The way Darcy looks at it is, if Fury and all of SHIELD can take it on themselves to introduce Steve to the twenty-first century and still have him turn out like - well, like Captain fucking America, then Darcy should definitely be able to do the same for Peggy Carter, who is, after all, smart and a woman.
(Not to say that Steve is dumb or anything; he's a perfectly nice guy with a perfectly nice body and a perfectly solid track record of always doing the right, responsible, mature thing.)
(Darcy feels that she's definitely a better person than people seem to think, given that she's never held that last thing against him. After all, it's not like she's the kind of shallow person who lets people get away with anything simply because they're smoking hot.)
They (that is to say: Jane and Darcy, with a bit of help from Peggy) come up with a cover story to explain why Peggy's suddenly also popping up in the twenty-first century. It's a nice, solid, scientifically totally wonky story, but they mix in enough sentimentality to make all the doubters look like haters, and if Darcy's figured out anything about Steve, it's that he's not cool with haters. So.
" - and now here she is." Steve hasn't stopped looking at Peggy since she (well, they) walked into the room. Darcy feels she should find it nauseating, but clearly, she's been hanging around Jane too much while Thor was also nearby.
Tony is frowning, which is potentially bad. Dr Banner is looking thoughtful, which is fine - Darcy can work with 'thoughtful'. Natasha is smiling in a way that more or less amounts to her patting Darcy on the shoulder and saying: 'nice job making up a story all these male idiots are going to believe. drinks and the real story, my place, later tonight?'.
Clint looks like he's considering how badly Steve is going to beat him up if Clint hits on his (that is say: Steve's) lady-love. (Darcy could have told him that actually, Peggy's the one he should worry about, but then, why spoil the surprise?)
"Okay," Tony says. "Let me get this straight. You - "
"Now is not the time for more talk, friend Tony." Thor gets up. "Now is the time for much rejoicing. Two lovers, separated by fate and the ages, now reunited. It is a most wondrous tale." He looks at Jane, who smiles back and nods in a way that makes Darcy very, very suspicious.
"Yeah," Tony says. "About that. I really - "
"Rejoicing means drinking, right?" Clint says. "Sounds good to me."
"Spoken like a true warrior, friend Clint." Guy must've been working out; he only winces a tiny little bit when Thor slaps his shoulder. "Let us depart, then."
"Why not? I'm game." Natasha makes it three again one, and when the one guy is Tony Stark and the issue at stake is a night on the town, well.
"Steve?" Tony's last-ditch effort, and it misses the goal only by about a hundred miles.
"Yeah, sure," Steve says, which is completely not helpful, except that Thor seems to take this to mean that Steve has given his blessing to the night-on-the-town thing and also to Tony being bodily dragged out of the room, more or less.
"I thought I was never going to see you again," Steve says.
"Do you know how long I waited for you at the Stork Club?" Peggy says, looking stern and a little annoyed and also like she's every bit as much smitten with Steve is as he is with her.
And then Darcy is the one getting bodily dragged out of the room, because Jane apparently has all these weird ideas about how it's not okay to listen in on conversations between people who clearly don't know you're there anymore.
In a two-against-one vote (Darcy thinks democracy's kind of overrated, really), it's been decided that Fury, at least, gets the true story, which basically goes something like this:
"Time-travel," Fury says, looking like he's about to spit. So more or less the same as usual, really.
"Time-travel," Peggy says, looking like she's daring Fury to laugh or call her a liar, at which point she'll be quite happy to kick his ass.
"It's a fairly well-documented phenomenom, actually." Jane's carrying a folder. In theory, she could have just downloaded everything on a USB stick, but unlike a USB stick, the folder can also double as an impromptu weapon or object for swatting idiots with.
Darcy's hard work on getting Jane to threaten bodily harm more often to those who deserve it has clearly begun to pay off.
"Until two months ago, I had a quite capable field agent," Fury says.
Darcy wonders if Peggy's about to be drafted into SHIELD. It would make sense enough, she supposes, especially given that SHIELD's clearly got a serious problem hiring women. (Six Avengers, all as white as they come, and only one of them's a woman. It's a lawsuit waiting to happen.)
"What happened to her?" Peggy seems willing to move on and play ball.
Fury puts down a picture on his desk. "Her name was Sharon Carter." It's a nice effect, really; they all bend forwards to look at the same time, to see ... well, nothing.
"Oh." Peggy actually looks slightly shaken. Darcy wonders what the worst is that could happen to her if she tasered the director of SHIELD.
"Honestly? I don't give a shit how you got here," Fury says. "You're not my problem."
"Is this the part where I tell you I'm sorry and you offer me a job?" Peggy's back to looking pissed.
"No, this is the part where you get the hell out of my office," Fury says. "And then tomorrow, my secretary gives you a call, and we'll talk about employment."
Natasha, alas, is not overly familiar with all the theories of time-travel.
She's got some great liquor, though, and a bed that's just about perfect, and she never seems to mind when Darcy rambles, which is great, because every now and then, a girl needs to ramble and Jane's kind of busy most nights, nowadays.
