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Frankie Says Relax

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Darcy hates the nightshift.

During the nightshift she gets the skeevey guys who think it's okay to stare at her boobs and try lame pick up lines. Right after she trots out the pie specials, like clockwork, the blond guy in the booth says, "Hey, I know you, right?"

"Let me guess, from your dreams last night?" she asks, raising an eyebrow and tapping her pen against her order pad. The guy looks adorably confused for a moment and Darcy thinks maybe the nightshift wouldn't be quite so bad if all the cheesey one-liners came from men that had old timey movie star good looks.


"Congratulations, you can read a name tag," Darcy says, trying to maintain her smile while snarking at him because that way Bruno in the kitchen can't tell she's being a smartass. She brushes a hand down her burnt orange and mustard yellow uniform, a color combination that is kind to no one's complexion and lets out a calming breath. "Look buddy, do us both a favor and just order, okay?"

"Jane's assistant Darcy, right?" he says, smacking a hand on the table that makes the whole thing rattle and his cutlery jump, looking pleased.

Darcy frowns, because no one outside SHIELD and a very tiny number of scientists would know that-

"Oh my god, sorry, I didn't recognize you, geez," Darcy says in a rush, gesturing at him, because the guy sitting in her section is Captain America. She hasn't really been formally introduced but he's hard to miss, a bright spot amongst all the suits and somber expressions. He wasn't someone she was expecting to see in a Pink Floyd t-shirt.

He looks down at himself and back up at her before he chuckles, plucking at the shirt. "Not really my style it's true," he admits. "I kinda wore out my own stuff and I've been reduced to being dressed by Stark."

"His cruelty knows no bounds," Darcy says. While she doesn't object to the shirt in theory, it just doesn't look right on Steve Rogers. He's got an era thing going and forcing him out of it doesn't sit well.

"I guess I'll get used to it," Steve says. "Last time I was dressing myself there were clothing rations. I was always more comfortable in a uniform anyway." He huffs and then looks up at her. "You work here?"

It's a genuine question so Darcy tamps down the urge to make with the sarcastic answer and tell him that no, it's just a hobby. "Gotta pay the bills," she says.

"But you work for SHIELD," Steve says, confusion plain on his features.

"As an unpaid intern," Darcy says. "They can't technically hire me because I might have a teeny, tiny, barely there police record."

"You do?" Steve says, plainly shocked.

"It's nothing bad, I swear," Darcy says. She waggles her order pad, wanting a reason to escape the discomfited look on Steve's face. "What can I get you?"

"Oh, um, whatever pie is good," Steve says and she feels his eyes on her back all the way to the counter.

Darcy sighs when Bruno gives her the stink-eye from the grill and tries not to let it bother her that Captain America now thinks she's a bad person.


Darcy's surprised when Steve appears in Jane's lab the next afternoon. He's wearing a plain black shirt which is better but still not right. He might be from a muted time but he's a guy built for color.

"Hey, hi," he says, making his way over to her station and ignoring the way everyone else has stopped what they're doing to stare.

"You look like a bouncer," Darcy says, can't really help it.

"I... is that bad?" he asks, shakes his head before Darcy can answer. "Um, look, I talked to Agent Coulson."


"About SHIELD not paying you to work here so you had to get another job," Steve says and Darcy just blinks at him.

"You... why?"

"It's not right. You're doing important work here."


"He said he couldn't do anything," Steve says.

"Oh," Darcy says, not really sure what else to offer. It was nice of him to try and she wasn't really expecting-

"But he said that I could hire you," Steve barrels on, smiling. Darcy just stares at him, for long enough that the smile droops a little. "If you... I mean, unless you like your other job?"

"I hate the diner," Darcy says. "It was just close to here."

"Oh okay, then great."

"No, wait, I don't want charity," Darcy says. Darcy's her mother's daughter, a woman who raised three girls on her own and taught them to be tough and always, always self-sufficient.

"Not... no," Steve says quickly. "I'm hiring you."

