“Which symptom was the first to manifest?”
Darcy glanced over at Dr. Banner--Bruce, she was pretty sure she was entitled to call him Bruce, now--whose face was a shade of scarlet she didn’t think was healthy. She sighed and rubbed her hand over her face. “The heat. It felt like...a fever. Like I was sitting in a sauna.”
Darcy entered the lab without bothering to knock, a coffee mug in both hands and a file folder under her arm. Dr. Banner was hunched over his microscope, his glasses pushed up into his hair, muttering to himself and scribbling on a nearby legal pad. He looked so adorable in his rumpled button-down and khakis, his hair sticking up all over his head, and a familiar fluttery feeling took up residence in her chest. Inwardly, she sighed, and shoved her feelings to the back of her mind. The issue of her crush on the good doctor was not the reason for her trek across the building and into the bowels of his lab. She was actually here on business.
“Hey, Doc, I brought you some jet fuel.” She moved closer, the click of her heels echoing oddly in the mostly-silent lab.
Dr. Banner looked up, startled. “Oh, Miss Lewis, I, uh, didn’t expect anyone.” He pulled his glasses off his head and resettled them in their proper place, then ran his fingers through his unruly curls to straighten them. It didn’t work; if anything, his hair looked crazier now. “But I’ll take the coffee,” he added, eyeing the mug covetously. She grinned and handed it over quickly; she spent too much time with caffeine-deprived geniuses to risk getting between them and coffee.
“Actually,” she hedged, waiting until he had taken a long sip of the coffee, “I also have some forms for you to fill out,” she said and waved the file folder at him before setting it on the worktable next to the microscope. “Agent Coulson needed them yesterday, but you never manage to escape the lab, so I’ve been sent to get your signature.”
Dr. Banner laughed his adorable self-deprecating laugh. “I’m not actually a prisoner down here, you know. I can leave whenever I want.”
She cupped her own mug in both hands and sipped, savoring the dark bitterness on the back of her tongue. “Ah, so it’s your choice to hide yourself away from the rest of us.” He shrugged, apparently agreeing, which made her frown. Darcy hated the thought of him locking himself down here, away from everyone. She leaned her hip against the worktable and moved to get a better look at the microscope. She had a lot of work waiting for her on her desk, but she could spare a half-hour for Dr. Banner. Besides, Coulson was in a meeting for another hour; he probably wouldn’t even miss her if she was back before he was done. “So, uh, what’re you working on that’s keeping you from associating with us lowly mortals?”
He took a long drink of the coffee and shrugged. “Um, actually, we’re not quite sure. It’s an unknown organic substance that one of the SHIELD teams found during a raid on a HYDRA lab. We’re fairly certain that it’s the reproductive structure of some plant--a spore or pollen, perhaps--but the DNA doesn’t match any in our databases. It could be a previously-undiscovered species, but, more likely, given the source, it’s extraterrestrial in origin.”
“Alien plant sperm, huh,” Darcy answered, and gently pushed Dr. Banner out of the way with a nudge of her hip. She settled her mug on the counter and took a look for herself. Under the microscope, the spores looked like yellow spiky balloons, clinging to one another in a large clump. To her untrained eye, it looked just like the pictures of pollen in her Bio 101 textbook; nothing weird or obviously alien. She straightened and backed away, cocking her hip back against the table. “So, why are you studying it?”
“Well, HYDRA doesn’t usually keep things around that they don’t feel they can weaponize in some way.” He sipped the coffee, more slowly now, his focus on her, not the microscope. His gaze was warm where it fell on her, and she fought not to blush. “If we can figure out why they have it and what they were planning on doing with it, then we can develop a response.”
“So smart, I love it,” she quipped, reaching out to straighten his glasses. Her fingers rested at his temples for a second longer than necessary, and the air between them grew thick with tension. His adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed, and she had the sudden urge to lean in and nibble that spot. She glanced back up to meet his eyes. “I, um, I ought to leave you to your spores, then,” she murmured, motioning toward the microscope without taking her eyes off his face. Since she wasn’t actually looking, she misjudged the distance and knocked the scope over. “Shit!” she cried, and both she and Dr. Banner scrambled to right it, their moment forgotten.
