Darcy sat in her tiny office, located in the bowels of the SHIELD's underground lab facilities, and tried not to slowly lose her mind. One of the perks of her job as handler-in-training (babysitter) to the Avengers was the lack of consistency. Every day was different. One day she was chasing after Tony Stark, putting out the fires his robots seemed to ignore in favor of hosing the engineering himself, and then next she was running across town, looking for a renegade thunder god that was eating his way through Little Italy.
Today she was in self imposed exile under the guise of catching up on the massive amount of paperwork being an Avenger seemed to accrue. They were basically overgrown toddlers with the ability to cause more havoc than any pint-sized pipsqueak could ever dream of achieving.
However, Darcy was not doing paperwork. Instead, she was sitting in her windowless office, staring at grey walls, and very quietly trying not to freak the fuck out. Ladies and gentleman, for the first time in her life, Darcy Lewis was fucking late.
Fuck. FUCK. FUCK.
Since her sexual debut at the age of sixteen, Darcy had never once missed her period, never forgotten to use a condom, and never forgotten to take her birth control. She may have whatever attitude towards most things in life, but pregnancy was never one of them. Darcy was always down for a good time, a good drink, a good fuck, but she was damn responsible in the sack.
She had never envisioned herself as a mom. Ever. Darcy changed her mind a million times a day, she had changed her major six times before it stuck, had dyed her hair and changed her clothes and jobs and friends and lovers, sometimes without so much as a second thought, but the one thing that was a constant in her life was her absolute disinterest in spawning.
She was the Queen of the Pushup Bras and Reckless Decisions. She was the one you came to for advice on how to seduce your boyfriend, not because you'd skinned your knee or had a runny nose.
And now, here she was, six days into her first missed period in the History of Ever, and biting her nails down to sad little nubs while trying to will herself to start her period. Now. Nnnnow. Right now.
She let out a shaky breath and ran her fingers through her hair. She glanced at the clock and realized she had been sitting in her crappy swivel chair for five straight hours and couldn't put it off any longer. Darcy reluctantly got to her feet and trudged out of the office. She stiffly waved to the few grunts that looked up at her as she passed and exited the building.
Darcy kept her head down as she waited at the bus stop. She knew that she could just call Happy to come get her and he's show up with a smile, but she kind of felt she needed to do the walk-of-potential-reproductive-shame by herself. There was no way he'd let her unusually-mopey attitude go and then Stark would find out and dig into everything about her ever and then her future-maybe-spawn would even be traumatized because her shame would leak through to the baby.
She boarded the bus and rode the four stops to the nearest Rite Aide and proceeded to have to most awkward shopping experience of her life, including the time she had to pick Jane up from the dentist after having her wisdom teeth removed, been puked on by said 90 pound scientist, and then had to wait for her prescriptions while trying to prevent Jane from tinkering with the automatic blood pressure cuff machine while sobbing about Thor.
Darcy tried to play it cool, grabbing a basket and tossing in whatever items her hands touched as she monitored the "family planning" aisle. She'd meandered up and down the aisle four times now, trying to eye the pregnancy tests enough to just pick one without standing there too long to give herself away. And also to build up the nerve to actually grab the damn thing.
This was ridiculous. She'd tasered the God of Thunder (and abs), for fuck's sake! Picking up a pregnancy test should be… well, perhaps child's play wasn't the best choice of words at the moment. Finally she just sighed and grabbed one at random and tossed it in her basket, hastily covering it up with the pomegranate body wash and bags of candy she'd snagged on one her circuits around the store.
Her heart pounded as she made her way to the front to pay. She couldn't believe this. She had vowed to never be this girl. She'd made some bad choices, all of which she'd gladly own up to, but she never wanted to be the girl that made the one mistake that would ruin the rest of her life. And if not ruin, at the very least change it into something she couldn't recognize.
She avoided the two elderly cashiers, not in the mood for generational judgment, and made her way to the stone-faced teenager working the far register. Her face didn't change once as she rang up the motley array of ridiculousness she'd purchased and Darcy was grateful. Her hand shook as she slid her card through the reader and mercilessly shoved her purchases in the gigantic bag that she'd been carrying around since she'd picked it up on an impromptu (drunk) trip to Mexico.
