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Chapter 1

"Jane, you cannot be serious!" Darcy tried to sound angry and imposing, which was almost impossible when she couldn't speak louder than a whisper, at the frantic woman who was currently packing a small suit case with random things. A hairbrush, a pair of old jeans, a bend metal coat hanger?

"I have to leave now, it will be at least 5 hours before they notice I'm gone, by then I'll be half way to New York." It was the dead of night, and Darcy was beginning to worry about Jane's mental state. Maybe it was Pop-Tart withdrawal? Darcy had spent the first two days in Norway looking for Pop-Tarts, only to be faced with bemused locals who had no idea what she was talking about, apparently Kelloggs didn't think Norway needed rectangular sugary toaster pastries just yet.

"Jane, you can't go to New York on a hunch!" Darcy whispered as loudly as she dared in the semi-dark room they were staying in while Jane was on an 'important assignment from S.H.I.E.L.D'.

"It's not a hunch! What did you think this all was?" The smaller woman threw her hands out to gesture at the room. "The private jet, the ridiculous amounts of money? It was all a distraction." Jane whispered back, sounding like a conspiracy maniac. She was now throwing in only one trainer and a bottle of Darcy's contact lenses cleaning solution, she probably thought it was shampoo.

Darcy's eyes were wide when she asked, "A distraction from what?"

Jane paused, for the first time she looked up at the younger woman, tears threatening to spill out of her eyes and a lost look on her face. "I don't know, but I think-" She sighed, Darcy felt her heart clench at her friends pain. "I hope it's him. I think he's back and they're hiding it from me." Jane covered her mouth with her hand as she gasped at her own words, trying not to let the tears fall.

Darcy shook her head, knowing she would regret this the second she said it. "Fine, but I'm going with you."

Jane gave a small sad smile and mouthed the words 'Thank you' as Darcy began to pick up useful things they would need to get to New York. Passports, purses and mobiles. She stopped for a second and took the batteries out of their phones before shoving them in each of their handbags, she had seen people do this in the movies and knew it made it harder for people to track them, although S.H.I.E.L.D would know exactly where they were and what they were planning to do as soon as they stepped into the airport.

Darcy was thankful she had just started reading her book. It was going to be a long flight, and she would need something to do.

"Jane, are you sure about this?" She asked, her tone gentle. Jane nodded as she started the engine of the rental car.

"I have to be." Was all she said as they sped out of the research facility they had called home for the past week, hoping that the 'research assistants' who were more useless then Darcy was and obviously S.H.I.E.L.D agents decided to have a lay in today, giving them more time to 'Thelma and Louise' it to New York as Darcy had now affectionately labeled it. She knew Jane wouldn't appreciate her humor; so she kept quiet as they raced down the empty roads at 2 in the morning.


Darcy was oddly happy. Jane had turned out to be right, like she always was, and now Darcy was standing in the abandoned streets of Manhattan. Well, she thought, not really abandoned, as she easily counted 20 weird alien things wreaking havoc, chasing people down the streets and flying above her in weird space pods. And there she was, standing as calmly as she could, waiting to spot a man flying around with a giant hammer and a red cape. She gripped Jane's hand tighter when she saw something red flying around the tops of some buildings and was about to yell at Jane when she stopped. The red figure sent a bright yellow pulse behind it towards a giant black robot space snake thing. Just Ironman, she thought bitterly, trying not to freak out over the absurdity of this whole situation.

She watched Ironman fly past the tallest building in New York, Stark Tower, of course Tony Stark would own that. She rolled her eyes, but then caught a glimpse of a familiar red cape blowing in the wind.

"Jane!" Darcy turned her head towards other woman, her eyes never leaving the two men fighting on the balcony so high she almost couldn't tell if it was them or not. "I think that's him!" She pointed at the blonde man, Jane whipped around, a look of fear on her face. Probably not the happy reunion she was hoping for, Darcy thought as they began to run towards Stark Tower. Darcy was relatively fit but she still struggled to keep up with the smaller woman who was at least 10 feet in front of her. She couldn't help but wonder what help her and Jane were in a battle zone. Sure she supported Jane when she wanted to see if Thor was back, but he was obviously busy with another crisis. She couldn't help but feel a little silly and out of place.

She stopped a few blocks later, her sides and lungs burning, no matter how much oxygen she breathed in, it didn't feel like it would ever be enough. She looked over to Jane, who was standing next to her outside Stark Tower; she was staring up at the fight scene above them. Now what? Darcy thought irritably. She wanted to say out loud but couldn't, mainly because she couldn't breathe, and secondly, because she thought it might be too harsh.

"Now what?" Jane said out loud, her words frantic, having caught her breath back before Darcy. She sounded helpless and lost, Darcy could see the pain and distress written all over her face. She knew she probably wore a very similar expression on hers as she watched her boss and her closest friend break down, watching the man she loved fight for his life and the safety of the city, possibly the world.

Darcy had a sinking feeling in her stomach, it felt oddly similar to the feeling she got earlier on the plane. It was one of those moments when the plane sinks a bit lower in the sky, a perfectly normal part of flying, but as she sat in her cramped economy seat, the plane getting lower, there is a pause in all noise, passengers stop talking, the engines go eerily quiet and as her body moved down with the plane, her stomach remains in the same place, now lodged in her throat as she feels weightless for a split second before everything returned back to normal.

This moment felt like that. She waited for everything to go back to normal, for her stomach to right itself and her feel her feet on the ground, but that moment didn't come. Instead she heard a scream coming from her right, she glanced over, Jane was covering her mouth with both hands, her eyes wider then Darcy ever thought they could get with terror. She looked back up to the fight above and saw what looked like Thor hugging a man in dark green and black. Darcy knew better. She watched as Thor and the other man looked down directly at them. She couldn't see facial expressions, but she could guess what they were thinking by what happened next. Suddenly, Thor was thrown off the edge of the building and falling straight towards them.

Darcy waited for him to stretch out his arm and have his hammer instantly fly into it, Meow meow or whatever, but he kept falling, obviously weakened by whatever that weird hug attack earlier was. So all she could do was watch as he fell to the ground, it was almost beautiful how his body moved with such grace, it almost seemed to be in slow motion as he got closer and closer…

There was a huge crack, and the concrete beneath her feet shifted as Thor crashed and made a very large impact less than 20 feet in front of them.

Jane was the first to recover and ran straight over to the small crater that had formed around Thor, and Darcy just looked back up from the height he fell. There was no way a human could survive that. She didn't move. Refusing to get closer to what she could only imagine to be 'God Slurpee'. A shiver ran down her spine, and she suddenly felt dread run through her veins. What was she thinking? She was going to die here. How was she doing to explain this to her dad? She was never going to finish that crappy romance novel she was reading!

She was so frozen with fear she didn't even scream when a man appeared in front of her surrounded by green smoke. His back was towards her, but she could tell from his long black hair and dark green outfit that it was the same name who threw Thor from the building. He was slowly walking towards where Thor had landed. Where Jane was!

Darcy felt her feet moving before she realized where she was going. She ran past the darkly dressed man and threw her hands up in front of her, her brown cardigan blowing out behind her in the wind, revealing the cream t-shirt with the cartoon of a gingerbread man on. She didn't care how stupid or insignificant she looked, she needed to protect Jane.

