Chapter 1: Teacher's Assistant
“So, anyway, he’s really cute but I don’t know, he might—“ Darcy sighed and held the phone away from her ear as Tony cut in.
“IS HE HURTING YOU? I SWEAR, I’LL KICK HIS ASS INTO—“
“Uh, what your Dad means to say is that he’s a little concerned about your relationship with…this…James fellow,” Steve coughed awkwardly; Darcy could almost see the brilliant red flush that her Papa was probably sporting.
“Oh, don’t worry about that, Papa! He’s a really bad kisser anyway and he doesn’t know the difference between Star Wars and Stark Trek. I’ll break it to him later tonight or something.” Darcy set the phone on speaker and put it down on the table when her microwave dinged cheerily.
“That’s—well, as long as you’re fine with it, I’m alright. Are you excited for your last semester?”
“Ugh no, I have so much work to do,” Darcy said through a mouthful of Easy Mac and Cheese. “I have my stupid senior thesis and my advisor is making me take physics to fulfill my distribution requirements which is like so lame.”
“Physics is not lame!” Tony squawked into the phone, cutting Steve’s reply off again. “Sometimes I wonder what you do with your Stark genes, Darcy Lewis Stark.”
“What—who told you that?!”
Darcy snorted and almost choked on her food. “Yeah, okay Dad. Sure. I’ll keep supporting you and your illusions. Anyway, class starts in a few days and then I’m going to be graduating and then I have to be a real adult. Gross. Unless, of course, you let me join your super secret ninja superhero—“
“No,” Steve said, his tone brooking absolutely no argument. “We had this conversation already. You are not joining SHIELD in any capacity. That’s final.”
“But—but Papa—ugh.” Darcy set aside her instant meal and flopped back onto her bed. “Fine. I’ll just talk to Aunt Tasha instead.”
“Oh my god, no, no, Natasha will turn her into some kind of Terminator killing machine, Steve—“
“I’ll talk to Natasha later on, don’t worry Tony—she’s off on some Classified mission in Eastern Europe anyway.”
Darcy rolled her eyes and said, “Yeah, okay, talk about me like I’m not on the phone. Great parenting, guys.”
“Darcy, you know why we’re doing this,” Steve said patiently. “It’s far, far too dangerous—“
“And I’ll go step on a mine and blow myself up or be kidnapped for blackmail and information—I know. But it’s what I want to do. I’m good at this.”
Steve sighed. “We’ll talk about this later, okay pumpkin? I’m sure you have better things to do than argue with your parents.”
“Yeah, okay, I’ll let you off the hook this time,” Darcy threatened. “But next time we Skype, I’ll email you an entire PowerPoint presentation.”
“I’ll look forward to it,” Steve promised. “Bye, sweetie.”
“Bye! And tell Dad I love him.”
“I love you too, you little grease monkey,” Tony shouted in the distance and Darcy laughed. God, her parents were such dorks.
“Hello, everyone! Professor Dinkleberg is at a panel in Boston right now, so he can’t be here for the first few days of class. Instead, you get me.”
The class stared at the TA in silence. The TA coughed a little and flushed. “So! Physics. Exciting stuff, isn’t it?”
Darcy swore she could hear crickets chirping right behind her. “Well, anyway, if one of you could be so kind as to— thanks.” Some random girl in the front started passing around pieces of paper. “That’s your syllabus going around right now—Professor Dinkleberg will be teaching General Physics this term; as you can see all the lessons, assignments and projects are listed in chronological order with the final…at the end. So.”
He looked at the class expectantly; the class looked back in silence. “Anyone…have any questions?”
Darcy raised her hand. “Is this going to be a mostly lecture based class or…?”
The TA visibly brightened and ran a hand through his fluffy hair. “Good question! From what I know of Professor Dinkleberg, it’ll be a mixed class. Some days we’ll be covering lectures, the others we’ll probably be in the lab doing some basic experiments and demonstrations. Really, the possibilities are endless.”
Darcy grinned. “Does this mean we’re going to blow stuff up?”
“Well…” The TA looked contemplative. “We could. It’s possible.”