The tinkle of broken glass indicated that they were only partially successful; they had saved the microscope at the expense of the slide. It hit the table and shattered, sending up a poof of yellow dust that seemed too large for the tiny sample that had been on the slide. The dust moved in a wholly unnatural way, twining about like sentient smoke and wrapping its tendrils around their faces. It was impossible to avoid inhaling it, though Darcy tried her best, coughing heavily.
Less than a second later, a klaxon began blaring and the lab door, which Darcy had left open when she entered, slammed shut and locked with an ominous click. A computerized voice began to speak. “An unknown airborne biological contagion has been detected. Quarantine procedures now active. Please proceed immediately to the decontamination showers.”
Dr. Banner grabbed her wrist and dragged her to the back the lab. They both stripped quickly, too worried about the contaminant to be embarrassed about their nudity. There were two stalls, so it wasn’t as if they had to look at each other as they washed off possibly-poisonous space dust.
“The water will continue to run for fifteen minutes,” Dr. Banner said after a few moments of intense scrubbing, his voice a little strained. “There are scrubs in the cabinet next to the showers, and we, uh, we’re locked in for at least 24 hours.”
Darcy groaned and pressed her forehead against the shower wall, letting the lukewarm water run down her body. “I’m sorry, Dr. Banner, I should have paid better attention.”
“It should have been safe,” he countered, sounding frustrated. “The first team tested it under strict bio-hazard conditions and classified it non-lethal. They also said that it didn’t seem to be airborne.” She could hear him scrubbing at his body with the same disinfectant soap she’d used. “I don’t understand how something like that could have escaped their notice.”
His voice seemed to get rougher as he muttered about safety procedures and quarantine protocols, and Darcy realized suddenly that either the water had gone ice-cold, or she’d just spiked a sudden fever. She sucked in a shuddering breath, but it didn’t seem to be enough oxygen. “Hey, Doc,” she called, interrupting him, “is it just me, or is it awfully hot in here all of a sudden?”
Over the sound of the two showers, she could hear his breathing, almost as ragged as hers. “I don’t think it’s just you.”
“So, you first noticed the rise in body temperature. Then what?”
“Physical arousal,” Bruce muttered. “Acute physical arousal.”
The lab-issued scrubs were itchy, rubbing against Darcy’s suddenly too-sensitive skin in interesting and completely inappropriate ways as she tried to find a comfortable position on her stool. Her bra and panties had gone in the biohazard container with the rest of her clothes, and her nipples were hard from grazing the stiff fabric. The center seam of the pants was inconveniently brushing against her clit each time she shifted in her seat, and it was all she could do to keep from whimpering. Even the way the sleeves skimmed across the skin of her upper arms was oddly arousing.
Dr. Banner didn’t seem to be having a great time either. As soon as the decontamination showers had shut off, he’d dressed and stalked to the other side of the lab, avoiding eye contact with her. Currently, he was pacing and twitching in a very un-Dr. Banner-like way, and was doing his best to keep the lab bench between them. “You okay over there, Doc?”
He turned and looked at her, eyes wide and startled. “What?”
Darcy laughed a little breathlessly. “You look a little, uh, distracted,” she hedged. In fact, he looked absolutely fantastic, but telling him that she really wanted to jump his bones was definitely against SHIELD’s sexual harassment policy. And whoa--where did that thought come from? Yeah, she was totally crushing on the good doctor, but jump his bones? That was a step up.
Dr. Banner shook his head. “Just... feeling some effects. Beyond the fever,” he muttered, running his fingers through his hair.
Even from her perch across the room, she could see his face flush red at the admission, and she wondered if it was better or worse for him. She licked her lips. “Are you, um, are you worried about the Other Guy,” she asked, as tactfully as possible, considering the circumstances.
