Chapter 1: Day One
It had been three months since everything went down. Since Darcy found out that her sweet, handsome, Wizard of Oz loving boyfriend was really an eighty something year old ex-KGB assassin who used to pal around with Captain America back in the good old days. Since James found out that his spastic, internet trolling, voluptuous, if she did say so herself, girlfriend was a government secret agent who spent her nine to fives wrangling superheros. Two of which were kind of his ex's.
Laying her head on the cool marble of the islands counter top she let out an exasperated moan of discontent. If she'd never found the ring she would be happy right now. She knew that without a shadow of a doubt. They'd talked, really talked, airing out all of the shadowy little corners of their lives before, and on a few occasions after, they had met. Things were going good, great even. Except for one major thing.
Since that night at Coney Island, when she'd stumbled upon the engagement ring, her Gran's engagement ring, she had been waiting on bated breath for the question. Every time they went out to dinner, every impromptu weekend away, she was waiting for him to pull out that stupid little box and ask her. Only he hadn't. Hell, he hadn't even officially moved in with her yet. While more often then not he'd be there in her apartment when she got in from work, and when she left again to go back the next morning, he still had his own place in Brooklyn. Sure, he'd been gone less, Coulson doing her a solid and keeping most of his work stateside, but still. There were nights when she'd come home to an empty apartment and want so badly to text him, asking when he was coming home. She couldn't though, because while he may crash at her place more often then not, they'd still never taken that leap. She'd never asked him, he'd never asked her, and in all honesty Darcy was starting to think he was having second thoughts.
“That can't be comfortable.” She heard Clint remark from somewhere near the door. She didn't even bother to lift her head when she flicked him off. “Trouble in paradise?”
Setting up she pushed her hair out of her face and back into a ponytail. “Depends on who you're asking.” she answered, pulling out her file folders. At his questioning look she sighed. “According to Steve, and weirdly enough Natasha, 'Bucky' is happy as a fat little piglet.”
Clint just took a long drink of his coffee, his face neutral. “Yea, Natasha's been weird since her and Banner got back from Tibet.” Darcy couldn't argue with him there.
“I think it's just all of the sex.” she said, flipping through that week's itineraries.
Clint shrugged, pouring her a cup of coffee when she held out her mug. “I don't know, but I still want to know what the deal was with the Sherpa.” Lifting a brow, Darcy gave him a look Clint knew all too well. “Not enough to file paperwork. I never want to know enough to file paperwork.”
Pouting, Darcy returned her eyes to her paperwork. She'd half finished the revisions to that months budget when the familiar strands of 'Back in Black' filled the kitchen. Head shooting up from her work she scrambled to answer her phone. “Hello?” Clint could make out the faint sound of a woman talking on the other end. “Oh, my god! You're shitting me!” The person seemed to deny that, because Darcy's face broke out into a grin. “Well, you should have told me! Where are you?” More silence, Darcy nodding along for a minute before jumping out of her seat. “You mean the big, gaudy monstrosity with the A on the side.” This time what ever the person had said caused the grin to get even wider. “Wait right there!” Ending her call she gave a squeal of pure delight, hugging Clint, and then racing towards the elevator as quickly as she could. “Hi, Tony! Bye Tony!”
Tony looked between her retreating form and Clint a few times before heading to the coffee pot. “Has Coulson been sneaking experimental drugs into her food again?”
Clint shrugged, downing the rest of his drink. “If he has, he's upped his game. She refuses to eat or drink anything not in a sealed container or made by her own hand. She got suspicious of a free sample at the grocery store three days ago.” Shrugging, Tony meandered back out of the kitchen, his caffeine fix in hand.
Clint had migrated to the main living room by the time the elevator dinged. Not bothering to take his eyes off of the tv he shouted, “Tony thinks you're drugged again!”
He almost did a spit take when an unfamiliar female voice echoed through the room. “Do your co-workers frequently drug you?” Turning around to look over the back of the couch Clint saw Darcy helping a young woman with a set of duffel bags.
“It's a thing.” Darcy quipped, dropping the bag off to the side of the bar. Glancing over at him Darcy's face broke out into a wide grin. “Clint! I have somebody I want you to met!” Hauling himself up and off of the couch he headed over to the two women.
Getting a closer look Clint noticed that the woman, who ever she was, looked a lot like Darcy. Both had full lips, wide eyes, and wavy dark hair. They even had similar proportions, though the newcomer was a good inch taller then Darcy, even in her heels. “Clint Barton.” he offered holding out her hand.
The woman gave him a bright smile, and a firm hand shake. “Call me Clem, everybody does.” Clint couldn't help it, he stared.
“Clem?” he found himself asking, not that anyone in the world would blame him. He'd heard a lot of interesting names, especially in his years with the circus, but he couldn't recall a single time he'd ever met a woman named Clem.
“It's short for Clementine.” Darcy supplied, waving both into the kitchen. Clint could tell by her tone of voice it was meant to be just a bit mocking, though in an affectionate type of way. Looking at them quickly he almost would have pegged them for sisters, except for the fact that he'd seen Darcy's file and knew she was an only child.
The woman, Clem, shot her a glare. “You're really one to talk, Prudence.” She softened the blow of her words with a playful bump of her hip against Darcy's, and an open, honest grin. Who ever this was knew Darcy well. Well enough to let her joke about Darcy's given name. Clint had gotten away with it a time or two, put had always received a glare. When Clem teased, Darcy just tilted her head back and gave a full bellied laugh.
“So how do you two know each other?” he finally asked, pulling out another coffee cup while Darcy cleared up her paperwork.
“Darce decided I needed a human shadow, hasn't left me alone since.” Clem said, accepting the cup from Clint with a nod of thanks. Darcy just stuck her tongue out, going over to the cabinet to pull out the cookies she kept hidden in the back. Setting down at the table Clem stretched out her legs. “Nay, we're cousins though.”
Clint nodded, snagging two double stuffed Oreo before Darcy could swat his hand away. “I can see the resemblance.” The two women shared a look before dissolving into laughter. “What?”
Holding up her hand Clem tried to get her breathing under control. “God, it's been years since someone said that!” Clint just crossed his arms, pouting slightly. He didn't see why it was so funny, they did.
“Clint,” Darcy started her laughter dimming into a soft sort of grin. “I'm adopted.” It had gotten easier, since she'd finally spilled that secret to James, to start telling the others. She doesn't know why she kept it secret when she came on at SHIELD, maybe it was because no one here knew. It made it easier, on her anyway, not having the looks sent her way. As far as everyone in New York was concerned Jax and Mark Lewis were her parents, flesh and blood, born and raised.
Clint just looked at her in confusion for a moment. “Huh. It's not in your file.” Darcy shot a look at Clem before giving him a look.
“Your job keeps a file on you?” Clem asked, looking between the two. “I thought you said you were a PA for Stark.” Darcy opened her mouth to respond but nothing came out right away. She was used to lying to strangers, that was easy. Hell, even lying to her family was easy for the most part. No, there were only ever two people she felt hard pressed to lie to, James, and Clem.
She was saved from having to answer right away by a disheveled looking Bruce wandering into the kitchen, trailed by an ever immaculately dressed Natasha. Bruce made his way to the coffee pot while Natasha snagged a cookie before perching on the island. Clearing her throat, Darcy tried to curve Clem's attention towards the new comers. “Clem, these are two more of my coworkers. Bruce is in charge of sector one R&D,” Bruce gave a small smile and waved before handing a cup of coffee to Natasha. “And this is,” Darcy sent her a look, Natasha tilting her head to the right. “Natasha. She's a member of legal.”
Clem looked them up and down. “Uhuh, sure.” she said, turning back to her coffee. “You know, you can just tell me you work for the Avengers.” Four pairs of eyes trained in on her. “What? Come on Darcy, I've seen the news, there's no way I wouldn't recognize the Black Widow.” She jammed a thumb in Bruce's direction. “Him I have no idea, but,” she pointed towards Clint next. “Have you seen the arms on this guy? Hard not to assume the man with the well built arms who knows Black Widow, just so happens to be Hawkeye.”
Natasha sent Darcy a look before leaning slightly into Bruce's side. “She's very good.” she remarked, nibbling slightly at her cookie. “The young man who delivers our Thai food every Wednesday still believes our cover stories.”
Groaning Darcy shook her head. “No,you can not offer my cousin a job. She's very happily employed elsewhere.” Darcy looked to Clem for confirmation, but the other woman looked away.
“About that,” she stared, grabbing another cookie. “So, the reason why I'm in New York is because I kinda got sacked.”
Darcy just stared at her. “What? Why would the museum fire you?” she asked, leaning forward. After college Clem had somehow managed to snag her dream job. For the last five years she'd been working for the Antiquities department for the Acropolis museum in Athens. When ever Darcy had gotten a letter, or phone call all Clem had done was talk about how much she loved her job, what new things she was discovering.
Sliding down in her seat further, suddenly looking sheepish Clem diverted her eyes. “Yea, about that too.” Taking a long drink of her coffee, her shoulders dropped. “I lied.”
“About what?” Darcy asked, her brow crinkling.
“All of it?” Clem shot Darcy a repentant look as she played with her napkin. “I haven't been working for the Acropolis project like I told you. I've been a tour guide.”
“That's not so bad. I mean you were still in Athens right?” Darcy asked, reaching out to cover Clem's hand in her own.
“Sort of.” she mumbled. “I was living in Athens, but I wasn't working there. You know those religious tours they have in Israel?” When Darcy nodded she continued. “Who knew they had those in Greece? I was basically stuck with a group of bible thumpers going from church to church.”
“So what happened?” Darcy asked, getting up to refill her mug. “I mean you minored in religion in college, so you were qualified. Over qualified even.”
“They found out that Marika wasn't just my roommate.” she said, laying her head on her hand. “Then when I drag my ass home, expecting a little bit of pity sex I find out she's taken off. With all of our, and by our I mean my, stuff. Apparently someone told her parents and she 'couldn't handle this right now'.” Tossing her balled up napkin, she accepted a refill from Darcy. “So, yea. I'm currently unemployed, homeless, broke, and single. Go me.” Natasha sent Bruce a look that Darcy was coming to recognize as just part of their creepy talking with out talking thing. Setting down his mug he walked over the the fridge, digging a bottle of vodka from the back of the freezer. Clem gave him a smile as he poured her a double shot, before setting the bottle down next to her.
“Welcome to the family.” Clint deadpanned as she took the shot. Clem just gave him a look, and poured another shot.