“Sweet.” A guy in the back row nodded his approval. “Sounds hella rad.”
“Yes. Rad. Thank you for your commentary.” Mr. TA smiled a little dryly and Darcy leaned forward, intrigued. He had a nice smile—too bad it looked like he needed a shave. And a lot of coffee.
“So. Would anyone here like to explain to me what exactly physics is? Anyone?”
Another girl in the front raised her hand.
“You there, yes. Would you like to answer?”
“I actually have another question.”
“Oh, well, go ahead.”
“What’s your name?”
Mr. TA flushed again, his cheeks a bright red. “Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize—Bruce. Bruce Banner. I’m in the PhD program for nuclear physics. Nice to meet you all.”
Darcy smiled and slid her phone out of her pocket. Jane would probably have all the dirt on the new cute physics TA—second term was definitely looking up.
Chapter 2: TA away
darcy gets some deets, meets bruce and falls
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“Come on girl, give me some deets.”
“Oh god, you child of the nineties,” Jane sighed, wagging her curly fry at Darcy disapprovingly. “Deets? Honestly—“
“Bruce Banner, doctorate in nuclear physics, fluffy hair, glasses, has a fondness for purple shirts,” Darcy reeled off. “So. Hit anything?”
“Bruce? He’s TAing Gen Physics? God, I pity him, if he has to deal with Philistines like you with absolutely no appreciation for the fine art of Calculus.” Jane chomped on her fry with a satisfying crunch. “He’s pretty smart but a little shy—doesn’t talk much about himself outside of his work. Why?”
Darcy rolled her eyes. “Why else? So I can dig up some blackmail on him in the eventual probability I’ll be failing physics and need a way out. Plus, he’s cute. Why wouldn’t I want to know more about him?”
Jane stared at her for a long moment before turning back to her lunch. “Sometimes,” she said conversationally. “I really don’t understand how your mind works.”
“Yeah, well, you weren’t exactly babysat by my Aunt Tasha. She uh…taught me a lot. About stuff. Like blackmail,” Darcy fudged.
Jane arched a brow. “Seriously?”
“Trust me,” she sighed. “You don’t want to know. I had a weird childhood."
“Yeah, duh, your Dad is Iron Man.”
“Case in point.” Darcy stole a fry and held it triumphantly. “Ha! I got one!”
“I let you have that,” Jane said and rolled her eyes. “So, how’re the rest of your classes like?”
“Just crap I have to take to finish up my major and I have to work on my senior thesis, blah blah blah why are we talking about things that I have absolute no interest in?” Darcy demanded. “We should do fun things! Like go out and drink and party and hook up with guys that we’ll never see again.”
“Yes, of course Id, but unlike some people, I am in a steady relationship.”
Darcy slapped her forehead dramatically and gasped, “You’re cheating on me, Jane? I can’t believe it—after all we’ve been through and the gifts I’ve given you and the vows we swore—“
“Don’s been hinting about you-know-what,” Jane said meaningfully, raising her eyebrows suggestively.
Darcy wrinkled her nose. “Sex?”
“Oh god,” Darcy said, eyes widening. “ABORT, ABORT MISSION.”
“What? He’s a good man,” Jane defended, waving a fry like a sword. “He’s sweet, cute—“
“And so utterly dull,” Darcy said, gagging. “I’ve seen banana peels with more personality.”
“He’s a doctor! He doesn’t—you know. Talk much.”
“And I thought they were supposed to be the smart ones.” Darcy sighed and put a hand on Jane’s. “But, hey, it’s your life. And if you’re happy, then I’ll be sort of maybe just a little happy too for you, okay?”
Jane smiled. “Coming from you, that actually means a lot.”
“Hey, can I have the rest of your fries?”
“I take it back. And no touchy.”
“…You there. Yes, you. The one in the rainbow colored shirt.” Janine poked Darcy in the arm and she looked up blearily, wincing as the bright light of the projector hit her eyes.
“Urgh,” Darcy said.
Professor Dinkleberg looked at her reprovingly and turned back to the PowerPoint. “Now, if some of us hadn’t stayed out past an appropriate hour and instead had applied themselves to their notes, they would have realized that the answer to the question would be fifty joules.”