Everything in her life just screamed how not ready she was to be a mom. Her purse from Mexico. She found the ring she was wearing while fooling around with someone under a pier. Her room was riddled with empty energy drinks and coffee cups and half-empty bottles of wine. The only thing in her fridge was a three day old Chinese takeout, about a dozen beers, and coffee creamer. Her freezer had a bottle of tequila and a frozen dinner that had been there since she moved in.
Up until now, the only responsible thing in she had going for her was her sex life. Since joining the Avengers almost a year ago she'd been going through one helluva self-imposed dry streak. Casual sex and highly classified knowledge didn't mix. For the first time, she had purpose. Something stable in her life that didn't make her skin crawl or send her running for the hills.
And then the Star Spangled Man with a Plan came along and ruined all of hers.
Darcy couldn't remember what lead to them falling into bed together (and wasn't that another tick in the con column for motherhood), but it had been hot, seriously shiver inducing, and Darcy allowed herself a little pat on the back that Captain America wanted to tap that. But then morning came and the pleasurable haze that had settled over her dissipated.
Steve had blushed and stammered and looked anywhere but her before mumbling his apologies, jamming himself into his clothes, and spending the next 26 hours in the gym.
She idly wondered if breaking Captain America could have her classified as a Communist and stripped of citizenship.
When they inevitably ran into each other in the communal kitchen, it had been awkward. She ruthlessly smothered the tiny part of herself that felt crushed by rejection of what was possibly the most amazing man she'd ever met and couldn't help but feel like it was her own damn fault.
She made no effort to hide her reckless nature. She didn't make excuses for her crazy lifestyle and often shared ridiculous stories with the team after a few drinks. She'd said time and again how she couldn't imagine settling down and didn't see herself as a girlfriend, as a wife, and never wanted the traditional American dream. It should be no surprise Steve gave her the politest let down of her life.
She felt nauseated as she rode the elevator up to her floor in Avengers Tower. The pregnancy test felt like a lead weight in her purse. Darcy all but ran to her room once the doors slowly slid open and firmly locked the door behind her.
She locked the one in her bathroom as well, just in case, and pulled out the unholy pink box to read the instructions. "JARVIS," she choked. "Close your computerized peepers and don't breathe a word of this to Stark."
"Very good, Miss Lewis."
She ripped a hole in her stockings as she pulled them off and followed the instructions. The following three minutes were the longest of her life. She sat on the edge of the tub as she stared at the end of the stick and begged with her entire being for only one line to show up, just one line. Just one little pink line.
Her blood rushed in her ears as a second pink line slowly came into sharp relief against the white stick, and just like that, her life as she knew it was over.
Despite her militant stance on birth control, she was somehow pregnant. Apparently an aggressive course of antibiotics and birth control plus Super Soldier Super Sperm equaled one Star Spangled Baby.
Then she thought about Steve. How was this going affect him? Darcy wasn't sure, but getting a girl pregnant outside marriage probably didn't jive with his 1940's code of ethics. Sure, he'd adapted to the twenty first century pretty, well, but unexpected pregnancies were in a category all their own.
She felt a cold tendril of dread grip her as she imagined telling Steve. Because she had to tell Steve. He wasn't an idiot, he'd be able add two and two together to come up with four and know that the baby was his. And she'd accept whatever decision he made, to be involved or not. She certainly wasn't going to force someone to be a parent; she had experienced what that was like first hand.
She was interrupted from her thoughts by a disembodied voice.
"Miss Lewis, I thought it prudent to inform you Miss Romanov has been knocking at your door for some time now."
She rushed to hide the box at the bottom of her trash can and tossed the positive pregnancy test in one of the drawers. She looked in the mirror and grimaced. She looked terrible. It was so obvious something was amiss that Natasha wouldn't even have to use her mystical spy powers to figure out she was having an emotional meltdown.