"To do what?"

"I get a lot of mail," Steve says. "SHIELD weeds out the really crazy stuff but there's still a lot of... uh, embarrassing stuff?" Darcy watches a faint pink dust his cheek bones. "Some stuff I'd rather not..."

"You could just ignore it."

"No, I like most of it," Steve says. "I like answering the letters from kids mostly. I just..."

"There's too much of it?"

"Exactly. Plus there's the electronic kind of mail that..." Steve shudders, almost delicately which makes Darcy smile. "Anyway, I thought with you here, then if Jane needed you, it was still close-"

"Captain, yes. You don't have to convince me to give up my crappy diner job to help you answer fanmail."


Darcy takes Steve shopping when he turns up in a Frankie Says Relax t-shirt with a, "Now I know Stark's just taking the piss," thrown over her shoulder as she tows Steve out of headquarters. He doesn't object, looks ridiculously relieved in fact when Darcy marches him to a cute little retro store she knows and he's surrounded by plaid and block color.

She figures since he didn't exactly give her a job title or description she can expand the purview of her position how she likes.

Loaded down with bags and a lot of pasta, Steve looks more relaxed and happy than she's ever seen him as they head back.

"Thanks for today," he says, genuinely warm and sets down the bags to hug her.

"Just doing my duty, sir," she says with a salute and he laughs.


Darcy gets Steve and therefore herself an office. She convinces the Site Manager to bypass the other people waiting on space with signed photographs and limited edition action figures and only feels a little bad about it. She gets a couple of junior agents to help move in two desks, set up a computer for herself and a writing space for Steve.

She steps back to survey her good work when they're done and squeaks in surprise when she knocks into someone.

The woman known as Black Widow has appeared out of thin air, looking more chic than anyone has a right to outside of the movies. Darcy edges away from her, a little unsettled. Steve talks about his team, says that Natasha is a lot warmer and funnier than anyone would think but a small part of Darcy is still terrified to be in a room alone with her.

"Hi," Darcy says, actually gives her a dorky little wave but drops her hand immediately, feeling like an idiot.

"I'm interested in sub-contracting your services," Natasha says, making her way over to Steve's desk, touching pens and the bobble-head of Ironman she found.

"You... what?"

"Captain Rogers has hired you and he said I could borrow you for a reasonable fee, if you agreed."

"Depends what you need," Darcy says, crossing to her own desk.

Natasha casts about for a second, before she nods. "I have a... small problem."

"You're not trying to hire me for a hit are you?" Darcy asks slowly.

"Um, no," she says, one eyebrow arched. "A few months ago I broke up a human trafficking ring. I found one of the younger girls an appropriate foster family that she likes a great deal."

"That sounds..." Darcy immediately feels affection for Natasha, wonders what it would be like to do something so meaningful for someone else.

"I have grown... fond of her and she seems to like me. She has a birthday coming up and I'd like to get her something."

"Oh, right. Shopping I can totally do," Darcy says, snatches a pad of paper off her desk and one of her own pens. "What does she like?"

"I'm... not really sure?" Natasha says. "She's twelve but at that age I wasn't exactly..." Natasha makes a helpless gesture with her hands.

"You know what it sounds like she'd want most?" Darcy says, eyeing the way Natasha, someone usually so still and collected, is fidgeting. "Your time."


"Take her out for a special day, something she'll really remember. I don't think you want to just buy her stuff. My mom took me ice skating or to the movies."

"That's... that sounds okay," Natasha admits. "Where do I take her?"

"I'll arrange a couple of things. Just free up a day and clear it with her folks and I'll do the rest." Darcy taps her lip for a second. "Okay, maybe get someone to give you the next gen Starkpad for her as well. Those things are badass. Anyway, you can trust me with the other stuff."

Natasha snaps back to stoic, says, "Trust has nothing to do with it. I'm paying you. If I'm displeased with the results, you won't be receiving compensation."