“God, I fucking hate this asshat,” Darcy moaned into her hands, trying to rub life back into her cheeks.
“What were you even doing?” Janine whispered out of the corner of her mouth.
“Not applying myself to my notes, apparently,” Darcy said dryly and drank from her bottle of water. “Just the usual—doughnuts, cold pizza, beer pong, Irish Car Bombs…”
“You’re barely scraping by in class—you do want that degree, right?”
“Ugh, Papa would so kill me if I made it this far without one. Well, more like look at me and talk about how proud he was but in a really disappointed voice—eugh, why are you doing this me, Janine? Why? It’s like cruel and unusual torture to mention things like graduating to a severely hung-over gal.”
Darcy lifted her head, plastered on her best I’m-an-angel smile and said, “Why hello there Professor Dinkleberg! So nice to see you. Honestly. Are you teaching up here in the very last row today? How kind of—“
“I do hope that I won’t see you here next term, Ms. Stark, but I’m afraid it’s an inevitability. But would you be so kind as to whisper more quietly, next time?” Professor Dinkleberg gave her a thin smile and trooped back down the stairs, laser pointer in hand. The water bottle in Darcy’s made a pathetic squeaking noise as it was slowly crushed to death in her hand.
“I am going to kill him,” Darcy swore. “With my sheer awesomeness.”
Janine patted Darcy’s shoulder gingerly. “Good luck with that.”
“Hi, nice to—“ Bruce blinked a whirlwind brushed past him and into his office, a trail of candy wrappers and chewed pens settling on the floor in its wake. It settled down in the only chair available—his own—and propped up a stack of textbooks and papers on his desk.
“So, what do you take payment in? Cash? Credit? Chocolate chip brownies?”
Bruce blinked again. The whirlwind had resolved itself into a student with long brown hair, a ratty Captain America shirt and shorts. “…Hello?” he tried.
“Oh, yeah, hi, how ya doing, hola, greetings from outer space,” she said, pinning her hair up with a pair of number two pencils. “So. How much do I have to pay you and what do I have to pay you in to help me pass Physics?”
“…Oh,” Bruce said, comprehension dawning on his face. “You’re a student. Professor Dinkleberg’s class, right?”
“Sadly, yes.” She made a face. “Darcy Lewis Stark sending out an SOS call. If I don’t pass this class, poof—“ She made a vague hand motion, which Bruce assumed was supposed to indicate some sort of explosion. “Bye, bye four year poli sci degree.”
Now this was ground he was familiar with. “Well, you’ve come to the right place. Do you have any unit or worksheet you’re having a problem with—“
Darcy Lewis Stark pulled out a stack of papers, a binder and one very fat textbook from her messenger bag along with a very sparkly rainbow colored pen from her pants pocket. “Everything,” she said solemnly, her eyes grave.
“…Well, I guess we’ll just start at the beginning, then?”
Darcy Lewis Stark smiled at him, cheeks dimpling. “Teach away, Mr. Banner.” Bruce tried to ignore the way his cheeks were threatening to permanently turn red. “I’ll just—“ He sat on the edge of his desk and picked up the textbook Darcy handed him.
“Hang on,” he said, brow furrowing. “I haven’t seen this before—is this—“ He turned it back to the cover. “Anthony E. Stark—“
Darcy flushed, her cheeks turning a bright pink. “It’s my Dad’s,” she said, a little hesitantly. “I’ve been using it because he has all these little notes in it and it’s lucky.”
“But—he’s the author—you don’t mean—“
“Oh, yeah,” Darcy shrugged. “My Dad’s Tony Stark.”
“Huh,” Bruce said. “Okay. So, the first chapter’s on—“
“Wait, you’re not going to freak out on me?” Darcy put a hand up, Stop sloppily scrawled onto her palm with a Sharpie.
“Why would I freak out on you?”
“Because. You know. My Dad. Is kind of. Famous?"
Bruce quirked a brow. “I sort of thought I was here to help you learn physics, not ask you for Tony Stark’s autograph.”