She fumbled with the lock in the bathroom and then jogged to the bedroom door, taking a deep breath so she wouldn't word vomit everywhere, and faced the Black Widow.
"Darcy," she began. "I saw you run from the elevator. Is there something wrong?"
Is there ever, she thought. "Nothing you guys need to worry about," she replied. "All quiet on the western front."
She tried for her usual cheery grin. From Natasha's unimpressed eyebrow flick, it wasn't fooling anyone. "Personal thing," she tried. "I'm working on it." She'd be working on it for the rest of her life.
The assassin gave her a long, calculating look before nodding her head in acknowledgment and walking away. Darcy closed the door and let out a relieved sigh. She walked back to the bathroom and pulled up the door she'd tossed the pregnancy test in and brought it into her room. She sat on the edge of her bed and just looked at it and looked at it and then looked some more until JARVIS was once again interrupted her to tell her that dinner was ready and if she didn't show herself in the next five minutes, Mr. Stark was coming to get her.
She knew Bruce had done the cooking tonight and his rule was no one ate until everyone was in at the table. Tony didn't let anything come between him and Dr. Banner's excellent cooking, so it was a miracle he wasn't already breaking down her door. Natasha must have dished.
Darcy washed her face and quickly got out of her work clothes, tossing on a pair of soft cotton shorts and a faded red t-shirt. She slipped some socks on her chilled feet and made her way to the kitchen.
It turned out the night's offering was pasta, but Darcy didn't have much of an appetite. She ate mechanically, clearing her plate but not reaching for seconds. Steve sat two chairs away from her and she was uncomfortably aware of his presence. She felt a terrible guilt for the bomb she was about to drop on him.
As Clint pushed away from the table with a contented hum, talk immediately turned to going out.
She thought about trying to slip away, but that was a feat damn near impossible when you lived under this roof. Between super spies and omniscient AI's, there was no such thing as sneaking.
"Darcy!" Clint shouted, snapping his fingers in front of her. "Are you coming?"
Tony smirked and tossed his napkin at her. "Rita's, Lewis. Get with the program."
And of course they had to choose her favorite tequila dealer on the night when she was most certainly not going out. In fact, she wouldn't be going out for quite some time. And oh god she'd been drinking. Not a lot, but still. Fuck! She swallowed thickly and shook her head. "Not tonight, folks."
Tony pouted. "Who else is going to drink margaritas with me?"
Clint laughed gave Tony a sly grin. "You're such a girl! Drink a real drink for once."
Darcy rolled her eyes and tossed Tony's napkin at Clint. "Please, you drink appletinis and everyone knows it. Putting it in a different glass doesn't fool anyone." Clint pouted too. She made no effort to conceal how beat she felt. "I'm just not feeling up to it."
"Are you still not feeling well?" Bruce asked, eyes concerned.
And of course one of them had to be a real, legit doctor, ready to take care of all their medical needs. "Long day," she said. "I'm sure I'll be fine tomorrow."
He looked skeptical but let it go. She smothered a frown. It wouldn't be long before he found out, anyway. Before they all found out, but Steve had to be the first one to know.
Steve only accompanied the group out maybe twice a month. Since he couldn't really get drunk and didn't like to see people in that state, he generally hung back. Only when Tony really ribbed him or Thor insisted did he go with, them and tonight it looked like he was staying home.
Part of her was relieved. Kind of made it easier for her—she didn't have to separate him from the herd, you know? The Avengers were very rarely alone. The other part of her wanted to shove him out of the door so that she wouldn't have to deal with this, not right now, not ever.
But she knew the longer she waited, the worse it would be and, quite frankly, she just wanted it to be over with. She just needed to know. He just needed to know.
When it appeared that no one was going to contest her desire to stay home she jumped from the table, put her plate in the dishwasher and inconspicuously made her way to her room.
How was she supposed to do this? What was her angle? Did she bring the pee stick with her? Would she need proof? How did she start? Hey, remember that time you made a huge mistake and rocked my world?
Ugh. She was so not cut out for this.
