Darcy liked to plan what she called “Team Bonding Events” which mostly consisted of things like poker nights (played with potato chips) and really bad karaoke bars. Even Steve came along occasionally. It had only taken one night for Thor to learn that even he could not out drink “The Captain of America”. This, in Thor’s mind, made the two of them Friends (oh yes, with a capital “f”). For Steve, their friendship came out of a discussion of leadership; even drunk Thor took the wellbeing of his people and his home very seriously and gave many examples of his father’s fine decisions and why Thor thought them wise. Steve was floored.
He told Darcy, “I thought he was a ridiculous man-boy with a hammer and I didn’t see why we needed him since we already had a mostly mindless smashing machine.” He paused momentarily to say to Banner who had overheard the remark, “I’m sorry, Dr. Banner, you know I admire your scientific work and The Hulk is a necessary and important part of the team, I only meant that chess pieces have different strengths for a reason.” Bruce laughed and waved away the comment. Steve still looked a little pink, but managed to continue, “Anyway, I see now, Thor is not just a powerful warrior but also a thoughtful leader.”
“See?” Darcy grinned, feeling the intoxication from a victory in battle. “Next you’ll be telling me that Tony Stark really is a genius.”
Steve gave her a dark look. “Don’t push it, that man is an egotistical, self-centered, narcissistic…” Steve looked like he could continue for a while, but Darcy held up a hand to cut off the stream of words.
“I get it,” she said. “You’re not a fan of Iron Man.”
“Don’t even get me started on Iron Man,” he grumbled.
Darcy rolled her eyes. It would seem he, like S.H.E.I.LD., somehow separated Iron Man and Tony Stark which both amused and confused Darcy. She decided it was better not to push that point. “Well, I’m glad you and Thor are getting along now. It means my plan is working,” she said before adding a maniacal laugh, which Steve did not understand if the bemused look on his face was any indication.
One morning, the whole team was crying from boredom after the debriefing concerning an escapade in the city with a fleet of robot drones (the drones had not been all that difficult to take down but a pain in the ass because of the sheer number of them). The team had been victorious and the debriefing was over, but after being in the same cramped room for so many hours with them all so very bored, they were all at each other’s throats. Clint and Natasha were making a game of it, but Darcy wasn’t so sure about everyone else. She thought Steve and Tony looked ready to come to blows and not in a good way.
“Hey!” she shouted, when they continued to ignore her she whistled really loudly. They stopped and stared at her. “Go to your rooms! All of you!” They stared at her in stunned silence. She continued, “In twelve hours meet back here. I need everyone rested so do not pass go and do not collect two hundred dollars.”
“Pray tell, of what two hundred dollars and ‘go’ are you speaking?” Thor asked.
“It’s just an expression, like the game Monopoly. It means go straight to your apartment and rest,” Banner explained, looking rather weary in his too big clothes.
“Oh I get it!” Thor shouted, “Monopoly is a strange game.”
“Twelve hours, on the dot people,” Darcy said. “I figure you people can exchange whatever time your watches currently say for the PM version, but tell me now if I need to have you synchronize your watches.”
“We’re not children,” Tony said, looking and sounding a little petulant.
Darcy raised an eyebrow and cocked an eyebrow. “Is that so?”
Suitably chastened, the group dispersed to their respective places, though Clint and Natasha did manage to get in a few more hits. Darcy didn’t bother with them since playfully spatting was pretty common between them. They lived so close together and Darcy expected them to spar all the way back to their apartments. Darcy did briefly wonder if the two assassins might end up in the same apartment sharing some “quality time”.
It wasn’t anyone’s business of course if the two of them were sleeping together. They were grown-ups, sorta-kinda-mostly anyway, who could conduct their lives as they pleased, however, there was a bit of an office pool going on and Darcy had money on ‘yes they were’. Sadly, no one had been able to gain definitive proof one way or another yet. Someone had attempted to use the fact that no one knew if they were sleeping together as proof that they weren’t, but Widow and Hawk were the definition of discretion and redefined covert (when Clint felt like it) so that argument was nixed.
She supposed the two leather-clad weapon specialists could be more like brother and sister than lovers, and maybe to find out for sure she should just ask, but never mind that now because what she needed to focus on right now was a plan.
Everyone needed to blow off some steam, possible hit some things, but definitely let loose a little.
Darcy grinned when an idea occurred to her. She hoped that she hadn’t pissed off Tony too much because she didn’t think S.H.E.I.L.D. was going to fund what she had in mind.
Tony wasn’t thrilled at first, but once she told him her idea, he quickly handed her a credit card with “STARK Industries” as the name and no limit. From there getting everything together was easy, though getting everything coordinated did come down to the wire.
