"Your boyfriend lets you flirt like that?" her would-be hook-up asked, eyebrows situated somewhere in the vicinity of his hairline. "I mean, he's hot and all, but I need some build-up to a threesome and usually prefer the third to look a little less murder-like."
"Boyfriend?" Darcy asked, confused. She turned around to try to figure out what the guy was going on about and found precisely nothing. No, scratch that, she found a certain someone studiously studying the label of a bottle of beer. His third, if she remembered correctly. Matched her own because he was a bro like that.
"If he's not yours, then you've got a major stalker situation going on," the probably-going-to-ditch-her man warned with a fair deal of sympathy. He surprised her though and offered, "Way I see it, you can either call the cops or we can blow this place and leave him behind. Might be safer to do both, really."
"And here I was thinking you just wanted to get a hand up my skirt. Turns out you're all kind and caring even," she mused with a wink.
The smile she received was damn near lecherous, and reminded her why she originally thought he'd be fun to play around with for a night. "Oh, honey, I want far more than just a hand up that skirt," he assured her. "I just want to make sure I wake up in the morning with that hand still attached is all I'm saying."
She was going to laugh, really she was, but was totally distracted by a completely different sound. A low rumble, barley audible over the din of the rest of the bar. She turned and glared at her would-be protector. "Did you just growl? Like, actually for fact growl at someone?" she demanded.
"Darce," came the expected protest.
She shook her head. "Oh no, you don't get to 'Darce' me over this. You knew I was going out, you knew the likelihood of the results of said going out. I am a grown-ass woman and have the right to have a one-night stand if I damn well please. Hell, it might be more than a one-nighter, who knows? He seems like a nice enough guy, I'm not attached, and I'm done explaining my life choices to you."
"Darce," he repeated, only this time there was far less whining and far more warning to his tone. Also, he had gripped onto her wrist, metal a weird warm-cold against her skin. That was new. So was the standing and the damn near forming a human shield between her and a night of fun.
"What?" she demanded, letting her exasperation get the better of her. "And when did you become Handsy McHanderson?"
Her wannabe protector just rolled his eyes, grip never wavering, and replied, "About the time he slipped something into the last of your beer."
She whipped around to the guy who was so totally not getting laid tonight and demanded, "Really? Are you really that stupid? You have, like, no idea who you're dealing with, do you?" She huffed a breath and a curl tickled her cheek. She swatted at it angrily, Bucky releasing his grip to allow her to do so, and muttered, "Fucking Hydra."
The man's eyes grew wide and he looked around the room. He was actually scared, as in probably not an act. "I'm not Hydra!" he insisted, voice pitched to a truly unattractive squeak.
"Nah, looks like he's AIM," a new voice sounded. Scott Lang. Friendly enough guy who was far smarter than most people gave him credit for despite not being all mentally enhanced like most of the gang she usually found herself surrounded with. Also one of the few people she could still best at Scrabble. He leaned up against the bar beside her, idly rummaging through the contents of the wallet he had just lifted. Her so-totally-not-going-to-be-a-stand had even left his ID card in it. Major deduction in hotness based on the dumbassery.
"That's the baddies that think they're scientists, right?" she sighed. Seriously, there were too many to keep track of at this point. At least AIM was semi-near the top of the list - she did like to feel like she was more important than an opportunistic grab by some rando dumb enough to not recognize the Winter Fucking Soldier as her drinking buddy. AIM was just run by idiots though, which meant that even if they did know who Bucky was, they probably thought they could sweet talk her into leaving of her own accord and do their dastardly deeds elsewhere.
"Yep," Lang confirmed. He pocketed the guy's cash and she pretended not to notice just as he'd pretend bootilicious was a totally valid triple word score option against the super soldiers next game night. "So scientific that they hit up a bar frequented by the interns of the company better than them. Probably intended to grab any one or a bunch of you, figure out what you knew, or ransom you off for intel."
"I'm so worth more than intel," she huffed. She stopped a fricken invasion. Okay, helped to stop a fricken invasion, but whatever. She was far above the person who schlepped coffee for Doc Waters. Which reminded her that Jane was almost out of her favorite kind of tea and she should order some in the morning.
"Not arguing," Scott shrugged. He tossed her the idiot's cell phone and said, "Might be something of interest in there. Wanna try to crack it tonight?"
