Darcy is busy running documents around town when Tony calls.
"What's up?" she asks a little harried she has places to go and stoping and standing in the middle of the sidewalk isn't helping.
"I need a tie breaker vote. I have this dinner tonight and I want to look simply marvelous, maybe even smashing but not in the Bruce the not so jolly green giant kind of way.”
Darcy sighs because this is not the first time she's done this and knows it won't be the last, "Right. Details?”
"Weeeeelllll, I can either wear the red shirt which gets me noticed—“
"When are you ever not noticed?” She cuts off his indignant squawk of “I can be sneaky when I want to” with, "What color of red? Is it Iron Man red?”
"Close but I should get that trademarked and make Avenger colors. JARVIS?”
"Noted sir, I am working on the colors as we speak. Hello, Miss Lewis."
"Hey JARVIS.. Ok Tony what's the other option?"
"A dark green, that really brings out my eyes." Darcy can physically feel the leer over the phone
"I chose red while Jarvis here picked green and Pep won't answer my calls.”
"Yea, I'm starting to understand why,” she mutters and she hears him drop a metallic instrument on the tray. 'Must be in his lab then' she thinks.
"Ok, I think you should veto both and go with that navy blue cashmere number since it brings out the colors of your dates eyes. And you'll look devilishly respectable, not that we all don't know the truth..."
"How do you even know who my date is?,” he starts before getting caught up in his thoughts, “I do look fantastic in it. I'll be roguishly handsome.”
"That's the spirit, Tony!" she says spotting the street she needs to cross over on. “Is that all? Fashion crisis averted?" she asks sarcastically.
"I don't have to take that lip from you young lady. I have Jarvis to do that for me.”
"Yea yea, just make sure to name a crayon after me," which is when she stumbles upon Rockefeller plaza and sees the giant tree. “Oh my god.”
Tony is busy jabbering on about Hawkeye purple, Black Widow black, and Captain America blue, when Darcy utters, "Steve would love this!"
"Steve would love what? The crayon idea because I'm sure he's more of a paint and charcoal kind of guy.”
"No Rose Art, I'm over by Rockefeller plaza and they've got the tree up.”
"Oh that ole thing? It's just tall and has a lot of lights. Sure you can ice skate and drink hotty toddies and...yes that would be perfect!"
Darcy has no idea what he's talking since he's clearly gone from point a to point c, but she clearly hears a ping in the background. "Did you just give Dummy a high five?"
"More like a high three, am I right?" he jokes.
"Goodbye Tony" she says exasperated.
She really should stop answering his calls since 90% of them are inane conversations like this but then the other 10% are “We’re under attack” and "I'm sorry you were attacked by ninjas, please enjoy these VIP concerts tickets to your favorite bands." Hallmark was out of cards that day.
‘Whatever,’ she thinks, resolved not to wonder about Tony's hair brained scheme. He has Jarvis and Pepper to look after him, she shouldn't worry since those are two fully capable people—well one person and an A.I.— who knew when to alert the proper authorities.
Of course, this means she thought about it the rest of the day.
Three days later she receives an invitation in her email from Tony. Darcy’s a little confused on the details such as if this is a Holiday party, team bonding session, or an excuse for Tony to throw a lavish affair for some secretive reason. She’s not too worried because Tony throws great parties. Even if the party is this weekend and he’s only had three days to plan it. Darcy’s impressed by his dedication and resources. ‘It probably helps to be filthy rich,’ she thinks.
The party is at Rockefeller plaza and she’s not sure if it’s going to be actually in 30 Rock. ‘What if I get to party with Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy?’ she considers excitedly. Meeting Tina Fey would be pretty kick ass, but that doesn’t really seem like Tony’s style.
Darcy spends the rest of the week trying to pry the details from Tony and JARVIS but no one is budging. Tony grins like an imp and she threatens super gluing points to top of his ears but he still won’t crack.