She allowed herself to be a coward and hid in her room until JARVIS told her everyone held left, save Captain Rogers. She put the pregnancy test back in the bathroom and asked the AI where she could find Steve.
"The living room, Miss Lewis. Shall I tell him you're looking for him?"
"No thanks, JARVIS. I got it from here."
Since the night they had slept together, Steve had been very careful about not treating her any differently, and really, she appreciated it. She'd gone through her fair share of rejections, but this is the first time one stuck around.
She rounded the corner and Steve immediately looked toward her. For a second, he seemed sad, but plastered on a genuine smile for her. "Feeling better?" he asked
"Uh, not really."
He frowned. "What's wrong? Are you still feeling sick?" He gave a rueful smile. "I understand if you didn't want to say so in front of Bruce. He can be a worry wart."
She plopped on the couch next to him. Darcy let out a weak laugh. "No, I'm not sick," she said, staring at the cluttered coffee table.
Don't cry. Don't you dare cry, she thought vehemently. She realized she had been silent for too long.
"Is everything all right?" he asked in concern.
She laughed again, thick and a bit hysterical. "I don't know."
Darcy jumped when she felt a warm hand curl around her shoulder. "You can talk to me," he offered seriously, his stupidly gorgeous face all earnest and heartbreaking.
She sniffed resolutely. "I kind of have to."
He reached for the remote and the television off before turning to face her completely, looking uneasy. She had his undivided attention. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
"Is it bad?" he asked. "Are you in trouble? Is someone bothering you?"
"No one's bothering me," she rushed to clarify, thinking of what happened to the intern that had taken an unhealthy interest in her. None of the Avengers would own up, but she wasn't dumb enough to think someone would volunteer to be transferred to Siberia.
Steve looked more concerned by the minute. "What is it?"
She felt her bottom lip tremble, but even the most badass of bitches can feel vulnerable. Darcy looked at him. "Remember when we spent the night together?" she asked needlessly.
To her surprise, Steve blushed, and she couldn't quite place the emotion on hiss face, but definitely not revulsion. It gave her a little hope. "Yes," he answered quietly.
She thought about how she could ease her way into her announcement, but subtly and planning had never been Darcy's strong point. Blunt was her middle name. Darcy looked at him for a long moment, holding his eyes. "I'm pregnant," she said, voice breaking on the last word.
Steve's was absolutely still for a minute before very quietly whispering "What?"
She took a deep breath. "I'm pregnant," she said, voice stronger.
To his credit, he didn't ask if she was sure it was his. Then again, it was probably unthinkable to him for a woman to lie about something like that. After a moment he brought a hand up to press against his face. He looked absolutely gob smacked.
Darcy felt her lips tremble again. "I'm sorry," she whispered, and his eyes flew to hers.
"What?" he asked. "Why are you sorry?"
"I don't know what happened," she continued, irgnoring his question. "I'm always so careful."
Steve sputtered for a minute, not knowing what to say. She interrupted his stuttering. "Did we use a condom?" she asked, knowing the answer but wanting her hear him say it.
"Yes," he replied, blushing a deep crimson.
"Did it break?"
Steve shook his head. "I—I didn't think so? But, I guess—I mean…I don't know? It—it must have."
And Darcy felt herself heading towards a very real breakdown in front of the man whose life she just turned on its head. "I'm so sorry," she said again, very nearly a sob.
"What in the world are you sorry for?"
"Because I'm pregnant!" she shouted, making him jump. "We're not married! There's no picket fence or houses—we don't even have a relationship—and I know it's not what you wanted and I'm messing up everything!"
She pressed her face into her hands. "It was one thing for me to screw up my own life, but I was never supposed to screw up anybody else's."
A moment later a handkerchief was being pressed into her hand and she finally gave in and let a few hot tears slip out. She knew he was just being kind, but it made it even worse. Steve was such a nice guy, the perfect guy, and she was dropping this on him.
"You didn't screw up anything," he assured softly.
Darcy stared at him in disbelief. "Right."
Steve shook his head. "I never imagined something like this happening," he admitted. "Not in a million years. And I don't know what to say, except that it's actually probably my fault—"
"Yeah right," she interrupted. "You've never done a damn thing wrong in your life."
