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The Smart Girl's Guide to Not Seducing Steve Rogers

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When you've just gotten kicked out of your old apartment because your landlord is a total dick and then someone tells you they've got a place for you to live - rent-free, your own bathroom, cleaning service included, kitchen communal, but spacious and equipped with every gimmick you've ever heard of and several you haven't, the expression 'too good to be true' comes to mind.

When the place is the Avengers mansion (previously known as the Stark mansion, not that Darcy's been keeping up on these sorts of things or anything, but 'know thy enemy' is still sound advise) and when the people making the offer are SHIELD (currently known as 'those jerks from SHIELD'), the expression 'over my dead body' comes to mind.

Of course, Darcy's not actually going to say that out loud; she's not the one who's actually dating any of these guys, after all; she's just best friends with someone who is. Her SHIELD file's probably got a big, fat stamp spelling out 'E-X-P-E-N-D-A-B-L-E' on it.

"Needless to say," Coulson says, which Darcy translates as 'this next bit is my favorite one', "this invitation is extended only to very close friends and relatives." The look he bestows on Darcy is rather pointed. Darcy manages not to smile at him and say something like: 'Oh, so you're also going to invite Loki?'.

Jane looks a bit dazed. Darcy blames Thor. Nice guy, but tends to keep a girl up well past her bedtime.

Possibly, also, Coulson's slipped something into their coffee. Darcy still hasn't touched hers. "Like hell," she says. "You think I'm just letting you kidnap my best friend like that?"

Coulson looks mildly surprised, as if this is, indeed, quite common for friends to do where he comes from. (Outer space, possibly. It would explain a lot.) "We would be happy to assist you in finding new housing for yourself, Miss Lewis." Translation: 'yes, your landlord is a total dick who kicked you out just because we (a) bribed him, (b) threatened him or (c) killed him and cut a deal with his heirs.'

"Forget it, buster." Jane is a mature, responsible adult, obviously, but being around Thor tends to make her a bit gaga - and, okay, understandable, but still. "Jane goes, I go."

Coulson turns to Jane. "Miss Foster?"

"Yeah, okay," Jane says, confirming all of Darcy's suspicions about the coffee. "I mean, obviously, we'd want some time to look over the contract and ... "

"Excellent," Coulson says. "Welcome to the family."

And that's how Darcy ends up joining SHIELD.

 

Well, no, technically, she only lives there; it's a convenient arrangement, is all; they don't own her or anything; you can't beat a no-rent two-room suite that's easily three times the size of her and Jane's last apartment; she's not a sell-out, all right; she's just being practical and a good friend.

 

Darcy kind of figured that if she was going to develop any stupid cases of spontaneous lust, it would probably be with Tony Stark - who is supposedly a genius, but also (a) a guy and (b) working for SHIELD so probably really not that smart. If even a tenth of what the tabloids write about him is true, he's also pretty much willing to sex up anyone and anything, so Darcy doesn't foresee any real problem.

In hindsight, she should probably have expected SHIELD to play dirty.

She just comes down to the kitchen for breakfast one morning - it's ridiculously early, not even nine yet, and there he is. Drinking milk, of all things - and if this was supposed to be the set of some gay porn movie or something, Darcy would not be at all turned on by the sight; it's just a hot guy drinking dairy, for fuck's sake, but, well. It's a really hot guy, and Darcy seriously needs to get laid, because this can't possibly be healthy.

"Erk." It's almost an 'uh', which would have been embarassing. More embarrassing.

"Good morning. I don't think we met - Steve Rogers." Big, warm handshake. Darcy think it should be colder; he's just been holding a glass of milk, after all.

"Hi," Darcy says. Mono-syllables. She can handle mono-syllables. She'd like to handle Steve Rogers, but he's probably not that kind of guy, and this is a kitchen, so never mind anyway. Wouldn't be hygienic. People come here to eat.

"Captain America," Steve says, looking just the right mix of proud and embarrassed, like he's not ashamed of being awesome, but maybe the tiniest bit shy about hitting people with the fact mere seconds after he's met them.

"Ah."

Steve grins. It does absolutely nothing to diminish the overall effect. "Not a morning person? There's coffee over there, if you want. Should be pretty fresh."

 

Jane is not nearly as sympathetic as Darcy feels she should be.

"He's Captain America. What did you expect?"

Easy: "I expected him to be a kind of ugly, arrogant asshole. You know, like most guys. Not Thor, naturally; Thor's all right." Probably because he isn't actually from Earth, and he still has some really weird ideas about expressing himself, but other than that whole bit where he left, Darcy can put up with Thor dating Jane. (There's been a lot of groveling to make up for the leaving. Jane may be a soft-hearted woman in love, but she's not easy.)

Then again, Steve's not quite 'from around here', either. There might be a common theme there, and it's a rather depressing one.

"This sucks," Darcy says.

"Well, he's single, isn't he?"

"He's Captain America." Darcy'd just assumed it was a publicity thing, kind of a 'let's not let anyone find out what the guy's really like - what does he need a sex life for, anyway?' sort of move on the part of SHIELD. "Steve to his friends. Of which I'm now one, apparently."

