Chapter 1: Hey, Babe.
“Everybody take your seats!” the cheery organizer chirped in an aggravatingly musical voice. “Let’s get started!”
It wasn’t something Darcy ever pictured herself doing. Speed-dating. Really? She’d always thought it was kind of pathetic, reserved only for the saddest, most desperate and unlovable idiots in the world.
Well, she finally admitted to herself, I’m pretty desperate.
These past few weeks of watching Thor shower Jane with endless affection— kissing her hands like a gentleman while looking up at her beneath those perfect golden lashes, pulling out her chair for her at mealtime— well, it was repulsive, actually, but damn it, she wanted that! It was so nauseatingly sweet that it was all Darcy could do not to jump his godly bones. The man was sexy in a way you just didn’t find naturally on Earth, so she wasn’t quite sure why she was convinced she could find a similar match at speed-dating night at the diner.
Actually, the more she thought about it as she waited for the event to begin, seated at her small table with her clipboard of names, the more she thought she should probably just get up and leave. Who all was here tonight, anyway? She looked down at the roster, skimming over the names, and…
Well, these names seem conveniently and ironically familiar.
No way. It had to be a coincidence, right? Clint, Bruce, Henry, Phil...? And, oh, god…
Tony Stark sat down across the table from her, apparently not recognizing her from their few brief encounters in the past. He was wearing an expensive suit and silk shirt, his tie loosened and hanging lazily about his neck, and an equally expensive pair of designer sunglasses— indoors, at night. What a dick.
He gave her his best genius-billionaire-playboy grin, lounging in his seat in a manner that was a little too casual to be attractive, and gave her a presumptuous nod. “Hey, babe.”
Oh, god, he’s already drunk, Darcy lamented with a sigh. “Tony, it’s me.”
Tony frowned, stroking his perfectly groomed beard in thought. “Samantha?”
Darcy leveled a cold glare at him. Tony flinched. “...Amanda?”
Tony’s eyes widened slightly, and he paled. “Oh, listen, about that night— I was going through a really rough time, you know, death in the family or something…”
“Tony, we’ve never slept together.”
“Oh, thank god.”
“But we’ve met, sadly. I work with Jane?”
Tony still looked confused. “Jane...the Starbucks girl?”
“Jane Foster. The scientist. You know, ran over Thor a few times.”
Tony tipped his designer shades down his nose, inspecting her face briefly. “Oh, right, taser girl. Thor’s a big fan of yours.”
This night wasn’t going to end well. For either of them. She decided it was time to change the subject. “So, what about your husband, Captain Beefcake? Isn’t he a little upset that you’re here tonight?”
Tony huffed irritably. “He is so not my husband. We’re not even fucking.” Darcy gave him an incredulous look. “Okay, we’re totally fucking, but he’s not my husband.” He leaned forward in his chair, perching his elbows unceremoniously on the table. “But, see, I really need to settle down, ya know? White picket fence, beautiful lady cooking my meals for me in a French maid outfit, the works.” He looked her up and down over the top of his shades. “You, uh...you wouldn’t happen to be interes—?”
“Yeah, just figured I’d ask.” Tony leaned back in his chair again, and motioned for the waitress. “Hey, sweet cakes. Can I get a white Russian?”
The waitress scowled at him, keeping a good arm’s length between Tony and herself. “We don’t serve alcohol here.”
Tony abruptly sat up, ripping the sunglasses from his face in one swift motion to stare at her disbelievingly. “Are you kidding me?”
“I wish I were,” the waitress groaned, stalking away muttering about how she needed a drink.
“Well, shit, I’m out,” Tony grumbled, and waved nonchalantly to Darcy. “Nice seeing you again, Darlene.”
“Always a pleasure, Tin Man.”
Tony did a double-take over his shoulder as he left, but he was already too drunk to properly process the half-hearted insult, and staggered out of the diner with his cell phone to his ear— no doubt calling Cap for a fling.
“Switch!” the organizer called out mercifully.
