When Darcy met everyone on Thor’s team, the “Avengers” as they were called, it was only two days after the battle with Thor’s crazy brother. Thor was a wreck due to said crazy brother having turned psycho and world-domineering, and practically needing to be muzzled like a dog. Jane had only solved the problem with the bridge between worlds a week ago and when they had seen Thor on the news, Jane had been calling Agent Coulson, demanding to see her boyfriend.
After the fight, a Maria Hill had called them and said that a private jet was waiting at a private airfield to privately take them to another private facility. Darcy may have been impressed with all the ‘privates’ in one sentence, but she was a lot aggravated at the fact that it had taken so long to get the invite into SHIELD’s headquarters when Jane and herself had been the ones to figure out the bridge in the first place. Color her crabby, but she thought they kinda would have been there yesteryear.
A lovely black car came to pick them up an hour later. Thirty minutes after that the mass of men and woman in creepily similar black suits escorted them onto a plane and they were heading to New York City. Ten minutes after that, Darcy learned that Jane had an intense fear of flying and her hand hadn’t been the same for a week afterward.
They landed literally at SHIELD headquarters, stepping off the plane to see a very intimidating black man with an eye-patch standing before them, with a woman to his right and Agent Coulson to his left. They all looked very sinister and her skin tingled even as Jane rushed up to them, shaking hands with the leader, whom she came to understand was Director Nick Fury, the woman, who was Maria Hill, and Agent Coulson. Darcy handled the luggage full of data, numbers, and statistics so that she didn’t really have to stop and play friendly with a bunch of iPod stealing suits.
Even if Coulson had proven helpful over the last three months.
When the initial meeting was over, both she and Jane had to sign their lives away in everything, even blood. No seriously, they had to give a blood sample to SHIELD headquarters to go see Thor…as if anyone was going to believe that they went to visit a super-secret location to meet with a god and all of his superhero pals. Jane was just a nerdy, anti-social astrophysicist and Darcy was her school-hopping lackey who didn’t really know what she was doing. Pretty cut and dry to the random people who knew them in New Mexico, and definitely pointed to the obvious fact that they wouldn’t associate with people who saved the world.
But whatever. Darcy let it go with only minimal fuss and a lot of warning looks from Jane, and then Mr. and Ms. Intimidating, as well as Coulson led them into a room in which lots of people were stuffed like sardines.
The first thing Darcy noticed was that there were three groups.
The first group was obviously a lot more suits wearing scientist jackets. They hovered all over the place, consulting one another over whatever it was super nerdy scientist people talked about when they were obviously getting ready for more information. This group was milling about in several smaller groups of what were probably their specified fields, but there was still a certain creepy unity there that made Darcy’s skin twitch.
The second group was where Thor was sitting in god-like awesomeness in his chair. He looked mostly cool, despite the phone call they had received from him two days ago, when he was all but sniffling and demanding that they come hug him. He had an entire troupe of other ridiculously pretty people around him. Five others to be exact sat or stood around him, almost looking like they had a bond outside of battle but falling just short of it nonetheless.
And inside that second group was the last group, or actually man. Dressed like a suit but better tailored to fit inside the expensive material, he played on a nifty little gadget that Darcy desperately wanted to get her hands on. He was on Thor’s right, but far enough away to be considered an outsider. He totally sported the look of an outcast forcing himself to belong.
Darcy could totally understand those feels.
Just as the door closed behind them, Thor caught sight of Jane. He nearly toppled over his seat and almost threw the outsider into the table in his attempt to get to her side. A smile was blooming on his face and this was so turning into a cliché reunion that Darcy almost wanted to gag. She only barely avoided becoming a flattened Darcy between the two reunited lovers by sidestepping with a, “Watch it! No threesome action here!”
They didn’t even spare her a glance as Jane wrapped her arms around Thor’s enormously delicious shoulders and hugged him for all he was worth; whispering in his ear about how much she had missed him. Thor thankfully didn’t give her a bone crushing hug; only wrapped around her lightly and pressing his face into her hair.
Darcy allowed them a full minute before clearing her throat loudly. “Not that this Hallmark moment isn’t totally cavity inducing, but the audience is looking a little uncomfortable and these charts are heavier than they look.”
She counted three very different snorts around the room and picked them out as Group 2-Nice Arms, Group 3, and Coulson. She knew Phil liked her, no matter what he’d said over the phone the few times he called to inquire on their progress.