“So can I crash with you?” Clem asked looking hopeful. When Darcy faltered slightly Clem held up her hands. “Just for a couple of weeks, promise. I just don't feel like owning up to Mom right now.”
“You can stay here.” a voice said from the doorway. Darcy shot Steve a grateful smile. It wasn't that she didn't want Clem to stay with her, it was just she had hoped to work things out with James, and that would be a little hard with Clem sleeping on her couch. “We have more then enough room, and I'm sure Tony won't mind. Too much anyway.” He offered Clem a smile as he laid his hand on her shoulder. Clem looked grateful, but also reluctant to except. If there was one thing they had in common, it was that they both hated charity, especially from strangers.
“Clem, this is Steve Rogers.” Darcy offered, gesturing between them. “Steve, this is my cousin, Clem Lewis.”
“It's a pleasure to meet you, Clem.” Steve said, holding out a hand.
Clem just stared at him for a minute before her head snapped to Darcy. “Dude! You work with Captain America? Like the real Captain America? Have you told Nana yet?” Clem exclaimed. Steve just frowned, lowing his hand as he turned to look at Darcy.
“Is there a fake Captain America?” he asked, obviously confused.
Shaking her head Darcy sent him a weak smile. “No, Steve” she assured him.
“So have you? Told Nana? She's gonna flip!” Clem pressed on, eyes wide and disbelieving.
“No, I haven't gotten around to it. I do like to keep my personal and professional lives separate.” she said, giving Clem a look.
“Why would you tell your Nana?” Bruce asked, finally chiming in for the first time.
“Are you kidding me?” Clem exclaimed, looking at Darcy before digging out her phone.
“Come on Clem!” Darcy yelled, but it was too late, she was already over near Bruce, pulling up the pictures on her phone.
Showing the phone Clem pointed out things to Bruce and Natasha. “This was our first, and only, Halloween together in Hope. There's Darcy, there's me, and there's Nana.” Steve looked over her shoulder, brow forwarding at he looked at the picture. Flipping to a new one she looked over her shoulder at Steve. “And here's Nana back in her heyday. Wasn't she a beaut?”
Steve looked at Darcy confusion on his face. “Your Nana is Hanna Davis?” he asked, looking a little hurt. Darcy knew she should have told him, but that landmine wasn't the biggest secret she was keeping so she just sent him an apologetic look.
Clem just barreled on, in true Clem fashion. “Yup!” she said, popping her p. “It's why Darce and I call her Nana. Everyone else just calls her Gram, but well...” Her voice trailed off, eyes unfocussed for a minute. Shaking herself out of it she smiled at Bruce. “I started calling her Nana right before Mom and Dad got married, and Darce just followed suite. Adopted solidarity.”
“So you guys are both adopted?” Clint asked, glancing over at Darcy. Darcy for her part wanted to scream. These were her secrets Clem was spilling out. Secrets were part of who they were, she didn't ask about their pasts, and they returned the favor. The well cultivated image of an every woman type, with a stable, boring back ground were slowly crumbling. Still, she nodded at Clint. “Huh. I'm an orphan.”
Darcy's eyes widened. She knew that, of course she knew that, she'd read his file. “Same here.” Bruce offered, Natasha nodding along.
Natasha sent her look that held more emotion then Darcy had ever seen her show anyone. In front of other people anyway. “You are fortunate to have found a family that loves you so.” Darcy's throat tightened up at that.
“Are you kidding?” Clem asked, smiling at Darcy. “She hit the jackpot. Every kid wishes their parents were nomadic hippies that only settle down roots at a commune.” Clint actually did a spit take at that.
“You grew up in a commune? Was it a nudist commune?” he asked, looking just a little hopeful. Darcy scoffed, glaring at him.
“No.” she said tersely. “The normal kind. Were we grew our own food, and sang around a bonfire.” Clint just crinkled his brow.
“That's the normal kind?” he asked, looking confused. When Darcy nodded he gave a 'huh' sound. “I thought that was just in movies and on tv.”
Trying to think of a way to derail this entire conversation she snapped her fingers. “We should all have a girls weekend!” she exclaimed. When everyone looked at her in confusion she went on. “I mean, Clem's in town, and I'm sure I could convince Thor to fly in Jane at least for a couple days. Tony said Pepper was in town a few days early for some big meet and greet for SI, it would be perfect.” Clem nodded readily, like she knew she would. Natasha looked at her for a minute before giving her own nod of approval. “Great!” At least the binge drinking would give her the chance to take her mind off of things.
She should have planned more carefully. She realized that now, standing in the queue outside the club she had no idea how they were going to get into. Thor had flown in Jane, who was currently three sheets to the wind and hanging off of an equally inebriated Maria Hill, who she was still unsure who invited, but she assumed it was Natasha. Speaking of the fiery red head, she was standing cool as a cucumber, watching with interest as Clem tried to convince the guy in line behind them to give her a cigarette. Pepper had disappeared five minutes before, giving her watch a look and saying that she needed to speak with someone. What she was doing right now Darcy wasn't sure, but her arms were getting cold, and she needed to pee.
Pepper returned a minute later in an air of clicking heels and expensive perfume, followed closely behind by a bouncer and a man in dress cloths. “These five.” she said, pointing to their group.
“Of course Ms Potts.” the well dressed man said, motioning to the bouncer. The velvet rope was pulled aside, the man ushering them out. “Right this way, please.”
“What did you do?” Darcy whispered to Pepper as they were lead right inside.
“Used my name and Tony's credit card.” she answered as they were lead passed the crowded dance floor and up to the VIP section. Sliding into their booth she flagged down a waitress, another already bringing them a bottle. “We have an eight thousand dollar tab currently, please use it.” Darcy just gaped at her while Natasha ordered a bottle of authentic Russian vodka and a plate of caviar. At her look Pepper have a pat to the back of her hand, turning towards the waitress. “I'll have the prime rib, please, and a bottle of your best Italian red. Bring three orders of all of the appetizers and deserts, as well as two bottles of sparkling wine, not champagne, I dislike the taste of champagne.” she said the last as an aside to Darcy before turning back to the waitress. “And a bottle of bourbon please, four glasses and a bucket of ice, please.” The waitress nodded, happily accepting the fifty dollar tip Pepper handed her. “I so rarely go out, when I do I like to do so to the fullest.” Darcy couldn't help but agree.
After stuffing themselves with what had to be the most expensive junk food Darcy would ever eat they'd made their way down to the dance floor. Somewhere around their fifth song she felt her phone vibrate. What are you doing tonight?
“Fuck.” she whispered under her breath. She hadn't bothered to tell James where she was going, who she was with, or that she probably wouldn't be home tonight. Feeling kind of tired, so I'm getting ready for bed. She texted back. That should at least buy her some time. He obviously wasn't at home, and on nights when she went to bed early he usually just went back to his place.
She saw the screen light up again. Alright. Heaving a sigh of relief she went to stuff the phone back in her bra, only for the screen to light up again. Seems like a pretty fancy dress for sleeping in though. Her back went straight as she turned around slowly. There, leaning against the wall, was James. Stuffing her phone away she pushed her way over to the wall.
“What are you doing here?” she screamed over the music, hands going to her hips. Wrapping an arm around her waist he pulled her in close, head leaning to her ear. Her breath caught a little bit at their closeness. God, had it really been a week since they'd had sex?
“I could ask you the same thing.” he said, his breath displacing her hair slightly, sending a shiver down her spin. She didn't get an opportunity to answer as all hell broke loose. The lights above shattered into a shower of sparks, the music giving way to screams. Looking around frantically she tried to catch sight of the others. James grabbed her arm, pulling her towards the exit. “The Avengers have the others.”
She almost moved to go with him, till she heard her name being screamed. Jumping up on a table she caught sight of Clem being forced out one of the back doors by two thugs dressed in black. She was getting ready to jump off the table when James stopped her. “I am getting you out of here, there's a team outside that will take care of her.” he said, eyes scanning the room. Darcy opened her mouth to argue only to be cut off as his shoulder connected with her waist, her world turning upside down.
“Put me down!” she tried to shout over the noise, pounding her fists against the small of his back.
Looking over his shoulder he glared at her. “No.” Ignoring her other protests he headed out of the club.
When they got outside she saw the others were congregated outside near an unmarked black van. “Darcy!” Jane yelled, moving from Thor's side as James set her down on the pavement. Darcy returned her hug before pulling back to look at the others.
“They have my cousin.” she told Coulson, already making her way to where she knew the weapons were being kept.
“We know.” he answered, stilling her hand before she could grab out a gun. Darcy opened her mouth to argue but was stopped by a large, warm hand on her shoulder. Turning she stared into the sad blue eyes of Thor.
“I am most sorry, Lady Darcy.” he said, dropping his hand. She wanted to yell at him, tell him it wasn't his fucking fault, it was her's. She knew the kind of life she led, the danger she was in every time she decided to make a run to the grocery store for a gallon of milk. Her shoulders dropping she felt tears start to prickle at the corners of her eyes. She'd known, but Clem hadn't. She was the reason her cousin had been abducted. Turning to Coulson she waited for orders. Coulson always knew what to do.
“We know who has her.” he said after a moment, face and voice passive as ever. It was the sympathy she saw in his eyes that almost undid her. “It was Loki.”
“He's in Asgard.” she said looking to Thor for confirmation.
Thor sighed, shoulders dropping just slightly. “The Lady Sif came with news of my brother's escape.” he explained, leaning into Jane just slightly. “We came to you as soon as possible. It simply wasn't fast enough.” Her knees suddenly felt like they were going to give out. Mutants she could handle. Villain of the week she could handle. Fuck, she could even deal with Doctor Doom. Loki, though, Loki had brainwashed Clint, Eric, stolen a weapon so powerful it could destroy the world, and then unleashed an alien invasion on New York. If Loki had Clem, there was no telling what he would do with her.
“Darcy.” She turned on instinct, falling into James' arms as soon as she felt the heat of them. She didn't cry, didn't faint, though she was tempted to do both. Instead she held on as tightly as possible.
“The Tower.” she mumbled. Taking a deep breath she pulled back, looking at Coulson. “Lets go to the Tower. We're going to need a plan.” Coulson nodded, making a hand motion towards the agents that were scattered around. Turning back to James she pressed her forehead against his. “Lets go.” He nodded, draping his coat around her shoulders as he helped her into the van. They'd figure this out, they had to. After all, they were the Avengers. Right?
