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neighbor, neighbor, why you messin' in my life?

Chapter Text

1.  Table of Contents

2.  #4, Darcy/Natasha, for paranoidwino

3.  #14, Darcy/Steve, for iamartemisday

4.  #1, Darcy/Sam, for probablyunnecessary

5.  #15, Darcy/Maria, for probablyunnecessary

6.  #19, Darcy/Remy, for anon

7.  #12, Clint/Darcy, for nemhaine42

8.  #20, Darcy/Thor, for webuiltthiscityonescargot (Part 1 of 2)

9.  #15, Darcy/Peter Maximoff, for bloomsoftly

10.  #10, Bucky/Darcy, for winterrbuns

11.  #15, Clint/Darcy, for dabbes

12.  #19, Darcy/Johnny, for zephyrbabe

13.  #13, Darcy/Sam, for hollyspacey

14.  #3, Darcy/Pietro/Steve, for typhoidmeri

15.  #11, Bucky/Darcy, for bloomsoftly

16.  #19, Darcy/Wade, for georgiagirlagain

17.  #15, Darcy/Sam, for sarastark

18.  #6, Darcy/Loki, for sweetsigyn

19.  #3, Darcy/Steve, for reprehensiblewombat

20.  #8, Darcy/Steve, for anon

21.  #20, Darcy/Spencer, for marvelfanuniverse

22.  #14, Darcy/Matt, for phoenix-173

23.  #11, Bucky/Darcy, for just-call-me-your-darling

24.  #14, Bucky/Darcy, for gomustanggirl16

25.  #3, Bucky/Darcy/Steve, for tara-the-terrible

26.  #11, Darcy/Johnny, for anon

27.  #15. Darcy/Scott Summers, for phoenix-173

28.  #12.  Bucky/Darcy, for emmawasright (Part 1)

29.  #12.  Bucky/Darcy for itsnotokaybutwereallright (Part 2)

30.  #3, Darcy/Wade, for ragwitch

31.  #15, Daisy/Darcy, for dwyn5002

32.  #20, Darcy/Spencer, for katiehavok

33.  #8, Bucky/Darcy, for ibelieveinturtles

34.  #3, Darcy/Peter Maximoff, for georgiagirlagain

35.  #3, Darcy/Newt Scamander, for katiehavok

36.  #5, Clint/Darcy, for bulmavegotaku

37.  #1, Darcy/Johnny, for itsjanetsnakehole

38.  #12, Darcy/Remy, for nefariousinkblot

39.  #15, Darcy/Peter Quill, for zephrbabe

40.  #12.  Darcy/Loki, for mischiefslady

41.  #5, Bucky/Darcy, for nefariousinkblot

42.  #8, Darcy/Wanda, for darcylewitch

43.  #11, Darcy/Logan, for dragongoddess13 (Part 1 of 2)

44.  #20, Darcy/Pietro, for bloomsoftly

45.  #13, Darcy/Wanda, for marvelfanuniverse

46.  #20, Darcy/Thor, for uru-viel (Part 2 of 2)

47.  #14, Darcy/Peter Maximoff, for anon

48.  #9, Darcy/Pietro, for tara-the-terrible

49.  #13, Darcy/Thor, for webuiltthiscityonescargot

50.  #15, Darcy/Rumlow, for anon

51.  #7, Darcy/Rumlow, for artificialink

52.  #11, Darcy/Logan, for sarastark (Part 2 of 2)

53.  #1, Darcy/Pietro, for anon

54.  #6, Darcy/Tony, for sarastark

55.  #4, Darcy/Scott Lang, for anon

56.  #19.  Darcy/Pietro, for sweetsigyn

57.  #8.  Darcy/Logan, for anon

58.  #18.  Darcy/Logan, for georgiagirlagain

59.  #6.  Darcy/Rumlow, for anon

60.  #19, Darcy/Peter Maximoff, for bylillian

61.  #10.  Bruce/Darcy, for anon

62.  #17.  Darcy/Rumlow, for phoenix-173

63.  #4, Bruce/Darcy, for bylillian

64.  #17, Darcy/Tony, for anon

65.  #11, Darcy/Wanda, for paranoidwino

66.  #5, Darcy/Wanda, for anon

67.  #13, Darcy/Logan, for probablyunnecessary

68.  #3, Darcy/Tony, for anon

69.  #1, Darcy/Steve, for littleplebe

70.  #16, Bucky/Darcy, for anon

71.  #7, Bucky/Darcy, for littleplebe

72.  #15, Bruce/Darcy, for anon

Chapter Text

Natasha groaned inwardly as she yanked the twisted jumble of envelopes and mailers out of her mailbox.  The stupid thing was too small for all the junk mail local businesses wanted to send her.  

She picked through the mess, dropping leaflets and coupons into the trash and sighing heavily when she found the main culprit of the mailbox mess: The September issue of Vogue.

Okay, so maybe she really needed to check her mail more often than twice a month.  

Or the mailboxes could be bigger.  Just a thought.  

She took the few bills and the mutilated issue of Vogue with her and made for the stairs.  She shot a longing gaze at the still-broken elevator and began her ascent to the fourth floor.  

Once she hit the fourth floor landing and made a pact with herself to stop missing her aerobics class, she reached for her keys, walking towards her apartment.  

Two steps in and she froze.  Her heart leapt into her throat as she focused in on the person at the end of the hall, three doors down from her apartment, who was trying to unlock the door with a credit card.  They were failing at it.  Badly.  But they were still trying to break in.  

Natasha approached cautiously, knowing that it would be better for her cover if she just left well enough alone.  This horrible-at-burgling-burglar wasn’t trying to break into her place, after all.  

But maybe it was all that time she’d spent hanging out with Captain America and his group of do-gooders.  Because her neutral instincts were failing her.  

She dropped her mail on the ground in front of her door and took a few steps towards the crime-in-progress.  “Can I help you with something?”  

There was something foreboding in her tone apparently, because the person – the woman, as it turned out – whirled around and grasped at her collar, the mangled credit card falling to the floor.  “Umm…okay…I know what this looks like…but I promise I’m new here and I locked my keys inside…”  

Natasha leaned down and retrieved the card, jamming it into the door and giving it a swift jolt with her knee.  It swung open in front of them.  “It’s your place?  You’ve got sixty seconds to prove it, or I’m detaining you and calling the cops.”  

The flustered brunette practically dove for the door, falling to the floor in a jumble of limbs and when she came up, she was leveling a taser directly at Natasha’s chest.  

Natasha grinned and took a step back.  “Found that awfully fast, it must be your place.”  

The girl pressed her lips together and nodded.  “Yup.  So you can just…” she jutted the taser in the direction Natasha had come from.  “Go back from whence you came, Blonde Bombshell.”  

Natasha couldn’t help but smirk at that.  She took a couple of steps back in the direction of her place.  But she stopped before reaching her door, looking back to see the woman still peeping at her from around her doorframe.  

“You wouldn’t be the type of bombshell who goes out for drinks, would you?” she called, lowering the taser.  

“I might be.  Gotta be on a first name basis, though.”  She winked and knelt to pick up her mail again.  

“Well.  I mean…just for…helping me get into my place and all.  I figure I owe you a drink.  I’m Darcy, by the way?”  

“I would love a drink, Darcy.  When are you free?”  

“Tonight, if that works for you?”  Darcy reached up to yank off her beanie, releasing a cascade of brown curls down her back.  

“It works for me.  I’ll meet you in ten?”  

“Yeah, ten. Ten’s good for me…listen, though.  I didn’t catch your name?”  

Natasha stuck her key into the lock and turned the knob.  “I’m Natalie.”  

“Cool.  See you in ten, Natalie.”    

Chapter Text

As Steve maneuvered himself onto the elevator and pressed the button for the fifth floor, he had to admit that he wasn’t particularly proud of what he was doing.  

Quite the contrary.

It had all started with the binoculars.  An early birthday gift from Bucky, intended to make him feel better about his broken leg and mandatory six weeks’ leave with pay from the NYPD.  

Originally, he’d only meant to test them out.  To give Bucky a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in reference to their quality so he could rest assured that his online purchase wasn’t a lemon.  

And it wasn’t.  They were good binoculars.

So good in fact, that he’d gotten kind of addicted to looking through them.  

Police Captain Steve Rogers of the NYPD was spying on his neighbors.  

But there was nothing on T.V and his leg was itching him inside his cast, so he had to do something to take his mind off it.  

It might as well be spying on his neighbors.  

Well, he’d hesitate to call them neighbors, really.  Neighbors were the people you called when your car wouldn’t start, or you needed to borrow a cup of sugar.  The people who lived in the apartment building adjacent to his weren’t really neighbors.  

But that still didn’t make it right to spy on them.  

Which was what he told himself the first time he plopped himself down in his desk chair and reached for the binoculars, peering out through the blinds because he knew it was wrong.

And each subsequent time he did it.   

It’s just…it turned out there was an interesting development across the street. 

There was this one window…not directly across from his, but on the same level.  It was about two windows down.  

It was a kitchen window.  And he’d been watching for the past few days as this girl broke up with her boyfriend.  

Bucky was teasing him about it.  Because the girl was cute.  

Yeah, she was cute.  But it wasn’t like Steve would ever have a shot with her.  What would his pickup line be?  “Hi, yeah…I watched you break up with your boyfriend from my bedroom with a pair of binoculars.  Wanna go out sometime?  I know you’re free!”  

No way in hell was he doing that.

Plus, he was pretty sure he knew her from somewhere.  But he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

Besides, it had moved past being a crush and was now completely a Hitchcock-level obsession.  

The break up had happened in spurts throughout the past two days.  And now?  Now he wasn’t seeing the guy there anymore.

He did, however, through his obstructed view, see the girl carrying several garbage bags and boxes back and forth through the kitchen.  

Which, wouldn’t be a huge deal after a breakup, except that he didn’t see the ex-boyfriend EVER come to pick them up.  

And what made this a Hitchcock-level obsession was the large bloody knife she kept washing in the sink.  It was a really big chef’s knife.  And he’d been trying to tell himself that it wasn’t blood.  It was probably just…something that looked like blood at this distance.  

He was certain if he asked her, the answer would be completely innocuous.  

But she’d been washing that bloody knife at the sink all day long.  

And while Steve had intended to ask Bucky about it once he got home from work, he couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t innocuous at all.  

Which was why he was now hobbling down to her apartment, police badge in his pocket, with only the crutches for self-defense.

He knocked on her door.  He was certain it was her door, because he’d called some people back at the station to make sure there wasn’t a lobby level on the building.  

And when she answered it, she was wiping her hands on what looked like a bloody towel and his nerves just kind of got the better of him.  

“Don’t take this the wrong way…” he began, mentally kicking himself for doing this. “…but I broke my leg and have been spying on everyone in your building…and I could have sworn I saw you kill a man…care to explain?”  He yanked on his badge and held it out in front of him.  “Captain Rogers, NYPD.” 

The girl, the woman…she sighed heavily and tossed her ponytail as she squinted to inspect his badge.  “Is that legal, what you’re doing?”  

“Everything I saw happened in plain sight.”  

“Plain sight that you had to modify with binoculars.”  

He faltered, sputtering slightly because she had him there.  “Well…”  

“So, not only are you here, outside my apartment without a warrant or grounds for one…but you expect me to just…explain to you why I have this…sticky red liquid all over my hands?  Do you think I was just born yesterday?  Also…” she squinted up at him.  “How do you not recognize me?” 

He frowned.  “What?  I’m sorry…have we met or–”  

“Assistant D.A, Darcy Lewis?”  She pointed to her chest.  “We’ve seen each other in court.  A lot.”  

Realization dawned on him.  “Oh, right!  That’s where I’ve seen you before!”

She reached behind the door, plucking a jar of orange-red-something and pushing it into his hands.  “Blood Orange Marmalade.  That’s what’s on my hands, Captain.  I just went through a breakup.  And when I go through a breakup, I bake.  Or preserve.  Marmalade in this case.  Enjoy it.  And enjoy the rest of your leave.”  She waved once and reached for the door.  

“But wait…just one thing?” he asked, turning the jar in his hand.  “What about the bags?”  

“Those bags?” she opened the door wider and gestured to the pile of trash bags on the floor.  “My ex’s clothes.  He’s coming back to get them later, I wanted to have them all together.  Less time he has to be here, ya know?”  

He nodded. “Right…right…”  He glanced down at the marmalade.  “Thanks for…for this.  You didn’t have to…I mean…I was…”  

“Spying on me through my kitchen window?”  

“Yeah…” He trailed off, frowning.  “Wait.  How did you know it was through your kitchen window?”  

She shrugged, “I dunno.  Maybe I’ve done some spying of my own, Captain.”  She winked.  “So we’ll call it even?”  

He held out his hand.  “Sure.  We’re even.”  

She took it and shook it once, leaving it sticky when she let go.  

Chapter Text

“You must be a bad cook when I can smell it through the wall…”  Sam was leaning against her door frame, a bottle of wine under one arm.  “I take it your dinner party prep is in full swing?”  

Darcy sighed heavily and wiped her sweaty brow.  “It’s just not coming together, Sam.”  She held the door open for him to walk in after her.  

“Shoulda catered it,” he said bluntly, setting the wine on the countertop and grabbing one of her spare aprons.  “Where do you need me?  And please don’t let it be over where that mess is…” he gestured towards the rapidly boiling marinara sauce on the back burner.  

“Oh fucknuts…” Darcy groaned and hurried over to the stove.  “I had the wrong burner…” she tossed the pot holder down on the floor and slid down beside it.  “Hand me that wine.  I need a drink before I call the other six people to tell them it’s cancelled.  How convincingly do you think I can fake ebola over the phone?”  

He opened a drawer and pulled out her corkscrew.  “I’ll pour you a drink, but you’re not cancelling, babe.”  

“I’m not?”  

“Nope.  And here’s why.  See, you didn’t know that your neighbor just so happens to be friends with one of the premier chefs in NYC right now.  Does the name ‘Natasha Romanov’ ring any bells?”  

Darcy pricked up immediately.  “Oh my god, are you kidding?  You know the Black effing Widow of Manhattan?  Do you think she’d let us order take out from The Red Room?”

“I’mma do ya one better.  I think she’ll come over and cater this thing for you.  She owes me a favor or twelve.”  Sam set the glass of wine on the counter and pulled out his phone.  “You drink that.  And then go get ready.  We’ll have this dinner on the stove in twenty, Lewis.”  

“You are literally saving my ass, Sam.  My boss and his wife?  They’re coming to this?  And…”  

“I live for saving your ass, Darce.  And you can kiss mine later.  Go.  Get ready!”

Chapter Text

“No time to explain, but could you pretend to be my girlfriend when my ex arrives?”

Darcy blinked twice.  She honestly hadn’t spoken more than three words to her new neighbor.  But when someone was in a bind…she kind of felt obligated to help.

“No problem, toots, just one thing, though…”  

The other woman took a break from sweeping her hair up into a tight ponytail to turn to face her.  “What?”  

“What’s your name?  I figure…if I’m supposed to be your lady and all … I should kind of … know your name?”  Darcy asked, shrugging.  “I mean. If you want it to look legit and everything …”

“Maria…” she said quickly.  “Maria Hill.”  

“Maria.  Gotcha.  I’m Darcy.”  

“Thank you so much, Darcy.”  Maria squeezed her arm, but then turned abruptly and disappeared around the corner of the hallway.  She reappeared soon enough though, waving her hand frantically.  “Come here!”  

Darcy put some bounce in her step as she followed Maria down the hall and to her apartment, where she was unceremoniously yanked inside upon arrival. 

“Sorry…but he’s in the elevator…”  Maria explained, reaching out to pick a piece of lint from Darcy’s sweater.  

“So…anything I should know about you?  Job?  Anything?”  

“I’m a cop,” she replied, straightening her shirt.

“Ah.  Cool.  Good to know…” Darcy reached up to unbutton one more button of her top.  This was bound to be a disaster, but if she knew anything about people, it was that they couldn’t really pay attention to detail when there was a decent view of cleavage available.  

There was a knock at the door and Maria jumped towards it, pausing slightly before turning the knob.  

Darcy leaned down over the countertop in the kitchen, pretending to thumb through a magazine she found on the counter.  

Maria invited the dude in and sure enough, his gaze went immediately down to the ladies, so Darcy patted herself on the back for that.  Perhaps it might make Maria’s obviously manicisms a little less obvious.  

“This is Darcy…the woman I’m seeing,” Maria said with false flippancy. Darcy took the opportunity to go stand beside her.  To slip her arm around her waist and rest her head on her shoulder.  Because damn if this woman wasn’t tall.  

“Oh…OH…I didn’t…that’s…that’s really cool, Maria…”  Dude said, pressing his lips together in a line and nodding his head too much.  

Darcy straightened up and held out her hand, gripping his a little harder than she normally did.  “Hey there…you…” she shrugged and looked over at Maria and back at the dude.  “I’ve never actually heard your name before, man.  Sorry…”  

He frowned.  “I’m…Max?  She’s never…never mentioned me before, huh?”  

Darcy grinned and shrugged again, still shaking his hand.  “I guess it just…never came up?”  

Maria looked like she was going to cheer or something.  But luckily, she didn’t.  And even more luckily, Max stopped shaking Darcy’s hand long enough to receive the box of crap he’d come over here for.  

It was pretty evident to Darcy that he’d come over here for something else, but it was apparent he wasn’t going to get that.  

He left quickly, because something “suddenly” came up.  

And after Maria shut the door behind him, she laughed out loud.  “Oh my god, you were WONDERFUL!”  

Darcy grinned.  “It’s one of my many talents, what can I say?”  

“I…uh…wouldn’t be abject to learning what your other talents are…if that…is something you wouldn’t mind sharing?”  Maria asked, tilting her head to the side slightly.  Noticeably feeling her out.  

“I think that sounds like material for another time,” Darcy said, winking.  “Maybe this weekend?  Maybe over drinks?”  

Maria returned her smile.  “Maybe so.”   

Chapter Text

The only warning she got was the jingling of the tiny bells she’d fastened to the main stem of her tomato plant.  

Darcy jumped up from her couch and ran to the screen door, sliding it open just in time to see the dude who lived upstairs holding not one, not two, but FOUR of her heirloom tomatoes.  

"Oh hell no,” she exclaimed, shaking her head and holding out her hands.  "There will be NONE of that, Mister.“  

"None of what? I was helpin’ you!” He dumped the tomatoes unceremoniously into her hands.

“Look, dude, I grew this tomato plant from seeds myself.  I nurtured them and fertilized them and sang to them.  And dammit, I’m going to eat them, you dig?”  

“I ain’t got no problem with that, cher.  But it wasn’t me who took these.”  

“Oh really?  Why is it you standing out here with your hands full of them, then?”  

He crossed his arms and sniffed.  "Sounds like you got it all figured out, doncha?“  

"If the shoe fits, my dude.  Or in this case, the armload of tomatoes!”  Darcy turned in a huff and went back inside.  

“That’s fine.  But don’t come cryin’ to me when they keep on gettin’ stolen.”  

“I think as long as you keep away from them, they should be fine.”  

She went back inside in a huff. She placed all four tomatoes on the counter to keep ripening.  He was lucky they weren’t ruined, being picked too early like they were.  

He wasn’t lying, though.  He didn’t ever darken her patio again.  She didn’t really know him all that well, but if he was the kind to steal tomatoes off someone’s patio, then maybe she didn’t want to know Mr. Remy LeBeau very well at all.  

Of course, her tomatoes kept going missing.  And no matter how fast she was, she couldn’t ever seem to catch the culprit.  Darcy was at a loss, because obviously, it either wasn’t Remy LeBeau taking them or if it was, he was suddenly super fast about it.  

It wasn’t until one day near the end of July that she actually figured out what was happening.  

There was a knock on the door and when she opened it, Mrs. Hollis from across the courtyard was there, holding her son Kyle’s shirt and looking very much like she wanted to speak to a manager.  

“Mrs. Hollis…??”  Darcy asked, leaning against the door frame.  

“Tell her,”  the other woman directed towards her son, without so much as a greeting otherwise.

Kyle sighed.  "I’ve been stealing your tomatoes, Ms. Lewis.  Mom was giving me money to go down to the farmer’s market and buy tomatoes.  I was keeping the money and taking the tomatoes from your plant.  I’m really sorry and I want to give you the money I took from my mom…" He held out his hand, a wad of fives peeking out from between his fingers.  

“Oh…oh my blob…”  Darcy shook her head and pushed the money back.  "No, it’s cool…go stick it in his college fund or something, Mrs. Hollis…"  

“Well, if you’re sure,” She yanked back on Kyle’s shirt and stepped back off Darcy’s mat.  "Sorry for the inconvenience.“  

She was already pulling Kyle back down the sidewalk away from her door.  

"Didn’t really put up too much of a fight, didya, Helen?”  Darcy mumbled under her breath.  She stood there with her hand on the door for a few seconds before opening the door and walking out on the sidewalk.  

She had an apology to make.

To be fair, she’d had an apology to make for a few weeks, but she just couldn’t put off making it any longer.  She just couldn’t delude herself anymore.  

She climbed the stairs up to the second floor of the apartment.  She rapped her knuckles on the door and waited.  

He took his sweet time opening the door, grinning smugly as he leaned against the frame.  

He cut a nice profile, Mr. LeBeau did.  Narrow waist, broad shoulders.  Lithe and toned muscle beneath the t-shirt that had obviously been sprayed onto his body. Dark eyes that almost glowed.  A devil-may-care grin that did all the right things to her.  

“Ms. Lewis,” he said with a curt nod.  "What can I do for ya?“  

"I…uh…I owe you an apology.”  

He raised his eyebrows in mock surprise.  "Do ya now? That’s interesting.“  

"I’m sorry…” she began lamely.  "I know I accused you of something that you didn’t do.  And I’m sorry about that.“  She pressed her lips together and opened her hands to either side.  "Let me have it.  We both know I deserve it.”

“It was the kid, wasn’t it?” he asked, popping the chewing gum she hadn’t realized he had until this moment.  

“Yep.  It was Kyle Hollis.  You caught him, didn’t you?”  

“Almost.  He dropped the tomatoes and ran away.  I was in the midst of picking ‘em up when ya came out on your porch there…”   He jutted his chin over his shoulder to indicate the direction of her porch, directly below his balcony.  "And then ya…yelled at me.  Like I would stoop to stealin’ a lady’s tomatoes.  I was raised in Louisiana, ma'am.  I know you don’t take produce that y'ain’t grown yourself without askin’ first.“  He popped his gum again.  "My momma done raised me right, cher.”  

Darcy sighed heavily.  "I know she did.  And mine tried her hardest with me, I can promise you that.  It’s just that sometimes things don’t take…"  

“Can’t blame the tree for one bad apple,” he teased, pushing up off the frame and reaching out to brush his knuckles playfully against her shoulder.  "I’m just teasin’ ya… you’re good people.  Just quick to jump to conclusions.“    

"Yeah…” Darcy giggled, much to her embarrassment.  Because her giggle was extra dorky.  And usually followed by red-faced blushing.  

Remy smirked and folded his arms again.  

“I was…uh…wondering if you’d be up to dinner sometime?” She asked, deciding that barrelling through was her best option.  "You know…to apologize?“  

"You’re gonna take me out to dinner?” Remy looked impressed.  "That’s…unexpected, not gonna lie.“  

"Well…I was actually going to cook you dinner…” she said with a shy grin.  "If you trust me to prepare your food that is.“  

His eyebrows shot up.  "Well then, in that case…dunno how I can say no to an offer like that…”  

Chapter Text

A loud thump was not the best thing to wake up to.  

Darcy was napping on her sofa when she heard it.  

A loud, smacking thump.  It sounded like a one-hundred-and-eighty-pound man fell onto her balcony from the one above it.  

And upon closer inspection?  That was exactly what it was.  

A tall, blonde man with muscular forearms fell directly onto her balcony from the one above it.  

So Clint.  Clint fell on her balcony and was now lying there, groaning in pain.  The guy who owned her building fell on her balcony.  He also had the beginnings of a shiner, but that could have been from anything.  He was technically a superhero in his free time.  When he wasn’t fixing AC units and busted pipes.  

Darcy sat upright, staring bleary-eyed out her window.  She took care while standing because she had been in dreamland not forty-five seconds before and now she was having to deal with human beings falling from the sky.  Apparently, that was her life now.  

This was a thing she had to deal with.  

Approaching the partially open window with care, she rapped on the glass.  "Hello?  You okay, my dude?  Should I call an ambulance?  Or perhaps the police if you were trying to rob me, but fell?“  

He grumbled under his breath, apparently, he didn’t like her joke.  "If I was trying to rob you, I would have more tools. And no need for an ambulance, just let me sit here and groan out my pain on your balcony.  Should be finished in like…five more minutes or so…”

Darcy arched her eyebrow.  "Ice?“  

"That’d be swell, girlie.”  

She made a bee-line for the kitchen, filling a baggie with ice and wrapping it in one of her grandmother’s tea towels.  

“Want me to hold it where it hurts?” she called over her shoulder.  

“I landed on my ass, so that’s your call, Darce.”  

“So that’s completely on you, then.  You want some lemonade?  Some aspirin?” She leaned out the window and handed him the ice.  "You wanna tell me why you fell on my balcony?“  

"I tripped…” he answered, wincing when he tried to move.

“You tripped.  Off yours and onto mine?”  

He nodded curtly and winced again.  "Yeah…and I might wanna…rethink going to the hospital.“  

"I think that’d be for the best, yeah…” she said, eying him.  "Can you make it through my window?“  

"Gonna have to, aren’t I?  I’m no millionaire.  Ain’t got the funds for an ambulance.”  

“Aren’t you an Avenger?  Do Earth’s Mightiest Heroes get cheated out of major medical?”

He shrugged.  "I honestly don’t know.  I left my membership card on my dresser.“  

Darcy rolled her eyes and opened her window a little wider.  She climbed out onto the balcony with him.  "Come on then.  Up you go, Hawkeye.”  

“Aww, thanks, Darcy…sorry I interrupted your nap.”  

“Nah, don’t worry about it.  It’s what I do.  Being your sidekick and all.”  

He snorted, but his laugh was cut off by a serious amount of pain, so he stopped as soon as Darcy started helping him up.  "You’re not my sidekick, hon.“  

"Aww, c'mon, Clint.  Every good superhero has a sidekick.  Batman has Robin.  Cap has Bucky.”  

“Don’t let Barnes ever hear you call him a sidekick,” he said with a dry chuckle.  

“Oh right.  They’re together, aren’t they? I suppose they’re equals, then.  Watch your head.”  She placed one hand protectively on the back of his skull as she guided his front half through the window.  

The back half took some maneuvering and it kind of reminded her a lot of Winnie-the-Pooh stuck in the honey tree.  But she totally didn’t say that to Clint.  


“You know…this kind of reminds me of that scene in Winnie-the-Pooh…” she began.

“I'mma stop you right there,” he grunted, toppling forward into a ball on the floor of her apartment.  "Because I am not stuck.  Just…flexibility-challenged.“  

"But you see?  That’s good sidekick banter, Barton!”  

“Darce, you are not a sidekick.  If anything…you’d be an equal –”  He stopped talking abruptly, instead using her kitchen counter to pull himself up.  "I got this from here.“  

"Nuh-uh, my dude. Don’t think I didn’t hear that equal-business.  We’re gonna come back to that later.  When you aren’t suffering from a busted ass in the middle of my apartment.”  

“Thank you.”  

“Don’t mention it.  I will be expecting a pizza date with you and Lucky after you get off your pain meds, though.”  

Chapter Text

It was the hottest day of the summer.  

Or at least, it was the hottest day of the summer so far.  

She was lying out on the porch swing at her parents’ house because there was nothing on TV and honestly, the AC wasn’t keeping up with this heat so she might as well be outside.

She wasn’t exactly sure how she ended up house-sitting for her parents while they went on a Caribbean cruise, but here she was.  Was it really house-sitting if she lived here when they lived here too?  Wasn’t it just…them going on vacation and leaving their adult daughter at home because they needed an effing break?  

She sighed.  Whatever it was, it was sad, and it was her life.  

