"Contracts and Negotiations."
"Bunnies and death metal."
Coulson takes a moment to blink at her before he says, "Um, what?"
"I thought you were telling me two things you like. I was reciprocating," Darcy says, tapping her pen on the pad of paper near her elbow.
"No it's... wait, death metal, really?"
"Those guys are super enthusiastic and there's generally costumes. I like passion and drama in my music."
"Okay, per usual you're derailing me from my point."
"I live to serve," Darcy says, cuts Coulson a salute and he almost rolls his eyes which is about as close as he ever gets to breaking his stern corporate-ninja character.
"C&N is a department that you're getting transferred to."
"What? Why? Did someone complain? Am I in trouble? Was it the thing with the grape juice and the monkey because I totally apologized about-"
"Darcy!" Coulson stops her babble with a quick slice of his hand through the air. "This isn't a bad thing."
"Then why do I feel like I'm being sent to the naughty corner?"
"You're not a scientist."
"Dammit," Darcy says, making an exaggerated shocked face at Coulson. "I knew someone would notice eventually."
"What I mean is, you're kind of wasted being in the labs. I'm sure Doctor Foster likes having you here and Doctor Banner has certainly been... amused by your presence but we need to think about what makes you happy."
"I'm still sensing some sugar coating going on," Darcy says although she's pretty sure she knows what Coulson's talking about. Darcy's been getting increasingly bored as tasks are taken off her hands by Jane's new army of minions and has started ghosting around the other lab spaces, picking up odd jobs. That's how she met, and apparently amused Doctor Banner who always finds her something to do that is away from him.
She doesn't take it personally because he seems to do that with everyone.
“You have an eye for detail and a capacity to translate incomprehensible gibberish into the written word. Our C&N department works a little differently than most because we have unique circumstances but believe me when I say that I think you’ll thrive there.”
“Doctor Foster wants what’s best for you, as do we all. She knows you’ve been... unsatisfied for a little while now.”
Darcy narrows her eyes. “As long as it isn’t about you guys hiding me like some weird kid locked in the attic eating fish heads.”
It looks like Coulson gets a little thrown by that image for a moment. “I... no, that’s not what this is about.”
“Alright then,” Darcy says brightly. “Do I get my own office?”
“You get a cubicle. You know we have an open plan policy.”
She even forcibly kicks SHIELD into the current century by creating an easily accessible internal only database and then loading the years and years of actual paper paperwork into it.
She gets her own minion to help with the scanning which is awesome.
She’s well and truly settled in which is why she relaxes and so isn’t expecting a heart attack in the form of Pepper Potts standing in front of her desk. “Oh hello!” Darcy squeaks because she recognizes Pepper from all kinds of gossip columns and news stories. The woman is imposing with perfect hair and impossible heels.
Darcy is not what has Pepper’s attention though.
“Where did this come from?” Pepper asks. She’s scooped the Iron Man plush doll off Darcy’s desk and is staring at it, fascinated.
“I made it,” Darcy admits after a beat, unsure whether that’s super lame or what. She still doesn’t know many people in the city and Jane is consumed with trying to find a permanent way to bridge the gap between Earth and Asgard so she doesn’t have a lot of free time. Coulson has lunch with her every now and again but Darcy’s nights are mostly her own and she’s always found she becomes destructive when she has too much idle time on her hands.
The now infamous juice and monkey incident is one such example and why most of the lab assistants won’t talk to her, let alone ask her to Friday night sushi.
In short, Darcy puts the skills her mother forced upon her to good use and makes stuff to amuse herself. Having an Iron Man and Captain America plush duo on her desk that she can place into compromising positions whenever she wants is one such way. Thankfully, Captain America is currently working double-duty as a placeholder on a file she’s got open and isn’t engaging in plushie frottage with Iron Man like he usually is so Darcy doesn’t have to be quite as mortified as she could have been.
“It’s the most darling thing ever,” Pepper says, touching one perfectly shaped nail to the little button arc reactor on Iron Man’s chest. “You seriously made this?”
“I modified a Cyberman pattern off the internet,” Darcy says. When Pepper looks at her blankly, she says, "Doctor Who? No?"
“I really need this and I’m willing to pay handsomely,” Pepper says.
