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I THOR

When Tony extends an invitation to move into his midlife crisis ("THAT IS NOT FUNNY, DARCY. I don't build towers when I have a midlife crisis, that's what my Tesla collection is for."), Darcy is thrilled. Rent free lodging on her lackluster paycheck? Booyah.

She and Jane agree to share a three bedroom apartment rather than be separated by the fourteen floors that taking two one bedroom suites would have required (their love is so co-dependant) and it has worked out surprisingly well. They're both generally messy, Jane eats like a hummingbird unless Darcy force feeds her so she never steals Darcy's food, and - surprisingly - they have the same taste in truly shitty television.

Not so great? Forgetting that Thor, when Midgard-bound, tends to shack up with Jane.

And no, before you ask, it's not because they have crazy, raucous sex.

(Okay, it's not JUST the crazy, raucous sex, though Darcy would rather stick her head through a meat grinder than hear Jane tell Thor to give it to her again. Ew. Thank god it's usually just the first night that they go APOCALYPSE NOW! in bed, so she usually just begs sanctuary in Clint's apartment and crashes on his comfy-as-fuck couch. And once in his bed, but like, what happens in Clint's apartment stays in Clint's apartment. Oh god, she hopes.)

She remembers how back in London, Thor hung up his hammer like a proper gentleman. Darcy isn't sure what kind of crazy anomaly that was because she's never met a guy who leaves more shit lying around than Thor.

The dude travels through a Einstein-Whateverblahblah bridge to get here and it's not as if he's packing prada luggage a la Stark, so how he manages to drift through rooms shedding shit like a cat sheds hair, she doesn't know. He basically comes with the clothes on his back and a giant, flying hammer. That's it. Yet he leaves a trail of shit behind him like wreckage.

She picked up his cape off the bathroom floor yesterday, for fuck's sake. A RED CAPE. Then there was the time he left his fucking whacky god-helmet on the toaster for some reason. Maybe that's the Asgardian way of knighting something; Thor loves his toast.

But all that pales in comparison with Mew-Mew. Darcy knows that it's because he can ~call~ it or whatever and it will come flying like a really well trained golden retriever, but he leaves that thing everywhere. In the clothes hamper. On top of the weird lizard-shaped lamp in the living room from New Mexico. The crisper section of the fridge (WHEN HE EATS THE LAST OF HER REALLY EXPENSIVE ORGANIC APPLES WHICH SHE TRIES NOT TO BE REALLY ANGRY OVER BECAUSE HE'S SAVED THE WORLD A COUPLE TIMES AND BLAH BLAH BLAH, BUT HANDS OFF HER FUCKING GOLDEN DELICIOUS, BITCH).

The worst is when he leaves it on the coffee table. Darcy has her awesome little e-reader for the shittons of novels she reads every month (and before you ask, NO, not a single one of them is a romance novel - she prefers British modern lit), but she's a purist when it comes to her trashy magazines. And Thor likes to pin them to the table with his massive inferiority complex known as Mjaier!oiw#eier. Mew-mew for short. And the thing is preternaturally heavy and refuses to move for anyone but Thor, so ten times out of ten, she's stuck looking at half the face of whatever Bachelor's stinking up the latest season of reality tv and sighing irritably.

She's talking to it one night - "Of course he leaves you on my US Weekly! How am I supposed to find out what crimes against humanity the Kardashians have committed this week! I wish he was more careful with you, Mew-Mew. You deserve to be laid on a wee little hammer throne away from my trashy mags!" - when she leans forward to grab the remote beside it, nudging the giant hammer with her knuckles.

And it moves.

Whut?

The one thing her mother taught her (aside from taking zero shit from dudes unless you're getting good sex in return - yeah, her mom's pretty awesome) is that you catch bees with honey. "Mew-mew," Darcy says sweetly, "I would like that, please. Would you mind if I picked you up?"

And when she touches the handle, the thing weighs EXACTLY NOTHING.

She squeals in delight.

 

--

 

A few weeks later and Thor is apparently hosting - she kids you not - a Dancing with the Stars viewing party.

("They are graceful," Thor says, completely seriously. He's been watching ballroom dancing in his spare time lately, too. Thor can be a surprisingly complex dude sometimes. "And their tunics are sparkly.")

The rest of the guys show up because it's Thor, and everyone loves Thor. Also because Steve and Natasha have this really weird thing about dancing, Clint would sit through Toddlers & Tiaras if it meant getting to sprawl out next to Natasha, Barnes is essentially Steve's shadow, Bruce has nothing better to do, and Tony, while disliking any type of team building group exercise, refuses to be the only person left out of anything, even if it requires sitting through shit he hates.

She's glad Jane upgraded their couch to BEHEMOTH SIZE with all the bells and whistles, because she's got seven Avengers currently camped out on it. And Jane, who is camped out on Thor's lap.

However, since Darcy enjoys Dancing with the Stars about as much as she enjoys wisdom teeth extractions, she's going to chill in her room and read her Hello! magazine. (She got a bit addicted living in London - the British know how to do catty tabloids right, even if she doesn't know half the people they're talking about. Oh no, Lady Louise von HuffnTuff of Uppington-upon-Silverware has been seen habberdashing with her low-rent bartender boytoy in a Chelsea flat. Fuck yeah.)