Chapter 2: Night One
Sorry about the delay, but life sort of caught up with me for a few days. With any luck I'll have the last two chapters done before Wednesday. I am adding a multichapter piece between this and the final, if I can actually get the time it should be ready right after I finish posting the rest of this. Anyway, enjoy!
They had a debriefing room in the Tower, two floors below the penthouse, but they didn't use it. Instead they settled in the main living room, Pepper bustling about, making sure everyone had what they needed. Darcy recognized a nervous habit when she saw one, but she wasn't about to call the other woman on it. Her own mind was a jumble, not to mention the raw ache she felt. Taking the tea Pepper offered her she leaned into James' side, just for a moment before he stood, walking across the room to converse quietly with Natasha. Darcy was too emotionally tired to care at the moment, she could over analyze that at a later time.
Coulson cleared his throat to draw their attention to the television screen. “This is the only video we have of Loki, though currently we're using every CCTV world wide to find him.” Nodding towards Tony the other man tapped his Starkpad, the video starting. It wasn't much from what Darcy could see, forty-five seconds of silent video showing Loki exiting an alley somewhere in Chelsea before crossing the street and disappearing from the frame. “The next camera is a block down. He never appeared on it.”
Setting down her cup Darcy pulled out her own tablet. “How extensive has that block been canvased?” she asked, pulling up several files to look over. She needed to keep her mind and her hands busy, and if that meant rerouting paperwork, and staring mission reports then that was what she was going to do.
“Eight teams, within five and a half minutes of this video coming to our attention.” Natasha answered, stepping forward, bringing up a map of the area. “That was fifteen minuets before we were collected. Since then there has been a canvas of the surrounding ten blocks.” The map altered, showing the already covered area in blue. “We currently have teams on standby, but without knowing a general location we don't have the manpower to cover the entire island.” Turning Natasha looked at Thor. “Do you have anything that needs added?”
Nodding he stood slowly, eyes downcast before he turned to look at them. “My brother...” he trailed off, glancing at Darcy briefly before taking a deep breath. “My brother is without full use of his magic. As part of his punishment Father had it stripped from him.” That news settled the group just slightly, but Thor continued on. “However, Father could not take away his abilities completely.” He looked sad as he stopped again, looking much more like the lost guy she'd tazed in the desert then the God she'd gotten to know over the past few years. “As only some of you know my brother is by birth a Frost Giant, one of high rank. With this comes a certain...birthright. There are parts of his magic that are so ingrained that they can never be removed.”
Darcy's head shot up at this. “So he has a magical fingerprint?” she asked, sitting at the edge of her seat.
Thor faltered for a moment before nodding. “Yes, I suppose so.” he replied.
Shooting to her feet she turned towards Coulson. “Agent Coulson I request permission to enter the field.” As she spoke she stood up straight, looking him in the eye.
Coulson stared her down for a moment, tilting his head just slightly when she didn't back away. “Reason?” he asked, continuing to stare.
“I have a source who is familiar with a man in Greenwich Village who might help.” she answered, voice steady even as she started to feel her fingertips tremble. She was going on a hunch here, there was no guarantee Jess would give her the information she needed, but it was a chance she was going to have to take.
“If you relay the source's name I can have a field agent make contact.” Coulson offered. Darcy's brow crinkled into a glare. He was trying to give her the brush off. She knew it was partially because of her limited field experience, and her emotional ties to the situation, but she felt her ego take a little ding at that.
“With all due respect, sir,” she began, her voice betraying none of the fire she felt burning inside of her. “I don't feel comfortable having you send an unknown into this situation. I have cultivated a rapport with the source, and I feel they would be more likely to cooperate if I were the one who spoke with them.” Coulson gave her a final look before nodding one.
She turned towards the door when his voice stopped her. “But,” he began, Darcy turning to lift a brow at him. “I feel given the situation you would benefit by having a field agent present. Agent Barnes, accompany Agent Lewis.”
“Yes, sir.” she heard James say. Nodding to Coulson she was turned and heading towards the elevator again.
“Try to keep up.” she shot over her shoulder, already in the elevator, finger pressed to the down button. James just sent her a look, stepping in right before the doors closed.
Across town Clem was nursing a headache like she'd never experienced before. Blinking slowly, trying to get her mind to catch up with the real world her eyes took in the barren, concrete room she was currently in. Trying to reach up to brush her hair out of her eyes she realized she couldn't move. Glancing down she stared blankly at the medal cuffs that encircled her wrists, holding them to the arms rest of the chair. Then she really started to panic.
She stopped struggling when she heard heavy booted footsteps echoing in outside the door to the room. Panting heavily she tried to think of something to do. Forcing herself to calm down she did the only thing she could think to do, letting her chin fall to her chest, closing her eyes. Pretending to still be unconscious always seemed to work in the movies.
The lock of the door clicked, the sound of wood grating against concrete causing the pounding in her head to intensify. “You can stop that.” a well cultured voice said, the booted steps coming closer. “If you are going to try to pretend at being unconscious you might want to practice your breathing.”
Clem could tell he was close by, so mustering up every ounce of courage she snapped her head back, hair falling out of her face. “Thanks for the advice!” she chirped, a large grin on her face, her foot snapping up to kick him in the balls.
His hand shot out, grabbing her by the ankle as he looked at her closely. “You are not Darcy Lewis.” he said slowly, tilting his head slightly to the left as he looked at her. Struggling to pull her leg away she glared up at him.
Trying her luck again she kicked out with her other leg, only for his to grab it as well. Fully struggling now she let out a string of curses before actually looking up at him. “You know, the last time a guy had me in this position, at least had the decency to buy me a drink first.” she quipped, chest heaving as she tried to catch her breath. She really needed to quite smoking, this just proved it.
He stared down at her, green eyes narrowing just slightly before both of her legs were snapped back to the chair legs by invisible forces, thick medal digging in to her ankles. “Excuse me.” he said, pivoting towards the door, green cloak billowing behind him. She knew she'd probably been captured by some psycho with more daddy issues then every person she had ever known combined, the crazy ones always had daddy issues, but she had to admit, the son of a bitch had a sense of performance. She had to give him credit in that regard. Sinking back into the chair she felt a smirk cross her lips. That and from what she'd seen Mr. Tall, Dark, and Crazy had a hell of an ass.
Darcy was pointedly ignoring her shadow as she made it up the last flight of stairs to her floor. She was counting her lucky stars that after the building was rebuilt that Jess and Luke had decided to move back in, otherwise she'd be scouring Harlem right now. Stopping outside the door she knocked twice before stopping to catch her breath. There was the sound of footsteps on the other side, followed by a few seconds of silence. When the door finally creaked open, metal chain stopping it from opening all the way, Jess looked at her worriedly. “Lewis? What's wrong?”
“I need your help, Jess.” she said, shoulders slumping. “Please.”
The door closed for a second before Darcy heard the sound of medal scraping against medal. Ushering them inside she glanced towards the bedroom. “Just be quiet please. I finally got Danielle to go to sleep.” Darcy nodded, sliding onto the the well worn couch that took up most of their living room.
“I'll be quick.” Darcy said, glancing at James before turning back towards Jess. “I need your Doctor's address.”
Jess started slightly, eyes widening as she look at her. “You...” she broke off, opting for a lifted eyebrow, tilting her head towards James.
Darcy shook her head. “No, I need him for his...other talents.” she explained. Jess gave her a long look before nodding.
“He can't always help.” Jess explain, scribing something down on a piece of paper. “And his billing system is a little... well lets just say you can leave the MasterCard at home.” Ripping off the piece of paper she handed it to Darcy. “I'd tell you to be careful, but I have a feeling you're already in some deep shit if you're asking me for this.”
Darcy just slipped the paper into her bra, nodding. “Thanks, Jess. I owe you one for this.” Darcy said, nodding James towards the door.
Jess just shook her head. “You've helped me before. Consider us even. For now.” Jess said, giving her a quick hug. “Just don't get yourself killed. You're the only babysitter Danielle hasn't chased away yet.”
Giving a hollow laugh Darcy nodded. “I'll try.” Without looking back she exited the apartment, making a beeline to her's down the hall. “I need to change my clothes.” James just followed behind, shutting and locking the door behind them. Modesty had never been a big thing for Darcy but by this point she cared even less, toeing off her heels as she pulled down the zipper on her dress. “If you have any weapons hidden here, you might want to grab them.” Her dress hit the floor of the living room as she kept walking.
She'd almost made it to the bedroom door when she was spun around, her feet lifting off the ground as James pulled wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her into a kiss. She reciprocated with enthusiasm for a minute before pulling back. “Time and place for everything.” she said, looking him straight in the eyes. “You and I need to have a talk, but now isn't the time for it. It isn't the time for this either.” Pulling herself out of his arms she walked into the bed room, closing the door behind her.
When she emerged a few minutes later, jeans, t-shirt, and comfortable shoes an improvement on her dress and heels, she saw him sitting at the bar sharpening a knife, cigarette dangling from his lips. Plucking it from between his lips she took a long drag before tossing it down the garbage disposal, turning it on. “Pot, kettle.” she quipped. He just sheathed his knife, and stood in full Winter Soldier mode. Trying to keep the shiver from working it's way up her spin she turned towards the door. “Come on, we're burning moonlight.”
They missed the last train out of Harlem, so Darcy dug out her expense card and flagged down a cab. James didn't speak the entire ride, leaving Darcy feeling awkward and busying her hands with sending needless updates to Coulson. It was nearly four when they finally pulled up in front of the nondescript shop front.
There was no sign out front, but the worn brass numbers above the black door matched up with what Jess had written down for her. Raising her hand to knock she startled a little when the door swung open. “Hello?” she called out, pushing the door open further, the bell jingling above the door. The inside was dim, the walls draped in heavy dark fabric, heavy dark furniture was clustered together laden with books and other oddities.
“Aw, you're early.” a cultured voice said from the back of the shop. Turning Darcy saw a tall man, probably in his early to mid-forties if his the gray at his temples was anything to go on, step out from behind a curtain, a large tomb in hand. “I was not expecting you for another hour or so.” Snapping the book closed he gestured towards a set of chairs Darcy hadn't noticed on her first sweep. “Please, won't you both have a seat.”
Darcy nodded, sliding into one of the deep red wing back chairs. James elected to stand, sliding up behind her chair. “You know why we're here?” she asked, declining his offer of a drink.