Darcy hesitates because the Iron Man Pepper’s holding has an ink stain on his helmet where she rested a pen against it and one of the seams has ripped. Giving Pepper Potts anything less than perfect just doesn’t seem right. “I can make you one?” Darcy offers. “You don’t have to pay me.”
“Nonsense,” Pepper dismisses. “Does a hundred sound fair?”
“Dollars?” Darcy gasps, surprised.
“One hundred and fifty.”
“No, I didn’t mean-”
“Two hundred then,” Pepper says. “You drive a hard bargain Miss Lewis.”
“How long does it take?”
“Oh, two days?” Darcy says. Usually she makes stuff at her own meandering pace and toys for her nephews and nieces can take weeks but if she’s being commissioned...
“Great. I’ll come down and pick it up,” Pepper says. She looks at her watch and huffs out a breath. “It’s seven o’clock on a week night. What are you still doing in the office?”
“Oh, I just wanted to finish up,” Darcy says, waving a hand at the piles of papers around her desk. SHIELD has a strange fixation with hard copy despite her efforts.
“Are you finished now?” Pepper asks, sounding brisk.
“Great. Did you have plans?”
Darcy just stares at Pepper for a moment, unsure where this is going. She thinks about making something up for all of a minute to preserve her pride before she cuts her eyes back to her hands. “No.”
“Well, I would love some company. I’m sick of eating alone in the tower but Tony’s in one of those moods where he’s been shut up in his workshop for three days.”
“Are you asking me for dinner?” Darcy says, her eyes growing round.
“In a completely platonic way. You’re very cute but I’m not hitting on you. I unfortunately have a significant other who takes up too much of my time and patience to ever cheat on.”
Darcy just swallows, but then Pepper’s mouth quirks and Darcy can't help but smile back. “Yeah, sure, love to,” Darcy says, because who could say no to dinner in Stark Tower with Pepper Potts.
Darcy plans to take a sneak peek at the woman’s shoe closet at the very least.
Darcy doesn’t want to ruin the lovely, but surreal night she’s having but she’s got an uncomfortable feeling she knows what this is.
“Is this a pity date?” she asks. She knows Coulson and Pepper are good friends and she’d only been lamenting to Coulson a few days previously about her lack of a social life. The timing is a little too coincidental.
Pepper winces which is a dead giveaway, but before Darcy can feel truly embarrassed and make excuses so she can go bury herself in a hole somewhere, Pepper rushes to say, “For both of us, honestly.” When Darcy frowns she adds, “I was telling Phil how I didn’t really have anyone to... I’m surrounded by assistants and everyone I interact with works for SI in some capacity. I was missing some good old fashioned companionship that didn’t drive me crazy or isn't Phil.”
Darcy smiles gamely, but can’t help saying, “It’s a little weird.”
“Phil told me how fantastic you were and that we’d get along and he was right. I hope you don’t feel too set up.”
“No, it’s fine. So, was the interest in the plushie an ice breaker?”
“What? No! I need a plush Iron Man to live. You’re not taking back your offer to make me one are you?”
“No,” Darcy says, laughing when Pepper reaches across to tug on her hand and makes puppy eyes at her.
Just then the elevator swooshes open and someone comes striding into the room, ranting so fast that Darcy can’t parse any actual words. Darcy shoots to her feet, Pepper uncurling a little more sedately because it's Tony Stark. “-and I swear to god those people just live to drive me... oh hello!”
“Tony, this is Darcy,” Pepper introduces, smiling in a soft, indulgent way.
“No, please. Don’t let me interrupt. Carry on with your pillow fights or whatever it is you’re doing,” Tony says with a lecherous grin.
“Women don’t actually do that,” Pepper says and now some of the indulgence has fled out of her face and Darcy bites back a grin.
Tony puts a hand to his chest and gasps dramatically. “Don’t tell me things like that!”
Darcy swoops to the floor, snatches up one of the hundreds of throw pillows scattered about and thwaps Pepper lightly on the back of the head.
Pepper looks completely affronted and Darcy thinks maybe she’s leaped some major line and is about to apologize when Pepper snakes down, grabs one of the heavier seat cushions and knocks Darcy to the floor with it. Darcy lands in another pile of cushions, startled and laughing and Pepper follows her in, using a smaller, decorative pillow to beat her repeatedly, cackling.