The moving van that turned down the street was honestly the most interesting thing she’d seen in days, so of course she pricked up when it pulled into the house next door.  

She pricked up more when she saw who was driving it.  

Standing at least six foot something, he had long blonde hair swept back into a messy man bun on the back of his head.  And he had muscles for days.  DAYS.  They were rippling out of his white t-shirt as he crossed over to the back of the truck, pulling open the back and setting up the ramp.  

Darcy didn’t see another soul with him, so she assumed he was just a mover or something.  Maybe the real geriatric owners of the house would be coming in later that day.  

But still…hot dudes didn’t show up every day around here.  In fact, since she’d moved into her parents’ basement, the only hot guys she’d seen had been on TV or on the covers of her mom’s paperback romances.  

Speaking of which…Tall, blonde and muscular was looking more and more like one of those dudes and less like someone who she would ever see in real life again.  

Geez, she was hard up.  It had been a while.  

There was a bang of a screen door and the Widow Wyatt was already on her way over with a plate of cookies.  Damn, the old ladies moved fast.  

Darcy hauled herself up and went inside, not really sure what she was looking for, but not wanting to be present for the display as all the widowed women went to hit on the mover guy.  

Maybe once upon a time, she might have whipped up some lemonade, taken it over in a glass pitcher with beads of condensation running down the sides.  

But meh.  Who had the time anymore?  

She was fiddling with the dial on the air conditioner when someone rang the doorbell.  

Darcy answered the door, fully expecting there to be someone there asking her to move her car or whatever.  

Boy, was she pleasantly surprised to see Blonde Muscles outside her door.  Looking very sweaty and very hot.  Oh, holy hell was he hot.  

"Hello, my name is Thor and I’m actually…moving in next door…and I can’t seem to find my hammer…”  he gestured over at the house, where the Widow Wyatt was still standing.  "Ms.  Wyatt said you might have one I could borrow?“ He smiled widely, proving himself to be even more handsome close up than far away.  

Darcy tried to ignore Ms. Wyatt’s rampant thumbs-up signals she was sending her and instead tried to direct Thor (seriously, how was that his name?) inside so she could look for it.  

"My dad has one somewhere…you wanna come in while I go look?”  

“If you don’t mind terribly…”  

He was British too.  What even.

“It’s fine, don’t worry about it…” she said, standing aside and letting him come stand in the foyer.  "I’ll just be a minute…gotta go rummage in the closet back here…" She jutted her thumb over her shoulder to imply where she’d be.  

It was just around the corner, but still.  Better to safe than sorry.  

She was halfway into her dad’s toolbox when she heard Thor ask her a question.  Well, she heard the rumbling timbre of his voice.  No actual words, though.  

Darcy grabbed both of the hammers she found, figuring he could pick which one he liked better.  

“What was that, dude?  I didn’t hear you…was kind of face deep in a toolbox…”  

“I was just making horribly awkward small talk.  Asking you if you lived here with your parents or…”  

Darcy emerged from around the corner and smirked.  "Yep.  I, unfortunately, am living with the rents until I can figure out what I’m doing with my life…so…"  

“Ah…yes.  Well, I was there as well.  Up until this morning…” he chuckled.  "And now I’m here.  Next door to your parents, so…" He shrugged.  

“Well, living alone is still better than living with those who birthed you…you do live alone, don’t you?  There isn’t someone else?  Did I put my foot in my mouth?”  

He laughed and shook his head.  "No, no.  Nothing like that. I … I live alone.“

"Cool…well in that case…” she held out both hammers.  "Take your pick…"  

Thor chose the one in her left and hefted it in his hand.  "Thank you very much, Ms…?“  

"Lewis.  Darcy Lewis.”    

“Darcy Lewis.  Thank you for the hammer.”  

“You are totally welcome, Thor. Question…do you have plans for dinner?”  

He shook his head.  "I was probably going to order a pizza and eat it over the sink like the sad singleton I am.“

"Well, instead, how about I cook something…and we both eat it over your sink?”  

“If you’re coming over, I can find chairs.  They just might not match…”  

“I’ll make my peace with the unmatching chairs.”  

He grinned. “If so, then it’s a date.  I’ll see you in a few hours, then?”  

“Yep.  In a few hours.”  Darcy walked him to the door and watched him walk back over to his house.  

Ms. Wyatt was still standing at the end of her driveway, staring at the two of them.  She lifted her thumb in the air again, and Darcy returned the gesture with a laugh.  

Of course, Thor turned around at that moment and she had to turn it into an awkward wave and then quickly scuttle back into the house.  

Now she just had to figure out what to make for dinner. 

Chapter Text

Her hands were on his lapels and woe be it for him to turn down a damsel in distress.  

Not that Peter saw himself as some kind of white knight or something, but when the hot girl down the hall asks you to pretend to be her boyfriend, you pretend to be her boyfriend.  

“Sure thing, Peaches…one minor detail though…”  

“What?  Peter?  You know my name right?”  she looked panicked for a minute and it was honestly the most adorable deer-in-headlights look he’d ever seen.  

“Yeah, Darce…of course.  We’ve met all of four times.  I know your name.”  

She sighed in relief.  "Okay, what’s your one minor detail?“  

"I do have to be at work this evening…around nine or so?  This gonna be over by then?”  

“Oh, yeah…” she waved her hand flippantly.  "With any luck, it’ll be over in a half hour.“  

Yeahhhhh, it wasn’t.  

Peter was still sitting there in her apartment, with his arm around her two hours later, boring holes into this guy-Luke’s forehead because take a frigging hint.  Take. A. Hint.

She was obviously not sending Luke signals, and for all he knew the guy who was now boinking her was glaring daggers in his direction.  

The clock on the wall read eight-thirty pm and there was no end in sight.  Darcy kept shooting Peter remorseful looks that became more and more miserable the closer to nine it grew.  

He stood up around twenty-till and excused himself to the bathroom.  He used one of his sick days because no way was he leaving her here with this guy that would probably still be here when he got back from work.  

He had a ton of them accrued anyway.  No better reason to use one.

He came back out and kicked off his shoes, crossing the floor to plop down beside Darcy again.  She shot him a look and he just winked in her direction, reaching down to clasp her hand in his.  

She squeezed and Luke cleared his throat.  Peter thought maybe…just maybe he was finally going to shut up and leave with his box of crap, but nope.  No such luck.  

It took another thirty minutes of that for Peter to pretty much be done completely.  Dude had been here for three hours to pick up a box that held an old toothbrush, floss, six pairs of socks and a mixed cd.  

Darcy, apparently, was just about as done as he was.  

"Hey so…listen up, Luke…”  She leaned forward and squeezed Peter’s hand, shooting him a look that clearly read ‘buckle up’. “It’s getting kinda late?  And I was planning to spend the evening back in the bedroom having even more of the best sex I’ve ever had with my boyfriend Peter, before he falls spectacularly to sleep with only my bare breasts as a pillow…”  Peter coughed.  Choked.  Laughed.  All three.   “You can hang around out here for that if you want…but if you don’t want, the door’s right there.”  

She stood up and tugged slightly on Peter’s hand.  And he went.  Because even though he knew none of that was a real invitation, she had that tone in her voice…the one that he responded very well to. And he didn’t want to disappoint that tone.  

Peter coughed again and gestured towards the box on the coffee table.  "Yeah.  Dude.  Don’t forget your stuff, okay?“

Luke’s face had drained completely of all color and he stood up quickly, grabbing the box and making for the door.  He didn’t say a word, but his expression spoke more than any lousy words could have.  

He also slammed the door extra hard on his way out.  

And Darcy was silent for a full ten seconds before darting forward to lock the door.  "Oh, my blob.  He’s so pissed…”  

Peter shrugged.  "Why?  You guys are broken up…why does he care whose…head is pillowed on your…" he trailed off and cleared his throat.  "You know?“  

She shrugged and flopped back down on the sofa.  "I don’t even know, dude.  He’s a mess.  And I’m glad he’s gone.”  

“Me too…honestly…”  

“Yeah…you can go to work now…maybe you won’t be too late?”  She winced. “I am so sorry, Peter…I really didn’t think…”

“Nah, don’t worry about it.  I called in sick.”  

“You did not!”  

He blushed a little for whatever reason.  "Yeah…I did.  When I was in the bathroom.“  

"You didn’t have to do that!”  

He shook his head.  "Wasn’t gonna leave you alone here with him.  I didn’t know you were gonna scare him off with explicit descriptions of our sex life…"  

“Hey, I could have been a LOT more explicit.  I think I was pretty vanilla.”  

Peter didn’t know what to say to that, so he just didn’t say anything.  

“Since you’re off for the night…can I buy you dinner?” she asked.  

“It’s gonna have to be take-out because I can’t be seen anywhere.  I’m sick, remember?”  He fake-coughed into his hand.  

“Okay…so…pizza or Chinese?”  

Peter contemplated that for a moment before responding.  "I could probably destroy a pizza right now.“  

"Same.  I’ll order two.  What do you want on yours?”  

“Not picky, no allergies, surprise me.”  

“You get something not disgusting.  Because you sat here for three hours listening to my megalomaniac ex-boyfriend try to lay his dick on the table without complaining.  AND, you haven’t once tried to weasel your way into my pants for the best sex ever and breast pillows. But just know…next time, all bets are off.  I will order you a pizza with no cheese and extra anchovies and olives and mushrooms and burnt spinach.”  

Peter crossed his arms over his chest defiantly.  "Bring it.  That sounds delicious.“  It didn’t, but it was worth it to hear her laugh and the two words she said next.  

"You’re awesome.”

“Thanks…” He leaned back against her sofa while she ordered the pizza on her phone.

“Done and done…” she said slowly, tossing her phone over on the side table.  "So, because I’m both extremely cool and extremely interested…I’m going to ask you something now…"  


“On a scale of zero to extremely…how interested are you in using my breasts as pillows?”  

“Before or after the best sex you’ve ever had?”  he asked, smirking.  

“Good answer.”  

“To expand on that answer…I am interested, but I’d like to get to know the rest of you first.”  

“Better answer.”  

“And…possibly kiss you a little…or a lot…if you’d be up for that?”  

“Best answer.”    

Chapter Text

Darcy thought she heard a knock on her door, but she wasn’t entirely sure.  

She was vacuuming, so it totally could have been her mind playing tricks on her. It wouldn’t be the first time this happened, so it was entirely possible.  

Still, though.  

She turned off the vacuum and listened hard, her ears ringing a little.  Her vacuum was old and loud as hell.  

Sure enough, there were three sharp knocks on her front door.  

Glancing up at the clock, she groaned.  It was past nine.  So, she knew exactly who was knocking on her door.  

She sighed heavily and unlocked the deadbolt, swinging the door open to a slightly miffed version of her hot downstairs neighbor.  

He was hot, but good gravy, he was easily miffed.    

“I’m sorry to keep asking this…” Bucky began.  "But, could ya keep it down?  I mean…I think I’ve explained this a couple of times, but I have to –“  

"Get up early for work, yeah I know,” Darcy grumbled.  "You and me and everyone else in this Thorforsaken building have to get up in the morning for work. It’s not a new or relatively hard-to-understand concept, Barnes.“  

He frowned.  "Look, I was trying to be polite here…but if you have to get up too, maybe you should think about going to bed at a reasonable time.”  

“And just leave my apartment in a complete and utter mess?  Not-effing-likely, dude.  Because the next thing would be you complaining that I gave you mice or something stupid like that.”

He snorted.  "Doll, it’s Brooklyn.  Everyone has mice.“  

"And did they all come from my noisy apartment? Because a lot of things seem to be my fault around here.”

“I don’t think that’s very fair…” he countered, crossing his arms and somehow managing to look even more hot the grumpier he became.  It should be illegal.  

“I have to vacuum my floors.  Maybe invest in some ear plugs or something, I dunno.” She shrugged and placed her hand on the door frame.  

“Or just vacuum at a decent hour.”  

“Nine fifteen IS a decent hour, Gramps!  You’d think that with all that sleep you’re getting, you’d be in at least a marginally better mood!”  

“Who are you callin’ Gramps?”  he sneered.

“Who do you think?” was her enlightened retort.

“Sweetheart, I’m the only one here!”  He smirked and opened his arms wide.  

“You want me to repeat it, Gramps?”  

“No, I can hear ya just fine,  and that’s the problem, I’m hearin’ ya!”  

A door opened across the hall and Mrs. Washner stuck her head out into the hallway.  "Could you two take your foreplay inside? I’m trying to put my kid to bed over here!“  

"Foreplay? What, you kiss your kid with that mouth, Mrs. Washner?” Bucky snarked across the hall.  

“Just keep it down, got it?”  Mrs. Washner slammed her door and left them in silence.

Silence that lasted an awkward amount of time.  

Bucky turned back to face Darcy.  "Look, I’m just…uh…gonna…go back to my place.“  

"Cool. Awesome.  I’m just gonna finish my vacuuming.”  

He paused, taking a deep breath before turning back to face her.  "Can it wait until the morning? Please.“  

"Nope,” she said, popping the ‘p’ before smiling sweetly in his direction.  "And I’ve got the whole rest of my apartment to do.“  

"The whole rest of it, huh?” He tilted his head and moved fractionally closer. “You’re gonna be up for a while, then.”  

“I was planning on it.  I was gonna watch 'The Tonight Show’ after I’m done.  I was gonna turn up the surround sound so it would really feel like I was there." 

She wasn’t sure when the tone of their argument had changed, but if she had to put her finger on it, it was probably right after Mrs. Washner had accused them of engaging in foreplay.  

Because while yes, it felt like flirting before…what with how his hotness levels increased in ratio to his grumpiness levels…it really felt like more now.  With the ever shrinking distance between them.  And her one hand on the vacuum handle because that was the only thing grounding her and keeping her from wrapping herself around his waist.

"Are you really gonna do that, Darce?” he asked, his tongue flicking out to wet his lips.  "Are you really gonna turn up your surround sound that late at night?“  

"I live alone,” she teased. “So who’s gonna stop me?”  Running her tongue along the underside of her top teeth, she leaned against the door frame, her hand mere centimeters from his.  "You?“  

"Be kinda hard to stop you from my apartment…”  

“Yeah, it would.  You’d have to be here.”  

“That an invitation?” he rumbled, his voice dropping nearly an octave.  

“You’d better believe it,” she breathed, letting go of the vacuum.

One arm snaked around her waist and she tilted her head as he sealed his lips over hers.  Their kissing was wild, all teeth and tongue.  Arms and hands, gripping and tugging and pulling.  

He slammed the door behind them, sliding the dead bolt into place.  

Chapter Text

The knocking was increasing in frequency as she moved towards the door.  It was almost frantic-sounding.  

“Coming, I’m coming!” she called, drying off her hands on her jeans and reaching for the doorknob.  

Darcy was unsurprised to see her neighbor, Clint, on the other side, hopping up and down like he had to pee or something. He didn’t, but it was fun to mess with him.  

“You need the bathroom?” she asked.  "Something’s wrong with yours?“ She knew exactly why he was there.  Bobbi must be coming over.

He scoffed. "No.  Darce…listen.  No time to explain, but Bobbi’s coming over. Could you…ya know…pretend to be my girlfriend again? I swear this is the last time.”

Each of the last two times had been the last time too, if she recalled correctly.  

She crossed her arms over her chest and sighed.  "She is bound to know this is fake, Clint.  At some point, she’s going to realize.  Bobbi’s not stupid.“  

"So…act or something?”  He pressed his palms together in a pleading motion.  "Please, Darce?  Please?  I cannot stand for her to come over and to find me single and sad.  That’s a recipe for a fallback.  And I don’t want to fallback with Bobbi.  She’s great, but we’re much better when we’re not romantically involved.“

"So don’t fallback.”  

He poked out his bottom lip. Which was her kryptonite.  And he knew it.  

Damn Clint Barton and his chiseled good looks and kissable lips.  Damn him for being so adorable.  And damn her for being so easily manipulated by a man she had a crush on.  

A man she had a crush on and occasionally pretended to be involved with.  

She was a walking disaster.  

“Fine,” she acquiesced.  "You need more self control, though.“  

"Can we skip the lecture?”  

She arched an eyebrow.  "If you want me as your girlfriend, you’re getting the lecture.“  

"I guess I should have known that going in.”  

“Yeah, I guess you should have.”  She shut her door and walked down the hall with him to his place.  

Lucky bounded over to greet her, wagging his tail and practically jumping up and down.  At least this part looked legit.  Lucky loved her.

Even if Clint was the worst at being cool.  Like, no joke.  If you looked up the word ‘cool’ in the thesaurus, there was a picture of Clint under the antonyms.  

She knelt down to pet Lucky and scratch his ears.  "Is there a script or something?“ she asked.  "Do you want me to kiss you?”  

Clint paused right where he was, which just so happened to be in mid-sip of a soda from the fridge.  "Uh…I mean…I don’t want to force you into anything or whatever…"  

Darcy smirked.  "I’ll kiss you.  You’re pretty good at it.  Not the worst way to spend an afternoon.“  

She was in too deep.  She really hoped this was the last time.  Otherwise, she might actually start falling for the guy.  Harder than she already had.  

And she was through falling.  For once, she wanted to be on even footing.

He was still sputtering a little bit about her kissing commentary when the doorbell rang.  

Darcy stood up and made her way over to the arm of the couch.  Lucky followed and put his head in her lap.  She stroked him and waited.  

Bobbi was actually a really cool person, but Darcy wasn’t a fan of the person Clint turned into when he was around her. Or vice versa.  

They just weren’t right for each other.  And Darcy wasn’t really all that gung-ho to jump in and tell people how to run their lives or their relationships.  But she was willing to jump in the middle of those two.  They were both better off. 

Which was why she was okay with where she was.  Practically poised on the proverbial trampoline and ready to jump.  She’d done this twice before, after all.

And it had nothing to do with her growing crush.  

She’d held his hand, kissed his cheek, kissed his lips … she wasn’t lying about that part of it.  It was kind of her favorite.

Bobbi came in and Clint waved his arm to the side to allow her access to the room.  She was coming to pick up the very last of her stuff.  Finally.  It had only taken them nine months to split up completely.  If their break-up had been a fetus, it would be ready to be born right about now.  

Clint had her things all boxed up on the table right there by the door. Darcy was proud of him.  

Bobbi grinned at her.  "Heya, Darce.  How are you?”  

“Pretty good, how 'bout yourself?” she replied.  Or she would have if Clint hadn’t opened his big mouth.  

“Dating.  We’re still dating.  Darcy and I.  We're… still dating.”  

Bobbi’s eyebrows went up in surprise and then she smiled. “I figured, what with her being here and all…”  She laughed, leaning over to hug Darcy close.  "I always kind of thought…you know…"  She shrugged.  "There is something really special here … especially since you’re all he ever talks about when I see him.  Darcy this.  Darcy that…"  Bobbi leaned down to pat Lucky’s head and he leaned into the touch, but didn’t leave his post beside Darcy’s leg.  "I think it’s adorable. You guys are so cute together!“

She crossed over to pick up her box.  

Clint’s face had drained of all discernable color and the rest of the visit went kind of quickly.  Darcy didn’t even have a chance to enjoy a fake kiss with her fake boyfriend, because before she knew it, he was closing the door behind Bobbi after practically pushing her out of it.  

He turned back around and immediately stared at the floor.  

"I’m all you ever talk about, eh?” Darcy asked, totally meaning it as a light-hearted jab, but it came out so heavy that it fell flat as soon as she said it.  

He shook his head.  "I just…I needed something to talk about that wasn’t Lucky…or a TV show and…"  

“And you settled on me?”  

He nodded. “Cuz…you know…after TV and Lucky…that’s what I know the most about…which, I mean…would make sense.  Since you’re supposed to be my girlfriend and all…”  

“It goes Lucky, TV, then me, huh?”  

“Kinda started out as just…another way to prove to Bobbi that I was moving on…but I mean…I always thought you were… we always got along so well.  And … I mean, you’re gorgeous, Darce.  It kind of evolved from that into…”  

“Into what?” she asked, her voice barely a whisper.  

He laughed, an awkward huff of sound.  "I’m…uh…kind of, sort of…in like with you.“  

"In like with me?”  

“It’s more than like.  Less than love…  but I mean, it could be love…maybe.  One day.  If it’s…reciprocated and if we don’t drive each other crazy.  And if it’s reciprocated…”  He looked up at her hopefully after repeating the most important bullet point.  

She couldn’t really hide the smile.  "It is, Clint.  It’s reciprocated.“  

As it turned out, she did get to kiss him after all.  

Chapter Text

Darcy turned at the telltale snap of a vine to see her neighbor from across the courtyard taking a bite out of one of her Berkley Tie-Dye tomatoes.  

“I know you didn’t just do that,” she said, arching her eyebrow.  "Do you think I was growing those for you?“  

Johnny winked.  "Who are you growing them for?”  

“Me.  I had plans for that tomato.  I was going to make some BLT’s with it.”  

He held it out.  "Want it back?“  

She reached out and snatched it out of his hand, taking a bite out of the opposite side.  "Thanks.”  

His eyebrows went up, obviously surprised that she accepted it back after he’d taken a bite of it.  

Shows how much he knew about her.  

“I wasn’t…serious…” He frowned and glanced back at the plant.  "Now I want another one.“  

"You’d better not,” she warned.  

“Then give me that one back.”

She held out her other hand. “Five bucks.”  

Five bucks?  For one tomato?”  

“That’s a STEAL, dude.  This one was huge, it would have probably gone for twice that at the farmer’s market.”

“No, a steal would have been what I did with it the first time,” he countered.  "Besides.  I thought you were gonna bring me some of those. You promised and never delivered.“  

Darcy smirked. "I never pegged you for a lover of heirloom produce, Johnny.  I thought that was just a ploy to ask me out on a date.”  She was still holding the tomato in her hand, hovering up near her mouth.  

“Right?  And then you never came over, so I had to come up with a new plan.”  He leaned over and took another bite, lingering slightly because it was in her hand and juice was now running down his chin and her wrist.  

“You’re stealing my produce so you can ask me out?  Solid plan, I guess.  Do you take constructive criticism, though?

"Sure.  I’m nothing if not open to dialogue.”  

“Next time…just ask me.  Don’t steal my tomatoes.”  She took another bite and then pressed the mutilated fruit into his palm before walking back towards her patio door. 

“So is that a ‘no’?” he asked.

Darcy turned. “I don’t reward bad behavior.  So it’s a 'no’ this time.  Take a few days, rethink, and resubmit.”  She winked and went back into her apartment, not even needing to turn back to know that she’d left him with his jaw on the ground.  

Chapter Text

Sam was just stepping out of the shower when he heard his doorbell ring.  

He contemplated throwing on a pair of sweats, but ultimately opted for wrapping a towel around his waist.  He wasn’t expecting anyone, so whoever it was on the other side of that door deserved to get blasted with wet, towel-waisted, him.  

Of course, once he answered it, he regretted the choice immediately.  

His neighbor Darcy, from down the hall, was standing on his welcome mat, wearing the shortest shorts known to man and a tank top.  She was also drenched in sweat and looking fine as hell.  

Well, that very last part wasn’t new.  She always looked amazing.  

The drenched-in-sweat thing, though.  That was new.  

As was the sheer amount of bare skin.  

Judging by the look on her face, a similar thought was crossing her mind.  

“Darce!  Hey!” Sam reached down to hold the towel in place. “What can I do for you?”  

Her eyebrows shot up, but she continued, almost undeterred.  "My A/C is out.  Super can’t get to it for a couple more hours.  I’m dying from the heat.  Is there any possible way I can hang out over here?“  

"Oh!  Yeah!  Yeah, sure, yeah…yeah come on in…” He stood back to allow her inside.  

“That was a lot of ‘yeahs’, you sure it’s alright?”  Darcy asked, hesitating at the door.  

“Look, far be it for me to let my hot neighbor melt in their apartment –”  Sam paused before immediately attempting to backtrack. “I mean…far be it for me to melt my hot neighbor in my apartment…no…wait…far be it for me to let my neighbor melt in her hot apartment.  Yeah.  Yeah…yeah.  That last one. That was the one that you should…”

Way to keep cool, Wilson, he chastised himself.  He ended by clearing his throat. The sound was loud and practically echoed down the hallway.  

Darcy bit her bottom lip to keep from laughing.  "So, what I’m gathering from this is you’d like to melt me…and then you said 'yeah’ three more times before you finally stopped.“  

Sam opened his mouth, but no sound came out.  

"Well, you’re on the right track with that towel and everything…” Darcy smirked and walked inside.  

“I didn’t mean for –”  

“Dude, I getcha.  Freudian slip.  It’s cool.”  

“I mean…not that you’re not…hot…or anything.  That’s not what I meant…”  

“Sam.  It’s cool.  I’m not gonna grill my hot neighbor for letting me come hang out in his apartment.  Because I’m too hot.  For mine.  Which is also hot.  Yeah.”  She winked and flopped down on his couch.  

Chapter Text

Darcy’s face was bright red before she even got the entire sentence out.  

It was a taboo topic, honestly.  If you heard someone having sex, you politely screamed into a pillow until it was over.  

The thing about the boys was…they were notorious for their extra long “romps”.  Something about both of them being genetically enhanced, or whatever…Darcy didn’t know.  

All she did know, was that sharing a wall with Pietro and Steve was becoming increasingly detrimental to her sleep.  

She wasn’t even sure how to broach the topic with anyone, so she’d kind of taken to sleeping on her couch whenever she could tell the two of them were getting it on.

Which led to her current predicament.  

That morning, she’d asked Tony over breakfast if she could get moved to another floor, which led to Sam and Bucky boasting pridefully about how Darcy was going to join them on the sixteenth floor of awesome, which led to Pietro,Steve, Jane, and Thor getting all hurt that she wanted to leave the seventeenth floor.

And that led to her making the most blunt, rude, horriblestatement she’d ever made in her life.  

“Piet. Steve.  I love you both.  But I can hear your loud sex.  I’m tired.  My back hurts from sleeping on my couch.  I just want to sleep in my bed. But I don’t want to be a bother to either of you.  So…”  

“Wait…you can hear us?”  Steve sputtered.  "I mean…Jane and Thor are pretty loud too…"  

“Yes we are,” Thor agreed, lifting his juice glass, which Jane promptly tugged back down again, shaking her head.  

“But I had no idea you were losing sleep because of…”  

“Darcy…” Pietro reached for her hand.  "Steve and I could just move our bed across the room.  You don’t have to leave.“  

She blushed even darker and tugged her hand away, reaching for her coffee mug.  She sipped at it even though she hadn’t added sugar yet.  She deserved the bitterness. She’d been super rude and now they were being really nice to her.  

Making a face, she reached for the sugar.  Maybe she’d been rude, but this was ridiculous.  Coffee needed sugar.  "Look…it’s…whatever you want to do…I just…I’m so very tired.”  

“I’ll go move it right now,” Pietro said definitively, standing up and zipping away to leave his breakfast half eaten to go and move his and Steve’s bed.  Because of something she said.  

“Thank you…” she called lamely behind him, even though she was about five seconds too late for him to hear it.  

She was clearing her breakfast dishes before she spoke with either of them again.  She’d decided that the bottom of her coffee cup was infinitely more interesting than looking anyone in the eye again.  

She was alone in the kitchen when a breeze ruffled her hair and Pietro took her dishes from her hands, arranging them in the dishwasher before hopping up on the counter.  "You know…Darcy…you could just…join us.  And it wouldn’t be an issue any longer…"      

“Right.  Because what you guys are doing in there sounds REALLY restful,” she said with a soft smile, retrieving her coffee cup and walking over to get a refill.  

“Touché,” he countered, reaching for the carafe and refilling it for her.  "But…you…could join us.  I know Steve’s asked you before.“  

"Yes, he has.  And so have you.  I’m telling you, Piet…you make it very difficult to say no. Better watch out, or I might just take you up on it.” She ended with a dry laugh, but the smile soon fell from her face.

“Do it,” he countered, wording it almost like a challenge.  He hopped off the counter.  "I’m serious. Steve and I are serious.“  

She was starting to think that maybe they were.