“Yes, you are here about your,” he stopped momentarily, his head tilting just slightly like he was listening to something. “Cousin.” Darcy nodded, the man gave her a look before going around the counter, pulling out a few jars. “I will require payment of course.” Swallowing thickly Darcy nodded. She knew that what ever he asked for wasn't going to be something normal, but she wasn't expecting him to pull out at knife, holding the handle out towards her. “A lock of hair is the price I ask for.”
“No.” Jerking her head back Darcy stared at James. Before she could protest he'd grabbed the knife slicing a piece of his own hair. “Take it or leave it.” was all he said as he held it out.
The man took the hair, turning on a lamb to look at it closely. “Strong, powerful, given with love.” he said mostly to himself. Looking up at them he nodded, placing the hair in a vial. Looking at them for a moment he reached under the counter, pulling out a box. “This will narrow the search, though if there is anything else that you know will help to narrow it further.”
“There are two.” Darcy blurted out. Taking a deep breath she licked her lips nervously. Reaching under her collar she pulled out a small pewter charm in the shape of a dragon. Undoing the clasp she held it out. Waving his hand over it a faint blue hue gleamed from within it for a moment before dissipating. Nodding he reached into the box, pulling out a vial of powder, sprinkling some on top.
“The light will grow brighter the closer you are.” he explained, handing back the necklace. “I would start looking near the Bronx Zoo.” Without another word he disappeared into the back. Not saying a word, Darcy stood on shaking legs, putting the necklace around her neck again. As they exited the shop Darcy glanced back, the shop front behind her gone, instead an empty alley stretched out in front of her. Sharing a look with James her hand tightened around her necklace, the feeling of the medal digging into her palm. Reaching out blindly she grabbed James' hand, holding tightly she tried to breath. Time was ticking, and she prayed that this side trip was worth every second.
Chapter 3: Day Two
Chapter three! Only one more to go, and as you can probably tell from the sudden jump in the word count this chapter is the longest so far. The next chapter will probably no be as long, but I make no guarantees. Thank you to everyone who reviewed, I haven't read them yet, but I try really hard not to read them till after I've finished writing the fic, at least in outline form. Since I haven't eve touched chapter four yet, I'm trying to hold off on reading them, though I will probably cave to curiosity and read them in the next couple of hours. Anyway, enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The sun was just breaking over the horizon when they made it to Midtown. Darcy kept her eyes trained ahead, her mind going over everything that needed to be done. She jerked slightly when she felt a hand wrap around her wrist. “You aren't telling me something.” James said when she finally turned to look at him.
Taking a deep breath she shook her head. “Please don't ask me.” she whispered, her eyes pleading with him to just drop it.
“I thought we were passed secrets.” he countered. She wanted to lash out at him, to point out that he'd never been completely honest with her, to bring up the ring. Instead she bowed her head and counted to ten before looking at him again.
“Please.” she whispered, turning her hand so that she could wrap her fingers around his wrist in return.
James just shook his head. “How am I supposed to keep you safe if you won't tell me what's going on?” his voice was steady, but she could see the concern in his eyes clear as day.
She couldn't take it, all of the emotions and thoughts swimming in her head at once. Instead she chose the easiest, retching back her hand as she glared at him. “Who's asking you to?” she yelled, turning to him fully. “I can take care of myself! I did just fine before you, and I'll do fine after!” Her breath came out in pants as her mind finally caught up with her mouth. Swallowing hard she kept her anger to the front, not the insecure little voice in the back of her head. Anger would keep her strong, keep her on her toes. Pain could be saved for later.
“Is that what you think? That I'm just going to leave you?” he asked, his hands balling into fists. Crossing her arms Darcy just looked at him. “You keep building these walls.” Running a hand through his hair he gave her an exasperated glance. “Every time I knock one down, you just go and build two more. Why can't you just trust me? Trust that you're it for me?”
“Because I'm never enough for anyone!” she screamed, her arms falling to her sides. “Is that what you want to hear? You want all of the gritty little details about what makes me me? There you go! I'm fucked up! You are never going to know me because there is no me to know! I make it up, I'm what ever I need to be, it's what I've been doing my entire life! New town, new me! I don't have to be anybody, because till I moved here no one knew me for longer then a few months, at the most! Besides my family, and they just thought what ever they wanted! Am I Darcy? Am I Prudence? Prue, even? It doesn't matter, I just slip into a new face, and if no body likes that I just change again!”
She was crying now, she could feel the wet tracks they were leaving on her cheeks. Her heart was beating loudly in her chest, and she knew this was it, this was the end of them. “But you? You want this person that you think is buried deep inside! News flash! It isn't there! That girl you met in that coffee shop? That wasn't me either! That was Darcy, secretary, normal twenty-something New Yorker! Or, or maybe you want the girl you went out on that first date with? The funny quirky girl? That girl I made up, too! That was the girl Jane knew from New Mexico, so guess what? I slipped right back into it again! The only person that has ever known me is Clem! Just like I know her more then anyone else is ever going to know!” She was shivering, years of thoughts finally bubbling up to the surface. Her arms wrapped around her, the street suddenly seeming very cold. “How can I be it for you when you don't know who the fuck I am?” Her voice was broken as she spoke, eyes down cast to the gray, cracked concrete.
“Darcy.” he said softly, taking a step forward. She didn't back away, but she didn't step into his embrace either. “Sweetheart.” Pulling her into his arms he pressed a kiss to her forehead. “You don't have to lie to be any more.”
Crying for in earnest now she clung to him. “It's not my secret to tell.” she cried out, fingers digging into the shoulders of his coat. “Please. I promised I'd never tell.”
“Just this once, sweetheart.” he said gently, running his hands through her hair. “Just this once and I'll never ask to share anybody's secret again.”
Nodding into his shoulder she pulled back. “Ok,” she whispered. “But only you. The others never hear this.” When he nodded, she shook her head. “Promise me.”
“I promise.” he whispered back. Reaching into his pocket he pulled something out. “I promise on this.” Slipping something out he reached out, unclasping her necklace and looping something on to the chain. Holding it up so that she could see it Darcy held her breath. “I promise, on this ring, your ring, that I will never tell another living soul what you are going to tell me now.” Kissing the ring he placed it gently against her chest.
Nodding Darcy laid her hand against his cheek. “Alright.” she whispered, taking a deep breath. “Clem...Clem is special. She she's like Loki. She has power.” James nodded, linking their fingers together. “The other thing...the other thing...” Leaning in she whispered three words into his ear.
James's eyes widened just slightly when she pulled back. “She-” he started, but Darcy shushed him with a finger pressed to his lips and a shake of her head. “Right.” Pulling back he laid his finger tips against the ring. “I was going to ask you properly-”
Darcy shook her head again, pulling him down for a kiss. “Later. After we get her home safe.” she whispered. They were pulled out of the moment by Darcy's phone ringing. Sniffling she cleared her throat and answered. “Lewis. Yes, we're almost there. The Bronx. Yes. Yes.” Turning towards James she ended the call. “They're sending a car.”
Shaking his head James pointed to something behind her. “Don't need it.” he said, glancing both ways before crossing the street. Cursing under her breath Darcy took off after him. She was just glad she'd decided to wear pants.
Clem had almost fallen asleep, which would have been a small reprieve from the headache still pounding away, when the door opened. Glancing over she watched the man from earlier glide back into the room. “Don't you have minions to interrogate me or something?” she asked when she noticed he was alone.
He just glared at her. “My...minions, were too incompetent to bring me the woman I asked for.” he said, nose turning up just slightly as he stopped in front of her. “Do you really think I would trust them with something as important as gaining information from the hostage I do have?”
Clem shrugged, picking at her chipped nail polish. “Worth a shot.” she countered, continuing to look at her nails instead of him. She wasn't expecting the little zap of electricity that jolted through her cuffs. Not enough to really hurt, well hurt her anyway, but enough for her to look up at him. Looking up at him, face calm and collected, she lifted an eyebrow at him. “Can I help you?”
He glowered down at her, obviously displeased at her reaction. “Do you know who I am mortal?” he asked, arrogance dripping from his words.
Giving him an up and down Clem shrugged. “Somebody who doesn't own a mirror?” she asked, lifting an innocent eyebrow at him. His glower turned into a full blown look of rage. So, somebody was used to being important, she thought, good to know. Stuffing all of her fear away she instead pressed forward, pursing her lips as she shrugged slightly. “I mean, don't get me wrong, that would be a kick ass cos-play costume, but you don't actually go to the grocery store wearing that do you?”
In retrospect she should have seen the hand coming, but she was still a little out of it. Instead she kept her face neutral as he tightened his hand around her neck, forcing little puffs of air out of her nose. “I am Loki, Prince of Asgard.” he growled, hand tightening. “You would do well to remember that.” With one final squeeze he let go.
Clearing her throat daintily Clem nodded. “Loki. Prince of Asgard. Got it.” she said, her voice staying calm even as her insides were tearing themselves apart. Tilting her head to the side she stared up at him. “Do you know who I am?”
Loki sneered down at her. “Why should I care who you are, mortal?” he asked head held high.
Clem just shrugged. “Guess you don't really need to, but I thought we were being polite.” she said, leaning back in the chair trying to look nonchalant. After a pause she she rolled her shoulders, before letting out a long suffering sigh. “If you don't care who I am, why am I still here? I mean a live hostage always works better then a dead body, I'll give you that, but it's been what? Twelve hours? You haven't interrogated me, I really don't think you know who I am, and I'm getting bored.” Leaning forward she gave him a hard look. “You know what I think? I think, that you thought the Avengers would have crashed in here by now to save the innocent little hostage you have trussed up. You thought that you grabbed the PA, and that they'd be falling over themselves to get her back. Then you, with all of your evil-doing badness would catch them off guard with something when they busted into your little hideout. Meaning a victory for you. Instead you nabbed the nobody, and instead of letting their emotions get in the way, they have a plan, and they're out there right now, waiting for the perfect time to strike.”
Loki seemed to falter for a moment before his eyes narrowed again. “Who are you?” he growled out, hand balling at his sides.
Throwing up her hands as much as she could she gave an exasperated noise. “Oh, so now you care!” she exclaimed shaking her head. Smirking slightly she leaned forward, tilting just slightly so that her breasts were pushed forward. If there was one thing she'd learned early on it was that men, all men, could be sidetracked by a nice set of boobs, if only for ten seconds. She was right again as she watched his eyes linger there for just a second before turning their glare back to her face. Oh yea, she still had it. Making a beckoning sign with her finger at him she tilted her head to the side, nibbling slightly at the corner of her lips. She waited it he was almost within reach turning on her best alluring eyes. “I'm my father's daughter.” she whispered up at him right as her fingers clasped around his wrist. Closing her eyes tight she did the only thing she could think of and let instinct take control.