"Yo Mew-Mew," she says, walking over to the coffee table as the gaggle of Avengers yammer loudly to each other during the commercial break, "can I grab my Hello!?"

She lifts the hammer (which weighs as much as a feather and is so shiny - she loves Mew-Mew) and slides out the stack of magazines underneath it.

Darcy gently places Mew-Mew back on the table. "Gracias, hammertime."

Everyone goes dead silent, the only sound in the room the ecstatic voice of the housewife in the Tide commercial who just cleaned her entire load of laundry with cold water.

Tony's mouth is GAPING. Clint and Natasha are staring at one another and Steve just kind of looks confused.

Darcy shrugs her shoulders and wanders into the adjoining kitchen, searching for snacks. The cupboards tend to be a bit bare when Thor rolls into town and eats them out of house and home. Plus, Thor always eats all her Fritos and drinks her orange Crush, which, ugh. But, LUCK IS HERS TONIGHT because he only ate her decoy bag this time; when she checks in the lower cabinet, behind the pressure cooker they've never once used, the rest of her bags are unmolested.

Tony is the first person to speak; Darcy can hear him as she yanks a bowl out of the dishwasher (because no one in their apartment can be bothered to empty it until the sink becomes critically full). "What the fuck was that?"

"She must like Darcy."

"Mew-Mew is a woman?"

"I think it's like a ship or Mother Russia."

"The great Mjolnir is neither man nor woman, but yes, I imagine she has grown quite fond of Lady Darcy."

"See? Woman."

"Oh my god, shut up, Clint."

Darcy ducks her head back around the wall that separates the kitchen from the living room. "I am big with the Home Depot crowd. Mystical screwdrivers and enchanted power saws can't get enough of this."

Steve catches her eye as he laughs with the rest of them, then turns to poke Tony, who is trying to pull Mew-Mew off the table and failing miserably.

By the time Darcy makes her way down the hall, balancing a bowl of Fritos and a cup of Mountain Dew on her magazines, she can hear Tony's grunts and Clint's irritated, pinched voice.

"Sit down, Tony! You're making me miss Maria Menounos's tango!"

 

--

 

This is the third time in two weeks Darcy has woken to Tony Stark in her goddamn living room.

"Hey," Tony says casually to Mew-Mew, who is actually nestled in the arm of the couch this time. Tony twists his wrist around at Mew-Mew, as if trying to bodily convey the casualness of his conversation. "Listen Mew-Mew, I think we got off on the wrong foot. I'm a pretty great guy when you get to know me. My suits love me - plus, I could upgrade you. How do you feel about sidewinder missiles?"

Oh jeez.

"Is that Tony?" Jane asks, her eyes bleary as she walks up behind Darcy in their hallway.

"He's talking to Thor's hammer."

Jane's face scrunches up. "Oh please tell me that's not a euphemism."

Darcy cackles.

 

 

 

 

II TONY

Darcy is extraordinarily lazy.

What? Darcy can be real with herself. Acknowledging your limitations, strengths and weaknesses is important for self-actualization (or so the self-help tapes that her Aunt Rita, the passive-aggressive queen of mean, sent her say). And to be fair, Darcy's laziness is actually a strength. Nothing in the world will power Darcy the way avoidance of work will, so laziness is her arc reactor.

So, Darcy's actually pretty jealous of Tony's armor.

"Ugh, it would so damn great to just be able to throw the suit on and zip home at the end of the day." Darcy's spending her lunch break down in Tony's lab, mostly because he's working on his latest suit and there's a 60% chance he'll blow something up, and Darcy's always enjoyed both gifs of cats and explosions. Tony may not provide much of the former, but plenty of the latter.

Tony shoots her a deeply unimpressed look. "So what you're saying is that you'd want the Iron Man suit so that you could beat traffic?" He leans over and grabs the weird glowing tube that she's been playing with and puts it back on the little stand in front of her. "I'd also like to point out that you live in the building."

"You know what I mean. Hypothetically speaking. I mean, I had to live in that shithole in Queens for a year before I moved in here!" Now that she's devoid of her glowy tube, she reaches for what looks like a strange little circuit board and begins poking it with her finger. "Have you seen New York traffic? Besides out of the back of a chauffeured car, I mean. I get heart palpitations just thinking about it and the sardine cans they call a subway here. Plus, being able to launch a rocket at the cabbie that cuts everyone off constantly? GOLDEN."

Tony plucks the circuit board from her fingers, too. "I don't feel like you respect the suit. Or my authority."

Darcy grins. "The suit, yes. Your authority, no."

Despite all the shit she gives Stark, Darcy actually has a huge soft spot for the man. He's crude and flamboyant and gives zero fucks about what people think about him, and if she hadn't picked up the Lewis nose from her father, she'd DEFINITELY be asking her mother if she ever had a one night stand in Starkland.

Darcy enjoys hanging out in the workshop with Tony, touching all his shit which drives him bonkers. She has a sneaking suspicion that Dummy may like her more than Tony. Not hard when every other word that comes out of Tony mouth is a threat to disassemble him. But yeah, it's always handing her coffee and brushing up against her like a big metal cat, which she has actually started to find endearing.

She likes touching the suits too. They are so pretty and sleek and lovely. She talks to them like they're alive mostly because this ALSO drives Tony bonkers. In fact, she is starting to find that it may be her super power: driving Stark insane.

Today she's patting the suit he's painted some sort of black and green mixture with some gold and red accents. "You did good work yesterday," she tells Mark 58.