"So if Peggy'd stayed in her own time, she'd have gotten a kid - that'd be Sharon," Darcy says. "But since she didn't, she couldn't have had Sharon, so now Fury's all grumpy."
"It's kind of complicated."
"Clearly." Natasha sounds amused.
One of the few things Thor and Natasha have in common is that neither of them really do hang-overs. Steve, of course, can't get drunk in the first place; Dr Banner doesn't, usually.
Which leaves Clint, who takes his hang-overs like a man (with much whining, grouching, and the occasional arrow aimed at someone's vital parts for making too much noise) and Tony, who does pretty much all the things Clint does, but who also makes coffee. Or, well, has his housekeeper AI make coffee.
"Yes, you can have some of that."
Tony's housekeeper AI makes great coffee. "I didn't ask. Thanks, JARVIS."
"You're welcome, Miss Lewis."
Tony makes his pouty face. Darcy decides it's probably safe to sit down.
"So I guess some guys have all the luck, huh?" Tony pours himself another cup of coffee.
Clearly, being rich and famous and kind of a genius (even if he's also, you know, sort of an idiot) and sort of good-looking (not according to Darcy, obviously) doesn't count as being lucky.
"Hey, he's Steve." Darcy's never quite sure where Tony stands on the Steve thing. They don't have a lot in common, and Tony is, well Tony. Steve would never actually disapprove of one of his team-mates (unless it was about, like, kicking puppies or something) but Darcy doesn't see a whole lot about Tony Steve would actively approve of, either. "Also: way to make this all about the guy."
"I believe Miss Lewis may be referring to the fact that Miss Carter, too, might be considered lucky."
"Huh," Tony says.
"No, really, it's like Jane and Thor all over again, and I think we all know who got the better part of the deal there," Darcy says. Jane would have moved on, eventually. All part of life. Meet a god, fall in love, have some amazing sex. Happens to everyone. Especially the part where he leaves.
"I like the big guy," Tony says. "When he's not trying to get me drunk, that is."
Peggy gets a new uniform and a new gun and new shooting lessons which she probably doesn't need, given the oh-so neutral expression on Coulson's face when they get back and the fact that Clint is seriously and actually flirting with her. Or, well, at her.
"At least he's not afraid of a little competition," Darcy says to Natasha, after Clint's done the manly thing and has slinked off to his room to lick his wounds.
"Clint's more or less all right," Natasha agrees.
"And yet, no girlfriend." Not that there's anything wrong with that, but, well, like Natasha said, Clint's more or less all right. He should get a girlfriend so that Darcy can tease him about it, because one of these days, she's going to run out of good archery jokes.
"Maybe he likes boys." Natasha grimaces. "Men."
Steve keeps walking around with the big, goofy, 'I just got hit over the head and I loved it' smile on his face for almost two weeks. It probably helps that nobody tries to, you know, blow up the world or something during the time, but even so.
For all that he can be dreamy and sweet and sort of stupid, Darcy figures that Steve could still pack a mean punch whether or not he's smiling.
"I suppose it would be too much to hope he's learned a bloody thing about how to talk to women by now," Peggy says. Darcy's introduced her to ice cream, mostly because introducing Peggy to today's working girl's hard liquor might get Steve disappointed in her.
"He's been hanging around Tony for a bit," Darcy offers. She's had ice cream; it makes her a bit mellow. There's a perfectly solid scientific explanation for it. "I mean, I know it's Tony, but hey, he's not a Norse god or someone who turns into a big green monster. And he's actually had a girlfriend for a while." A beat. "Tony, I mean, not Steve. And I met her once and she was really smart."
Peggy grins. "Which, presumably, is why she's not his girlfriend any more."
"Surprisingly, no," Tony says. "Is this a private party?"
"Yes," Darcy says.
"My ice cream," Tony says, and okay, technically, Darcy supposes it is. "My kitchen. My table. My chair. You want to talk about me behind my back, maybe take it somewhere else? Or not - I mean, obviously, I'm fascinated. Do continue."
Darcy looks at Peggy in the secret girl code that says: 'Your call'. Peggy shrugs.
"Strawberry Peace, Fudge Fantasy or Banana Nuts?" Darcy asks.
"Karamel Sutra," Tony says. "Because, obviously, having gotten dumped by my very smart girlfriend and all, I am now a sex-starved, sad and lonely person who must use ice cream to numb the pain of my colorless existence. And I'll have a large spoon please, yes, thank you."
"Don't think you're one of the girls now just because we took pity on you."
There's a lot of people who are not superheroes working at SHIELD. They all wear suits and a lot of them wear shades and Darcy strongly suspects they walk around using names like Smith and Jones.
Peggy isn't one of them.
"It's quite simple, really," Coulson says. Darcy's heard from Natasha that she's heard from Clint that a bunch of clowns tried to rob a gas station while Coulson was there to buy some donuts. Didn't really end well for them.