"No!" The pale man stopped in front of her. He raised an eyebrow slowly at her and she suddenly felt a weak as she looked. "Stop it. Haven't you done enough?"

He tilted his head, looking over her shoulder. She followed his gaze and saw a perfectly intact Thor lying on the ground, he was bloody and covered in filth but she could see him still breathing. Jane had tears streaming down her face but wasn't making a sound as she ran her hands over his body, checking for broken bones and then started wrapping her scarf around Thor's middle where Darcy could see his uniform was stained red already.

"Clearly." He said before looking back over at the young girl in front of him.

"Isn't pushing someone to their death from a skyscraper enough for one day?" Darcy asked, not knowing why she was asking questions to this man, he was obviously insane or evil. She didn't know which one she would prefer.

He smirked at her question, his eyes telling a story she didn't understand. "I find two usually does the trick." She felt her forehead crinkled up and began to wonder if he was speaking from experience and if so, she was well on her way to being number two. Only she was a lot more breakable than a God. She swallowed, trying to push the feeling of throwing up back down. He kept looking into her eyes as he stroked his mouth, a plan formulating in his head. He looked around at the surrounding buildings; most of them were destroyed in some way or another. Darcy could see the cogs in his mind working and he seemed to be mentally ticking off a check list, Darcy pondered what was next, wincing at her own silly thought that it could be redemption. "Maybe I should take a break. After all, my army seems to be coping nicely with everything on their own."

Darcy felt herself nodding, she knew now wasn't the best time to speak but couldn't stop the words from coming out. "I hear there is amazing old architecture with some of these buildings… Oh, wait…" She looked around at the various nearby sky scrapers that were on fire or missing vital chunks as she spoke, her sarcasm was so obvious she hated herself so much in that moment for being unable to control herself and her dorky wit.

She waited for the pain or the darkness, hoping he might make her a quick kill but it never came. She looked back at him, dreading what she might see but finding him smiling at her joke. Not a smirk like before, which was too creepy and made her shudder just thinking about it, but this was an actual amused smile. He looked almost human.

"I think that's all quite over rated. Wouldn't you like to see the view from Tony Stark's private balcony?" He asked, his smile warping backing into that insane grin. She felt her eyes go wide as he reached out towards her. She only got a second to glance back over to Jane and Thor. Thor was conscious now, and Jane was helping him up into a seated position. His eyes caught Darcy's then flickered over at the man who now had hold of both her arms. She saw the look of fear rush over Thor's features at this situation as he yelled out towards them.

"Brother!" Darcy looked back over to the man that was so close she could see the sweat forming on his forehead before the street disappeared in a cloud of green smoke, and then she felt her feet unable to find ground to stand on for a second. That passed quickly and soon she was standing on Tony Stark's balcony, exactly where she had been looking up at 2 minutes before hand. She tried to push herself away from who she know knew was Loki, Thor's brother, but his grip was too strong.

"Let go of me!" She said, her hands forming fists as she tried to hit him. She wasn't very successful.

She watched as he reached his hand out and a weird gold spear flew into his grip. What was it with these brothers and their boomerang weapons?

He released her only to place the end of what turned out to be a very pointy and dangerous looking stick close to her chest. She sighed and rolled her eyes.

"Hey buddy, if you're thinking what I know you're thinking, then you got another thing coming!" Darcy spat out at him, carefully yet defiantly crossing her arms over her cleavage and in front of that scary blade.

Loki smirked again, his eyes danced with joy as he tested her by pressing the point into her forearm that covered her chest, not hard enough to cut her but enough to prove his point. "And what would that be?" He asked smugly, his eyebrows rose, challenging her.

She opened her mouth to respond with something, she hoped it would be clever and sharp when she was pushed back from him and into a glass barrier by a green blur, and Loki was suddenly nowhere to be seen. One second he was in front of her, next… just air…

She looked to her left, into Tony Stark's bachelor pad and saw a giant green monster standing opposite Loki. Were they friends? She hoped not, swallowing again and turning around, praying for some kind of exit. Why wasn't there a freakin' fire escape out here when she wanted one? She held herself as close to the edge of the clear balcony barrier as she could, trying to get as far away from the colossal green dude and Loki as possible. She suddenly got her wish when she felt something give behind her and lots of what looked like ice started to surround her as the glass she was pushed up against weakened and shattered. It took a moment to register in her brain, but she realized she had started falling the same journey Thor had not minutes before.

She closed her eyes and this time didn't think about her dad or her crappy book only that this felt like flying. This must be what freedom is like, she pondered as the only sound to fill her ears was the wind rushing by.


Chapter Text

Chapter 2

Darcy's hair whipped around her face as she fell nearly 2000 feet to her short life's demise. She stretched her arms out but couldn't unclench her fists. She wanted to curse at Jane for dragging her into the middle of a war zone, but she couldn't. It was her choice to follow her, and she was glad she did; otherwise Loki would have killed both Thor and Jane in a heartbeat if she wasn't there to distract him. She wanted to curse Loki for teleporting her, but it wasn't his fault she was pushed against the damaged glass barrier, although it was his fault she was so high up in the first place. She tried to blame the green ogre thing but couldn't. A smile she didn't even try to stop spread on her face at the ridiculousness of her situation.

This time yesterday, she thought, her biggest concern was finding Vanilla Ice Cream Pop-Tarts and hoping no one found the taser she had stashed under her mattress. Now, she wanted to laugh at herself and where she was except the air was rushing past her so fast she was finding it hard to breathe any of it in.

Screwing her eyes shut even tighter, she wondered how long it would take before she hit the ground. With the height she fell from and the speed she was accelerating, she must be dropping pretty fast. She hopes when she reaches the hard sidewalk that it will be so quick it will be over before she knows it. She just hated the idea of her becoming 'Darcy Slurpee', but it was too late for that now.

She was running out of time and all she could think about was becoming a 'Darcy Slurpee'! She was wasting her final moments with stupid things. Shouldn't she be coming to some kind of philosophical realization right about now? Yet nothing, except what they now charge for a slurpee at her hometown’s local 7/11? She wondered if they still did that ‘Bring Your Own Cup Day’ special every year. One year she and a couple of friends from school stole their school soccer trophy and filled that to the top for a buck. Then they spent the rest of the afternoon taking turns drinking flavored red icy liquid out of the enormous silver trophy and snapping hilarious photos as proof it was them who stole it. That was an awesome day. She wished she had more days like that now, just doing nothing and chilling with friends.

She was suddenly struck with terror.

She didn't want to die.

She didn't want this to be the end. She was only 23.

She'd never tried passion fruit or drank brandy or smoked a cigar. She'd never been to Paris or Ireland!

She'd never been in love.

She felt tears well up behind her closed lids and somehow managed to pull her arms in against the howling wind to cover her face with her hands. She let out a cry of anguish and then felt a thump on her chest, and Darcy abruptly felt her body moving in a different direction.

Was that it? She thought. It was almost a let-down. She knew that was a stupid thought but that was a lot easier than she anticipated. She felt a little uncomfortable, and her ribs felt a bit bruised but apart from that she felt her dying went rather well. She opened her eyes, hoping her vision wasn't too blurry from the tears. She didn't know what to expect but the glowing eyes and gold and red face of Ironman was certainly the last thing she assumed would be waiting on the other side.

"Hello there." The digitized voice of Tony Stark greeted her.

