Darcy has never actually been formally introduced to Steve Rogers, which is totally understandable. She’s just an intern whose biggest claim to fame is that she has her own desk in Jane Foster’s dingy little office at SHIELD headquarters. Meanwhile, Steve Rogers is some kind of real life superhero experiment from the forties who’s back from the dead or something.
She’s never heard of Captain America, never read the comics. All Darcy knows about him is what she’s heard in the halls, and SHIELD employees aren’t exactly known for gossiping around the water cooler.
The first time Darcy sees him, she and Jane are getting coffees from the cafeteria.
‘That’s him,’ Jane murmurs. With a minute jut of her chin, she points out an extremely well-muscled blond guy who’s sitting alone, hunched over his meal.
Darcy lets out a low whistle as she stirs her vanilla latte. Is this dude related to Thor or something? Because damn. His intimidatingly handsome face is a bit scowly, but over half a century on ice is bound to piss anybody off. Or maybe it’s just that his t-shirt is clearly too tight. SHIELD-issue tees must not come in super soldier size.
Jane gets caught up in some new astrophysical discovery for the next few days, so Darcy heads to the cafeteria by herself. He’s there again, alone and glaring mildly into his coffee. Darcy sits down at an empty table and plays Zombie Farm on her phone while she eats her grilled cheese. She keeps her phone in her right hand (the one with her most agile thumb) and food strictly in the left hand only, because cleaning grease off the screen is a bitch.
When she glances up a bit later, just to check if Rogers’ shoulders are still as stunningly broad as they were a few minutes ago, it occurs to her that it’s no surprise he’s sitting alone. If he’s been frozen for seventy years, pretty much everyone he knows must be dead. Darcy tries to imagine what it would be like to wake up one day, only to be told that every single person she’s ever known is gone. Suddenly, the slightly pinched expression on the guy’s face while he eats his fries is unbearable. She shoves her phone in her pocket, dumps her tray and leaves.
On the third day, Darcy starts to wonder if Steve Rogers’ superpower is the ability to project his sombre mood like some kind of buzz-killing ray onto unsuspecting brunettes called Darcy Lewis (because, looking around, it would seem no one else is on the receiving end of a swift kick to the feelings courtesy of that slight but perpetual brow wrinkle). Deciding she can’t stand it a moment longer, she collects her tuna salad and marches over to his table.
‘Mind if I sit?’ she asks brightly, plunking her tray down and taking a seat. There’s a little voice inside her head asking what the hell she’s doing, but fortunately she’s had years of practice ignoring it.
He looks up, surprised, but recovers quickly. ‘Not at all, ma’am. Captain Steve Rogers,’ he says, extending a hand.
‘Oh, um, Darcy Lewis.’ Darcy’s only had a few handshakes in her life, and most of them were in job interviews, but she obliges, putting her hand in his huge one. ‘So, you’re new around here,’ she says, when nothing wittier springs to mind.
‘You could say that,’ he replies. She’s not sure if the thing he does with his mouth is a smile or a grimace.
As Darcy contemplates whether it’s appropriate to bring up his recent defrosting or his past life in the Dark Ages, they fall into an awkward silence.
She decides to stick to safe ground. She’s been talking about her new ipod for three whole minutes when Captain Rogers asks, ‘Uh, what’s an ipod?’
Darcy’s mouth snaps shut in a moment of stunned silence—because how the hell has no one told him about ipods yet!—and then she starts to explain.
From that point on she explains everything, just to be safe. He doesn’t really talk much, but he seems happy enough to listen to her ramble on. This works just fine for Darcy, because not only can she talk the ear off any creature known to man, while under wet cement and with a mouthful of marbles, but his expression of polite indifference is a massive improvement on barely suppressed melancholy.
