Unlikely Singularities – Chapter 44


Panic!At the Disco

December 8, 2016

Tom. Thomas. Tommy. Listen to the sound of my voice.” Darcy watched Thor hand Jane a drink and smiled at the admiration in his eyes. Jane looked nervous and angrily nauseated. They were adorable. Darcy spoke into her cell phone once more and sent a silent thank you into the universe that her monthly bill was picked up by her new employer. International plans were expensive. “You need to stand up. Are you standing, Tommy?”

Yes, uh, yes, Ms. Lewis.”

Thor was rubbing gentle circles on Jane’s back. His palm spanned her entire waist. Ugh, adorable. Darcy let her eyes flick about the room. Stuck-up scientists, check. Shark politicians, check. Bored philanthropists, check. Obvious threats to Jane’s emotional state or Darcy’s record of 52 days gunshot-wound free, zero. Two SI security goons that Tony had lent her were keeping most people away for the time being, giving Jane and her godly boyfriend some privacy and Darcy an opportunity to get a little work done.

The way you can stand and not collapse on the floor into a pile of goo is all due to a little something we in the business like to call a spine, Tom.” A sound of indignation came over the call but Darcy steamrolled him, “Yours is good for more than just supporting your rib cage. You are going to take your spine – and what Courtney at SI Human Resources has assured me is a working set of balls, and you are going to leave the cubicle farm, get in the elevator, and take the notes I sent you up to Tony Stark.”

Ms. Lewis-” Tom began to protest and Darcy pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration. Was Tony an asshole seventy-five percent of the time? Yes. Had he ever actually fired someone for doing what their boss had ordered them to do? Not to Darcy’s knowledge – those employees who were rumored to have swiftly left the company after Obidiah Stane’s death notwithstanding.

She softened her tone. If he had known her longer than one month, he might have recognized the danger. “Tom. If you can’t manage this, then I am going to have to step out into the hall to finish this conversation. Do you remember where I am, Tom?”

Yes, Ms. Lewis.”

Darcy continued as if he hadn’t answered. “I’m in Stockholm, Tom. I came here to watch my bestest bosom buddy get a fucking gold medal, Tom. If I step out into the hall, I might miss her speech. Can you begin to imagine how upset that would make me, if I had to miss Dr. Jane Fucking Foster receive the award of a lifetime because you couldn’t find your own balls with two hands and a flashlight?”

The SI goons shifted, their postures stiffening and Thor moved his hand from Jane’s back to her shoulder, pushing her gently behind him. Darcy had to duck and lean awkwardly around his bulk, but all she could see were an unusual number of event security.

I don’t think-”

A murmur was rippling through the crowd, and Darcy could feel a shiver run across her scalp under her fancy-pants hairdo. “Tom. I am done pussyfooting around with you. Take the notes to Tony Stark now and then hand him your phone. I have to put you on speaker – don’t worry if there’s screaming.” Darcy shoved her phone into her cleavage, wondering, not for the first time, why more dresses didn’t have pockets. She had plenty of room for her room key card, emergency cash, and her phone, but more petite women like Jane were at a real disadvantage – carrying capacity-wise. Someone was speaking at the front of the room, but Jane had insisted on staying in a tiny alcove near the back and Darcy couldn’t hear.

What’s going on?” She asked Thor.

There have been threats made,” he answered lowly. “Here, and at another ceremony for peace.” Darcy blinked. That was bad. The Nobel Peace Prize was handed out in Norway while the other prizes, including Jane’s anticipated medal for physics, were given out in Sweden. “Local justice officers are searching the premises.” Darcy didn’t miss the way that his jaw tensed or the dark flush under the skin of Jane’s neck.

Let’s go,” Darcy responded. She gestured to the two SI guards and ordered Thor. “You take Jane to the airport, I’ll follow with the suits.”

Darcy,” Jane began with a frown.

I know, I know, you didn’t want to come in the first place. You can say I told you so later.” Darcy forced a saucy smile to distract from the fear that was primed and waiting for her. There were a lot of very famous, brilliant, and rich people at the ceremony. It was unlikely that the threats were directed at Jane specifically, but probability had a way of spitting in her eye and giggling madly. “Go to the plane. We can hang out there, and if nothing happens, take a car back here in the morning. With this kind of thing they’ll be rescheduling tonight’s speeches anyhow. Take a ride with your god, brainey Janey. I’ll be right behind you.” Darcy winked, and Jane allowed Thor to pull her through a side door.

Be careful, Darcy,” she warned over her shoulder.