She’s pretty sure Natasha has a bet on how long it will take for Tony to blurt out what’s going on.
JARVIS isn’t any help either. She tries to sweet talk her favorite A.I. but no deal. JARVIS keeps on telling her the weather forecast for this weekend and to make sure to wear something warm.
After a couple of reports, some intense briefings and a few minor incidents, it’s time for this shindig come hell or high water. Well really, just hell. A villain two weeks ago tried to flood New York City, but was easily defeated and captured by the Avengers. She doesn’t think the criminal community would be so bold to try a stunt like that again so soon. It would seem uncreative.
Darcy arrives with Jane and she’s thankful that she listened to JARVIS’s advice and is wearing some tights under her wool pants. She has her hands buried deep in her pockets as they get closer to the venue.
“The tree looks gorgeous. It’s so festive!” Jane comments as they walk.
“Yea it does, wow! Now, if only we knew what the hell is Tony up to?” Darcy replies.
“Who knows, but let’s enjoy ourselves anyway on his free hospitality.”
“A.K.A. pray to Thor there is an open bar and drink ourselves under the table.” Darcy jokes.
Jane laughs, “Or, having fun and getting in the Holiday spirit?”
“I blame this annoying cheerfulness on Thor. You’re just lucky that I’m praying to him to get us all drunk.”
Jane laughs again and tugs at Darcy’s arm. “Let’s go, and that way you can find out what Tony’s secret plan is and maybe we’ll find a heater!”
Darcy puts on a production of rolling her eyes, but grins as she and Jane walk faster to the event.
They pass some of restaurants nearby and of course, there is the tree. When they get closer, Darcy notices the ice skating rink decorated and wonders if that’s where the party is located. As soon as she stumbles upon that thought, the first words to enter her mind are, ‘Oh shit.’
“I’m going to bust my ass.”
“What are you talking about?” Jane questions.
“Look at the ice skating rink! It’s all fancy and stuff! We’re going back in time to a fifth grade birthday party and boy bands and ice skating and I don’t know how,” she laments.
“It’ll be fine! Think of this as an opportunity to finally learn how to,” Jane responds cheerfully. “Besides, I’m sure there will be other stuff to do besides ice skate.”
“Well, ok, if you think so…”
In front of the ice skating rink is a large white tent with strands of garland hanging around in arching swoops. It’s pretty but it’s nothing extravagant, but when they enter the tent, that’s a different story.
The entire tent is up lit with red lights, creating a luxurious atmosphere. There are gas space heaters all around the room, their flames dancing in their cage. In the center of the room is a large fire pit, complete with specialty sticks and a bowl full of marshmallows. The couches and chairs are a mix of rich brown leather and deep red velvet, covered with quilts and crocheted shams. Fir trees of all sizes are located throughout the area infusing the room with a fresh, woodsy smell. The whole space gives off a vibe of winter cabin chic. At the back of the room, stairs lead down to the rink and the skate rental booth. There is plenty of seating scattered around to tie on your own skates, take a breather or watch everyone else.
Located on both levels are the bar and the various food sections serving everything from bite size hors d'oeuvres to a carving station.
Darcy sends Jane off to the skate rentals and heads straight to the bar. She’s surprised when she looks at the menu that it’s not all hotty toddies, and in fact, everything is non-alcoholic.
‘Well you never know what idiot might have it in their head to take over the world. I guess superheroes never get a day off. Besides,’ she thinks looking over at the ice, ‘I think there are some kids here.’
She orders the largest white hot chocolate they have and loves that they took melted dark chocolate and lined the inside of the cups with it and let it cool.
Heading over to the edge of the rink Darcy leans against the rail and checks out who is on the ice. She spots Jane already with Thor, both having a good time. Either Asgard has ice skating or Thor picked it up the last time he was in Scandinavia. Pepper is leisurely skating but at the same time looks like she is on a business call. Darcy’s jealous that Pepper looks poised even in jeans and while ice skating. Natasha is skating like an Olympic ice skater, even attempting the jumps with the weird names. Darcy doesn’t know a triple lutz from a double salchow but Natasha looks graceful and confident, as usual, on the ice. She’ll occasionally check in with Pepper, who gives her a smile and waves her off, before going to try another jump.