He paused in his pacing and cocked his head to the side, as if he was listening to something she couldn’t hear. “No,” he murmured slowly, “no, he’s being, well, surprisingly calm. I wonder if that’s due to the pollen, or...” He trailed off and grabbed a nearby legal pad, scribbling furiously, probably taking notes on their current predicament. Scientists.
She rolled her eyes fondly, then drew a deep breath. The action caused the cotton top to stretch across her sensitive nipples, and she couldn’t stifle her moan as the sensation shot straight to her pussy. She squeezed her eyes shut, willing her arousal away, trying in vain to think of something other than how sexy Dr. Banner looked, and how much she wanted to trace his jawline with her tongue--NO! “St. Louis over Texas, 2011,” she muttered aloud, “San Fran over Texas, 2010; stinkin’ Yankees over Phillies, 2009; Phillies over Tampa, 2008...”
“What are you doing?”
Bruce--Dr. Banner--was suddenly standing very, very close, close enough that she could feel his body heat through her clothes. She tried to smile. “Reciting the World Series winners in reverse order starting with the latest one. I can make it to the 60s, usually,” she added. “Probably not right now, though.”
He blinked at her, and she noticed his breathing was uneven and his pupils were dilated. The pulse in his neck was fluttering far too quickly. “Why?”
Oh, god, he was too close for her to think rationally. She reached up and rested her fingers on his shoulder, tracing the neckline of his shirt and the hot skin beneath. Darcy couldn’t ever remember being this horny in her life. “Because if I don’t, I think I might attack you, strip you naked, and have my wicked way with you on the floor,” she purred, sliding one hand up into his hair so she could cup the back of his head.
She watched his adam’s apple bob as he swallowed. “I see,” he murmured, leaning closer. “Is that something... would you like...” His gaze dropped to her lips. “I would really like to kiss you now,” he whispered.
Instead of answering, Darcy tugged him closer and pressed her lips to his. Bruce groaned into her mouth as she opened for him, his tongue tentative and teasing and so hot against her own. His hands settled at her hips, hot and branding through the thin cotton scrub pants, his fingers teasing at the skin above her waistband. She whimpered when he bit her bottom lip and sucked it into his mouth. “Oh, god, yes, Bruce, please” she babbled, her rational mind gone, burned away in the aftermath of this intense need.
“Darcy,” he breathed, the word nearly lost as he kissed her again.
“Were there any other effects?”
Darcy snorted. “Everything felt... better. More intense. Enhanced skin sensitivity, write that one down.”
God, Darcy couldn’t remember ever having been kissed like this. Her entire body felt like it was on fire, and Bruce hadn’t even touched her anywhere interesting yet. He dropped his head and nuzzled against her neck before kissing his way from her collarbone up to her ear. His teeth scraped the lobe as he sucked it into his mouth, and Darcy whined low in her throat. “Oh, fuck, yessss,” she hissed, her fingers twining deeper into his hair, nails scraping against his scalp. He let go with a filthy ‘pop,’ and traced the shell of her ear with his tongue. She whined with pleasure.
Using her grip on his hair, she tugged him back until they were face to face, and kissed his lips again, pulling a strangled moan from him. His fingers dug into her hips so hard she thought she might have bruises tomorrow, and fuuuuuck that was good. She dropped her hands to his chest, not breaking the kiss, and traced the surprisingly firm muscles down to the hem of his shirt. She pulled back just enough to tug the fabric up to his chest; he got the message quickly enough and raised his arms. Darcy threw the offending material off to the side and grinned, running her fingers through the mass of salt-and-pepper curls on Bruce’s chest and stomach and dipping down to tease his cloth-covered erection. He closed his eyes and groaned when she leaned in and circled one of his nipples with her tongue, perched carefully on the edge of the stool.
His chest rose and fell rapidly, his breath coming in gasps as she gently worried the hardened nub with her teeth. As she reached up to play with his other nipple, she overbalanced, tipping off the stool and smashing her face into his chest. “Oh, man, that was smooth,” she muttered as she stood and kicked the offending object away from them.