Chapter Text

He opened the door to a thermal-underwear-clad Darcy.  She tilted her head slightly to the side to take in his very similar ensemble.  "Oh no! Now one of us is going to have to change.“

Bucky grinned and stepped aside to allow her entrance.  "Did you leave your faucets running like I said?”  

“Yep,” she answered. “No frozen pipes on my watch! And this is the last of my stuff.”  She gestured to the bags in her hands.  She’d already brought over drinking water and a bag of hand-knit winter-wear.

“Good, now get in here, it’s even cold in the hallway.”  

She was lugging a sleeping bag and two sacks of groceries along with her.  The ‘groceries’ turned out to be the entire contents of her dry goods cupboard, along with an extra jug of kerosene.  Three cans of tomato soup, and one chicken noodle, a jar of Ragu and a box of instant hot chocolate.  

“You’re really prepared for anything, aren’t you?” Bucky teased as she unloaded the bag onto the counter.  

“Dude, I am so sorry. I know we talked about going to the store last week, but I definitely forgot.”  

“Yeah well.  At least we won’t starve.  Because I happen to have crackers and spaghetti in the cupboard in there.”  

“What about marshmallows?” she asked, dead serious.  

“I have exactly one bag of mini marshmallows.”  

Darcy crossed her arms over her middle and pouted.  "I guess.  Since it’s the end times and all.  I guess that’ll be okay.“  

It wasn’t really the end times.  But it might as well be.  There was a blizzard bearing down on them.  And in lieu of each of them going out to buy a large amount of supplies, he and his next door neighbor had decided to split the cost and hunker down together.  

Shouldn’t be weird at all.  Considering that he and Darcy had some kind of weird, flirty relationship.

He had expected her to bail on their plans right up to and including when she’d knocked on his door.  So he was completely and fully prepared to do this alone.  

Except she was here.  And wearing thermals.  

Girls in thermals were infinitely cuter than guys in thermals.  

And Darcy was infinitely cuter than most girls.  

So, in short, Bucky was in trouble.  

Because the cold was biting outside. His windows already had ice on them.  And he’d gotten one kerosene space heater.  Which meant…

They were definitely sleeping in the same room tonight.  

She’d brought along a sleeping bag.  But still.  There was no way he was leaving her on the couch with no heat while he went back into his bedroom.  It was true that the power hadn’t gone out yet.  But it was a blizzard.  It was going to happen.

In fact, she was already spreading said sleeping bag out on the floor in the living room.  Unzipped and completely open.  And she’d taken one of the blankets he’d folded on the end of the couch and wrapped it around herself.  

His TV was on, watching the storm developments on the news.  And he could either sit with her, or sit on the couch.  

His legs decided for him, as he plopped onto the floor beside her.  She offered the edge of her blanket and he accepted, tugging it around his shoulder until it surrounded them both.  It took some scooting together on both their parts, but they made it work.  

Even if their thighs were now pressed together, the waffled texture of his thermals was rubbing roughly against his outer thigh, and the heat of her skin was scorching him even through two layers of fabric.

They watched the weather reports right up until the power went out.  

The lights flickered off and Bucky was thankful that he’d started the kerosene heater up a while before, so they’d have residual heat to keep them warm.  He couldn’t even remember what it felt like to be cold, though.  Not while he was under the blanket with Darcy.  

She reached down and laced her fingers with his, her blue eyes seeking out his gaze and holding it.  

"Are you ready for this?”  she asked, her voice low and throaty, like what she was telling him was some big secret.  And he could have sworn…that maybe it felt like what she was asking him could have two possible meanings.

It didn’t matter which question she was asking him, though.  Because his answer was still the same:  "As ready as I’ll ever be.“    

Chapter Text

Darcy could have sworn it was a community garden.  

“That’s your patio?” she asked, pointing towards the little container garden seemingly out in the middle of the courtyard.  "What gives? It’s out in the middle of nowhere, it’s not connected to any of the apartments! I thought it was a group effort!“  

"Did you plant something there, missy?”  her neighbor asked, pointing his finger in a very accusatory way right in her face.  Wade.  Wade was his name.  

She only knew that because his mailbox had his initials on it.  Which were WWW.  So she’d actually made a point to ask him his name so she wouldn’t call him ‘world wide web’ when she met him in person.  

It took every possible way of suppressing urges she had in her arsenal not to lean over and bite the finger that was poking in the general direction of her face.  

Because dude was yummy, okay?  Infinitely more yummy than even the yellowish-orange tomato she’d plucked from one of the plants that morning.  Even more yummy than the BLT she made with it.  

“No?  But I went out and watered some stuff a few times when they were looking wilty,” she said defensively.  

“Oh you did?  Well, that is a thing I did not know until right now. Thank you!” he said, still in that accusatory tone, so it all became kind of funny after that.  The wind had totally been taken out of his sails.  

“You’re welcome. And I’m sorry for the misunderstanding.  I just thought…” she waved her hand vaguely over in the direction of the plants.  "It’s not anywhere near any of the apartments.“  

"My therapist told me gardening could help with some of my…stuff,”  he said with a shrug.  "It’s my therapy garden.“  

"Well, I apologize for stealing one of your therapy tomatoes.  And for watering your therapy plants when you let them get all wilty.”  

“Look, a dude’s gotta eat.  More than just…that rabbit food over there..” he said definitely.  "I have to go to work sometimes.  Don’t shame me for being a bad plant daddy, okay?“  

Darcy pressed her lips together to keep from laughing.  Because the horrible image in her mind of what exactly a 'plant daddy’ looked like was funny.  Times five.  

"And don’t shame me for being a plant daddy either,” he added.  A rather large, rather goofy grin followed.  "I have a vine whip.“  

And that’s when the giggles started.

"What would it take for you to show me your vine whip, Wade?”  

“Well, you’d have to apologize to Ted the Tomato over here…” he gestured towards the plant she’d plucked the fruit from.  "They are very upset with you.“  

She turned towards the plant in question and leaned a little closer. "Super sorry, Ted.  I hope you can forgive me.”  

“What’s that, Ted?”  Wade leaned down.  "You accept Darcy’s apology, but you think she should take me out for a drink anyway?  Oh Ted, that’s super nice of you, buddy.  You’re the best tomato friend a guy could have.“  He jammed his hands into his pockets and shrugged.  "You heard the plant.”  

Darcy snorted back a laugh and nodded.  "Fine.  Where to, Wade?“  

"Oh, for real?  I didn’t think that was going to work!  You know that was all me, right?  I don’t think tomatoes can communicate with us.  Not yet, anyway.”  

Chapter Text

“No time to explain, but could you pretend to be my boyfriend when my ex arrives?”

The question was hurried, and spoken almost entirely as one jumbled-together word.  

But he’d seen his neighbor’s ex.  Met him in the hall even.  And if pretending to be Darcy’s boyfriend could potentially keep that asshole far, far away?  Sam was totally going to do it.  

Darcy was impossibly cool.  Way cooler than Luke, at any rate.  

And it didn’t hurt that she was cute.  

Hell, she was more than cute, but like she said, there wasn’t much time.  Cute was as far as he was going to go right now.  

“Sure thing, Darce. When should I–?”  

“Now,” she replied, reaching up to cup his face in her hands.  She raised up on her tiptoes and pressed a kiss to his lips.  Hot and needy and totally perfect.  

Of course she’d be good at this too.    

Looping one arm around his neck, she held on and deepened the kiss.  

Sam placed both of his hands on her waist and tilted his head to give her better access.  She’d neglected to mention that there would be kissing.  But he didn’t really mind at all.  In fact, it made everything a little more tolerable.

Not that being around her wasn’t tolerable.  But being around Luke was barely possible to begin with.  Angry, just-been-dumped Luke was bound to be worse.  

So the kissing, the excellent kissing, was very nice.    

Especially when he heard the unmistakable grunt from behind her.  "Darcy?“  

She broke off the kiss with Sam and kept her arm around him as she turned.  "Oh HEY, Luke.  I totally forgot you were coming over…” she grinned and slid her hand down to lace around Sam’s.  "I’ve got your box of stuff right in the entryway…"  She tugged Sam up the hall towards her apartment.  

Luke followed behind slowly like a squashed roach.

And as if by magic, Darcy’s ex was gone in less than five minutes, a very dejected look on his face as he moseyed off with his box of leftover crap from her place.  

She let out a sigh of relief and hugged Sam tightly.  "Thank you so much, Sam. I just needed to like…get him un-hung up on me.  Kissing someone was the easiest way to do that…"  She was still hugging him when she pulled back slightly to gaze up into his eyes.  "The kissing thing was okay, right?  I’m sorry I didn’t go into details of what I needed from you…"  

“Darcy…baby, that’s fine.  No complaints here.  Our friendship isn’t ruined. You’re one hell of a kisser anyway.”

She grinned. “Likewise…”  She slowly loosened her hold on him, letting her fingers trail over the back of his neck.  "Thanks for being a good neighbor.“  

"Hey, that’s me.  I’m very neighborly.”  

Her hands were dragging slowly down his chest as she backed away from him.  His hands were slowly moving along her waist until they fell apart completely.  

“Very, very neighborly.  You’re awesome…”  

“Thanks…so are you.”  

And he left her apartment soon after that.  She waved shyly and smiled as he left.  

Once the door shut behind him, he let out the breath he’d been holding.  Sam decided that yeah…definitely after a sufficient waiting period, he was going to have to ask her out for drinks.  

It was the neighborly thing to do.      

Chapter Text

Darcy’s next door neighbor, Loki Laufeyson, had the nicest lawn on the entire street.  He had imported sod, beautifully sculpted topiaries and gorgeous azeleas.  It was flat out beautiful.  

And in contrast, Darcy had the trashiest lawn in the entire world.  Well, maybe the world was a little ambitious.  It was definitely in the top ten, though.  

She had tacky flamingos, a kiddie pool that she lounged in on a regular basis during the summer months, and a rather aggressive mint garden.  It had started out as an herb garden, but mint was crazy and now it was a mint garden.  

And, for the past seven months, she’d had some lovely holiday lights on timers.  

Now in his defense, the first time he asked her to take them down, he was very polite.  

It had happened exactly one day following New Year’s.  

He’d rung her doorbell and asked her in a very polite way to please get her lights down in a timely manner this year.  He’d then, in true Loki fashion, ruined his politeness by reminding her how long it had taken her to remove them the year previous.  

So Darcy, in her infinite wisdom and snarkiness, had promised to do her best to have them down just as soon as she could.  And she’d then proceeded to come up with a new reason every weekend for not removing the lights.  

For the entire month of February, she maintained that since her neon Santa was red and white, he was a portly version of St. Valentine and therefore a festive decoration.  

For March, she’d feigned a light cough.  Allergies.  

April was pretty fun, because she’d stretched April Fool’s Day out over the entire month by telling Loki each time he asked that she was just headed out to do it.  Only to then yell ’April Fool’s!’ over his privacy fence and proceed to do what she’d done for the past three months.  Which was nothing.  

She’d taken to turning the sprinklers on whenever Mr. Laufeyson happened to come near her lawn during the month of May.  She had a waterproof remote and sat in her kiddie pool while she tormented him.  

If she’d gotten a whiff of anyone else in the neighborhood being upset about her lights, she’d have taken them down in an instant.  But, she was pretty sure they either didn’t care or were as annoyed with Loki as she was, and therefore could overlook the faux pas of her tacky neon Santa and twinkly lights.  

Currently it was June and honestly, she’d run out of ideas.  

But he was nothing if not predictable, and kind of hot when he got all flustered.  So, she kept up her prank if only for the lolz.  

He rang her doorbell on this lovely June morning and when she opened it, she was greeted to a positively frightening sight.  

He was…smiling.  Not that he was a particularly frightening guy.  He was actually kind of handsome.  Okay, not handsome, he had some straight up John Thornton vibes going.  

“Can I…help you?” she asked.  

“Ms. Lewis…”  

“Darcy,” she corrected him.  

“Darcy…” he continued.  "If you don’t mind, I would like to volunteer my services in removing your holiday lights.  It seems to be a difficult prospect for you, and as a good neighbor, I’d like to help.“  

Darcy smirked and shook her head.  "Nah.  It’s not that hard.  Just gotta lug out the ladder from the garage.  And climb up it and yank ‘em down.  Probably might take me an hour.  Tops.”  

Loki took a deep breath and let it out.  "Can I assist you in th–“  

"Nope,” Darcy said, grinning widely.  

“For pity’s sake, woman…” he hissed under his breath.  "Could you please, just take your damn lights down?  It’s June.“

"This really bothers you, doesn’t it?” she asked, folding her arms and leaning against her doorframe, clearly amused.  

His mouth twitched before he answered.  "It clearly does.“  

"Well, okay, then.  That’s all you had to say.”  

“Really?” He looked so hopeful, she almost didn’t want to continue.

Only almost.  Because he really was unbearable.  

“Nope,” she replied, popping the 'p’.  

His nostrils flared as his face fell.  "You are infuriating.“  

"Thanks!  But listen, I would be willing to consider a holiday light removal if you could do one little thing for me.”  

What?” he practically snarled.  

“Geez dude, touchy, touchy.”  She raised her hands in front of her.  "That’s what I’m talking about right there.  You’re a mean old grouch.  Except you’re not really all that old.“  She shrugged.  "You’re actually a mean foxy grouch, but you know, the mean grouch really kills the fox.”  

He raised his eyebrows slightly.  "The only reason I act the way I do is because you push me to it.“  

Darcy snorted.  "That’s entirely for my benefit, huh?”  

He frowned, sputtering slightly.  "That’s…that’s…no!“  

"Whatever dude.  Listen.  I’ll remove my lights this very afternoon if you will stop being such an unapproachable curmudgeon to everyone else in the neighborhood.”  

“I am perfectly pleasant!” he argued.  

“Dude.  No.  I am perfectly pleasant.  Do you see how the entire neighborhood has sided with me on this little…whatever it is?”  She gestured towards her yard, sweeping her arm to include his too.  "Do you think it’s because they like the tacky spectacle that is my home?“  

He furrowed his brow in thought.  "No, I…I suppose not…”  

Darcy smirked.  "Right?  It’s because they like me.  It’s because I take part in the block parties, and I put out candy on Halloween.  And…yeah, my lawn might be horrendously decorated, but I pay the Johnson’s daughter to mow it like everyone else on the block.  Except you.“  She pointed her finger and pushed against his chest.  "So dude.  I will take those lights down right now, if you promise to be an actively nice member of this community.  Deal?”  She held out her hand.  

He took another deep breath and nodded, grasping her hand and shaking it.  "Deal.“  

"Cool beans, bruh.”  She smirked and slipped on her flip flops.  "And as promised, the lights will come down.  But you had better believe they’ll be back up the next time you act like a douche monkey, got it?“  

"You’re not…going to climb a ladder in those shoes, are you?”  Loki asked, frowning deeply once more.

Darcy sighed.  "What is wrong with my shoes?  Do they not match the trim on my house?“  

"Unless your trim is fluorescent orange, no.  But they aren’t the proper footwear to be traipsing up and down on a ladder.  I’d never forgive myself if you fell from that height and cracked you pretty little head open on your driveway…I’ll climb the ladder.  You can wind them up as I pull them down.”  

Darcy couldn’t help but smile as she led Loki out to her garage.  "So, tell me, Lokes…do you really think I have a pretty little head?“  

He stopped walking and turned to look at her.  "Yes.  And that isn’t just my attempt at being a good neighbor.”  

Chapter Text

The knock on her door surprised her.  It was after ten pm, and her apartment building was pretty much dead by nine.  No pun intended, given the sheer number of elderly residents who lived there.  So when she heard a loud knock at ten-eighteen on the dot, Darcy wasn’t really expecting any visitors.  

As evidenced by her choice to skulk around her apartment in a satin bathrobe and cat slippers.  Well, she would have totally been in her more comfy and warm terrycloth bathrobe, but it was currently in the washing machine.    

So she straight up answered the door in her sexy robe from Victoria’s Secret.  No big.    

"Hi?” she said, more of a question than a greeting.  

“Hi…”  said the guy on the other side.  She knew of him.  Knew enough to know his name was Steve.  And that it should be illegal to be so hot and single and living in the apartment next to hers.  But that was as far as her knowledge went, considering she’d only worked up the courage to speak to him a grand total of three times.  

She pressed her lips together in the semblance of an awkward smile.  "What can I do for you, Steve?“  

"Uh…” he faltered, blushed.  He blushed.  Which made Darcy check really quick to make sure she wasn’t flashing him or anything.  Not that she was embarrassed per se, she had really nice boobs.  But, you know…sometimes people aren’t prepared for the awesomeness.  And that’s totally fine.  

However in this case, she totally wasn’t flashing him, and was therefore out of ideas pertaining to the nature and origin of Steve’s tomato-ey complexion.  

“Well…this is kind of awkward…but…” He took a deep breath before continuing.  "Icanhearyourloudsexthroughoursharedwallcanyoupleasekeepitdownthanks.“ 

Her eyebrows shot up.  "My loud what?” she asked, sort of aghast in disbelief.  "My loud sex?“  

Steve’s gaze went immediately up to the ceiling.  "Yes.  I know it’s probably tacky of me to come point it out, but I have to be up really early tomorrow, and honestly, I forget you’re over here sometimes, but the bed’s knocking really loudly against our shared wall and–”  

“Dude.  I am not having sex.  At least to my knowledge…”  She made a big show of looking around her apartment.  "There are no guys over here.  No girls either.  Not even any particularly fun sex toys.  I am reading on my sofa. And it’s not even smut.“  

He frowned and held his hand up to shush her, apparently listening really hard to something. "What’s that sound then?”  

She paused, listening super hard as well and almost snort-laughed out loud when she heard the soft thumping he was referring to.  "DUDE.  Oh my blob.  I am so sorry.  That’s my washing machine.  I’m washing my bathrobe and it must be loaded unevenly.“  

He let out a sound of relief.  Relieved laughter, if that was a thing.  "Oh wow…Ms…Ms. Lewis, I am so sorry to–”  

“Dude, first off, it’s Darcy.  And second, don’t even apologize, it’s fine.  I will go readjust the load and you should be off to dreamland soon enough.”  

“Thank you so much…I –”  he dropped off in mid sentence and quickly averted his gaze again, his face reddening well past tomato and onward to cherry.  Which could only mean one thing.  

Darcy glanced down to see one half of the Judds popping out to say hello.  Wynonna, it looked like.  "Oops, sorry about that…"  She pulled the black satin back over her left breast with a nervous laugh.  "I was actually…worried that was going to happen, but then forgot about it when you brought up the loud sex and…"  She let out a high nervous laugh. “Sorry.”  

Steve chuckled.  "It’s…it’s okay, actually…if you’re not embarrassed, I’m not.“ 

"I’ve got no reason to be. I mean, they’re nice, right?”

“Well, I’ve only seen the one, but I can imagine they both look…” he paused and gulped.  "Amazing.“  

Darcy tightened her robe around her waist.  "Well.  I guess if you want to know that, you’d have to…I dunno.  Buy me dinner sometime.”  

He looked surprised.  "I…you’d…you’d want me to after…“  He gestured around vaguely.  

"After coming over here and accusing me of loud sexing and then ogling my boob when it flopped out to say hello?  Of course.  Steve, you seem like a really nice guy.  I mean…you didn’t honk my breast, so you seem like a nice guy.”  

“Bar’s set pretty low, then,” he said with a short laugh.

“Only until someone raises it.”  

He jammed his hands in his pockets and stood up a little straighter.  "Are you free this weekend?“  

"Yes, I am.”  

Chapter Text

“Lewis…again?  Really?”  Steve sighed heavily and clicked off his flashlight.  

Darcy shot him a look and rolled her eyes.  "The little punks rolled my yard.  So I’m rolling theirs.“  

"I’m going to have to write you up for this…” he said, pulling out a pad of paper and a BicClic from his back pocket.  

Write me up?  Dude.  This is the smallest amount of authority I’ve ever seen go to someone’s head.”  

“You’re being a menace.”  

“Okay, Mr. Wilson,” she grumbled as she stood, wiping her hands on her jeans as she started off towards her house.  "You’re not gonna tell my mom are you?“ She certainly hoped not.  Her mom lived upstate.  And this was way past her mom’s bedtime.   

"First off, it’s Mr. Rogers.  Mr Wilson lives down the block…” Steve said with a grin.  "And if you promise to apologize to the homeowners for badly rolling their yard, I don’t think any parents will have to be notified.“  

Darcy snorted and kept walking.  "You gonna make me, Rogers?”  

“You gonna make me make you, Lewis?”  


“On what?”  

“On if we’re talking about the same thing here.”  

Steve coughed and replaced the pen in his pocket.  "I was…vaguelyflirting.  Because…I wasn’t sure if you were flirting back.“  

Darcy rounded on him, crooking her finger in a ‘come hither’ gesture. "Let’s go back to my place…you can write me up, and then we’ll discuss it a little longer.”  

Chapter Text

Darcy was stumbling up the stairs with a box of what sounded like former coffee mugs/current shards of porcelain, but felt like bricks.  

She was making good time, and counting the steps, she was only three away from her floor.  And then she completely forgot about the top step for whatever reason and caught her foot on it.

So she was four away, apparently.  

As her life flashed before her eyes, she was saved from certain embarrassment by the other person entering the stairwell.  

“Whoa…” he muttered, his hands closing around her shoulders as she found her balance again.  

“Sorry…” she gasped breathlessly.  "Lost count of the steps…"  

“It’s fine…” he replied with a curt nod.  She looked up into the eyes of her savior and very nearly fell back down the other direction.  

Oh no.  Oh no, he’s hot.  He’s super hot.  He’s tall and lanky and oh god, he’s wearing a vest and tie with Converse.  He is WEARING a vest and tie with Converse!

“C'mon Reid…”  A rather flustered blonde woman directed at Vest & Converse.  "Chop chop…" she trailed off.  "Oh hello…" She glanced up at him and back at Darcy.  "Spence…who’s your friend?“  

"Not a friend…we just met.  I saved her from falling on her face.”  

Darcy pressed her lips into a smile and nodded toward the blonde.  "Yeah…we just…ran into each other.“  

"Literally,” ‘Spence’ replied.  

“Well if you’re not going to introduce us, I am…”  the blonde stuck out her hand.  "Penelope.  Garcia.  Pleased to meet you.“  

"Darcy Lewis,” Darcy returned. She glanced up at him, hoping he’d fill in his name, but he didn’t.  He was already looking at his phone.  

“Prentiss needs us, Garcia…” He started towards the staircase.  

“That’s Spencer Reid.  He lives in apartment fifteen,”  Penelope said hurriedly, her heels clicking as she followed him down the stairs.  

“Oh, really?  I am moving into thirteen…” Darcy said with a smile.  "Maybe we’ll…run into one another?“  

"There is a very high chance of that,” Spencer deadpanned as he rounded the corner.  

Or at least, she thought it was a deadpan. 

Chapter Text

Darcy was absolutely certain that she saw what she thought she saw.    

And as she hobbled across the street with her crutches, she made damn sure her taser was in her back pocket.  Because hell if she was going to get killed for being a good Samaritan.  

“Get an apartment in Hell’s Kitchen they said.  It’s a STEAL, they said…” she grumbled under her breath as she made her way down the hall towards Matt’s apartment.  

“It’s a steal because there are people here who will mug a blind man in his own home…leaving the resident crutch-user to rescue him.  I swear to the mighty Thor…” Darcy’s grumblings continued as she approached Matt’s door. 

She’d never really spoken with him, she’d always done business with Foggy.  But she knew him.  And she knew an assault when she saw one.  

Unsure if she should knock on the door or not, she didn’t have to really make much of a decision in the matter, because it was already ajar.  She pushed it open, taser at the ready, and gasped when she saw what was going on.  

“Who’s there?” Matt called, standing still in the middle of his living room, clutching a wound in his side, but otherwise looking find and dandy for someone who just took on four dudes and lived to tell the tale.  Too bad she couldn’t say the same for the other dudes.  

There were all kinds of dead bodies in here.  

Or four.  Four kinds of dead body in here.

“Darcy Lewis…I work for Stark Industries…I live across the street and I thought you could use some help.”  

He frowned and turned in the direction of her voice.  "Aren’t you on crutches?“ 

"Yeah.  But I have a taser.”  She held it up and then realized her faux pas, lowering it again.  

“A taser.  Against four assailants?” Matt asked incredulously.  

“I figured it was probably better than what you had.  But I was wrong…so so very wrong…”  

“You work for Stark Industries, you said?”  


“With the Avengers?”  

“Some, yeah.”  


“So I’m not entirely surprised by your jaw-dropping enhancement,” Darcy said.  "My jaw only dropped halfway.“  

He chuckled and began to limp towards the couch.  

"Oh…wait.  Are you okay?”  She asked, rolling her eyes at the utter stupidity of the question.  Of course he wasn’t.  He was wounded.  

“I have a friend…Claire Temple?  Her number is in my phone, if you’ll grab that for me.”  

“And what is she going to do?” Darcy asked, going over to where he was gesturing and picking up his phone.  It took some maneuvering with the crutches, but she got it to him.  "Send you well wishes…or?“  

"She’s a nurse,” he explained.  "She’ll come stitch me up.“  

He woke up the device, speaking directly into it.  "Call Claire Temple.”  

“Calling Claire Temple…” his phone parroted back to him.  

Claire answered on the third ring.  "What?“

"Hello to you too,” Matt answered.  

“Where are you hurt?” she asked, cutting right to the chase.    

“My side, right under my ribs.”  

“Are you alone?” she asked, sounding very tired indeed.  Darcy knew the feeling.  She had the first day off she’d had in months and she was spending it babysitting a superhero.  Which was pretty much how she spent most of her time at work anyway.  

“No. A woman is here.”  

“A woman…” Claire said knowingly.  

“Nothing like that.  She’s my neighbor…” He gestured at Darcy with his hand. 

“I’m Darcy?” she replied.  "Darcy Lewis?“  

"Hey Darcy,” said Claire.  "Can I get you to look at Matt’s wound and tell me what it looks like?“  

Darcy made her way over to the couch and sat down beside him, gingerly pulling up his shirt and inspecting the damage.  IT was a gash alright.  About four inches long.  Ragged edges.  Looked painful.  

She told Claire as much and then the other woman hung up, stating she’d be there in a few.  

"You want me to leave?” Darcy asked, reaching for her crutches.  "I did kind of burst into your secret lair and find out your super secret identity.“  

Matt shook his head.  "No, it’s fine…if you want to stay.  It’s actually refreshing to meet someone and have them already know my secrets…so if you want…”  "  

“Maybe just until your nurse friend gets here.”  

There was a short burst of silence before Matt broke it with small talk.  "How did you break your leg?“  

"There was a slight…alien invasion at the Avengers compound.  So I’m off duty whilst I am healing.”  

“Off duty in Hell’s Kitchen?”  

“Don’t judge me, dude.  My realtor talked me into it.”  

Matt smiled and winced, reaching over to tug his shirt down again.  "No judgement from me.“  

Darcy whistled as she helped him.  "Looks rough. Really rough.  You want some tylenol or something?”  

“Nah.  It’s just a flesh wound,” he replied.  

“No it isn’t.  Your arm’s off…” Darcy muttered under her breath in a terrible British accent.  


“It isn’t really…but I guess you knew that.  It’s just…from Monty Python?  It’s just a flesh wound?”  

Matt smirked and leaned back against the couch with another wince.  "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.“  

Darcy clucked her tongue.  "Now there is just no need to bring my parents into this, Murdock. Regardless of species or body odor.”  

Chapter Text

That first night was fine, temperature wise.  Bucky had regulated the heat fairly well in his apartment, and if anything, he and Darcy ended up a little too warm.

Other parts of that night were decidedly…not fine.  

Not that he was upset at the outcome, but it wasn’t what he’d planned.  And every time he thought about it, he got the sinking feeling in his stomach that Darcy maybe thought he had planned it.  It was an issue he was going to have to bring up in the future.  

A lot of factors had contributed to what Darcy was affectionately calling ‘WoodGate’.   Factors…mistakes more like.

Mistake #1:  Even though he’d insisted she sleep on the couch, she still was hunkered down on the floor in her sleeping bag.  Because she was as stubborn as he was.  

