This Is How We Roll
Darcy hadn’t been living in Stark Tower for very long before she met Tony Stark.
“Who are you and why are you in my kitchen?” asked a bemused voice, and Darcy looked up from her bowl of cereal to see Tony Stark standing looking rumpled in a rock band tee and an old pair of jeans, staring at her.
“Because JARVIS said the coffee on this floor was better, and anyway, Thor and Jane have been getting it on and no offence, but that entire floor could use some better soundproofing,” Darcy replied. “And I’m Darcy Lewis, Jane Foster’s assistant.”
“Really?” Tony asked. “How loud could they possibly – wait, did you say Darcy Lewis?” He looked suddenly pale.
“Yup,” Darcy agreed, and watched as Tony looked hilariously, unbearably awkward.
“Darcy Lewis, as in…” Tony trailed off, like he couldn’t quite say it.
“Howard Stark’s illegitimate child?” Darcy suggested, taking pity on him. “That would be me.”
Tony just stared at her for a long moment, looking faintly terrified.
“Hi,” Darcy said, and gave a small wave.
“You’re my half-sister,” said Tony. “Dear God.”
“I know, right?” Darcy agreed. “You’re like seventeen years older than me. It’s awkward.”
“So awkward,” Tony agreed, looking faintly relieved that they were at least on the same page. “So, uh, I know Dad settled a heap of money on you–”
“On the condition that I didn’t try and snake Stark Industries out from under you when he died,” Darcy finished for him. “Which worked out okay for me, since the money was enough to put me through college, yay. I mean, it kind of sucks that he died when I was only a baby, but you know, I get the feeling he wouldn’t exactly have been a big presence in my life anyway.”
“You have no idea,” said Tony. “Out of curiosity, where did you go to college?”
“Culver,” said Darcy. “I majored in political science. Don’t get me wrong, I’m good with tech – MIT was one of the colleges that accepted me – but I realised that it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. I changed my major three times before I realised I wanted to do poli-sci.”
“You turned down MIT for political science?” Tony looked weirdly gleeful. “Dad must have been rolling in his grave.”
Darcy eyed him.
“You know, I heard that you and Howard didn’t get on, and you’re really not dispelling that impression.”
“Dad wasn’t exactly – how do I put this? – a good father,” said Tony. “His parenting skills left me with a lot of issues.”
“Fair enough,” Darcy said with a shrug. “My Mom wasn’t the best parent, either, so I know those feels.”
“So,” said Tony, deftly changing the subject. “Now you’re an assistant to an astrophysicist? How does that work? I mean, as a political science major.”
“Well, you’ve got to understand that until the aliens showed up, everyone thought Jane’s wormhole theories were crazypants,” Darcy explained. “When she advertised for an intern, everyone wanted an internship with someone a little more reputable. So when I came along needing six science credits for my degree, Jane was desperate enough that she offered me the internship on the spot. Thus, how I ended up in New Mexico when Thor fell out of the sky.”
“Wait, you were there for that?” Tony asked, looking interested.
“There? I was the one who worked out he was at the centre of the weird-ass electrical storm,” Darcy declared. “Until then Jane just thought he was some crazy cut guy who happened to be wandering around in the desert.”
“Crazy cut guy?” Tony repeated.
“Yeah, he was sort of disoriented and yelling a lot, and we thought it was because Jane hit him with the van, but he definitely didn’t sound like a normal person, yelling at the sky for Heimdall to open the Bifrost,” Darcy said. “And then he started yelling at us, asking us really weird questions, coming across as totally bananas. He looked like he was about to punch Erik or something, so I tazed him.”
“You tazed him?” Tony asked incredulously. “You tazed the God of Thunder?”
“To be fair, he didn’t exactly have his powers at the time,” said Darcy. “Also, he was freaking me out, seriously.”
“You,” said Tony, “are something else. How did I not know you until now? Clearly, this was a mistake.”
“I am pretty awesome,” Darcy agreed.
“Are we bonding? I feel like we’re bonding,” Tony said.
Darcy considered this, looking thoughtfully down at her cereal, which was looking distinctly soggy. She wondered if it would be rude to ask Tony to leave her alone so she could finish her breakfast in peace.