Jane stepped away from Thor with glassy eyes and a happy smile, and even though Darcy’s arms were falling asleep she was glad to have Jane smile like that again. It had been awhile since her face had lit up like that.
“I have to give a report over my findings, now,” Jane said with an emotion laden voice. He hands slid down Thor’s armor, over his chest, and back up to his neck, like she couldn’t stop touching him; like she wasn’t entirely sure he was real.
Thor caught one of her hands, pressing a kiss to her fingers. “I look forward to speaking to you afterward,” he murmured to her, sad yet happy eyes never leaving her face.
They were living in their own romance movie right now.
Darcy rolled her eyes but trudged to the front of the room, closer to where Groups 2 and 3 were stationed, to begin setting up the charts, graphs and getting her laptop ready for the PowerPoint presentation.
She figured by the time she was finished with the prep work, Jane would actually be able to stop touching Thor for an hour so she could state her findings to everyone present.
“Jane, Darcy,” Thor said after the presentation finished and Jane had answered all the questions from Group 1, a few from Thor and another man in Group 2, who seemed a little bit unsure of himself but still calm and definitely intelligent. There had been a question from the man who made up Group 3, but he had only spoken half of his sentence before trailing off and zeroing in on his gadget again with a look Darcy so recognized from Jane as having found a possible solution to his own question.
“I would like you to meet my most honorable shield brothers,” he continued, amending quickly when the single female in Group 2 raised a well groomed brow, “and shield sister.”
The woman didn’t look necessarily appeased by the amendment but her eyebrow leveled out with her other one on her mostly passive face.
Thor wisely decided to start with her, saying with flourish, “This is the most formidable Natasha Romanov.”
She stood and the hair on the back of Darcy’s neck stood as well, tingling in alert to the serious danger this woman looked to be. She reached forward her hand, and Darcy let Jane grab it first as the woman said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you both.”
When she finished shaking Jane’s hand, it took Darcy a moment to realize she was kinda supposed to be doing the same thing. She was cool with the entire professional meeting thing, but she was dressed in jeans and tennis shoes with her favorite knit hat on her head. She didn’t exactly have the professional vibe going on. She got with the program after a second though and took Natasha’s hand, noting the roughness of her palm and some of the scars across her knuckles.
“This is Doctor Bruce Banner,” Thor introduced next, bringing the hesitant, intelligent dude up next.
He was a little rumpled, but he shook hands firmly despite his hesitance, giving a polite nod of his head instead of any spoken word.
Thor pulled up a tall, blond, and hello!wholesome man next, clapping him on the shoulder hardily as he said, “This is Steven Rogers.”
Steven didn’t even stumble under the weight of Thor’s hand. He looked a little uncomfortable maybe, but otherwise smiled kindly and took their hands. “It’s just Steve and it’s great to finally meet you both,” he said honestly with an apple pie smile that probably melted the panties off mannequins.
Clint Barton didn’t shake their hands, which Darcy was a lot grateful for. He just gave them a weird wave-salute hand gesture-y type thing. He had a kind enough smile though and yeah. Hello arms! Darcy kind of wanted to lean over the table just to touch them for a second.
Group 3 introduced himself. “Tony Stark,” he said with a grand smile that went nowhere near his eyes. He had his hands in his pocket but after a split second apparently willed himself to shake hands with them after a millisecond of a glance at Steve as if trying to prove some point. “It’s wonderful to finally put faces with the names. The big guy talks about you constantly.”
Jane blushed with a fluttery glance at Thor.
Darcy took his hand and said, “Whatever he told you, we’re twice as bad. Don’t let Jane drive and keep in mind, I have a tazer that I am not afraid to use.”
Something sparked in Tony’s eyes, the smile became a little more real, but not completely. Darcy was good at weeding out fake smiles, lately from Jane and before her, Darcy’s mom. Tony was good, but no one would ever be able to out-fake her mom’s smiles.
“She speaks the truth,” Thor said to the Avengers with a grave nod of his head. “I have been felled by Darcy’s tazer before. It is a fearsome weapon.”
Everyone who wasn’t there when Jane and Darcy first met Thor looked intrigued, except Steve who leaned over to Natasha to whisper what sounded like “What’s a tazer?”