And because of this aforementioned obstinence, they both ended up laying atop Darcy’s sleeping bag with two separate blankets spread over them.  Side by side.

Mistake #2:  They were both wearing their thermals when they fell asleep.  It increased the body heat factor and contributed to the temperature problem.  

As a result, they both kicked off their blankets at some point in the night.  

Mistake #3:  Not really a mistake, but it was good heater safety.  Bucky had turned off the kerosene heater before he went to sleep.  

And it was chilly when they woke up.  Not cold.  But chilly.  

Because of all three of these mistakes, Bucky found himself big spooning Darcy when they woke up the next morning.  

He was curled around her back, with his arm wrapped tightly around her waist.  To his own intense mortification, he was rocking gently against her…her…rear end (for lack of a better term).  

Her hair was in his face, and his hips were grinding against her.  And what was worse, she was awake.  


“Oh my god…”  He released her immediately, rolling away from her and grabbing a pillow to press against his crotch, hoping to hide from view what she’d already felt.  

“Dude.  Come on.  Chill…”  Darcy rolled back to face him.  "I know you were asleep.  No harm done. Believe it or not, I’m no blushing virgin.  I’m aware of the existence of morning wood.“  

"I am so sorry…” he muttered, holding his hand over his eyes.  

“Look, you seem more upset about this than I am.  I am not just saying this to make you feel better.  Come on, Barnes.  When have I ever minced my words to make anything easier for anyone?”  

She was right.  She hadn’t.  It wasn’t in her nature to placate.  

He removed his hand from his forehead, turning to look at her.  "I’m upset because…"  

“Because you liked it?”  

He nodded once, his eyes closing of their own accord.  

“Mmkay, confession time:  I liked it too? And I’m not complaining.  Like at all.  Contrary to what you seem to think, that was hot as hell and I think we should see where it goes.”  

“You do,” he stated.  "You want to see where it goes.“  

Chuckling, she nodded. "Yeah.”  

“Darcy, if you don’t know where it goes, I don’t know if I want to do this with you…”

She swatted his shoulder.  "I could show you a couple of places it could go, but do you really wanna tango before breakfast?“  

If 'tango’ meant what he thought it meant, then he wanted to tango anytime she wanted to tango.  

"I do have one complaint, Buck.  And it has nothing to do with your erec–”  

“Please…don't…” he pled, shaking his head.  That word was…not what he wanted to hear at that precise moment.  

“With…” she trailed off, clearly trying to think of a safe term to use.  "WoodGate.“  

He groaned.  That was almost worse. Instead of lingering, he decided to push on.  "What’s your complaint?”  

“If we’re going to spoon/etc., can we do it in a bed?  This floor is hella uncomfortable.”  

“I do have a bed.”  

“Awesome.  Beds.  Are awesome.”  

Chapter Text

Darcy was seriously just minding her own business when it happened.  

Okay.  That was an outright lie.  

She was literally doing the opposite of minding her own business, but it sounded better than to say she was spying on her across the alley neighbor with a pair of binoculars.  

Because that sounded REALLY bad.  

In her defense.  She was supposed to be staking out an international drug cartel kingpin in Russia with her S.H.I.E.L.D partner, but she’d broken her leg while they were chasing him through Romania.  So, she was currently laid up in a random safe house until she was cleared to go back in the field.  

Which would be six to eight weeks, according to her physician.  Her physician who wouldn’t budge no matter the amount of money Darcy offered him.

And so now, she had all this chasing-a-drug-cartel-kingpin-adrenaline and nowhere to get rid of it.  

Plus, she couldn’t even leave the safe house or her cover might be blown.  The physician dropped off enough MRE meals, toiletry supplies, and a water filtration system when he came to put the cast on her leg.  

So she was effectively stuck here until her stupid leg healed completely.  

Which didn’t excuse her actual-facts spying on her neighbors, but she was an adult.  And she owned her flaws like one.  

Besides, if she hadn’t been spying, she would have TOTALLY missed the murder that was definitely going down in the quiet guy’s apartment.  

Quiet guy, who walked to the market daily and wrote in what looked like notebooks every morning.  Quiet guy, who carried a backpack with everything he owned inside like some kind of hobo, even though he had a teeny apartment. Quiet guy, who definitely did not see the guy sneaking out of his bathroom.  

Darcy pressed the binoculars to her eyes, grumbling under her breath as she watched the events unfold.  "No…no, no, no…Quiet guy…turn around!“  

The bathroom intruder got the jump on Quiet guy.  And Darcy was helpless, watching it happen.  

But then….  

Quiet guy reached back behind him, pulled the would-be-attacker off his back and strangled him.  With one arm.  

It was CRAZY TOWN.  

And before Darcy knew it, she was hobbling down to the street.  And climbing the stairs was no easy feat.  Going up, or going down.  

But she just KNEW this was something worth looking into.  Whether she was on forced rehabilitation or now.  

She had one hand on her taser, her gun was hidden beneath her jacket as she hesitated outside Quiet guy’s apartment.  

Because of course, once again, she’d run in half cocked and had no plan as to how the hell she was going to confront a man who could indispose and strangle a man single-handed.  (Literally!)  

Luckily, she didn’t have to think.  Because Quiet guy opened the door, backpack on his back and looking as if he was ready to bolt.  

She almost yelped.  Because apparently her S.H.I.E.L.D-issue binoculars weren’t all they were cracked up to be.  Once she got up close, she could tell.  

Quiet guy was actually The Winter Soldier.  AKA James Buchanan Barnes.  AKA Steve’s pal Bucky.  AKA, Someone who was definitely a person of interest.  

"Hold it right there,” she said, shifting both crutches to one side as she reached for her taser.  "I broke my leg, and might have been spying on all my neighbors through my back window…but I could have SWORN I saw you kill a man…care to explain?“  She tried to keep the waiver out of her voice.  He was a stone-cold assassin.  But she was trained to deal with him, right?  

Wrong, this guy shot the Black Widow.  Darcy was no slouch, but geez, she wasn’t any match for him.  Especially with her broken leg.    

His eyes looked cold and unfeeling.  He sniffed once and shook his head.  "Nope.”  

She pulled out her taser.  "It’d be really cool if you would.“  

He glanced down at her weapon.  "That a taser?”  

Shrugging, she nodded. “Yeah. It’s my weapon of choice.”  

“If I was you, I’d ‘choose’ the handgun you have in your back waistband,” he countered.  And Darcy could have sworn she saw the inkling of a smile.  

“I can help you,” she countered, jerking her head over her shoulder.  "I won’t blow your cover if you won’t blow mine.  Capiche?“  

"Pretty sure both of them are already blown, Doll.”  

“Look,” she said, arching an eyebrow.  "I pride myself on reading people.  That dude was a home invader.  I think if you look, you’ll find an illegal firearm with the serial numbers sanded off.  You’re not going to find any tech or recording devices.  He was probably after cash and would have shot you to get it.“  

Bucky shrugged.  "Better safe than sorry.”  

“Let me help you dump the body and you can hang in your apartment for a little while longer.  You like it here, right?”  

“I’d like it better if there wasn’t someone peeping on me through my window,” he replied, his tone dry and deadpan.  

Darcy rolled her eyes.  "You say peeping like I’m getting some kind of sexual enjoyment out of watching you and your boring life.  Did you buy anymore apples today?  Mama likes the apples, babe.“  She winked and reached for her crutches.  "C'mon, Quiet guy.  Let’s go dump your body.”

“They weren’t apples.  They were plums,” he corrected her.  And this time, there was definite smirkage going on.  

“I have GOT to get better binoculars.”  

Chapter Text

Steve wasn’t normally prone to jealousy.  

He wanted to make that clear from the get-go.  

And he ESPECIALLY wasn’t jealous of Bucky.  Not after everything they’d gone through.  He wasn’t going to begrudge his best friend his happiness.  Bucky had found love.    

The fact that it was with a woman who Steve had been actively attracted to for going on two years was beside the point.  

He couldn’t begrudge his best friend his happiness.  Even if it was with Darcy.  

He loved Bucky.

He’d always loved Bucky.  But the both of them knew that.  They’d even tried it once. Back before.  A long time ago.  With the Howling Commandos.  It was intense and wonderful.  But then…life had happened.  And Steve had lost him.  

And now…Bucky was with Darcy.  And it honestly hadn’t come back up.  

While his feelings for both of them were complicated, no one could deny how happy they made each other.  

He saw a sparkle in Bucky’s smile that he hadn’t seen in over seventy years.  And it was because of that lovely dame on his arm.  

But late at night, through these apparently thin walls in the apartment units of the Avengers Complex…well…

It was a little bit easier to understand how someone in his position might feel something pertaining to animosity.  

Especially when all he could hear was the sound of their lovemaking and their bed thumping against the wall.  

It wasn’t the first time.  And if he didn’t say something, it wasn’t going to be the last time either.  

And yes, in retrospect, he should have waited until morning to confront them.  

But he was tired.  And it was the fifth time that week.  

And he just…couldn’t stand it anymore.  He was thinking seriously about retiring to Brooklyn.  

But for now…he had to ask them to stop.  

So he got up, tugging on a t-shirt and plodding out into the hallway.  A few steps down, he stopped, his hand poised in the air to knock when he got another idea.  Maybe he could just…leave now?  Go get a hotel room somewhere?  Look at places in Brooklyn tomorrow?  

Money wasn’t an issue here.  

His hand connected with the door, the knock sharp and loud in the silences of the hallway.  The sting on his knuckles was enough to draw his attention for a few moments.  

At least until he heard the footsteps approaching the door.  

He dropped his hand to his side, his eyes dropping with it.  

It was Bucky who answered.  It was odd, though.  He didn’t look at all like he’d been…in flagrante delicto.  He just looked…

Like a smart ass, actually.  

"I was wondering when you’d be over here…” Bucky said with a smirk.  "I thought it would’ve been the first night.  Darce might know you better than me…"  He said the last part kind of sadly, but Steve wasn’t thinking about that.  He was too hung up on everything else.  

“You knew I’d be coming over here?”  

“I know our bed’s against the shared wall…”  Bucky said deliberately.  "I also knew it was only a matter of time before you’d come over here and ask us to keep it down.“  

"I don’t think I understand?” Steve shook his head in bewilderment.  "Was this a prank?  Or…"  

“Or an elaborate ruse to get you to come over?”  Darcy had appeared at Bucky’s side, sliding her arms around his waist and smiling up at Steve.  "Because that’s what it was…the second one.“  

The wheels turned in Steve’s head, but nothing was clicking yet.  He could sense that he was on the cusp of something, but what, he wasn’t sure.  "You wanted me to come over?”  

Bucky looked like he wanted to knock his head a couple of times.  Box his ears.  "Yes.  Punk.  We wanted you to come over.“  

"You could have called?”  

Darcy placed a hand on Bucky’s chest to calm him.  "Steve.  We’re not the best at this kind of thing.  We wanted you to join us.“  

"Join you? In…” He gestured vaguely behind them. “In there?”  

“Maybe we should do this inside, not out in the hallway…” Bucky said quickly, reaching out to grab Steve’s hand and lead him into the apartment.  

Inside, it smelled like Bucky’s cologne and Darcy’s cooking.  It smelled homey.  In sharp contrast to his own apartment, which smelled like new carpet and fresh paint.

Steve inhaled deeply and sat down on the sofa.  The cushions sank as Darcy and Bucky sat down on either side of him.  She reached for his hand, and he thought he could feel electricity tingling in her touch.  

“Look.  I know it’s not…traditional in the slightest.  And…maybe it’s not something you’d want to do…but…we thought we’d ask.  Because…Steve…” Darcy laced their fingers and squeezed.  "I really really like you.“  

"And…you know how I feel about you…” was Bucky’s addition.  It was all he needed to say, honestly.  

Bucky slipped his hand over Darcy’s.  The heat and weight was something familiar.  Something Steve could grasp onto while he tried to decipher what it was that was happening.  

“So you want me to…”  

“Be in our relationship…”  Bucky finished for him.  "Be a couple with us,“ he added with a chuckle.  

Darcy smiled at that, looking up at Steve as he leaned back on the sofa.  "I was…gonna move back to Brooklyn…” he stammered lamely.  

“When?  Tonight?” Bucky asked.  

Steve laughed, because now that he’d said it, it sounded utterly ridiculous.  "Yeah.  Tonight.“  

Bucky reached for him, pressing his lips to his in a way that he honestly never thought he’d feel again.  He ended the kiss with a pop and played with the hair on the back of Steve’s neck.  "You still can move if that’s what you want.”  

“It’s never what I wanted,” Steve heard himself confessing.

“You can just…stay here?” Darcy offered.  "We have a pretty big bed.  I mean…it’d have to be if the both of you are gonna sleep in it…"

He nodded, swallowing thickly as he leaned forward, his free hand sliding through Darcy’s hair as he did what he’d been wanting to do since he met her.  His lips moved against hers and he felt, rather than heard her make a small sound in the back of her throat.  

He half expected Bucky to stop him.  

But he didn’t, instead his fingers trailed up and down Steve’s spine, making him shiver at the sensation.  

When Steve broke off the kiss, she was panting.  She gulped and bit her bottom lip.  

“Are you staying…with us?” she asked.  

Steve glanced over at Bucky, seeing only welcome and warmth in his eyes…plus something a little more than warmth.  A little more heat.  

He looked between the two of them and nodded.  "Yes.  I’m staying.  I’m…I’m here.“  

Chapter Text

The knock on her door was startling, to say the least.  To say the most, she almost shit herself.  

It was super quiet in the complex.  The blizzard had everyone out and about, helping various people, etc, etc.  

Thing was?  Everyone left, leaving Darcy alone in this big huge complex.  Luckily, F.R.I.D.A.Y had an auxiliary mode for inclement weather, so all she had to do was huddle up in her apartment with her hot chocolate and a book.  

That is, until the knock on her door happened.  

Sighing heavily, she marked her place in her book, threw the blanket off her lap and trudged slowly to the door.

Pressing the green button on the display, she noted Johnny’s face peering into the cam on the outside of the door.  "Speak now or shut up forever.“  

"Heya, Darce…you okay in there?”  

“Ya.  It’s warm.  There is no work for me.  I’m reading and drinking a hot chocolate with so many marshmallows, it’s not even liquid anymore.  What do you want, Johnny?”  

He shrugged, jamming one hand into his jeans and grinning.  "Just…seeing if you wanted company?“  

She sighed and arched an eyebrow, a look she had perfected while staring down Johnny’s smart ass.  "No really.  What do you want?”  

“The snow’s coming down pretty hard out there…and Stark needs to turn off the auxiliary power for the complex.  He’s only going send heat and electricity to one apartment.”  

“Sweet.  Tell him to pipe it in here and be on your way, Blaze.”  

“Thing is…I can’t get back out to the city.  So…we’re gonna have to share.  Neighbor.”  

Darcy sighed.  "Ugh.  Fine.  Just…be quiet and let me read, okay?“  

She keyed in the security code for the door and turned the knob just enough to crack it open.  Johnny pushed his way in and fell into step behind her. "I like your little socks.”  He glanced down pointedly at her fuzzy rainbow skid-proof footwear.  


“So…like…do you have food?”  

“No, Johnny.  I live on air and water.”  

“You know…that bitter attitude is gonna stick.  One day, you’re gonna wake up and realize that you’re just a bitter, sarcastic person.”  

“Oh no…” she deadpanned, plopping down on the sofa.  "I’m going to read now.  Find something to do, and don’t break anything.“  

He rummaged around in the kitchen before traipsing back out to the living room with a bag of Sun Chips and a soda from her fridge.  

He then proceeded to rustle them around until she marked her place in her book once more.  

He grinned.  "Oh…you didn’t have to put that down on my account.”  

She leaned over and stole the bag of chips, sliding her feet across his lap and reaching for the remote.  "Internet and cable are out, but can I interest you in Tony’s digital movie collection?“  

"Only if I get to pick.”  

“I already know what you’re going to pick.”  

“Darcy.  It’s a classic.”  

“No Johnny.  Die Hard is a classic.  Citizen Kane is a classic.  Psychois a classic.  Robin Hood: Men in Tights is a bunch of fart jokes.”  

“Wrong.  You’re thinking of Blazing Saddles.”  

“I’m thinking of shut up.”  She found the movie and pressed play.  

“Thought you said it was a bunch of fart jokes…” he muttered.  

“Ehh…Cary Elwes…” she said with a shrug, yanking the blanket up off the floor and draping it over her legs.  

“Oh, we should definitely watch The Princess Bride after this!” he exclaimed, using the opportunity to scoot a little closer to her, tugging the blanket around himself as well.  

“Ooh, yeah!” she said with a smile.  "Make it a theme night.  Cary Elwes movies.  We can watch this one, The Princess Bride, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula…"

“Yeah!  And Saw.”  

She shook her head.  "You went one too far.“

"Did I?”  

“Yeah…but…it’s cool.  You’ll learn.”  She pulled her feet up close again, shifting around so she was tucked under his arm.    

Chapter Text

Scott was really starting to regret his hasty ‘yes’ in response to his neighbor’s hurried question.  

If he’d given it any thought at all, he would have shook his head, ducked back into his apartment and avoid getting involved with anything remotely pertaining to Darcy Lewis’ romantic relationships.  

Or just Darcy Lewis, if he was being completely honest with himself.  

She was trouble.  Bad news.  Not inherently, but just for him.  She looked like heartbreak waiting to happen.  With her full lips and wide smiles.  The way she tossed her hair or winked at him for no reason.

But when she asked him to pretend to be her boyfriend, he hadn’t given it any thought past the superficial happiness.  And so, here he was.  

With her arms around his waist, smiling dumbly as she tried to convince her ex, Luke, to leave.  

Scott was close to just grabbing him by the collar of his shirt and tossing him out the door.  He, as the hypothetical boyfriend in this scenario, had the power to do that, right?  

But he didn’t, he selfishly let Darcy keep pawing at him while her ex eyed him incredulously.  

Luke excused himself to the bathroom and Darcy rounded on Scott.  "He doesn’t believe us.”  

“I’m…sorry?” Scott replied, unsure if this was a complaint or a statement.  

“Kiss me…” she whispered, wrapping her hand around the back of his head and tugging him down.  

He went willingly.  Because heaven knew it was a fantasy he’d entertained before.  

And her lips were softer than he’d ever imagined they could be.  

He parted his slightly and bent more to account for their height difference.  

Darcy melded to the front of him like they were made for this.  He slipped his hands around her waist and she nudged one of them lower and lower until he was cupping her ass in one hand.  

He couldn’t help it, a soft moan escaped, followed by a cough from across the room.  Luke was apparently through in the bathroom.  

His face was almost unreadable, but given the fact that he took his arbitrary box of items from Darcy’s kitchen table and left without more than a nod in farewell, Scott assumed it was a success.  

Of course, with that success came the harsh reality that all of this had been fake.  None of it real, not even the kisses she’d given him.  

But, again…he’d known that coming in.  And he didn’t begrudge her his usefulness in removing something annoying from her life.  And Scott had no lofty aspirations of becoming something else that annoyed her, so he dropped his hands from her waist and took a step back.  

“I’ll…just…uh…wait a few minutes and go, then?”  He cleared his throat.  

Darcy shook her head.  "Luke’s a creepy weirdo.  He might be watching the apartment…"  

She licked her lips, somehow even fuller after their brief makeout session.  "If you want…we could just…keep doing what we weredoing?“  

Scott felt the corner of his mouth twitch upward.  "Just in case he comes back?”  

“Oh yeah…totally.  And…you know…because…” she shrugged in an overly animated way.  "It was super fun, and I kind of want to keep doing it.  If you want to, that is…do you?“  

And for the second time that day, Scott found himself saying 'yes’ to a hasty question from Darcy Lewis.  But he didn’t regret either one.    

Chapter Text

“Dude…I totally moved out here to escape all the drama…” she whined, flopping down on the sofa.  As she was saying it, she knew how silly it sounded.  Who the hell moved to L.A to escape drama?  

Darcy Catherine Lewis.  That’s who.  

Bucky ran his hand through his hair.  Bleached blonde and rather short, she could see why she hadn’t recognized him before.  She was used to tall, dark and swarthy.  She wasn’t looking for a bleached blonde surfer.  

It was actually a really good disguise and after this was all over, she was going to tell him that.  

“Look…Darcy…I’m sorry, okay?  But they wanted me to keep an eye on you…” He genuinely looked conflicted.  "And I can’t really…elaborate more on that right now, because we have to get out of here.“  

She rounded on him, pointing her finger right in his handsome face.  "How did you even get here, huh?  My door’s locked.  My windows are locked…my…” She paused. “You climbed up to my balcony didn’t you?”  

Bucky shook his head, the beginnings of a smirk playing on his lips, but he had the good sense he was born with not to let it develop into anything more.  "I dropped down, actually…" He pointed up.  "Took the apartment right above you.“ 

“Great.  So not only have you been stalking me via ‘their’ orders, you’ve been stalking me from upstairs?  Dude.  What if I was having sex down here?”  

“You weren’t,” he deadpanned.  "I knew of everyone who came in and out.“  And then he smirked.  Because he was proud of that one.  

"Okay.  That was some hella good word play, I’ll give you that,” Darcy conceded.  "But still.“  

"We can talk about this later, Darce.  We have to go…five minutesago.”

“Fine…” she slipped on her shoes and started towards the door.  

He shook his head and jutted his thumb over his shoulder towards her balcony.  "They’re watching the door.“  

"You have got to be kidding me.  I’m supposed to climb down the side of this high rise in a sundress?”  she balked.  

“No.  I’m going to climb down three floors of this high rise, and then we’re going to break into one of your neighbors’ apartments and make a run for it.  You’re gonna be on my back.”  He shot her a quick grin and made for the balcony.  "But we really should hurry.“  

"For the record?  I hate this plan.”  

“Sorry, doll.  I gotta keep ya safe.”  

“Yeah, yeah…a likely story.”  

Chapter Text

“Are you sure you’re okay?”  Darcy asked, eyeing Bucky as he rolled his ankle in a circle.  She cringed at the jarring POP that resulted.  

“Yep. Just a creaky old man.”  He grinned up at her in such a way that she had to laugh, because he looked anything BUT creaky and old.  

He stood and offered his hand.  "C'mon…keep close…act like we’re together.“  

"We are together,” she teased and he shot her a look over his shoulder.

“You know what I mean.”  

“Fine…” she slipped her arm around his waist, tucking her hand into the back pocket of his cargo shorts. “Together enough for you?”  

“Not nearly…” he muttered under his breath.  And just as she was starting to wonder if Bucky Barnes had a thing for her, she saw what was making him mutter.  

Three dudes at an outdoor cafe who were at first glance sipping at smoothies, but they weren’t breaking eye contact with them and that was definitely mutter-worthy.  

He took her hand and they ran through the crowds, weaving around people who were otherwise oblivious to the very real threat in their midst.  

“We need to change clothes,” he muttered, pulling her around a corner and taking a hard right into a clothing store.  

“Are you suggesting we shoplift?  Because I’m not okay with that!” she hissed.  

I’m not okay with anything happening to you…and we won’t have to steal.  Just…find something you like, I’ll be right back.”  He walked with purpose up to the register, pulling something out of one of the pockets on his cargo shorts. From the looks of it, as best as she could see, it was a money clip.  

At least they weren’t shoplifting, she guessed.  

“Not to be that person, but something already is happening to me, Bucky Bear…” He couldn’t hear her, but it felt good to say it anyway.

She sifted through the racks and found a top and a pair of shorts that were a different enough color from her sundress, which she draped over the top of the changing room as she swapped clothes.  

It disappeared, as did her sandals.  A pair of sneakers was left in their place and she took the few seconds she had alone to mourn the loss of her sundress.  

The sandals could go straight to hell for all she cared.  They rubbed her wrong on her heels.  

She emerged to an otherwise empty store, and Bucky with his arms crossed over his chest, checking his watch repeatedly.  He was wearing a hat now and a new t-shirt.  Same cargo shorts though.  

“Took you long enough,” he teased, tossing her a hat of her own.  "Put your hair up in that.“  

"My hair’s brown.  You think they’re going to be able to pick me out of a crowd by my hair?”  

“I did,” he replied pointedly.  

She stuffed most of it up under the cap and squeaked when he tugged her towards the fire exit.  "Bribed the shop owner, huh?“  


They paused at the end of the alley behind the store, waiting as Bucky checked their surroundings.

“So…how’d you get saddled with Darcy-duty?” she asked.  "Didya draw the shortest straw or lose in a game of poker?“  

He shook his head and grabbed her hand again, tugging her close and wrapping his arm around her waist.  She mirrored the action and looked up at him.  "Nah.  I volunteered.”  

“Needed a vacay?”  

He shook his head again.  "Nope. Just took one three months ago.  Nag’s Head, North Carolina.“  

"Then why?”  

He shrugged, checking their six before speeding up his pace a little.  "I guess I just missed you, Darce.“  


“Yep…now kiss me.”  

“What?”  She blinked and he turned to face her, slipping his arms around her waist.  "Kiss me.  It makes people uncomfortable.“ His head tilted infinitesimally and she realized what was going on.

"Oh…” she murmured as Bucky’s lips came crashing down on hers. Not in the stoic, still way she was expecting either.    

In the soft, gentle way she’d always dreamed about.  

His hand came up to cradle the back of her head, his eyes darting this way and that.  

He ended the kiss and licked his lips, grabbing her hand and tugging her after him and towards a cab that had just pulled up.  

“Sorry…” he said as she shut the door.  "LAX,“ he directed towards the cab driver.  

"What are you sorry about?” Darcy wondered aloud.  "Kissing me?  Because I’m not.  That was kind of an excellent kiss.“  

"No.  I’m sorry I had to stop,” he replied, smirking slightly.  

Chapter Text

Darcy frowned, pursing her lips in thought.  

Wade continued, barreling forward like he’d been practicing or something.  "As you know, I am in favor of everyone having as much sex as as they want.  All the time. Whenever.  Doing whatever kinky crap their hearts desire.  I know I’ve partaken of my fair share, in fact, it’s usually YOU telling ME to keep my sex to a dull roar.  But here’s the thing, Lewis…”  He trailed off and narrowed his eyes.  "You look completely…not like a guilty sinner who’s been caught… “  

She shook her head.  "I don’t have a someone right now.  So you’re not hearing my sex, dude.  Sorry to disappoint.  Did you ask Mr. Revolving Bedroom Door upstairs?”  

“I did…” he said, nodding and folding his arms over his chest. “I totally did…and he’s been working the night shift lately, so the revolving door’s been down for maintenance…”  

Darcy shook her head.  "I would know if I had someone, Wade.  Wouldn’t I know?  Or even better, wouldn’t I BRAG if I was getting it on the regular?  

Wade nodded.  "You would.  You would…unless!“

She waited.  And waited.  And nothing.  

"Unless what?”  

He shrugged.  "I was kind of hoping either I’d think of it by the time I got to the end of the sentence or you’d fill it in for me.“  

Shaking her head, she reached for the doorknob.  

"Unless you have a sex slave in there that you’re not telling me about,” he blurted.  

“Bye Wade.  I’ll try to keep it down.”  

“WAIT,” he called after her.  "Is it Ian?  Is Ian the sex slave?  Because I distinctly heard you–“

"It’s not Ian,” she replied.  "Never Ian again.  But what did you hear?“  

"I heard a moan.”  

Darcy made a face.  Incredulous and disbelieving at first. But all of the sudden something clicked in her brain and her hands came up to cover her mouth.  "Oh my god.  You heard a moan?“  

"Yes.  I heard a moan…and I KNEW you had someone.  It’s Ian again, isn’t it?  You’re ashamed because you took him back and you said you wouldn’t?”  

She shook her head.  "Nope.  Not Ian.  I don’t have someone…"  

“But if you don’t have someone why were you moaning…oh my god oh my god oh my god.”  His eyebrows rose and he took a step back.  "I didn’t hear your sex.  I heard…oh my god.“  

"OH MY GOD!”  She reached for her doorknob and turned it.  

“Okay, I know you’re embarrassed and I’m gonna let you go hide, but let me just say one thing?”