Darcy tries not to believe that what Natasha is really saying is, If I'm displeased they won't find the body.

Doctor Bruce Banner is the next one to find her. He's adorably rumpled and nervous when he asks her if she wouldn't mind handling the numerous speaking engagement and event invitations he receives. "I don't want to ignore them but it kind of stresses me out to have to say no that much."

"Do you think you could try doing a couple?" Darcy asks, shuffling through the stack of envelopes he hands over. "Maybe ease back into it with a couple of low-key lectures?"

Bruce looks dubious, but Darcy can tell that he does want to, maybe misses teaching more than he realized. She accepts a couple of requests on his behalf, makes sure they don't advertise him as the speaker so he doesn't get mobbed and goes with him so he has someone to focus on if things do get a little tense.

"I'm... this is good," he says and Darcy smiles and pats him on the shoulder, liking the way he opens up under positive attention.

Darcy gets an apartment that's closer to SHIELD and has no black mold or screaming neighbours. She has a standing dinner slash drinks date Wednesdays with Natasha and Maria Hill who are hilarious and merciless when drunk and finds Steve a couple of charity organizations to devote himself to that means he spends less time in the gym murdering innocent punching bags.

Jane watches Darcy set a bowl of fruit salad in front of her pointedly because poptarts do not count as her five-a-day no matter what Jane thinks and says, "This... whatever it is you're doing now. It really suits you."

"I think so too," Darcy agrees.

Tony waltzes into her office without knocking and says, "Apparently everyone's paying you to do stuff." He's looking disgruntled. "I seem to be missing out."

"Don't you have a lot of people you pay to do stuff?" Darcy asks and Tony makes a displeased noise.

"I have a craving for African food. I'll hire you to come with."

Darcy just stares at him for a moment. He's obviously a guy who gets his own way a lot and it's not doing him any favors. "Get out," Darcy says.

"I'm sorry, what?" Tony splutters, indignant.

"Get out of this office, come back and ask me to lunch like a normal person, nicely." Darcy just glares at him until Tony backs out, looking a little scared. A few minutes later, when Darcy's starting to think that maybe Tony just kept on backing up until he was all the way out of the SHIELD office, there's a gentle tap at the door. "Come in?"

Tony's head pokes through the crack in the door. "Is there an insane person in this room that would like to go to lunch?" he asks.

"I said nicely," Darcy says primly, but picks up her bag anyway. "I'm starting to see why you don't have any friends outside of the ones on your payroll or on a team with you."

"Hey, I already pay someone to insult me, you can't have that job," Tony says, but he's offering her an arm and grinning.

Darcy bursts into Coulson's office without warning because she likes the way it makes his eyebrows squinch together. "They need a day off," she announces, flopping into the chair in front of his desk.

"Miss Lewis, there's a way these things go, usually," he says.

"They went straight from doombots to ninja zombies then shark men. They need a break."

"They weren't ninja zombies. They were everyday, run-of-the-mill zombies," Coulson says and Darcy raises an eyebrow.

"Are you hearing yourself right now?" Darcy chews on her lip for a second. "Is doombot one word or two?"

Coulson sighs, long and pointed. "Alright, what are you suggesting?"

"Epic paintball battle," Darcy says, scooching forward in her chair and holding her arms high.

"You think it'll be relaxing to spend a day shooting at each other?"

"For the average person, no. For them... I think it might do them some good to work out their aggression in a family-friendly way."

"Any other suggestions?"

"Have you seen Steve lately? He looks like he really wants to shoot Tony in the face."

"I can understand the urge," Coulson says with a grim little smirk.

"Wouldn't it be better with harmless paint pellets instead of something more lethal?"

"You'll organize it?"

"Already underway," Darcy says. "There'll even be cupcakes for after."

There's a paintball field on converted farmland that's usually sectioned off into three separate areas. Darcy hires the whole place and when the guy sounds dubious on the phone she says, "Trust me, they need the space."