Darcy both loved and hated James' motorcycle. Loved it on the few warm summer days when he'd coaxed her out of a nice warm bed and taken her for a nice ride down the coast. Right now she weaving in and out of early morning traffic, cold wind hitting her in the face, hair practically cutting into skin as it whipped around, she hated it. Finally they came to a stop in the parking lot of the zoo. Pulling off her helmet she climbed off the bike, already making her way to the small cluster of nondescript black cars already there.
“Agent Lewis,” Coulson began as he pulled himself out of the car. “Report.”
Tucking the helmet up under her arm she pulled out the necklace, watching at the faint glow from earlier brightened. “We're in the right general area. This thing will glow brighter as we get closer.” she explained. Turning in each direction she watched as the glow intensified and dimmed. “That way.” she said, pointing east.
Coulson nodded, waving to a few agents. “Anything more specific?” he asked, watching as another car pulled up. Darcy shook her head, staring at it closely.
“Not that I can tell.” she said. Suddenly the pendent felt hot, almost making her want to drop it, but she held on tight.
“Is something wrong?” Coulson asked, taking in her expression. Darcy shook her head again, watching the pendent carefully. The heat almost felt like it was pulsing in her hand, reaching out for something. Then as quickly as it had started it stopped, Darcy's shoulders slumping with it. She'd thought for sure that something was going to happen. “The Avengers are in route, eta five minutes.”
Before Darcy could nod again she heard the tell tale sounds of the Iron Man suite above head. Looking up she saw Tony zoom over head before looping back and landing in the parking lot. She was only mildly surprised to see Steve slide out from behind him, after all they were both adrenaline junkies so him hitching a ride wasn't really that outside of the ordinary.
“Thor's on his way.” Steve said in lieu of a greeting, fully in Captain America mode. Darcy felt James' come up behind her, the back of his hand touching her thigh in silent support. “We already completed one sweep of the area, nothing seems out of the ordinary.”
“Agent Lewis has acquired something to narrow the search.” Coulson explained, gesturing towards her. Tony's face plate came up as he stared at her necklace.
“What is that?” he asked, face sliding into what Darcy liked to refer to as 'science mode'. She'd barely opened up her mouth to explain when she felt the heat and pulse again, only this time even more intense then before. Glancing down she watched with wide eyes as the necklace levitated slightly before a beam of light shot out in front of her.
Not saying a word she made a dash for the motorcycle, James barely beating her there. Shoving on the helmet the bike lurched forward, Darcy wrapping her arms around James to keep from fall off. Throwing a 'follow me' gesture over her shoulder they were off, racing down the road into the heart of the Bronx.
Clem would admit she hadn't really thought the plan through in it's entirety when she managed to grab hold of him. It had been years since she'd let out that kind of energy, not since she was a teenager still trying to figure out how to handle hormones and the whatever the fuck you called it that she could do. Magic, she guessed, but that had never really set right in her stomach. Maybe she was a mutant, but she'd tried that wonder drug they'd released back when she was in college and all it had done was make her skin feel like it was crawling for eight hours, so she doubted it. What ever she was, she had power, and by the Goddess she was not going to set around here daintily waiting for a rescue when she could save her own ass, thank you very much.
Once her nerves had actually calmed enough to see what she was doing instead of just feeling it she found herself blinking. While she'd never really taken the time to hone her natural talent like she should have she was pretty sure she hadn't meant to turn him blue. Loki seemed as surprised as she was, staring down at her hand with blood red eyes. Well, maybe more ruby colored then blood colored now that she looked more closely, it went really well with the sapphire skin.
“What have you done?” he rasped out, trying to pry him hand away. Clem just held tighter, looking up at him in confusion. Sure most people would flip out about suddenly being a different skin color, but this went beyond a little momentary freak out, the guy looked like he was going to hyperventilate over it. “Let go!” He tried again to pull away, but Clem refused to let go, not till she'd connected all of the dots anyway. That's when it clicked in her head. This is what he really looked like, under the facade. She should have realized it was something like that when she'd seen the runes on his skin. Sure she could manage a dye job, her colleges roommates purple hair could attest to that, but she'd never done anything like this before. So, obviously he hid behind the glamor, or what ever for a reason, but Clem was coming up blank when it came to the why. Sure people weren't one hundred percent okay with mutants now but it had come a really long way in the past few years. So blue wasn't exactly normal, big deal, with a collapsing infrastructure, a disintegrating economy, and the thought that holey shit aliens are real, mutants were kind of the topic of a bygone administration. All she could think was that he had some pretty shity family and friends if this was the thing that he got twitchy about and not, you know, being a supervillian. Unless this way why he was a supervillian, in which case it just affirmed the whole shity family and friends thing.
“Sorry.” she said a moment later. “Not really what I meant to do.” She still held on, but that was mostly out of self preservation, who knew what he would do next. The hyperventilating seemed to have subsided for now, instead he stared at where her hand was touching his. “So you're a mutant, then.”
His glare was only slightly more intimidating with the new eyes. “I am not what your ignorant realm calls a mutant.” he seethed at her. “I am Jotun.”
Crinkling up her brow Clem thought for a minute before her eyes widened. “You're that Loki?” He seemed momentarily startled by her high pitched squeal. “Loki Laufeyjarson? Blood brother, or actual brother, of Odin? Bringer of Ragnarok?" She couldn't keep the thrilled tone out of her voice as she practically bounced in her seat. At his terse nod she beamed up at him. "I wrote my junior thesis on you!"
His eyes narrowed, some of the eariler arrogance returning. "You mortals frequently get facts wrong." he said, looking down his nose at her. "My name is Loki Laufeyson, not Loki Laufeyjarson."
Clem just shruffed. "And most of the Christians in the world call their savior Jesus, be grateful it was only your last name they got wrong. I took a class in high school with this chick that seriously thought Christ was his last name." She scoffed a little at the memory. Looking up she noticed Loki looking down at her, head tilted slightly to the side. “What?”
“You are not screaming.” he said it slowly, as though that would make her suddenly snap out of what ever state she was in.
“No.” she said slowly, like she was talking to a child. “Screaming doesn't usually get you untied any faster.” Shrugging she flexed her fingers slightly. “Besides, not really the screaming hostage type.”
“I am blue.” he said, voice still drawing out the words.
Turning a critical eye to him she looked him up and down. “Yea, I know. Kinda the one that turned you that way.” Scrunching up her nose she backpedaled. “Well, not originally. You're definitely one of those 'born this way' types. I just sort of...brought the inside outside.” Clem gave a feeble little shrug as though that would make up for her floundering with words.
Instead it just seemed to make him angry, his lips turning up into a sneer. “I am a Jotun, a frost Giant. I am the monster parents tell their children stories about.” he growled at her, his wrist twisting till he had her's in a painfully tight hold.
Fighting the wince at the jolt of pain that shot up her arm she instead focused on cooling him down. “Not my parents.” she said, trying to put on her best unimpressed expression. “I got stories of the Baba Yaga growing up. You look a hell of a lot more attractive then an old woman with a caldron who likes to eat children.” That was the first time she noticed his teeth came to sharp points. A little disconcerting, but not out of the ordinary for someone who came from a world that wasn't exactly thriving with vegetation. He seemed to deflate just slightly under her steady gaze. Finally, feeling a little bit sorry for him, she let go of his wrist.
Looking down it was almost like he was expecting the blue to instantly recede, when it didn't he tightened his grip again. “Undo it.” he seethed down at her.
Sighing, Clem closed her eyes concentrating. When she opened them again the bright blue was already slowly melting away into white. Really she thought it was kind of a waste. So many people spent their entire lives trying to stand out, and here was someone who was born special who would rather be just like everyone else. Just another case of 'grass is always greener' syndrome in her opinion. Everybody wanted what somebody else had, and even then they were never satisfied with it. “You're beautiful.” she said after a minute. Loki just stared at her, eyes alternating between cold indifference and something that looked a lot like pain. Somebody had done a number on this guy in his life, that was for damn sure. His hand was still wrapped around her wrist, though it didn't seem to be a tight as before, just a loose bracelet of too long fingers sending shivers up her spine. “Why would you hide that?”
There were a few things Clem could admit about herself. One, she had daddy issues, kind of a given, but still. Two, she liked people who had power, not political or anything, just the bone deep sense of assuredness that only came from being master of your own element. Three, when it came to looks Clem's ascetic never really went with what was in vogue. Sure she liked symmetrical features, no body odor, but other then that her tastes could be called, well, exotic. The man in front of her was definitely someone who knew what he had and used it, and blue skin wasn't exactly what anybody would call run of the mill.
She wasn't expecting him to jerk his hand back suddenly. With a snap of his fingers the restraints around her wrists and ankles melted away. “You can go.” he ground out. So she had hit a nerve in there somewhere.
Sliding to the edge of the chair she pushed out her chest slightly, sending him her best look. “Actually,” she said, tilting her head just slightly as she looked at him. “Not really in that much of a hurry to leave.” Loki stared at her for a minute before pivoting, cloak billowing behind him. “That's a first.” Clem couldn't help it as she deflated out of pure shock. She knew she wasn't exactly Helen of Troy or anything, but this was the first time ever, with the exception of her college girlfriend's gay roommate, that anybody had ever turned down a chance to fuck her. In all honesty her pride and self esteem were a little bruised by the slight. Standing up she let that fuel her feet as she marched out of the room after him.
The chain of light disappeared somewhere around 180 th and Bathgate but the necklace continued to glow, allowing them to map out a twelve block area of where Loki might be holding Clem. Sliding off of the bike Darcy rummaged around in the rucksack till her fingers found the familiar nylon of her holster. Slipping it around her waist she made her way over to Coulson. “Lewis. I want you with Iron Man. I want a fly over of the area, see if you can narrow down the search.”
“Got it, boss.” was all she said before turning towards Tony. “How are we gonna do this?” Smirking Tony snapped the face plate closed, swooping her up in a bridal style lift. Rolling her eyes she wrapped one arm around his neck, clicking her comm on. “Alright, aerial sweep one, online. Heading southeast.” Wrapping her other arm around Tony's neck as sent James a look, waiting for his nod before giving Tony the ok to take off. She felt the her stomach drop to her toes when he took off. Breathing through the temporary panic attack she focused her eyes of the pendent, watching as to grew brighter. She hoped and prayed Clem was still alright. She'd never forgive herself if something happened to her. Licking her lips she did something she hadn't done since she was a kid, she prayed. If she was really lucky maybe the Buddha was listening, she could really do with a bit of his resolve right now.