Darcy really wasn’t a morning person. It was too early for a bonding session with her half-brother, even if she’d always kind of wanted to meet him.
“Maybe,” she said, and ate another spoonful of cereal.
Darcy was on her own in the lab that had been assigned to Jane when the door opened and Tony appeared in the doorway.
“Great, mini-Stark, just the person I wanted to see,” he said, his tone chipper. “How do you feel about getting your own floor?”
“Really?” Darcy asked. “Also: mini-Stark?”
“Well, technically you’re a Stark–”
“My last name is Lewis,” Darcy pointed out. Tony waved that away and continued.
“Like I said, technically you’re a Stark, so it figures you should get a floor of Stark Tower, right? The one below Thor and Dr Foster is free right now, if you want it. We can order all the furniture and other furnishings and have them installed today or tomorrow, so that you can move in as soon as possible.”
“Seriously?” Darcy asked, impressed by Tony’s generosity. “That would be sweet.”
“Then come on, let’s go sort out with JARVIS exactly what furniture and stuff you want so he can order it for you.”
Darcy bit her lip.
“I’m supposed to be collating data while Jane’s out,” she confessed. “She’ll be mad if she gets back and finds I left.”
“I can tell her I stole you away for an urgent matter,” Tony offered. “Would that help?”
Darcy thought about it.
“It probably would,” she agreed. “Okay. Let’s go sort out furniture and stuff.”
It turned out that Tony chose furniture and furnishings by looking at online catalogues, which was fine for stuff like tables and chairs and whatever, but as Darcy pointed out, if she was going to order a bed, she needed to know that it was comfortable.
“We can order you one like mine,” Tony said immediately. “Most comfortable bed ever, I swear. JARVIS, you still have the order details?”
“Of course, sir,” said JARVIS.
By the time Jane came looking for Darcy, they’d selected all of Darcy’s new furniture, and Tony was trying to convince Darcy that she needed art to decorate the walls of her new floor.
“It gives a place atmosphere, personality,” Tony argued, just as Jane walked into the penthouse living area, where JARVIS was helpfully projecting holograms of various art pieces that were available for sale.
“If I want art, I’ll go and choose something myself,” Darcy said. “I’ll buy a framed print, or something.”
“That’s not the same,” said Tony.
“Darcy?” Jane asked. “What are you doing here? Why aren’t you in the lab?”
“Um,” Darcy started, but Tony was already approaching Jane.
“Dr Foster, sorry to steal your assistant, but we needed to sort out the details of Darcy’s living arrangements,” he said.
“What?” Jane looked confused. “But Darcy lives with me and Thor. What’s wrong with her living arrangements?”
“The lack of adequate soundproofing, for one thing,” Darcy said. “I’m sorry, Jane, but if I was going to stay there another night, I was going to go crazy from the lack of sleep.”
“Oh.” Jane blushed, and tried not to look mortified.
“I mean, go you and your studmuffin, but I needed my own space, so Tony is giving me my own floor,” Darcy said.
“Tony?” Jane repeated, her eyes narrowing in suspicion. “You call him Tony?”
“It is my name,” Tony pointed out.
“And you’re just giving Darcy a floor to herself, when you complained about housing an extra person when I mentioned that Darcy would be moving in with me and Thor?” Jane asked pointedly.
“Yeah, but that was before he met me,” Darcy said reasonably.
“Too true,” Tony agreed. “You are considerably more awesome than I was expecting from a mere assistant.”
Darcy held up her fist, and they fist-bumped. Jane stared.
“Okay,” she said slowly. “I’m missing something here.”
“Me and Tony have decided to be epic bros,” Darcy explained, and heard Tony snigger. “Right, senior Stark?”
“Senior Stark?” Tony repeated. “Okay, no, that makes me sound like a senior citizen. No way are you calling me that.”
“Well considering you called me–”
Jane cleared her throat. Darcy and Tony both looked at her.
“I’m going to go back to the lab,” Jane said. “Darcy, you can join me once you’ve finished sorting out your new living arrangements. Okay?”
“Sure thing, boss lady,” Darcy said, and she and Tony watched Jane leave.
“I think we freaked her out,” said Darcy.
