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loving you whether whether

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The good thing was that Falcon finally woke up and smelled the coffee. The bad thing was that it took a gunshot wound to the abdomen, emergency surgery, a week in the ICU, and Darcy not sleeping through it all to get there.

Still, Darcy thought, looking at where her hand was all but lost inside one of Sam’s and how he wasn’t letting go even though he was out cold from the pain meds, glass half-full and all that. She could still feel where he’d pressed a kiss to the back of her fingers, too. She might look like the proverbial ghost in the machine (she was under no illusions as to what no makeup, sketchy showers and no sleep did to her complexion, and ‘washed out’ was way too nice of a way to describe it no matter how diplomatic Steve had been trying to be) but Darcy had somehow gotten her man.

Of course, like so many other things in life, getting and keeping were entirely different stories, Darcy reminded herself. This time was going to be different, though. Totally, totally different.

x - x - x - x

“Don’t get me wrong,” Darcy said, the words tumbling out of her mouth as she tried to divert the conversational disaster she could see bearing down on her, the one where they were going to talk about sexual likes and dislikes and favorite positions and yeah, no, like there was any way that was going to end well. “I like sex, and you know, just with me, or, or, with electronics, I’m good, but--” Sam had that look, the one that said he was ready to start hunting things down, so clearly, Darcy wasn’t getting her point across. She put one hand on his arm. “Okay, no, look, what I’m trying to say is that I’m good with sex, I’m just not sure sex is good with me. Or that I’m much good at it, judging from a couple of comments I’ve received.”

And okay, wow, wrong thing to say, judging from how rock hard his arm went under her hand.

“Wait, no, I mean--”

“Breathe,” Sam said, and that right there, that voice, the calm, supportive, I’ve-got-your-back one, was probably the gateway drug that had gotten them here, because Darcy loved that voice and didn’t see any way she could have resisted it.

“Breathing,” she answered and he kind of gathered her in and she could admit that she let him. He was breathing along with her, and even if it might just have been his pararescue training kicking in, so that he was breathing to match hers and slow it, she kinda thought it was more that he was calming himself, too.

“Okay,” Sam said after a seriously awesome bit of snuggling disguised as breathing exercises. “I was mostly just asking because it’s going to be at least a month before the docs clear me for anything, uh, strenuous…?” His voice trailed off and Darcy smiled against the curve of his neck. “Strenuous,” he said, more firmly this time, “like sex with all the bells and whistles, and I, uh, was hoping I could figure out a couple of things that weren’t strictly Tab-A/Slot-B, stuff that you liked, you know, so you wouldn’t dump my stupid ass for chasing that AIM stooge into the alley and getting myself shot.”

“Hey,” Darcy said, lifting her head and mock-glaring at him. “I don’t know what kind of people you’ve been dating, but I am not that shallow.”

“No, no,” Sam said, backpedaling like life depended on it. “Not at what I meant for that to sound like.” Darcy hmphed but let him off the hook with a roll of her eyes and he relaxed again. “Yeah, so I was hoping for some pointers, but I’m thinking there’s maybe a little bit more ground to cover.”

Darcy sighed. “It’s… fine. We can talk, I guess.”

“Whoa, whoa, reign in the enthusiasm, girl.”

“It’s not my favorite thing to talk about,” Darcy muttered, staring down at her lap. “Like, not at all.”

“Okay.” Sam drew the word out, and there was that voice again. “Is that because of… any specific thing?” Darcy jerked her head up and Sam hurried on, “It’s fine if you don’t want to go into details--”

No,” Darcy said, finally understanding what he was dancing around. “Nothing bad, swear.” She kissed him on the mouth, twice, because he really was such a good guy.

“I just…” she sighed, and then closed her eyes so she wouldn’t have to look at him while she said, “I like the idea of it, but then it’s…” She sighed again. “It’s never as much fun as I think it’s going to be.”

“It’s never as much fun as you think it’s going to be, or it’s never as much fun as your partner thinks it should be?” Sam asked, and Darcy jerked her head up and stared at him.

“You are very freaky when you do that deep stuff, you know that, right?”

Sam shrugged. “You said you liked sex and you were good with electronics, I was just taking that to the logical conclusion.”

Darcy went back to staring at her hands, but she was thinking about what he’d said. “I don’t know,” she said slowly. “I think it’s more that it just takes me forever to get anywhere, and that’s not a lot of fun for, y’know, whoever I’m with.” Sam was tensing up ever-so-slightly, but Darcy plowed ahead because dammit, he was the one who’d wanted to have this stupid conversation in the first place, and now that it was happening, she wasn’t having it again. “I mean, I’m pretty slow when I’m--when it’s just me, too,” and ohmygod, if her face got any hotter, she was pretty sure there’d be flames. She looked up again, though, flipping her hair out of her face and meeting Sam’s eyes. “So, yeah, that’s me and sex.”

“Okay,” Sam answered, all calm and easy, like Darcy hadn’t just admitted to being a dead loss in bed. He reached out and when she gave him her hand, he took it and pressed a kiss to her palm. “Thank you.”

“For what?” Darcy was getting shrill, but she was a half a second from totally losing it, so getting a little pitchy was probably the least of her worries.

“For talking to me,” Sam said. He reached over with his free hand and tucked her hair behind her ear. “I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m big on talking.”

“I did,” Darcy choked out. His hand tightened on hers and she hung on to him for a couple of seconds until she could get her act together enough to add, “I think I like it better when it’s Steve you’ve given the talking stick to, though.”

“My love of the spoken word is big enough for the both of you,” Sam said, his mouth curving up into that sweet half-smile that Darcy had been crushing on right from the first time he’d wandered into Jane’s lab, poking gently at Captain America. “I’m sorry I ended up blindsiding you with this,” he said, getting serious again, “but I’m not sorry I understand better.”

Darcy waited for the other shoe to drop, for the part where he understood, but didn’t think anything between them was going to work, but he just kept holding her hand, his thumb sweeping over her knuckles, and she gradually relaxed into the quiet.

“So,” she said a little while later, “I think my answer to your non-Tab A/Slot B dilemma is, um, kissing. And cuddling.”

“Works for me,” Sam said, and let Darcy settle him carefully against her side.