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Chaos (And Her Ruby Red Smile)

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Her lipstick, a red so bright it's almost blinding (and, he worries, a little toxic, although she never lets him test it), stands out starkly against his skin. Darcy is a kisser. She's got those naturally full, pouty lips that he guesses should look more coy, more feminine. But then she's snarky and she has no filter and suddenly those lips are less sweet and instead downright sinful.

She calls her lipstick trashy and she smiles all the while. She makes her mouth into an O as she spreads the waxy red coloring over her lips, watching him through her dresser mirror as she does it, her brow quirked like she knows, like she's teasing him.

Before gamma rays and green skin, Bruce was the buttoned down type; he did everything in his power to repress anything that wasn't controlled and calm. Darcy is neither of those things. Sometimes he wonders if it's The Other Guy that she draws in more than him. If it's that chaos about her, from her personality to her appearance. From her riotous mane of curly hair to the casual way she dresses; never putting stock in pencil skirts and blouses, instead digging out vintage t-shirts and faded jeans. From never setting her alarm clock and always sleeping in, to eating too sugary breakfast cereals at three in the morning after she's lost track of time playing Temple Run. From changing her majors twice and never quite setting her sights on a particular career, but accepting the challenge of assisting the Avengers in whatever they need, a little because she knows too much as it is and SHIELD can't let her loose in society, a little more because 'Hells yes I wanna be in on the kick-ass action!', and then partly just because it's easier than going back to college or searching for a job that fits her credentials.

It speaks of immaturity, his rational mind tells him. She's young; she's free, of worry and restrictions. She's literally the opposite of him. He feels like he's dragging himself through the day, leaning on a hair's trigger of his anger boiling over and losing his tenuous grip on control. She goes through life just putting one foot in front of the other, often not looking at where she's going, bumping into things, tripping, only to get back up and trek on with little care for any bumps or bruises or mistakes along the way.

He doesn't really think of that though, when she forces her way into his lab, takes a seat on his desk, crumbling important papers and not caring, making him eat dinner after he's ignored the last two meals. He's not thinking of it when she sneaks up behind him and starts scrubbing her nails across his scalp, encouraging him to relax and stop thinking and just, "Eat! I had to distract Thor so I could sneak these out of the kitchen for you. When he figures it out later, do you know what kind of puppy-dog face he's going to pull? I'm already swimming in guilt and I haven't even seen him! Show me it's worth it, Doc."

She has blunt nails that are always chipped with some vivid, neon nail polish. He's seen her talk Steve into painting her toes for her while she does her fingers; she's a hand-talker though, so she gets half of it on her skin. Steve's better, but he's meticulous; it tries his patience that Darcy moves around so much, making it hard for him to keep the lines straight. He's not sure how she talked him into it, but then Darcy's good at that.

Or maybe Steve's just as fallible as the rest of them, as him, falling prey to deceptively sweet, red lips.

Darcy snuck into his life, almost without him even realizing it. He blames it on work at first; he's distracted, there's so much to research, so much work to do, both for SHIELD and for the Avengers. So it's not surprising that one day he looks up and Darcy's just there; she knows what kind of tea he likes and how he takes it. She's not put off when he reminds her that she shouldn't be so close; that she's playing with things she doesn't understand. Instead, she reminds him of Tony, teasing him, treating him like he's normal. She finds her way into his life and she doesn't let him push her out of it.

It's the touching that changes things; Darcy is physical. She likes to touch his arm or run her fingers through his "fluffy" hair. She scrubs her fingers down the stubble across his jaw when he comes out of what she calls one of his "sciency" comas. Her touch spooks him at first, it puts him on edge, like he's scanning, waiting for The Other Guy to react and force his way forward. But he adapts, he tells himself it's just her way, she doesn't mean anything by it, and before he knows it, he likes it. It calms him. He comes to rely on it, in some ways.

It's been so long since he had anybody, had a woman, touch him. Since someone treated him like a man. Tony is a friend; he helps him learn control through exposure to the stress that is the boisterous and chaotic Tony Stark. Darcy is a whole other form of uncontrollable. And he doesn't want to tame her; he likes how abrupt she is. How free she feels, even when she's got her arms wrapped around him and she's whispering in his ear as his heartbeat spikes. As she calms him down and pulls him back from the edge. He doesn't feel trapped, he feels like she's got a hand out and she's pulling him out of that deep, dark pit of anger and despair.