Over the next few weeks at Stark Tower, Darcy got to know Tony a little better.
It turned out that as long-lost half-brothers went, Tony wasn’t bad. Yes, he was a bit much to handle sometimes, but he was also funny and interesting, so when he went over the top Darcy did her best to roll with it, without taking offence.
The best part was that Tony was no more a responsible adult than Darcy was, which was how the two of them ended up crouching in the corridor outside Dr Banner’s room wielding Nerf guns, waiting for Dr Banner to emerge.
“I just want to say that this could all go terribly wrong,” Darcy told Tony, as the two of them crouched down, tense with anticipation.
“Noted,” said Tony. “But on the other hand, this is an excellent chance to test Bruce’s control.”
“Plus you really want to see his face after you shoot him with Nerf bullets,” Darcy added.
“You understand me so well,” Tony marvelled, and the two of them fell silent as Dr Banner’s door started to open.
“Fire!” Tony yelled, and the two of them shot Dr Banner with their Nerf guns.
Dr Banner sighed, and pushed his glasses up his nose.
“Tony…” he began calmly. Way too calmly.
“Nice to see you, Bruce, but we’ll be going now,” Tony said hurriedly.
“You realise this means war,” Bruce finished, staring him down.
“Retreat!” Tony yelled, and ran for it.
“Aye captain!” Darcy yelled back, and followed him back down the hallway to where the elevator was.
The two of them scrambled to hit the elevator button, and tumbled into the elevator the moment the doors opened.
It took them a moment, as the doors closed behind them, to notice that Pepper Potts was standing in the elevator with them. Her expression was unimpressed.
“Oh, hey, Pep,” said Tony, as casually as possible.
“Tony,” Pepper said. “What were you doing?”
“We were shooting Dr Banner with Nerf bullets,” Darcy explained.
Pepper’s unimpressed face deepened.
“Tattletale,” Tony muttered under his breath. Darcy shoved his arm gently, and Tony made a face at her.
Pepper watched them both like they were a pair of interesting scientific specimens.
“Tony,” she said, “I wasn’t aware that you’d met Dr Foster’s assistant.”
“Um,” said Tony. “About that.” And then he stopped.
“Tony?” Pepper was looking curious and a little concerned.
Darcy slung an arm around Tony’s shoulders and grinned at Pepper.
“What he’s trying to say is that Howard Stark was my Dad,” she said cheerfully.
“Yeah, that,” Tony said. “Also, Darce, get off me.”
Darcy ruffled his hair with her free hand instead, until Tony batted her away.
“You are the worst,” he complained, running his fingers through his hair.
“Oh, come on, like I could mess it up, you use like super-hold gel or something,” Darcy told him, and glanced back at Pepper to see how she was taking the news.
Pepper just had a strange, distant smile on her face.
“Did we break her?” Darcy asked, more out of curiosity than concern.
“Nothing breaks Pepper,” Tony assured Darcy, although he gave Pepper a faintly worried look. “Right, Pepper?”
“I’m fine, Tony,” Pepper assured him, still wearing that strange smile. “It’s just… there’s two of you.”
Darcy and Tony looked at each other, at a loss.
“I guess we’re a little alike,” Darcy said doubtfully.
“You think so?” Tony wondered, frowning.
“Well, we both talk a lot.”
“It goes deeper than that, trust me,” said Pepper. “The fact that you’re siblings explains a lot.”
Darcy shrugged, while Tony frowned.
“Okay, not sure I’m pleased by the idea that I’m like Tazer Girl here–”
“Hey! I only tazed someone once! And he was being big and threatening at the time!”
“–but I guess it could be worse.”
“It totally could,” Darcy told him. “I mean, come on, I could have turned out more like Howard.”
Tony made a face, and Darcy smirked triumphantly.
“Okay, I concede your point,” said Tony.
“Have you two had lunch yet?” Pepper asked, effortlessly breaking into the flow of words.
“We were too busy planning ambushing Dr Banner,” Darcy said honestly.
“Go eat lunch, both of you,” she said. “There should be food in the penthouse kitchen. I can’t believe I need to tell you this.”
“Right,” said Tony, “Pepper, love of my life–”
“What?” asked Pepper, levelling him with a look.