“What?” she paused at the door, turning back to face him.  

“Congratulations.  You’ve dated a dozen guys at least and not one of them made you sound like that.”  

She made a face.  "Really?“  

"Really really.”  

“Oh god, that’s just sad.”

“It’s really really sad. Not for you.  For them.  Whatever it was you were doing was really…Yeah.”  

She took a deep breath before responding. “It’s a Hitachi Magic Wand.  Let me just say…they’re not kidding about the magic.”  

Chapter Text

Darcy nodded, still staring at her phone.  "Sure thing, chicky-wing, lemme just cancel my plans for the afternoon…”

“No…Darcy…you totally didn’t–”  Daisy protested.  

“Chill, Daise.  I didn’t say they were fun plans.  I was supposed to go shop for a dress for this wedding I have to go to…which reminds me…”  

“Hmm?” Daisy raised her eyebrows quizzically.  

“Are you free on the fourteenth?  I have a plus one and no one to take along." 

"Uh…yeah?  Yeah.  Sure.  I’d love to go with you to–”  

“Awesome sauce.”  Darcy grinned widely and pocket her phone.  She held out her hand.  "Alright, gorgeous.  Let’s do this thing.“  

Miles was kind of a douche.  Darcy hadn’t really noticed before when Daisy was dating him.  But right now?  He was a mega douche canoe who couldn’t or just flat out refused to take a hint.  

"All I’m asking is for coffee, Daisy…” he reached out to rub her shoulder and she shrugged out of it.  

“I’m with someone now, Miles…” she raised up her hand, which was tightly clasped in Darcy’s.  "Darcy’s my girlfriend.“  

"Right, right.  But all I really want is five minutes of your time.  Alone time.  C'mon, Daisy…for old times’ sake?”  

“Dude.  Open the box and take a clue.  Daisy is with me now.  No more alone time for you.”  

Miles tilted his head, pursing his lips like he was thinking.  "Yeah. No, I think that’s bullshit…because–“  

Darcy turned, cupping Daisy’s face in her hands and pressing her lips to Daisy’s very willing ones.  She opened her mouth slightly, tilting her head as her hand came up to rest on Darcy’s hip.  They ended the kiss with a loud smack and Daisy turned back to Miles.  "Your stuff is on the table.  I’d suggest that you take it.”  

He nodded, glancing between them and opening his mouth briefly to say something, but it looked like he’d grown a brain in the last few seconds, because he thought better of it.  He scooped up the box of stuff and was out the door faster that you could say ‘bisexual’.  

Darcy swallowed thickly, once they were alone, a new kind of tension filling the air around them.  "So…you’re cool with the kissing, then?“  

"Very…very cool with the kissing.”  

“Cool beans.  Um…I can stop now, if you want?”  

“Don’t you dare,” Daisy replied, leaning back in to kiss her again. 

Chapter Text

Darcy did actually see Spencer again.  

Alone and without his blonde friend.  

She was getting her mail, and he was pulling a stack the size of his head out of his mailbox.  It was all stuck together and ripped.  It was honestly not a good mail situation, but she’d been there once before when she’d forgotten to stop her mail on a long trip with Jane, so she felt his pain.  

“Forgot to stop your mail, huh?”  

He looked over at her, wide-eyed.  Almost like he was surprised to see another person, or that another person could see him.  

“Not really,” he replied, “I don’t forget to do things…I simply…neglected to.”

“Ah,” she answered, nodding slowly and feeling stupid for doing it for so long.  "Gotcha.“  

He dropped the wad of mail into his shoulder bag and extended his hand.  "I’m Spencer.”  

She pressed her lips together, but took his hand and shook it anyway. “Yeah…I know.  Your…uh…colleague introduced us a few weeks ago…and I actually live next door to you.”  

“I know.  I don’t forget things.  I simply neglect them.  I’m reintroducing myself in the hopes to not come off as rude as I did before?  I wasn’t trying to be rude, but I’m told my bluntness can be mistaken for lack of manners.  Therefore, I apologize for my abruptness, and hope we can start afresh, Ms. Lewis.”  

“Darcy,” she corrected him, pulling her mail out of her box and closing the door.  And when he opened his mouth, she continued.  "I know you didn’t forget, I simply prefer to be on a first name basis with my neighbors, Spencer.“  

The corner of his mouth quirked upward in a small semblance of a smile and Darcy took that as win.  Because it was the first one she’d seen on him.  

Also?  They were still just standing here shaking hands.  It had to be the longest handshake in history.  She quickly stopped, dropping his hand in the process.

"My oddness can be off-putting,” he stated, seemingly unperturbed by the handshake debacle.  "But you seem to be fairly adjusted.“  

Darcy shrugged and started walking towards the stairs.  "I work with a lot of…studious…academic…sciencey-types.  So, yeah.  I guess I am fairly adjusted to ‘oddness’.  I’m also kind of odd myself, though…”

He followed her, shortening his gait so he could remain beside her as they climbed the stairs.  "You don’t seem odd to me, but then again, I’ve only spoken with you a couple times.“  

"We should probably rectify that situation.  Immediately, if not sooner.”

“It’s not possible to do something sooner than immediately, but I recognize your wit and appreciate it all the same.”  


“It was supposed to be a compliment…I find your wit dry and enjoyable.”  

Darcy really couldn’t help but grin at that.  "Likewise.“  

Chapter Text

She sighed when she came to the end of the driveway.  She knew whose trash cans they were.  The same trash cans that were always left down here by the road. Bucky Barnes’ trash cans.

And there was no way she was going to lug them back up his driveway again.  Nope. He was going to do it.  Just because she was block captain didn’t mean she was his servant.  She didn’t get paid for doing this, the only thing she got was an inflated sense of power that didn’t really amount to much, if she was being honest.  

So, she walked up his driveway, aware of the irony that this could have been over and done with if she’d just pulled the empty cans up with her.  

But it was the principle of the thing.  That’s what mattered.  

She rang his doorbell and waited.  She was always so nervous to talk to him.  That’s probably why this had gone on for so long.  Why she hadn’t just asked him to bring his cans in when he went to work on Thursday morning rather than lugging them up the driveway herself so that the block looked uniform.  

Bucky made her nervous.  With his big blue eyes and that stubble that seemed to just…appear there on his jaw and over his upper lip.  Dude had perpetual five-o'clock shadow and it was killing her.  

That and she never felt more like a dork than when she was walking around with her block captain hat on (yes, there was a physical hat, she wasn’t just using a figure of speech), and would run into Bucky Barnes.  He’d look at her all bemused and she’d shrink into a tiny little ball of embarrassment.  

She was so not volunteering next year.  

He came to the door in a pair of loose nylon shorts and basically nothing else.  He was eating chips out of the bag and he’d brought it with him to the door. He offered her one, but she refused. They crunched abnormally loudly as he listened to her stumble through the spiel about how they were supposed to bring their cans up the morning after the trash got collected.  It just looked better if there weren’t cans down by the road all the time.  

“I know,” he said, nodding when she was done.  "But you’ve been bringing them up for me.“  

Anger flared from deep within and when she spoke to him next, she wasn’t stammering one bit.  "I am not your maid, Bucky Barnes.  I have a job and a life too, and it doesn’t revolve around bringing your stupid garbage cans up from the road.  I was doing it to be nice, but I’m not anymore.”  

He smirked and tossed the bag of chips on the table beside the door.  He closed the door behind him and walked barefoot down towards the road, leaving Darcy staring dumbly at his ass as he walked.  

She started walking after him, still kind of fuming and not really done yelling yet.  

He had both of the cans in hand when she reached him. “Hey.  You like basketball?” he asked suddenly.  

She frowned, totally not falling for the bait.  "Yeah,“ she answered, kicking herself because yes, she had.  

"I’ve got the game on in there.  You wanna come watch it with me?”  

“Right now? In your house?”  

He shrugged. “I guess I could open a window if you wanted to watch it out here, but I thought…”  

“Umm…”  She was back to stammering again.  

“Look… I… uh… I’m sorry if you thought I was taking advantage of you.  I just…thought you were cute and I saw how you went after other people who left their cans out.  Thought it would be a way to talk to you, but then you kind of…never…” he shrugged.  "So… to make it up to you… I’ll bring your cans in for a month.  Okay?“  

"Okay…” she said slowly.  

“And then…on a completely unrelated note… if you’d like to come watch basketball with me… that’d be cool too.”  

“I…um… I have beer at my place… ”  She jutted her thumb over her shoulder.  

“Bring it,” Bucky said, grinning.  "I’ll keep the door unlocked, okay? Just let yourself in.“  

Okay.  So maybe she wasn’t the only awkward one around here.  She only hoped she came off as cute as Bucky did.  

Chapter Text

Darcy wasn’t exactly proud of what she was about to do, but for the sake of her sanity and her REM cycle, she had to do it.  

She inhaled and released the breath loudly, knocking three times as she did.  

It was approximately eight in the morning.  She was working off three hours of sleep.  She had to be at work in an hour.  

This had to stop.  

He came to the door with no shirt on.  Because of course he would.  He was probably exhausted from pounding his flavor of the week into the mattress and couldn’t find the energy to finish getting dressed.

"Heya, Peaches,” Peter greeted her before yawning.  "Kinda early.  What can I do for ya?“  

She had to fight back the smile that always tugged at the corners of her mouth when he called her that.  Having a raging crush on her playboy neighbor wasn’t the best thing Darcy had ever accomplished in the name of feminism.  

She took a deep breath to ground herself before speaking.  "Dude.  I got three hours of sleep last night.  I have this big thing at work today that I am now going to be groggy and sleepy for…” She pressed her hands together in a pleading gesture.  "Please can you try to keep it down when you have ladies over? I’m not a prude in the slightest.  Do whatever you want with whomever you want.  Just please… for the love of all that is good in the world, keep it down on the weekdays?  Or move your bed to the other wall?  Or something?“  

His eyebrows shot up.  "You can…you can hear that?”  

She smiled, close-lipped and awkward.  "Yeah.  I can usually can make out whatever she’s screaming up into the ceiling too.  Like… congrats on your endowment and whatever, but if you could pretty please keep it under control? I have to sleep.“

"Yeah…yeah…yeah…totally…I uh…I get that.  I’m really sorry.” In his defense, he looked sufficiently contrite.  And embarrassed.  And surprised. How was he not aware of the ruckus he caused in that bedroom?

“It’s cool…I mean…keep it down?  And it will be cool.”  She nodded once, kind of proud of herself for not crumbling under his hotness. And his adorable confuzzlment.  

“I… um… if you’re not running late, I could go buy you a cup of coffee?  I know that’s not a full-night’s sleep, but maybe as a peace offering?”  he asked, taking a step back inside.  "I’ll go grab a shirt really quick, it’ll take me thirty seconds, tops.“

Nodding, Darcy leaned against the wall to wait.  She could have just as easily told Peter that she was running late.  But coffee sounded great.  And not paying for it sounded better.  

And it was Peter.  Peter was hot as hell.  And he was funny.  There was a reason he always had a flavor of the week.  

Which actually reminded her…

"You just gonna leave your lady alone in your apartment?” she asked, tilting her head towards the door when he returned.

“Nah, she left a few hours ago,” he replied with a shrug.  He jammed his keys and wallet into his pocket and shut the door behind him. “Guess my ‘endowment’ wasn’t enough to get her to spend the night.”  

“Or maybe it wasn’t a 'spend-the-night’ kind of date,” she mused as they walked down the hallway to the elevator.  

“I don’t have many of those, now that you mention it,” He jammed his thumb against the down button.

“Is that something you’re really looking for though?”  

“Well yeah, isn’t everybody?”

Well, that was news to her.

She shrugged.  "I guess.“  

"Aren’t you?”  

“I’m looking for a good night’s sleep, actually. Seems like your quest is going to interfere with mine.”  The door dinged as it opened to an empty elevator.  

“Doesn’t have to,” he countered, walking inside and sticking his hand out to hold the door for her.

The signal was kind of mixed.  Maybe.  Or maybe Darcy was just not sure what was just silly flirting and what was genuine with Peter.  

Or maybe admitting that his flirting wasn’t just silly and harmless meant that she’d have to admit that everything with Peter was genuine and she’d just been too dumb to see it.  

Either way, she didn’t say anything, so Peter continued.  "Whaddya say, Peaches?  Join me on my quest?“  

She arched an eyebrow.  "Are you asking me out?”  

“Yeah.  I’m trying to. How am I doing?”  

Join you on your quest?”  

He chuckled, folding his arms over his front.  "Okay, when you repeat it back, it sounds super lame and dorky…but the sentiment is legit.“  

"As long as it means I don’t have to listen to your loud sex, sure.”  

He opened his mouth to reply, but thought better of it, shaking his head instead.  "You’re kind of a troll, Darcy Lewis.“  

"You knew that already.”  

Chapter Text

Her eyebrows went straight up in the air.  "Wow, you just went for it, didn’t you?  Right for the jugular…"  

Newt swallowed thickly, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he struggled for the words he’d need to cover up the tremendous faux pas he’d just made.  

It was three in the morning, and she was clutching her dressing gown around her frame, even though the loose fabric did little to hide the figure he knew was underneath.  It was incredibly inappropriate of him to be here at this time of night.  No matter what kinds of activities in which she partaking behind closed doors with her boyfriend.  

Newt had only run into said boyfriend once before.  He was a surly fellow, blonde hair.  Aptly named ‘Johnny’.

“I… I am so sorry, I owe you an apology…” he stammered, shaking his head.  "I am very sleep-deprived and I have no business bothering you…"  

“You’re not bothering me,” Darcy insisted, a small smile gracing her lips and making Newt actually believe her.  Only she could achieve something like that.  Only she could make him believe that he wasn’t bothering her by knocking on her door at three in the morning.  "It’s actually not me who’s making all the noise…" She jutted her thumb over her shoulder to indicate something behind her.  "It’s my roommate.  If I could stop him, I totally would.“    

Newt was already backing away from the door when she said this, and if he could describe the action he took to regain his footing after hearing her use the word ’roommate’ to describe the person with whom she lived, he’d have to call it a ’scramble’.

“Your roommate?” he repeated, unsure if he heard her correctly or if it was simply wishful thinking.  

“Yeah…Johnny?  I dunno if you’ve met him yet, he’s barely here…” She waved her hand vaguely to punctuate the thought.  "His girlfriend, Sarah, is in town and they’ve just been at it like bunnies and I’m so sorry you’re having to hear it too.“  

"Yes, well…”  Newt looked down at his house-shoes, scuffing one against the floor.  

“Hey listen, you look like you’re wide awake.  How about we go to the diner down the street and have breakfast?”

His throat was suddenly bone dry, so he coughed.  "Breakfast?  With you?“  

Her lips spread into a lovely smile.  "I know it’s kind of early… but they just got started.  Let’s get real, neither of us are going to sleep anytime soon… We can draft a formal complaint over pancakes?  Whaddya think?”  

He mirrored her smile and nodded, looking down for the first time at his attire:  a plain white t-shirt and striped pyjamas.  "I will have to go change…”  

“Same,” Darcy said with a giggle.  "I don’t think anyone wants to see me in this out in public…"  

I’d be willing to make a wager to the contrary… Newt thought to himself. “Meet me in ten minutes?”  

“Sounds great.  You can tell me more about that book you’re writing.”      

Chapter Text

Darcy was already running late when he ran right past her.  

Sighing, she set her bag down on her welcome mat and cupped her hands over her mouth.  "Lucky! Come here, boy!“  

The yellow dog stopped in his tracks just as he was about to bolt down the stairs.  He turned to look back at her.  He barked impatiently.

"Well?  Don’t just stand there, come here.”  She held out her hand and Lucky came trotting over for a pat. “What’s going on, dude? Does Clint need something?”

At the sound of his human’s name, Lucky got agitated, nudging her knees with his head.  And he was no cute, fluffy puppy anymore.  He had some weight to him.  Darcy took the hint, grabbed her bag, and walked back to Clint’s apartment with him.  

“What did he do now?  Sprain his wrist again?” she asked, reaching down to stroke the dog’s head.  Clint was such a bozo.  He was lucky he had a dog as good as Lucky was to come around and bring the bleeding heart neighbor girl over here to slap band-aids on his boo-boos.  

The door was cracked open, which wasn’t a great sign.  Or he was just in the bathroom and hadn’t noticed that it was open.  

She pushed it open and wrinkled her nose at the smell of beer and antiseptic. 

Clint was on the couch and it was so much worse than a wrist sprain.  Oh Thor Almighty.  

“Clint! Oh my geez…”  Darcy rushed to his side, Lucky yipping worriedly the whole way.  He was bent over the arm on the sofa, his hand clutched over his shoulder, one of his ratty old wash cloths pressed against the skin.  

“Darce?  Did he go get you again?”  Clint wheezed, sounding a little worse for the wear.  

“What the hell happened?” she asked, surveying the area around the couch.  "What are you doing?“  

"Look, it was just a tiny… gunshot wound.”  

“I’m calling nine-one-one…” Darcy reached into her pocket for her phone.

“No!  Wait… it’s not that big of an emergency…”  He sat up, looking pasty white and verging on green.  "I just need to get the bleeding under control and then you can give me a ride to the hospital.“  

Darcy reached into her bag for her scarf.  She marched into his bathroom and grabbed a stack of dry washcloths from the cabinet over the sink and returned to the living room.  

She didn’t know how the hell she did it.  She was going to say it was that adrenaline rush mothers got when their kid was trapped under a car, though.  Because somehow, she fed and watered Lucky, got Clint’s arm wrapped up in washcloths and her favorite scarf, supported his weight, and made it down to the garage without anyone noticing.

He was getting stitched up in no time.  And was sipping on apple juice while the nurse took his vitals and his blood counts.  

"Thank you, Darcy…”  

She arched an eyebrow and bounced her leg where it was cross over the other.  "A gunshot wound, Clint? What the hell do you do?  Are you in with the mob?“  

He snorted.  "Darce.  Come on.  Which mob would I be involved in?”  

She shrugged.  "I dunno!  I’m not the expert.“  

"It was just an –”  

“Occupational hazard…” she filled in for him.  "Yeah, I got it.“  

He sighed.  "Trust me, it’s better if you don’t know.”  

“You’re lucky to have Lucky,” she blurted, changing the subject from one that caused her never ending grief.  "And me too.  If you didn’t have us to love you and take care of you, you’d be dead twice over.“  


“You heard me.”  

“No, like… you love me?”  He took a sip from his juice.  "Like love-love?  Like a man loves a woman?“  

She rolled her eyes and sat back in the chair.  "You heard me.”  

“Love you too, Darce.”  

Chapter Text

Darcy meandered out into her kitchen and nearly choked on the acrid stench that lingered in the air.  It smelled like someone had burnt toast badly enough to leave a carbon footprint.  Which could only mean one thing.  Johnny Storm was attempting to cook again.  

Dude was the worst cook on the planet.  Had to be, if she could smell it through the walls.  

Chuckling to herself, she tucked her phone into her back pocket in case she needed to consult Pinterest for a recipe or something, and set off to check up on her neighbor.  

She rang his doorbell and waited.  

When he answered it, he was wearing an apron with char marks on it, and carrying the fire extinguisher.  Never a good sign.  

“Heya, Johnny…” Darcy drawled.  "Do you need some help?“  

He sighed and nodded.  "Yes.  I admit defeat.  The chicken cordon bleu beat me.”

“Chicken cordon bleu?  Oo la la…” Darcy waggled her eyebrows and took the extinguisher from him.  "Did you put it out?“  

"Yeah.  It’s out.  It’s ruined.  But it’s out.”  

“So what’s with the ‘suddenly gourmet’, Johnny?  I thought you were a hot pockets kind of fella…”  She poked at the charred remains of the chicken, wondering how on earth someone could let it get this burnt without smelling it first.  

“I am, usually.  But I kinda…” He trailed off and grinned.  "There’s this girl.“  

"Ah.  Say no more. You wanna impress a lovely lady.  Noble cause, my friend.”   She leaned down to inspect the dish.  "Is this my casserole dish you’ve ruined?“  

"Yeah…I’ll buy you a new one… where’s it from?”  

“One of the stores in Chelsea Market…I forget which…” She waved her hand vaguely.

“On my next day off,” he promised.  

“No big rush, I didn’t even know you had it…”  She reached over to turn off the oven.  "First things first though?  You’re gonna want to air this place out.  The smell of charred chicken isn’t exactly charming.“  

"Gotcha…”  He jogged over to start opening windows and Darcy turned on the exhaust fan over the oven.  Not that it was going to do much good, but at least it could get the air moving.  

“Next, let’s go see what I have at my place.  I’ll show you how to cook it, so you won’t be lying to your chick, but I’ll help watch it so you don’t burn down the place again.”  

“You’re a lifesaver!”  he called from the other room.  

An hour and a half later, Johnny was well on his way to a finished, unburnt Shepherd’s Pie, a salad of mixed greens and baby kale,  and a little pan of fluffy dinner rolls.  

“I think she’ll like it.  Comfort food is always a win,” Darcy assured him, before helping him bring all the food over to his place.  

It didn’t smell terrible in there, but she was pretty sure it still smelled like chicken cordon burnt, but there wasn’t much they could do about that.  Hopefully his date had a good sense of humor.

She probably did.  Johnny was pretty cool, but he never dated girls long enough to make them dinner.  She must be pretty special to warrant this treatment.  

When he rang the doorbell at her place about ten minutes later, she panicked, thinking he’d left something over here.  But she didn’t see anything on her initial glimpse around the kitchen.

“No, no, I didn’t leave anything,” he assured her.  "I was just…kinda…" he jammed his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels. “Hoping to pick you up for our date?”  He winked and her jaw dropped.  

The lovely lady was her.  He was trying to impress her.    

“You were trying to make me chicken cordon bleu…” she squeaked.  

He smirked and blushed a little. “I wanted to cook for you.  I knew you’d probably like that better than if I took you out… sorry you had to pretty much make the food yourself… ”  

“I’m not,” she confessed, grinning widely.  "At least now I know I can eat it.“  

He snorted and held out his hand.  "Are you coming, you jack-ass?”

She took it, but tugged him a little closer instead of going with him.“Maybe we should eat over here.  I know I said it was barely noticeable, but your place is a little…singed for my tastes.”  

He rolled his eyes.  "Picky, picky…"  

“Damn straight,” she teased.

Chapter Text

There was a loud thump and some even louder swearing on Darcy’s balcony.  

She pulled her blanket up to her chin.  She’d heard that this building was haunted.  It had even said so in the apartment brochure.  But she didn’t believe in spooks.  And being haunted was kitschy and cool in New Orleans, wasn’t it?  

Why did she have to rent a studio apartment in a haunted building?  She should have KNOWN the rent was too good to be true.

She was giving Coulson an earful.  And a half.  He was going to hear about this ghost, dammit.

There was more swearing and she knew she had to gather up her courage and go look.  

It was just a ghost, right?  Ghosts couldn’t do more than scare you.  

She took a deep breath and stood up, walking slowly to the french doors that led to the balcony. Grasping the drapes she flung them open and screeched at what she saw.  

It wasn’t a ghost, it was a fucking DEMON.  Glowing red eyes and all.  

"Oh HELL no,” she exclaimed, backing up into her room and looking for something to throw.  She wasn’t going to fuck with a demon.  No sir.  

Where was the holy water when you needed it?  The shotguns loaded with salt?  She had twelve seasons of Supernatural under her belt.  

Netflix don’t fail me now…

The doors opened and the thing stalked into her room.  And instead of trying to hex her or jump into her body or anything, it spoke.  "Okay now, you gotta calm your ass down, cher!“  

"Excuse me?” she asked, her hands balling up into fists and jamming themselves on her hips.  "You just burst into MY room all bat outta LITERAL hell and you want me to calm my ass down?  You gotta be kiddin’ me!“  

"Shhhh!”  he pressed his finger to his lips and pointed upstairs.  There was definitely something going on up there. A scuffle of some sort.  "You gotta hide me.“  

She snorted.  "Fat chance.”  

“Look, if they find me here, they’re gonna kill you too.  And you look like a nice girl.”  

She arched her eyebrow.  "Are you a demon?“  

He scoffed, rolling those glowing eyes of his.  "Nah, I ain’t no demon.  Just a mutant with unfortunate powers who lives upstairs.”  

There was a knock outside her door and they both froze.  

“Shit…” he muttered.

“Go hide under the bed.  And shut your eyes, or hide ‘em or turn 'em off or something,” she instructed.  There was no time to ascertain if what he was telling her was the truth or not.  Desperate times called for desperate measures.  And it was his story she had, not the loud folks on the other side of the door.  

And since she knew he wasn’t a demon, she totally had her taser under her pillow if things got hairy.  

She thought quickly, stripping off her pants and tossing them on the floor beside the bed.  She mussed up her hair and licked her lips, hoping like hell that the people on the other side of the door were men.  

Flinging open the door, she eyed the people on the other side.  Two men. Dressed in black and yellow.  A.I.M uniforms.  

Whoa.  Dude had A.I.M after him?  

She tilted her head and smiled languidly.  "What can I do for ya?“  

"You got a man in there with you?”  

She bit her lip and grinned.  "Nope.  Just me.“  

"We heard sounds,” the other said.  

“Yep.  Just me,” she repeated, running her tongue along her top lip.  

They glanced at each other, and the one on the left took the bait.  "You wanting someone to join you, sweetheart?“  

She smirked.  "Nah.  You’d just get in the way.”  

She closed the door to their open-mouthed expressions. She slid the lock back in place and her demon man poked his head out from under the bed.  "Not bad.“ 

Rolling her eyes, she bent and grabbed her pajama pants.  "You’re just lucky it was two men.  The mysteries of the female orgasm fail to bedazzle other women.”  

“Still.  You came up with that kinda fast…” he narrowed his eyes.  "You working with SHIELD?“  

"What gave it away?”  

“Well. The badge on your dresser for one.  But… ” He shrugged.  "You’re pretty good in a sticky situation.  Thanks.  I’m Remy, by the way.  Remy LeBeau.  They call me le diable blanc.“  

"The white devil?”  Darcy extended her hand to shake his.  "Thought you said you weren’t a demon?“  

"I’m not.” He grinned.  "Don’t think I caught your name, though.“  

She winked.  "Thought you said you saw my badge.”  

Chapter Text

He’d no sooner said, ‘Sure thing, babe’ than her tongue was in his mouth.  

Peter wasn’t complaining.  Even though he’d only moved into the other side of this duplex a week ago, he’d kind of been crushing on his cute neighbor.  

And even if this was just to piss off her ex, he was more than happy to do it.  

He had it on good authority that he was an excellent kisser.  And he was gonna give her the good stuff.  Yessir.  

Tilting his head, he slotted his mouth over hers, stroking her hair back from her face.  Darcy made a little noise in the back of her throat, and he wanted to make her do it again.  

Her fingers were in his hair, grasping it in handfuls as she struggled to get closer to him.  Couldn’t really blame her.  She was annoyingly far away now that he was thinking about it.  

He wound one arm around her waist, hoisting her closer.  

He didn’t think either of them were really paying attention to her ex-boyfriend. So his gaze flitted over her shoulder momentarily.  Dude had definitely pulled up into the driveway by now and was giving him the evilest of evil eyes.

He responded by letting his hand slid down her back, over the swell of her ass.  He squeezed with his hand and she squeaked, breaking off the kiss and swatting his shoulder.

“Don’t get fresh with me, Peter.”  

“Sorry, babe.  Looks like we’ve got company, though…” he tilted his head towards where the ex was getting out of his car.  He slid his arm around her waist, hugging her close as Dude got closer.  

She tensed up something awful and he was starting to really dislike this guy.  This nameless guy who somehow made Darcy break up with him. Darcy, who in the short time Peter had known her had shown a remarkable amount of patience.  

“Lukas…” she said, nodding her head stiffly in his direction.  

“Darcy,” he replied.  "Darcy's… friend,“ he directed towards Peter.  

Peter smirked and slid his hand into the back pocket of Darcy’s jeans.  "Charmed.”