She's setting up the refreshment area with Jane when Tony wanders over, wearing the standard issue coverall that makes everyone look a little dorky and the helmet pushed up on his head. "Not that I'm complaining," he says. "But this activity seems unfairly weighted towards one of our teammates in particular."

Darcy smacks his hand away from the red velvet cupcakes and frowns. The others are coming over, curious, including the one Avenger who hasn't approached her yet, Clint Barton. Thor's looking sour, possibly because Darcy made him leave his hammer at home. "What do you mean?"

"Our lovely expert marksman here is just going to hide up in a tree and pick us all off one by one in an, I'm assuming, embarrassingly short amount of time."

"Hey," Clint grumbles, pouting and Darcy tries not to stare at him because he's managed to make his coverall fitted instead of just a shapeless sack, so much so that she suspects he might have had his own. "You saying I can't play?"

"I'm saying you need a handicap, to make things more fair," Tony says. He manages to snatch a cupcake while Darcy's distracted but she doesn't scold him because he immediately hands off half to Bruce who looks freaked out to be holding a weapon, no matter how harmless.

There's a glint in Tony's eye that Darcy knows means trouble and then he's reaching across the table, snagging her by the hand and tugging her around to propel at Clint. "Barton, say hello to your handicap," he announces.

"Hey!" Darcy protests as Clint catches her by the shoulders.

"Seems fair to me," Natasha says, traitor. "It'll be like old times Clint, protect the civilian."

"Nat," Clint groans, complaint thick in his voice.

"Yep. Lovely Darcy gets shot, you're out too," Tony says.

Clint sighs, sounding put-upon before he taps Darcy on the cheek. "Fine. Suit up, sweetheart."

Darcy tries not to be smug about it, but when Clint just looks at her and asks her how she is at climbing things, clearly eying her curves and being judgmental about them, she just rolls her eyes and shimmies up the nearest tree like a monkey. Clint gives her an impressed nod, but then her smugness takes a little knock sideways when he flips up to the branch above the one she's perched on in a way that shouldn't be possible and also shouldn't look quite so sexy.

He holds a hand down to her and kind of shunts and cajoles her higher up than she feels comfortable with, only made a little better when he settles, bracketing her in with his own body.

"Are we just going to sit up here until someone happens by?" Darcy asks, trying not to let her voice wobble when the only place she can rest her hands is on his extremely hard thigh.

"It's what I do," Clint says, twists around a little and when he turns back he's holding what looks like a modified crossbow that he starts transferring his ammunition into.

"I don't think that's regulation," Darcy says.

"I don't remember any rules about us not being able to bring our own gear," he counters.

"I knew I forgot something," Darcy says and Clint lets out a snort while he shuffles around, apparently finding the perfect spot before he goes completely still. He's scanning the area, quick side to side sweeps of his eyes without moving his head. "Don't you need anything?" Darcy finally asks when the silence gets a little much for her.

"Um, what?" Clint blinks out of his sniper-trance. "You mean right now?"

"No, just... everyone else has hired me-"

"I heard about that."

"Yeah, so, anyway, everyone except you. You don't need me to do anything?"

"Not really, no," he says, catches the way she slumps a little and reaches out a hand to touch her chin. She likes the roughness of his fingers, knows it comes from hard work. "You always seem too... busy."

"Always?" Darcy asks, surprised. She could've sworn until today Clint would've had no idea who she was, maybe apart from the girl always trailing Jane around.

"Yeah, you zip around, makes me tired just watching you."

"I'm not that... I mean, if you needed anything I'd be able to..." Darcy kind of shrugs.

"I mean I'd like to get you to... do stuff," Clint says. He swallows, looks away when he realizes what he's said sounds a little dodgey. "Not... you know what I mean," he grunts and if Darcy didn't know better, she would swear he was blushing. "I was in New Mexico," he blurts, has an expression on his face like he's surprised himself.

"You were?" Darcy says. "I didn't see you."