“We’re keeping Darcy’s parentage on the down-low for now,” Tony said. “Including from the other Avengers. They don’t need to know.”
“I don’t know, Tony,” said Pepper doubtfully. “If you start spending a lot of time with her, people are going to notice.”
“So what?” asked Darcy. “I mean, only the people who live in the Tower or work closely with Tony are going to notice. And they’re probably not going to tell anyone.”
Pepper still looked doubtful.
“Well, it’s your decision,” she said. “But I still think you’ll need to tell the others sooner or later.”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Tony told her. “In the meantime – mini-Stark, you, me, lunch, in the penthouse.”
“You know, if you keep calling me mini-Stark, it’s going to give the game away,” said Darcy. She was getting used to the stupid nickname, but it kind of gave away a lot to anyone who might hear it.
“That’s why I only call you that when there’s no one else around,” said Tony.
The elevator reached a different floor, and Pepper said, “Well, that’s my stop. Have fun, you two. And leave poor Bruce alone.”
“Noted,” said Tony, as Pepper left the elevator.
“I like her,” Darcy decided, once Pepper was gone.
“Me too,” Tony agreed readily. “Now come on, let’s go eat, and then we can go ambush Barton with these things.”
Darcy wasn’t sure that was a wise idea, but agreed anyway.
Several days later, Darcy got JARVIS to override the lock on Tony’s bedroom.
“Tony, wake up!” Darcy bounced on the edge of Tony’s bed, making it shake. Tony mumbled something blearily. “Come on, you promised you were going to show me your workshop today, remember?”
Tony groaned, but otherwise made no response.
“Tony.” Darcy poked his arm insistently. “Ugh, come on, Tony. Get up already.”
Tony moaned something that might have been ‘coffee’.
“Fine, I’ll get you some coffee, but you better get up then or I’m pouring the coffee all over you,” Darcy told him.
She left Tony’s bedroom just in time to run into Clint in the hallway, probably on his way to the penthouse kitchen. It was always stocked with food, and like Darcy had told Tony, had the best coffee in the entire tower. Most of the Avengers had taken to eating there instead of on their own floors.
“Lewis?” Clint blinked. “Isn’t that – isn’t that Stark’s room?”
“Yup,” said Darcy. Clint just stared at her wordlessly. Darcy had no patience for mysterious staring, and turned to walk past him. “If you’ll excuse me, I promised Tony coffee, so…”
She left Clint staring after her as she left the hallway, walking through the main living area and into the kitchen.
It didn’t take long for the coffee machine to fill one of Tony’s mugs with coffee, and Darcy turned to carry it back to Tony’s bedroom. Clint was standing in the doorway, still watching her with that odd look on his face.
“What?” Darcy raised an eyebrow.
“Nothing,” Clint said after a moment, sounding uncomfortable. “It’s not my business.”
Darcy had no idea what he was talking about.
“Whatever,” she said. “Do you mind? You’re blocking the doorway.”
Clint stepped inside the kitchen, out of the way, and Darcy left the kitchen, walking back to Tony’s bedroom.
Tony was still lying in a mass of blankets, but when Darcy reappeared, holding the mug full of coffee, he sat up, watching her blearily. Darcy handed him the mug, and Tony inhaled half the contents in one go, without appearing to register the heat of the coffee at all.
A second later he went, “Shit, hot!” and almost spilled coffee all over himself.
“My brother, the genius,” Darcy said sarcastically.
“Shut up,” said Tony, and squinted up at her. “Why are you here? This is my and Pepper’s room.”
“Because you promised to show me your workshop today, and it’s past one in the afternoon already?”
“Huh,” said Tony, and surprisingly, didn’t complain. “Okay. Let me get changed and have some breakfast. Then we’ll go down to the workshop.”
“I’ll be in the kitchen,” Darcy told him. “Don’t be too long.”
“So demanding. Go away,” said Tony, and so Darcy left his room, satisfied that Tony wouldn’t just go back to sleep as soon as she was gone.
Clint was sitting at the table eating lunch when Darcy returned. He didn’t say anything as Darcy peered in the fridge, looking to see what was there. There were some new takeout containers that hadn’t been there yesterday, so Darcy grabbed one and tipped the food inside into a bowl, which she heated in the microwave. Darcy grabbed some cutlery, and placed the bowl of food and the cutlery at one of the empty place settings at the table, taking a seat next to it.
