Disclaimer: I own none of the characters from the Buffy verse or the Marvel Avengers Movie verse...
This is a departure from the usual comedy of this series. In fact, this is the total opposite. I'm issuing a tissue warning for this!
Sitting on a blanket on the roof of Avengers tower, Darcy sniffled. She could barely make out the lights of the skyscrapers around her through her tears. Suddenly, an open box of Kleenex was thrust in front of her face. Rearing back slightly, she stared at the offering.
"Here," Bruce said, waiving the box a bit.
"Uh, thanks," Darcy replied as she took the box presented. "Why are you up here?"
"Natasha told me you were up here, and why," Bruce shrugged. "I thought you may need someone to talk to."
Blowing her nose, Darcy nodded. "Thanks."
A few minutes of silence passed with Darcy staring at a particular patch of the New York skyline.
"We used to stargaze together," Darcy finally said to break the quiet. "Not that we knew what we were doing. We only ever found one of the Dippers and Orion. We would make up the rest. It ended up different every time."
Smiling slightly, Bruce nodded encouragingly.
"By the time we figured out how to accurately use star charts, she had graduated and decided to be an active Slayer. She got stationed out of the country right away. We used up all of our allotted phone money calling each other." Pausing to wipe her eyes, Darcy continued. "We had sent each other star maps for the areas we were in, and would talk about the stars we could see. She wanted to be stationed somewhere she could see the Southern Cross. It was her dream to see it."
"Did she ever see it?" Bruce asked softly.
Darcy shook her head. "Only on a smartphone. We found an app that would tell you the stars you were looking at. If you looked towards the ground, you could see the starmap for the southern hemisphere." With a small smile, she continued. "She adored that program and would look for the Southern Cross each night before bed."
Wrapping an arm around Darcy's shoulder, Bruce gave a quick squeeze. "What happened?"
"She was chasing down a lead on a possible apocalypse based in Germany," Darcy said, pausing to gulp for air. "She didn't find anything about an apocalypse."
"What did she find?" Bruce asked, tightening his hold against her suddenly taut shoulders.
"A children smuggling ring," Darcy replied with a sigh. "She called for back-up. The Council think that's when the demons heard her, from what they pieced together between evidence and witness accounts. She… She…"
Rubbing his hand down her arm, Bruce made shushing noises. "It's okay, you don't need to continue."
Shaking her head, Darcy blew her nose. "No, I want to say it aloud." Waving her Kleenex, she continued. "She basically blew the ring to smithereens. By the time she was done, there wasn't a demon alive. But, she was mortally wounded. The local police found her body based on the kids' reports. The Council found records that the ring was harvesting the kids' organs for the black market. She saved the lives of forty-eight kids."
"She died a hero, then," Bruce stated.
"Yet, she still died, "Darcy said with a nod.
With a sigh, Bruce replied, "Because of her, there will be forty-eight kids growing up, and no matter what they do, making a difference in the world. You never know... One of those kids could end up being the next Einstein or Hawking. Or, they could be a Mother Teresa or Florence Nightingale. Your friend made forty-eight lights shine in the dark."
Darcy gave a sharp laugh. "If so, they better name a theory or ship or something after her. Queen of the Southern Cross sounds good."
"Hmmm…" Bruce paused in thought. "I like that."
"Why did she have to die?" Darcy cried out, sobbing into a wet and barely held together Kleenex.
"Not everyone can live and die the way they wish. Personally, I would love to leave this world surrounded by my grandkids, in my home on the Mars colony. I know that'll never happen, but that's my dream." Pausing for Darcy's near hysterical laugh, he continued. "But, we work, we love, we live
, and we hope for the perfect ending. Do we get it? No... Your friend forfeited her life to save the lives of countless children. We'll never know how many future abductees she saved by stopping that ring. But, she is a true hero."
Nodding, Darcy pointed towards the point of the sky she had stared at for most of their conversation. "Bruce, meet Orion, the hunter. Someday, maybe I'll introduce you to the Southern Cross."
"I'd like that," Bruce replied with a nod.
Oh man, I teared up writing this… This is all Ithildin's fault. She decided Bruce would be the best person to comfort Darcy. Excuse me, I need a Kleenex now.