“Where are we going?” was the question of the hour, but Darcy continued to say “You’ll find out when we get there.” Even Tony asked her a few times even though she’d already explained since it was on his tab anyway. She wasn’t sure if he didn’t want them to know he was paying or if he just didn’t want to be left out of the “Annoy Darcy!” game everyone else was playing.
God help Darcy, even Coulson asked what they were doing, twice. She suspected that Coulson was asking more out of worry as he did almost look like he might be concerned (annoying her was just a bonus). Beside Coulson, Maria looked dubious, and while her expression spoke volumes, she did remain quiet.
“Come on, Darcy, we’ve been driving for ages. Are we there yet?” Clint’s voice came from the back of the conveyance as he looked up from whatever game he and Natasha were playing.
“Yeah, Darcy, aren’t we there yet?” Tony asked. Darcy wondered if he was attempting to mock Clint or annoy her, but it was Tony so it was probably more along the lines of ‘aggravate as many people as Starkingly possible.’
“We have not been driving for more than fifteen minutes, but we will be there shortly.” Darcy wondered how her mom had ever managed road trips with her if she had been anything like this.
It was ten more minutes, which equaled seven are-we-there-yets, four how-much-longers, and a whooping thirteen where-are-we-goinnnnggs. By the time they got there, Darcy was ready to hit all them, except Steve as Steve had remained fairly quiet.
She was so thankful when they did reach their destination, but she was also very, very nervous. She wasn’t sure how this whole thing was going to be received and she didn’t want the day to fall short of the hype. The group was staring at a large white building with a larger empty parking lot.
“Darcy,” Steve said in a soft voice that Darcy was certain he was using in an attempt to not incur her wrath. “Where are we?”
“Maggie Moodle’s House of Fun,” Natasha answered as she looked at the sign proclaiming the destination.
“Who is the Maggie Moodle and what kind of fun does her house provide?” Tony asked, wriggling his eyebrows. Darcy took this as an annoying, quintessentially Stark way for Tony to ask her to please not say that he was funding this.
“Maggie Moodle has mini-golf, a driving range, bumper cars, assorted games and courts, and pizza. Best of all, we’ve got the place to ourselves, plus or minus a few staff and bartenders who brought about six bars worth of alcohol with them,” Darcy informed them.
Clint walked over to her then, bent down on one knee, and took her hand in his. He then announced solemnly, “Darcy, you are clearly a woman of genius who should never be underestimated. You’ve won my heart and I’d like to ask for your hand in marriage.” He made it through most of the speech before his lips quirked up at the edges in humor, but he was clearly trying to tell her how much he liked the idea in his smart-ass way.
Darcy smacked him on the shoulder with her free hand while she worked her other hand out of his grasp. “Ridiculous,” she said. “All right, everyone, try not to break anything that can’t be easily fixed. I’d appreciate it if we didn’t have to rebuild any walls.”
“So what can we break?” piped Tony.
“Let me put it to you this way, ‘you break it, you bought it’,” Darcy said giving Clint, Thor, and Tony significant looks.
“What?” asked Tony. Darcy replied by sharpening her glare. Tony added, “I can afford to break it.” Darcy grumbled but she couldn’t argue.
“I would like to try these cars of bumping. Who will be brave enough to join me?” Thor asked.
“I will see your bumper cars,” said Tony, “and I will raise you a round of tequila.”
“I vote for Beer Golf,” Clint said. Everyone looked at him blankly. “It’ll be like beer pong kind of – you miss, you drink.”
“Beer golf?” Tony asked, walking backwards towards them. Thor paused and turned back to look at them.
As if neither of them had heard Tony, their conversation continued. “You’re on, Barton,” Natasha said, “And you’re going down, birdman.”
“Not a chance, I’ll squash you like a spider,” Clint retorted.
“Hey, now, I believe that I can actually fry you both,” Tony put in.
“Ho, I will dominate this field of battle with my mighty hammer!” Thor announced.
Darcy would’ve sworn she saw Natasha’s lips twitch at the corners and Clint’s eyes damned near sparkled with mischief.
Coulson, Steve, and Banner decided that they were smarter than everyone else. They got a bottle of single-malt scotch that looked fancy to Darcy along with a few glasses and made their way to the driving range to blow off some steam and relax.
Maria stood with Darcy surveying the jovial groups as each filtered through the building to their perspective grounds, passing all sorts of games with buzzers and flashing lights.
“I have to say this is either a really great idea or a really bad one. Either way though, I love it,” Maria told Darcy.
Darcy grinned then winced. “Yeah, this could get interesting.”
“I’m going to crash Beer Golf. Someone has got to remind our assassin friends that they’re not the only non-super agents around who dominate the playground. Besides, if I’m not allowed to physically spank Tony, at least I can paddle him at this. What are you thinking?”