Darcy looked down at the ground, which was closer than before but now getting further and further away. She threw her head back and took in a deep breath in and laughed!

"Fuck! Thank god!" She cried out, throwing her arms around Ironman's neck, hugging his solid body shell to hers.

"I've certainly been called worse." He responded.

Darcy laughed, it was an amazing feeling. "I bet you have!" She kissed the cold metal that was his cheek and gave a loud 'Mwah' sound as she pulled her lips away. "Thank you so much! Now I can eat passion fruit and try brandy and smoke a cigar!" She kissed all over the left side of his face as she gripped tightly onto him. She was 2 seconds away from losing her life, and she never wanted that to happen again.

"Sounds like a fun night out. Be sure to invite me." Darcy was sure if that Ironman outfit had eyelids then he would have just winked at her. Her smile got even wider, and she couldn't believe the rush of joy that was passing through her. She looked around, finally taking in the skyline of New York City. She's never been before, although she never expected to be there in these circumstances! She saw they were getting closer to a building with a man perched on the roof. He was dressed all in black but his arms were completely bare, he was holding a bow and shooting arrows out in every direction, his aim was amazing as she watched him hit every target rapidly, perfectly and consistently.

"Here's where I drop you off, honey. Be sure to text me when you want that night, I expect it as my reward for saving your life."

"Ironman, I will name my first unborn child after you!" Darcy promised. She was confused when Ironman told someone called 'Jarvis' to draw up the paper work for this verbal contract but just laughed manically at him. She wasn't sure if it was the adrenaline still rushing around her veins or not.

Ironman slowly got closer to the building and got the attention of the arrow man using a radio device.

"Hey, Hawkeye, I got you a present."

Darcy smiled and gave the stern looking stranger a small wave.

"Hi." She said politely. She was sure she was still smiling like a crazy person, but who cares! She just had a near death experience; she was allowed to be happy about being alive and not some mess for someone to scrap off the pavement.

The man, Hawkeye Darcy noted, shook his head and responded. "It's not even my birthday, how can I ever repay you?" His tone and face were a perfect example of seriousness but there was something in his eyes that gave him away. Darcy laughed as Ironman helped place her on the ledge next to where Hawkeye was shooting, and she suddenly felt her legs shake. It must be all that adrenaline, she thought as she nearly tripped onto the roof. Hawkeye merely glanced at her struggle before aiming an arrow at another alien thing and killing it a millisecond after. "Did you drug her?" He asked Ironman as Darcy slowly moved away from the edge to a corner on the roof where she sat down and pulled her legs close to her body, wrapping her arms around her knees. She needed to stop for a second, to recover.

Ironman shook his head and gave Hawkeye the finger before turning away to leave. "Screw you, Robin Hood. At least I get girls falling into my arms." Then he flew away.

There was an awkward pause on the roof as Hawkeye gave Darcy a once over; then promptly went back to his targets and fired another arrow.

"If it makes you feel better, I was falling to my death, not for his charms." Darcy didn't know why she had to justify what just happened. He probably knew it would be a matter of life or death situation and not just some fangirl swooning over Tony 'Ironman' Stark. "I'm Darcy." She yelled over the noise of gunfire, space craft crashes and alien screams.

"I'm busy." He yelled over to her.

"Alright. Rude." Darcy muttered to herself, turning her head away from him and beginning to take in her surroundings. Everything around her was in chaos. She could see aliens on their flight machines zipping around them only to crash or fall off to their death after one of Hawkeyes arrows finds its way into their head, usually their eye. Darcy shivered at how scarily good he is with a bow.

She slowly managed to find her feet and walk over to the edge of the building ledge, close to where Hawkeye was standing. She gave him a quick glance, which mainly consisted of her checking out his amazing huge veiny arms, and then began to look down at the ground, hoping to get a glimpse of Jane or Thor and be sure they were alright.

She sighed when there was no sign of them. Damn, she thought, she hoped Loki hadn't gone back to finish the job. Then again, up against that hulk thing he might not even still be alive. She took a step back from the ledge, suddenly finding herself scared to be that close to the edge when she noticed one of those weird aliens had jumped on to the other side of the roof and was now making its way over to them very quickly. She guessed they finally figured out who was taking them down in the sky mid-flight.

She reached her hand out for Hawkeye, trying to get his attention. "Link?" She called out to him, immediately scolding herself that now was not the time to make jokes. He seemed to understand her inappropriate name though as she watched an arrow sink deep in the alien's eye socket and then fall to the ground, a short distance from them.

"You're welcome." He said, voice full of arrogance, without even turning from his spot. Did he just kill that thing without looking at it? Darcy wondered with her mouth wide open but decided now was not the time for that and ran over to the now dead monster and grabbed what looked like a pretty bitchin gun. She yanked it from its owners arm and turned around to face Hawkeye's back. Straight away she noticed another alien dude approaching him from a different side. Hawkeye was too busy shooting fast approaching aliens that had now apparently all figured out where the arrows were coming from and wanted to stop him. She aimed the gun at the intruder, one arm inside and supporting the weapon and the other running over its edges hoping to find a trigger or something. She let out a little yelp and couldn't help herself jumping back when a blast went off and the alien fell over the side of the building.

Hawkeye quickly looked over at her and smirked at her very inexperienced actions. She frowned at him; although couldn't help but think he was incredibly sexy when he looked smug and covered in sweat and dirt, he could at least be thankful she just saved his ass, geez.

It wasn't long until more aliens started dropping onto the roof. Darcy had managed to back herself into the corner that Hawkeye was standing, she was shooting the aliens on the roof and he was dealing with any that were flying past. They worked well together, taking a few down but they were soon over powered. Darcy's weapon took that perfect moment to stop working so she threw it at the nearest creatures head and took a step backwards so her back was pushing up against Hawkeye's. She turned her head to face him and saw he only had two arrows left in his quiver. She couldn't help but swear out loud, causing him looked around at her.

"Any ideas?" She said, hoping he would save them both. He was a good guy after all; didn't they always have a plan?

"Only one." He said as he turned around so they were facing each other. He wrapped his arms under hers and around her body, and Darcy was very aware of how intimate this position was. She looked up into his eyes and noted they were an odd sort of green color with small flecks of different shades; maybe it was just the light…

His arms pulled her closer to him and she couldn't help but blush at the feeling of his hard body against hers. A warmth rushed through her body and found a home just below her navel when she was suddenly struck with the thought that he was going to kiss her. Was that his plan? They were either about to get pushed off the edge of this building or shot with a weird alien gun thing, and his only idea was to make out with the random girl who he'd be duty bound to protect by Ironman. Darcy resisted the urge to roll her eyes when she felt his hands tighten their grip behind her, so she decided to just go with it.

Reaching her hands up she placed one on his jaw line and the other at the base of his skull and pushed herself up to meet his lips. He immediately responded, pulling her body even closer to his and giving her a hard opened mouth kiss. Darcy couldn't help but moan at his passionate response, her arms held onto his head tighter and she tangled her fingers in his short brown hair as one of his hands slide up her back, under her cardigan. God this was hot, she thought as she felt him shift and step up onto the nearby ledge and lift her body with him, spinning her around to the corner of the building, all while they were still lip-locked. She felt dizzy.