Darcy spots Steve, who gives her a wave when he catches her eye, and Tony who is spinning around in circles around him. Steve must point her out to Tony, because in a minute he’s swishing across the ice and is in front of her.
“Heya Darce!” he grins.
“Hey Tony, nice party. You could have told me earlier you know, you’re secret would have been safe with me,” she replies as elbows him in the arm.
“Uh-huh. Get laced up and come join us,” Tony says, exaggeratedly rubbing his arm.
Darcy nods assent and Tony starts skating away before he comes back and pulls her into a hug.
“Thanks for the idea, toots.”
This time he officially skates off back to the Steve and the two of them continue whatever conversation they were having.
She just throws her head back and laughs, because Tony is awesomely crazy or crazily awesome and he decided it would be a fun idea to throw an ice skating party because she mentioned a tree. She glances back over to where Steve and Tony are located and notices Steve has the biggest smile on his face. ‘This party was definitely a success for Tony then,’ she reflects.
Darcy continues to look for other people she knows amongst the skaters, after she takes the flask that she pickpocketed from Tony and pours it into her white hot chocolate. ‘Becoming friends with Natasha was such a good idea,’ she contemplates and as she takes a sip of her newly christened hotty toddy, ‘Such a good idea. Mmm.’
There are quite a good number of people that Darcy doesn’t know on the ice and inside the tents. She not sure if they’re S.H.I.E.L.D., Stark Industries, acquaintances of Tony or a mixture of all three. It doesn’t matter because with the mixture of people, it gives the atmosphere a more relaxed and normal feel as if some super villain couldn’t pop out of nowhere and try to stop them all with a freeze-ray. ‘Still, I’m glad they're hanging doing more normal things and not training all time.’ She’s been steadily trying to increase the so called normal things in the Avengers' lives ever since she discovered in November that they’re mostly the job 24/7.
She finally spots Bruce on one of the lounge chairs sipping apple cider and talking to some brunette woman. He has a bowl of marshmallows with him and they’re both sharing them, not even bothering to roast them over an open flame. Their conversation looks intimate and pleasant, and Darcy sets her sights back to finding more people she knows, after grabbing some ginger snaps.
There is a bit of a commotion on the right side of the rink, and that’s when Darcy catches Clint speedily skating away from some teenagers. They give chase, and Clint weaves in and out of the crowd of skaters, seconds away from collision. He looks back to and finds them still chasing him. He surveys the ice and with a determined air, increases his speed around the rink, all the while avoiding everyone else. Darcy isn’t sure how everyone knows but they seem to give the outside ring a wide birth, and he uses it to gain speed. When he passes her, he gives a quick smirk and catches up on the teens that had gotten stuck in the crowd of skaters. He skates up behind them and smacks both of them on the back of their heads. Darcy laughs, a nice warm feeling in her stomach, and watches them have some sort of conversation, high-fiving and whatnot before Clint makes his way around the rink again and stops by her.
When he gets close enough she asks, “What’s with the kids?”
“We got into a little disagreement and decided to settle it in a race.”
“Did you make a bad trade with their Pokemon cards? Did you leave them with a Magikarp?”
Clint cocks an eyebrow at her, “You do realize that says more about you than me, right?”
“Yea, yea,” she mutters looking off to the side before taking another sip of her drink.
“Mmhmm,” he continues, giving her an arrogant look, “They’re S.H.I.E.L.D. employees technically, part of a new program. Whenever I see them they’re playing with some new tech that R and D needs tested.”
“Oh! There are a lot of people I’ve never seen here before. I need to get out of the office more.”
“It takes time, besides I’m sure Coulson has you busy, since you’re his minion.”