Loki had shed his cloak by the time Clem made it into the main room. It wasn't as bare as her holding cell had been, but the rickety table with a silver pitcher and goblet on top were the only things in the room except for a single wing backed chair. “I will give you credit, you are the most persistent woman I have met in the last few centuries.” he said, back still to her as he picked up the goblet. Taking a long drink he turned to look at her. “However, I have had far greater beauties then you attempt to seduce me.”
Leaning against the doorway she crossed her arms. “Ouch.” she pouted, giving a sarcastic rub over her heart. Pushing off from the door frame she walked towards him, hips swaying just a bit for show. “You really know how to stroke a girl's ego, I'll give you that.” She stopped just a few feet away meeting his gaze.
“Why are you still here?” he growled out, forcefully setting down his goblet.
Clem shrugged, smiling just slightly. “Kinda unemployed right now, so really I've got nowhere else to be.” she replied, her hands moving to the rest at the back of her hips. “Besides, with company like yours a girl'll find a way to clear her schedule.”
“I will not be mocked.” Loki growled out, talking a menacing step forward. Clem stood her ground, looking up at him with clear blue eyes. He seemed to falter just slightly when she didn't back away. “You are not afraid of me.”
Clem shrugged again, tilting her head slightly. “Not for the reasons you're thinking of.” she said, her voice soft and unassuming.
Growling he bared his teeth at her like a kicked dog. Thinking about it, that's sort of what he reminded Clem of, a Rottweiler puppy that someone had drop kicked. Now he just lashed out at anything, and anyone because that's what his instincts told him to do. Hurt them before they hurt you. It was a little sad actually. “And what,” he growled, getting into her personal space. “Would those reasons be?”
“Because for some fucked up reason you think your supposed to be the villain.” she said, plan and to the point, like the sharp edge of a knife. “You think that just because your different that that makes you bad, a monster. You honestly believe that just because you were born Jotun, that you are supposed to be this big bad, stalking around the periphery, making everyone's life miserable, because if you can't be happy then fuck them, they don't deserve it either. But that isn't good enough. No, you want to feel like you have the moral high ground, so instead of owning up to it, you try to pretend, deep down, that you are just doing what you were born to.” Taking a deep breath she stilled herself for the next part. “You said it yourself, parents tell horror stories about the Jotun to scare their children. I'm betting you were talking about your own parents. Your parents who probably knew exactly what you were, and told you those stories anyway.”
Reaching out suddenly he wrapped his hand around her throat, not tight, just enough to show intent. “Don't presume to know anything about me, or my family.” he growled, fingers twitching like he wanted to strangle her.
“Well, now you've painted yourself into a corner.” she said, forcing her muscles to relax. “You can't bring yourself to place any blame on them for fucking you up. Instead you internalize all of it. For whatever reason you honestly can't be truly angry with them, so instead you get angry with yourself, you force it inward till it festers.” she said calmly. Reaching up she wrapped her hand around his wrist again. “I might not know what you went through, but trust me, I know those feelings. I spent my entire childhood idolizing my bio-dad, because my Mom used to tell me all of these great stories about him. But you know what I eventually found out?” Leaning closer she dropped her voice to barely a whisper. “She lied. I biological father was basically a glorified sperm donor. He banged my Mom then took off to where ever, never looking back. And the sick part? I couldn't be angry with him, because I already loved him. So instead I got angry at myself, and I did a lot of self destructive shit because that anger turned to hate. I hated myself, and I deserved to suffer. Didn't matter that I was wrong, all that mattered was my own fucked up logic.”
This fingers fluttered again, squeezing tightly for a moment before letting go. “Pretty words, from a pretty face.” he sneered, starting to pull away. Clem tightened her hold, pulling him closer. With a breath she blew aside his glamor, watching as his skin turned to the beautiful jewel tone she had seen before. “What are you trying to prove?”
“Everybody,” she said, putting emphasis on the word as she tightened her grip. “and I do mean everybody deserves a second chance. Hell, a lot of people deserve a third and fourth. This is yours. You don't have to be like this.”
He growled, glaring down at her, eyes full of hate. “What could a puny mortal ever hope to know what a God needs?” he spat at her. Sighing she gave him a sad look, her arms snaking out around his neck, pulling him down into a hug.
“It's ok to cry. It's ok to be hurt. You don't have to hold it in anymore.” she whispered against his hair as she held him close. She was only a little surprised when she felt moister on her shoulder. Who knew that the talk that worked for heroine addicts, gang members, Conservatives could work on emotionally scarred Gods? Letting out a breath she hadn't known she'd been holding she pulled him closer, running a hand soothingly through his hair.
Finally she felt the moisture stop. Pulling back she reached out, wiping away the trails on his cheeks. “This might be the Stockholm Syndrome talking, but I still kinda want to have sex with you.” she said, looking up at him. “No strings, though.”
Tilting his head slightly he looked down at her. “I am unfamiliar with those phrases.” he said, his hand sliding down to his hip.
Smiling she looked up at him. “Don't try to bullshit a bullshiter, baby, it's nothing but a headache.” she said, smirking up at him, laughing slightly at the look on his face. “Did I not mention that little superpower?” Snaking her arms up around his neck she beamed at him. “I know when someone is lying to me. It's the first thing I made sure of when I found out what I could do.” Loki just stared down at her dumbly. Laughing she shook her head. “Nay, I'm lying. You lift your eyebrows when you lie. Kinda an easy tell, after awhile.”
Wrapping his arms around her waist he pulled her close. “You are the first being in sixteen hundred years to be able to tell when I am lying.” he said softly, head leaning close to her.
“Well, then. You have to ask yourself, are you going to kill me?” she asked, leaning up on her tiptoes so that they were closer to eye level. “Or kiss me?” Not waiting for him to respond she pulled his head forward, crashing their lips together. Pulling back she lifted an eyebrow at him. “What do ya say? Take a girl to bed and ravish her?” Loki didn't say anything, instead bringing them together for another kiss, sweeping her legs out from under her.
Please nobody yell at me about the Jesus comment. The Hebrew form would be something like Yahshua, when written phonetically, but most people just use the Greek instead. That was the only thing I managed to get out of my Introduction to the New Testament class I took in college before I swapped it out for Foundations of Asian religions.
Chapter 4: Night Two
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The sun had just started to slip behind the horizon when the pendent gave a bright pulse of light, a thick chord of light shooting out in front of them. “Can you follow it, Stark?” Darcy asked over the comm.
“No problem.” he answered, shooting off towards the west. Darcy still hadn't managed to figure out why the chord of light appeared randomly, this was the third time in two hours it had flared to life, each time dying out to a bright shine before they could get close enough. With most of the Bronx covered they'd narrowed the search from the initial twelve blocks down to four, but even then it was taking the ground teams time to canvas the area. Holding on tight Darcy prayed it would stay long enough this time for them to finally find her.
Swooping down low over the buildings Darcy felt the pendent jump in her hand, the light brightening before suddenly shooting downward to the roof of a warehouse. “Down there!” she screamed, pointing at the building.
“We'll do a sweep then get a ground team in here.” Tony said, circling the the building.
“Fuck that!” Darcy shouted, waiting till they were over the roof. Pulling her arms from around his neck she jumped, tucking and rolling at she hit the uneven roof top.
“Are you crazy?” Tony shouted over the comm, coming to a stop a few feet above the roof.
Wiping blood from her forehead Darcy just glared up at him. “I'm going in. You want to do something about it, call for backup.” With that she took off running towards the roof access. A quick, hard kick to the lock sent it flying open. Pulling out her gun she glanced back at Tony. “Wish me luck.” she said, giving a small wave. Not waiting for a response she started her decent into the building.
Steve was organizing another sweep when he heard the tell tale sound of his lovers repulsers. “Iron Man, report.” he barked as the other man came to a stop in front of him. “Where's Miss Lewis?”
Opening the face plate of his suite Tony gave him a look. “Doing something stupid.” he said, nodding to Natasha. “We found the location. Instead of waiting for backup she went in.” Steve felt Bucky stiffen beside him, turning towards Tony.
“And you let her?” he growled, closing the space between them. Laying a hand on his shoulder Steve tried to calm him down, but Bucky just shrugged him off. “Are you out of your fucking mind, Stark? She could be dead right now!”
“Wow, back up, one armed wonder!” Tony shouted, holding up his hands. “I didn't let her do anything! She jumped onto the roof! I came to get back up!”
Wedging himself between the two men Steve focused in on Tony. “Do you have the coordinates?” he asked, nodding when Tony handed over a small device. “Alright I want three teams. Widow, take a group with Hawkeye and secure the perimeter. Thor, I know this is going to be hard but I want you to hold back, wait till he have more information before you engage. I need your eyes from the sky.” The god nodded, his face grim as he gripped tightly to Mjolnir handle. “Good, Iron Man I want you with Thor, I need as much aerial power as I can get. Bruce, stay back with Coulson. If we need you we'll let you know.” The scientist nodded, sharing a look with Natasha before heading to the cars.
“What about me?” Bucky asked, hands clasped tightly to his sides.
Sighing Steve laid a hand on his shoulder. “I need you to stay back with the Coulson and the others. We're going to need a second wave if something goes wrong here.” he explained, keeping his voice firm. He couldn't be just a friend right now, he had to be Captain America first and foremost, and that meant having someone as backup that might be able to get the shot off, if it came to that.
“You want me to just set back and what? Sit on my thumbs?” he asked, eyes flashing. “Fuck that. I'm going in.”
Steve grabbed his wrist before he could reach for his gun. “I need you to cool off. Not thinking is the reason that we now have two people in that building with Loki. Going in half cocked because your head isn't on straight will get both of you killed. I'm not losing anybody today, you got that?”
Bucky finally nodded, though his shoulders were still tense. “Just bring her back. She hasn't told me yes yet.” he said, a forced smile working on the corner of his lips.
Eyes widening Steve just stared for a minute. “You...” he started only to trail off when Bucky nodded. Clasping a hand on his shoulder he forced a smile. “Then I promise you, she'll get out of this in one piece.” Pushing his shoulder he picked up his shield. “Now get in place soldier.” Nodding Bucky shouldered his gun, taking off towards the cars. Taking a deep breath he turned on his comm. “Iron Man, I could use a ride.” Stilling his nerves he narrowed his focus. He had a battle to fight, and he wasn't going to let anything cloud his mind right now. Swallowing hard he climbed on to Iron Man's back. Not even thoughts of his own ring.