He finally pulled back, that smug look on his face again. Darcy tried to step back from his body, she felt overwhelmed and couldn't think straight when he was pushed up against her like this, his smell filling her senses. Her eyes narrowed in confusion when she couldn't move. He wasn't budging his arms from around her waist. She looked at one of the strong arms wrapped around her and absentmindedly ran her hand down the damp flesh, brushing over four little straps above his wrist, then back up again and moved her head to look up at his light green eyes. Where were they again? Darcy was sure she was in the middle of something before… His voice brought her back to reality.

"Thanks sweetheart, not exactly what I had in mind, but I'm not one to complain."

Darcy opened her mouth, not understanding what he meant and about to speak when he jumped off the building with her still in his arms. Darcy's arms found themselves wrapped around his middle and screamed as she fell to her untimely death… for the second time that day…


There was a huge smash and glass sprayed down over them. Darcy had somehow managed to roll away from Hawkeye and groaned out loud at the aches and pain she felt all over her body. She sat up slowly and noticed the man was a few feet behind her, closer to a large window that she could safely assume they had crashed through previous moments before.

"What the fuck?" She screamed at him. Her arms felt itchy and she looked down to see small shards of glass imbedded in her cardigan sleeves, she must be bleeding underneath. She took off the brown knitted material to stop anymore glass from cutting her. Hawkeye was getting up off the floor and walking over to her, offering his arm to help her stand. She grabbed onto it and pulled herself up, discovering a sharp pain in her right thigh as she did so. "You have terrible aim!" Once she was standing and her head cleared she yelled at him again, throwing her arm out to indicate there was an already broken window right next to the one they fell through.

The hawk man just shrugged his shoulders and looked down at her. "It would have been fine, but I was working with a lot more weight than usual." Darcy hit him as hard as she could in the chest, which wasn't hard enough for her liking, he probably didn't even feel it under that body armor. She felt herself go red with anger and embarrassment.

"Fuck you!"

Hawkeye ignored her cursing and walked straight past her, heading towards the nearest elevator at the other end of the office floor. He threw a glance back at the younger woman and the smirk that she was beginning to think was his trademark reappeared. "Plus, I was a little distracted by a beautiful damsel in distress throwing herself at me."

Darcy froze but quickly recovered to chase him. He was now waiting patiently at the elevator doors, having pressed the down button which now glowed. His arms were crossed over his chest. Darcy would usually have found the oddly humanizing action like waiting for a lift in the middle of a battle amusing but right now she was more focused on proving this asshole wrong. She pointed a finger at him and poked him in the chest. "I did not throw myself at you. I was freaking out, and you took advantage of me." She then crossed her arms over her chest mirroring him, proud with her statement.

"So do you always kiss strange men when you start 'freaking out'?" He asked, his voice calm but with a hint of amusement. He leaned in closer to her and brushed some shards of glass from her messy hair. She sucked in a gasp of air and felt her eyes go wide as she stared at him getting closer to her.

"Er…" Darcy could only manage a strangled sound as her mouth fell open. His scent of sweat, dirt, Kevlar and something unique and manly filled her nostrils, and she found it to be an incredible turn on. Her head started to tilt to the right slightly and her IQ lost around 80 points as she leaned in closer to this arrogant, irritating and remarkably hot man.

The sound of a small 'ding' broke her out of her train of thought and she had to practically shake her head to focus. The elevator doors slid open, and she heard the man chuckling to himself as he strolled into the lift and pressed a low down button. She quickly jumped between the doors as they began to close and soon found herself alone in a confined space, with this egotistical jack-ass.

"Usually I just taser people when I freak out, but I had to improvise." She said casually as they both watched the little numbers light up as they descended from the 40th floor to the lobby. She cursed herself wishing she had enough self-control to say that earlier instead of acting like a lusty school girl. She practically heard him smirk and glared at him as they listened to the elevator music for a few awkward moments. "Where are we going now?" She finally asked. Darcy took a second to fish out her phone, which was now smashed to pieces, from her pocket and sighed. There was no way she could get in contact with Jane now.

"I'm going to regroup with the rest of my team. You are going to wait in the foyer until help arrives." He replied, his voice no longer held that amused tone.

"What? No, I need to stay with you. The safest place I can be right now is with the dude with the weapons." Darcy said, shocked at the idea of being left alone and defenseless in a building that could collapse or get set on fire at any moment. "Even if he is stuck in the middle ages." She muttered under her breath, referring to his choice of defense.

She looked back over at the man standing next to her, his gaze continued to look at the numbers that were counting down. She could see him trying to think but had no idea if it was a good or a bad thing.

"Fine. If you're coming with me, then you need some way of protecting yourself." She smiled and felt like clapping her hands together at the idea of following an archer into the middle of a war zone.

"Like what? Some kind of alien gun? I mean a normal gun would be fine, but those space guns are totally cooler." Darcy knew she sounded too excited about the prospect of getting a gun, but she didn't care! If she was about to enter an interplanetary battle, then she wanted a crazy awesome weapon to protect herself with.

"Here." He passed her his last arrow. Darcy felt her face fall at such a useless tool.

"What am I supposed to do with this, throw it?" Darcy put her hand on her hip and turned to face Hawkeye. He was still facing forward, looking at the floor numbers. 7, 6, 5.

"Just wait." 4, 3, 2, 1. "It's a bola headed arrow." He said with a wink.

Darcy saw him click something on his bow and a red light flashed before the arrow suddenly exploded in her hand. Three small but surprisingly heavy balls, each attached to the other by some thin metal line, began to wrap themselves around her body, pulling her arms tightly against her chest and tangling her legs together so she tripped over and landed roughly onto the ground with a thud and a groan.

The doors 'dinged' again and opened. Hawkeye merely raised an eyebrow at the distressed girl, tied up on the floor by his feet before stepping out of the elevator.

"What the fuck!" Darcy growled at his retreating form. "You can't just leave me here!"

"Don't worry, I'll come back and get you later." He called out to her from half way across the foyer, heading to the exit.

"I hope you die!" Darcy called at him then screamed out in frustration as the lift doors began to slowly close on her. She lay on the floor, totally helpless. Asshole. Well, at least she got a nice view of Hawkeye's butt at this angle, she thought as the doors finally cut off her view of the outside world.


Chapter Text

Chapter 3

This was, hands down, the scariest situation Darcy had ever found herself in.

She had been attacked by an Asgardian energy blasting Destroyer, bantered with an insane God, fallen to her death from over 2000 feet from the tallest building in New York City and had dealt with Jane on the day they ran out of coffee and yet, sitting in S.H.I.E.L.D headquarters, about to explain her actions was definitely top of the list.

She was sitting at a large metal table that was in an awkward triangle shape with Director Fury in the middle of the long side with Agent Barton, Agent Romanoff and Agent Hill on the left and Agent Coulson and oddly enough, Thor sitting on the right. They had all been formally introduced when she entered the room and felt very small and in over her head when she sat down. She couldn't help the blush that appeared on her cheeks when she shook hands with Agent Barton, although she wasn't sure if it was because he left her alone in an elevator tied up for over an hour or because she kissed him.

Darcy was now sitting on her own at the opposite side of the table, the tip of the pyramid desk pointing rather judgmentally at her. She shifted her weight uncomfortably in her chair and couldn't help but feel like a piece of meat on display, about to be eaten by a shark, or five. Thor wasn't included in that as Darcy had spent so much time with in New Mexico to know he was really a puppy dog.