“And if not that, then I’m have to deal with The Avengers’ messes or teaching them how to socialize,” she responds sarcastically.
“Says the woman standing by herself.”
“Says the woman standing by herself with a hotty toddy. I know where I stand and it’s ahead.”
“Where’d you get that?”
“I might have borrowed Tony’s secret flask,” she says, holding up the metal container.
Clint lets out a chuckle, “Yea, borrowed it straight from his pocket. So what did you end up making barkeep?”
“Well, it’s a white hot chocolate with a dark chocolate base, and I’m not sure what exactly is in the flask, but I’m guessing an Irish whiskey, since this has a nice Baileys taste to it.”
“Nice. Can I have a taste?”
“Sure, just don’t drink it all,” she says passing it over.
“That sounds like a challenge, but luckily for you I’m nice,” he replies taking the lid off the drink and taking a sip from the cup.
Darcy refuses to go all middle school about this and think about if she would put her lips where his were, it would practically be kissing without any of the physical parts. Darcy does not think about this at all, except for the small part of her brain that does.
Clint re-adheres the lid, passing the cup back to her while licking some left over liquid off his top lip.
‘What is he doing? Oh? Oh! Ohhhh, don’t stare at his lips or tongue. Eyes! Keep to his eyes. Don’t. This is not another teen movie and not going in slow-mo. Lips and tongues and spit and kissing’ Darcy thinks she does a good job of not staring as he does that and hopes that he is completely oblivious to her actions.
“Not bad. Not enough chocolate though. Why aren’t you skating?”
“I don’t do skating.”
“You don’t do skating?”
“I find it is just a good idea to say no to ice skating and roller skating and skateboarding and whatever else that has the word skate in it.”
“Wait, what? Why?” he asks, looking confused.
Darcy grumbles before spitting out, “I don’t know how to skate and falling on my ass does not seem like a good time.”
“Oh, is that what it is? I won’t let you fall,” he says casually with a grin on his face.
“Yea, I don’t really think this is a good idea.”
“Alright, I’ll bite, what does sound like a good idea then,” he pauses letting her reply.
Darcy thinks about stretching across a couch in sweat pants, watching an Alfred Hitchcock movie, maybe North by Northwest, with a bowl of popcorn and candy, and all of this taking place in the Avenger’s mansion then everyone else would be there, sitting in chairs and on the floor. She can imagine Bruce watching because he’s a Cary Grant fan, Tony working on a tablet, Steve completely riveted by the plot, Clint throwing popcorn at the others during the high tensions scenes, and Thor not paying attention to the movie but instead focusing on stroking Jane’s hair as she snoozes. Pepper and Natasha take over one of the love seats as Pepper mostly watches the movie and answers emails on her phone and Natasha points out the strengths and weaknesses in the captures and escapes. She feels silly that her good idea is hanging out with the people she’s already around but inside their home and gives Clint a resigned look.
“Exactly, plus, you’re keeping me out of trouble. Let’s get you some skates!”
A short time later, Darcy is sitting down lacing up some skates trying to figure how to make this ordeal as short as possible. She’s not sure why she didn’t tell Clint straight out no, but guesses it’s time to try something new. She likes new things, right? She adapts pretty well and she’s damn sure going to hold him to not letting her fall.
Darcy finishes putting on her skates and slowly rises, nearly falling back over onto the bench, when Clint catches her by the arm.
“Woah,” he says as he holds her steady, “You feel more comfortable now?”
“I think so,” Darcy replies, staring at ground as she takes a step and then another, with Clint’s hands on her arm the entire time. The ice skates are strange to walk in, but they’re not as bad as some of the heels she owns.
He steps on the ice first, his skates already looking more graceful on the ice. She holds onto the wall and him and tentatively places one skate on the ice and then the other skate. Darcy is further than she thought she’d be and hell, she’s still standing.