Clint studiously avoided eye contact, and Darcy wondered what was wrong with him.
Five minutes later Tony appeared in the kitchen, slightly damp and dressed casually.
“Hey, I heated up some breakfast for you,” Darcy informed him, making a ta-da! gesture towards the bowl of takeout.
“Oh, hey, thanks,” Tony said, and immediately sat down to eat.
Clint kept glancing surreptitiously between the two of them, and it quickly got on Darcy’s nerves. Tony obviously sensed it too, because he sent Darcy a curious look. Darcy just shrugged, because she had no clue. Tony raised an eyebrow interrogatively, and Darcy raised both of hers, because no clue, seriously.
Clint slid his chair back suddenly, and stood up.
“I’ll just… leave you two alone,” he said awkwardly, and fled the kitchen.
“What the hell was that about?” Tony asked, as soon as Clint was gone. “Is Legolas usually that weird around you?”
“Not really,” said Darcy. “I don’t know what’s wrong with him.”
“If you would forgive me for intruding,” said JARVIS, “I believe he leapt to the wrong conclusion when he witnessed Miss Lewis leaving your room, sir.”
There was a beat of silence, and then:
“Ew, no, you mean he thought–”
“I guess that would explain it, but seriously, no, just no–”
Darcy and Tony spoke at the same time, and exchanged horrified looks.
“Gross,” said Darcy.
“I mean, no offence, you’re a beautiful young woman,” said Tony, “but you’re my sister. Not in a million years. No.”
“Maybe we should tell him you’re my brother?” Darcy suggested.
Tony’s face contorted hilariously.
“And say what? ‘Hey, I know you thought we were banging, but you were wrong?’ I’m not having that conversation with Barton.” Tony shuddered. “Just the thought makes me feel like I need a drink.”
“It’s one-twenty in the afternoon, you’re not having a drink,” said Darcy. “Pepper would agree with me. Come on, let’s just pretend we didn’t notice anything was wrong and leave Clint to his delusions. Science time!”
“Fine, let’s go science,” Tony agreed.
The two of them reappeared at dinner, sweaty and dishevelled after all their work in the workshop. Darcy didn’t really know much about mechanical engineering – her help had been mostly limited to handing Tony a wrench when he needed one, and dissuading Dum-E from using the fire extinguisher when Tony was testing his latest iteration of the Iron Man suit – but that wasn’t the point. The point was that she’d got to see Tony’s workshop and look at his carefully guarded projects, and spend time with her brother while he was doing what he loved. Overall, it had been a good day.
“Is Pepper going to be at dinner?” Darcy asked, as they made their way upstairs.
“JARVIS?” Tony asked.
“I am afraid not, sir. She’s in Japan at the moment, dealing with the Japanese branch.”
“Oh, right, she mentioned that,” Tony recalled.
Darcy and Tony walked into the penthouse kitchen, unsurprised to find that it was full of superheroes, plus Jane.
“What up, homies!” Darcy greeted them, pulling up a chair and helping herself to some of the food on the table. Tony took the seat next to her and did the same.
There was an awkward silence.
“Darcy, where were you?” Jane broke it.
Halfway through chewing, Darcy blinked at her friend-slash-boss.
“You’ve been missing all afternoon,” said Jane, somewhere between concerned and accusing.
“I wasn’t ‘missing’, Jane.” Darcy felt a little annoyed. “I have a life, you know. I’m allowed to be somewhere you don’t expect me to be.”
“Where were you?” Natasha asked, before Jane could reply.
“I was with him,” Darcy said, and jerked a thumb at Tony.
“Really?” Steve asked. “And what were the two of you doing all afternoon?” There was an accusing edge to his voice.
“None of your business, Cap,” Tony said breezily. “If I wanted people to know what I was doing, I would have said.”
“Darcy?” Jane asked.
“What he said,” Darcy deflected cheerfully.
Steve looked disapproving. Dr Banner looked uncomfortable. Clint was carefully not making eye contact, while Natasha was watching them with a narrow-eyed frown. Thor didn’t seem particularly perturbed.
