“Is this some kind of weird profiling thing?” Darcy demanded, slamming her hands down on Coulson’s desk. “I’m a female millennial, so the only thing I’m good at is teaching pop culture and social media?!”
Her erstwhile boss pinched the bridge of his nose, clearly praying for patience. “Darcy, you know that’s not true. Would you prefer Agent Sitwell do it? Agent Barton? Tony Stark?” His voice raised a few decibels with every suggestion, and she idly wondered whether his office was soundproof.
“No,” she admitted, then added hotly, “but they aren’t the only available options, and you know it!”
With an irritated sigh, Coulson said firmly, “You are the only person I have on staff who has already been in contact with an Avenger, who I can trust not to anger the Captain or give him an unduly skewed picture of history.” He sat back in his chair and flicked his tie, clearly indicating that he considered the matter settled.
“You really care about this, huh?” she asked, with a sigh. He didn’t respond, and she grumped, “Fine. I’ll help you out. Not that I had a real choice,” she muttered under her breath. Coulson didn’t reply, but the corner of his mouth twitched. It was the equivalent of a full belly laugh, as far as she was concerned, and she was oddly proud.
Not too proud—she still had to have the last word. As she moved to the door, she teased, “Don’t worry, Son of Coul, I won’t let your idol down!” Cackling, she darted into the hallway before he could say anything else.
Only to immediately run into Steve Rogers himself, who was leaning against the wall outside the office. He looked a little grumpy, now that he wasn’t in that atrocious star-spangled outfit. But honestly, if she’d been dumped in a different century without warning or care for her psychological health, Darcy would probably feel the same way.
With that in mind, she stuck her hand out for him to shake. “Hi, Captain Rogers. It’s very nice to meet you. I’m Darcy.” He returned her handshake firmly, without hesitation. But there was something hidden behind his eyes, a kind of wariness that hinted at repeated disappointments.
And at that moment, with his warm hand in hers and the reserved smile that just barely tilted the curve of his lips, Darcy decided she didn’t want to be added to that list.
“This is iconic music,” he questioned, clearly doubting her. “Darce, are you pullin’ my leg?”
She chuckled at his skepticism, then laughed even harder at his disbelief that The Beatles could ever be considered good music. Her laugh turned into a snort as she pictured the American people’s reaction to finding out this surprising bit of information about Steve Rogers, Captain America.
She cracked an eye open to look at him, which only set her off into another round of laughter. He looked completely bemused by it all, and she rushed to reassure him that she wasn’t making fun of him.
“I’m not pulling your leg,” she promised, wiping a stray tear from the corner of her eye. “It’s just that everyone loves The Beatles. You have formed a very unpopular opinion, Steve.”
His face relaxed into a teasing grin, in a way she’d only rarely gotten to see in the few months they’d been hanging out—err, having very official pop culture information sessions. Her breath caught in her throat at the sight, and she almost missed what he said altogether.
“C’mon, Darce,” he coaxed, ducking his chin and looking up at her through his eyelashes, all sincere and earnest. As if she didn’t know better. “You can’t say that this is the best music you’ve ever heard.”
“I’m actually not a huge fan,” she finally admitted, and he crowed in triumph. “But that is not an opinion widely shared by the rest of the country,” she insisted, knowing that her words fell on deaf ears. His eyes danced with merriment as they met hers, and he didn’t look disappointed at all. Something warm stirred in her chest, but she shoved it away.
“Okay, now I know you’re pullin’ my leg,” he stated authoritatively, watching the title credits for Spice World scroll across the screen. His arm was still around her, and she had no desire whatsoever to move away. “There’s no way this is considered classic cinema, Darce.”
“That’s a matter of opinion,” she sniffed haughtily, trying not to laugh as they made eye contact.
The doorbell rang, and the moment was broken. Steve cast one more disdainful look at the TV and then got up to tip the pizza delivery guy. Was it just her, or did his fingers trail reluctantly across her shoulder as he pulled away?
A light touch trailing up and down her arm brought Darcy to full consciousness. She blinked sleepily, trying to focus her eyes in the dimly-lit room. The scrolling credits of The Return of the King were playing on the TV, and she couldn’t read them very well. The words were sideways, she realized; turning her body, she stared up at the underside of Steve’s jaw. At her movement, his hands faltered and fell away from her arm.
“There you are,” Steve said, looking down at her with soft eyes. “I was beginning to think you’d sleep the whole way through.”
“I’m so sorry,” she said, darting upright. His hand followed her shoulder, only to drop awkwardly in the space between them. “I can’t believe I fell asleep on you.”
The mischievous slant to his grin fell away, and he rushed to reassure her. “No, sweetheart, you don’t need to apologize. It was nice, being able to just relax with you. Like it’s not a job.” His mouth snapped shut on the last word, like he’d said too much. Her stomach was still fluttering over the endearment, and it took her a second to catch up.
“What? Steve, you know you’re not a job to me. Right?” She reached out to cup his cheek, searching for a way to make him believe her.
His hand came up to cover hers, holding it in place, and his eyes closed for a long moment. He looked relaxed. Happy. A ball of tension she hadn’t even known was there unfurled in her gut, and she smiled at him.
“Darce,” he said, opening his eyes to meet hers with determination. “I have a culture question.”
She was a little startled by the change of subject, but said, “Shoot.”
“In my day,” he began, removing his hand from hers and reaching up to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear. His fingers trailed lightly down her jaw, and she had to struggle to focus on his words. “Watchin’ a movie with a dame was considered a date.” He paused, licking his lips nervously, and her eyes fixated on the movement. “Is that still true in this century?”
Her heart thudded in her chest. “Yes,” she whispered, leaning into him.
He pulled her closer, until their lips were a hair’s breadth apart. “So, we’re dating?”
“Do you want to be?” she asked, unwilling to make the first move. He’d not gotten to choose very much for himself since waking up in this century, and she wasn’t going to steal this too.
He closed the distance, pressing a light, fluttery kiss against her lips. She barely had time to relish the sensation of his lips on hers before he was pulling away. “Yes,” he whispered, mouth brushing against hers with the single syllable.
And then he leaned back in, and this kiss was everything she’d ever hoped for. His lips slid against hers like they were made to—warm and pliant and trembling with months of suppressed feelings—and she pressed closer. Without even breaking contact, he picked her up and shifted so that she was sitting in his lap.
Darcy rocked against him, opening her mouth against his and letting the fire consume them both. Their tongues stroked and teased, sliding against each other until she had to break away for air. She trailed light, nipping bites against the smooth line of his jaw, all the way down until she reached the sensitive spot beneath his ear. He shuddered beneath her and coaxed her mouth back to his, pressing a fervent kiss against her mouth.
His arms came up to cradle her against him, and he broke the kiss to whisper hoarsely against her temple, “You’re everything I never knew to hope for, Darce. Thank you for bringing me home.”