“What do you need?” she asked Lukas.  "I gave back all your stuff.  There’s literally no reason for you to be calling and/or coming over here anymore.“  

"Just dropping off my key,” he said lightly, dangling it in his hand.  Darcy tensed again, so Peter was the one who leaned forward and took it.  

And then there was a hugely awkward silence before Lukas turned and walked back to his car without a word.  

It was hugely creepy, if Peter was being honest.  

“That dude…” he muttered.  

“Is hella creepy, I know.”  

Peter handed the key to Darcy.  "I’d suggest changing your locks, babe.“  

"Already did,” she said with a sniff.  


He realized he was still holding her around her waist and dropped his arm.  "So… thanks for asking me to kiss you.  If you ever need a stand in again… please don’t hesitate to ask.“  

She sighed, shaking her head.  "I need to fill the position on a potentially permanent basis.”

“Ah…” Peter nodded and crossed his arms in front of him.  "Can I pick up an application for that, or are you just scheduling interviews?“  

She grinned and laughed.  "You’re an idiot.”  

“Your lips say ‘idiot’, but your eyes say…” he peered down at her.  "Oh.  Well, hot damn, they say 'idiot’ too.“

"You hungry?” she asked.

“Always,” he replied, happy for the change of topic.  

“Cool.  I’m giving a lunch interview at my place in about ten minutes.  Be there or be square.”  She winked and walked over to her side of the porch.  She tossed Lukas’ key in her trash can and went inside.  

“Apparently, idiot is a good thing,” he mumbled to himself.  "Definitely better than creep, anyway.“       

Chapter Text

He was reading when he heard her land.  Or fall, rather.  

There was a sickening splat of skin meeting concrete and then a muffled groan.

He set his book on the coffee table and got up to peer out onto his balcony.  

“Ms. Lewis?” he asked, a bit bewildered to see his upstairs neighbor outside his window.  "Are you alright?  Did you just… land on my balcony?“  

"Fell, actually…” she said with a groan, rolling to a seated position and cradling her left wrist.  "I was hanging some holiday lights and slipped.“  

He sighed closed his eyes for a few seconds.  There hadn’t been a dull moment for him since Ms. Lewis had moved in upstairs.  

First off, she owned a rather large dog that thundered around the apartment when excited, and it was easily excitable, given the amount of thundering that occurred. She decorated her balcony in ways that made him visibly cringe.  These holiday lights would prove to be no different, he was certain.  

But for all her faults, she was one of the better individuals to move into this building.  She found out when he came down with a cold a few months prior and brought him hot chicken soup from a deli on her way home from work.  She also spoke up on his behalf to the tenants committee when he was summoned for missing a few too many meetings.  

It was only fair that he return the favor now.    

Loki climbed out of his window onto the balcony and knelt down beside her, reaching for the arm she was favoring.  "Let me have a look.”  

“It’s fine.  I don’t think it’s broken.  Probably just sprained or something.”  

“Indeed, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Allow me to accompany you to the hospital?”

She exhaled slowly, but nodded.  "Yeah, okay. I honestly think my pride is hurt more than my wrist.“

"Well, after the hospital, I’ll take you out for a drink. Will that help?”  

She shrugged.

And, I suppose I can tell you about the first and only time I rode a jet-ski.  But that story stays between us, Ms. Lewis.”  

“Darcy,”  she corrected, allowing him to help her to her feet.  "And I hope there are pictures.“  

Groaning, he nodded.  "There are.”  

“Excellent, lead the way, Lokes.”    

Chapter Text

Darcy could think of a bajillion better ways to spend her Saturday night than walking up and down the halls of her apartment building shaking a can of cat treats and calling out her cat’s name like some kind of crazy person.  

“Bowie?” she called again, shaking the can and looking left and right for his orange fur.  

But Darcy wasn’t lucky enough to be spending her Saturday night doing anything but this.  

One of the doors opened, a head peeking out.  "Your cat’s name is Bowie?“ he asked.  

"Yeah… what’s it to ya?” she countered.  She hadn’t meant for it to sound so cranky, but she was always awkward around the dude in apartment 307.  He was crazy hot.  Like, so hot it was stupid.  So hot it made her stupid.  

He had big beefy muscles and blue eyes.  Scruffy beard.  Scruffy hair.  He was her dream come true.  Bucky, his name was.  Bucky Barnes.  

“Oh, I dunno,” he said with a chuckle.  "Just thought ya might like him back is all…" He opened his door the whole way and held out her orange disaster of a trash-monster in his left hand.  His prosthetic hand.  

It didn’t really make much difference to her one way or the other, but she knew Bowie probably cared.  Given the way he was just laying there all nice and still because he was probably unsure of what was even holding him.  

He’d spook and run the second she took him, so she waved her arm down towards her apartment.  "Do you mind bringing him down to my place?  I’m scared he’ll freak and run off again if we do the hand off here. I’ll brew some coffee.  I have cake.  It’ll be worth the walk.“  

Bucky grinned and stepped out into the hall.  "Sounds awesome.”  

He let the door swing shut behind him and then made a face.  "Damn…"  

“What?” Darcy asked, pausing midstep.  

“I totally just locked myself out.”  

“So… coffee, cake and a movie, then?  While we wait on the locksmith?”  

“Sounds awesome.” 

Chapter Text

Wanda sighed and knocked on the door of number 786.  

The occupant opened her door and immediately smirked.  Folding her arms, she  leaned against the doorframe.  "Heya Gorgeous.“  

"Darcy…”  Wanda began.  "You know the rules.“  

"Rules?  What rules?  You’re going to have to clue me in.  Because I’ve never heard of these rules of which you speak.”  

One would certainly think that, to look at Darcy’s lawn. But this wasn’t the first time Wanda had been here.  For this very reason.  Darcy Lewis had a reputation for being a troublemaker in this subdivision.

Of course, this subdivision’s idea of trouble was certainly up for debate.

“This is altogether too many flamingos.”  Wanda waved her hand behind her at the flock of plastic flamingos on Darcy’s lawn.  

Darcy pursed her lips and shook her head.  "There is no such thing as too many flamingos, Wanda.“  

"According to the Homeowner’s Association, there are.  And this is.”

“Show me in your little rulebook where it says that.”  Darcy reached out to tap on the book in Wanda’s hand.  

She’d been anticipating this, so she flipped to the precise page and read aloud.  "Homeowners will not have more than four lawn ornaments over eighteen inches in height and eight lawn ornaments under eighteen inches. No more than twelve ornaments in total at any given time.“  Wanda glanced up to lock eyes with Darcy.  "You have twelve flamingos.”  

“I hope you brought your tape measurer.  Because each of my babies is abiding by the rules.”  Darcy winked.  "I might have hobbled a few of them to make it happen, but they are all rule-abiding birds, Ms. Maximoff.“

"I thought you said you hadn’t heard of these rules,” Wanda said with a small grin, reaching into her bag for her tape measurer.  

“I say a lot of things.  Most of them to get you to come for a visit.”  

Chapter Text

Darcy knocked on the door of the cabin.  Logan’s light was on, so she knew damn well his ass was home.  

He opened it a crack, his eyes narrowed into slits until he realized who was standing there.  

“You dumbass…” he grumbled, standing aside as the wind blew the door open.  He reached for her, pulling her into the warmth of his tiny little home.  

You’re the dumbass,” she muttered, her teeth chattering too much to say more than that.  

Rolling his eyes, Logan led her over to his sofa, grabbing a blanket off the back and wrapping it around her shoulders.  He stalked over to the kitchen area and put the kettle on.  He didn’t look at her.  Didn’t talk.  

Probably waiting for her to explain herself.  

“There’s a b-b-blizzard,” she stated.  

“No kidding,” he deadpanned in response.  

Setting her jaw, she continued, “You weren’t answering your phone.  I got worried.   It’s just you n’ me out here, Logan.  What was I supposed to do?”  

He frowned and pulled his phone out of his pocket.  "Shit.  It died again.“  

Groaning, she fell over onto her side.  "I trudged my half frozen ass over here because you forgot to charge your flimity flammin’ phone?”  

“Sorry, Darce…”  He shot her a look of considerable compassion.  Well, for him, anyway.  

She exhaled loudly.  "It’s okay.  I’m just glad you’re alright.“  

The kettle whistled, and then Logan was pouring boiling water into a cup, stirring it with a spoon and bringing it over to set on the table next to the couch.  "That’s real hot, so don’t drink it just yet.”  

She pulled herself up to a seated position, still shaking slightly with cold.  She might have laughed if she was feeling better, but for the moment all she could muster was a weak smile at the contents of the mug.  Hot chocolate.  With rainbow marshmallows.  

Raising her eyebrows, she opened one edge of her blanket cocoon to invite him inside.  "Those rainbow marshmallows on my account, or…"  

She could have sworn she saw him blush as he rumbled something about it being ‘all they had’ at the store in town. She knew that was a crock of shit, but she wasn’t going to call him out over what amounted to a really nice gesture on his part.  

He slid in beside her, his arms moving around her waist as she melded herself against him.  He was like a big man-shaped heater.  One who barely ever let her do this.  

“You gonna need to move in the near future?” she asked.  

“Nah.  Just get comfortable, darlin’.”

Chapter Text

The first time she saw him, he was out in his driveway, washing his car.


In middle of the freaking day.  

He had well-defined abs and a full back tattoo that she couldn’t quite make out from her vantage point at her kitchen window.  

All Darcy knew about him was his name.  Pietro Maximoff.  And that he apparently drove a T-Top Camaro.  

That he washed.  Out in the open.  In the middle of the day.  With no shirt on.  

She would have fanned herself or clutched her pearls, but she wasn’t wearing pearls and he turned and spotted her at just that moment.  

Panicking, she let the coffee mug she was holding slip from her fingers and into the sink as she dropped down to a crouch.  It was the only thing she could think of doing.  

She stayed there, staring at her cabinet doors for a good couple of minutes.  Or hours.  

It was all the same here in the second ring of hell, where they sent people who ogled their shirtless neighbors.  Shirtless neighbors who washed their cars in the middle of the day like some kind of unstoppable sex heathen.  

The thought of what she’d let that sex heathen do to her was starting to get her all flustered again when her doorbell rang.  She stood up, the blood rushing to her head.  She faintly registered the fact that her hot new neighbor had abandoned his car washing, but didn’t put two and two together until she opened the door and he was standing there.  

Oh god, four.  Two and two is four.  

Four, which happened to be half the number of perfectly defined abs this guy had on him.  

He smelled like soap and some kind of manly cologne or body spray.  And he had a smile that could simultaneously damn her and save her.  "Hi, Darcy…" he said, his grin widening.  "I was wondering… while I have I have all of my uh… things out…"  He gestured to all of his car washing stuff he had spread out on his driveway.  "I could… wash your car for you?“  

"Oh…”  Darcy reached up to run her fingers through her hair, a nervous twitch that seemed to manifest almost instantaneously the second he opened his mouth and she heard his accent.  Ukrainian.  Romanian.  One of those Baltic countries.  "Well, I mean… I wouldn’t want to inconvenience you…"  

“It’s no trouble,” he insisted.  "It is… neighborly.“

The way he said neighborly made her think of at least forty-five different scenarios, each one more neighborly than the one before it. And all of them allowing her to intimately inspect Pietro’s back tattoo.  

"Oh, well in that case…” she smiled and jutted her thumb over her shoulder.  "You could come in for lemonade when you’re done.  Neighbor.“  

"Lemonade…” He bit his lip and nodded, letting it slip slowly between his teeth in a way that couldn’t be anything but intentional. “That sounds perfect.”   

Chapter Text

Wanda laughed and nodded, opening her door wide as Darcy scrambled inside. 

“Did you call the super?”  

“Of course.  Why do you think it’s out?”  Darcy replied with a smirk.  

“Because he tried to fix it and broke it more?” Wanda guessed, knowing full well that their idiot super couldn’t hammer a nail to save his life.  Her tub had been leaking a while back and he came over, hit the pipes with a wrench and put a fan on the water stains.

He wasn’t the best super.  He wasn’t a super super.  Or even a mediocre super.  

“And Bingo was his name-o…” Darcy singsonged in response.  "I fully anticipate to have a brand new unit by the time this is over.“  

"Why doesn’t management just fire him?  Get someone who’s more… mechanically minded?”  

By mechanically minded, she meant literally anyone who could loosen a screw by themselves.  She would be more suited for the job than this man.  Not that she was suited for it.  But she was better than what they had.  

“Doesn’t really matter, I guess.  I can just sit over here and suck up your cold air and bother you…”  Darcy said, trailing off at the end.  "You don’t mind if I bother you, do you?“  

Wanda grinned and shook her head.  "You know you don’t bother me, Darcy.”  

The resulting smile was worth any amount of ‘bother’ that her next-door neighbor might have been.  The comparison was moot, because Darcy couldn’t bother Wanda if she tried.  

“Want some tea?” she asked, turning abruptly to go into the kitchen and make some for herself.  Just for something to do with her hands.  Her hands got increasingly antsy whenever Darcy was around.  

“I’d love some… I mean… if you’re making it already.”  Darcy turned on the couch, bringing her knees up in the seat and twisting until she was facing the wrong way.  Her hands were cupped beneath her chin as she gazed over the back of the couch and into the kitchen where Wanda was.  

Did she mention she made her antsy?  In a good way.  In the best way.  

The best kind of antsy there was.

Chapter Text

She made Chicken Parmesan.  

It was literally the only thing she could think of to make that she had all the ingredients for.  

Darcy really hoped Thor liked Italian.  Or at least a yuppy Jewish girl’s interpretation of Italian.  

She made the meal in her mother’s Pyrex and had to take it over with pot holders because she had woefully underestimated her time.

Kicking at his door with her foot, she was half expecting him to have already forgotten the girl next door when he opened it with a jovial smile, offering to take the hot dish from her.  

After she shook her head, citing its extreme hotness, he simply led the way into his kitchen.  

It was cardboard box city in all the rooms, but it looked like he’d gotten everything moved in.  

They ate at his counter, in two stools that absolutely did not match one another, but Darcy wasn’t about to judge.  

“So what do you do?” she asked, chewing thoughtfully and sipping at the beer he’d pulled from the fridge.  "Like… for work, not in general.“  

"I… uh… I work with my father’s construction company.”  

“Cool.  Cool, cool, cool…” She mentally kicked herself for saying ‘cool’ four times.  Definitely uncool.

“It’s really not…” He said with a small smile.  "I’d rather do anythingelse, but it’s hard to find work.“  

"Tell me about it…” she mumbled, taking a bigger swig of the beer.  

“What do you do?”  

“I am an intern at this big law office in the city. I get paid nothing, I get crapped on constantly.  And all because I really, really wanted to switch careers.”

Thor made a face.  "I’m sorry.“  

"Not your fault, my dude.”  

He was quiet for a second and Darcy wondered if she’d scared off another one with her cynicism.  Honestly.  You’d think it’d be more commonplace nowadays.  

“This is good,” he said, laying his fork down on his empty plate. “Or it was, rather.”  

She laughed.  "Thanks.“  

"I should be the one thanking you, shouldn’t I?”  

“I suppose?  How were you going to go about doing that?” She grinned a little.  Coyly.  Sue her, he was adorable.  

“Um, I guess I could serve dessert?”  

Darcy squinted over at him.  "Is that innuendo?  Because you had so much going for you, babe.“  

"No, no, no…” He waved his hand erratically.  "It’s not.  It’s definitely not.  I have ice cream.“  

She laughed and reached for his frantically waving hand.  "Dude, chill.  I was kidding. And just to be completely straight with you, innuendo will not be frowned upon.”    

“That's… that’s good to know, because I’m told I’m very good at it.”

Chapter Text

Okay, so he’d make his peace with her zapping some dude with a laser gun.  

But how in the actual hell was he supposed to ignore that honest to god PORTAL she walked out of?  

She straight up ported in, zapped some guy with her laser gun, and then dragged him back through the portal.  She reappeared and was walking around the place, stuffing stuff into a black plastic trash bag.

If he was at one hundred percent, Peter would have zipped over next door to find out why some hot chick from space was zapping his new next door neighbor.  He’d have grabbed her collar, taken her to the cops and asked questions later.

He didn’t really know the guy very well.  Selvig, was his name.  He was an eccentric for sure.  A little loopy.  Walked around in his underwear, but Peter wasn’t here to judge.

He was here to help.

And considering he was two weeks out from being able to walkanywhere, much less zip around like he was used to, he was going to have to resort to other tactics.  

He was still pretty fast with these crutches. Not as fast as he was without them, but significantly faster than most people.  So he was going to have to… lumber over there quickly.  

Not as much finesse, but he didn’t think it really mattered.  

The front door was unlocked and he hobbled right in, almost ran face first into the laser gun girl.  

Her eyes went wide and she stammered, “Oh… okay… why are youhere?”  

“I live across the street…” He jutted his thumb over his shoulder.  

“Yeah, I know, but I thought you were…” she trailed off.  "Just… you should probably go back.“

"What did you do with Mr. Selvig?”  he asked, ignoring all of thattotally weird stuff she just said.

“Doctor,” she corrected him.  "He’s Dr. Selvig.  And he doesn’t belong here.  He belongs with me.  Where I’m from.“  

"Intergalactic Mental Asylum?” Peter asked, leaning on his crutch to give her a false sense of security.  He wasn’t above swiping it under her legs and knocking her flat if he needed to.  Of course, now to look at her, he didn’t think he’d really need to.  She didn’t seem like a professional.  Even if she had just dragged a grown man through a space portal.

She snorted laughed once before stopping abruptly and shaking her head.  "No, no.  Nothing like that.  He’s just… He’s a little loopy from space traveling and alien mind control and sometimes he has these dissociative episodes?  He hops through the time portal and lands somewhere and tries to start up a life.  It’s all very Doctor Who, I don’t want to get into it.“  

Peter frowned.  "Why are you telling me this?  What makes you think I’ll believe you?”  

She smirked and shook her head.  "You won’t believe me, but it doesn’t matter.  You’re Peter Maximoff.“  

"Yeah?  And?” How in the hell did she know his name?  

“And I’m Darcy Lewis.  That name… it won’t mean anything to you now.  But in a couple of years…”  

He tilted his head.  "In a couple of years?“  

"This is the first time you meet me.  But it’s not the first time I’ve met you.”  

“You’re losin’ me, Peaches.”  

She pressed her lips together as her face turned pink.  "You are going to get such a kick out of that.“  

"Out of what?”  

“Just trust me.  I’ve gotta go now.  But Peter?”  


“It was really nice to see you again.”  

She pressed a button on her little laser gun and fired a portal into the air.  She waved once and stepped through with her trash bag full of Selvig’s stuff.  

And Peter was left on the other side wondering what in the hell just happened.  And why he hadn’t grabbed her and turned her in for what he was pretty sure was a kidnapping.    

He hightailed it back across the street to his house, because it was verging on too much and he just wanted it to be over.  

But, it wasn’t over.  

They opened up a missing person’s case for Dr. Selvig, only to find him alive and well, working at some University in Virginia with no memory of ever buying the house across from Peter’s.  

And as for Darcy?  

She did show up a few years’ later.  She stumbled into the middle of a somewhat major X-Men shindig and and promptly shot Scott Summers with her laser gun, claiming self-defense after the fact.

Considering Scott had been mind-controlled up until she shot him, nobody was second guessing her.  

And when Peter approached her, there wasn’t a single spark of recognition on her face.  He figured what she’d told him all those years ago must have been true.  

“Heya, Peaches.  How’s tricks?”  

She gave him the weirdest look ever.  "What?  Did you hit your head or something?  Or did I hit mine?  And don’t EVER call me that again.“  

She was right.  He did get a kick out of that.    

Chapter Text

Darcy’s finger pointed towards him in an accusatory manner.  

Pietro just rolled his eyes. "No you didn't…”

“Yuh-huh, I absolutely did!”  Her eyes narrowed.  "Maximoff, you dirty thief.“  

He snickered and handed the paper back to her.  "You’re in your mid-twenties, why aren’t you reading your news on Google like everyone else?”  

She scoffed.  "Excuse me for wanting to sit on my balcony in the mornings drinking my coffee and reading the paper like a dad in the 1950s. Aesthetic, Pietro.  You know aesthetic is important to me.“  

His eyebrows raised slightly and he smirked, leaning over against the doorframe to her apartment.  "You read the paper on your balcony?  That’s adorable.”  

Her heart fluttered in her chest and her cheeks flushed hot and red.  He was pretty adorable now that she was thinking about it.  That was a falsehood, she’d been thinking about it the entire time he’d been in her presence.  

“Flattery will get you nowhere.”

“It wasn’t flattery.  It was the truth.”  

Sighing, she changed the subject. “What do you want it for anyway? You are also in your mid-twenties, why can’t you read the news on Google like everyone else?”  

It was Pietro’s turn to blush.  "Had to get your attention somehow.“  

"There are better ways to get my attention than common thievery.”  

“Really?” he said with a laugh.  "Please, tell me what they are, because I’ve tried everything.“  

She shot him an incredulous look.  

"I asked you out for coffee three times, Darcy.  You kept cancelling on me.”  

“You did not ‘ask me out for coffee’, Pietro.  You asked me if I wanted to 'grab a coffee sometime’.  There was never a definitive thing.  So I couldn’t cancel.”  

Fine.  Would you like to grab a coffee right now?  On my balcony? You can bring your newspaper and read it. I have scones.”  

Darcy grinned and tucked the paper under her arm.  "You had me at scones.“

"I’d feel a little bit more confident if that weren’t the last word I’d spoken.”  

“Yeah, probably.”  

Chapter Text

The knock on the door surprised her.  But not as much as opening it up to a hot, sweaty, godlike, mountain of a man on the other side.  Her neighbor really was a beautiful human being.

Darcy stammered slightly before she got the greeting out.  "Hey, Thor.  What can I do for you?”  

“I’m sorry to bother you, but my air conditioner is…” He mimed mini projectiles shooting out in every direction.  "Spitting ice bits, can I bother you for a few hours while it’s being fixed?“  

Smiling, she stepped back away from the door.  "Of course,  my air is your air… amigo…”

He stepped in through her door and reached for the neck of his t-shirt, pulling it up and over his head.

She wasn’t expecting him to take her so literally.  She was kind of breathless now.  

And she was pretty sure her heart stopped beating for a good two seconds as she took in his sweaty bare chest and everything that came with that.  By the time she came to her senses, he was perched on the arm of her couch, eyes glued to the T.V, which was currently tuned to Food Network.

She wasn’t sure if it was impressive that she was watching it at ten in the a.m, or just kind of sad?  

Thor seemed to be fine with it, though.  He chuckled and pointed at the screen.  "I’ve seen this one… he leaves the key ingredient in the pantry… the fool.“  

Okay, so maybe Thor watched Cutthroat Kitchen too.  

Darcy laughed nervously.  "Spoilers, dude…”  She crossed the floor to stand next to him for a moment.  "You can totally sit on the couch, if you want.  I mean, unless you’d rather have the arm up your ass for the foreseeable future.“  

He slid from the arm down to the cushion, his t-shirt catching on the coffee mug on her side table in the process.  It fell to the floor and shattered into shards.


Thor leapt up immediately.  "I am so sorry… Darcy… don’t touch that, get me the broom and dustpan…”  

“It’s really okay, I shouldn’t have left it there…” Darcy replied feebly before hurrying towards the kitchen to get the broom.  

“I’ll replace it.  I’ll buy you another!” he called after her.  

“Really, dude.  It’s fine…  I have a cupboard-full…”  She opted for the brush/pan combo in lieu of the huge broom before scampering back out to the living room.  Like there was some kind of time limit for cleaning up a broken coffee mug.  

They both knelt and he finally divested her of the pan, sweeping the broken shards of ceramic into it and whisking it to the trash.  She gave up on fighting him for it and flopped back down on the couch.  

“I’ll replace it,” he repeated, sitting back down to her left.  

“Don’t,” she countered.

“I will.”  

“Nope,” she said, popping the ‘p’.  

She could hear the smile in his voice.  "What if it’s what I wish?“  

"I’m not a genie, last time I checked.”  She was smiling too.  "Besides, I feel like you might be filling that role more than me.“  

He paused and she cut her eyes over to take in his reaction.  He was still smiling, he looked surprised, but he was smiling.  "What are your wishes?”  

“Kinda already fulfilled one of them.”  

“Ah, I see.  You hated that mug.  You’re glad to see it gone,” he teased.  

“Not quite.”  She reached over and took his t-shirt, tossing it far away in the chair across the room.  

He scooted over closer, his hand scant centimeters from hers.  "Want me to take off anything else?“  


“Two wishes left, make them count.”

Chapter Text

Brock wasn’t really looking to do anything that morning.  Just run down, get the mail, come back.  Doze on the couch until it was late enough to go get a drink somewhere.  

He was pretty sure most of his neighbors didn’t even know his first name.  

All except for one, that is.  

Darcy Lewis.  

He thought she was annoying at first.  Well, that was a lie.  That hadn’t been the first thing he’d noticed.  She was beautiful.  

And then she spoke.  

Darcy talked.  She talked a lot.  Every chance she got, in fact.  

And yeah, he found it annoying the first few times they spoke.  But then he almost came to expect a conversation.  It was part of his day. Talking to Darcy was part of his routine.  A part he looked forward to.  

So, when he found her rummaging through her mailbox as he entered the lobby, he couldn’t help but smile.  

She turned at the sound of footsteps.  "Brock.  Oh my god, just the man I needed…”  

He smirked, quirking his eyebrows smugly.  "You know I aim to please.“  

She shot him a look, but barreled on.  "Hey.  My ex is coming over to get his stuff.  Can you pretend to be my new squeeze while he’s here?”  

The question took the wind out of his sails.  

Not in the bad way, but just because he needed a second to process everything she’d said.  

First off, Darcy was single.  That was a new development.  Ever since he’d known her, she’d been dating some loser that wasn’t worthy of licking her shoes.  

Second, she wanted him – Brock – to pretend to be her ‘squeeze’ (to use her words).  That sounded both like a nightmare and a dream come true. But then, that was Darcy.  

There was only one thing he could say, after all.  

“Sure thing, sweet cheeks. Want me to grab my leather jacket, or is what I’m wearing okay?”  He was kidding about the jacket of course.  

But then she was nodding her head and coaxing him towards the door to go get it.  

And he was taking the stairs two at a time so he could grab it and meet her down at her apartment ASAP.  

Was it possible to be whipped when you hadn’t even so much as kissed the woman yet?  Because Brock had the sneaking suspicion that Darcy already had him whipped.  

He knocked on her apartment door a few minutes later, with the leather jacket slung over his shoulder, and he wasn’t prepared for the welcome he got.  

To the tune of Darcy Lewis’ plump red lips on his, kissing him until his head exploded.  

His brain caught up eventually, though.  

That and a quick peek over her shoulder told him that the douche was back in town.  

He broke off the kiss, only to kiss her once more, shooting a predatory look over her shoulder at the guy behind her.  "You okay, baby?“  

Darcy smirked and took his jacket from him, hanging it on the hook by the door. "I’m better now that you’re here.”  

Yeah, he was totally whipped.  He didn’t really care though.

Chapter Text

Darcy wasn’t about to let this go.  Rumlow’s big, stupid dog fence was going to be moved.  She had plans for that extra two feet of space.  To the tune of a bunch of raised garden beds.  

To clarify, Rumlow’s dog wasn’t stupid.  His dog was a good boy.  It wasn’t his fault that his owner was a huge, ginormous, pain in Darcy’s ass.  

Nope, it was just the fence that was stupid.  And it was stupid because it belonged to Brock Rumlow.  

Just like his big dumb hot tub was stupid.  And his big dumb grill was stupid.  

And his big dumb FACE was stupid.  

She sighed.  Stupid HOT, maybe.  

But that didn’t change the fact that he was two feet onto her property.  And it was going to change, dammit.  She wasn’t going to let this beat her like the purple curtains had.  

The purple curtains were a gigantic sore spot with her still.  The dumb homeowners’ association could kiss her patootie.  The purple curtains were gorgeous and deserved to be prominently displayed in her front living room window.  Not in the side window where they were.  

But if taking on the homeowners’ association had taught her anything, it was to pick her battles.  