Clint tries to distract her and get her focus off the wall to take a couple of steps. “How come you’ve never been ice skating before,” he asks
“I’m from the south, where the only ice we have, we put it in our tea. Ice skating is a foreign concept to me.” She says still clutching the wall. “How do you ice skate so well? S.H.I.E.L.D. have a lot of high speed skating chases?” she jokes honestly curious and trying to fend off some of her nerves.
“What can I say? It’s a skill set that’s come in handy. Besides there’s not a lot else to do in Iowa during the winter and when a pond freezes, well…” he shrugs, before turning his attention back to the matter at hand. “Ok, now one foot in front of the other. C’mon, I got you.”
“It’s not you, I’m worried about Bryan Boitano. I’m not coordinated,” she states as she takes her first steps. “Oh shit, this is a bad idea. I have not had enough of Tony’s whiskey or maybe I’ve had too much to even consider this, either way, bad. Bad. Bad.”
“You’re fine,” he says grabbing on to her hands and standing in front of her. “Every one’s first steps are a little wobbly Bambi. Now one foot in front of the other.”
She takes a deep breath, trying not to think about the fact that she’s no longer holding on to her lifeline, the wall. Darcy looks at Clint’s face and what she sees there renews her resolve. While she doesn’t believe in her coordination, she does trust his reflexes and besides, she can’t chicken out at a party full of superheroes. She nods her head and takes another step, still unsure in her movements.
“You want to go slow and not lean forward. We want to make sure you keep your balance,” he urges.
Darcy takes his advice and keeps concentrating on her feet, looking at them as she takes one small step at a time.
“Good, good. Look, you’ve already made some progress.”
She looks back to find that she’s about ten feet from the entrance to rink and thinks, ‘Holy shit, I’m doing this.’
“Ok, the next step, is to stop looking at your feet. Look deep into my eyes,” he finishes off in a campy voice.
“Yo, hypnotoad, shut up,” she jokes but stops looking at her feet and looks forward. It still feels a bit unnatural but it’s exactly what she was doing before without looking at her feet, which means it’s much harder.
Darcy needs something to distract her, and staring at someone in silence is not a good way to do that she finds. Instead, she asks, “So, Iowa, huh?
She notices that he looks a little bit uncomfortable, but he still answers, “Yep, grew up around there.”
“How was that?,” she questions because she doesn’t know when to stop and she realizes that she doesn’t know much about his life before S.H.I.E.L.D.
“Same like anyone else. Got into trouble, did stupid things, and occasionally learned something like archery or ice skating,” he winks before changing the topic, “How about you?”
“Well, it was alright. We’re talking about a small town here. I’m pretty sure S.H.I.E.L.D. has more employees than the population of my town. We were about an hour and a half outside the city, so I wasn’t completely stuck in the boonies. I mean, it’s one of those things where everybody knew everybody else and I went to school with the same people, which is nice but also gets old quickly. I always knew I wanted to leave and go to a big city and I was lucky enough to do exactly that,” she finishes, realizing she was babbling just a tad.
“How did you find yourself out in the middle of nowhere with Jane then?”
“Serendipity…?” she laughs. “I needed a science and lab credit and this looked kind of interesting. Pretty sure I won her over with my organizational skills. Plus, it wasn’t that bad out there. Ok, I didn’t 100% understand what we were doing, but I got to meet Thor, and now I’m working at S.H.I.E.L.D. I get to hang out with some cool people there and some real assholes,” she says as she smirks at him.
“Hey, you shouldn’t talk about my team mates like that,” he winks. “Thor’s quite the character, he told us about the first time you met him.”
“What,” Darcy exclaims. Surprised, her skate catches the ice and she finds herself tripping. She’s falling and reaches out for the first thing she can grab which happens to be Clint’s muscular upper arms. “Ow,” she mutter more out of habit than any actual pain, righting herself, looking around to see if anyone saw her fall and accidentally grope his arms.