“Oh my god, can we keep her?” Tony calls when there’s a break in the melee, both women gasping for breath after laughing so hard. They both look at each other, nod, arm themselves and rise, advancing on Tony. “Noooooo!” Tony cries, running for the elevator.
He doesn’t make it because Pepper is some kind of pillow ninja and tosses a small beaded one that tangles in Tony’s feet and sends him head over heels.
Darcy meets her first Avenger and promptly helps Pepper Potts pin and tickle him until he’s begging for mercy.
Darcy doesn’t believe him, mostly because he goes glassy eyed whenever he talks about Captain America.
Darcy’s now met and even shared a meal or three with Tony Stark because of Pepper and she’s pretty sure that’s about as far as it’s going to go Avenger-wise but then Captain America himself shuffles up to her cubicle looking adorably sheepish. “Um, Miss Lewis is it?”
“Call me Darcy,” she manages through a suddenly dry throat. She is never going to mock Coulson about being star struck by Captain America ever again, because in the flesh he doesn’t seem real. He's flawless with an aw shucks tilt of his head and all. He’s wearing just a normal grey hoodie and jeans but he might as well be in full uniform and carrying his shield if the way the others in the office are staring is any indication.
“Oh, great, Darcy,” he repeats, like he’s fixing it in his mind. “Look, I have a weird request.” Captain America is looking at the plushies on her desk, Iron Man with an arm slung companionably over Captain America’s shoulders. That’s about as racy as they get these days since Pepper is a regular visitor. The flesh and blood Captain America raises a shy hand and touches fingers to the little wings on the side of his plushie doppelganger's helmet.
“Anything,” Darcy volunteers.
Captain America’s eyebrows raise and he smiles. “I was wondering if you could make a few more of these? I saw Pepper’s Iron Man and she said she’d seen a... well, a me.”
“Oh, sure!” Darcy says. “How many’s a few?”
“Um, fifteen or twenty?” he asks and when Darcy just blinks at him, he huffs. “I volunteer at a shelter and there’s a lot of kids and they don’t have much. I just... not just me but some Iron Man’s if it’s not too much-”
“No, that’s... it’s fine, really,” Darcy interrupts. “I’d love to.”
“I’ll buy them of course.”
“You don’t have to do that,” Darcy dismisses. “It’d be my pleasure.”
“No, really. I... it wouldn’t feel right just to... can I do anything else to thank you?”
“How about dinner?” he blurts, then blushes. “I mean... I don’t get out much other than doing some volunteer stuff and it’d be nice to just have a normal, y’know.” Captain America shrugs in this helpless, lovely way and Darcy thinks if she’s not careful, she’ll fall into hopeless crush with him if she hasn’t already.
“Steve,” he interrupts. “Call me Steve, please.”
“Okay Steve,” Darcy says, grins at him. “That sounds awesome.”
“He asked you out.”
“As payment for services rendered,” Darcy says, winces because that sounds kind of odd. “Besides, he’s Captain America.”
“That’s not a valid argument,” Jane dismisses. “You have to at least touch his butt, tell me if it’s as firm as it looks.”
“Jane!” Darcy exclaims, surprised.
“What? I’ve been without for a while. At least allow me vicarious groping.”
“I’m not going to grab his ass.”
“Poop. You’re no fun.”
“This is Clint and Natasha,” Steve introduces, and because they’re in civvies, it takes Darcy a second to recognize who the other people at the table are. She’s not sure how this is suddenly her life, in a bar with all but two of the Avengers. She freezes, unsure how to process this information and her paralysis only breaks when Tony nudges up against her and drops a kiss on her temple.
“Hey kitten,” he greets, elbows her into sitting on the only free stool at the table and puts a drink in her hand. Darcy doesn’t care what it is, just throws it back immediately.
“Hello,” Darcy manages when her throat stops burning.
“Is this alright?” Steve asks, suddenly looking worried. “We all haven’t had a night off for a while and I thought it would be-”
“No, fine,” Darcy says quickly, because how could it not be? She steals the drink out of Tony’s hand and tosses that one back as well. He blinks at her, eyebrows on the rise. “Absolutely no problemo.”
“Steve,” Natasha says, sounding stern. “We’ve talked about you springing us on unsuspecting people.”