Tony scratches his chin and stares at her with his usual mixture of annoyance and what she thinks might be quiet amusement. "You do realize that I am Iron Man, right?"

"Hey, the suits do a lot of the work, champ."

There's a snort of derision as he turns his back on her and she can practically hear him rolling his eyes when he speaks.. "Just don't touch anything, okay?"

It only takes her about a half-hour before boredom sets in. Dummy wheels himself over and sets his pincher down on her thigh. She pats it.

(God, it's sad that the most action she's gotten in the past six months is from Stark's ROBOT. Darcy's life is really pathetic sometimes.)

"Come on Stark, let me try the suit. Just once."

Tony sighs. "No. And even if I had the slightest inkling to let you - which I don't, by the way - the suit is calibrated to me, Lewis. Not for mouthy, curvy shit-disturbers."

"Pepper said she got to wear it."

"Yeah, well, Pepper is sleeping with me, so…" Stark has one pointy eyebrow raised.

Darcy grimaces, wrapping her hands around her Stark Industries coffee cup that she has defaced with a sharpie. (Tony's face doesn't look half bad with an eyepatch, but the blacked out teeth and Hitler mustache do nothing for him.) "Yeah, I'm going to pass on that."

"Your loss."

"Ugh."

 

--

 

"That the new suitcase suit?" Clint asks, swinging himself up on the worktable beside Steve, who is standing, but resting his ass back against it. It's the middle of the day on a Thursday - technically Darcy should be making sweet science with Jane, but when she walked into the lab after lunch? Yeah, Thor's bare ass was staring back at her with a pair of legs hooked over his hips, and Darcy had retreated so fast she literally walked into a wall.

So now she's in Tony's workshop with Steve and Clint, watching Tony unveil his new suitcase suit, which will most likely result in an explosion of some kind.

Darcy can't wait.

Stopping momentarily to take an indulgent bow, Tony then steps on some sort of lever to activate the suit. All of a sudden the suitcase swings left, sliding until it's at Darcy's feet instead. It snaps open like some creepy little bomb, a whirling mass of metal flying out of the small space.

"HOLY FUCK-" Darcy yells before the suit starts to unfold around her, metal snapping and clicking into place as she flails lightly, trying to get away but not moving enough to risk the suit snapping off something vital while it's wrapping itself around her.

The last thing she sees is Steve's wide eyes and Tony's horrified face before the suit's faceplate snaps down and her field of vision is lit up like a fucking Christmas tree.

"Miss Lewis?"

"JARVIS?" Darcy cries. Oh my god, she takes it back. The armor is fucking awful - it's like being in a goddamn tuna can and Darcy does not like confined spaces.

Plus now she's stumbling over the place like she's drunk. She hears the cracking of glass and realizes she just walked through Stark's brand new projection table. Oops.

"DARCY?!" she thinks she hears Steve yell, though it might be Tony. She can't tell because of the panicking. And the lack of oxygen.

"THIS SUIT WAS NOT CALIBRATED FOR MY BOOBS!" she screams because holy shit, her boobs are crammed up into the suit in a way that really, really hurts. "FACEPLATE UP FACEPLATE UP!"

And thank god, the faceplate snaps up and Darcy can breathe again. Kind of.

Tony looks genuinely upset when Darcy starts to cry in shock, while Clint looks angry, barking shit at Tony that Darcy can't hear over the pounding in her ears. Steve steps up in front of her and starts to speak very calmly and quietly, so naturally she can't hear a word he's saying. But then he's touching her face and wiping at her tears a bit with his thumbs and she calms down enough to regain a little coherency.

"I want it off! Off please!" Darcy says a little more hysterically than she's proud of, and all of a sudden the suit just snaps right off her and down into a suitcase.

Another thing she's not particularly proud of? As soon as the suit is off, she grabs Steve by the waist and swings around to hide behind him. She also hangs on to him like he's the only thing keeping her bolted to the ground, and he reaches a hand down to rub at the arm she's got anchored around his abdomen.

(Oh yeah, super proud.)

"See what happens when you touch them?" Tony says.

The wrench that she whips at him misses his head by half an inch.

 

 

 

 

III BRUCE

Bruce doesn't much like Darcy.

Okay, that's not really fair. It's not that Bruce doesn't like Darcy, it's more like Bruce is ambivalent to almost everything that isn't:

A) Betty Ross

B) SCIENCE!

He doesn't dislike her. He smiles at her when she's in the lab and says hi when they pass in the hall. Darcy does well with Bruce's type. She stays out of his way, shoves food at him when he needs it, and gets her mom on when he's spending his third consecutive night in the lab without proper sleep.

Okay, so the truth is that he probably actually likes Darcy, but Darcy's used to the level of praise and interaction of Jane, and somehow she doesn't think Bruce is up for pop-tarts, old episodes of Tennant-era Dr Who, and bitching about their sad sex lives.

(Okay, Darcy's sad sex life. Jane's getting Thor-ed on the regular now, so she gets to zip it while Darcy complains.)

All that being said, there is just no fucking explanation for what happens the first time Bruce hulks out in the lab.

Something Fury says sets Bruce off, because all of a sudden Bruce's desk is literally sailing through the air and smashing into to wall that looks like glass but is thankfully not glass. Fury books it out of the lab so fast he's pretty much just a blur in her peripheral vision.

