"That is a superhero team that could use more ladies," Darcy observes over breakfast. Jane is curled up next to her on the couch in atomic-orbital-print pajamas, a bowl of cereal balanced precariously on her knees. She's watching the tv anxiously -- on screen Thor is currently hitting some bad guy with Mew-Mew while a ticker-tape reports the whereabouts of the other Avengers -- but Darcy isn't worried, because the news is on a two-hour time lag, and she's already caught up on the livetweets from the #avengersNYC hashtag.
"Shh," Jane says.
"Seriously," says Darcy. "Black Widow and sometimes Agent Hill? Too many dicks on the dance floor!"
This is apparently enough to tear Jane's eyes from the screen. "I thought you liked their 'washboard abs'." She makes the air quotes, which is hilarious.
"I bet Black Widow has washboard abs too," Darcy points out, sinking further into the couch. "Anyway, you're always talking about how we need more women in the sciences. This is the same thing, but with superheroing."
"The X-Men have plenty of women," Jane offers.
"Yeah," says Darcy, "but we don't hang out with the X-Men."
Obviously being the summer-intern-turned-best-friend of Dr. Jane Foster is awesome, not least because Jane is smart and funny and weird and lets Darcy borrow her thrift-store sweaters. She's also Thor's girlfriend, which means Darcy has a backstage pass to the Avengers.
Darcy doesn't take advantage of this as often as she'd like. But she has her own stuff going on -- first a poli-sci degree to finish, and then Jane's lab to run, because when Darcy set up the computers she apparently doomed herself to being Jane's tech assist for the rest of her life. So sometimes when Jane's finished with a project and can run off to New York to get some hot alien god lovin', Darcy is still mopping up; but sometimes she and Jane hop a plane together and stay the week in NYC, assuming it's one of the quieter and less supervillainous weeks.
It's always especially fun to visit when the Avengers get a new addition to the team. The first time it happens is hilarious, because Agent Romanoff looks as stunned and actually human as Darcy's ever seen her, and Captain Rogers spends days and days wandering the halls whistling happy grandpa-sounding tunes to himself. Darcy sort of wishes she'd brought popcorn for the debut of Bucky Barnes, is what she's saying here.
Barnes, though, has nothing on Major Danvers when it comes to Darcy's personal feelings. "Hell yes, more ladies!" Darcy says to Jane before they first meet her. Jane smiles and knocks her shoulder against Darcy's.
Carol is pretty great -- her superpowers are awesome -- but she's not what Darcy was hoping for. Darcy catches herself thinking this and feels kind of stupid, and also like she's betraying the sisterhood or something. So Agent Romanoff is inscrutable and scary good with weapons and intimidatingly beautiful and not the kind of woman you'd go out for cheeseburgers with; so Carol Danvers swears creatively and takes no shit and basically acts like a soldier, which means she fits in great with the other Avengers and probably does go out for cheeseburgers with them, but is polite enough to Darcy when they meet and then ignores her entirely.
So Darcy maybe wants a reason to visit the Avengers beyond the fact that Thor's fond of her. It's still wonderful that the Avengers are recruiting more ladies.
Then Jan happens.
Darcy actually misses it; she's in the middle of updating Jane's database and installing a new star-finding program, and when she gets home that evening her eyes are so tired from staring at screens all day that she nearly decides to go to bed instead of checking twitter. But Jane's at a conference halfway across the world and Darcy has only reheated pizza to keep her company, so habit has her scrolling through the #avengersNYC tag.
lol that chick is tiny is one of the first tweets she comes across. This is not an opinion anyone should be airing about either Agent Romanoff or Captain Marvel. "The fuck?" Darcy asks her phone.
y another girl avengers?? someone else asks, and Darcy might make a noise that sounds suspiciously like "eeee!" but no one's around to hear her and laugh.
Plenty of other people are really excited about this new lady Avenger, Darcy sees while she goes through the backlog. There are the usual gross tweets about how hot and bangable Wasp is, and the people who think she can't possibly measure up to Black Widow or Captain Marvel, but there's already a trending #TeamJanet tag too. On balance Darcy feels pretty good about it.