Jane was looking back and forth between Darcy and Tony like she was trying to figure something out.
The rest of dinner was awkward and mostly silent: what conversation did take place was stilted.
After dinner Jane pulled Darcy aside.
“Look,” she said, “I don’t want to know details, but you and Stark: are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
Darcy thought it was a weird question to ask, but then, Jane was often weird, so Darcy answered anyway.
“Sure,” she said. “Don’t worry about me. It’s all under control.”
“Well, if you’re sure,” said Jane, still with a little worried furrow between her eyebrows.
“I’m sure,” Darcy said firmly. “Tony’s a bit crazy, but we get along okay. So quit worrying, okay?”
“Okay,” said Jane, looking only a little reassured.
“Great,” said Darcy. “Glad we had this conversation.”
Darcy couldn’t put her finger on it, but sometime after the awkward dinner, the Avengers (besides Tony) started acting weird.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with them,” Darcy complained, when she and Tony were out having lunch at some fancy place Pepper had recommended. The paparazzi had ambushed them on the way in, but Tony had just ignored them and continued on his way, so Darcy had done the same.
“Why? What have they been doing?” Tony asked.
“I don’t know, it’s hard to explain,” Darcy said with a frown. “They’re just… not acting normal? Beats me.”
“Let’s face it, no one living in my Tower is normal,” said Tony. “Except Pepper, and probably even she has issues after dealing with me so long. It’s probably nothing.”
“Yeah, I guess,” Darcy agreed, and went back to eating her delicious and amazingly expensive lunch, glad that it was Tony who was paying.
The next day the tabloid headlines were screaming about how Tony and ‘mystery brunette’ (aka Darcy) were having an affair. Tony snorted, but he had JARVIS print out one of the nicer photos of the two of them, and pinned it to the penthouse fridge in a poorly-disguised fit of sentiment. Darcy was secretly touched, but made sure to tease Tony about it.
When Darcy next entered the kitchen, she found Natasha standing in front of the fridge, frowning down at the photograph.
“Hey,” said Darcy, and looked down at the photo. “Cute pic, right? They got my good side.”
“Everyone else is convinced you’re having an affair,” was Natasha’s reply, “but that’s too obvious. Is Tony your father?”
Darcy started at Natasha with her mouth open.
“Wait,” Darcy said faintly, “what?”
“Clint told everyone he saw you coming out of Tony’s bedroom,” Natasha explained, “and then the two of you showed up for dinner looking sweaty and dishevelled, which seemed to confirm the idea that the two of you were sleeping together.”
“Everyone seriously thinks we’re having an affair?” Darcy asked, unable to believe it. “I mean, first of all, hello, has no one noticed how devoted Tony is to Pepper? She’s like his personal goddess, or something. And secondly, ew.”
“You didn’t answer my question,” Natasha pointed out.
Darcy debated whether or not to tell Natasha the truth.
“That’s a pretty good guess,” she said slowly, inwardly trying to make up her mind.
Natasha just waited expectantly, and Darcy decided, what the hell.
“He’s not my dad,” Darcy said finally. “He’s my half-brother.”
Natasha blinked, and actually looked a little surprised.
“Yeah, like I know Tony used to be a playboy, but everyone seems to have forgotten that Howard Stark was just as much of a ladies man, back in the day,” Darcy explained. “We’re keeping it a secret, though, so don’t tell anyone – especially not SHIELD. Okay?”
“I can do that,” said Natasha. “Howard Stark. He must have fathered you pretty late in life.”
“Yeah,” Darcy agreed. “But on the other hand, he wasn’t in my life long enough to give me a boatload of issues like he did Tony, so.”
Natasha smiled a little at that.
“I can’t believe everyone seriously believes I’m sleeping with my brother,” said Darcy, wrinkling her nose at the thought. “Although, that explains the weird conversation I had with Jane the other night.”
“I’ll tell Clint you’re not sleeping together and that he’s an idiot,” said Natasha, “but I don’t know that the others are likely to believe me.”
“I know, people like to believe the most salacious explanation,” Darcy sighed, rolling her eyes. “But thanks. Also, can you ask him if next time he gets a dumb idea about me, can he not spread it around?”