Darcy's not a dumb girl and she sure as hell isn't a hero. Both of these characteristics means that in a hulking? Darcy's also booking it Fury-style out of the lab. However, Darcy's also in shock, and as such, she's sad to say that her reaction time is not great.

So by the time the other handful of people make it out the door, Darcy's still sitting at her desk with her coffee cup rolling back and forth on the surface of it, covering her paperwork in lukewarm coffee.

"Shiiittttt," she whines as she sees a very, very large and very, very green hand wrap around her bicep and yank.

By the time the tactical team arrives, they find Hulk holding Darcy in the crook of one arm, running his fingers through Darcy's hair gently.

"I think he's trying to braid it," Darcy says, slightly horrified as the dozen or so soldiers flanked by Steve and Clint fan out in the lab.

One of the soldiers lets out a strangled laugh and Darcy's a little shocked when Steve turns around and pins him with the meanest look she's ever see him give. Whoa. Even the soldier looks a bit stunned.

Hulk just twirls the end of her hair around a finger.

"Darcy, can you come to me?" Steve asks calmly, his voice the kind of slow, steady, hypnotic tone that Darcy can't help but want to follow without question. Clint steps behind Steve, an arrow drawn and in his bow, but aimed toward the ground.

Darcy nods and tries to move away from Hulk, but as soon as she shifts her weight, Hulk lets out a grumble that sounds like a growl and is loud enough that the vibrations from his chest shake her. Darcy leans back immediately.

Steve and Clint flinch, and she can see the way Clint's fingers tighten on his bow. The tension in the room ratchets up to eleven and she watches as a few member of the tactical team move for better lines of sight.

Darcy shakes her head and wills the soldiers to calm the fuck down because she is just not comfortable with this many guns pointed in her general vicinity. 'Nope, don't think that's gonna happen, Cap."

"It's okay, Darcy. Don't worry," Steve says, and Clint nods behind him as to echo his sentiment, but Darcy's mind is currently travelling warp speed through all the ways that this could end so, so badly for her. The team is moving again and she can feel the stress building in Hulk's muscles, his fingers getting a bit rougher in her hair and his shoulder closing around her more tightly.

"Stop, stop!" she says to Steve, holding up her hand. Surprisingly, Steve listens to her, nodding to the men behind him, motioning for them to stand down a bit.

She turns to face Hulk and reaches up and wraps her entire hand around just one of the fingers Hulk has been running through her hair. God, he's big.

"Hey buddy," she says and Hulk lets out a quiet sigh as she pats his finger and smiles gently. "You know I adore you, right? But I need Bruce back for a bit."

"HULK LIKE DARCY."

"I like you too. But I need Bruce."

Hulk lets out another sigh, sadder this time.

Then all of a sudden her BUCK ASS NAKED SORTA-BOSS is standing there, malformed pants pooled around his feet, his hand still in her hair.

Bruce looks like he wants to die. He whips his hand out of her hair and shoves both of them over his crotch.

Seriously. While the lab isn't Darcy's favourite place to work in the world all the time, at least she's not trying to manage HR. There aren't enough consent forms or sexual harassment in the workplace seminars in the WORLD for this place.

 

--

 

By the time Christmas rolls around, she's teaching Hulk how to french braid, which mostly consists of him petting her head like a cat.

Whatever.

 

 

 

 

IV CLINT

Darcy wishes she could say things are complicated with Clint. Maybe that could explain things. But nope, they're delightfully uncomplicated.

She forgave him for New Mexico a while back because frankly, her life is just too weird to hang on to shit like that. She doesn't appreciate that he was watching her all clandestinely or that he once pointed an arrow at Thor (weirdly, it's that that really grinds her gears, even though she knows that Clint's arrows would be like a mosquito bite to Thor, but Thor's her bud and pretty much like her brother, and she would do anything for him, so pointing weapons at him? NOT. KOSHER.). But like, bygones and kumbaya, etc. It's his job, and now that she knows Clint better, she actually likes him. And they're friends.

Okay, so there was that one time back when Thor first came back after being in Asgard for about three times as long as he was supposed to be gone and got hurt in battle and there was a fucking boatload of oh my god you're not dead sex which required a second night of sanctuary at Chez Clint, where they drank way too much watching reruns of Murphy Brown and she ended up in Clint's bed instead of on the couch. They didn't have sex sex, but Darcy definitely got very well acquainted with Clint's tongue.

(And his fingers. JEEZ. Archery is apparently really good for building dexterity. Yeehaw.)

Then the next morning, after waking to Clint as the little spoon, they made hangover faces at one another, drank enough coffee for a small European army while eating greasy shit that Clint fried up in his kitchen, and decided that it was officially a terrible idea.

But since then? Awesome buds. She would totally one night stand with Barton because he pulls off the I've-seen-you-naked-and-know-what-you-taste-like-but-we're-cool-as-buddos-too like a complete and utter champ. But he's got some extremely weird shit going on with Natasha (who seems to also have some extremely weird shit going on with Barnes), and death by formerly-Russian thighs is not a future Darcy is going to invite.

So, friends. With former one-time benefits.

Unfortunately, it seems like a lingering side-effect may be the ability to completely fuck with Clint's arrows.

(Is it like an Avengers STD thing? Because Darcy would like to point out that she has not had sex with any of them. NO, THE THING WITH CLINT DOESN'T COUNT.)