The stairs creaked loudly as Darcy slowly crept down them, gun poised and at the ready. She wasn't sure if a bullet would really do that much damage, but she'd at least feel a little better if she did shoot the bastard.
The top two floors were empty, which didn't settle her nerves any. For all she knew Loki was long gone. Taking a deep breath she tried to breath past the sudden gut retching feeling that tore through her. Clem had to be alright, she couldn't stop to think about the other option, in fact it wasn't an option. Clem was alive, she had to be. The pendent wouldn't work otherwise, right? Biting her lips she pushed open the door to the next floor.
Unlike the previous two floors this one opened into a hallway, instead of a single open room. Slowly creeping into the hallway she made her way towards the first doorway. The door was already open but she didn't want to be caught unaware, instead stopping just out side the door. Pulling out a mirror she angled it just right so that she could see inside. Even with only the faint glow of the street lamp outside she could tell that the room was empty. Pocketing the mirror she moved quietly on to the next door.
Three doors down her heart stopped, her eyes stuck on the chair in the middle of the room. Walking slowly into the room she ran her hand over the worn wood, closing her eyes she tried to sense if Clem had left any clue. Not getting anything she turned and made her way out again. At the end of the hall she found herself in an open room, empty expect for a single table near the window. Walking over she saw she could see a faint water ring but nothing else. Running a hand over her face she stuffed her gun back in its holster. She was too late.
“I can honestly say I was not expecting them to send you.” Turning she pulled her gun out at the same time, training it on Loki's head. The god in question was leaning against the door frame he held a silver goblet in hand. He was significantly dressed down compared to the last time she had seen him, back during the Chitauri invasion, his cloak gone along with the over compensation helmet. Dressed in the simple black tunic and pants he almost looked almost...human. “You certainly have come a long way since the last time we met.”
“So you do remember me.” she said, tightening her grip on her gun. Loki nodded taking a few steps into the room, his movements more relaxed then he had been on the Helicarrier, the last, and till tonight, only time she had ever seen him. Darcy had to control her breathing when those memories came flooding back. The attack, Darcy standing there shacking in her modest heels, begging somebody to tell her what to do. She remembered screaming as she watched his staff slide into Coulson's back, her running to her boss's side as fast as she could, pressing her balled up cardigan to the wound to try to slow the bleeding. Coulson's face was something that still haunted her dreams some nights, his breathy little pleas for Clint, to make sure that Clint was alright, safe. Blinking she tightened her jaw, forcing all of it down, zoning in on the moment.
“Yes, indeed.” he said, his goblet disappearing from his hand as he came to a stop. “Agent Coulson's little secretary.” His lips twisted in to a condescending grin. “Scared, alone, clutching to her paperwork like a shield. A little girl so far from home. How did it feel, Miss Lewis? The lost, lonely girl, watching the world fall down around her? Wanting to run home, crying to Mummy and Daddy, in your quaint little suburban life?” Glaring at him she took two steps back, aiming the gun at him. He was trying to pick at wounds that didn't exist. Suddenly her hand seemed just a bit more steady. “Do you really think you have what it takes to stand up to a god?” Letting her shoulders drop slightly she lowered the gun, watching his smirk grow. Counting her breaths she did the only thing she could think to do, and pulled the trigger. “You shot me!”
Watching his grab his shin, staring up at her with wide, shocked eyes she felt vindicated. “You were making me twitchy!” she screamed, waving the gun slightly.
“But you shot me!” he screamed, still holding his leg. Darcy was pretty sure that if she wasn't the one living through this right now she would find the entire situation funny. Oh, well, with any luck she would live through this, so maybe someday she could look back on it and laugh.
Instead of laughing she glared, channeling her emotions into something that might give her the upper hand.. “Stop yelling at me!” she shouted back. Raising her gun again she squared her shoulders. “And tell me where the fuck Clem is.”
Letting go of his leg his brow crinkled in confusion. “Who?” he asked. For a second she almost believed him, but she couldn't afford to be fooled. She's pretty sure he didn't get the whole 'god of lies' title out of a Crackerjack box.
“My cousin, you sanctimonious ass.” When he still just looked at her she cocked her gun. Heaving a sigh she looked at him in complete exasperation. “The woman you kidnapped, you moron.”
“You'll have to forgive my confusion.” he said after a beat, waving his hand dismissively. “The woman in question never gave her name.”
Scoffing Darcy tilted her head to the side giving him a look. “Don't give me that high and mighty bullshit, Loki.” she reprimanded, eyes still trained in on the god should he decide to pull anything. “You're not exactly holding court anymore.”
Baring his teeth she sneered at her. “I am a prince of Asgard!” he practically growled, his flesh wound long forgotten in place of his anger.
Lifting a brow she gave him her best 'bitch please' look. “Yea, ahuh, sure. You seem to only want to pull out that card when your hand is getting low. The last I heard you were kinda the black sheep of the family.”
Glowering Loki pointed a finger in her face. “I am a rightful prince of Asgard. If Odin,” he sneered the name, making it sound more like an expletive then anything else. “Had not favored that lumbering buffoon all these centuries, I would be the heir to the throne!”
“For the love of Allah, Buddha, Shiva, and any of your other friends that people still pray to, get the fuck over your Daddy issues already!” Darcy shouted, waving a hand. Darcy had officially had it with the whining about Thor. Sure Thor wasn't exactly the brightest crayon in the box, but he had a good heart underneath it all, and with each passing year on Earth he was just getting better at caring about other people. Besides, wasn't the eldest always kind of the next in line to be king anyway?
Loki stalked across the room, coming to a stop in her personal space. “You know nothing of my relationship with my father, or my birth parents.” he sneered, face contorting into an angry visage of blind rage. Darcy fought hard against every instinct that was telling her to run, to just punch him in the face and make a break for it. She'd known she was pushing all the wrong buttons, but she couldn't help it, wanting to lash out at him in someway that might actually affect him.
Instead of running her hands went to her hips, her stance broadening as she met his eyes. “Oh, yea?” she challenged, waiting to see if he would back down. When he didn't she continued. “Maybe I don't but you wanna know how I got adopted?” He remained quiet, but some of the blind rage seemed to recede from his eyes. Common ground, the one thing more then likely capable of diffusing a situation. She almost wanted to kiss the bastards on the behavioral review board for making her take that peer mediation class.
“My parents heard me crying in a dumpster behind a Denny's. Who ever my birth parents are, they left me out with the garbage.” There was a flicker in his eyes, like he could sympathize with that. Counting that as a win she pressed on. “My mom and dad didn't have to pick me up, take me back to the commune, raise me as their own. They had a choice, and guess what?” Loki didn't twitch at her question, put he backed up just slightly.
“Your bag of dicks father did too. Just because he's a shitty parent doesn't mean you have to destroy a planet!” The hand waving might have been a little excessive, but he was still listening, which is more then she'd expected when she first opened her mouth. “If anybody should be doing that it's Thor! He's actually related to the asshat! But you? You're not. You could give all of this up, go somewhere, get a job, meet a nice girl,” She paused for a moment as she looked him up and down with a critical eye. “or boy, settle down, have a family, and guess what, you'd never have to deal with his ass again.”
Crossing his arms he scoffed at her. “What is it with you women attempting to psycho analyze me?” So Clem had talked to the bastard. She was even more worried about cousin now, Clem had a habit of not pulling punches, especially when she felt cornered. “I'm a villain. Deal with it! I'm not some tragic lost soul who needs to be shown the way. I am evil. When are you people going to realize this?”
“Probably around the time you start buying your own line of bullshit.” both of their heads shot towards the door. There, safe and sound, though looking a little put out, was Clem.
“Clem!” Darcy shouted, side stepping Loki to make a beeline for her cousin. “You're...” Darcy stopped short, for the first time actually looking at her. “wearing a bed sheet. Why are you wearing a bed sheet?”
Looking down at herself the other woman gave a lethargic little shrug. “Got cold waiting around on somebody's ass to stop playing mind games with my little cuz, and come finish what he started.”
Darcy felt her jaw drop as her eyes widened. “Shut up! Clem, again?”
“Yes, Lewis, I-Again?” Loki started, only to stop at turn towards Clem. “What does she mean again?”
Clem shrugged, a smug little smile playing at the corner of her slightly bruised lips. “I have a type.” Was all she said in response.
Loki's face relaxed into a look of utter disbelief. Darcy could sympathize, Clem was this odd combination of brutally honest, and pathological liar that was sometimes hard to follow. “You frequently bed the men who kidnap you?” he asked, something akin to hurt tainting his words.
“Nay, this is a first.” Clem said, walking up beside him. “Pat your self on the back, I thought I'd already punched in every card I had.”
Throwing up her hands Darcy groaned loudly. “This is just like Milwaukee all over again!” she shouted, hands going to her hips.
“No it's not.” she denied, face turning petulant. “For starters I'm pretty sure this isn't going to end with us tied to a mail box in the middle of BFE.” Darcy had to nod at that. While there were a lot of outcomes she could envision not a single one featured an awkward conversation with a mail worker at six am.
“What happened in Milwaukee?” Loki asked, glancing between them. Darcy hid her smile behind a cough, sending Clem a look. Oh, she'd gotten him good if he was actually asking questions about her past.
“Don't worry about it, babe.” she said soothingly. He didn't seem to buy it, but Clem reached up kissing him for a long moment. Pulling back she gave a soft little sigh of contentment as she brushed a piece of his hair behind his ear. “I'll tell you over dinner.”
That caught Darcy's attention. “Dinner?” she asked, raising a brow. Clem had no problem bedding just about anyone who caught her fancy, but Darcy had ever known her to actually date three people, all of which happened to be women. It was just one of the unwritten rules that Clem lived by, you found men if you wanted to fuck, you found a nice woman if you wanted to date. Darcy was starting to suspect that more had gone on in the last twenty-four hours then even she had imagined.
“Yea,” Clem said, smirking up at Loki. “somebody promised to take me places I've never been before.” Giving him a sly look Clem patted him firmly on the ass, startling the god beside her.
Chuckling to herself, Darcy shook her head. “If it's the Seven Eleven on Broadway somebody beat you to that during the Bush administration.” she offered.
“Darce!” Clem shouted, just the faintest tinge of pink dusting across her cheeks.