Darcy scanned the room. Nearly everyone was standing around uneasily, chatting in hushed tones and eyeing the police, but no one looked ready to panic. “All right then, boys. Jane’s laptop is upstairs, along with my tablet. We’re going to stop by the suite on our way to the airport.”

Ms. Lewis,” one began, but the other shook his head. He had worked with Darcy once before during her short time at SI. He knew she wouldn’t be deterred. She grinned at him.

Excellent.” She stepped out of her heels with a relieved sigh and hooked the shoes with the fingers of her left hand, leaving her right free just in case the night turned out to be less tense-waiting-and-bad-coffee and more punchy-punchy-run-run-run. As she made her way up to the ridiculous suite that the Nobel Foundation had reserved for Dr. Jane Foster, et. al., she considered that while boobs were fine for phones and key cards, a pocket would make carrying her taser to black-tie events easier. That thought made her remember Tom – whom she had wanted to tase more than once just this week. Her phone was a little sweaty, but she could hear the apparently not-spineless public relations lackey offering excuses as she put it to her ear.

Tommy,” she barked, “put the phone on speaker, set it down, and walk the fuck away.”

There was a hiss of relief, a clatter, then, “Lewis? Did you send a minon up to my workshop? You should check your contract. Page three, part four, paragraph c clearly states that-”

Tony, I’m kind of in the middle of a bomb threat or something here, so I really don’t have the time or energy for your bullshit right now.”

Oh.” The billionaire was quiet for a moment, and Darcy could only hear faint clanking over her own heavy breathing. The security guards had insisted they take the stairs. She really needed to look into cardio. Or something. Does yelling at PR lackeys count as cardio? “I assume the Space Ace and her boytoy have everything under control?”

Thor took Jane to the airport. We’re going to hang out at the jet tonight, just in case we need to leave quickly. Can you find out if this is a for real thing or like, a regular assholes making big claims thing?”

And you are – where, exactly?”

Leave it to Tony to cut through misdirection. “I’m securing the research Jane brought with her.”

He sounded offended. “I encrypted that laptop myself. No one is getting her data, tiny trollop.”

My tablet too,” Darcy continued, ignoring one of Tony’s less creative nicknames. “I took some really great video this morning of Thor at the ABBA museum, it was awesome. But more important are the notes Thomas just left for you. You will read them. You will learn from them, and when I confirm your meetings with key members of Congress in the coming week you will attend, smile, keep at least half of your snark to yourself, and instead you will let my brilliance come out of your mouth.” Darcy paused for the inevitable comment about what Tony would prefer to have in his mouth, but he surprised her.

Lewis, you need to get out of there.” His serious voice brought her up short and the guard following her nearly bumped against her back.


Oslo police discovered two undetonated bombs – so far – at the peace prize awards. They’re keeping it under wraps so that no one gets hurt leaving the building.” Tony swore creatively. “A lot more people are gonna get hurt if something goes off.”

Darcy felt sick, remembering everyone in the reception hall just standing around. Like fish in a barrel. “Tony, the people here all need to leave. I’m going back downstairs,” she decided suddenly. “I’ll let the building security know they need to begin an orderly evacuation and-”

No. You will leave now, and go to the airport.”

Tony-” Darcy bristled. She could understand his concern, which was kind of sweet in an overbearing and overly-familiar way. She could even agree with it, to a point. Her nerves were on high alert, just thinking that there might be a target on the hotel she was in. But she at least needed to warn someone before things got out of hand. Even if she couldn’t convince the powers that be to change their action plan, she could probably convince the Nobel Committee organizer that it would be very bad press to get laureates killed – against the advice of the Avengers.

Now, Lewis. I’ll get on the phone with the local yahoos – but you start moving now or so help me I will order your bodyguards to remove you by force.”

Darcy wanted to argue, she really did, but Tony did not sound bossy or rude. He sounded scared. Other than emotional honesty, anything that scared a man who had flown a nuclear weapon into space was too big for Darcy Lewis to deal with. She was awesome and brave and smarter than the average bear, but she knew her limitations. Darcy signaled to her guards and started back down the stairs, heading for the parking garage.

Fine. I’m on my way. But you have to tell them, Tony.”

I’m on it.” His relief was clear. “And Friday has already backed up your ABBA video. Shit, Lewis. Did you teach Thor the Bus Stop?”

Darcy was panting a little as her group pushed through the last door and headed for their secure vehicle. “Nope. That was all him. Said they have something very similar on Asgard.”