Darcy gave Thor a small smile and wave. He gave a bright and wide smile back, and she felt a little better, at least someone was on her side. She took a deep breath in and decided to bite the bullet.

"Aren't you meant to be dead?" She accused, looking directly at Agent Coulson, poking her index finger in his direction.

His features immediately turned dark as he scowled at the young woman. "How did you hear about that?"

Darcy began to play with a ring on her middle right hand finger, feeling sheepish at the foot-in-mouth comment but not wanting to look it in front of some pretty scary people. "People talk. You're pretty spry for a corpse." She joked, holding back the urge to wink at the older man. She couldn't. It was met with 4 blank faces, an amused smirk from the Hawk dude and a bitter laugh from The God Of Thunder.

"Thank you, Miss Lewis, but that is not the issue on hand here." Agent Coulson replied, his tone lighter than before but still held authority.

"Oh, that." Darcy said quietly. Of course this was about her stupid idea of following Jane into a crazy battle where she could have been killed half a dozen times or more.

"Let's start from the beginning. Whose stupid idea was it to get your dumb ass involved where it didn't belong!" Agent Fury practically yelled at her. He didn't raise his voice very high, but Darcy was oddly reminded of how her dad used to get angry at her when she was younger.

"We figured it all out." Darcy lied. She was completely clueless about S.H.I.E.L.D's bullshit assignment that they sent them on but didn't want Jane to get in anymore then she already was. "I didn't want her to go alone, so I went with her."

"So, you both left under the noses of our Agents and spent over a grand on plane tickets to New York and got caught in the middle of a battle that was way out of your depth?" Fury commented, looking at a cream folder in front of him, but she could guess he already knew it word for word. Damn, he just had to remind her that she spent all her savings on a stupid plane ticket. Her student loan had pretty much wiped out her ability to have money, and it had taken nearly six months of working for S.H.I.E.L.D to accumulate that pitiful amount of money.

"To be fair, I didn't know any of that was going on until it was too late. I just thought Jane would find Thor and they would walk into the sunset all lovely dovey and I'd go catch a show on Broadway." Darcy said, it was the truth, how was she supposed to know there would be flying space whales and The Avengers? Fury raised his eyebrow at her, and she shrugged her shoulders. "I wanted to see Wicked. But now I think I've had enough magic and tormented sibling rivalry for a lifetime."

"Excuse me?" Agent Coulson spoke up. Darcy was getting a little worried that no-one else but him and Fury were speaking. She looked over at the two other women in the room and saw Maria Hill was scribbling down things super-fast and Natasha was staring at her, stone faced.

"You know, Wizard of Oz? It's a play about the Wicked Witches origin story, only with songs and flying." Darcy explained, wide eyed that none of them seemed to understand her reference. "It won like a load of awards and stuff. I don't think I'll watch it now though. I've defied gravity and didn't enjoy it."

Fury gave a slight cough, and Darcy straightened up in her chair. So much for staying on topic, she thought bitterly to herself.

"Right, well. Having read the reports and reviewed the footage, it appears you found Thor and made your way towards Stark Tower. Care to explain what happened next?" Darcy looked at the long hair blonde man and pinched her lips together.

"Yeah, we were on the pavement below and saw there was some kind of fight going on between Thor and that crazy Loki guy. Then something happened and Thor was suddenly falling over the edge." Darcy paused as she saw Hill point at something in Fury's folder. She assumed it correlated with what she was saying as he nodded for her to continue. "Er, and then we like ran over to find him passed out in a crater. Jane was totally freaking out by this point, like epically crying. I've never seen her like that before. Anyway," She took a deep breath in and continued to talk. "Loki then poofed in front of me," Darcy waved her hands in front of her but stopped after a second, realising none of them might understand that she was trying to represent smoke using her arms. "He was heading over to them, and I knew he'd already done too much damage; so I ran in front to try and at least slow him down until Thor got up." Darcy glanced over at Thor and saw he was looking off in the distance. Darcy knew this must be hard for him, to relive the betrayal of his brother. "Anyway, long story short, Loki and I chatted about architecture before we poofed onto Stark Tower; then he went all pervy and tried to poke me with his big stick before the big green dude pushed him through the glass doors into Tony's crib."

Darcy finally stopped and looked at everyone, hoping to get some kind of reading from them. She really didn't want to talk about what happened next and hoped all the information she had given was enough. Agent Hill was still focused on her note taking. Coulson was now flicking through a folder similar to the one Fury was looking at a few minutes ago, only his was thicker, and Darcy swore she saw a glimpse of an old school year book photo of her. Thor was still off on another world, a lost puppy look in his eyes. Fury was now leaning forward with his elbows on the table and chin propped up on his fingers. Romanoff was looking as blank faced as ever, and Barton was perched on his seat, a leg pulled up in front of him, trying very hard to avoid eye contact with Darcy while trying not to look too suspicious or draw attention to himself. Smooth move, Darcy thought sarcastically.

"According to Miss Foster's report, when Mr Banner's Hulk attacked Loki, you were inadvertently pushed off the balcony, is that correct?" Coulson asked. Darcy was thankful for his calm and collected way of phrasing it, but Darcy still felt a chill run through her veins at the memory.

"Not really. I tried to get away from the fight, and crawled backwards to the edge of the balcony. I guess the glass wasn't..." She trailed off, not finding the words to continue. Agent Romanoff picked up on her sudden change in mood and delicately moved the conversation along.

"So this lead to Ironman depositing you into the protection of Agent Barton. Did you see Loki again?" Darcy smiled slightly at the red headed woman, thankful for her swift change of subject. Darcy only then realised that she was shaking. She ran a nervous hand through her hair. Why was this affecting her so much? It was so strange, she didn't feel this panicked when she was falling to her death but now just the idea of it was making her ill...

"No, I didn't." Darcy whispered.

"Good." Fury spoke up, his voice cutting through the sadness Darcy felt and bringing her back to reality. "According to Agent Barton's report, you remained on the roof with him for approximately 10 minutes, would you agree with that?" She wondered why the time was so important. Honestly she had no idea how long she was there with him but just nodded along, hoping this debriefing was nearly over. "He said you managed to get hold of a Chitauri weapon and eliminated a few before you both ran out of ammo, is that true?"

Darcy assumed that the Chitauri he was speaking of were those alien things. Her eyes lit up at the memory of the gun. "Yeah, Robin-" she coughed, hoping it covered up her nickname. "Agent Barton," She tried again, voice a bit more serious than before. "Took out one of those aliens and I grabbed its gun. It took me a second to figure out how to use it but soon I took down one that was sneaking up on Agent Barton and a couple more of those freaks before it stopped working." Darcy concurred, trying to replay the events in her head. It was so fast, but she remembered enough to put together a rough timeline.

Agent Barton was now actively looking at everything else in the room except her. Darcy frowned at him, narrowing her eyes. They both knew what happened next and she sure as hell wasn't going to tell a room full of scary 'higher than government' officials that she threw herself at a stranger! She had a big mouth, but she wasn't stupid. Then again, she like how awkward he looked right now, like a child who just got caught doing something naughty and was anxiously awaiting punishment. She suppressed the urge to smile as she realised she held some kind of power over him and boy did she like watching him squirm!

"Agent Barton, how many would you estimate Miss Lewis 'took down'?" The Director asked, quoting Darcy's phrase in an irritated tone. Barton looked over at Fury, every set of eyes was on him and if he felt uncomfortable, he didn't show it.