“I think I’m coming with you. I’m not half bad at mini-golf,” Darcy answered.
It took them almost fifteen minutes convince Thor that using Mjolnir would be a bit much for the game and he relented only after testing theory himself. This “test” resulted in a golf ball cracking a blade of the windmill (why was there always a windmill?) on the far side of the grounds.
“Am I not supposed to destroy?” Thor asked.
“No, you’re supposed to get your ball into the tiny hole while only hitting it with your club as few times as possible. You want to destroy your friends by using as few strokes as possible while still getting it in the hole,” Maria said.
“Oh, Maria, I love it when you talk dirty,” Tony said. Thor looked confused.
Clint coughed. “Ah, Tony, a bit of friendly advice for you – See, I’ve seen that look before and unless you want your balls in your –ah- hole, you might want to keep those comments to yourself where Maria is concerned.”
Tony raised his eyebrows. “Have you experienced said rearrangement?”
“No,” Clint said, leaning in, “but I’ve seen it done.” Clint looked about as serious as Darcy ever seen him. “It isn’t pretty,” he added in a whisper.
Tony whistled. Thor looked like his confusion was fading into boredom which meant something else might shortly get the hammer and Darcy decided it was time to get back to golf.
“Well, if we’re gonna have beer golf we’re going to need beer!” she said, which thankfully got everyone back on track. Natasha grabbed a bottle of Miller Lite, which surprised Darcy, but she thought better of voicing the question. Darcy got a Blue Moon, with an orange slice. She wasn’t a great shot so she figured she could at least enjoy every drink she had to take for her misses.
Thor got what could only be described as a tankard of ale and clearly didn’t understand that if he wanted to maintain his aim he should probably not drink between golf strokes, but this was Thor and since his tolerance was rather high it wasn’t like anyone was going to argue with him. Tony got some fancy, dark beer Darcy had never heard of, but thought looked quite strong. Maria had a Corona which had a come with a lime wedge she’d pressed down into the neck of the bottle.
Finally, Clint grabbed a Guinness and announced that the most interesting man in the world did not in fact drink Dos Equis or have a white, fluffy beard.
“I think you have beard envy,” Natasha responded.
“I’ve grown better beards than that setting up a shot,” Clint countered.
“It did always take you too long to take your shot,” she quipped back.
“Children!” Tony’s voice was not especially loud, but it was loud enough to gain everyone’s attention. “Let’s settle this like adults,” he said, smiling like the cat that caught the mouse, “with beer golf.”
Darcy was tipsy by the third hole. By the fourth hole, Thor had finished five tankards of whatever he was drinking (plus whatever liquor Tony was slipping into each of Thor’s drinks) and was therefore quite drunk. In that time he had also managed to break a putter and lose three golf balls. By the fifth hole, he was pouting and Tony didn’t look much better as Natasha and Clint had better-than-perfect scores and no one else was even close.
On hole six, Tony gave up saying, “I know when I’m beat. Thor, what do you say to bumper cars?”
“I would like that very much!” he said, looking joyful to leave the game behind.
Darcy was losing terribly. Maria would have kicked almost anyone else’s ass, but she was playing against a sniper and an assassin. She was good, but she also didn’t have the sheer crazy that those two had about not missing. Darcy and Maria eventually let the two of them go ahead while they went more leisurely, drinking when they felt like it and occasionally actually attempting to make a shot.
“Darcy!” a voice called from behind her. “I’m so sorry.”
Darcy turned to see Steve running up; Bruce not far behind him. “What’s the matter?”
“I broke a golf club,” he said. “I’m so sorry.”
Darcy sighed. “I’m sure it’ll be fine. I think Thor broke a few and part of the windmill. Don’t worry about it.”
“That’s good to hear,” Bruce said. Darcy looked at him quizzically a moment trying to figure out what was off before he continued, “Because I broke one, too.” Darcy realized some of his clothes were disheveled and he was looking a little sheepish. Bruce added, “I got a little upset when my drives kept hooking to the left.”
“Ah,” Darcy said, “I’m sure it’ll be fine. At least you don’t appear to have fully changed.”
“No. Me and the other guy are getting better at cohabitating,” he said. He looked like he might have been about to say something else when the sounds of crashing, followed by a crunch filled Darcy’s ears. She covered her face. She didn’t know exactly what happened, but it couldn’t have come from anywhere except the bumper cars.
When she looked up, Tony and Thor were running to her.
“Friend I may have, as you put it, bought something,” Thor told Darcy.
“I gathered,” Darcy said dryly. “We’ll figure it out, Thor. For now why don’t you try something else?”
“I’ve got this,” Tony said, “you are going to love it.” He guided the larger man away with him.