"You're not supposed to," he huffs, half-grinning. "I saw you though."

"Is this going to get creepy?"

"What? No. I was watching Thor. You were just there a lot. You're kinda hard to miss."

"Really?" Darcy says, starting to smile.

"Did you really tazor him?"

"He was yelling at me about my puny weapon or something right before he went down like a ton of bricks," Darcy remembers with a giggle. "Give the guy some credit though, he did just fall out of the sky and get hit by a car right before. He was having a pretty rough night."

It's quiet for about an hour, Darcy actually almost half-drifting into sleep. She has been pretty busy, run a little ragged by the Avengers who have a lot of demands on their time, so of course in turn, does she.

She's almost completely out, perfect trust in Clint to keep her stable when Thor comes striding across the field without a care in the world, Tony slung over his shoulder covered head to toe in paint splatters. Tony is protesting rather vehemently about being lugged about like a sack of potatoes, demanding to be set down.

"What's he doing?" Darcy asks, bewildered.

"I might have said something to Thor right before we separated about being able to keep whatever he shot."

"Remind me never to get on your bad side," Darcy says, a little in awe of Clint's deviousness.

"Hey kids, having fun?" Natasha asks, from above them and how she managed that Darcy will never know. She's pointing her paint gun at Clint, not Darcy which she's grateful for.

"Thor as a diversion, I should'a seen that one a mile off," Clint grumbles.

"Thor wasn't the diversion," Natasha says, flicks a smirk in Darcy's direction and Clint's blushing again.


Two weeks later and Clint does appear in her office, much the same way Natasha did, but probably not by choice if his expression is anything to go by. He stalks over, puts hands flat on Darcy's desk and growls, "Why am I being told there are a bunch of kids in the foyer waiting for me?"

Darcy squeaks and claps her hands. "Oh good! They're the Junior Hawks." When Clint just looks blank she rummages through her desk until she comes up with a flyer. "I sent you an email and you accepted the calendar invitation to show them around the public areas of SHIELD and give them an archery lesson." When Clint continues to look blank, she adds. "They're adorable and they're really excited."

"Did I do something to piss you off?" Clint finally asks, looking pained.

"No, why?"

"I didn't... there is no way..." Clint's face switches from bewildered to murderous. It's an interesting shift. "This is in some way Stark's doing, I just know it."

Darcy stands, rounds her desk and turns Clint towards the doorway forcibly. "That doesn't matter. They're here now, go be charming and don't make anybody cry."

Clint skids to a stop right before he's shoved through the doorway, spins and grips Darcy by the arms tightly, face panicked. "Oh god, you gotta help me," he says.

"Now you want my services?"

"Yes! Okay? Yes, please."

Darcy relents, because he really does look like he'd rather be facing a firing squad than a bunch of kids dressed like him. "Fine, I'll handle the tour but the archery lesson is on you."

"Perfect," Clint says, moves to escape her but Darcy grabs him by the sleeve before he can disappear.

"Oh no, I'm not letting you out of my sight," she says, making him march, grumbling, all the way up to the foyer in front of her.

Clint crashes Wednesday night drinks the next week and Darcy hears Natasha mutter something that sounds like, subtle, Barton.

He can't drink as much as Natasha and Maria but he tries, not knowing about Darcy's two waters between every glass of booze move that she's had to resort to when she started to worry about the health of her liver. It means that by the end of the night Darcy ends up being the only sober soldier and lumped with Clint who still has deadly aim but can't really walk in a straight line.

She gets him into a cab, has to follow when he won't relinquish his very tight grip on her scarf. "Fine, you're paying," Darcy says, digging through his pockets for his wallet while Clint hiccups and is annoyingly, soddenly cute.

After she comes up with some cash, the cab driver gives her the hairy eyeball and she has to reassure him that she's not actually in the process of mugging Clint.

"She is," Clint protests, batting at Darcy. "She's mugging my heart!"

"Oh god, really?" she sighs as the cab driver guffaws.