"About 15, Sir, before they over powered us and blew up the roof." His voice was strong and straight to the point. Darcy's eyes widened.

"Fuck! They blew up the roof?" She covered her mouth with her hand. She had no idea they were close to being blown into pieces when they jumped. She assumed they were just overpowered... she didn't know why that made such a big difference to her but it did.

Barton looked over at her and quickly looked back at his boss, apart from that everyone else ignored her outburst and just continued.

"15, Miss Lewis. That is very impressive."

"Thanks. Me and my dad used to play laser tag a lot when I was a kid." She replied arrogantly, thinking that was a smart thing to say until she heard herself say it out loud. She couldn't help roll her eyes at her own foolishness.


Maria ticked something on her notes that made Darcy crinkled her forehead up in confusion. What was she ticking? Did they seriously have a box on that form that said 'Experienced Laser Tag Player' or something?

"Then what happened?" Fury continued. Darcy stared at him, opened mouth, for a second. How was she going to answer that one? Which eye should she be looking at? That was stupid, he only had the one; she didn't have much option. She pursed her lips together, not knowing what to say. Her hand ran over her right thigh, over the bandaged wound that was hidden under her leggings and skirt. They managed to get the shard of glass out that had embedded itself in her leg yesterday, but they only had her on the weak drugs, so it was still painful to touch or move.

"We hit a window?" She said, although it sounded more like a question than an answer.

"A window? You don't sound too sure about that?" Fury commented.

Damn, she needed to do something. A blush was creeping up her face and suddenly the room felt a lot smaller and hotter.

"Well, I thought he was supposed to be some amazing marksman. There was an open one right next to it!" She relaxed back in her chair. Coulson laughed but tried to cover it with a cough, Darcy suddenly felt better. "I could have made a better shot than that."

"It is true, she has very good aim." Thor agreed, a wide smile on his face although Darcy knew he was thinking of the taser incident.

She held her hands out in front of her, as if she'd just proved her point and shrugged her shoulders. "He seemed a little bit distracted if you ask me." Darcy joked, hoping her comment was sly enough for everyone to overlook but enough to make Barton squirm some more in his chair. She did a mental fist pump when she noticed him straighten his back and shift his legs. She also noticed Agent Romanoff's quick glace between her and him. Fuck. Not sly enough, Darcy guessed. She decided to move on swiftly. "Then he tied me up and left me to die alone in an elevator shaft. The End." She clapped her hand together in front of her as if closing a story book and let them fall into her lap.

"So you had no contact with Agent Barton, or any other Agent before yesterday?" Darcy frowned. That came out of nowhere.

"Nope. Only Agent Coulson when he stole my iPod. Which, by the way, I still haven't gotten back." She answered, looking pointedly at the older gentleman in the nice suit.

"We shall have to amend that. Thank you for your time Miss Lewis." Fury said. She felt like this was the right moment to stand up and leave but no one else was moving so she paused, remaining seated in her chair.

"You're welcome?"

Agent Romanoff took that moment to stand up, Darcy followed suit but stood up a bit too eagerly and felt a pull on her upper leg. She winced in pain but hid it behind a smile. "Miss Lewis, I will escort you back to your room now. I'm sure I don't have to tell you not to mention anything we've discussed here to anyone?"
"Okay dokey." Darcy smiled at the other Agents as the red headed lady walked around the table and opened the door to leave. "Umm… bye?" Turning on the heels of her feet, she walked out the door suddenly felt like she was heading to a jail cell rather than a comfy room her and Jane were sharing while they were staying at S.H.I.E.L.D.

She heard the door close behind them and snuck a glance back, even though she knew she'd just see a shut door. "So…" She said, trying to sound casual but failing miserably.

"Miss Lewis, please feel free to explore anywhere above the 15th floor. You've had a very stressful couple of days so I suggest you try and relax. You're perfectly secure here, and there is an amazing sauna in the gym." Her voice sounded very calculated, like she had spent time planning every word she just said, and Darcy wasn't sure she like how she was referred to as 'secure'. Isn't that was they call prisoners? Still, she would love to spend 10 minutes in a calming sauna to unwind after such a fearful encounter with the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D and his crew. Hell, she might even get to see some super cut agents working out in the gym. The idea of sweaty muscular men was already starting to make her feel better.

"Call me Darcy."

Agent Romanoff tilted her head slightly at the shorted woman as they walked towards the elevator. She seemed to be analysing her and Darcy wasn't sure if she had said something inappropriate or not.

"Thank you Darcy. You can call me Natasha." Her tone was warmer and less calculating then before.

Darcy smiled. "Did I just make a new friend?" She teased and resisted the impulse to poke Natasha's closest arm. That probably wouldn't end well, then again, neither would teasing a super spy, but that didn't stop her.

Natasha smiled back and laughed slightly. It was only for a second but Darcy heard it. "You handled yourself surprising well back there, and yesterday in New York. It's hard to find women like that who still have a sense of humour." Darcy felt proud of herself, she had a super spy ninja as a friend, although she never would have guessed Agent Romanoff had a sense of humour.

They reached the elevator, and Darcy pushed the up button before turning to the taller woman. "So, when are you questioning Jane?" She asked, while counting the number of weapons Natasha had on her person. Darcy got to 7 before she answered, and those were only the ones on show, Darcy guessed she had way more hidden away somewhere.

"We're not." Natasha responded, her eyes noting what Darcy was doing.

"Why not? She was the only reason we came here." Darcy exclaimed, why did she have to go through that uncomfortable session with the Demon Head Master and Jane didn't? That was just unfair.

"Miss Foster is a smart woman, but she only acted out of love yesterday. You on the other hand, were motivated by various other things." The lift doors slid open silently, and Darcy moved to enter the elevator. Natasha remained where she was standing. "We just wanted to understand that a little better." She finished.

Darcy's mouth formed a little 'o' as she nodded and pressed the button labelled 3, where her room was. "Okay, I get that." Darcy considered what was just said again. "Actually, no, I don't get that at all." Confused by her re-examination.

Natasha smiled again and looked down at the younger woman. "Don't worry Darcy. You did fine. You'll fit in here quite well, I think."

"Thanks?" Darcy said quickly, more muddled than she was before the meeting.

Natasha had already turned around and was heading back down the corridor they just walked up. She turned her head as she walked and called over her shoulder just before the elevator doors shut her out of Darcy's view. "You're welcome."

Alone in the small compartment, Darcy shook her head, taking in a deep breath of air and then letting out a long sigh of relief. That was weird, scary and baffling all rolled into one. Darcy felt like she walked out of that meeting knowing less than when she went in. She decided not to think about it as she felt herself moving up towards her designated floor. She wondered if S.H.I.E.L.D had a beauty salon along with a gym? She really needed her nails sorting out; she swore she could still see Chitauri blood and building rubble under them.


Chapter Text

Chapter 4

Natasha walked back into the room, the door closing promptly behind her. She paused for a moment when everyone diverted their gazes to her from the other side of the room, everyone was a bit more relaxed now. Clint was even perched on the edge of the table, and Coulson had poured himself another cup of coffee while she was gone. She felt herself sigh, she knew what they were about to ask her, and she didn't know why it affected her so much. For some reason, Natasha felt something for Darcy. There was a spark she recognised in the younger woman and she couldn't help but feel a connection.