Tony eyes glittered more. “Whoa, whoa! You tazed Thor? The demi-god of lightning? This massive mountain of muscle with a hammer that can literally cause a crater in the middle of New Mexico?”
Darcy met his gaze with a smug grin. “Yup! Although if I’m being completely fair, he was a little disoriented from falling out of the sky and all that jazz and wasn’t all,” she waved her hand at Thor. “Shiny, metal armor-y and stuff.”
His smile changed into something else, something liquid and disastrous. “This requires story time,” he said gleefully. “With the presence of alcohol and possibly many immoral decisions about whether or not this scenario can be reenacted.”
And oh em gee, alcohol sounded like the best idea on the planet right about now. It had been a harrowing week playing phone tag with SHIELD, trying to keep Jane from breaking into the television to snag Thor, and getting everything prepared and in order. Not to mention the plane ride to NYC and the fact that her fingers still didn’t feel right thanks to Jane’s grip.
She could tell Apple Pie was gearing up for some sort of rebuttal, so jumped in before he could even take a good, deep, judgmental breath. “I’m down for booze. You paying?”
Because the only thing better than alcohol would be alcohol she didn’t have to pay for.
Tony’s smile grew. “Please. I’m Tony Stark. I’ll buy you the bar if I can have that story. Possibly record it, maybe put a patent on it, but we’ll negotiate on the way.”
She was definitely liking Tony’s style.
“Sounds like a promising business venture,” Darcy said seriously. She glanced around to the other people in the room, most of whom were watching her and Tony with what looked like apprehension. She jerked her head to them. “We taking the Super Pretty People Posse with us? They look like they could use some loosening up and this place,” she waved around the room with a general air of distaste, “is soul-suck central.”
“Soul-suck central,” Clint aka Arms parroted, giving the meeting room a look around and gaining the focus of Darcy and Tony. He nodded to himself. “I can definitely get behind that. Count me in.”
Arms had her vote of confidence.
“Thor’s good to go too,” Darcy added hitching her thumb back towards her godly friend. “Which means we’ve got Jane in the bag. So that’s five.”
“Six,” Natasha put in resolutely. “Someone has to keep an eye on everything.”
Tony looked surprised, turning his attention towards her. “Natasha, I didn’t know you cared.”
She gave him a prickly look with her eyes alone, which was kind of creepy because her facial muscles didn’t twitch in the slightest. “I don’t,” she said, all clipped tones and daring stares.
She and Tony stared back and forth at each other, and there was obviously a story of mistrust going on there. It crackled in the air like static and totally harshed Darcy’s mellow. “Yeah, tension around here isn’t awesomely thick at all. What about you, doc?”
She turned to Bruce, who now that she got a good look at him looked uncomfortable, yeah, but he also looked tired as hell and a lot weighed down. He definitely needed a drink or fifteen.
“I’m not technically allowed off SHIELD property.”
Which was so not cool. Darcy’s moral code was punching up for a good rabble rousing in the form of picket signs and that nifty thing they do where they just lay down and generally make a silent nuisance of themselves until they get their way. She was sure she could get Jane to join her and there were a few people at her college that would join her cause.
“We’re taking Clint and Natasha. They’re SHIELD property. Problem solved,” Tony said with a shrug, totally derailing Darcy’s internal plans to be a peaceful protester. Clint and Natasha didn’t protest being called SHIELD’s property, but Clint clapped Bruce on the shoulder in a show of support. The plan was going well so far. All they needed was Apple Pie and they’d have a full set. Tony seemed to share her thought process and turned to Steve with a raised brow, impudent and challenging. “Now all we need is the spoil sport. C’mon, Cap. It’s not a party without a spoil sport to tell us how bad drinking is.”
Tony’s ribbing was met with an unimpressed glare and a jaw tick. “I guess it would be in everyone’s best interest to unwind a little.”
Tony smiled, pleased with himself as he patted Steve on the shoulder. “That’s the begrudging spirit.”
Darcy wasn’t sure how, but they also wound up with Coulson at the bar with them. It was the only way Director Fury—and wow, Darcy was beginning to understand what and appropriate name that was—would let them out of the facility. The man was a total buzz kill, but at least they got Phil assigned to them and not some tightwad.