Said idiot tried to flee. Well, he tried to grab his phone back and then flee, but his hand and pretty much his entire body was frozen in place by a faint red glow. Wanda waved back at her in acknowledgement.
"Seriously, she's like the best drinking buddy ever," Scott enthused. "You should see her at beer pong."
The metaphysical hold was sadly only temporary. It was replaced by a far more physical one courtesy of a two large men from what might have been actual official security assigned to the tower. She really didn't care. She'd question their response time, but the little dive bar was only about two blocks away from her office, so there was that.
She reluctantly handed over the phone after Wanda's confirmation that they were of the good and not the evil variety, and figured he'd probably only have crap like Foursquare and Tinder on it anyway. Though it could have been fun to destroy his profile. She always did get creative after dealing with dumbasses.
Scott clapped his hands together and said, "Well, I'm going to go talk Wanda into teaming up with me in darts. Barton's not around so we might actually win for a change. I'll let you two get back to your UST." He nodded in the direction of where Bucky still glowered, and then wandered back over to his new best friend.
Darcy snorted and didn't even question how this had become her life. She ordered herself another beer and let the bartender dump the roofied one out with aplomb. Non-tainted alcohol safely in hand, she forwent the barstool to stand beside her grumpy savior.
"Looks like it's just you and me, sweet thing," she grinned, knocking her shoulder against his seriously immovable side. She might not be getting laid that night, but at least she got to hang out with a hot guy who knew how to rock a killer leather jacket. Possibly literally as she assumed there were all sorts of goodies hidden away in that thing.
"Your taste in men is horrible," he commented mildly. He ordered another beer for himself as well and shifted to allow himself full view of the majority of the room as well as carry on a civil conversation with her.
She took a sip and resisted the urge to blow a raspberry, knowing she'd probably just spray him with spittle and booze. "One bad almost hook-up, come on, that's not that terrible," she defended herself.
"One bad one tonight, two last week, one of which didn't realize you had eyes and one who had to be scared away by Nat when she overheard him make comments of the kind repetition would be unbecoming in front of a lady," he drawled.
"Huh, wondered why he never came back from the restroom." She shrugged as three wasn't that bad of run, and then pointed out just that to him.
"Oh, I'm just getting started, doll," he cut her off. "There was Mark from Accounting and Alex from Security, both of whom didn't even hold the door for you and kept their heads in their phones instead of focusing on the conversation. Matt from the deli was just sad, and I don't think that Dan guy knew how to breathe with his mouth closed. Doc Foster told me of some guy she called a 'douche' named Ian, but I never had the joy of meeting that one, and Thor cut her off before she could go on about any others."
She conceded the point, or points as the case may be. Dan was a total mouth-breather, Matt smelled like lettuce gone off, and the guys from actual work-related departments paid more attention to that work than her. Well, except Alex when they got back to his place, but her personal shadow didn't need to know that. "You keeping tabs on me, Barnes?" she asked instead.
"Someone has to," he scoffed. He grinned though, so she figured she lay off of the stalker lecture for now - that sucker could heal a million grievances if he used it right, and he tended to really know how to do so. "Can I ask you something?" he said, apropos of nothing.
She expected questioning on her tastes or desperation or some hyperbole about the 1940's version of clean living, so she replied, "Shoot."
He rolled his eyes at what she saw as an appropriate sniper pun, but forged on ahead with an almost shy, "What did Lang mean by 'UST'? I mean, I usually figure the guy is full of crap, but you seemed to get what he meant."
Ah, modern day lexicon - she had made him a promise months ago to always help with that, and he always got so bashful about admitting when he didn't understand something. Of course, this one hit a little close to home because, well, see that part where Scott wasn't as dumb as he seemed. Though whether or not it counted when it was totally a one-way streak was debatable, as in she would do so later when there wasn't a confused super octogenarian giving her puppy dog eyes.
"Unresolved Sexual Tension," she rattled off. A promise was a promise after all. "It's like lust without the lovin' undertones because usually the people involved haven't admitted it enough to themselves yet to see the potential."
He nodded thoughtfully before he muttered, "Huh, so he's not full of shit this time." While her brain struggled to wrap around that particular thought, he forged on ahead with, "But the potential is there? We could change it? Maybe add that L or switch up some of those letters all together?"