Bruce laughed and leaned down to capture her mouth again, pressing his body tightly against hers. The four inch difference in their heights was more obvious now that she was standing; she found that she liked it almost as much as feeling him hard against her stomach. “Very smooth,” he agreed, his breath hot against her lips. His fingers skimmed up her sides, lightly tickling her as he raised the hem of her shirt. “This needs to go,” he said. Darcy couldn’t argue with that, since at that moment, she was pretty sure she wanted to feel his skin against hers more than she wanted air. She crossed her arms and tugged her top off in one fluid motion, throwing it on the floor.
The air in the lab was cool on her bare skin. “God, you’re so beautiful,” he whispered, looking into her eyes while cupping her breasts in his hands and rubbing his thumbs over her nipples. “I could look at you forever.” Before she could reply to that, he’d knelt on the floor and taken one nipple in his mouth, and then she found herself unable to say anything at all. She buried her fingers in his hair as he suckled and nipped, alternating between left and right with just the right balance of rough and sweet. Before she knew it, she was on the edge.
“Gonna, guh, come,” she panted. He hummed his pleasure into her skin and pinched her other nipple hard; she flew apart. He licked and sucked her nipples through her orgasm, teasing her through the aftershocks until her knees were steady again. When he showed no signs of stopping, Darcy tugged on his hair. “My turn.”
Somehow she got him to his feet and herded him toward the table until he was pressed against the lab bench. His face was flushed and his lips were red and wet, and fuck, he was so goddamn gorgeous Darcy could hardly stand it. She kissed him hard, all lips and teeth, while his chest hair teased her sensitive nipples. Darcy kissed her way from his jaw to his collarbone, down to the dark trail of hair on his firm stomach. He didn’t object when she tugged his pants down to his thighs, and she grinned at the sight of his cock, hard and straining up toward his navel. It was about average length but it was thick, with a nest of greying hair at the base. She pressed her thighs tightly together as her pussy clenched in anticipation.
She dropped to her knees and looked up at him through her eyelashes.. She licked her lips and quirked her eyebrow. He swallowed hard, chest heaving. “Jesus, Darcy, you, ah, yessss--” he hissed out as she sucked the tip into her mouth, teasing the spot just under the head with her tongue. She braced her hands on his thighs and leaned in until his cock pressed against the back of her throat and his pubic hair tickled her nose. Slowly, oh-so-slowly, she pulled back until her lips were wrapped around just the head, then let go with a wet, filthy pop.
She teased him like that for a while longer, sucking hard and slowly, then pulling off to lick the underside when he got close. He held himself rigidly still, letting her have full control, even though she could see his knuckles turning white where he gripped the edge of the table. He groaned when she took one of his balls in her mouth, and she could feel them tightening up. She gave the other a quick kiss, then returned to Bruce’s cock, which was hard and hot and fucking amazing. No longer playing around, she sucked him hard and fast, humming low in the back of her throat.
His hand skimmed her hair, the touch feather-light. “I’m gonna-- Darcy, I’m going to...” In response, she twirled her tongue around the head and sucked harder. Bruce came with a growl, his fingers tightening in her hair as he thrust hard into her mouth. She continued to suck him through his climax, swallowing what she could and letting the rest drip out of her mouth.
When he finally relaxed, she pulled back to look up at him, knowing what a debauched picture she must make right now: hair mussed, eyes bright, lips swollen and wet with saliva and come. Bruce cursed and knelt before her, the waistband of his pants still tight around his thighs. He took her face in his hands and kissed her lips gently. “That was amazing. You are amazing.”
She grinned and nibbled at his bottom lip. “Round two?”
Bruce pressed his lips into a line. “Decreased refractory period. Decreased to almost non-existent.”
Darcy smirked. “So you’re not always that insatiable?”
Bruce tipped Darcy back until she was lying flat on the floor, and tugged off her pants. He got tangled in his own, still half-on, and cursed, making her laugh. He shucked them gracelessly, and threw them away in frustration. “Much better,” he murmured, then leaned down and kissed a hot line up from her hip to her neck. Darcy moaned at the delicious feel of his weight on her and spread her legs to cradle him between her thighs, his erection hard and hot against her pelvis. She wound her fingers in his hair, holding him in place as he nibbled and licked at her collarbone. His teeth worried at her skin as he sucked a series of love-bites into the tops of her breasts and down toward her navel.
