pretty sure we can have them back in an hour or so. Fury and Coulson are inbound from the Helicarrier and Pepper is in the lab.”
Darcy lept at Jane to give her the biggest bear hug she could, considering the size of Jane’s belly, before they took off running to the lab.
Clint was coming home.