Darcy isn't quite sure yet what, if anything, she should do with the knowledge that Coulson's the kind of person who buys donuts at gas stations. With anyone else, she'd be staging an intervention, right here, right now (or, okay, maybe not quite right here, right now) but Coulson - well, maybe he actually likes them that way.
"Agent Carter is a highly trained individual, but in the end, she is as human as you and I." Darcy doubts that somewhat, frankly. Nobody's human the way Coulson is, certainly not Darcy.
"Clint's human," Darcy points out. Tony is, too, but he's also a genius and a budding ice cream addict, so Darcy figures she'll keep him out of this, for now.
Coulson smiles a little bit, as if out of all of them, he actually likes Clint. "Hawkeye is as exceptional in his own way as Iron Man."
Tony's going to just love hearing that, Darcy bets. As exceptional as Clint - now there's a feather in his cap. "Right-o." At least Tony's still got his 'dated a smart woman' badge of honor. "That's why you've got Clint sitting on his ass while Peggy's in there risking her life."
It's a bank robbery gone bad, and sort of completely not within SHIELD's jurisdiction, except that SWAT was busy (Darcy really hopes that was a joke or something - those friendly folks from the police; always kidding around) and Peggy happened to be walking by (seriously?) and offered her services.
Coulson's phone starts playing a tune that reminds Darcy of the theme from 'Men in Tights' but is probably Slovakia's national anthem or some such thing. "Excuse me."
Steve gets there about five minutes after Coulson's disappeared, which Darcy thinks is just the tiniest bit suspicious.
"Any news?" Steve asks, looking a little bit pale and tense, but not like he's about to go Captain America on someone's ass for letting Peggy infiltrate a building containing at least six goons with automatic weapons. Darcy'd give him brownie points for that, except that Steve's already got infinite plus one of them.
Steve looks at the building, sighs and sits down. His hands clench into fists and unclench again.
Darcy's not unsympathetic. She's not even a superhero, but if she got the chance, she'd be going in there. She's got a taser and she's not afraid to use it, after all. What's a bunch of wannabe bankrobbers compared to a god? Granted, it's a god who occasionally comes home with some of the biggest plushies ever known to mankind (because he won a small one for Jane at a fair and Jane said she liked it, and Thor's a guy so he thinks bigger is always better). "Donut?"
Steve eats his donut just like normal people do. Darcy feels she should have expected as much.
"Clint said to tell you he's not sitting on his ass," Steve says. "Although I'm not allowed to tell you what he is doing."
"That's fine, I was just pissed." She wonders why Coulson'd pass on her comment to Clint. It's not as if she really meant it (only kind of) or if there was any strategic or tactical significance to it. "I mean, you guys could do stuff like this, right? It'd be a piece of cake."
Steve smiles a little sadly. "All bank robberies, all the time?"
"Oh." Well, if he put it like that. "You know, Peggy's pretty awesome."
"Sorry," Steve says. "I know it's stupid to worry."
"Not stupid. Superfluous, sure, I'll let you have that one. But not stupid. That's for people like Tony."
Steve grins weakly. "I thought you guys were eating ice cream together."
Huh. You really couldn't keep anything private for very long in the Avengers mansion. "He walked in on me and Peggy talking about him, so we had to ply him with ice cream to keep him from cutting us off."
"She really will shoot me if I go in there right now," Steve says, looking at the bank again.
"Hey," Darcy says. "I taser people just for being tall and making me nervous. No need to convince me."
"But I sit here, and I think: what if something's gone wrong? What if I'm sitting out here, while in there, she needs my help?"
"Oh, ye of little faith," Darcy says.
Which is when Tony arrives, of course - or at least makes his presence known. "Everyone's jittery for their first time - don't worry about it, champ. It's all about building up resistance."
"Hi," Darcy says.
"Hi." If Tony's got the suit with him, he's hidden it very well.
"We're out of donuts."
"Let me make a quick call and get that fixed straight away. Coffee? There's a Starbucks just two blocks from here. They'll deliver if I ask them nicely - or, well, if I pay them a lot of money. Whatever works."
"You're late," Peggy tells Steve when she gets out. Her skirt's a bit torn - Darcy's introduced her to jeans, honestly she has, but Peggy hadn't really cared for them.
"I'll come in right away then, next time, instead of wait for you outside, shall I?" Steve is kind of beaming. It's like watching a puppy. He makes Darcy want to pet him.
"Don't you dare," Peggy says.
"Anyone up for dinner?" Tony asks, because apparently someone's declared this Feed Darcy and Steve Day.
"I could go for some Thai. Or pizza."
"Material damage," Coulson says. "Cars, buildings, those kinds of things. We prefer to keep it limited."
"Yeah," Darcy says. "Okay." She's been bribed with pizza, because Tony's a New York pizza sort of guy.
"Agent Carter can solve these type of situations with only a minimal of fuss."
"So basically, what you're saying is, she's better than the Avengers. Well, better than Steve and Tony and Dr Banner and Clint." Darcy's got her loyalties.
"Under certain circumstances."
Darcy figures that's good enough to settle for.