She's down at the range with him one evening when it happens. Darcy wanders up behind him with a big bag of gummy bears and a raging boredom hard-on as he fusses with his bow, adjusting the new arrows that Stark has developed for him that have some sort of GPS tracker and room for a timed, directed explosive charge (Tony was blathering something about it to her the last time she was in his workshop, but she was too busy giving the suitcase suit a wide berth to really pay attention to what he was saying). Clint mumbles his hellos to her, and she says hi back through a mouthful of gummy bears, leaning back to watch him work, because while they may be a terrible idea, his arms certainly aren't. And there's no harm in looking.

Darcy kinda zones out watching the flex of his biceps as he pulls the string of his bow taut and releases the arrow, shoving more gummy bears into her mouth. She only comes back to herself when she notices Clint has turned around and is shifting his eyes between her feet and her face.

When she looks down, the arrow that he just fired is lying right in front of her chucks.

Huh?

"Huh?" she grunts eloquently.

He doesn't answer, turning away from her to violently tug another arrow out of his quiver, but when he fires the next round, it too ends up in front of her feet.

(It like… does this weird sort of swoopy pitching, like the arrow is drunk, before flipping around and sliding carefully in front of her. The physics of it are pretty much impossible. But what isn't impossible in her life? She works in a lab with a dude who turns into a big, green giant that likes to pet her head because of anger management issues.)

"Ugh, Stark's gotta be fucking with me again," Clint says, flapping his arms a bit.

He picks one of his plain old graphite arrows out of his quiver and Darcy takes a couple extra steps back and hugs her bag of gummy bears to her chest like it's a bulletproof vest.

Clint lets the arrow loose and it veers right, then up, then bounces off the ceiling and flies elegantly to Darcy's feet. Again. Darcy actually jumps back this time, and before the arrow completely stops moving, it rolls closer to her new position.

"Oh ew," Darcy says, darting forward to kind of nudge the arrow farther away from her like it's a dying snake.

Clint's jaw locks up hard.

 

--

 

The next week, Darcy drops down to the range to see if Clint wants to go catch the late night showing of Night of the Living Dead at the little retro theatre in Midtown that Darcy adores and maybe practice on the PPK that Natasha's been teaching her how to shoot.

Agent Peel won't even let her past the door.

"Clint says you're not allowed on the range while he's down here."

"Um, excuse me?" Apparently the tone she is employing is scary because Peel actually winces a bit. Oh yeah, Darcy… is not pleased.

She tries to walk by and Agent Peel literally steps into her path to block her. Darcy's mouth drops open and she steps quickly to the left, Peel mirroring her almost instantly.

"Please," Peel begs, which immediately lets Darcy know that Clint probably threatened him with some particularly shitty detail if she managed to sneak by him. Which doesn't really dissuade her, but mostly annoys the fuck out of her.

"BARTON, you little SHIT!" she yells over Peel's shoulder. Out of the corner of her eye, she can see Clint duck behind one of the gallery partitions. "Next time I'm going to make the arrow hit you RIGHT IN THE ASS."

She takes Bruce to the movie instead. (Hulk cuddled her the other day when she was having a really rough go of it after a particularly nasty phone call with her obnoxiously perfect, holier-than-thou older sister, and it was almost painfully sweet. Then he broke into Tony's workshop and practically decimated it. Less sweet, but entertaining - especially when Tony started whimpering as he saw his new McLaren 650S Spider crushed and compacted into a cube.) Bruce spends the majority of it explaining how the biomechanics of zombies are generally impossible, but he makes a great movie date, and they make tentative plans to see Attack of the 50 Foot Woman right in front of Clint when they get back to the tower.

That's right - she has a new movie buddy.

Clint pouts for three days. It's great.

 

 

 

 

V BARNES

Barnes is in the kitchen talking to Steve when Darcy sidles up quietly beside them, playing casual as Steve and Barnes talk about… oh my god, are they talking about Twilight?

Ew. She really needs to introduce them to the better parts of pop culture, rather than the parts that make her want to throw herself into a levee.

Barnes is gesticulating with his skin and bone hand while the metal one lightly grips the counter. She's always wondered what Barnes's hand feels like to him, if the metal kind of feels like skin or if it's sort of numb the way her leg gets if she sits on it the wrong way. She likes to call it "Thing", mostly because Steve and Barnes have never seen the Addam's Family (a crime to all things holy in the world) and Barnes gets this kind of pinched, irritated look when he misses a pop culture reference. (Whereas Steve just kind of looks flustered. It's actually pretty adorable.)

Apparently there is some dissidence between the two of them because when she holds out the pickle jar, Barnes only seems to register the movement at the thick whap of the jar's lid finally unsticking.

"DARCY!" he yells as he turns to face her, his cheeks pinking up a bit cutely, if Darcy can confess it. Steve doesn't laugh, but he grins so hard that it actually looks like it hurts. Barnes turns to pin him with a mean stare too. "STEVE!"

Steve just shrugs and turns his grin on Darcy. Ooh, that's kind of nice.

"What is wrong with you?" Barnes growls.

"What?!" She reaches in and grabs a pickle, taking a big bite of the delicious dill. "It's just being helpful. Unlike some people."

Barnes looks like he wants to bend her over his knee. "You are a damn menace, Lewis."