He just shrugged bashfully. "Super soldier," he said. "They warned me something like this could happen, that I could be really…"
"Virile?" she supplied balefully.
He nodded, making her insides tumble with heat and anxiety both. "Yeah. I just never thought it was going to be a problem. Never really got over being that skinny kid from Brooklyn. Dames still intimidated me."
"And me?" she asked, having to know.
He laughed. "You still intimidate me, but you remind me of all the good things about people I used to love. They intimidated me to."
She looked at him incredulously. "You punched out mega-Nazis. How the hell do I intimidate you?"
He laughed in embarrassment and shrugged. "I never really punched Hitler."
"I'm always intimidated by women I'm attracted to."
Darcy firmly quashed the warmth that bloomed in his chest. "Attracted to" didn't keep him around after they'd fallen in bed together and it didn't mean he'd stick around now.
"What do you want to do?" she asked.
He frowned. "What do you mean?"
She searched for the right words. "How do you want to handle it?"
He paled. "Handle it?"
"No!" she said quickly. "That's not what I meant. I would never…" Steve looked immeasurably relieved. "I meant, what do you want to do."
Darcy nodded. "I understand if you don't want to be involved. You didn't ask for this."
Truthfully, she wouldn't understand, she could never understand it, but she would accept it. She felt guilty as she saw his hurt look.
"Of course I want to be involved," he affirmed. "How could I not?"
She just shrugged, feeling weak with relief. At least she wouldn't have to do this alone. "You'd be surprised," she said eventually.
His lips tensed into a thin line. "Anything you need," he promised. "Whatever you want. Just let me know."
And then he was biting his lips against a reluctant smile. "What?" Darcy asked, the hint of a smile in her own voice, now that the worst was over.
Steve shook his head. "It might not be the best time."
"Tell me," she prodded.
He chuckled. "It's just—Tony's never going to let this go."
Darcy laughed outright. She had no delusions about keeping this from the rest of the Avengers, and she knew Stark was probably going to wet himself in glee once he heard Captain America got a girl knocked up out of wedlock.
Steve laughed along with her and shook his head ruefully. "He's had sex with goodness know how many women and doesn't have a single accident, and you're only the third woman I've ever been with, and I've got a baby one the way."
"Maybe the reason Tony invents so much is because he's compensating for something," she suggested wickedly. "Maybe you're the only virile one around here. Pretty sure Bruce's accident has him shooting blanks and Clint was in the circus. All the spandex can't be good for the family jewels."
Steve laughed. "I don't know about that. Isn't Thor supposed to be some kind of fertility god?"
She shrugged, but privately agreed. Thor was a fine looking male specimen. "You're the only one putting your money where your mouth is right now, if you know what I mean."
He quieted and nodded slowly. Darcy kicked herself for breaking the easy banter they had going, not ready to go back to the serious place. Steve eyed her for a long moment. "So," he said softly. "We're having a baby."
She nodded, trying not to stare at her currently-unchanged stomach. "Yup."
"How did you find out?"
"Took a pregnancy test," she said. "They came out with ones you can do at home in the 70's so chicks didn't have to run to the doctor all the time. Good thing to, because I knew a girl that would have been there all the time. God, you'd think our health center didn't give away free condoms with the way she was always freaking out," she rambled.
"Can I—can I come with you?" he asked hesitantly. "When you go to the doctor? Can I come with you?"
"Of course," she said. "You didn't need to ask."
He shrugged. "Before," he said, and Darcy knew he was talking about before he was a living block of ice. "A buddy of mine's wife was expecting. He said she didn't want him to come along."
Darcy shrugged. Now that Steve had made it clear he wasn't going to drop her and her spawn like a bad habit, she expected nothing but complete and total involvement. Sure, he didn't have to make every appointment or dote on her hand and foot, the man had a job to do and Darcy liked her alone time, but she wasn't going to accept a fair weather father. She didn't think Steve would be the absent dad type, but she wouldn't know for sure until the thing was born.