He kept to the corner of the bar, nursing a glass of Coca-Cola and a tumbler of scotch, keeping an eye on everyone which Darcy had to give him props for, because as soon as the Avengers entered the large bar, they split like oil and water. They all went to the bar originally, but once they all had their drinks, Clint and Natasha went to find a pool table. Thor and Jane wrapped themselves up in their cinema re-do again, heading to a table to speak quietly with each other. Bruce and Steve also headed to a table with their beer bottles, but made sure to give the couple ample space, not that they noticed.
Tony stayed at the bar.
Darcy flitted between them all. She played a game of pool against Natasha, who Clint swore only won by sheer luck. Natasha only rolled her eyes, but broke the set, starting the game. After that, she went to see how Thor and Jane were doing, but they were talking about Asgard and theoretical hypotheses which Darcy could totally keep up with, but she was here to get drunk and silly not do more work. She spent some time with Bruce and Steve, trying make them feel more comfortable and maybe…she didn’t know, stop staring into their barely touched beers like they were going to turn into some crazy alcohol monster and destroy the bar. It hardly worked. Bruce gave quiet smiles and Steve’s attention seemed to be caught between her and his team, namely the outsider at the bar, who was chatting with a pretty woman and playing on his gadget.
She refrained from shaking her head. How these people had ever managed to come together to save the world was a miracle. They couldn’t even seem to look at each other properly. The only ones who seemed to have any sort of camaraderie were Clint and Natasha, and they kept to themselves just as much as the others did. Even with Steve and Bruce at the same table they were clearly light years apart.
She finally excused herself to go get another drink, shrugging off the sticky feeling of discomfort and only pausing in her mission to stop at Coulson’s table. “Hey, sir, need another?” she asked, seeing his tumbler was close to being empty.
“No, thank you, Ms. Lewis. I’ve got it under control,” he said as he took a sip from his soda.
She shrugged. “Whatever you say, G-man.”
With that she pushed herself over to the bar, next to Tony whose attention instantly skittered away from the lady next to him and settled on her as she ordered another Long Island Ice Tea. When the glass was in front of her, she wasn’t too proud to admit that she nearly sucked half of it down in one long gulp. The tension of this team was like a key in her muscles and some invisible hand just kept turning it, making her edgier and edgier.
She heard Tony call the bartender over, ordering, “A fishbowl for my friend and another scotch for me.”
Darcy pulled away from her straw to say, “A trough would probably be more efficient. Less time spent waiting, more drunkenness achieved. I’ve totally calculated this all out before.”
Tony took a measured sip from his glass. “Did someone pull your pigtails? We can have Coulson arrest them. He looks like he’d like someone to taze right about now.” He gave Coulson a polite wave and Coulson, who must have some sort of radar in his head, seemed to know he was being spoken about because he leveled a cool stare on the two of them. “Speaking of tazing, you said you were going to give me the details of Thor’s first encounter with you?” he smiled invitingly, still a little fake but just real enough that Darcy felt herself relax just a little.
“Oh, boy, where should I start…” she mused with a dreamy smile, recounting that fateful meeting that would forever mark the night her life took a turn into bizarro-land, filled with gods, superheroes, and blank-faced suits. “Well, I should probably start by saying we were in bum-fucked-nowhere, New Mexico in the middle of the night. That seems like as good a place to start as any. Jane was staring at her twinkly stars looking for whatever it was she was going on about. She explained it to me like eighteen thousand times, but, dude, I’m poli-sci. None of her babbling made sense to me and it still doesn’t. I stick around to help her make her charts pretty and her statistics readable.”
Here she paused and leaned towards Tony. “She’d be lost without me. The boss-lady only has a head for science, which I’m pretty much guessing you can understand.”
Tony nodded, his focus was mostly on her as he took more sips of his replenished scotch, only a few times did his gaze flicker over her shoulder. She relaxed marginally as she jumped into the nifty little tornado-vortex-thingy that had them driving blindly in desert dust and Thor just stepping in front of the car for Jane to hit. “Of course, we had no clue who he was. I totally thought he was some drunk dude whose friends had left him in the middle of a desert as a prank. A really, really bad prank, but whatever. I’ve been to frat parties. They aren’t pretty.”
Tony made a noise of agreement, a brief flash of memory passing over his face before he blanked it out again, asking, “So, that’s it, you just tazed him? I was expecting a little more theatrics.”