She catches Janet van Dyne the next morning on a talk show. Janet is tiny, even before she shows off her superpower and the camera zooms in on her, inches high with her wings a blur. Darcy feels herself starting to get disappointed, but she's really tired of betraying the sisterhood, and thirty seconds later she's tempted to find a sharpie and write #TeamJanet on her forehead as a reminder to herself to never ever make snap judgments, because apparently Janet can shoot electricity from her hands, and is therefore the coolest human Darcy has ever seen.
"Before I got superpowers?" Janet's saying onscreen. "Fashion designer! I can't tell you how many costumes -- uniforms? I think the Avengers call them uniforms -- outfits I want to try out. Maybe I'll do an online poll! Vote for your favorite Wasp uniform!" She winks at the screen.
Darcy may be a little bit in love.
Jane won't be home for another week, but Darcy has Thor's cell number, and she is after all a grown woman with a sudden crush on a superhero with electricity-shooting hands and excellent fashion sense, so she gives Thor a call. "Hey," she says, "any ongoing crisis this week, or can I come visit? I'd love to meet the new teammate."
"I would be delighted to have the honor of your presence!" Thor says. Darcy kind of adores him.
She catches a flight out two days later. Thor meets her downstairs at Avengers Tower, wearing what Darcy's heard him call, sounding very pleased with himself, his Clothing Of Disguise: jeans, indecently tight t-shirt, hair pulled back. He's still ridiculously hot, but he doesn't look like he's definitely Thor, God of Thunder, so the disguise works. On this particular day, though, Darcy isn't thinking about how hot he is; she's thinking about how she may have to promote him to official best friend, because Thor and his Clothing Of Disguise have brought along Janet van Dyne.
She's shorter than Darcy; petite is probably the right word. She's in skinny jeans and gorgeous boots and the cutest jacket ever; she bounces right up to Darcy, says, "Hi, you must be Thor's buddy Darcy!" and gives Darcy a big hug.
"Yeah," Darcy says. "Uh. Yes."
They go out for cheeseburgers.
Jan and Thor tell Darcy about the supervillain battle that brought Jan onto the team; Janet talks with her hands, and laughs at all her own jokes, and makes Darcy laugh so hard too that she almost snorts soda up her nose. She wants to know all about Darcy, too; she doesn't know a thing about computer programming, but she asks smart questions, and she knows when to shift the discussion when she notices Thor getting bored.
"Did you know," Jan says, "I can't paint my nails anymore? My stinger blasts melt the polish right off."
"Then we should paint your toenails," Darcy says, and only realizes she said we after Jan's already squealed with delighted agreement and hugged her again.
She paints Janet's toenails that evening, alternating colors between each nail, black and gold.
Darcy stays the whole week. She'd never realized before how much tagging along with Jane made her a third wheel, or less valid, or something like that. It's not that Jane or Thor ever made her feel left out; it's just that going from Thor's girlfriend's BFF to Janet's friend is kind of like a promotion. Dr. Banner says hi, and it feels friendlier; Agent Romanoff eats breakfast with her in companionable silence; Agent Barton steals the tv remote and flirts with her cheerfully; Captain Marvel gives her the last slice of pizza. Darcy feels like a rockstar.
"Maybe an online poll's too much work," Janet says. "Which of these outfits do you like best, Darcy?" and Darcy feels scared in a way she hasn't since she was fifteen and came out as bi to her parents.
"The one with the flippy skirt," she says, and hightails it back to New Mexico exactly when she'd originally been planning to, in time to have all the servers functional when Jane gets back from her conference.
They break out a welcome-home bottle of wine for Jane. Darcy accidentally drinks at least two thirds of it and, glasses slightly askew, asks Jane very earnestly, "Is it totally terrifying to date a superhero?"
"I do get worried," Jane confesses. "A lot, actually. But Thor can take care of himself, and the Avengers take care of each other. They're good at what they do."
Darcy peers morosely into her glass. "What about media stuff?"
"We try to keep our private life private." Jane smiles ruefully. "It mostly works."
"Okay." Darcy bounces her heels against the couch. "Hey, Jane?"
"I think I'm kind of in love with Janet," Darcy says.