Darcy bucked her hips up when the heat from his breath caressed her hot cunt, fingers squeezing reflexively in his hair. The tip of his tongue circled her clit, the touch feather-light and all the more intense for it. He traced her inner lips with one gentle finger before repeating the motion with his tongue. She cried out as he teased her entrance with his finger, dipping in just to the first knuckle before retreating. “This is payback for the blowjob, isn’t it,” she whimpered, his answering chuckle vibrating deliciously against her.
Finally he pushed one finger all the way inside her, and oh god, it wasn’t enough. She wiggled her hips, pressing back against his hand, trying to get more friction, but Bruce wasn’t having it. Every time she pressed against him, he backed off, leaving her cunt empty and wanting. Thighs quivering, she forced herself still, and was rewarded by Bruce’s tongue licking a hot stripe from her entrance up to her clit. He sucked her clit into his mouth and flicked the tip of his tongue against it, while pressing two fingers deep inside her. He curled his fingers, hitting her g-spot, and she came on a hoarse scream.
Darcy felt like her skin was trying to vibrate off her body as Bruce thrust his fingers in and out of her slowly, drawing out her orgasm into something beyond amazing. He gently bit down on her over-sensitive clit, and the sensation pushed her over the edge again. He finger-fucked her through another couple of orgasms--she lost count at four--until she finally reached down with a shaking hand and stopped him.
He climbed up her body, bracketing her head with his arms, and when he kissed her, she could taste herself on his lips. Her muscles felt like jelly, but she wasn’t going to let that stop her. “I need you inside me,” she whispered, her voice wrecked from coming. He pressed his forehead against hers as she reached down to wrap her fingers around his erection. He groaned and thrust into her hand. “Now, Bruce,” she pleaded.
His voice was nearly as raspy as hers when he asked, “Condom?”
“Birth control, came up clean on my last medical,” she answered with an impatient wiggle of her hips. “You?”
“Clean,” he answered with a wry smile, and reached between them for his cock, leaving him propped up on one surprisingly muscular arm. “You sure?”
If she wasn’t so desperate and horny, she would have rolled her eyes. “I’m positive. Fuck me, Bruce.”
He grinned and leaned down to press a hungry kiss on her lips. “Yes, ma’am,” he growled, and slid into her with one slow, even thrust. His cock stretched her deliciously wide, and she whimpered. He stilled and brought his hand back up to touch her cheekbone. “Am I hurting you?”
She narrowed her eyes and reached down to dig her nails into his asscheeks. “Only if you stop,” she gasped out.
Bruce took her at her word and began thrusting into her hard and fast, balanced on both arms for better leverage. All coherent thought flew out of her brain at the fullness in her cunt and the friction of his pubic hair on her clit. Another climax teased her, close enough that she could feel the heat pooling in her belly but just out of reach. She slid her fingers into his hair and tugged him down for a kiss, messy and rough and wonderful. Sweat slicked their skin, and the slide of Bruce’s chest against her tits was enough to drag another moan from her sore throat. “Oh god, I’m close,” she groaned when he bit down on the tendon between her neck and her shoulder.
His hips stuttered at her admission, and he reached between them. He kissed her hard and flicked her clit and then she was flying off the edge. Her inner muscles squeezed his cock, and she felt him pulsing inside her, his come hot and slick. That feeling, the knowledge that her body made him lose his iron grip on control, nearly made her come again.
Bruce’s arms finally gave out, and he collapsed on top of her, his cock still hard. She wrapped her arms around him, toying with his hair and petting his shoulder. They were both breathing hard, a hot, sweaty, come-covered mess, and Darcy couldn’t think of anywhere she should rather be at this moment. She kissed his cheek and wrapped her legs around his waist when he moved to roll off her, keeping him inside her as he softened. “Stay a little longer,” she whispered in his ear.