Darcy smiles sweetly, offering him a pickle which he refuses with an angry frown. "Don't be sad because Thing likes me better."

Thing reaches out and fistbumps her as she leaves.

"Traitor," Barnes hisses to his fist.

 

--

 

Two weeks later, when she gets Thing to open a bottle of spaghetti sauce - totally innocently she might add (plus she WAS making dinner for all of them) - Barnes turns and actually growls at her. It's kinda scary frankly; she knows that Barnes wouldn't ever hurt her, but the man can be intimidating as shit when he wants to be.

She kinda jumps back a bit, and she sees Steve's pinched face turn toward Barnes, his mouth open like he's about to tell him off...

But then his metal arm reaches up and bops Barnes one right in the mouth.

"Ohmygod," Darcy hisses in shock, her hand coming up to clap over her mouth to hide the fact that it's gaping open in shock. Steve and Barnes don't even attempt to hide theirs.

After a minute, Steve starts laughing silently, a fist with white knuckles pressed to his mouth, while Barnes still looks to be in complete shock. He keeps flexing his fingers as if to reassure himself that he is still in control of his rogue limb.

"Sorry," Darcy apologizes to Barnes, because yeah, she was kind of in the wrong and was really doing it to get his goat. She actually does feel kind of bad, though the growling was a bit much, even for him.

Barnes just gives her a confused look, like he's not quite sure when he joined the circus.

Darcy reaches down and wraps her fingers around Barnes's wrist, running her fingers over the metal plates gently.

"Awww, you're the best, Thing."

Barnes rolls his eyes and tugs his hand away from her.

 

 

 

 

VI STEVE

WHACK

"Oh MOTHERFUCKER!" Darcy screeches, grabbing her throbbing elbow. She tries to move and smashes into whatever the fuck is stuck in her bed again. "JESUS OW FUCK GOD DAMMIT."

Jane comes barrelling into Darcy's room, clutching Thor's whackadoodle god helmet like a weapon, swinging it over her head.

So basically, it's just how Darcy wanted to start her Tuesday morning.

 

--

 

The door slides open and Darcy feels like someone's smacked her in the face with a giant, flopping fish.

"Darcy?" Steve says, rubbing his hand through his hair, which is a delightful state of bed head. His voice is groggy enough that she realizes she's woken him up. Shit. That's why she waited until nine - normally Steve is up and out by seven, gone for his morning run with Barnes or Sam.

(How and why she knows this is not something she is comfortable sharing.)

"Hey." Her voice is cracked and about two octaves higher than it normally is. Smooth. She holds up Steve's shield before lowering it again, meeting Steve's eyes as he gives her an incredibly confused look.

"What are you doing with my shield?" he says politely, without accusation, as he puts his hand to his chest for a brief second.

By the sudden squirrely-as-shit look in his eye and the slight twitch of his mouth, it is at this point that Steve realizes he has answered the door without a shirt on. Darcy's not complaining. Oh no. But the humiliation factor is tamping down what would normally be a very pleasurable experience for her.

"I was hoping you could tell me," Darcy says fidgeting a bit as she passes the shield to him. "Um, I woke up and it was in my room."

"Oh."

"Uh, in my bed, actually."

"Oh." Steve looks like he kind of wants to melt into the floor. God, this is agonizing and Darcy isn't even sure why. It's not like he slept-walked into her bed.

Okay, and if Darcy is playing being-real-with-yourself, she totally wouldn't mind that. Except for what would be the most awkward morning after ever if this little conversation is anything to go by. Normally she'd just be like yo bro, can you keep a leash on your shield?, but Steve is just so earnest and kind and generally seems confused by her smart mouth. And let's face it: Darcy's had a lady boner for him for the better part of a year and a half. She's cool as a fucking cucumber in the face of everything except embarrassing crushes, especially when it's Captain goddamn America.

"Anyway, I wanted to return it. Sorry for waking you up!" Yep, she's officially finished ruining her morning with awkwardness. She turns on her heel and walks away as quickly as she can without looking like a total freak.

"Darcy?" she hears Steve call down the hall, but she's already in the elevator, ordering JARVIS to shut the damn doors already.

 

--

 

Wednesday morning, and she's knocking on his door again. This time he's wearing a shirt.  Pity.

"What is going on?" Steve asks, taking the shield from her. He props it up inside the doorway and turns back to her. "I'm really sorry, I swear I have no idea what's happening here."

"Me neither." Darcy suspects that one of the guys is being a jackass (smart money's on Clint or Barnes, because Tony's plots tend to have a lot more explosions and sexually inappropriate situations), but she's not going to make an accusation without knowing a bit more. Maybe she'll just get Natasha to put them in a choke hold until she gets some answers. (She and Nat are total buds now, which makes Clint really nervous. Naturally, this makes Darcy very very happy.)

Steve's eyes drift down, and he reaches out and touches the super epic bruise on her elbow from Tuesday, which has finally turned a beautiful sunset purple. He is disgustingly gentle, which is surprising given how large and gangly he is most of the time. He runs a gentle fingertip along her skin, and woooo, she's got goosepimples running right up her arm now. "What happened?"

"Your shield plays rough in bed," Darcy says, the brain-to-mouth filter just fucking gone, and has to physically restrain herself from slapping her hand over her mouth.