Jane looks relieved. "That means he likes you, right?"

"Me and all the puppies and the entire population of the world not currently trying to blow it up," Darcy says, because yeah.

 

On a positive note: she's managing multi-syllables, too, now. Darcy figures it's a good sign, like maybe people just get over the Steve thing after they've been around him long enough.

That's before she finds out about the meetings, of course.

 

"Hi, my name's Tony and I'm a Steve addict," Tony says, and Darcy isn't sure if she's really going to be able to pull off a 'hi, Tony' like she doesn't know the guy without giggling, but then she notices Natasha's smiling, so she figures it's just Tony being Tony.

She's met all of them by now, and it's nice to know at least one of them lives up (or down) to her expectations. Clint's definitely an arrogant asshole, even if he's not exactly ugly, and even if Darcy strongly suspects him of having a sense of humor.

Bruce is polite and smart and occasionally turns into a big, green monster. Darcy thinks that's sort of cool. Maybe if more people did that, other people would try a little harder to stay polite.

"So, what, all that womanizing's just an act to cover up that you're gay?" Darcy hasn't really caught Tony being smart yet, let alone a genius. Steve says Tony is good at making things, which, fine, if Steve says it then it must be true. Making things is hardly science, though.

"Okay, first off, what womanizing?" Tony asks. "Because if you think I've been hitting on you: trust me, I haven't. You'd know. Secondly, why would I be gay? Did I say I was gay? Is it the shirt? It's a straight shirt. These are straight pants."

Darcy wonders what kind of special you need to be to assume that when a woman accuses you of womanizing, it's because she thinks you've been hitting on her.

"Of course, Tony. You're a very manly man," Natasha says.

Tony frowns at her. "Could we maybe not try to kill each other around the new girl? And by 'each other', obviously, I mean you trying to kill me, because I got over that a long time ago, thanks."

"So what you're saying is: you like Steve, but not like that," Darcy says, because she so doesn't want to be called on to explain Tony's dead body to Coulson or (worse) Fury.

Natasha grins, showing teeth. "Don't be daft, of course I like him like that," Tony says. "I just object to your idea that wanting to have sex with one guy makes you gay. That's like saying making one tiny mistake means you're an idiot."

"In my experience, it's usually a symptom," Natasha murmurs.

"Right," Darcy says. "It's just that it's Steve. You don't like him like that because he's a guy; you like him like that because he's Steve."

"Wasn't that what I was saying? I think that was what I was saying."

"I tend to prefer women, myself," Natasha says.

"Experimental college phase," Darcy says.

"That means 'bisexual', right? And I mean, come on. A lesbian, a straight guy and a bisexual? What is this, a reality TV show?"

 

Darcy can imagine kissing Natasha. She can fantasize about kissing Steve, but it's sort of - well, like that's ever going to happen. Besides, what's wrong with keeping your options open?

Natasha is smart, funny, and only a little bit 'not from here'. (Russia isn't that far away.)

"We're just bonding over our unrequited lust for Steve," Darcy tells Jane, whom she's imagined kissing only once or twice, before deciding it would redefine their friendship in unwelcome ways, and also that Jane had outgrown her experimental college phase a while back, and had decided to be straight.

"Sure you are, Darce."

 

Having drinks after work is a time-honored tradition, and even if Darcy isn't always clear on what Steve and the gang have been up to (although more often than not, there's live coverage on CNN), she knows the signs of a (successfully accomplished) mission.

"I can't actually get drunk, you know," Steve says earnestly, as if he's deeply apologetic for the fact that Darcy can trust him not to end the evening slobbering all over her while mumbling about the bitch, his ex-girlfriend.

"That's fine, Scoobie, you can be the designated driver." Responsible, that's what Steve is. Reliable. Trustworthy. Nice. Darcy should feel ashamed of herself for turning him into a sexual object, really, she should. Captain America is not a sexual object.

"Um, I'm not actually sure my driver's license is still valid."

"Not a problem," Natasha says dismissively. "SHIELD's assigned us a driver. We might as well give the man something to do."

Steve frowns. "If I can't get drunk and can't drive you home, maybe I should just - "

"Noooo. Don't leave, Steve." Darcy wonders why she's never noticed the way 'Steve' rhymes with 'leave'. It's kind of funny, really. And Steve also rhymes with 'sleeve', 'reeve', 'cleave', and lots more words Darcy can't think of right now.

"You should just sit and look pretty," Natasha says.

Natasha is brilliant. "Yeah. That'd be really nice." And also pretty.

"Okay, I can do that." Steve smiles. Darcy thinks he might be blushing a little - or it might just be that he's a bit hot, except that Steve's a lot hot, so that can't be it.

 

Hang-overs are like Darcy's ex-not-really-a-boyfriend-but-more-of-a-one-weekend-stand's ex-girlfriend.

"Good. You have awakened."

Having a big, loud Norse god in the same room doesn't help. Darcy tries to remember where her taser is again; she doesn't think anyone other than Coulson could possibly find fault with 'he was talking to me while I was hung-over' by way of a reason for tasering.