And she had property lines on her side.  So this was definitely a battle she was going to win.  

She told herself this, grumbling under her breath as she stomped over to bang on his door again.  

He opened it, sighing heavily.  "If I had a nickel for everytime I open the door and you’re there?  I’d be a rich man and could sell this stupid house and move out into the country where people don’t HOUND me over my dog fence!“  

The excellent pun aside, she was Fed Up.  With a capital ‘FU’.

"It’s on my property.  You must have seen that in the property map.”  

“C'mon.  You’re gonna take Duke’s yard away?”  

“You’re gonna take my garden away?”  

He scoffed.  "Just put it against the fence where it is now.“  

She arched a brow.  "The shade from the house would be less than awesome.”  

He groaned and leaned up against the doorframe. “Okay, so new plan.  How about we open the fence up, give Duke both backyards and you can put your garden in whatever the hell sunny spot you want in mine.”  

She eyed him suspiciously.  "So you can steal my tomatoes? No way.“  

He rolled his eyes.  "I don’t even like tomatoes.  But if you wanted to grow some eggplant, I wouldn’t throw ya out.”  

Chapter Text

His body was almost too hot, and his beard was almost too scratchy to be doing what she was doing.  

But Darcy never really paid much heed to things she should or shouldn’t be doing.  She figured, if it felt good, what was the harm in engaging in moderation?  

She moved her lips against Logan’s, delighting in the way it made her skin feel raw.  Beard burn was a wonderful thing.  

He broke off the kiss, almost breathless, and ran his fingers through her hair.  He pulled her closer, so she was straddling his lap.  

The blanket fell down from her shoulders, but she didn’t care.  She wasn’t shivering anymore.  

Far from it, in fact.  

Logan licked his lips and stared up into her eyes.  His own were dark and searching.  "Darcy-darlin’…“ He applied a small amount of pressure to the back of her head, bringing her down for another kiss before he continued.  "You warm yet?”  

“Getting there…” she lied through her teeth, grinning widely and showing her hand right away.  

One arm wound around her waist and held her fast to the front of him.  "Lemme know if you need more than this.  I got some tricks up my sleeves.“  

"Such as?” Darcy sat back expectantly, her fingers playing with the hair at the nape of his neck.  On a good day, she could scratch his scalp and make him purr like a cat.  A big, jungle cat capable of pinning her to the floor in a split second, but a cat nonetheless.  The thrill of getting pinned was half the fun with Logan.

“Most of em involve taking you back there to the bedroom and utilizing my… body heat to keep you warm.”  

“How would you better utilize it back there than out here?” she asked coyly, still tugging at his hair.  

He hummed, a low, rumbling sound as leaned into her touch.  "Wanna find out?  I could demonstrate.“  

"Is it a hands-on demonstration?  Because I’m better if I can see and grasp the thing being demonstrated.”  

“Darlin’, you can put your hands wherever you want.  Long as I get the same privilege.”  

She grinned.  "Logan.  You know how I feel about your hands.“  

He stood up in one swift movement, carrying her back to his bedroom.  

Chapter Text

“What were they supposed to be?” Pietro asked, eying the blackened blobs on the plate beside Darcy’s stove.  They were sharing the space with the fire extinguisher.  The smell of burnt cabbage pervaded the air.  

“Golumpki…” Darcy said sadly.  "I know they smell like fart dumplings, but I promise that before they went the way of charcoal, they smelled like… “ she trailed off.  "Well, they smelled like fart dumplings then too, but I mean.  Cabbage.”  

He chuckled.  "To be fair, anything with cabbage goes through a methane-like phase before it smells good. And long before it smells like…"  He gestured vaguely.  "This delightful smell parade.“  

"Arghhhhh…” Darcy groaned, her head dropping into her hands.  "I am so sorry.  Here I was, trying to be nice and make you something like you used to eat back home, and I ruined it with my terrible cooking skills.“  

"You made these for me?”  He asked, surprised that someone would go to the trouble to make his favorite.  "They’re my favorite!“  

"I know.  Wanda kinda told me when we talked in the hall last time she came to visit you…” Darcy said with a shrug.  "But… I mean…  I’m really better at baking than cooking.  Obvi…" Her shoulders sagged as she looked at the sad little plate of burnt mess.  

Pietro walked over to open a window and on his way back, he grabbed one of the plastic grocery sacks from the bag of them on her pantry door.  He slid the burnt golumpkies into the bag and tied it off, swinging it once around his wrist.  

He held out his hand.  "Come.“  

She raised her eyebrows.  "What?”  

“Come.  I will take you to my favorite Sokovian eatery.  We will have golumpkies.  And then…” he shrugged.  "We can do whatever you want.“  

"Whatever I want, eh?”  

“Of course,” he said with a grin.  "We can go back to my place… make love… go back to your place… make love… whatever you want.“  

She rolled her eyes.  "Let’s see how the golumpkies go. Although, anything’s better than burnt cabbage smell.”  

“I’m not sure if I should take that as a compliment or…”  

“I wouldn’t,” she said, laughing.

Chapter Text

"They’re up in celebration of the Summer Solstice.  Red for the heat and green for the grass,” Tony said, not even bothering to take off his sunglasses and look at her.  

Darcy sighed heavily.  "They’re not even red and green.  They’re white.“  

"All the better.  The same color as the gorgeous sun,” he countered.  

“And the Santa?  What’s he in celebration of?”  

Tony did sit forward for this, pushing his sunglasses up onto his forehead and squinting in the direction of the rather portly Santa in a striped one piece bathing suit and sunglasses.  "I fail to see the problem.  He’s on vacation in my yard.  For the summer.“  

"Yeah, it’s not cute in the winter, it’s not cute now.  Plus, it’s inaccurate.  There’s a reindeer there with him.  Complete with antlers.  Everyone knows reindeer only have antlers during mating season.”  

“True, for the males..  The males shed theirs during the winter, but the females grow them.  So that’s a male reindeer.  With his antlers.  Ready to battle for a mate.”  

Darcy groaned and walked over to the side of Tony’s house.  She reached down and yanked the extension cord from the outdoor outlet.  

He sniffed from his lawn chair.  "I’ll just plug it back in when you leave.“  

She pulled out the pair of scissors she’d brought over with her, snipping the plug off the extension cord and jamming it into her pocket.  "I’ll buy you a new one on Black Friday,” she said simply, walking away with a smug grin on her face.  

Chapter Text

Darcy was trying to balance groceries and her purse while sticking her key in the deadbolt when she happened to glance down the hall at her newest hallmate.  

She hadn’t learned his name yet.  Not his first one, at any rate.  His mailbox said ‘Lang’ on it.  Anyway, he was currently fiddling with his deadbolt and a couple of tools that looked suspiciously like they were some kind of professional lock-picking gear.  

If she didn’t know he lived here, she might be a little worried.  

She dropped her keys on the ground and swore, bending to pick them up.  

He froze, turning to face her.   “Okay… I know what this looks like, but I promise I’m new here and I locked my keys inside.”  

She snort-laughed and shook her head.  "No judgement here, dude.  I’m just over here trying to jam this key in with my mouth…"  She hefted the grocery bags to one side and hoisted the key up to the lock.  

“You could just… I dunno, set the bags down?” he offered.  

“Nope.  Not setting them down.  Setting them down’s for wimps.”  She squinted at him.  "Why don’t you try not locking your keys in the house next time?“  Smirking, she continued.  "See?  You’re not the only one who can offer up useless advice.”  

Rolling his eyes, he went back to the task at hand.  

She got her door open and upon setting her stuff down in the kitchen and tossing her ice cream into the freezer, Darcy moseyed back out to the hall to see if her neighbor had gotten inside.  

He hadn’t.  

She pulled the door shut behind her and walked down to where he was kneeling.  "What’s your name, neighbor?“  

He glanced up at her from his absolutely-not-comfortable squat on the ground.  "Scott.”  

“Here Scott, lemme give that a shot.  My brother’s a locksmith.”  

He handed her the tools.  "Be my guest.“  

She smirked and knelt down, inserting the tools into his door and twiddling them around.  "He’s not really.  But your knees looked like they could use a break.”  

She heard him shrug behind her, shifting his weight onto his back foot.  "No worries.  Thanks for the help.“  

"No problem…” She said with a grin as the lock slid open.  "I would like to ask a favor in return, though.“  

"Sure!  Anything, anytime.”  

“That’s great to hear, because I just locked myself out of myapartment on my way over here, so I’m gonna need to borrow these.” She held the tools up.

Laughing, he nodded.  "Yeah, okay.“  

Chapter Text

Darcy stomped over to the gate that separated hers and Pietro’s backyard.  He was sitting on the back patio, eating a salad like an absolute dork who wasn’t about to get his ass kicked.  

"Seriously?  You’re eating them in front of me?”  She rattled the gate a little before it opened and she could stomp into his yard proper.  

“No, I’m eating my salad in the privacy of my own backyard, and the resident salad police have sent someone to bother me.”  

She rolled her eyes.  "You don’t even like salad.  You make fun of me for bringing it to the block parties.“  

Pietro shook his head and took another delicate bite from the end of his fork.  "I never said I didn’t like it.  I just enjoy making fun of you, Lewis.  You get all… ” he gestured vaguely with the bowl.  "Sputtery.  It is very cute.“  

"Yeah… well…” She wasn’t expecting that. Cute?  He thought she was cute?  Just like she wasn’t expecting the coy smile as he somehow managed to eat salad in a sexy way.  Dude just exuded raw sexuality at all times, she assumed. 

The real reason she got flustered around him was purely sexual frustration, but she wasn’t about to admit that to herself, let alone to him.  

“Well, you still stole my tomatoes,” she said. “If you’d just asked for them, I’d have given them to you.”  

He smirked and shook his head.  "I did not know that.  And I did notsteal them.  I liked them when you brought them to the Barton’s cookout last week, so I asked Laura what kind they were and bought some at the Farmer’s Market.“  

That confession took the wind completely out of her sails.  "Oh…”  She could feel her face reddening as she slowly backed up off his patio.  "I’m so sorry for accusing you.“  

"But… I could see why you would think that.  I have not been the best neighbor…”  He stood up, not following her but placing his bowl on the table and wiping his hands on his legs before jamming them in his pockets.  "I like you.  A lot.  And I thought you knew I was kidding around… I’m sorry I was obnoxious.“

Color her surprised.  That was an actual apology.  Not ’sorry if you thought… ’, just ‘sorry’.  

"To be honest, the teasing didn’t bother me.  It wasn’t mean spirited.  I just… ” She shrugged.  "I just… I kind of like you too.  A lot.  And I’m awkward, so I kind of… you know… accused you of theft.  It’s textbook really.  Girl meets boy.  Girl likes boy.  Girl accuses boy of tomato theft… “  

He searched her eyes for a moment and she thought she was going to die right there of whatever it was she felt when she was in Pietro’s presence.  

But she didn’t.  Die, that is.  

"And then boy… asks girl over for dinner?” he asked.  His mouth twitched as he tried not to grin over at her.  "Because boy made entirely too much eggplant parmesan?“  

"You made eggplant parm?” Darcy asked.  "Pardon my skepticism, but you bring exactly two bags of potato chips everywhere you’re invited.  I assumed you didn’t know how to cook it if it didn’t have a picture of a microwave on the back.“  

"Oh, my eggplants had pictures of microwaves on the back,” he assured her.  

She laughed.  "Not sure I want to eat it in that case…"  

“I cooked it the way you’re supposed to cook it,” Pietro said, rolling his eyes.  "Do you want to eat it or not?“  

"I’ll give it a shot,” she said with mock-wariness.  Well, maybe there was a little bit of actual wariness.  Two bags of potato chips, after all.

Darcy followed him to his back door, realizing that she’d never actually been inside his home before.  "So, question…"  

“Hmm?” he asked, standing aside to let her enter first.

“You said you went to the Farmer’s Market.  You totally bought more than tomatoes and eggplant, didn’t you?”  

He chuckled. “No comment.”  

“What else did you buy?” she teased.  

“No.  Comment.”  

“You spent over a hundred bucks, didn’t you?”  

He reached for her hand, tugging her close to his body in a way that might have made her nervous before, but right now, all it did was amp up her desire to find out how much he spent.  

“Two hundred?” she asked breathlessly as his other arm snaked around her waist..  

“Not that much.”  

“But over a hundred.”  

“Darcy…” he whispered, his breath smelled good.  Something herbal. Probably the salad dressing.  He probably made it himself.  With fresh herbs from the Farmer’s Market.  The dork.

“Tell me how much and I’ll drop it.”  

“I spent enough.  And it was worth it.  Because…” he trailed off, his eyes dropping to her lips.  "Because I have someone here to share it with.“  

She wrinkled her nose.  "Corny.”  

“Actually didn’t buy any corn,” he countered.  

“Just…” she pushed him back and he went willingly.  "Just feed me, okay?“  

"Okay,” he grinned.

Chapter Text

Darcy sighed and knocked on Logan’s door.  He came to answer it in a tight white t-shirt and jeans.  Beer in his hand and cigar in his mouth.

And yet somehow, still as hot as hell.

“Dude.  Your bike.”  

He grunted once and started to walk out the door, but paused.  He handed Darcy the beer and the cigar and turned back inside to get his shoes.  

The cigar smoke wafted up towards her face, the smell bitter and acrid.  

“Listen, I know you’re a busy guy and everything… but you really can’t leave your bike on the sidewalk. It’s not just the homeowners’ association, it’s a city ordinance.”  

“Yeah, yeah. I know.  I just forgot.  Sue me.”  

Darcy held the cigar further away from her and followed him.  "The city might?  I mean, they could fine you? I don’t want you to get fined, Logan.“  

He scoffed.  "Why’re you even worried about me?  I do everything else those hypocrites want.  I mow my lawn.  I have curtains on my windows.  Why do they care if I get fined for leaving my bike on the sidewalk?”  

Darcy shrugged.  "Probably something to do with the image of someone who rides a bike, I guess.“  

"Dr. Hunt up the block has a hog. But I guess it’s okay because he’s got a medical degree.”  

“Look, I think your bike is awesome.  It’s super cool and you look hot riding it and…”  she trailed off.  "And I’ve said too much.“  

He smirked, looking down at the bike in question.  "You uh… you want a ride, darlin’?”  

She pressed her lips together.  "Right now?“  

"Sure.  I gotta move it anyway, might as well run up and get dinner while I’m at it.  You eat yet?”  

Shaking her head, she looked down at the beer and cigar still in her hands.  He reached out and took both from her.  "This was my first one,“ he assured her, pouring the beer out on the lawn and tossing the can over the fence and into his neighbor’s’ yard.  

She raised her eyebrows.  "Dude.”  

He put the cigar back in his mouth and winked.  "I’ll go get you a helmet.“  

Chapter Text

“Please, please, please start…”  Darcy said a prayer to the car gods or to whoever was listening as she turned the key in the ignition.  

And of course, as it had every single time she’d tried to start it that morning, absolutely nothing happened.

Sighing heavily, she yanked the keys from the ignition and tried to rack her brain for where she’d put the carpool numbers.  Hopefully they wouldn’t have to drive too too far out of the way to pick her up.  

“Car trouble?” asked her neighbor, a bouncy blonde with a matching husband and set of two year old twins.  She was literally one pink corvette shy of being Barbie.  

Darcy nodded.  "Yep.  Looks like it.“  

"That sucks,” her neighbor said with a frown before she ducked into her white SUV.  

“Yep, it does,” Darcy answered her, even though Barbie had already started her car and was backing down her driveway.  

She pulled out her phone and began swiping through, looking for the carpool number.  

“Need a ride?”

She looked up, more than slightly alarmed to see her other next door neighbor.  The one who lived on the opposite side of her house with an ancient bulldog named Bosco.  The hot, muscular, mutton-choppy dude who rode a motorcycle and built his own gazebo in his backyard.  

So she had a tiny little crush on Logan.  Big whoop.  Who cares?

The only reason she knew Bosco’s name was because she’d fed him a couple of times for Logan when he went out of town.  It wasn’t like they had a really close relationship or anything, it was just what she did.  Whenever anyone went out of town on her block, Darcy fed the animals.  It was a given.  It was her thing.  

So, suffice it to say, the last person she thought she’d be accepting a ride from that morning was Logan Howlett.  

“Yeah, kinda,” she said, nodding a few more times than was necessary.  Seriously, she probably looked like a bobble head or something.  

“I’m off today, I can run you in if you can find a way home,” he answered.  

“Yeah.  Yeah, I can totally find a way home.”  

Logan nodded curtly.  "I’ll go get you a helmet.“  

Darcy frowned.  "Wait.  What?”  

“For the motorcycle.  You have to wear a helmet, it’s the law.”  

“Oh.  Oh right!”  She laughed too loudly.  "A helmet.  Of course.  Because I’m going to be riding with you on your bike.  On the back of your bike.  Holding on to you.  On the back of your bike.“  

He smirked.  "I mean.  Ya don’t have to hold on.  It’d be a short ride if you didn’t, though.”  

Her hair was going to be a mess and a half.  

But.  Motorcycle.  And Logan.  

He emerged from his garage a few minutes later, tossing her a helmet and walking towards his bike.  "Listen, if you leave me your keys, I can take a look at that junker for you later today.  At least figure out what’s wrong with it.“  

Darcy slung her bag over her shoulder.  "Why’re you being so nice?”  

He turned, shot her a total ‘duh’ look.  Like she should know or something.  

“You took care of Bosco for me.”  

“OH.  Right.  Of course…”  

“Plus.  Fixin’ your car’s bound to get me some brownie points, right?”  He shot her another look.  This one decidedly less 'duh’ and more 'winky winky’.  

“Oh totally.  All the brownie points, dude.”  

Chapter Text

Brock settled down onto his sofa. He was cracking open a beer and reaching for the remote when it happened.  

The garish red and green twinkle lights blinked on and off erratically.  Like some kind of seizure inducing torture.  

Groaning, he set the beer on the table in front of him and gazed mournfully at it before hauling himself up off the couch and over to where his phone was charging.  He swiped on the screen until he arrived at Darcy’s number.  

Saved as ‘X-Mas Lights’ in his contacts, he sighed heavily as he tapped the phone icon to call her. Darcy lived across the alley in the apartment building next to his.  And she’d had her holiday lights up for approximately seven months.  

She answered on the fourth ring.  

"Heya, Rumlow.  What can I do ya for?”  

“Take your damn lights down.  It’s JUNE.” He glanced across the alley at her apartment.  She was standing at the window in a tank top and a pair of shorts so short that she might as well have not even bothered.

“Not a chance.  Do you know how hot it is outside?  No way in hellam I climbing around on my balcony just to fall off and fry on the sidewalk.”

“Can you at least turn them off?”  


He exhaled loudly.  "Why not?  You’re obviously having issues with your A/C. Maybe it’d work better if you unplugged a few things.“  He glanced back over at her, fanning herself despite her scant wardrobe choices.

"It’s more fun to annoy you than it is to not.”  

“Take them down, Lewis.  Or I’ll come over there and take them down myself.”  

“Do it,” she said.  A challenge if he ever heard one.  "You won’t come over here.  You’re too scared of me.“  

He snorted back a laugh.  "Scared of you, Small-Fry?”  

“Scared of me… scared of my booty shorts and my long, long legs…”  He could hear the smirk in her voice.  "Or something.  For all I know, you’re not even into women and my obvious advances are flying over your head for a completely different reason.  If that’s the case, I apologize.“  

He sniffed once.  "You gonna leave the door open for me?”  

“No.  You can knock like a gentleman.”

He smiled.  A gentleman he was not.  But Darcy didn’t seem to care.  

“I’ll be there in ten.”  

Chapter Text

Darcy stomped over to Peter’s patio, rapping loudly on the glass door.  

She saw him jump a little on the sofa, but then he tried to play it off super cool by nodding vaguely in her direction.  

Sighing heavily, she knocked louder, and he got up, zipping to the door instantly and making her jump.  

He slid the door open, that stupid grin on his face.  The one that basically cemented him in her mind as one of those really intense jerky guys who never really listened to a word you said and were pretty much just waiting for you to shut up so they could either talk or leave.  

"What can I do for ya, Peaches?”  

Oh, and he called her ‘Peaches’.  Which was either really derogatory or really patronizing.  Or a little of both.  She hadn’t really decided.  

All she had decided was that he probably called her that because he couldn’t remember her name.  

No matter how many times she’d stomped over here for one reason or another.  

Superspeed didn’t keep him from being a shitty neighbor.  It just meant he could play frisbee with himself to show off in the courtyard and somehow always hit her in the back of the head with it whenever she was walking anywhere.  

It meant he could appear right beside her when she was walking out to the mailbox and scare the living daylights out of her, and zip off again just as quickly.  

And it meant he could steal her heirloom tomatoes off the plant on her porch and she wouldn’t realize it until later when she tried to go out and pick some for herself.  

The latter was the reason for her visit that day.  

She arched her eyebrow and crossed her arms in front of herself.  "You did it, I know you did.“  

"Did what? I mean, I’m sure I probably did, but what is it?”  

“You stole one of my tomatoes.”  

“Yeah?  There were like.  Twenty on the plant.  I just took one of them.  Wasn’t even the biggest one.”  He shrugged and leaned against his doorframe, sort of mirroring her stance.  Which just infuriated her even more.

She dropped her arms to her sides.  "It was the ripest one.  I was saving it.“  

"So maybe you shoulda picked it yourself.  It was ripe.”  

“I like to use them straight from the vine.  They taste better that way, jack-ass.”  

“You want it back?  It’s sitting right there in my kitchen.” Peter jerked his thumb over his shoulder.  

“No, I don’t want it back!”  

“Then pardon my French, but why the fuck are you over here?” His tone wasn’t annoyed, more confused.  

“I want you to stop, okay?” she blurted.  "Just stop it.  Stop hitting me in the back of the head with your stupid frisbees.  Stop scaring me when I walk out to the mailbox.  Stop stealing my tomatoes.  Okay?  Just stop it, Peter.  Stop.“  

"Okay…” he dropped his arms and peered over at her.  "Everything okay, Peaches?“  

"And stop calling me 'Peaches’, okay?  My name’s DARCY.  DARCY.  It’s not that hard to remember.”  

“Hey, look… I know your name. If you don’t like the nickname, that’s fine.  I just thought it was cute.  And that you’re cute.  But if you don’t like it, Darcy it is.  Darcy Lewis.  I apologize.”

She chewed on that for a moment.  That and her bottom lip.  "Apology accepted.“  

"Okay,” he said, nodding.  "And for what it’s worth… I never meant to scare you when you walk to the mailboxes.  I just wanted to make sure you got there and back alright.  And… I kind of lose focus whenever you’re around.  So that’s why I ended up hitting you with the frisbee.  I’m clumsy as hell, it just doesn’t show cuz I’m kind of quick on my feet.“  He laughed nervously, running his hand through his silver hair.  

"You could have just… told me that…” she said slowly. “I seriously thought you were some jerky… aged-out frat guy with superpowers.”  

He shrugged. “I mean.  I kind of am a jerky guy with superpowers. But I didn’t go to college.  So not a frat guy.”  

“You totally did steal my tomatoes, though…” she said pointedly.  

“Yeah.  Yeah, I did,” he admitted.  "And I’m sorry about that too.“  

"Okay.  Well…” she reached over and awkwardly patted his shoulder.  "Next time just ask.  I have way more than I can eat myself.“  

"Will do.”  He pressed his lips together in the semblance of a smile, wiping his hands on his jeans before holding one out.  "Shake on it?“  

Darcy took his hand and shook it once, letting it slip out again as she backed away from his door.  

"Just to clarify, I can now come knock on your door whenever I want a tomato, right?”  

She laughed.  "Sure.“  

"So even like… in the dead of winter… I want a tomato… you’re my supplier.”  

She snorted.  "Sure.  I’m pretty sure whatever I have during the dead of winter would be of the canned variety, but totally hit me up anyway.“  

"I’m gonna.  I’ll take you up on that, Darcy.”  He grinned, his dimples appearing on his cheeks and making her miss the nickname.  

“Yeah…” she said, starting to turn away.  "I liked it better when you called me 'Peaches’.“

Chapter Text

The knock on the front door made her cringe. Darcy glanced toward it with trepidation.

She honestly hadn’t meant to drop whatever it was that she dropped (she honestly couldn’t remember, she’d dropped so many things…) and it was the third time her neighbor had been up to complain about the noise levels in her apartment.

Bruce wasn’t usually this type of neighbor. Usually, he let things slide, but for some reason everything she’d been doing that night was annoying him.

And he was having zero problems letting her know.

She answered the door, trying to smile nervously to take some of the awkwardness out of the situation, but Bruce wasn’t having any of it.

"Can you please keep it down?” he asked. “I have a really important lecture in the morning and every time you drop something, it’s magnified fivefold in my apartment.”

“Dude, I’m sorry,” Darcy said. “But every time you come up here to complain about something that I’ve dropped, it makes me that much more nervous and more likely to drop more stuff.”

Sighing, he shook his head, “No, I’m sorry…  it’s just…  ever since you pulled up your carpets, everything has been so loud up here… and it’s hard enough to concentrate without having to hear every step you’re taking.”

Darcy sniffed indignantly. “No, I’M sorry. I’m sorry my existence is annoying you. I’ll call the carpet guys on Monday and until then I’ll just go out… that way you are free to concentrate on whatever boring-ass Professor shit you were up to that is clearly more important than my comfort in my own home.”

She swung the door shut in his face, locking the deadbolt before turning on her heel to walk back to her bedroom.

She was interrupted by yet another knock on the door.

After a little deliberation, she opened the door to find Bruce still standing there, hand over his face, shaking his head. “Darcy,” he began. “Can I please start over?” He dropped his hand and for the first time, she noticed just how tired he looked.

But, she was still pissed and quite frankly, a little embarrassed.  Plus, it wasn’t her fault that he had job issues.  Every person on the freakin’ planet had job issues.

“Why?” she asked, “Did you forget to say something? I think you said plenty. A lot of words, Bruce.  A. LOT. OF. WORDS.”

“I said too much and not enough…” he replied cryptically. “I’m nervous about tomorrow and I was taking it out on you. That’s not fair. I’m really sorry and I hope you’ll forgive me. I enjoy what little interaction we have with each other. You are always bright and sunny and my life is full of so many clouds. Please forgive me, Darcy?”

Darcy pressed her lips together and nodded. “Say more things like that please.”

He chuckled and continued, “Obviously you can stay home if you don’t want to go out… you don’t need my permission for that… but I also understand if you don’t want to be here.”

Darcy mulled that over for a moment before replying. “Bruce, I think the person who really needs to get out tonight is you. So maybe you could come with me, buy me a drink, and maybe I’ll forgive you.”

“Maybe?” he asked, arching an eyebrow and somehow bringing himself right back to adorkably disheveled professor in no time flat.

“Maybe,” she reiterated.  "You might have to sweet-talk me a little more… “  

"I’m not great with the sweet talk,” he confessed, but stepped aside when she grabbed her coat, keys and wallet, stepping out to join him in the hallway.

“You’re not great with the sour talk either, not gonna lie…”

Chapter Text

She wasn’t sure what the first sign was.  But she knew the one that finally clued her in.  The mail on the table that was not addressed to the man who’d invited her to this pool party.  

Darcy honestly should have known better.  

She knew she’d seen Brock Rumlow around her neighborhood before, but she couldn’t place him to one particular house.  

So when he’d invited her to a pool party down the street, it had suddenly clicked in her mind.  Obviously he’d bought the old Johnson place and fixed it up.  Tiled-in-ground-pool and all.  

Fixed it up himself.  Because that’s why he looked familiar, he’d been in the house off and on all summer fixing up this and that and performing renovations.  

And he was good at what he did.  Because the place looked amazing.  

So did the host, if she was being honest.  

Which was likely why she ignored the mislabeled mail on the kitchen counter on her way to the bathroom.  Brushing it off as a lost change of address form or something. 

And when she emerged from the bathroom and nearly ran into him in the hallway as he jogged over to adjust the thermostat, she hung back and waited for him.  

One thing led to another and she was pressing him back onto a very lush duvet in one of the guest rooms, her lips chasing his as he kept them tantalizingly out of reach.  