Chapter 2: Resident Cupid
The bit about Clint’s new arrows was inspired by this absolutely fantastic fic: Off the Record (Part 5) by Hella
Great, Darcy thought irritably. What fresh hell is in store for me now?
Clint Barton sat down across from her at the small table, smiling amiably. Apparently, he had just come from the archery range, because he was still in his signature formfitting, sleeveless purple top, arm guard, and shooting glove. Ordinarily, she would have been insulted that he didn’t bother to change, but damn were those some fine guns, and he was just glistening with a thin sheen of sweat…
He really wasn’t bad looking, she had to admit.
It took him a moment to realize who she was, and then his eyes widened slightly. “Oh, Darcy...hi. Was...not expecting this.”
“Well, if it isn’t the Avengers’ resident Cupid. How appropriate.”
“Actually, Tony’s working on that,” Clint said with a grin. “Some kind of Viagra-infused arrow. We’re saving them for Valentine’s day, then I figure I can set up an online order system and— you know—" Clint made a lewd demonstrative gesture with his hands. "—bring some couples closer together.” He leaned in a little, looking around the crowded diner, and lowered his voice. “To be honest, I’m convinced Tony just wants me to use one on Steve. Do you think Viagra would even work on him?”
“I’m not sure I want to find out.”
“Yeah, good point. Who knows how that stuff would affect him,” Clint ran a hand through his slightly sweat-damp hair and let out a little half-snort of laughter. “Tony might have to stay in the Iron Man armor for that one…”
“Okay!” Darcy interrupted quickly, throwing up her hands in a stop-what-you’re-doing-right-this-instant gesture. “Thank you, Clint, I really needed that image in my head. Christ.”
“Heh, sorry. Don’t always think before I open my mouth.”
“Apparently.” Since this date obviously wasn’t going anywhere, either, Darcy had to ask. “What possessed you to show up for a date like…” She motioned broadly with her hands at his slightly disheveled appearance. “this?”
“Hey, a hero never rests,” Clint shrugged. “I’m lucky I had time to get out at all this week.”
“Tony had time to change,” Darcy argued, then grumbled as an afterthought, “Not that it helped him any…”
“Tony has robots that bathe, dress, and feed him in seconds,” Clint said, shaking his head. “I swear, the guy’s like a damn baby sometimes. Can’t do anything for himself.”
“...His robots dress him?”
“Yeah. I think he has mommy issues or something. Like, he’s trying to substitute the care of his robots for the affection he never got from his parents. Or something.” Clint scratched his head in confusion. “I don’t know, Parker was over doing his homework today, and I was reading his psychology book…”
But Darcy wasn’t listening to Clint’s rambling. She now had a choice piece of blackmail to lord over Tony’s head— the fact that the man couldn’t dress and bathe himself. It was epic and priceless and, god damn it, she needed pictures.
“Clint, I need pictures.”
“Pictures of Tony and those robots. Does anyone else know about them?”
Clint tapped his fingers on the table while he pondered. “Come to think of it, probably just the other Avengers. But why would you need…?”
“Because he’s a dick and I hate him,” Darcy hissed quickly, leaning closer to him. “Come on...hasn’t he done something to you that you wanna get back at him for? Help me out here.”
Clint grinned mischievously. “You know, he did rig my arrows to explode permanent ink in my face last April Fool’s Day,” he mused, and then asked in a hushed tone, “Would you prefer video?”
“I would love you forever,” Darcy beamed. “Seriously, dude. Facebook me.”
“Switch!” the organizer called again, and Clint winked at Darcy before moving to the next table. She had a feeling they were going to be very good friends.
Chapter 3: Smash
After the last two lovely bachelors, she wasn’t surprised to see Bruce Banner take the seat across from her. Surely Odin was looking down on her and laughing his ancient ass off by now. She even wondered briefly if Loki had something to do with this Avengers Bachelor Night; it just seemed like the sort of thing he would arrange for his entertainment pleasure.
While she wasn’t surprised, she was confused— Bruce was a hermit, essentially, one of those secluded science types that she just never associated with society as a whole. Besides, she could see how his unique condition might be a problem in his social relationships— turning into an “enormous green rage monster” at the slightest annoyance could prove deadly in the midst of a lovers’ spat.