“Of course,” said Natasha, and Darcy decided that aside from Pepper, Natasha was probably the most sensible person living in Stark Tower right now.
“Thanks,” said Darcy. “Hey, I’d better go tell Tony what’s going on.”
Natasha just nodded, so Darcy left the room and went looking for Tony.
She heard him before she saw him.
“Look, I don’t know why you care how much time Darcy and I have been spending together, but–”
The next voice she heard was Steve’s.
“Does Pepper know about you two?”
“What?” Tony sounded confused. “Of course she does. Pepper thinks it’s great.”
“What?” This time it was Steve who sounded taken-aback. Darcy bit her lip trying not to laugh, realising that Steve and Tony each had a totally different idea about what kind of conversation they were having. “Pepper… thinks it’s great?”
“Well, she’s away on business a lot,” Tony explained, “so she thinks it’s a good thing that I have someone else to spend time with when she’s not around.”
“Oh.” Steve sounded a little faint. Darcy, by this point, had a hand clapped over her mouth trying not to give way to hysterical laughter, knowing what Steve must be thinking. “Well, that’s… good.”
“Was that all you wanted to talk about?” Tony asked.
“Uh, yeah,” said Steve, still sounding off-balance. “I’m just going to… go.”
Darcy quickly tried to straighten her face as Steve turned around the corner and saw her. Immediately his expression became sort of lost and embarrassed as he realised that Darcy had overheard the conversation.
Darcy couldn’t resist messing with him.
“Me and Pepper actually get along pretty well,” she said, trying not to grin. “So don’t worry, Steve. Nobody’s feelings are getting hurt.”
“That’s great,” Steve said feebly, and Darcy couldn’t help it, she cracked up.
Steve fled, his face turning pink. A moment later Tony turned around the corner, looking surprised to see Darcy.
“What’s so funny?” he asked Darcy.
“Steve thinks we’re having an affair,” she gasped out in-between giggles. “And now he thinks Pepper is okay with it, thanks to you.”
Darcy watched as the lightbulb practically went on above Tony’s head, and cracked up some more.
“Well,” Tony said at last, after a moment’s horrified silence, “that explains a lot.”
“Apparently Clint told everyone he saw me coming out of your bedroom, and then we were all sweaty and stuff when we came to dinner that night, so everyone except Natasha leapt to conclusions,” Darcy explained, still giggling. “I think we need to tell them the truth. I mean, come on, it’s not like they’re going to tell anyone else, and the current situation is really awkward.”
Tony looked conflicted.
“I guess you’re right,” he said reluctantly. “Wait, everyone except Natasha?”
“She thought maybe I was your daughter,” said Darcy. “I figured she’d guessed close enough that I might as well tell her the truth.”
Tony made a face at the word ‘daughter.’
“Never bring that up again,” he said. “So, how do you want to tell them?”
Darcy bit her lip.
“Well,” she said slowly, “just telling everyone seems a little too easy…”
“I like where you’re going with this,” said Tony.
In the end, they called an emergency Avengers meeting.
“You’re probably wondering why I called you all here today,” said Tony.
“Just a little,” said Dr Banner.
“Hey guys!” said Darcy, walking in from the kitchen. “The thing is, me and Tony heard that you guys have been gossiping about us – Barton,” she coughed, and went on, “–so we just wanted to set the record straight.”
“You don’t need to do that,” Steve began, looking uncomfortable.
“JARVIS, bring up exhibit A,” Tony ordered, ignoring the interruption.
JARVIS obligingly projected a holographic image of a black and white photograph of a woman who looked to be in her late twenties or early thirties. Everyone stared at it.
“Allow me to introduce Wilhelmina Stark, my father’s mother, and thus my grandmother,” said Tony grandly. The Avengers were looking confused, except for Natasha, who was smirking like she knew where this was going.
“A most comely woman,” Thor offered, studying the picture.
“Thanks, big guy,” said Tony. “Everyone, take a good look at that picture.” He paused for a moment, allowing everyone to stare at the picture some more.
“Tony, why are we staring at your grandmother?” Clint asked, after a moment.
“You’ll see in a minute,” said Tony. “JARVIS, exhibit B, if you will.”