She blinked. Then she ran the conversation back through her head and blinked again. She had no idea if he had just played her or taken the opportunity as presented, and wasn't quite sure what to do about either of those situations. Her mouth, as usual, kicked into gear first, but even that moved ineffectually a few times before she managed, "James Buchanan Barnes, are you saying you like me?"
He huffed a breath and smiled. "Liked you for a while, doll. Just learned some new terminology, that's all," he admitted with very little shame.
"Huh," she said, less than intelligently. The almost hopeful expression he now wore wavered, and so she rushed to say, "Not that I'm opposed to this, but really, since when?"
"Since around the time you stomped on my foot and offered to fight me to the death for the last cupcake," he chuckled.
Her mind did the math. That was months ago, roughly a few weeks after they had just met. The stomping hadn't worked of course, stupid steel-toed combat boots, but he had been surprised enough that she had grabbed the treat away and shoved roughly a third of it into her mouth before he recovered. He told her she had "moxie" then, which was apparently old-person-ese for flirting. But he hadn't treated her any different really, held doors and matched her cup for cup when they'd go out, held her hair one eventful time when she puked up those cups, and always knew when to get her something sweet after a breakup or crappy night in general.
"Why didn't you say anything?" she asked, curious.
He shrugged, a lot more of that wavering making its presence known. "Because you had your Mark and Alex and Matt and Dan - you never seemed to want anything more from me, so I figured that, if nothing else, I could at least be a friend. Kinda liked that part, to be honest. Been a while since I made one of those." He scratched at his chin and glanced away, looked pretty much everywhere but in her direction and she was going to have absolutely none of that.
"So, what I'm getting from this is that you like me and I like you that we could be exploring this whole liking each other thing right now instead of me getting hit on by some AIM asshole while you brood into your beer?" she challenged him.
"I don't brood," he protested. He frowned and got the cutest little furrow between his brows.
"Oh, you brood. It's a sexy little brood, but it's a brood," she replied. She took another sip of her beer to cover her amusement at the way the furrow grew deeper.
It didn't last long though, before the frown curved into a smirk and he dialed the charm up to around level eleven. Head cocked to the side and hip cocked against the bar, he took a draught of his own beer and even had the audacity to lick his lips after before the damn smirk settled back into place. "Did you just call me sexy?" he asked wolfishly.
She pointed in his direction with her mostly finished drink and corrected, "I called your brooding skills sexy, but will allow that there is credence to you once being named the second sexiest Commando back in the day."
The smirk grew into a grin, but that grin faltered when he asked, "Wait, second?"
She shrugged, really loving pulling his chain. "Apparently mustaches were a thing back in the day and Dugan rocked one like no one else. Not my personal preference, but..."
"And what's your personal preference, doll?" he asked, finding his footing in the conversation again.
She leaned closer and had to stand damn near on the tips of her toes to do it, but it was worth it to feel the heat of his body and the way he naturally moved to catch her if needed. Lips right up against his ear, she whispered, "You."
The big tough super soldier shuddered at that, and she pulled back to see the heat in his eyes at her response. Well, heat once he opened them again.
"Whadya say we finish these beers and maybe get to that exploring?" The eyebrow had joined the head and the hip with the cocking thing and she was a goner and didn't even care.
She drained the last of hers in one go, much to his amusement, and set the bottle down on the bar along with a decent tip. "I'm game if you are, Broody McBrooderson."
His bottle joined her own in short order and he offered out an arm for her to hang off of as he led her towards the door.
They waved their goodbyes to the others but, before they left, Scott called out, "See if you can turn that U into an R, will ya? The rest of us would appreciate it." He threw a dart to punctuate his words, and it hit dead center of his current target. The fact that said target glowed a faint red and that Wanda was collecting several bills from onlookers just meant it was going to be an interesting night for all involved.
"Do we have bail money for when they inevitably start a fight?" she asked as they stepped out into the crisp night air.
Bucky shrugged and didn't even bother to offer a halfhearted glance back at the duo. "Lang's got the guy's debit card, pretty sure Wanda got the PIN. They'll be fine," he assured her.
That sorted, they headed off into the night to start exploring.