“Hey! Don’t get your expensive Iron Man panties in a twist. There was plenty of theatrics going on that night,” she smiled when Tony snorted out a laugh, presumably at the panties line, but who knew. It was a real laugh and she was just glad that at least someone on the team was enjoying themselves. She continuec on with the story, about how Thor was stumbling around in the middle of a dusty area, yelling up at the sky, before asking what realm he was in. “He said all these weird words, okay. It was nonsense. Just a whole bunch of nonsense and he demanded to know where he was, stomping up to us like he was gonna shake the answers out of our heads. I pulled out my tazer and holy crap, he just comes towards me next, screaming, ‘What the hell!? You think you can hurt me with that, you puny human girl?!’ I totally paraphrased by the way. What he actually said was a lot more Old English-y and god-like. I freaked and tazed him. And lemme tell you, the best part of this story was probably his face.”
She jerked around in her chair and made an impression of Thor’s face, which probably was the absolute opposite of anything coming close to attractive, but she’d had a few drinks and a real Long Island Ice Tea hit like a freight train. Tony started laughing halfway through it and she slowly dissolved into her own cackling laughter.
“Well there’s some fun being had here. I wanna play,” someone said behind them and they both turned to squint the laugh-watery eyes at Clint aka Arms.
Darcy’s grin only grew. “You are so not even drunk enough to join our club. Come back with the world is at a thirty degree tilt.”
He glanced between them. “You don’t even give a guy a chance.”
Darcy shrugged. “The amount of fucks I give is directly proportional to how drunk I am. The drunker I am, the less I give a fuck.”
Clint only smirked. “At least allow me to catch up to you and Stark.” He didn’t wait for their approval, instead hailing over the bartender with a, “Hey buddy, five shots of whiskey.”
Tony also leaned over and signaled between his and Darcy’s drink.
The shots were laid out before him and Arms wasted no time is slinging all of them back, dragging a seat around closer to them to create a little triangle type thing and taking up space in the middle of the walk way. Tony just clapped his shoulder with pride, saying to Darcy, “I think he’s totally allowed to stay now.”
She lifted her chin, saying imperiously, “Only if he can keep up.”
Clint nodded. “The lady has thrown down the gauntlet. It’s only right that I pick it up.”
Tony perked up considerably. “Have I told you about my gauntlets,” he asked excitedly, leaning towards both of them.
Darcy snorted. “Oh please don’t tell me that’s how you pick up chicks. That is just sad. And pathetic. And desperate,” she kept adding as the words came through her alcohol soaked mind.
He waved a hand at her. “I don’t need to pick up chicks anymore. I have a…” he stopped and floundered for a moment, before landing on, “Pepper. Yes. I have a Pepper. Pepper Potts. Best woman in the world. No offence intended toward present women.” He gave her an apologetic nod before finishing off his scotch in a single swallow, waving for another drink. His hand tapped at the gadget he’d previously been ignoring, his face flickering in disappointment before it smoothed out.
Darcy magnificently let it go as she too took a drink from her refreshed glass.
Clint snorted. “Any woman willing to put up with you has to be the best woman on earth. Or the craziest.”
From the corner of her eye, she saw her newest friend tense and gave Clint a kick with her tennis shoe. “Hey! Don’t be hating on Tony,” she said, though a lot of her words were coming out slurred even to her own ears. “He’s got style. He's got flare.”
“He’s there!” Clint put in with a forced grin.
Darcy suddenly realized what she said, and decided to continue on with it, crooning, “That’s how he became…the Tonyyyyyyy!!!”
Tony groaned like he was in actual pain. “Shouldn’t Coulson be the one compared with a nanny? He even watches Supernanny. He knows all the tricks.”
“Not to mention the fact that I’m already your babysitter,” Coulson’s disembodied voice made the three of them jump. They whipped their heads around, all looking over Darcy’s shoulder to see the bartender giving Coulson another tumbler of scotch, before he came over to Tony’s glass.
Coulson gave them all significant glances before returning to his little table in the corner.
Darcy stared after him, mumbling into her drink, “That man is such creepy ninja.”
“Try having him as your handler,” Clint muttered, also staring after.
“Try having him threatening to taze you in your own house.” Clint and Darcy turned to stare at Tony with wide eyes, but his only explanation was a shrug. He took a sip from his glass again. He smirked when he caught their stairs. “Yeah. I’ve got you both beat.” He smiled like he’d just solved world hunger.