“Wow.” Darcy leaned back in her seat and smiled, a little shy. “This has never happened before.”
“I guess there’s always a first,” he said, taking his glasses off and cleaning them a little self-consciously. “So. Where were we?”
“The answer to the question of life, the universe and everything,” Darcy said, chewing on the end of her pen.
“Ah, then that’s simple—the answer would be forty two.”
Darcy raised her hand—it was the other one, which thankfully, had nothing scribbled on it. “Put it up, come on,” she insisted. “Science geek high five.”
Bruce smiled crookedly and returned the gesture, the other hand clutching Darcy’s textbook. “Am I being initiated into some kind of cult?” he joked.
“Fee’s ten bucks a year and we have monthly secret meetings where we watch cool TV shows. Next month is the second season of Star Trek: The Next Gen,” Darcy said without batting a lash. “Red shirts are mandatory.”
“…You’re not serious?”
“No, I’m Darcy Lewis Stark,” she said, cracking up. “Oh god, your face, it’s perfect—“
Bruce sighed but his eyes were amused. “Okay, okay, let’s get back to work before we’re sidetracked again.”
“Party pooper.” Darcy stuck her tongue out at him, twirling her pen in her hand. “Okay, okay. Physics. I got my game face on. Let’s do this.”
“Are you ready for this? We’re going to talk about Newton’s three laws,” Bruce said, leaning down from his seat on the desk.
“Oh,” Darcy said faintly in her chair, fanning herself with a sheet of paper. “This is so intense, I can’t handle it. It’s too much for my poor constitution. Why, I just don’t know what I’ll do with myself.” Her eyes met Bruce’s and they both burst into laughter. “Oh god, we are never going to get any work done,” she groaned, fixing her makeshift pencil ‘do.
“We can but try,” Bruce smiled and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “Okay, so, what’s can you tell me about the first law?”
“Hi Dad, so— oh. Hi, JARVIS. Are they still—yeah, okay. I see. Tell them I love them as soon as you can, okay? Where are they—classified? Got it. Just. Um. Do you know when they’ll be back? Oh. Okay. I’ll try to call back later, then. Thanks, JARVIS, you’re the best—don’t ever let Dad tell you otherwise. Uh huh. Bye.” Darcy hung up and sighed, setting her phone down on the coffee table.
“So. To play Temple Run or catch up on my reading?” Darcy asked the coffee shop ceiling. She nodded contemplatively. “Thanks, got it, going to try to beat my all time high score.”
“Is this seat taken?”
Darcy looked up from her phone and smiled. “Hey, Teach! Sit, sit, please.” She cleared off her bag and waved her hand at the empty seat.
Bruce smiled back at her, the corners of his eyes crinkling. “Thanks—the place is packed and I thought I was going to have to sit outside in the rain.”
“Oh, that would be terrible,” she grinned and took a sip from her chai latte. “So, what brings you off campus?”
“I’m actually here to see my girlfriend and her band,” Bruce said, sipping from his cup of coffee. “Bette and the Rossettes.”
Darcy choked on her latte and spewed it all over her physics notes. “Sorry, wrong pipe—sounds nice. Ahem. Sorry.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Bruce said, handing her some napkins. “Do you need some more, or—“
“Oh, it’s fine, I got it,” Darcy said, waving off his help. “So. Uh. Girlfriend. And band?”
“Yeah,” Bruce smiled, a little shy. “She’s performing in Le Poisson Rouge in about a half hour.”
“That sounds…great!” Darcy said slowly, still dabbing at the drops of liquid on her blouse. “I’m sure you’ll have a good time, catching up and listening to music and…other stuff.”
“Would you like to go? I have an extra pass and if you’d like—“
“Oh, I couldn’t, honestly—“
“It’ll be fun,” Bruce said, taking her hand gently. “I think you’ll really like it.”
“Oh, well—if you say so,” Darcy said lightly, ignoring how her heart was suddenly plunging into her stomach. “I guess I can’t say no.”
“Great!” he beamed at her. “It’ll the best.”
“The best,” Darcy echoed a little faintly. “Of course.”
because i love college AUs with a burning passion, ok