Tony likes to talk a lot of shit about Steve and his blushing, but Steve actually doesn't blush much at all. But now? Now Steve is blushing fire engine red. She kinda wishes he was shirtless again (when doesn't she wish he was shirtless?) because the little red trail of skin goes down his neck and right under the collar of his shirt. Is he a full-body blusher? "Oh. Um, I'm really sorry."

"Don't worry about it," she says, waving him off with a nervous laugh. "I've gotten worse in bed."

Just. Kill. Her. Now. Please.

 

--

 

She pokes Clint in the chest at lunch. "Stop it!"

"Stop what?" Clint is eating some really weird looking bowl of goop. She thinks it's either brown rice and stir fry, or some sort of alien vomit. Both are of similar levels of appetizing to her.

Darcy points at him accusingly. "It's not funny anymore, okay? And I'd prefer you not sneaking into my bedroom at night."

Clint shovels some goop into his mouth, then proceeds to talk with his mouth full. Classy. "Listen, I have no clue what you are talking about."

Darcy looks over her shoulder at Barnes, who has his squirrely look on. His eyes widen, his eyebrows lifting high. "Oooh, is this why you've been showing up with Stevie-boy's shield in the morning?" Ugh, she keeps forgetting that they are goddamn neighbors, though she's surprised Steve hasn't mentioned what's been going on to him. He smiles, continuing before she can ask her next question. "And no, it's not me, sweetheart."

Well, shit.

 

--

 

Darcy refuses to let Stark put cameras in her room.

"No."

"Come on. For science."

"No."

"Steve let me."

"No. And god help Steve."

"You're not a lot of fun, Lewis."

"If not letting you get your creep on is a lack of fun, then buzzkill be I!''

The footage from Steve's room shows this:

Steve asleep (god, he is just too pretty for words, even ASLEEP, which seems unfair) with his shield propped up against the south wall of his room, in clear sight of the camera. At 3:41:29AM, the shield is physically present in his room. At 3:41:30AM, the shield disappears from the tape. There is no tampering evident, and slow motion replay shows no abnormal activity. Except for the disappearing shield.

They try locking the shield up on the helicarrier, which makes Steve really twitchy, which in turns makes Darcy feel really, really guilty.

It doesn't really matter much in the end. Darcy still wakes up the next morning with the shield resting under her chin.

She cleans off the drool before she gives it to Steve.

 

--

 

The pounding coming from her front door at 3am? NOT FUN.

"What the fuck?!" she hears Jane whine from her room as she pads by. "Someone better be dying."

(You do not fuck with a sleep deprived Jane. There is a reason that Darcy enforces sleep minimums with Jane and it's because she gets real punchy with less than four hour of REM snoozetime a night. Literally.)

Steve is at her door in his uniform. And okay, yeah, Darcy's had some pretty fantastic dreams that have started like this before, but usually she's not in her sushi pajama bottoms and her CLINTON '08 t-shirt, rocking hair she hasn't washed in two days that is currently doing an awesome imitation of a badly groomed poodle on top of her head.

"Sorry, Darcy," he says quietly. "Assemble order."

Darcy is realllll slow on the uptake at ass 'ofuckingclock in the morning, so she just kind of gapes at him like a dying trout that's been plucked out of the water. She forgot her glasses in her room, so Steve - and the rest of the world - is a bit blurry, and her brain is just not firing on all cylinders.

"My shield," Steve says, clearly embarrassed. He doesn't have his cowl-y helmet thing on and he scratches his head and then his ear, looking anywhere but at her.

"Ohhhhh," Darcy replies, turning around to lurch back to her bedroom like a yeti.

Yep. It's in her bed again. She can see the edge of it resting on the pillow on the left side of her bed. Darcy walks over, yanking off the sheet and pulling it off her bed. It's lighter than it should be, but it's still pretty heavy, and she pinwheels for a second when it throws her off balance.

Two hands grasp on to her hips to steady her. Steve's followed her into her bedroom, and the rough material of his gloves is now pressed up under her shirt where it's ridden up. He keeps his hands on her hips for the weird, long moment it takes her to reboot her brain, only letting her go when she turns around to face him.

She holds up the shield awkwardly, handing it to him.

"Thanks," he says, and then leans down and kisses her cheek, low enough that it's pretty much right up against the corner of her mouth.

WHOA.

They both freeze. Darcy because she's suddenly wide fucking awake and Steve presumably because he did not mean to do what he just did. At least the deer-in-the-headlights look on his face draws her to that very logical conclusion.

He lets out a stuttered, "Umm…" and then hauls ass out of her apartment.

Darcy reaches up to touch her face and it's still a bit wet from his mouth.

 

--

 

The next morning, Steve shows up at her door.

He looks a little nervous (they avoided each other the entire day after the incident in her bedroom, which wasn't difficult given the Avengers spent most of it fighting in the-middle-of-nowhere, Virginia, and Darcy went out with a couple of friends for drinks after work), but nowhere near as guppy-faced as Darcy must look being woken up yet again by Steve. She's just so not a morning person, with or without the super soldier.

"A trade," he says, holding out a beautiful cup of Starbucks coffee that speaks to her soul, made exactly how Darcy takes it. (Two creams, no sugar. How the hell did he figure that out?) Seriously, it is the most glorious thing Darcy has ever seen.

Or at least it is until the next morning, when he shows up with a spectacular buttery croissant from the French boulangerie down the street (god bless the French and their lack of fear re: the liberal use butter). She's already munching on it when she hands over his shield, and he grins so sweetly that her stomach belly flops into her spleen.