He sighed and peppered her face with kisses: her eyelids, her cheeks, her lips. “I’m going to crush you,” he murmured.
Darcy shook her head, but finally relented. “Fine. Have it your way.” She whined when his now-soft cock slid out of her, followed by a slow trickle of fluid. “I’m not sleeping in the wet spot,” she said, squirming her way to a sitting position. Bruce grinned at her and offered her a roll of paper towels. She sighed and took the towels gratefully. “Wonderful, wonderful man.” He watched her clean herself up--something she would normally find extremely uncomfortable, but right now, it was kind of hot. He looked at her like she was something beautiful and precious, and when she climbed to her unsteady feet, he was right there to support her.
She tossed the used towels in a wastebasket and glanced down. Bruce’s cock was already half-hard again, and she leaned up to kiss him. “Wanna christen your desk chair?”
He didn’t even bother to answer, just leaned down and picked her up. She wrapped her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck and kissed him for all she was worth.
“And lowered inhibitions, am I correct?”
Darcy shrugged, pointedly not looking at Bruce. “I guess so, but not like being drunk. Unlike with tequila, I didn’t do anything I didn’t already want to do.”
The choking sound Bruce made from behind her forced her to glance in his direction. He had been sipping a glass of water when she’d dropped that bomb. He finally managed to swallow the liquid and looked at her with a puzzled expression on his face. She quirked up one edge of her lips and shrugged.
The whooshing sound of the door opening woke Darcy and Bruce. They were both still naked, and he was spooned up behind her on the office couch, cocooned in a blanket he kept in the lab for the nights he didn’t quite make it to bed.
“Good morning, sunshine!” Tony’s voice was far too chipper for Darcy’s state of mind, and she thought immediately of the security cameras positioned nearly everywhere in the Tower.
“Go ‘way Tony,” she muttered, burrowing farther down into the blanket and refusing to open her eyes. “And whatever video you took of last night, erase it, or I swear on my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you.”
Tony snickered. “Is that right? Funny you should mention that, because I’m fairly certain that video is going to be exhibit A at your debrief.”
“Debrief?” Bruce groaned, his arm tightening reflexively around Darcy’s middle. She pressed back against him, her ass pressing against his groin, and twined her fingers with his. “Why do we need debriefed?”
Tony snorted. “You didn’t figure this one out yet? I mean, no offense, old man, but did you really think you and Darcy just fucked for almost a day straight because you wanted to?”
“You’re a fucking dick, Stark,” she snapped, squeezing Bruce’s hand. “And you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Unfortunate as his phrasing was,” Coulson interjected, “he is somewhat correct. While the two of you were... quarantined, we had everyone else working double-time to identify the substance Dr. Banner was studying. It seems to be, as you suspected, part of an alien life-form’s reproductive system. It also appears to have an extremely potent aphrodisiac effect on humans that wears off after approximately 24 hours.”
Darcy blinked her eyes open, squinting in the too-bright fluorescent lights overhead. Tony was standing, looking smug and annoying as usual--see if she brought him coffee any time soon--and Coulson looked perfectly unruffled by the sight of his assistant curled up naked with Bruce on his lab couch. He had a small duffle bag in one hand. Another man, who she didn’t recognize, stood slightly behind and to the right of Coulson, dressed in a white lab coat and carrying a clipboard, thick-rimmed glasses perched on his nose. There didn’t seem to be anyone else in the room. “Okay, so we got dosed with alien Viagra. Thanks for the info; now go away.” She closed her eyes and tugged Bruce’s hand up to her chest, preparing to go back to sleep.
Behind her, she felt Bruce go tense, then sigh. He leaned in close and murmured in her ear, his voice low. “We should get dressed, Darcy. They’re not going to leave until we give them what they want.”
She huffed, but it was half-hearted at best. “I can be very stubborn,” she grumbled. “My mom always said I was part mule.”