Well, at least he wasn’t blatantly offensive like certain other Avengers.
“‘Sup, Hulk,” Darcy said curtly, folding her arms on the table and smiling ironically. “Guess you got the Avengers Night memo, too.”
“Yeah,” Bruce said as he nervously rubbed the back of his neck, awkwardly scanning the room— anything to avoid direct eye contact. “I’m...not exactly sure how that happened. Kinda weird.”
“You’re telling me,” Darcy groaned. “Sorry if I’m less than enthusiastic about this date. It’s kind of awkward thinking about dating Thor’s coworkers.” She frowned a little as she thought about that comment, realizing that in reality, her best bet on Midgard at finding a boyfriend to rival Thor was probably in his comrades, but they just didn’t have that Asgardian chivalry that made the ladies rip their panties off. “We probably have enough dirt on each other to ruin both of our careers.”
Bruce nodded and stayed silent for a long, awkward moment. Darcy wondered momentarily exactly what he was doing here if he couldn’t even make eye contact or casual conversation with a woman. She waited, and then figured she’d be merciful and put him out of his misery, opening her mouth to speak, but then he surprised her by making tentative eye contact.
“You know, I’ve been told I’m a real beast in bed.”
Darcy about choked on her own tongue, actually blushing in embarrassment— not for herself, but for him. It was such an uncomfortable and inappropriate comment that she actually felt bad for his social ineptitude. She tried not to laugh, and gave him a placating little smile. “Um, you know, I’m sure that gets some girls all hot and bothered, but...I really don’t do, you know…” She bit her lip, trying to avoid the obvious term, but it was out of her mouth before she could stop it. “...green.”
Bruce was silent for another long moment, just staring at her wide-eyed, and then to Darcy’s horror, his lip started to quiver ever so slightly. His eyes shifted to a radioactive green color, his eyebrows knitting together in a hurt expression. “You make Hulk sad…”
Darcy felt all the color drain from her face in fear. She just made the Hulk sad, which probably meant the Hulk was going to smash, and the diner was full of innocent people. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit! Darcy thought frantically. It was time to put aside her ego and do some emergency damage control. Okay, time to play hero. “No! That’s not how I meant it at all! I mean, green is very flattering on you...really brings out your eyes…”
The Hulk did not seem impressed. His skin began taking on a tint somewhere between green Jello and grass stain, and he looked more and more upset by the second, maybe even bordering on angry. Darcy had to think of something quick before he Hulked out and smashed the rest of the eligible bachelors. She realized then that she couldn’t save the other patrons by telling the truth, which was ‘I find you utterly creepy and repulsive,’ so she took a deep breath and blurted, “I love you.”
Bruce faltered a moment, looking almost hopeful. “Really?”
“Yeah, sure, of course,” Darcy assured him, nodding furiously. “You’re a great guy, really. Don’t know why I didn’t see it before.”
Thankfully, the green faded from Bruce’s eyes, and he looked a little more relaxed. He smiled hopefully, almost looking like a little kid who was just promised a trip to Disney World. “So...I’ll call you?”
“Uhuh,” Darcy replied with a forced smile. “You can get my number from Thor.”
She didn’t like lying to him. He really was a decent guy, she thought, deep down in his gamma-irradiated heart. But she just couldn’t deal with him Hulking out right now. She would give him some false hope now to pacify him, and then leave the Avengers to deal with him later when she completely ignored his calls. They were better equipped to handle this shit anyway; they had superpowers, and genius tech, and the Potter Puppet Pals on DVD, which Thor had told her was the only sure-fire way to calm an angsty Hulk.
Bruce smiled, and nodded enthusiastically. “Okay, I will. Oh, by the way, do you—?”
“Okay, switch!” the organizer called again, and Darcy breathed a quiet sigh of relief.
“Sorry, we’ll catch up later,” she said hurriedly. “Better head on to the next table. Wouldn’t want to keep the lovely ladies waiting.” She thanked the gods that she would never have to hear what Bruce was about to ask her.