"You sure got a nice house here…” Darcy whispered against his throat.  

He chuckled dryly.  "If I told you it wasn’t my house, would you leave?“  

"Not if you still wanted me here…” she countered.  

“Good…” he murmured, rolling her over on her back.  "Cuz it’s not mine… they just hired me to renovate it…“  

Like she said, she should have known better.  But for whatever reason, she didn’t care.  

"When are they comin’ back?” she asked.

He just laughed and captured her lips.  "Not for a few days now…"  

Giggling, she sank her teeth into his bottom lip before releasing it.  "Now that’s good.“

Chapter Text

“Dude, I know you’re not a burglar, chill.”  Her smile was wide, but definitely not vindictive in the slightest.  Bruce relaxed somewhat.  Her smile faltered a little.  "You don’t remember me, do you?“  

Bruce didn’t think there were six more anxiety inducing words in the language.  

As he looked up at her from his position on the floor, kneeling in front of his apartment door with a couple of bobby pins shoved into the lock, and he could tell he had seen her before.  Before living here, that is.  He should remember her.  

"Dr. Banner?” Darcy tilted her head slightly.  "I mean, I guess it’s been a few years since Culver, but…"  

“Were you… a student of mine?” he asked, peering up at her.  

“Oh good Thor Almighty, no.  I’m way too young for that…” she scoffed.  

“Thanks…” he said dryly, still trying to place where he knew her.  "You do look familiar…"  

“You, uh… you used to work with my mom?”

“Who’s your mom?”  

Darcy snickered to herself.  "Wow.  Okay.  Dr. Anne Hardon-Lewis?  She was a… “  

"Cultural anthropologist, right.  I remember Anne…”  It had been a while ago. Anne was at least ten or twelve years his senior.  Which would definitely put Darcy out of the age range of his students.  He’d only taught for about five years at Culver before switching completely into research mode.  And then… the green guy happened.

But if he wracked his brain, he could definitely remember a gawky little tweenie bopper who tagged along with her mom sometimes.

“How is your mom?” he asked.  

“Still teaching.  Nearing retirement, though…” Darcy said with a short laugh.  "She’ll be tickled pink that I saw you. Kinda thought it would happen before this, what with my SHIELD involvement and all…“

"Your SHIELD…” His back stiffened immediately.  "Your SHIELD involvement.“  

She smiled and reached into her back pocket, pulling out what looked like a swiss army knife.  If a swiss army knife had about twenty more extensions.  

She knelt beside him, her breath coming out in warm puffs that hit his face as she jammed the pointed end of the tool into the lock.  

She was too close.  

But neither of them were moving, so what did that mean?  

Also she was SHIELD.  What did that mean?

"Yeah.  Sorry to break it to ya this way… but you’re kind of under surveillance.”  

“So I need to move, I guess.”  

“Didn’t say it was a bad thing.  If you’re under surveillance, that means they trust you enough to live on your own.  You’re not locked up in the Raft and that’s a good thing, Doc.”  

His door clicked open and Darcy straightened, folding up the tool and jamming it back in her pocket.  

“Aren’t you scared of me?  Scared I’m going to get angry and destroy this building and everyone inside?” His tone was a touch more sardonic than he’d been hoping for, but he supposed it was probably so ingrained in him it would be hard to hide.  

She shook her head.  "Nah.  You seem to have a good handle on things.“  She wiped her hands on her jeans.  "Wanna go get a drink with me, Dr. Banner?”  

“Isn’t that a conflict of interest?”  

She shrugged.  "Who cares?“  

"SHIELD might.”  

“Doubt it.”  

“I’m too old for you. I worked with your mother.”  

She sniffed.  "I’ll be the judge of that.“  She turned, sliding her hands into her pockets as she walked.  "You comin’?”  

“I don’t drink.”  

Sighing, she turned back.  "You don’t drink anything?  You don’t drink coffee?  Or tea?  Or juice? Or milkshakes?“  

"I don’t drink milkshakes.  I use a spoon.”  

Arching her eyebrow, she rounded once more.  "C'mon, you genius-level loser.  We’re getting milkshakes and spoons.“  

Bruce couldn’t really argue with anything in that statement.  He pulled his door closed and fell into step beside her.  


Chapter Text

Tony heard the doorbell ring.  

And then he heard it ring again.  

And then  a few more agains before he remembered that he’d given Jarvis the night off.  And the rest of the staff too.  There was no reason they should have to work on a Friday night just because Howard was a dick and decided to leave his son home while he and Tony’s Mom went to Barbados for the month. 

Groaning, he flopped out of the chair and went to the door.  

"Yeah, yeah, I’ll get there when I get there…” he grumbled, reaching for the door knob and twisting it in a wildly over exaggerated manner.  He smirked when he saw who was on the other side.  "Darce.  It’s you.  Again.“  She’d been a thorn in his side all week.  Part of the reason he was staying at home and not toasting his ass on a beach in the Caribbean.  

Come to think of it, he probably owed her a ‘thank you’ for that.  He was having more fun with Howard gone for the week than he would have in some beach cabana with him a paper-thin-wall away.  

Smirking, she leaned on the doorframe.  "Came by to invite you to a pool party down the street.”

He frowned.  "Which down the street? This street?  Which house?“”  

“Oh… ya know.  Eight-fourteen…”  

“You mean the Richards’ house?  Reed Richards is throwing a pool party?  This I gotta see.”  

She winked.  "Nope. The Richards’ aren’t home, but I’m house-sitting, remember?  So I’m throwing a pool party at eight-fourteen… down the street.  You wanna come?“  

Tony snorted.  Ran his hand through his hair.  He was really too old to be getting involved with this bullshit.   His father had said something to that effect the last time he’d bailed him out of a sticky situation.  

But, from the looks of this, in lieu of being the guilty party, he was a hapless bystander.  Someone invited to a pool party.  He was just supposed to sit at home while the entire neighborhood and then some partied at the Richards’ house with their indoor pool, heated tile and two story waterslide?  

Howard would probably find a way to blame him for it anyway, so he might as well go and have a good time.  

"Sure, I’ll come, Darce.  Want me to bring anything?”  

“Just that sweet, sweet ass, Stark.  That’s all I need.”  She was grinning, and he wasn’t sure if she was serious or not.  

His cheeks reddened and he shifted his weight nervously.  "You serious, or do you want beer?“  

"Beer.  I totally want beer.  Just that sweet, sweet ass and some beer, please." 

"You got it, short stack.”  


Chapter Text

“Oh my Thor, you are amazing!” Darcy leaned over and pressed her lips to Wanda’s briefly.  

Wanda’s stomach turned flips as Darcy reached for the grocery bags.  She grabbed both hers and Wanda’s as she opened the truck door.  

“Let’s make a break for the cabin, it looks like the snow is letting up!”  

Wanda could probably have survived alone in that truck cab if she’d put her mind to it.  Her cheeks were burning hot enough to practically melt the snow.  

“Wanda, come on!”  Darcy’s voice was muffled by the wind, but Wanda could still faintly hear her.  

She pushed open the door, having to use her mind to help because the wind was picking up. Wanda buffeted as much as she could, which got them inside.  Once they were safely through the door however, she collapsed on the sofa from fatigue. She wasn’t really aware of much for a while after that.  

She knew she was covered with a blanket.  She knew Darcy got the fire going. 

And Wanda knew all of this, because once she came to and her vision wasn’t as blurry, she was warm and toasty, snuggled under a blanket and in front of a roaring fire.  

The blanket moved a little, limbs that were not her own moved.  Feet that weren’t hers stretched out, toes peeking from the edge of the blanket.  

Wanda turned to gaze at Darcy.  She smiled.  "Thank you…"  

“Thank you, dude.  You’re the one who somehow cleared the snow so I could drive down the driveway.  And blocked the wind so we could get inside. All I did was start a fire and cuddle up with you to keep you warm.  I totally had the easiest and the most fun job.”  Darcy winked and snuggled back down under the blankets.  

“You kissed me…” Wanda murmured, snuggling further in.  Her hand moved beneath the blanket, seeking out Darcy’s.  

“I did… I totally did.”

Wanda leaned forward, kissing Darcy with the barest and lightest of touches. “And now I’ve kissed you…”  

“We’re even.”  

Wanda blushed, giggling as she moved closer to Darcy.  "I have enjoyed being your pseudo-neighbor on this vacation…"  

“Same…”  Darcy replied.  "I was kind of hoping you’d want to sleep over tonight, though.  Because I’m not sure I can make the drive down the road to your place again…"  

“Hence the pseudo part of that statement…” Wanda teased. 


Chapter Text

The sleek silver cat slipped into Darcy’s apartment, gliding seamlessly in as if he owned the place.  He had a bad habit of doing that. No boundaries at all, this cat.  

“Vision…”  Darcy sighed and knelt down to scoop him up.  He was a teddy bear of a Russian Blue, and rather clueless at times.  It was almost like he didn’t seem to know the difference between her apartment and his human’s.  "I’ll bet Wanda is missing you, old boy…"  

He meowed, purring in contentment as Darcy shifted him to her other arm to grab the door handle.  

Wanda lived downstairs.  And while there was a stairwell, the heavy door was nearly always closed.  Except for during fire scares, or during the first few weeks of January when everyone stood on the scale and gasped at the numbers, no one ever used the stairs.  It was always the elevator.  So how this cat was able to go up a floor and come into her apartment, Darcy would never know.  She’d never seen him actually do it, she’d just seen the result.  

He must have waited by the elevator and gotten on when the doors opened.  The logistics of the endeavor were simply mind boggling, so she didn’t think about it.  

She had to say, she kind of liked it when Vision came to visit her, though.  Because then, she’d invariably get to go downstairs and knock on Wanda’s door.  

Wanda was Vision’s human.  

She had this cute smile and always wore black or at the very least, dark red nail polish, and Darcy had something like a crush on her.  

A crush that was maybe, possibly, reciprocated?  Because every time Darcy found a reason to talk to Wanda, the latter’s face turned an adorable shade of crimson.  

But Darcy didn’t want to assume anything.  

She stepped out of the elevator and walked the few short feet from there to Wanda’s door, pressing the doorbell and waiting.  

Wanda came to the door, immediately flushing and pressing her lips together.  She scanned Darcy for a few seconds before her eyes came to rest on Vision.  She sighed, holding out her hands.  

Darcy deposited the naughty cat into his human’s arms and Wanda began to apologize profusely.  "I am so sorry… I do not know why he keeps doing this… you’re one floor up–“ Wanda picked Vision up to talk directly to him.  "She’s one floor up, we’ve gone over this… boundaries, Vision.  Boundaries…”  

“It’s really… it’s cool, Wanda…”  Darcy reached over to scratch Vision behind his ears.  "He’s a smart cookie, knowing how to get to my apartment and stuff… never met a cat that smart, actually…" 

Wanda gulped.  Or maybe Darcy imagined it, because Vision was promptly jumping to the floor with a little blip of a meow and crossing the floor to do a positively cat-like thing and scratch on the scratching post.  

She tilted her head, watching as Wanda fiddled with the necklace around her neck.  

Darcy knew Wanda was a witch.  That much was apparent. But she never placed much stock in magic or the magical arts or whatever it was called now…  but if Darcy could call that cat anything, she’d call it a familiar.  But Wanda seemed a little weird about it, so she changed the subject.  

“Wanna go get some coffee with me?” she asked, making Wanda blanch before flushing even darker than she’d ever seen her.  "Or tea, or something… anything?“  

"Um…”  Wanda began.  Vision meowed from his corner, and her mouth twitched up in a small smile.  "I’d love to.“  

Darcy returned the smile.  "Awesome.”


Chapter Text

Darcy’s jaw hung open as she stared at what the Universe had blessed her with today.  A blessing in the form of her hunky next-door neighbor, Logan.  In a pair of sinfully tight jeans and a white tank top.  Sweating like crazy and leaning on her front door frame.  

"So… can I?  Share yours?” he asked, smirking slightly as he waited for her answer.  

“Oh… oh totally!  Totally!”  She backed away from the door.  "I mean, it’s in the living room, so you’ll definitely have to go out there.“  

Great job, dork.  Like he doesn’t know where a wall unit would be located.  His apartment is a mirror-image of yours…

"Thanks, darlin’…” He walked past her, leaving a little more than a whiff of his aftershave in his wake.  "It’s hotter than two mice…" he trailed off for a moment, the color in his cheeks deepening before he continued.  "Cuddling in a wool sock.“  

At least I’m not the only one who’s a complete dork.  

She snorted, closing the door behind him.  ”Cuddling in a wool sock?  I’ve always heard they were screwing in there, but what do I know, eh?“  

"I was tryin’ to be… delicate.  Didn’t know if you’d appreciate any colorful analogies.  Now that I know you do, get ready.”  

“Bring it, dude.  Bring all the colorful analogies.  Colorful jokes.  Anecdotes.  Hell, I’d even take a limerick if you had a good one.”  

Darcy walked out to the kitchen and opened the fridge.  "Want something to drink?  I have iced tea and lemonade.“  

"I’ve heard a few colorful anecdotes about beautiful women and lemonade…” he ventured.  

“Yeah?  Well, usually the man does something to deserve the lemonade.  Something other than looking hot as hell on my couch, that is.”  

“You flirtin’ with me or was that an observation?”  

She shrugged and pulled out the lemonade.  "What do you think?“


Chapter Text

Darcy was fed up.  Just because she wasn’t particularly busy this time of year, did not mean she didn’t want to get a full night’s rest.  She just wasn’t pleasant without at least six hours of sleep.  

And it felt like her upstairs neighbor was just going to screw his supermodel du jour around the clock.  Seriously, the guy must have stock in Vitamin E and Gatorade or something.  He had stock in something.  Because Tony Stark was rolling in the money.  And the babes, apparently.    

She knocked on the door, her hair most assuredly an indescribably horrible mess, her face resolutely sans makeup, and her eyes red and itchy from her seasonal allergies AND from lack of sleep.  She hoped she scared this guy enough that maybe he’d knock off the knocking of boots until a more reasonable time.  

He opened the door and she blurted out.  "Dude, I can hearyour loud sex.  Please stop.”  

Tony flipped up the welding visor he was wearing and frowned.  "I am not having loud sex.  Or quiet sex.  Or any sex.  I’m testing out my latest invention… it’s a thermo regulated–“  

Darcy shook her head, holding up her hand and pressing two fingers to his lips.  "Shhhhhhh! I don’t care what it is, or what it does, or what it’s supposed to do…  All I know is what it’s doing.  And it’s keeping Darcy (that’s me) awake.  And as you can see?” She gestured to her face.  "I am not a happy camper.  This is not a pretty picture.  This is not the monstrosity of a face you want to see again tonight, is it?“  

He shrugged.  "I like your face.  I could look at it anytime, so you’re not giving me much of an incentive to stop.”  

Darcy blinked a few times.  It was too late/too early for flirting.  

“See… if I stop making noise, I won’t see you again…”  He wrinkled his nose.  "If you’re wanting to incentivize me, you should… promise to see me again.  At at more reasonable hour and after you’ve slept as much as you need, while I’m quiet in my apartment.“  

She sniffed loudly.  "So you’re going to continue to make noise until I agree to go out with you?”  

His frown deepened.  "No.  That… that sounds creepy when you put it that way…"  

Darcy smirked and shook her head.  "Listen.  You figure out a less creepy way to ask me out, and I’ll say yes. In the meantime, keep your thermo regulated noise maker down to a dull roar, so I can sleep enough to put myself in a good mood. Deal?“



Chapter Text

Darcy rolled her eyes.  "Look.  Sue me. I walked away for a SECOND and they burned.  It’s not the end of the world, Rogers.”  

Steve chuckled, shaking his head.  "Sure smells like it, Darce. I believe I said I could smell it through the wall.“  

"Accidents happen.  I will live to bake another day.”  

“Yes, but will I ever smell again?  That’s the real question here, I think.”  

“You think you could do better?  Go ahead.”  She stepped to the side, making a sweeping gesture with her arm to welcome him into her apartment.  "Make my award winning chocolate chip cookies by yourself.  I will sit out here in the living room and paint my toenails.  You bake these cookies for me. And I’ll put my feet up.“  

"What kind of awards did they win?  Most charcoal-like?  Burnt in show?”  He waggled his eyebrows as he walked past her.  "See what I did there?“  

She shoved him playfully into the kitchen.  "Less bad jokes, more bad cookies.  C'mon, Rogers.  Get out there.”  

He pulled the recipe from the holder and waved it in the air.  "This recipe here?“  

Darcy was settling herself down on the couch with a bottle of Essie ‘Dressed to the Nineties’ and toe spacers in hand. "That’s the one, smart guy.”  

He squinted at it.  "What does 'cream the butter with the sugar’ mean?“  

"Figure it out, Chef Ramsay.  I’ll be out here waiting for my cookies.”  


Chapter Text

Darcy pressed the doorbell, waiting patiently as what sounded like a giraffe in a ski accident made its way to answer it.  

She was kind of surprised not to see a giraffe in skis, but a normal-sized dude with a man bun and a hammer, rubbing his knee and cursing under his breath on the other side of the door.  

“Everything okay?” she asked, forgetting her welcome wagon spiel the second his blue eyes narrowed in her direction.  

He was pretty.  Oh no.  He was so pretty.  She wasn’t good at welcoming the pretty people.  She got hella tongue-tied.  

“I’d be better if people would stop knocking on the damn door and let me put my bookshelf together,” he practically growled.  

“Oh… sorry…” she winced in sympathy as she realized what had probably happened.  "I just… I’m like… kind of the welcome wagon type of person for the building… just had a couple of things to give you… tenant’s council meetings, um… building rules, doormat regulations… that kind of thing…"

“Doormat regulations?” he asked, reaching out to take the embossed folder from Darcy.  

“Yeahhhhh, the council members are mostly stay-at-home-parents of school-aged kids… and they have time to kill during school hours, apparently…” she laughed nervously as he flipped through the folder.

“My doormat says ‘Fuck off'… that allowed?” he asked, gesturing down to the mat beneath Darcy’s feet.  Her face flushed hot.  

“Uh… I don’t have the regulations memorized, but I’m thinking probably not…  Something you’ll have to take up with them…”  

“You’re passing them out and you don’t have them memorized?  Seems like you’re slackin’, welcome-wagon-type-of-person.”

“I’m Darcy.  Lewis,” she replied, mentally kicking herself for being so awkward.  

“You’re slackin’, Darcy Lewis.  I don’t want to see you here again until you can recite those regulations off the top of your head.”  

“You aren’t going to see me again, if that’s the case,” she said, taking a step back off his 'fuck off’ mat.  "But I suppose that’s the point you were making, so have a nice life and good luck with the mat.“  

His face softened a little and he opened the door a little wider.  "Maybe I’ll see ya at the mailboxes sometime?”  

He was so, so pretty.  

And she was in so much trouble.  

“Maybe,” she acquiesced.  "No promises, though.  I don’t even know your name.“

"Barnes.  James Barnes.”  He winked and Darcy snort-laughed.    

“You’re like a hipster James Bond.  You like your kale smoothie shaken, not stirred?”  

He wrinkled his nose.  "Ew.  Who doesn’t stir a smoothie?“  

"YOU, apparently.”  

“I’ll see you at the mailboxes, Lewis.”  

“At the mailboxes.”     


Chapter Text

“So as you can see, Barnes… that hunk of junk on your back lawn is actually half on my lawn,”  Darcy said smugly, pointing at the property line and then at the rust bucket of a jalopy that was on cinder blocks nearby.    

He popped the gum in his mouth, arching an eyebrow at her.  "So what?  You want it?  Take it.  It’s yours.“  He jutted his head towards the car.  "Want the keys so you can drive it over to your garage?”  

The stupid thing didn’t even have any wheels on it.  He thought he was so smart. 

“No.  I want it moved to the other side of your lawn so when I have people over, it’s not a conversation piece.”  

When you have people over?  When do you ever have people over?  You’re never even outside.  Hell, I never saw your face until six months after ya moved in.”  

“That eye sore keeps me from inviting people over!” she countered.  "It’s gross.  And there are WEEDS growing out of the engine block thingie.“  

"How is me moving it ten feet gonna make a difference in your social life, dollface?”  

“It doesn’t matter. I want it moved.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter that you want it moved.  It ain’t movin’ anytime soon.  I need to fix a few things, and those few things take more than just me working on it, so it ain’t gonna move.”  

“How long would it take to fix?” Darcy asked, folding up the extra large blown up picture of their block that she’d brought over to show him and crossing her arms in front of her.  

He looked surprised at her question, and faltered a little on his response. “I dunno.  Like… two Saturday afternoons with no rain?”  

“Fine.  I’ll see you Saturday.”  She turned on her heel and walked towards her back door.  


“You heard me.  I’ll see you Saturday.  To help you fix it.”  

You are gonna help me fix it?”  

“That’s what I said. You havin’ trouble hearing me?”  

He smiled a little, reaching up to scratch the back of his head.  "Fine.  I’ll see you on Saturday.“  

"Yeah. You will,” she replied, wondering how in the hell she was going to help him fix a car when she had little to no idea or thoughts about the modern combustion engine.

But that was what Google was for, she guessed.  

Chapter Text

Darcy felt like maybe she broke his brain, from the way it appeared to short circuit when she blurted out the question.  "Bruce?”  

He blinked once.  "Hmm?“  

"Significant other?  You?  Me?  Just until Luke leaves?”  

“What?  Yeah.  Yes!  Yes.  I’ll…  I’ll just come with you now?”  he asked, gesturing down the hall towards her apartment.  

She grinned.  "Yeahhhh, big guy, c'mon…" Reaching down, she laced her fingers with his, leading him back to her apartment and feeling like this was bound to be a shit show no matter how it ended, so she might as well not be alone.  

“Should I… where should I… how should I stand?” he asked.

“Normally?” she asked, pushing open her door and tugging him inside.  "How would you normally stand?“  

"I don’t know.  I’ve either forgotten how to be normal, or I never was to begin with…”  

She snorted and led him to the couch.  "You never were and that’s why I love ya, Bruce.  Let’s try sitting, hmm?  Just sit and look like you’re hopelessly in love with me and that should work.“  

She stood back and looked at him.  He was sweating.  Looking around nervously, crossing and uncrossing his legs.  Sure.  That could work.  

"Perfect, Bruce.  You’re perfect.”  

“So are you?” he said, smiling weakly.  

“YES.  Say things like that.  When Luke gets here.”  

The doorbell rang and she froze, turning to glare at the door.  "He’s early.  Geez.  Maybe if he’d done that a little more when we were dating, we’d still be together…" she grumbled under her breath.  "No we wouldn’t.  He’s a jerkface and I hope I never see him again…"

She answered the door.  Introduced her new “squeeze”, who was looking rather wrung out now that she thought about it.  

But miraculously, he perked up when she introduced him.  

Luke just wanted some dumb t-shirt she was pretty sure she’d already thrown out.  But she figured she should make a show of going to look for it at least.  And with Bruce here, there was no reason for Luke to follow her back into her bedroom.  

She rustled around in the closet, actually finding the shirt in question balled up in a corner under her gym bag.  Ooops.  

She pulled it out, made sure there wasn’t something horrible smushed into it and draped it over her arm.  

“Here Luke, I found it in my…” she trailed off, looking around.  "Where’d he go?“ 

Bruce shrugged, staring down at his phone.  "Said he was in a hurry.  Had to leave.”  

She smirked and tossed the shirt across the room and onto the dining room table.  "You didn’t have anything to do with that, did you?“  

He shrugged again, still staring at his phone, swiping around like he was checking email and not trying to keep from looking her in the eye.  "I have no control over what people do after I talk to them.”  

Crossing her arms over her chest, she sat back on her hip.  "In case I have to answer questions regarding his disappearance?“  

Bruce chuckled.  "Nothing like that. He asked me if we were really dating.  I said yes.  He laughed, said he could ‘take me’ if necessary.”  He paused to roll his eyes.  "I simply told him that I have a one year chip in anger management that I’m not afraid to lose and that I’m second from the highest rank in my Capoeira training… It’s definitely not my fault that Luke mixed up Capoeira and Krav Maga… or that he ran out of here so quickly that I couldn’t correct him.“

"Bruce.  You are awesome.  Thank you.”

He stood up, “Well.  It was easy when I stopped blithering around like an idiot and actually stepped up.”      

“The blithering around was pretty cute, not gonna lie.”  

He blushed and walked towards the door.  "Glad you thought so.“  

"Wanna stay for dinner, Bruce?  As a thank you?”  

“You don’t need to do that, Darcy…”  

“I know.  But I want to.  So, you wanna?  I’m making… chicken of some sort?”  She grinned widely.

“Wow, that’s uncanny. Chicken of some sort is my favorite.”  

“Well, then you have to stay.”  

“I guess I do.  It’s fate.”

Chapter Text

Darcy snort-laughed behind her hand and waved him inside.  "Come on, Sam.  I have ice and an old wall unit.”  

“Thank you…” he said, peeling the shirt off his back as he made a break for her couch, clearing it in a flying leap over the back and landing smack in the middle of it.  "You wanna play Mario Kart?“  

"I only have–”  

He produced his own controller from his pocket.  "You were saying?“  

Rolling her eyes, she crossed the floor and took a seat beside him.  "Somebody might think you were planning to come over or something…”

“Darcy.  You never know when Mario Kart is going to happen. I never leave the apartment without it.”  


“Like I planned for my A/C to go out.  Like anyone in the entire world has ever planned ahead for that.”  

She nodded, reaching for her own Wii-mote.  "You’ve got a point there.  Everyone always acts like hot weather is some complete surprise.“  

"It is.  It’s never been this hot before.”  

“Dude.  It was hotter than this last week.”  

Sam snorted indignantly.  "Lies.“  

Chapter Text

Darcy snorted, water coming out her nose and dribbling down the front of her workout shirt.  But it was totally worth it.  

"Dude.  I am having no sex up here.  I’m weight training. My trainer told me I grunt like a porn star.  I guess she wasn’t kidding.”  

Stephen’s eyebrows flew up and he opened and closed his mouth a few times.  "I… apologize… I could have sworn that was what was going on up here…"  

“Doc.  It’s cool.  Don’t worry about it.  You on thirds again?  I’ll keep my porny grunting to late night sessions, okay?”  She reached out (and up?) and patted his shoulder.  "It’s cool, man.  Just so you know, my sex sounds are waydifferent than that.“  

He blinked a few times, his brain on relative short circuit due to lack of sleep and how he was now picturing his neighbor in the throes of ecstasy.  

She grinned and waggled her eyebrows a few times. "You look like you could use some coffee.”  She reached for a jacket and gestured out into the hallway.  "You wanna go grab some with me?“  

He was running his hand through his hair when he nodded.  "Amongst other things.”  

“Haha, not on the first date.  What kind of a girl do you take me for?  You think I display my grunty mating call to all the hot young doctors just to see if it’ll stick?" 

He chuckled.  "I guess I’m just lucky, then?”  

“The luckiest, dude.  The luckiest.”  

Chapter Text

Darcy squealed and jumped up onto the kitchen counter.  "I don’t care what his name is or whatever… just get it OUT of my apartment, Thor!“  

"I have to… make sure of something first…”  

The big alien dude from Asgard was kneeling on the ground and staring the little snake in the eye.

“That it is your snake?  And it’s in my apartment?”  

“I love snakes, you see.  But sometimes… my brother likes to trick me…” he trailed off.  

“And do what?”  

Thor glanced up at her on the counter and looked like he was about to say something.  But he didn’t, shaking his head.  "Never mind.“  He held his hand out, and Basil, the boa constrictor slithered onto his hand.  He held perfectly still, bracing as if expecting a blow or something, before smiling and straightening up. 

"You can never be too careful…”  He slipped an arm around her waist and helped her down from the counter.  "I do apologize for Basil’s curiosity.  He likely found a warm place to sun himself.“  

"Well.  Tell him to find a place in your apartment next time.  I’m not a fan of boa constrictors in my apartment.”  

Thor smiled, leaning down to kiss her forehead.  "Silly Darcy.  Snakes cannot understand our speech patterns.  But I will pass the information along, if you wish.“