"Hey," Clint says, gets a sweaty palm on each side of her face. He looks very seriously into her eyes and, "Did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the wooooorld."

Proceeds to sing at her.

"Wait, hang on!" Darcy says, fumbles for her bag and grabs her phone out, pointing it at Clint. "Okay, please continue," she says.

Darcy takes Clint home, but only because he couldn't remember his address and she would've felt bad about dumping him at SHIELD. She wakes up the next morning and finds him in her bathroom, one hand braced on the sink and the other vigorously scrubbing his mouth out. He's wearing just his jeans with his shirt from the previous night hooked over his shoulder. Darcy takes a moment to appreciate before she clears her throat. "That better not be my toothbrush."

"I found a spare still in the wrapper in the medicine cabinet," he says around it, before tugging it out of his cheek and holding it facing her. "Spongebob Squarepants?"

"Don't hate on the sponge," Darcy says.

"No, believe me, I'm grateful," he says, rinsing the brush and setting it aside. "I'm assuming from the mail on your hall table that this is your apartment?"

"You do any other snooping while I was asleep?" Darcy asks, raising an eyebrow.

"Usually when I wake up somewhere that I don't recognize, it isn't good," he says, tugging his shirt off his shoulder and sniffing it. He pulls a face. "You wouldn't happen to have something I could wear, would you?" he asks.

"Sure," Darcy says, grins to herself as she goes back to her bedroom and finds the Frankie Says Relax t-shirt she confiscated from Steve.

When she presents it, Clint snorts and says, "Do I want to know?"

"Well-" she starts to say but doesn't get to finish her sentence because Clint leans sideways and kisses her, quick and sweet. When he pulls back, Darcy just stares at him for a moment. "Um."

"Sorry, I've just... been wanting to do that for a while."

"Oh well, that's... um." Darcy isn't sure why she can't manage to say anything else and Clint's starting to look a little concerned.

"I didn't... I didn't try anything when I was drunk, did I?" he asks.

"Oh, no. Perfect gentlemen. Other than the stumbling and the singing."

"There was singing?" Clint groans.

"Avenger's Public Liaison," Coulson says.

"I'm sorry?" Darcy was on her way to her office when she was waylaid and unceremoniously ushered into Coulson's.

"I was actually working on getting you instated with full salary and benefits before you took matters into your own hands," Coulson says, handing her a large envelope. "That's all the details."

"Do I get minions?"

"I think you already have them," Coulson says and he's almost smiling. She's thrilled that he's warming to her. "Very unique ones lining up to tell me how invaluable you are."

"Wait, is it going to be an issue that I'm dating one of them?" Darcy asks.

Coulson gives her a very slow blink. "There's a form in your packet for that," he finally says and she grins at him.

"What did you do anyway?"

She's curled up with Clint on the sofa in his SHIELD rooms. He's got a coldpack strapped to one shoulder that she's been poking and he's been trying to stop her poking. She gives him a confused look before her brain catches up. "You mean the police record?" she asks.


Darcy sighs. "I guess you were going to find out eventually. I'm an international jewel thief." When he just gives her a dubious looks she says, "I can totally do that flippy thing through those laser security doohickeys."

"I was doubtful, but then you went and knew all the lingo," Clint says dryly.

"I stole a loaf of bread to feed my family. They were starving and it was the only way, Officer. It's a hard-knock-life after all."


"Insider trading?"

"You're not going to tell me, are you?"

"I thought you would have read my file by now. I know I have one."

"That would be an invasion of your privacy."

Darcy ruffles fingers through his hair. "Aw, good boy."

"I'll find out."

"How, pray tell?"

Clint leans up, the intent look on his face that always makes something warm bloom in her belly. Into the skin of her neck he growls in an atrocious Russian accent that Natasha would kick his ass for, "I have ways of making you talk."

His hands skim her sides and ruck her shirt up. She's really enjoying where this is going until, "Argh, no, tickling's against the Geneva convention! Help!"