Bruce and Steve looked at each other and appeared to come to an agreement as they followed behind Thor and Tony.
“Where’s Coulson?” Darcy asked, before they could get too far away.
“Enjoying not being responsible, at least according to him. I think that means he is staying down at the driving range,” Steve said.
“Thanks,” she said. Darcy knew she didn’t have the heart to disrupt Coulson’s time, even if she was still peeved about her iPod.
Clint won mini-golf, but only bit one stroke. Natasha had given him a look when he’d started to needle her about it. Darcy was convinced that Natasha had threatened to withhold sex if he didn’t shut his mouth.
They gathered in the main part of the game room and Darcy took inventory in her head. Two of the bumper cars, one of the “holes” of the mini golf course, several golf clubs, and more golf balls than Darcy would have thought were kept by any one establishment were going to have to be replaced or at least the very least repaired.
It was then that she heard a sort of sad bleeping noise. Following the noise, she quickly found the source.
“Okay, who broke the Whack-A-Mole?” Darcy shouted.
Several people pointed to Thor, who looked sheepish and appeared to be attempting to hide something large behind his back.
“Thor,” Maria, the normally contained agent almost gasped. “Did you use Mjolnir on the plastic gophers?”
“The creatures kept rising even after I beat them!” Thor reasoned.
Darcy pushed her glasses up so that she could pinch the bridge of her nose. For a moment she wished she’d not done this so spur of the moment. She could have had Jane out here from New Mexico to help wrangle the well-intentioned-but-often-destructive-Asgardian and possibly some of the other Avengers as well.
Sighing, Darcy decided that even if Jane could’ve helped, which wasn’t all that likely really, it didn’t matter now.
“It’s all right, Darcy,” she heard Tony say. Since it was Tony she braced herself for the Stark Snark which was sure to follow. “I’ll take care of it,” he said.
Darcy wasn’t sure she’d heard that correctly. Yes, Tony was loaded, but he’d spent a lot of money not only on this day already, plus on a lot of other Avenger projects that didn’t really profit him in the way of traditional currency (though it might help keep his ass alive and defeat bad guys trying to take over the Earth which benefited most of the world).
“Is it not the point of the game to defeat the puny rodents?” Thor asked, genuinely confused.
Tony clasped Thor’s arm barely containing his laughter. “It’s really not a game anyone wins.”
“I do not understand,” Thor said.
“Since I’ve bought it, let’s take it back to the Tower,” Tony announced.
“Why?” Coulson asked. “He’s mostly destroyed it.”
“I want to see if Clint can get arrows the little suckers’ heads,” Tony answered. “Fifty bucks says he can’t.”
“Make it a hundred and you’re on, Stark,” Clint retorted, looking very keen at the prospect.
“Actually, come to think of it, I like this place. I say we keep it. Darcy, let’s buy it.” Tony said.
“Excuse me?” Darcy asked.
“Find me the owner. I want it and it shall be mine.”
“Um, won’t Pepper kill you?” Darcy asked.
“Probably,” Tony said, “but that’s not unusual. Have fun without me for a bit, ladies and gents, I’m going to stop Darcy from having a heart attack. When I get back, we’re going to christen this place right.”
As he said it, he guided Darcy away from the sounds of things breaking and grown men whooping. Grown men should not whoop, she thought.
“Darcy, darling, it’s going to be fine,” Tony said.
“You’re seriously going to buy the place - just up” she lifted her hands palms up, “and buy it.” Keeping them palms up, she moved her hands in a line across her body and then lowered them so they were level with her waist.
“Yes,” he answered.
Darcy rubbed her face. “Fury is going to kill me.”
“Fury won’t care so long as he doesn’t have to pay for it. We’d better legally gag all the staff here though and confiscate their phones.”
“Already done,” Coulson said as he strode over. “Any of these guys breathe a word of this and they’re likely to end up in a place where they have to ask permission to use the bathroom.”
“Good,” Tony said. “Hire the decent ones on permanently.”
“I am not your secretary,” Coulson said.
“Then ask Natasha to do it,” Tony countered.
“I’ll take care of it,” Coulson relented.
“Thank you,” Tony said.
“Are you sure about this?” Darcy asked.
“Darcy, you have been attempting to create a family out of people who can barely call themselves coworkers half the time and tonight everyone got along. Even Steve and I didn’t fight. This idea was perfect. Everyone loves it and honestly, we need something like this. We can add on to it now and I think I have some really good ideas for additions already. What do you think of a go-kart track for the bumper cards?”
Darcy gave him what she hoped came across as a pleading look. She must have succeeded because he leaned over and kissed her forehead. “And I can’t stand to see a damsel in distress.”
Darcy smiled. “I love you, too, Tony.”