Peeling one eye open confirms her being in her own room. Thor is in the process of pouring some sort of liquid into a mug. According to Darcy's nose, it's not coffee.

"Is that coffee?" Hope springs eternal.

Thor beams at her in a decidedly suspicious way. "Indeed, it is not. The recipe for this brew is known to every warrior of Asgard. Drink, and drink deeply." The mug is thrust at her, and Darcy figures what the hell - it can hardly make her feel worse.

Her mistake.

"It is somewhat of an acquired taste," Thor says with the kind of blandness that tells Darcy he doesn't really know what the words mean, but is just repeating what someone else has said.

"You made Natasha drink this stuff, too?" Easy guess: Steve can't get drunk and it was just the three of them last night.

Thor's expression of utter astonishment at her superpowers of deduction makes Darcy feels slightly better.

Knowing Natasha would have killed him if the horrible stuff didn't actually work helps, too.

 

"Honestly," Steve says, "I don't know why you wanted me along. I'm sure Tony would be much better at this sort of thing."

They're at the same place as last week (or some place that looks alike enough for it not to matter) and once again, miraculously, it's just her and Natasha and Steve.

"Drinking?" Natasha wrinkles her nose.

Steve hesitates. Darcy wonders how much anyone's told him about Tony's past love-hate-love relationship with alcohol. "Just ... hanging out," Steve says. "And - and pop culture. Tony knows all that stuff. I've been working on it, but most of the time, I still don't have a clue."

"It's cute," Darcy says. "I mean, not that you don't know what an iPod is, or who Joss Whedon is - that's just tragic, but it's kind of fun to talk to someone new, you know? Someone who hasn't already made up his mind about liking Star Wars better than Star Trek."

"Firefly was better than either."

"Only because they canceled it before it got a chance to start sucking."

Steve looks a little lost, but not like he's bored or anything.

 

"Okay," Darcy says, three days later, "so are we trying to seduce him, or not?"

They're in Natasha's room, because Tony has been informed what will happen to him (or, well, a specific part of him) if Natasha ever finds out he's asked JARVIS to listen in on her, so it's a relatively safe place to talk.

"Normally, when I'm attracted to someone, I just get them drunk and have my way with them," Natasha says. Darcy's pretty sure it's a joke, so she grins and lifts her rum-cola before taking a sip.

It must really sort of suck, to be unable to get even the slightest buzz. "Except that Steve doesn't do drunk. Or letting people have their way with him." Not that Darcy can picture anyone dumb enough to try.

"Ah. That last one, not so much actually."

There was a Walking Dead marathon the other night, because Darcy'd made the mistake of mentioning there was a guy toting a crossbow in it, and then Clint wanted to see (especially after hearing there were zombies), and then before she knew it, they were having an Avengers TV night, complete with creepy snacks and tomato juice by way of drinks.

"Huh?" The point being: Darcy's not nearly as awake as she could have been, and it's Clint's fault.

Natasha shrugs. "With some guys, the woman needs to take the first step. And the second one."

"But he's Captain America," Darcy says.

"I've heard his first love was a woman who actually shot at him with live rounds."

"To test his new shield," Darcy says, because Wikipedia is a shiny, shiny thing, and it's not creepy, obsessive behavior when you're just looking something up on the Internet. "She wasn't actually trying to kill him or anything. Probably." She does vaguely recall something about Steve making out with a secretary, which sounds sort of dumb, but then, everybody makes mistakes sometimes.

On the other hand, it might confirm Natasha's theory. "Perhaps a more direct approach is called for."

Natasha looks at Darcy thoughtfully. Darcy feels her face get a little warm - well, it's not cold in here or anything.

"It seems risky," Natasha says. "We're team-mates, and he might take it badly. Or he might take it too well and harbor unreasonable expectations about our changed relationship."

"Er," Darcy says. "Yeah?" She's not sure what Natasha would consider 'unreasonable'.

"Yes. And, of course, I possess very little experience in maintaining an actual relationship with a male person for ... affectional purposes."

Darcy supposes it beats saying 'pretty much all the guys I've dated so far, I dated so I could kill them later', but not by much. And, sure, it's not as if Darcy's only ever gone out with guys she still wanted to have around in two weeks, but that's not entirely the same.

"You could maybe practice or something?"

Natasha grins, showing teeth. "Are you volunteering?"

Darcy takes another sip of her drink. It's more cola than rum, really. "Guess so."

 

"Oh, come off it, Darce," Jane says. "Practice girlfriend, my ass." On the screen, Han Solo's about to be turned into an icicle.

"It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it." Darcy suppresses a yawn. Leia, being badass tells Han she loves him. "And I mean seriously dirty."

Han, being a lame-o, tells Leia he knows. "I don't want to know." Steve would never do that. Darcy'd like to think he'd never let himself get turned into an icicle either, but history is history, so.

"You're just jealous," Darcy says, because Jane's a bit like Steve in that she can be happy for other people as well as for herself.

"Right."

"We're totally going to seduce Captain America together."

"Sure you are."

 

("Um, she does realize I'm sitting right here, doesn't she?")

("All part of the masterplan, probably. Or maybe they're just giving you a fair warning.")