“It’s just you guys,” Steve says, rubbing at the back of his neck. “I didn’t think-”
“It’s really cool,” Darcy repeats. Tony’s returned with more drinks, bless him and Darcy immediately seizes another. She’s a little worried that she might look like she has a problem to the Avengers but the need for liquid courage is overpowering any embarrassment she might feel.
They don’t make it to the actual dinner, because Darcy has a little too much of the liquid courage in a short period of time and she starts having trouble with words and her legs. She knows she’s going to be horrified in the morning but right now she’s feeling no pain and also telling Tony how he’s wrong about everything.
The night gets fuzzier after that. The only thing Darcy clearly remembers is grabbing Steve’s ass because orders are orders and she tells herself sternly that she needs to remember for Jane.
She screams again when she remembers that she’s not wearing pants and runs for her bedroom. There’s a few quiet minutes where she finds shorts to tug on and the painkillers and glass of water set thoughtfully on her bedside table by god knows who before there’s a gentle tap on her door.
“You’re Hawkeye!” she blurts at the door. She’s not currently firing on all cylinders.
“I prefer Clint when I don’t have a bow in my hand,” Clint says, voice muffled by the door between them. “I’m sorry I startled you.”
“Startled is not the right term here,” Darcy says, yanking open the door. “Did you undress me?”
“No, I didn’t, I swear,” Clint says, grimacing. “It was Tasha.”
“How is that better?”
“We didn’t have a choice. You kinda... threw up on yourself.”
“Oh my god,” Darcy groans.
“I didn’t see anything, I swear,” Clint says, then actually grins, “Well, not until this morning."
Darcy does the only thing she can think of. She punches him in the chest.
“Ow! Hey! How can you punch that hard with your skinny little arms?” Clint complains, rubbing at the spot.
“I had two older brothers,” Darcy sniffs, tugs self-consciously on her t-shirt. “Why are you here?”
“There was genuine fear that you would drown in your sleep. I was just staying till Pepper could get away.”
“Oh,” Darcy says, looks pointedly at Clint until he shuffles out of her way and then she makes for her kitchen again, pours herself a cup of coffee and very deliberately does not look at him although she can feel him hovering. Clint’s not the almost unreal handsome like Steve, he’s the more approachable, rugged kind of attractive that is actually closer to Darcy's type.
He has eye crinkles when he smiles which is just unfair.
“What are these?” Clint calls from her living room. When Darcy makes it out of the kitchen, she can see Clint juggling a couple of the plushies she’d tossed into the completed box for Steve.
“Just some toys Steve asked me for,” she says, watches amused despite herself as Clint stops juggling and makes one of the Captain Americas and Iron Men kiss with a very serious expression. She really wishes she hadn’t thrown up in front of this guy and ruined any chance for him to see her as anything other than ridiculous.
“Are there others?” he asks, poking through the box and Darcy knows what he’s looking for. She sets her coffee aside and scoops the mostly finished plushie Hawkeye off her craft table and waggles it. “Oh, no way!” he exclaims, face filling with glee.
“Steve only asked for himself and Iron Man but I figured the kids might like a little variety. I haven’t made any Black Widows yet but I will. There’s a couple of Thor’s in the box already because Jane approved the prototype. I’m going to start on the Hulks when I can source enough green felt.”
“These are great,” Clint enthuses. “Can I-?”
“All of these ones are spoken for,” Darcy says and Clint’s face falls. She rolls her eyes and says, “Oh my god, I’ll make you a set. Don’t look like that.”
“Awesome,” Clint says, eye crinkles digging deep.
There’s a knock on her front door and Darcy goes to answer it, finds Pepper on the other side with a bakery sack and a tray of coffees balanced on her hands. She takes one look at Darcy and scowls. “I’m going to kill Tony.”
“This was completely self-inflicted,” Darcy assures her.
“That’s my cue,” Clint says, squeezing past Pepper on his way out.
“Oh, you don’t have to-” Darcy says but Clint is gone.
“Oh honey, really?” Pepper says when Darcy can drag herself away from watching where Clint has disappeared.
“Son of a bitch!” Darcy rages, storming around the office, really wishing she was allowed to bring her taser in to the office so she could stun the crap out of whoever thought it would be okay to steal charity gifts.