“I believe it. But,” he said, carefully extracting his fingers from hers, “we do need to debrief.” Darcy stifled her annoyed whine as Bruce moved away from her. “If you gentlemen will give us some time, we’ll clean up and meet you in a conference room.”
The lab coat smiled, and Darcy narrowed her eyes at the gleam in his eyes. “We’re not a science project, Dexter,” she said, pointing at him with one naked arm. “So whatever you’re thinking right now, stop.”
His mouth fell open and he gaped like a fish for a moment, before snapping it shut and nodding. “Of course not, Miss Lewis, Dr. Banner. We’ll be waiting in Conference Room 3.”
They were headed toward the exit when Coulson paused and turned around. “And Miss Lewis, be assured, Mr. Stark is not invited to the debrief.” Tony’s protest was cut off as the door slid shut behind the men.
“Little blessings,” she muttered to herself.
Bruce shifted behind her, extracting himself from the nest they’d made of the blanket. “The, uh, decontamination showers aren’t exactly set up for real showers, but they do in a pinch.”
She smirked and turned over to lay on her back, the blanket dipping low to expose her cleavage and some of the hickeys he’d left during their sex marathon. “I remember.” He blushed, which, seriously? Should not be that attractive. She reached up and touched a finger to his temple, light but intimate. “Share a shower?”
He pulled away from her, and scooted down to the other end of the couch before standing, turning so his back was to her. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
She blinked. “Right, probably not.” She tugged the blanket higher on her chest and sat up, watching surreptitiously as Bruce pulled a pair of khakis and a button-down shirt out of the bag Coulson had left. When Darcy heard the water turn on, she wrapped herself in the blanket and hurried to the other shower, bag in hand. It took less time than she liked to wash most of the evidence of Bruce from her body; the finger-shaped bruises on her hips and the hickeys on her neck and torso would take another week to go away, but the rest swirled down the drain in no time at all. She squeezed her eyes shut as she washed the tender spot between her legs, and pretended the ache in her chest was just because she was sore and tired.
They dressed in silence, keeping their gazes averted from one another. Darcy was absurdly grateful that Coulson had thought to provide panties and a bra along with the jeans, tee shirt, and flip-flops--and a little disturbed that someone apparently knew her well enough to correctly guess the sizes on everything. “Probably in my file,” she muttered under her breath.
Once presentable, they walked across the building in strained silence, avoiding the gazes of the thankfully few people they met in the hallway. Conference room 3 was one of the smaller rooms at the Tower--the oval wooden table only sat about fifteen people--but with only four of them, it seemed huge. Coulson sat next to the nerdy scientist, who directed the debrief, and Darcy and Bruce sat on opposite sides, as much space between them as possible. Perhaps because of Coulson’s presence, or perhaps because of her earlier warning, the questions were all strictly impersonal, relating to ‘symptoms’ and ‘effects,’ instead of probing and sexual. Darcy drank three glasses of water during the interview, answered the questions thoroughly and honestly, but didn’t volunteer much information. Bruce did the same.
Finally, after almost two hours, the scientist, whose name Darcy hadn’t bothered to learn, smiled and told them they were free to leave. Bruce nearly jumped out of his chair and headed for the door. Darcy took a deep breath and followed him.
He was already several yards down the hallway and moving fast. “Bruce! Wait!” He slowed, but didn’t turn around. “Just, hold on a second, would you? I’m not exactly in peak running condition right now.” She saw him cringe just a little, which pissed her off. It’s not like he wasn’t willing enough yesterday. She jogged around in front of him and planted her hands on her hips. “Okay, what’s your deal?”
He focused on a spot just above and to the right of her, refusing to meet her gaze. “This isn’t a good time, Darcy.”
Darcy clenched her teeth tightly, then forced herself to relax. “I thought... I don’t know what I thought. Just... Why are you being so cold about this? I’m sorry if I did something to offend you last night,” she finished lamely.
Bruce blinked, and met her eyes, looking genuinely confused. “I don’t understand.”
“Last night when we were,” she twirled her hand, “I’m sorry if I did something wrong.”
“Why would you think you did something wrong?”