The following week brings a cranberry-chocolate muffin, a perfectly made latte, exotic fruit salad (with pomegranate and dragonfruit), and some painfully delicious oatmeal cookies.

On Friday, she's extremely disappointed to see his hands empty when she opens the door, and tries really, really hard not to show it on her face, but probably fails because she can see it reflected back in his a little before he rebounds nicely.

"Hey," he says sweetly.

"Hey," she replies dopily, handing over his shield, which he takes. She's about to say bye and shut the door when he steps into the doorway a bit, leaning against the jam.

"Um, I was hoping I might be able to take you out this morning."

"Huh?" It actually sounds like the bastard child between a grunt and a snort. Oh yeah, so smooth.

"For breakfast." He clears his throat a bit and fidgets a little, though he doesn't really seem all that nervous. It's hard to get a read on him this morning, so she just stands there and lets him talk. "I know this great little place a couple blocks away. Makes amazing pancakes."

"Oh."

"Or eggs! If that's more your thing. Great eggs - scrambled, sunny side up…"

It's like he can't stop talking and she can't stop just watching him like some sort of deaf-mute.

Then Steve leans forward on his toes and tips down enough that he can press his mouth right up against hers. It's not the dirtiest kiss she's ever gotten - it's pretty close-mouthed and just a little wet, mostly him just kinda kissing her bottom lip - but it's made lewd by the fact that it is eight o'clock in the morning and Steve fucking Rogers is kissing her in the door of her apartment.

He runs his fingers over the inside of her elbow as he pulls his mouth from hers with a soft little wet sound and DING, her goose is officially cooked. (Or egg, going with the breakfast motif.)

"Um, sure," Darcy says when she can bring herself to talk again, which is long enough that she's probably starting to flush a little. She also kind of can't help the goofy smile that must be plastered all over her face. "Just let me…"

She looks down and sighs. Great. Sushi pajamas. "Put on pants."

"Okay," Steve says with such a pleased grin that she can't help but let her insides go gooey for a second.

When she salutes quickly, he salutes back.

 

 

 

 

VII NATASHA

Thursday morning, Darcy wakes to a warm, not totally unpleasant pressure boxing in the sides of her face. When she opens her eyes, looks up, and tries to focus without her glasses, she sees pale skin and a pair of… panties with Matryoshka dolls on them?

Yeah. Natasha's got her thighs wrapped around her head.

"Oh my god," Darcy yells, whapping her hands down on the bed next to her hips. "That's it, I'm done!"

Natasha looks down at her dreamily, like she's not really conscious, or is just starting to get there.

"And PS," Darcy says snottily, but not too snottily because she has no idea how lethal Natasha is while sleep!humping someone, "for this? I require dinner - and maybe a movie - first."

This time, Natasha smiles.

 

("She's got great thighs, doesn't she?" Barnes says over lunch, pointing his fork at her. "Next time, can I watch?"

Darcy narrows her eyes. "I'm gonna get Thing to punch you in the mouth again.")

 

 

 

 

+1

This does not smell like her bedroom.

This smells… different. Not bad, just different. A bit muskier, maybe. And the sheet draped over her smells like lemon instead of the lavender that Darcy's sheets smell of. When she shifts, her leg rubs up against another larger, much hairier leg.

Oh.

Yep, she remembers where she is. And remembers who the bare, muscular hip under her hand belongs to.

There's also this really fantastic ache between her legs that reminds her exactly what she is doing in Steve's bed. And what she did in Steve's bed last night.

(Things Darcy learned last night:

1) She is way more flexible than she thought given the right incentive

2) She was right - Steve is a full-body blusher

3) The shit Steve can do in bed? Earns the full-body blush. SWEET GOD.)

She tries to cuddle closer in to the warmth of Steve, except he's very not-warm. And hard. And kind of oddly convex. And poking into her ribs. What?

The first thing that Darcy sees when she opens her eyes is a shiny white star in a field of blue with concentric circles of red and silver.

"Oh for fuck's sake."

On the other side of the shield (oh yeah, the shield is between them, draped over Steve's body so she was resting against it instead of Steve's chest), Steve is slow to wake. "Whaa?" he grunts.

Darcy raps the shield with her knuckle. "No weapons in bed, soldier." Oh lord, the double entendre.

Steve does wake to that, his eyes blinking open. "Jesus Chr--"

He tugs the shield from between them, tossing it to the floor. When it hits, the room is filled with an angry clattering sound. Steve curls his arm underneath her, grabs her ass a bit (which results in a very undignified squeak) and tugs her until she's half-draped on his body. It's pretty nice.

"Sorry," he says, cuddling a bit before letting his body go lax under her.

"We need to get it a girlfriend," Darcy says groggily. "Do you think Clint's bow is like, a lady-bow? He calls it Sybil, but I don't know."

"Mmm," Steve replies sleepily into her hair.

Darcy's almost back asleep before a lingering thought floating through her exhaustion-addled mind has her at MACH 10 in .3124 seconds. She shoots straight up, pushing off of Steve's body until she's sitting up in his bed. The sheet pools at her hips and she hauls it up over her chest in horror.

"Oh my god, please tell me you had Stark remove those cameras."

Steve's eyes go wide as saucers.

Fuck.