“I’d say,” Darcy said. “He just took my iPod from me.”
Tony’s smile left immediately. “iPod?” he sneered. “Oh, you poor brainwashed child. Who has corrupted you with Apple products? They should be imprisoned. Tomorrow. Not they’ll be imprisoned tomorrow, but that’s when I’ll bring you the newest Stark multi-media player. Just…don’t touch Apple anymore. The very idea is giving me hives.”
“New toys?” Clint inquired, jokingly. “I want one!”
“Yeah sure,” Tony said with a shrug. Darcy noticed that Clint looked a little surprised with how easily Tony gave in, but her attention quickly caught on the fact that Tony’s eyes looked over her shoulder again as he continued, “New toys for everyone. Except the good Captain. He probably wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway.”
Darcy quickly turned her head to see that Apple Pie was close to nearing them, and had probably heard Tony’s statement. She grinned, returning her gaze to Tony to knock his shoulder with hers. “Aw, that’s not nice. You could always show him how to work it.”
By this time Steve was close to them, standing between Darcy and Clint with his eyes staring into Tony. “Yeah. You could show me how to use your nifty devices,” he said blandly, a dare in his bright blue eyes. “You are a futurist after all. If anyone should show the 1940’s reject how to live in this century it should be you.”
The words were barely tempered anger and Darcy got the feeling that Tony might have said something to that effect to Steve. The air was crackling with pent up emotions again as they stared at each other.
Tony’s eyes stayed carefully blank and he gave a facsimile of a smile as he said, “Sure, Cap. I’m not much use for anything else, right?”
Steve’s eyes flashed regret, before the concealed irritation came back.
God, this team needed to hug it out or something, Darcy thought; especially those two.
She took an especially long drink from her Long Island Ice Tea and considered getting something stronger for the next round. From the look on Clint’s face it seemed as if he may need a stronger drink as well.
Tony knocked back his drink quickly. “Something you needed, Rogers?”
“Bruce and Natasha are getting ready to head back to SHIELD. I thought I’d ask if you wanted a ride back or if you preferred to continue your depravity in public,” Steve said, falsely calm and glaring at the glass in Tony’s hand.
Tony was quick with his comeback. “I haven’t been publically depraved in two months or so. I think I may just stay here.”
Steve nodded his head. “Fine. Whatever you want. Clint?”
“Clint should probably come with us,” Natasha said, appearing at Steve’s side. She cast a significant look at Clint. “We have a mission to leave for tomorrow afternoon and we need to be ready for the briefing.”
He nodded and stood from his stool, putting it back against the bar. The three of them then swiveled their gazes around to her. “And you, Ms. Lewis?” Natasha asked.
“It’s Darcy,” she corrected as she stared up at the three of them. A quick glance over her shoulder revealed that Thor and Jane were missing. A look to her other side showed Coulson waiting patiently, with his arms folded in front of him. She looked at Tony, ever the outsider even when trying to fit in and that pretty much made her decision for her. “And if there is depravity to be had, then it is my obligation to record it and post it on YouTube. I’ll send you the links later.”
“I’ll get your tabs,” Tony added. “Just leave them with me.”
“We handled our own,” Steve said with a small shake of his head. He headed out of the bar, meeting Bruce and Coulson at the door.
Natasha gave them pleasant, but tight smiles and followed him.
Clint clapped them both on the shoulder. “This was a good idea. Thanks.”
Tony and Darcy both turned to each other; Darcy feeling the tense waves rolling off Tony mixing with the pinched look on his face. “Okay, we’re going to need a lot more drinks after that and I think it’s about time we broke out the embarrassing college stories.”
Much passed that statement, Darcy couldn’t remember what happened.
Darcy woke on a ridiculously comfortable couch. She had a headache and her stomach rolled at the very thought of moving. She only barely managed to crack her eyes open because the room was dim, super dim which was so awesome. On the coffee table in front of her eyes, glass and sleek, was half a glass of water and some—actually like four—Advil. She smelled some coffee, somewhere, which definitely called out to her.
She lay on the couch for a while longer before she could actually force herself to move. Eventually though, the headache demanded attention, so she had to at least take the medicine. With the careful practice of a girl who’d been at college for too long, she reached out for the Advil so she could pop them into her mouth. Then without moving her body, she carefully tipped the glass over so water could trickle over her dry tongue and held push the medicine down.