Natasha answered the silent question.

"I like her."

Fury and Maria looked shocked at her admission but she only raised her head a little higher, showing she wasn't worried about what they thought.

"I knew you'd like her." Clint said, grinning in that cheeky way she hates, his eyes crinkling up in the corners.

"And how do you like her, Agent Barton?" She rolled her eyes and called back at him, trying to sound neutral but knowing a hint of amusement seeped through. She'd seen the way he had looked when they first brought up Miss Lewis in discussion yesterday, after they got dropped Loki of at HQ and went for food before their debriefing. He was genuinely flustered, not knowing which way to cross his arms and avoiding everyone's eye line when they interviewed him about what happened on that roof. Natasha also wanted to bring up that fact that when he returned to street level he had a smudge of lipstick on his lower lip, and there was a lingering scent of female perfume on his vest but thought she would keep that close to her chest, ready to play when she could use it the most to her advantage. Something happened on that roof, and she wasn't an idiot, Natasha actually found herself happy that Clint had a nice distraction.

"She's good, for a civilian." He finally replied.

"But that's just it, she's a civilian!" Maria Hill spoke up. Natasha liked Maria, she was a very 'by the book' person. She followed every rule, and the idea of even bending one was as reckless and unacceptable as breaking one. Natasha knew that unusual situations like this called for unusual measures, and Maria was not prepared to deal with that. "She has no training, no experience; she doesn't even know basic protocol for scenarios like this."

"There are no other scenarios like this, Agent Hill." Coulson said.

"And that makes this more acceptable? She got lucky. It's a miracle she's not dead!" Maria closed the folder she was writing notes in, as if to prove the conversation was over.

"I'd say it was more than a little luck." Fury said looking down at the folder in front of him; everyone in the room knew what he was looking at.

Natasha sighed.

"Are you kidding me? Just because he's her father," Maria said, pointing angrily at the open folder in the middle of them all, "Does not mean she is anything like him. She didn't even know who he was."

Natasha glared at the table surface. If she was honest with herself, this was why she felt such a strong connection to this girl. They were similar in so many ways. If it was written down, it would have been hard to tell the differences between their own childhoods.

"It did for me." She said quietly. It was loud enough for everyone to hear. She avoided all of their eyes, as she admitted something she rarely spoke about. "I didn't know who my father was and what he did until I was in too deep." Natasha looked up, placing her hands behind her back. She knew her words meant a lot in this moment, whatever she was about to say would likely sway the decision they came to, and Darcy's life would never be the same again. Was she really prepared to take that away from her? That young funny girl, who just wanted to finish her internship and get her degree when a God fell to Earth in front of her and changed everything, "I'm not saying it's the same for her, but we should at least try and see. We owe her a chance."

Thor was contemplating; he had been quiet the whole time and only now spoke up. "She is brave and deceptively strong. If what you told me is indeed correct, then she will have to be. Discovering your father raised you under a falsehood affects a person." It didn't take a genius to figure out who he was talking about.

"Director Fury?" Coulson asked, they had all had their say now. Fury knew what they all thought of the situation. He also knew what William Lewis would have said. Fury's frown deepened. If only she had stayed in Norway with Dr Foster. If only she kept her nose out from where it didn't belong, but he always knew it would come to something like this the second he heard that Miss Darcy Lewis was present and working on information regarding worm-holes when Thor and his hammer arrived in New Mexico. He was shocked to see her name on the list of people involved but knew it wouldn't be long before he had to deal with her and her history.

"Miss Lewis is emotional and impulsive, yet she is very observant and follows orders. She held her own against not one, but two Gods and walked away making jokes. If we don't handle this correctly or someone gets their hands on this information, then she will be in a lot of danger." Fury summarized then sighed out loud, not concerned about his colleagues seeing him struggle to make the right decision. "Hmmm... Agent Barton, Agent Romanoff?" He finally said. Both looked to him waiting for his instructions. "We'll wait for the moment. Let's see how she gets on in a S.H.I.E.L.D environment, which means, I want continued reports about her, her progression and anything she is involved in. Anyone so much as touches her, I want their name. Got it?"

"Yes, Sir." Both agents said, understanding their new orders.

"Thor, not a word of this leaves this room, got it?"

Thor perked up as his name was called. "What if Darcy is present in this room? Am I to inform her then?"

"No!" Fury barked at him. Coulson looked at the confused God and shook his head.

"It's a phrase. Don't talk about Darcy and her father to anyone except us five, and only when we are alone, okay?" Coulson explained.

"Ah, I see now. It is a secret." Thor exclaimed, laughing at his own misunderstanding; then gave Coulson an overly conspicuous wink that Thor thought was 'subtle'.

"Yes, good? Now, Agent Barton, I want you to initiate a trial for Miss Lewis, let's see how good her aim really is. Agent Hill, I want a deep background check on her, anyone she's ever worked with, people she dated, her school friends, hell, if someone ran over her cat as a kid I want them checked." Fury demanded. Maria was furiously scribbling notes again, Natasha could tell she was happy at the fact they were waiting before moving forward. "Agent Romanoff, I want you to befriend her. You know better than anyone what we are looking for." Natasha nodded but kept quiet. She liked Darcy. She looked over at Clint and saw a mirror of her own feelings. He didn't like this either. They would have to wait and speak about this later. "Good. This meeting is over, and you better hope this is all just us overreacting, I've got too much on my plate with The Avengers to deal with this shit right now."


This place was heaven! Darcy thought as she relaxed in the sauna. She had pulled her hair up into a messy pony tail and had a very old and tattered copy of her favourite romance novel in her hands, not caring that the pages were getting damp because she was more than happy to buy a new copy later anyway. It was one of those books she could read over and over again and still felt anticipation for the main characters although she knew exactly what was going to happen next.

She tossed water on the rocks in the middle using that weird wooden spoon sauna's always seemed to have and sat back on the hot wood, her body felt like it was melting beautifully in the wet heat. She laid her legs out in front of her and propped her elbows up so she could read. She had abandoned her glasses as it would have been pointless to wear them so she had to hold the book a bit closer to her face than usual, her eyes narrow in concentration.

She was too engrossed in the book, flipping through the pages and gripping onto each word that she didn't glance up when the glass door to the small room opened, a rush of cool air ran in but was lost in the high temperature almost immediately.

After a couple more minutes of reading, she decided she should get out. Spending too much time in a sauna was bad, and she needed to get showered and dressed before dinner. She closed her book, folding over the corner of the page so she knew where she was. Finding it a bit too soft, she made a mental note to pop the book on the radiator when she got back to her room. Darcy swung her legs around on the bench to stand up and came face to face with Black Widow.

Darcy held in a small noise of surprise and recovered quickly to smile brightly at the deadly assassin. "Sorry, I'll be out of your way in a sec." She apologised, moving at a more hurried pace than before.

"It's nothing to worry about. I should get out in a moment as well. The heat does horrendous things to my hair." Natasha said, her tone completely serious but a small smile on her full lips let Darcy know she was being playful. "Here."

Natasha passed Darcy her book which she had nearly forgotten in the awkward fumbling, it only made her more embarrassed to be around such an in control, kick-ass spy, and she was a twenty three year old dork. Darcy pursed her lips and thanked the older woman before opening the door to leave.