“It’s okay,” Coulson says when Darcy bursts into his office and demands access to the security feeds. “I saw Tony running out of the office clutching a box and laughing like a demented person.”
“Son of a bitch!” Darcy grumbles, yanks out her cell phone and dials Pepper.
“It’s okay,” Pepper says, although she doesn’t sound exactly convinced herself. “Tony said something about improving them.”
“If he harms so much as a strand of yarn on their fuzzy heads,” Darcy grits out and Pepper chuckles.
“Tony does a lot of questionable things, but he knows you worked hard on those and that they’re for children. He won’t do anything... too terrible.”
She returns to her desk and fumes until she gets the feeling she’s being watched. Darcy turns slowly until she spots Clint hovering. “Hi?”
“You look annoyed. I wasn’t sure if I should approach.”
“I’m annoyed at Tony,” Darcy says.
“Oh, well that’s pretty normal,” Clint says and comes over to lean a hip against her desk. Darcy looks at Clint properly and then darts to her feet.
“What happened?” she demands, her hands hovering around his face. He’s got a bruise on his cheekbone and a split lip. He’s still in his Hawkeye costume and the whole effect makes Darcy’s mouth go a little dry. He has really nice biceps.
“I’m just off mission. I don’t have armor or super healing so I can get a little banged up.”
“You should go to medical,” Darcy says and Clint snorts like she’s made a joke. When she crosses her arms and glares at him he frowns.
“I don’t really do that unless I’m unconscious.”
“You’re doing it now,” Darcy says, hooks an arm through Clint’s and tugs him. He stumbles after her, more out of surprise than anything else.
“You’re like a pretty and unsettling version of Coulson,” Clint grumbles and Darcy tries to ignore the way her stomach swoops when Clint refers to her as pretty, because he also said unsettling which is not exactly flattering.
“When’s the last time you ate?” Darcy demands, because she’s heard Pepper complain bitterly about Tony missing meals and she figures all of them are guilty of it.
“I got a sandwich on Wednesday.”
“It’s Friday,” Darcy says. “Oh my god, medical then food.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Clint says, but he’s chuckling helplessly, still letting her tug him along.
“Don’t yell at me but can we maybe go for dinner and not have it just be forcing food on me?” Clint asks when he sees her.
Darcy stops abruptly on her way to sitting in the chair by his cot. “You’re asking me out?”
“Sure?” Clint says, although he’s kind of cringing like there's a way he can answer the question wrong.
“But... but you saw me throw up!”
“Okay, yes, that was pretty spectacularly gross, but I also saw you half naked and that’s the image that stuck with me.”
“You didn’t even see my good naked half,” Darcy laments.
Clint's mouth hinges open and he just stares at her for a moment before he says, “Um, I’m not sure how to respond to that without sounding like a pig. Look, apart from the throwing up you seem pretty great. Carpe Diem, you know?”
“So, you want to seize the Darcy?” she asks, smirking.
“Oh my god, I changed my mind,” Clint says, but he’s starting to laugh.
“No take backs,” Darcy says. She eyes the bandaging that's holding his head together. “How about we make sure this isn’t a concussion talking and then we’ll decide.”
“Deal,” Clint agrees, grinning.
“Tell me this is child safe,” Darcy says and Tony smirks.
“Completely. Now squeeze him.”
Darcy raises her eyebrows but does as Tony asks. When she squeezes, Tony’s voice comes out.
Let’s kick some bad guy ass
“You can’t have a toy say ass!” Darcy says and Tony sighs.
“Ugh, you sound like Pepper. I’ll re-record it, but only if you make Steve re-record his.”
“Why?” Darcy asks, plucks a Captain America out of the box. She squeezes him.
Stay in school kids.
Tony makes a pained face. “That’s why.”
Darcy has her legs hooked over Clint’s and he’s tracing idle fingers up and down her side. It’s almost tickling but not quite, just feels nice. “I was wondering if it would be in poor taste to make a plush Loki,” Darcy says and Clint’s hand stops.
“Why would you do that?” Clint asks, frowning.
“I don’t know, I could make his head come off with velcro so he could be decapitated over and over. I could also make him out of the most flammable materials I could find so it would be a risk to take him into so much as a warm room.”
“I love and am scared by your brain," Clint says, but she can feel him grinning into the skin of her throat.