“Like, I said, no busting of asses allowed,” Clint teases. “Let’s try that again, you’re doing really well.”
It doesn’t look like anyone saw her trip. They’re too busy caught up in their own conversations. She is, however, surprised they’ve made it halfway around the rink so far.
“If you want to try gliding on your skates, you can,” he suggests as she start her walking pace again. “Yea, he told us how you tazered him, Shock Tart, it was pretty funny.”
“I did apologize. Anyway, he was acting like a crazy drunk guy. He’s kind of scary if you don’t know him.”
“Trust me, I know. The first time I saw him I was at the temporary S.H.I.E.L.D. base they had set up and he was kicking the ass of all the agents that were sent his way. It was awesome. Of course, I almost had to take him down, so…” he says letting his sentence trail off.
“What,” she asks confused.
“He was trying to get his hammer back and the S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists were studying it. We didn’t know that it belonged to him, not that I think that would have stopped them from studying it.”
“Hold up, was that when Erik had to bail him out?” she pauses thinking back to that time months ago. “It totally was! Then they got shitfaced, well, only Erik ended up drunk and he had an, ‘if you want to date Jane talk.’” She laughs thinking back at the memory, before something in the back of her mind grabs her attention.
“Wait, you were there with S.H.I.E.L.D. then? We probably crossed paths then,” Darcy declares.
“I don’t think so. I was on security on base most of the time,” he says plainly.
“And you never had to do surveillance or anything like that to see if we were a security risk?”
“Nope,” Clint answers.
Darcy’s gut is telling her he’s lying, even though there are no visible signs of a tell. He didn’t look up and to the left, he’s not flushing, covering his mouth, or touching a part of his face due to anxiety. Still, there’s something there that makes her think that they did watch Jane’s lab.
“You’re lying,” she states and instead of giving up her hand of intuition and not be able to prove he’s lying, starts teasing him instead. “How are you a secret agent? Do you just stick with the big, strong, silent type then? Because, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen kids lie about their homework better than you. Although, if you’re ever interested in playing poker, let me know, because I’m always down for what will basically turn out to be free money.”
Clint rolls his eyes at her jokes, before grinning widely. She may have expected annoyance or jokes tossed back at her but this shark like look leaves her confused. Before she can ponder it for too long, he states, “I feel the need, the need for speed.”
She raises her eyebrow as she replies, “Ok, Maverick…” and suddenly she’s off.
He’s skating backwards tugging her along the ice. The movement startles her and she’s exclaiming, “Oh shit!” as she balances herself. Darcy keeps her skates straight as she is pulled along.
Clint, meanwhile, is looking behind him to make sure he doesn’t run into anyone. Every now and again, he’ll turn back to look at her and shoot her that wide grin while she glares at him.
All things considered, they’re not going that fast, and Darcy’s positive if she really wanted to stop all she’d have to do is yell and Clint would stop. If this were any regular guy, she may not have her tazer on her, but she would damn well put up a fight. Plus, with Steve, Thor, and Natasha around, she’s not really worried. Besides, Clint said he wouldn’t let her fall, and she trusts him. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a Plan B though. If he does let her fall, she’s going to emotionally blackmail him to do something embarrassing, so really, it’s a win-win situation.
They’re passing the main entrance to the ice skating rink now, and Darcy looks at it longingly.
“Hey Seabiscuit,” she yells to him, “How about one more time on this rodeo, because I need to get a s’more.”
He looks at her confused, “Some more of what?”
“No, a s’more,” she exclaims back. She knows he has to keep his eye on the rink and all, but c’mon he can’t be that hard of hearing. He’s a superhero and ridiculously stealthy.
“Some more of what?” he asks still confused.
Darcy is about to respond, “Forget it,” when his confused look turns into a smirk and he says, “You’re killing me smalls!”
She’d smack him on the arm, if she wasn’t holding on to his arm for dear life to pull her around the rink. She settles instead by telling how not Benny Rodriguez that was.