God, she wanted to roll her eyes at him right now. “We were totally fine, even after the alien Viagra wore off, and then all of a sudden you jumped away from me like I was on fire. When something like that happens, I tend to think I did something I shouldn’t have.” She tried to smile, but wasn’t sure if it worked. “I have a bad habit of putting my foot in my mouth.”
Some of the tension went out of Bruce’s shoulders and he ran his fingers through his hair, causing it to stick up in odd places. “No, you didn’t do anything wrong. I did, and I’m sorry. I won’t make it awkward for you.”
She frowned. “Now I’m the one who doesn’t understand. What do you mean, you won’t make it awkward for me?”
“I took advantage of you.” His voice sounded so small and pained that she wanted to wrap herself around him and never let him go. “I could have hurt you. I did hurt you.”
Darcy closed her eyes and took a deep, calming breath, because if she didn’t, she was either going to smack Bruce-freaking-Banner upside the head for being too stupid to live or start crying because his obvious pain was just too much for her to handle right now. “Bruce.” She took another breath and then opened her eyes and reached for his face. He didn’t stop her, though he watched her hand warily as she traced his cheekbone with her thumb. “You did not hurt me. I’m sore, sure, but I’m pretty sure that almost a full day of non-stop sex would do that to anyone. And you did not take advantage of me. If you recall, I was the one who brought up having my wicked way with you first.” Her tongue darted out to wet her lips, and she was gratified to see him track the movement with his eyes. “Was it what Tony said? Because he’s an idiot.”
A faint flush bloomed on his cheeks, indicating she’d hit the nail on the head. “No, it’s just... I’m almost twenty years older than you, Darcy. My track record with women is abominable. And that’s not even considering the Other Guy, which is-- Well, certainly something to be concerned about.” He paused, gaze dropping to the floor. “I’m sure you would have preferred to be quarantined with someone else. Anyone else.”
“Aw, fuck. You’re an idiot, too,” she muttered, before tugging his face down to hers for a kiss. It was tentative and sweet, nothing of the frantic need of the night before, but better for it. She opened her mouth slightly, just enough to give her room to lick the seam of his lips, gently probing. Bruce relaxed into her, giving her access to his mouth and settling his hands on her hips. He traced small circles into the skin of her stomach with his thumbs, his fingers fitting around her hips perfectly.
After a moment, she pulled back and rested her forehead against his, sliding her hands down to rest on his shoulders. He leaned into her, and the tightness in her chest finally loosened. “I would not have preferred to be dosed with alien Viagra and stuck in a lab for a day with anyone else,” she said, her voice firm. “I would rather not have become a SHIELD science experiment in the first place, but since it happened, I’m glad it was with you. I like you, Bruce; I like you a lot. I have for a while.” She paused, gauging his reaction. He seemed a little dazed, but in a good way. Darcy smiled. “Now that that’s out of the way--do you want to grab a coffee or something sometime? Like... now?”
“Coffee,” he repeated, wistfulness clear in his voice.
“Coffee. Or, you know, dinner and a movie,” she amended, fingering the collar of his shirt.
“Like a date.”
She raised one eyebrow. “I thought you were a super-genius? Yes, like a date.” He chuckled and she leaned up to press a quick kiss against his lips. “Is that a yes?”
He hummed and shook his head. “I’m going to have to say no to the coffee but--” he touched her lips with a finger before she could protest, “I would love to take you to dinner. No movie, though, not tonight.”
Just as he said that, Darcy stomach rumbled. She laughed. “Okay, you can have your genius card back. Dinner it is.” She extracted herself from his hold, but grabbed his hand, lacing their fingers together and leaned into him. “Lead the way.”
Bruce squeezed her hand. “How do you feel about Indian food?”
She cocked her head to the side and glanced up at him. “I feel like I grew up in Albuquerque, so I’m pretty sure I’ve never had good Indian food. Now, you want to talk Mexican, I have all sorts of opinions.”
He leaned down and kissed the top of her head in a curiously intimate gesture. “Next time.”
Darcy smiled. Next time sounded great.