JARVIS projected a second holographic image, this time a photograph of Darcy. Side-by side, there were a lot of similarities between Darcy and Wilhelmina Stark.
“Exhibit B, a photograph of one Darcy Leanne Lewis,” said Tony. “Ladies and gentlemen, if you would compare it with Exhibit A?”
Bruce had a look of dawning realisation on his face, and Natasha was looking smug. Clint was frowning, while Steve and Thor were looking between the two images.
“Tony, I don’t understand,” said Steve. “Why…?”
“And now Exhibit C, JARVIS,” said Tony, and JARVIS projected a copy of Darcy’s birth certificate.
It took a second before anyone noticed the relevant name on the certificate, but a moment later –
“Your dad is Howard Stark?” Clint blurted.
“What?” said Steve, looking shocked.
“In conclusion, the reason that Darcy and I have been spending a lot of time together is not that we’re sleeping together, but because she’s my sister,” Tony finished up. “Also, you’re all assholes for thinking I’d cheat on Pepper.”
“Amen,” said Darcy, and she and Tony fist-bumped.
“Howard… had an affair?” Steve asked weakly, still looking stunned by the revelation that Darcy was Tony’s sister, plus some other emotion Darcy couldn’t identify.
“Demonstrably,” Tony replied, gesturing to Darcy, who made a ta-da! gesture with her hands. “It wasn’t the first time, Steve. Just the first time there was a kid as a result. At least, as far as I know,” Tony added darkly.
Clint was looking embarrassed. Thor strode over to Darcy, beaming, and pulled her into a hug.
“I am glad that you know the joys of having a brother,” he told her. “And you, Tony – I am glad to know that you have been blessed with a sister. There is none more worthy than Darcy.” He clapped Tony on the back.
“Thanks,” Darcy and Tony chorused.
“You two must think we’re idiots,” said Bruce ruefully, with a slight smile.
“It was an understandable conclusion to make,” said Natasha smoothly, before Tony could tell him that yes, he and Darcy totally thought they were all idiots.
“Except that you knew they weren’t together,” said Clint, looking at her. “Did you know?”
“I guessed that they were related,” Natasha admitted, “but I assumed that Tony was her father, not Howard.”
“Still, you were close,” Darcy consoled her. “Unlike the jerk who started everything. Thanks a lot, Clint.”
“Sorry,” Clint mumbled, still looked embarrassed.
“So now you all know, can you stop sending us weird looks and trying to pick fights with Tony?” Darcy asked the group in general. “Also, Thor, can you tell Jane, because I think she has the wrong idea, as well.”
“Of course,” said Thor seriously.
“Great, then we’re done here,” said Tony, and swiped his hand through the holographs. They vanished. “Mini-Stark, how do you feel about heading down to my workshop again?”
“Sounds great,” said Darcy. “Later, guys.”
The two of them left the room together, leaving the Avengers to discuss their surprise and discomfiture.
Things were a lot less awkward after that, although the media continued to criticise both of them for their apparent ‘affair’ – at least until Darcy had dinner with Tony and Pepper at a fancy restaurant, after which the media speculated that maybe they were having a threesome, which just no. Darcy got used to laughing about it, though.
Jane was as embarrassed as everyone else when she found out the truth.
“I really thought you were sleeping with Stark,” she confessed to Darcy. “You have no idea how embarrassed I am.”
“Hey, at least you weren’t all judgey about it,” Darcy said. “Not like the others.”
“I figured that it was your life, and you’re an adult, and it wasn’t my place to say anything,” said Jane. “Besides, I’m your friend, and friends don’t judge.”
“Thanks,” said Darcy.
“Him being your brother actually explains a lot, though,” said Jane thoughtfully. “Are you going to let the rest of the world know?”
“No way,” said Darcy emphatically. “Can you imagine the attention I’d get? Not all of it would be good, either.”
“That’s true,” said Jane. “The last thing you need is someone trying to kidnap you or something because you’re a Stark.”
“I know,” Darcy agreed, glad that Jane understood. “Things are bad enough just being the ‘mystery brunette’ who has lunch and dinner out with Tony sometimes.”
Still, there were worse things, Darcy had to admit. And having Tony as her brother was pretty cool.