Darcy held up hands in defeat, knowing this could easily disintegrate into a childish game of 'well I know what you did'. “Look, as great as this star-crossed thing is there are about fifty SHIELD agents and six very pissed off Avengers, including your brother, who are five minutes from busting in here. From what I hear Hulk wouldn't mind beating your ass again, and there's a certain archer who's mind you fucked with and husband you kinda almost killed.”
Clem scowled as she looked up at Loki again. “You're not very good at making friends, are you?” she asked, lifting a condescending eyebrow.
“Just another personality flaw for you to find endearing.” Loki said, putting on his best charming smile as he placed a kiss on the back of her hand.
Darcy could tell Clem was having none of it just by the twitch of her lip. “Nice try,” she scoffed, pulling her hand back. “you are so going to therapy. You've got issues I'm pretty sure you need a bucket of pharmaceuticals, and at least three decades of therapy to fully work through.”
“And if I say no?” he challenged. Smirking Clem pushed herself up on her tiptoes, whispering something in his ear. “Aw, yes, now I remember.” Turning away from the woman in his arms he gave Darcy a terse nod. “Lewis, pass on my regards to my brother, but I really shouldn't keep the lady waiting any longer.”
“Tell him yourself.” Darcy countered, holding up her comm for them to see. How she hadn't noticed it earlier she didn't know but this thing was barely being held together, the front panel smashed in. “This thing's broke, that means I've been incommunicado for the last fifteen minutes. They should be busting in any second now.”
They all shared a look before the sound of deafening thunder tore through the building. Darcy was expecting a lot of things, but not for the wall behind her to explode into dust and chunks of brick. Turning she saw Thor land quickly followed by Iron Man, and Captain America. “Brother!” Thor bellowed, holding out Mjolnir so that it was pointed at Loki. “Release Lady Darcy and her fair cousin!”
“Oh goody,” Loki drawled before looking down at Clem. “we can get the meet the family ordeal out of the way before the first date.” Clem for her part just dissolved into a fit of giggles, leaning her head against Loki's shoulder. Darcy almost missed the twitch of a smile on his face as his hand snaked around to cradle her hip. Huh, that wasn't going to stop being weird anytime soon.
Turning towards the assembled group in front of her she shook her head. “Stand down guys. The only thing we're doing right now is seriously cock blocking.” she quipped, dusting off her jeans. Digging in to her pocket she pulled out a set of keys, tossing them to Clem. “You can use my place. There's food in the fridge, clean towels in the hall closet, and condoms in the top drawer of the bedside table. Use them.” Clem smiled at her before looking up at Loki.
“We will have to postpone this, Thor.” he said, not taking his eyes off of Clem. “I have a prior engagement.” Without another word them shimmered and disappeared.
Clapping her hands together Darcy pursed her lips. “Alright then, clean up. Can one of you call Coulson? My comm's kinda busted.” The three of them just stared openly, not even blinking. Nodding, Darcy snorted. “I guess I'll just go tell him myself then.” Pivoting she headed out the door, and down towards ground level.
“Ok,” Tony said slowly, turning to look at Steve. “That I totally want to hear the explanation for.” Steve just nodded, still looking a bit shell shocked.
He was pulled out of it by Thor's booming, “Friends!” as the god pulled them both into a fierce hug. “This is a day of celebration! My brother has finally taken a help mate!” With out another word he flew out of the building, disappearing below.
Tony and Steve stood there for a moment looking down at where their teammate had jumped. “I really don't want to be the one to tell him that around here it takes more then just sex to get married.” Steve just nodded again. “Come on Cap, lets get you out of here before they officially break you.” He didn't even protest as Tony lifted him into his arms before taking off.
Once the dust was settled, and the paperwork was filed Darcy finally drug herself into her suite at the Tower. Tossing her soiled tee shirt over her head at in the general vicinity of the hamper she groaned loudly as she popped her neck. She wanted a long hot bath in the ridiculous tub Tony had installed for her, and at least twelve hours of sleep before she had to go to work. Rotating her neck she looked down at the pendent hanging around her neck, nestled snugly next to the ring. Sigh she gently held it between her fingertips, watching as the faint light from New York played off of the sapphire. She should really give it back to him. He'd never really asked anyway, she'd cut him off before he could. Part of it had been because there was so much going on, that she wanted it to be special. The other part, well the other part said that he hadn't really meant it anyway.
A knock at the door drew her out of her thoughts. Not even bothering to toss anything on over her bra she went to answer it. It was almost two in the morning, whoever it was could just deal with it. She wasn't really expecting to see James standing right outside, but then again, she shouldn't have been surprised either, especially after the last full conversation they had. “Hey.”
“Hey.” he countered, shifting slightly to hold up a bag. “Figured you probably forgot to eat today.” Nodding her thanks she stepped out of the way to let him through. “I asked JARVIS what you would normally order when you stay here late for work, but then he told me barbeque pork so...” He pulled out a container of Hot and Sour soup, and another filled with Jasmine rice. “Figured I'd just go with what I know.”
“Thanks.” she said, gesturing towards the small table in the corner. “Don't take it the wrong way with JARVIS, he's just a little...” She trailed off as she took her seat.
“Over protective?” he offered, pulling plastic ware and napkins from the bag.
“Yea.” she said, voice suddenly seeming soft in the dim room. “I was getting ready to take a shower when you knocked.”
He looked at her for a moment, swallowing thickly before nodding. “Right. Yea, you're a little...” he cut himself off with a cough. “It's been a long few days.”
“Yea.” was all she said, suddenly feeling nervous. Before she could second guess anything her hands went to her necklace. “Oh! Here.”
“You don't have to.” James said, reaching out a hand as though to stop her.
Darcy just shook her head, fumbling with the clasp. “No. I...” Shutting her mouth she finally got the clasp undone, sliding the ring for the chain. “Here.”
James looked at the ring for a long moment before he took it gently from her. “I wanted to do this properly.” he said, looking down at the ring that lay in his palm.
Smiling just a little sadly Darcy nodded. “I know.” she whispered, her hands falling lifelessly into her lap. James just nodded again, eyes looking a million miles away. Maybe he was. If not actual miles then years. Years before she was born, before her parents, hell her grandparents had met. Standing she turned slightly towards the bathroom. “I should really take that shower.”
She stopped when she felt his hand brush against hers. Turning slightly her breath hitched as she watched him slide out of his chair, kneeling in front on her. “Darcy Lewis,” he began, entwining their fingers together. “Will you marry me?”
She couldn't help the tears that prickled at the corner of her eyes. Pressing her lips together she nodded. “Yes, James Barnes. I will marry you.” If both of their hands trembled as he slid the ring on to her finger neither of them mentioned it. Staring down at the ring for a long moment she took a deep breath before looking down in his eyes. “I think this is the part where people usually kiss.”
Standing James slowly brushed her hair out of her face. “I think you're right.” Was all he said before pulling her into what would eventually make her top five kisses list. Number three actually. Lacing her fingers through his she pulled away. Ignoring his confused look she tugged him gently towards the bathroom. “What about the food?”
Shaking her head at his token protest she pulled him into another kiss. “It'll keep.” she murmured against his lips. “Right now I want to have hot, slightly kinking, engagement sex with you in a bathtub so large it's illegal in six countries.”
Chuckling against her lips he pressed one more kiss before pulling back. “Yes, Ma'am.” he answered, just a touch of the old soldier shining through.
“Ma'am, huh?” she teased pulling him into the bathroom. “Ma'am I can work with.” She dissolved into giggles before the door was even closed. Yea, she was totally calling in sick on Monday.
Something was playing 'Secret Agent Man'. Rolling over she dug around till her hand found her phone. “Hello?” she groggily answered, trying to push her hair out of her eyes.
“Ms Lewis.” Coulson's voice rang out on the other end.
Groaning Darcy carefully crawled out of bed, making sure not to disturb the man still sleeping peacefully in the bed. “Hey boss man.” she responded, slipping into a robe.
“Ms Lewis, it's Wednesday.” Looking at the calender on of the wall Darcy nodded for a minute. “Did you hear me, Ms Lewis?”
“Yes, I heard you boss man.” she acknowledged, rummaging a cigarette out of her purse before walking out on to the balcony.
“Do you know what that means?” he asked.
“Yesterday was Tuesday and tomorrow is Thursday.” she deadpanned, flicking her lighter and taking a long drag.
“It means, Ms Lewis, that you have not been to work in three days.” Rolling her eyes at the reprimand she quietly counted in her head, waiting for the lecture to start. “If you needed vacation time after the ordeal with Loki, there are proper channels-” Yup there is was.
Darcy was on her fifteenth 'ahuh' when she felt a pair of strong arms wrap around her waist. “Morning, Sweetheart.” he whispered against her neck, placing a gentle kiss them. Pulling back he noticed the phone. “Coulson?” he mouthed. Darcy just nodded, offering him the cigarette, shrugging when he shook his head.
“Ms. Lewis, are you even listening to me?” Blared from the phone as James pulled it away from her ear.
“I'm afraid Ms Lewis is unable to come to the phone, Agent Coulson.” he said, watching Darcy as she leaned back against the balcony. “You see, she's currently being held hostage by the Winter Soldier, and as I'm sure you know, my ransoms are very, very, very high.” He puncuated each very with a lingering kiss to Darcy's neck. “So I'm afraid you are just going to have to wait, or pay the price. Good day, Agent Coulson.”
Darcy couldn't help the giggle that escaped her as James hit end. “How long do you think it'll take him to track us down?” she asked, looping an arm around his waist. Stealing the cigarette from between her fingertips he took a long drag before tossing it and the cell phone over the balcony, a splash from below following shortly after.
“With out the GPS in the phone?” he asked innocently, wrapping his arms around her waist.
Darcy pouted slightly, turning her head away from his kiss. “That was a fourth gen Starkphone.” she complained, crossing her arms.
“I'll buy you a new one.” he promised, dropping a kiss right above her heart.
Darcy looked like she was contemplating it for before pulling him into a kiss. “Ok.”
He gave her one more lingering kiss before pressing their foreheads together. “Here's a better question. How long is it going to take to Stark to realize we're squatting?”
Tilting her head back to laugh Darcy laced their fingers together, pulling him back towards the bed. “Babe, I'm not even sure Tony remembers he owns a beach house on Santorini. I think we're safe.”
And it is done! I'm working on the next part of this, but after that I think I'm going to take a little bit of a break and work on another unfinished story I have here on AO3. Don't worry though, the last installment of the series will be ready for post around the first of September. After that, well, I don't really know, I'm open for suggestions.