Soon enough, they’ve gone around the rink again and are nearing the entrance. Darcy gives a little sigh of relief, ready to not have to think about balancing and not thinking so much about what her feet are doing.
Clint is slowing down and she’s already mentally grabbed a gingersnap cookie, when he puts on the breaks and stops to avoid running into someone. This is all fine and dandy, except Darcy doesn’t know how to stop and ends up skating straight into his chest. He acts a warm, muscular brake and his arms wrapping around her to keep her from falling. Clint rocks back a little from her force, but they manage to stay upright.
A flurry of emotions runs through her mind. She’s chagrined that she ran into him again, relieved she managed to survive this experience without falling on her ass or cutting off any of her fingers, embarrassed that they’re practically hugging in front of everyone, distracted by how comfortable their embrace is and how much she’s enjoying it, and still a bit on edge participating in a physical activity that required more of her mental abilities than she would have thought. Even if Clint had been very helpful and patient, she’s ready to be on solid ground again.
“Yep! I’m through with ice skating,“ she declares, pulling out of his embrace and wobbling over to the wall and the last couple of feet they have to go. “I’m so ready for some cookies.”
She sees Clint shake his head before he swishes towards her with a smile. “Let’s hope Bruce hasn’t eaten all the marshmallows yet. For some reason guy goes crazy over them. He ate like four big boxes of the special Halloween peeps. It was kind of disgusting, even for our standards.”
“Didn’t Thor eat 20 pop tarts for breakfast last week?”
“Yep. Like I said, even for our standards, it was kind of disgusting.”
The thought of it gives Darcy an imaginary stomach ache and a feeling of awe. “C’mon, I already saw him with one bowl. Hopefully he hasn’t found any others yet,” she replies as she trudges faster to the opening.
Clint steps off the ice first and holds a hand out to steady her as she steps off the ice. She makes her way to a couch as fast as she can and as soon as she sits down, starts unlacing her skates. When Darcy gets both of them off, she sighs as she wriggles her toes, and heads back to rental shop to deposit them, slipping her boots back on.
She makes a detour to one of the bars and heads back to find Clint with a tray filled with desserts.
“Did you steal a platter of desserts,” she questions before handing him one of the drinks in her hand. “Here you go; it’s their triple chocolate hot chocolate. Hopefully, it meets your discerning tastes.”
He grabs it, thanking her before replying, “No, I just happen to be very skilled in the art of plate filling and if there happened to be a larger than average plate, well I was being resourceful.”
She laughs in response as he pushes the plate her way and takes a sip of his drink. “Mmm, now that’s the stuff, definitely going to have to try and convince Tony to hire these guys at the Avengers hq.”
“I know you all have some of those fancy, specialty coffee machines,” Darcy points out.
“We do, but that was before Tony decided he needed to upgrade it. Next thing we knew, the fire alarm went off and Dummy’s rolling in with the fire extinguisher, and we were covered in foam. It was breakfast, like usual.”
“You all are like children,” she comments grabbing another cookie. “Surprised Coulson hasn’t been called in to babysit yet. I can tell he’s dying to put you all in time out,” Darcy jokes.
“Hey, you love hearing about our shenanigans,” he says mock affronted.
“You and the other little rascals are hilarious, but it’s weird that I never hear anything bad about your pranks,” Darcy replies innocently.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about; I’m a perfect little angel.”
“Ohhh,” she exaggerates, “That’s why you have the bow and arrows; you’re a cherub, like Cupid or something.”
Clint makes a face at that and steals the tray back grabbing some fudge.
Darcy snickers at his reactions and replies, “Let’s be real, if you were Cupid, you’d be wreaking more havoc than you are now. I know what you did to lounge, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Coulson knows it too. It was nice knowing ya.”
He smirks in reply, “I have a few more tricks up my sleeve. Besides it wasn’t me. Well, only me.”