When she gets back to her desk after lunch she googles him (which is totally not a weird thing to do), although running into Agent Coulson on her way out that afternoon turns out to be much more enlightening. By the end of that conversation, she knows all about the super-serum, Steve’s role in the war, Bucky, Peggy and the circumstances surrounding his “death” and recent recovery. She decides she made a good call not asking him about any of that. It all sounds either really personal and potentially angst-inducing, or like stuff people must always ask him about (she imagines ‘how did you get your super powers?’ must be to him as ‘why do you wear glasses?’ is to her). It’s not that she’s not curious, but seeing as her aim is to cheer him up, she decides to steer clear of all of that.
She keeps crashing his solo lunches, and by the end of the week, she actually gets a smile when she sits down next to him.
‘I come bearing gifts,’ she says, pulling something out of her bag. ‘This is your very own ipod. It’s second-hand off eBay—remember eBay? I was telling you about it yesterday—but I didn’t think you’d mind. It seems to work okay.’
Steve frowns slightly. ‘Thank you, but I don’t really like any of the modern music I’ve heard.’
‘No worries, Captain, I’ve packed this one full of golden oldies, just for you.’ She pops in one ear bud and hands him the other. ‘Put this in,’ she says.
He does so, dubiously, and it occurs to her that maybe sharing earphones is an overly familiar thing to do with a WWII officer she only met a few days ago, but she kind of forgets about that when she hits play on a Cab Calloway track and Steve’s face cracks into a grin. Well, not exactly. Not even close, actually, but she figures this is probably the Rogers equivalent. His eyes crinkle with warmth and one side of his mouth ticks up a fraction. ‘I know this one,’ he says.
He doesn’t protest when she gives him a rundown on the ipod’s basic functions: how to play, pause, skip ahead and go back. She finishes her little tutorial by saying, ‘But remember, no one else can hear the music when you have the earphones in, so if you hum or dance along, you’re going to look like a bit of a tool—an idiot,’ she amends for his benefit.
‘So,’ she says, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear and starting in on her lunch. ‘What do you actually do all day in this place?’
Steve is still staring at the slip of metal and plastic in his hand like he’s trying to fathom how so many songs could fit into such a tiny device. ‘Director Fury doesn’t want me back on active duty just yet, so mostly I just work out in the gym and get briefed on modern weaponry and the Armed Forces’ current campaigns. Also, I do Fury’s filing,’ he says, face perfectly straight.
An almost-smile and now a joke? Is it possible her diabolical plan is beginning to work? She rewards him with a smirk.
‘And what about the regular everyday stuff you need to catch up on, like who Han Solo is or how to use Google? Is anyone teaching you about that?’ she asks, because obviously it’s an important question.
Steve shakes his head slowly, clearly at a complete loss.
‘Well then, this is your lucky day, my friend. I will be your guide to the last seventy years of popular culture,’ she declares graciously.
Steve doesn’t look anywhere near as impressed as he should.
Darcy can only imagine Steve’s lack of enthusiasm is due to the fact that he doesn’t realise just how qualified she is to educate him on all things pop culture. She loves to read (anything from Charles Dickens to Stephenie Meyer), her taste in music spans more than a few decades, she’s quite the movie buff and she’s watched a lot of TV.
She spends a bit of time over the weekend considering her approach. Okay, a lot of time—pretty much the whole weekend, actually, because this is a unique opportunity. Provided her audience is willing (which is, admittedly, still to be determined), this could be a lot of fun. She daydreams briefly about forcing all her favourite things on him—Battlestar Galactica marathon!—before remembering that with great power comes great responsibility.
In the end, she decides to start with the forties, the stuff Steve can identify with, and work forward from there. After some googling, she thinks maybe Tolkien is the key. Even though The Lord of the Rings was published in the fifties, it was written in the forties, and Steve may have even heard of The Hobbit already, seeing as it came out in 1937. Thanks to Peter Jackson, people today are familiar with the characters, so she’ll actually be introducing him to some current pop culture at the same time. According to Wikipedia, the story was influenced by Tolkien’s experiences during military service, plus Steve just seems like the type of guy who would go for a classic tale of good versus evil.
She pulls The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy down from the shelf above her bed and takes them to work with her on Monday.