It's not smart. It's possibly one of the least thought-out plans he's ever had. As much as he recognizes that Darcy is a loose cannon, he can't bring himself to separate from her. Falling in love again, after everything with Betty, is something he never thought would happen. In fact, it's something he's tried to avoid at all costs. Not just because he could hurt them, but because they could hurt him. Everything that's wrong with him, his baggage, it's all out in the open. One mistake, one argument, one push and he turns into a giant, green monster. There's no hiding that he's screwed up, that he's different. And he's waiting for her to realize that; realize that he's damaged, not worth it, that she can do so much better.

Darcy, with her garish red lipstick and her thick, booming laugh. With her snarky comebacks and her defensive 'whatever' attitude. With her bright blue eyes and her pale, white skin. The curves she half hides behind layers of clothes and then takes so much pride in when she strips them away and climbs into bed with him. She's an enigma; a puzzle that he starts to get, has all the edge pieces put together, and then suddenly she says something or does something and the picture changes or there's more pieces and some don't even seem to fit together.

The only thing he knows for sure, that he never questions, is that she loves him.

She loves him even when she's exasperated that he's fallen asleep in his lab. She loves him even when he misses coffee dates and lunches because he's so focused. She loves him when he pushes her away when he's stressed or worried that The Other Guy is going to come out. She loves him through his depression and his bitterness. And even when he talks science, using words she doesn't understand but is too excited to explain in layman's terms.

He sees it when she looks at him, rolling her eyes affectionately with one of her brows quirked. When she finds him sleeping and plucks his glasses from his face as she wakes him up, wiping them off for him before putting them back on and dragging him to bed. When she forgives him for missing their daily coffee break and instead brings his tea to him. When she tries to cook him exotic meals and sets the fire alarm off repeatedly as she burns them. When she doesn't run away screaming when he changes into the Hulk, but doesn't push her luck either.

He sees it in the red lipstick prints that stick to the skin of his chest and his neck. When she applies another layer only to walk back and let it smear across his lips as she kisses him good morning, after teasing him through the mirror, until he's on a different kind of edge. This one he likes. This one means a pay off that doesn't lead to destruction. It leads to her, with her mussed, dark hair and he suggestive smirk.

Her nails scrub through his hair as she pushes him back on the bed and climbs on top, her knees digging into the mattress on either side.

"You're going to be late, Doc," she tells him, nipping his lower lip. "Think all those equations can survive without you for a little while?"

He rolls her onto her back and rubs his thumb against her lip, failing to wipe the red, waxy lipstick completely away, instead smearing it a little more. He doesn't think it's trashy; he thinks it's Darcy. It's passion and chaos and life.

"Screw science," he mutters, pushing her shirt, which is really his shirt, up her waist.

She laughs, a snorting noise against his mouth. "I'm appalled!" she cries dramatically.

The fabric of the shirt bunches; his patience is thin, non-existent really, so he tears it open, letting the buttons pop off and scatter. A few of them land on her, one is teetering on the curve of her breast. He nudges it out of the way with his nose before pressing wet kisses across her soft, white skin, leading up to her pebbled, pink nipple. He laves it with his tongue, teeth grazing, before rubbing his cheek, scratchy with whiskers, across it.

She bites her lip, getting her lipstick on her teeth, and he's distracted, moving up to kiss her again, licking the coloring from her teeth.

She hums, gripping the hair at the nape of his neck and blows out a sigh as their mouths part.

"You've convinced me. Fuck science," she says, hiking her legs up on his waist. With a wicked smile, she looks up at him, her blue eyes flashing, "Better yet. Fuck me."

He smirks.

He's late for work, but he feels good. He feels calm. The Other Guy is there, simmering beneath the surface, but even he's content for now. Maybe it's because Darcy promised they would hit the batting cages later to work off some of those "smashy" tendencies. Or maybe it's just because they spent an hour lingering in bed together and then later sharing a shower that was probably less productive than it should have been.

When he looks up from his work well after lunch, a kink in his neck and an ache in his shoulders, he smiles when he sees she left him a still steaming tea and something to eat. And this is when he remembers that it's not just The Other Guy that loves and appreciates her. It's not all chaos; in fact, she can be more controlled than him. Even when he's not Hulking out, he's still too involved in his head, in his science. Darcy knows how and when to interrupt that, to force him out of that scene.

He realizes he needs her in his life; not just to remind him to eat or sleep or go home, but to live. To touch him when he's pulled too far away from the rest of the world. To talk to him when he loses sight of human interaction. To remind him that he's more than the scientist or the rage monster.

He picks up his tea and he sees her lip print on the lid. The Other Guy recedes a little more. He never thought he'd have this again, but then he wasn't prepared for Darcy Lewis. She comes into his life like an abrupt tornado and she never leaves; he realizes, possibly against his better judgment, that he doesn't want her to. She's the best thing to ever happen to him and even the green guy has enough sense to hold on to her, trashy lipstick and all.

[End.]