She rolls her eyes as she starts in on the sugar cookies, making sure to leave the chocolate desserts for him.
Pretty soon, Bruce and the brunette, whom Darcy learns is Betty, join them. Bruce quickly steals any marshmallows Clint managed to scavenge and makes sure to share with Betty. ‘It’s pretty adorable,’ Darcy thinks. They all chat about work, New York, research and other various topics.
Darcy urges them enough times to go enjoy the rink and ice skate that Bruce and Betty finally take her up on the offer. Clint declines saying he needs to get out of the teens ways, because he’s sure they’re planning something in retaliation.
He grabs more snacks and she gets them more refills, and it’s nice.
Pepper swings by grabbing a cup of cider, while Natasha follows soon after ordering a cup of coffee. Jane sits with them needing a breather, since Thor’s godly stamina lends itself to ice skating as well. Steve comes and sits with them for a bit, gazing upon the giant lit up tree. Tony is mugging it up on the ice, and schmoozing with people like it was as easy as breathing. Thor declares himself hungry and he joins their little party as well, a turkey leg in hand. Darcy has no idea where he got that from, she doesn’t remember seeing a turkey but brushes it off.
It’s nice having the Avengers stopping by and going back to skate as she gets to relax and munch on some delicious food. Clint sits with her the entire time except for when he is called out by the R and D teens. She pushes him towards them, laughing, “You probably deserve it.”
Fifteen minutes later he comes back and regales her and Jane with the play by play of what happened on the ice, embellishing every detail until the entire tale sounds like a summer blockbuster.
Darcy’s not entirely sure how the time flies so quickly, but the party is over, and she gets one last refill as the other put back their skates. Clint manages to round up quite an impressive pile of leftover desserts, wrapping it up carefully and placing it with his gear.
She finds herself back at the Avengers Mansion, lying on the couch, not watching North by Northwest, but Singin’ in the Rain. Tony is still on his tablet sketching things out, Steve is enthralled and grinning, Bruce is content and hums along with the music. Jane is fighting sleep on Thor’s shoulder and he divides his time between the singing humans and the woman by his side. Clint isn’t throwing popcorn at everybody, which is a blessing, but it also means he hogs all the popcorn. That’s ok though, since there's more than enough food in the fridge. Pepper watches and finishes up some work on her phone probably for their Asian and Australian investors. Natasha points out some of the flaws in the fencing, but in a surprising that it’s not that surprising way, comments on their dancing techniques and mentions the proper names for it all.
It’s wonderful and comforting and Darcy feels at home.
A couple of days later, Tony stops by her desk with a gift for her.
“JARVIS insisted. I swear you’re trying to turn my A.I. against me. Anyway, it’s a prototype, but we figured you should be the first one to try it out. Email me the deets,” he smirks, twidling his fingers in some semblance to a wave, before heading out.
With a curious glance at the spot where Tony was standing, she opens the little box in front of her and comes to find another box inside filled with crayons. She’s delighted to pour them on her desk and read their names.
She discovers: Iron Man Red, Repulsor Beam Orange, Thor Yellow, Hulk Green, Captain America Blue, Hawkeye Purple, Black Widow Black, Thor’s Hammer Brown, Captain America’s Shield White, Hawkeye’s Arrows Silver, Widow’s Bite Gold, and Hulk Smash Bronze. Darcy can’t wait to grab a coloring book and get to work drawing pictures. She grabs the box only to hear a thump, looking inside she find a note and another crayon.
Here are the prototype crayons you helped inspire. The names are still under advisement and any additional input would be valuable. I have designed one extra crayon that is solely intended for you.
JARVIS (and Tony!)
She pulls out the last crayon and gasps as she reads the name: Lewis’s Electroshock Rock. It’s a black crayon with gold and silver glitter and she can’t help but grin. She’s going to draw JARVIS and Tony an awesome thank you card, and not ignore Tony the next time he calls.
Anyway, it's not like she doesn't like helping out her friends.