"Darcy?" Natasha asked before she stepped out of the door.


"A couple of people and myself are going for some drinks tonight. To celebrate, kind of. Thor said he's going to come so Jane will most likely join us as well. You should come." It wasn't really an invitation, but Darcy was very happy to say yes. She really needed to chill with a glass of wine and maybe some shots.

"That would be amazing. Where would we go though, I thought we were like 100 miles from civilization?" Darcy questioned, she was suddenly very aware of all the hot air she was letting out of the sauna.

"There's a bar on Level 6 where a lot of us go to unwind, but we were thinking this should be a little more…" She paused, as if trying to find the right word. "Secret." She said with a smirk.

"Awesome. I think I'm pretty cut out for top secret now." Darcy teased.

"Just meet us on Level 6 at 9?" Natasha told her.

"Are we gonna be suiting up? 'Cause S.H.I.E.L.D hasn't issued my costume yet…" She joked, flashing the other woman a wide smile. It took a moment, but one corner of Natasha's mouth curled. Darcy did a mental fist pump and smirked back. She made The Black Widow smile! It was hard to see in the dim room but it definitely happened! Darcy didn't feel silly for making a joke for the first time today.

"I feel like my jumpsuit would be inappropriate, so just wear anything nice." Natasha teased back. Darcy had briefly seen her in all that Black Widow gear, and she was practically drooling, she dreaded to think what would happen if she went out in socially in it!

Darcy felt this was a good moment to leave as nearly all the hot air had escaped the small wooden room. "I'll see you then!" She called, the door slowly closing behind her as she headed towards the swimming pool and the gym. Darcy couldn't help but feel nervous and excited at the same time. 24 hours ago she was falling to her death and now she was going to a superhero party!

Suddenly she felt cold. Darcy reached the corner of the corridor which lead onto the gym and found herself having to support her body against it. She couldn't breathe properly, only managing lots of little short breaths in, and she was unable to exhale at all. Her hands were shaking, and she could see everything in front of her but couldn't recognise or focus on anything, like she was looking through a window or something.

She managed to turn and felt her back slam against the wall that she was previously holding. Darcy couldn't feel her legs but they were somehow holding her upright. She could only remember the air rushing past her ears, that feeling of weightlessness followed by a painful ache in her chest. She was falling from the top of that building all over again, and she was frightened.

She reached her hands up to cover her head and they touched dampness; she wasn't sure if it was from the sauna or the tears streaming down her face. She managed to suck a large loud gasp of air in, then out, her eyes firmly shut as she tried to stop herself from falling.

"Oh god!" She sobbed in between gasps when she felt something hold onto her tightly. She grabbed on, just like before with Ironman, but the fear didn't fade. It wasn't cool metal like she expected; it was soft warm skin, she held on tighter.

"Shh, you're okay." She heard a smooth voice say; whoever was holding her was now stroking her hair. "You're safe Darcy, just focus on my voice." She held onto the man's words and slowly her breathing calmed. "Focus on my voice and think about the circus, okay?" If Darcy wasn't having a mental break down, she would have found his advice odd but at that moment in time, it was actually helping. "Think about that big red tent and all those people sitting around."

She didn't need to imagine, she had a day at the circus etched in her brain. She tried to slow her breathing as she remembered the time she went to the travelling circus with her dad. She was 7 or 8, she couldn't remember, but he got her an ice cream and promised if she was good then they would see a tightrope walker. Darcy promised she would behave, and as soon as the show started, she was enthralled, watching the juggling, the aerial artists swinging and jumping backwards and forth, the man who ate fire and the lady who contorted herself. Darcy couldn't believe what she was seeing! She didn't look away from the centre of the stage all night, until a young man, he couldn't have been more than 10 years older than her, came on stage. He had short brown hair and was wearing a purple outfit with a mask. She looked up at her dad and smiled the biggest smile, this was the best day of her life, she didn't even notice that her ice cream had melted in her hand and now lay abandoned on the floor.

The young man was an 'Impalement Artist'. She didn't know what that meant, but her eyes went wide when she saw him chuck a sharp blade at an apple and it fall to the ground in two pieces from the other end of the large tent. She felt her dad stiffen next to her and held his hand, he was probably just scared he would miss and hit someone, she laughed, silly daddy, she thought to herself. The young man then went on to prove his accuracy by throwing 10 daggers, each hitting the centre of 10 targets. Everyone clapped. Darcy wondered if he ever missed!

As he reached for a bow and arrow, she gasped, they had just learnt about Robin Hood in school. She couldn't wait to see if he was a real life version of the rogue hero.

He lifted the bow and pointed it directly at a tiny dot at the top of the tent. Everyone looked up to see where he was aiming. Lots of people mumbled around her, she could hear the words 'impossible' and 'trick' being said, but she continued to look at the young Robin Hood. The only one watching him as his arms took aim, his green eyes examining the target before taking a breath in and releasing his fingers, letting the arrow fly up high. It hit the target and confetti rained down on the audience. Joy rain through her as she jumped up and started to grab at the colourful pieces of paper, it was like snow! She was laughing. It was the first time she'd laughed since her mother died…

Darcy was suddenly back outside the gym. Her arms clutching onto a man who couldn't have been more than 10 years older than her…

Her eyes darted back and forth, not knowing what she was looking at until she raised her head to look at him. His green eyes were so close to hers, his head was dipped low; his forehead was crinkled up with concern. Darcy could breathe again. She could feel her legs and slowly let go of the man's arms that were supporting her, they didn't move far away from her side but let her stand on her own none the less. She was nodding her head absentmindedly, and the world was feeling normal again. She knew she was okay now.

"Thank you." She said softly to Agent Barton, almost inaudibly. "I felt like I was falling again." She explained, searching his green eyes for some kind of understanding. It seemed meaningless now; she let out an awkward laugh as she brushed away any remaining tears from her face. "I'm sorry. Crazy, emotional Darcy!" She tried to dismiss her outburst as if it was nothing.

Barton didn't move; he just kept looking at her. He recognised what she was going through. "You need to get something to focus on. Something to bring you back, okay?" His eyes were scanning her face and his voice sounded like he had experience; he brushed a loose strand of her hair behind her ear and against her own will, she shivered at his touch.

Darcy understood. "Like the circus." She whispered. He looked older now, his years of being a spy weighing down on him.

"Yeah." He whispered back. Darcy suddenly realised how close they were still standing and stepped away from him, her back bumping against the wall. She looked the man in front of her up and down. He was wearing loose grey jogging pants and a tight black top that exposed all of his arms. He was covered in a slight sheen of sweat so she could safely guess he was in the gym before she had her panic attack. She looked around and was thankful no one else was there.

"Does it go away?" She couldn't stop how small she sounded.

"Yes." He answered simply. Darcy felt better already. Now she knew what to do when she lost it, she was hopeful it would never happen again.

"Wait, how did you know about the circus?" Her brain finally catching up with what just happened.

Then, like a light switch had been flicked, Agent Barton smirked. "Everybody's been to the circus, sweetheart." He turned and walked back into the gym as if nothing had just transpired between them.

Darcy frowned and gave an annoyed groan. Was this man was bipolar or what?! One second he's a rude jackass, and then the next he's kind and warm only to be an arrogant jerk again. Looking around, Darcy walked back to her room, long forgetting about her book which had been spotted on the floor by a certain hawk like man and stolen.