Oh god. Birth. She repressed a shiver and turned her attention back to Steve and his stupid, handsome face that made her want to cry and cuddle all at the same time. "Anything you want," she said.
He smiled at her and reached forward to wipe the stay tear tracks from her face. "Pretty sure that's my line."
There was another pause. "You know my "doctor" is probably going to be Bruce, right? Fury's not just going to let me take Captain America's baby to just any doctor, and I refuse to be poked at by people I don't know."
Steve frowned. "I'll handle Fury. You can see whoever you want."
And wasn't that hot; Steve offering to defy authority really did it for her in all the right places. She shrugged. "Figure Bruce is our best bet; especially if it turns out we have ourselves a super baby."
Steve looked nervous once more. Clearly he'd never thought about the affects of the serum past his own experience with it. "Do you think that can happen?"
Darcy shrugged, aiming for nonchalance even though the thought terrified her. "We'll find out."
Steve didn't look comforted, but there really wasn't anything to say. They wouldn't know until she was further along, maybe not even until it was born. She felt a pang of anxiety go through her. She may not have planned for this, but she was going to be the best damn mother she could be to her mystery spawn.
"How-how do you want to tell the team?" Steve asked.
Darcy breathed out. "Maybe we should wait."
Darcy nodded. "Not too long; it's going to be pretty obvious I'm insperminated. But it would be nice to have a few days to get my shit together. I have to call my mom, let SHIELD know I'll be out of commission for a while, file the paper work—"
"Paperwork?" he interrupted. "You have to file paperwork for being pregnant? That's ridiculous!"
Darcy nodded. "Tell me about it. Though it will be kinda nice not to have to chase you guys around the city. My feet are already killing me."
Steve was quiet and there was that emotion she couldn't place again. "Do you… not want to wait?" she asked.
Steve shook himself from his contemplation. "No, I think a few days would be good."
"A lot to take in," she said knowingly.
Steve sputtered and moved to deny it, but Darcy just smiled pointedly. He deflated a bit and gave her a sheepish smile. "Maybe a bit," he relented.
"S'cool. Kinda sprung a bomb on you. Not every day your one-night-stand tells you she's knocked up."
"That's—you're not. You mean a lot to me. I care about you. I just… I never meant for that to happen."
Darcy felt her smile falter. They'd been over this. And when she says "over this", she means Steve tried to express himself and Darcy smiled tightly while pointedly not listening to what he said so she couldn't analyze every word and cry into countless bottles of wine for the next two weeks.
"I get it," she said, even though she didn't.
"No," he replied, sound frustrated. "I'm not—I'm terrible at this. I say the wrong thing, all the time."
Steve was so clearly upset that her heart went out to him. He was such a genuine guy and it hurt to see him so distressed. She reached over and covered him strong hand with her own. "Sounds like you need to take a few days, too."
She could see he wanted to object, to deal with whatever he was feeling now, but she knew he needed time. This evening had already gone much better than she could ever have imagined. He didn't call her names or disown his future child, so she was already counting it as a win.
"Take a few days," she said again, her emotions swelling high enough to overcome her once more. "It looks like we both need it."
She squeezed his hand once and stood. "Think it over," she said. "You know where to find me."
She turned without preamble and made her way to her room, eyes prickling. She swiftly walked the last few steps and shut the door noiselessly before diving onto her bed. She clutched a pillow to her chest and buried her face in the soft down and cried.
Hours later, she forced herself out of bed and stared at her room. She stood abruptly and stomped to the kitchen, feeling relieved when Steve was nowhere to be found. Darcy pulled out a few trash bags and strode to her room in determination.
She grabbed every bottle of alcohol, soda, and Red Bull she could find and tossed them into the bag. She looked around her room, the messy space of a twenty-something screw up, and growled in anger, throwing the trash bag onto the floor.
A few empty bottles tumbled out and rolled a few feet across the floor. Darcy huffed and ruthlessly tossed them bag inside before knotting the bag and striding over to her closet desk. She grabbed a paper and pen and took a deep breath.
She had some major re-prioritizing to do.