Of course, it didn’t help immediately. They didn’t make drugs that kickass yet.
Darcy flung her arm across her eyes, begging for a pair of sunglasses or, better yet, death. The movement disturbed her stomach, but she breathed through it, forcing most of the nausea to pass. When that was over she tried to recall the details that had led her to this moment.
First there was the plane ride, complete with Jane nearly breaking the bones in her hand. Awesome.
Then she helped Jane with her presentation to the suits after they landed. Spectacular.
After that she met the Avengers in all of their dysfunctional glory. Awkward as hell.
The bar came next. Mostly fun but mixed in with a lot of strained moments.
Everyone left except for Darcy and Tony. Queue black out.
Well, she could feel her clothes twisting awkwardly around her body and nothing felt odd besides the hangover so she hadn’t done anything untoward, not that she thought Tony would do or let anyone else do anything to her while she wasn’t sober. Hell, her shoes weren’t even off of her feet, and that was saying something because the suede on this couch felt uber expensive.
She took a deep slow breath, forcing herself to slowly sit upright.
A huge television across from her played Looney Toons with the volume muted. A blanket lay on the floor next to the couch, probably having been thrown over her sometime last night. In front of the coffee table, a huge pile of cushions were thrown together, her iPod disassembled beside it as well as, she blinked slowly at the other pile, Tony’s gadget that he’d been messing with all night yesterday. A coconut sat in the arm chair perpendicular from her, propped against a big, purple aerobics ball.
It must have been a good night.
“Did you take the Advil?” a voice asked from a short distance away.
She turned quicker than she should have, causing both her stomach and head to protest violently. She managed to catch sight of Steve before she slammed her eyes shut. Curling into herself to ward off the overwhelming urge to throw up, she asked sharper than she meant to, “God, what are you doing here?”
After a few seconds the couch dipped at the far end. She could only assume Apple Pie had taken a seat as well. “You called me when Tony managed to get himself trapped behind some shelves in his lab that his robots couldn’t help move,” he answered. “Not that I think either of your tried very hard. You were both cackling like hyenas.”
She tried to search her memory banks for that, or even just ending up in Tony’s lab, but there was nothing. “And I called you?”
“Well,” he said slowly. “You said that Ms. Potts told you to leave him where he was for the night. I was the second to last person in his phone record, I guess.” He was silent for a moment at which point she was finally able to open her eyes and glance over at him. He looked fine. As put together as he had the previous night, in khakis and a nice button up shirt with his hair perfectly parted.
Darcy didn’t have any clue why he would come to save a drunk man at the behest of a drunk woman. He looked too clean cut for their shenanigans. “Why’d you come? Especially if Tony’s girlfriend wouldn’t come help? More importantly when you don’t really seem to even like him?”
A muscle in Steve’s jaw twitched, and some strange emotion passed over his eyes. “He isn’t all that bad,” he admitted. “And I could hear him saying that whatever was scattered on the floor in front of him would have been helpful in Afghanistan.”
That…really made no fucking sense to her, but Steve’s jaw was still twitching and she guessed there was another story going on there too.
It made her head hurt to try and puzzle this team out.
“Where’s Tony? He didn’t die did he?”
Steve smirked. “He’s in the kitchen, slumped over his coffee cup.”
Darcy ignored her stomach and head to push herself to her feet. She paid no attention to the sway her body did when she finally stood upright nor to Steve. She moved her feet towards the kitchen. How she knew where it was kind of confounded her, but she made it there, and she saw Tony in his pajamas sitting at the enormous island as well as a huge coffee pot mostly full with the nectar of the gods.
She stumbled towards the coffee first, and poured herself a mug before she stumbled to the stool next to Tony, scooting in close to what could pass as a corpse before leaning her head onto his shoulder.
“I don’t think we should drink in public again,” he slurred to her.
Darcy made a quiet noise. “Why’s that?”
“I woke up with an Iron Man themed thong wrapped around my wrist.”
Darcy couldn’t really think of anything else to say except, “Do they fit?”
“According to the way Steve won’t look at me? A little too well.”
There was probably a story behind that, but it took too much energy to ask after, and would probably take a lot more energy for Tony to explain to her right now. So instead she let out a small giggle and closed her eyes, shutting the world and Steve, who was just coming into the kitchen, out of her life.