Jane wraps her in a blanket, and tells her how awesome she is, and makes her drink a lot of water, and doesn't give her advice. Jane is the best friend ever.
The outfit with the flippy skirt doesn't win the online poll, but it's a close second. Jan chooses it anyway.
Darcy stops following the #avengersNYC hashtag, because after a certain point, being angry with the internet is exhausting. She does keep following the #TeamJanet tag, though, feeling warm and fuzzy and ridiculous every time she reads anything in Jan's defense.
She asks Thor for Jan's number, and Thor gives it, because he's either the best wingman ever or he doesn't understand Earth social mores, or maybe both. Darcy texts Jan love the outfit! and flops about happily on the couch for like five minutes after Janet texts back you're the best :DDD
At New Year's, Jan invites Darcy out to New York herself. "Tony's having a party," she explains to Darcy on the phone. "So of course it's going to be all paparazzi and socialites and contacts Pepper wants around, and all Tony's military buddies, and all Steve and Carol's military buddies, and like half of SHIELD, and I think some of Thor's friends are beaming down, and poor Bruce will probably hole up in the lab, and obviously it's going to be tons of fun but I need a buddy."
Darcy opens her mouth to accept graciously. "Why me?" she says.
"Because all my college friends are introverts or Avengers groupies," Jan says. "You, on the other hand, will play beer pong with alien gods."
"Accurate," Darcy admits.
She flies out to New York on the thirty-first. She brings black jeans and a shiny gold top, because Darcy Lewis is many things, but subtle really isn't one of them.
Jan meets her at the airport, because there are enough tiny adorable brunettes in the world that she can get away with being in public. She gives Darcy a rib-bruising hug and says, "It's so great to see you!" Darcy hugs her back hard, and she doesn't know if Jan even likes girls, or if she does whether she'd be into Darcy, but she's almost certain that Jan won't get weird on her if she turns Darcy down.
They go together to Avengers Tower. The public spaces are full of extremely tasteful and expensive-looking Christmas decorations -- probably Pepper Potts' doing -- and Jan's room is a riot of clothing. "You have better taste than the internet," she says, dragging Darcy inside. "Help me pick something."
Darcy helps her narrow it down to three outfits; "Surprise me," she suggests then, and ducks out to do her own clothing. Black jeans, gold top, matching earrings, killer heels; Darcy goes for contacts, smoky eyeliner, and a bit of lipstick. "Hey, hottie," she says, pouting at the mirror, and it actually works; she feels brave enough to head out.
This is the first Tony Stark-hosted party Darcy's been to. (Jane refused to come, citing her desire for any continued private life; "Introvert," Darcy told her, but looking around now, she's starting to think Jane has a point.) There are cameras everywhere, and gorgeous people in every direction. Darcy is mildly comforted to discover that she recognizes a number of them -- Tony's military buddy she's seen on tv, anyway; in a corner, a mingling of familiar SHIELD agents -- but she still stands uncertainly in the middle of the big Christmas-light strewn room until she's rescued by Janet.
"You look gorgeous," Jan tells her, taking Darcy's elbow.
"So do you," Darcy says, saved by reflex: Jan looks stunning, in a short-skirted, low-backed blue dress that looks like it was designed with the words 'fun' and 'flirty' in mind.
"So you're my date, then?" Jan says. She bounces up slightly and kisses Darcy on the cheek.
"Yep," Darcy says, glowing.
"Come on," Jan tells her, "I wasn't kidding about the beer pong."
She wasn't. Thor's friends are loud and hilarious, and when Jan offers to get in on the contest too, they insist on going in teams, so Jan runs off and comes back a minute later with Carol Danvers; so it's Darcy, Jan, Carol, and a six-foot-tall Viking lady called Sif against Thor and his other three Asgardian buddies.
The boys start missing their cups a long time before Darcy's team does. Darcy leans against Jan and laughs until her belly hurts, and Sif yells across the table, "Admit your defeat! Declare victory for these maidens of Midgard!"
"Victory!" Carol yells, an arm slung over Sif's shoulder.
Still laughing, Jan and Darcy stumble out onto a balcony. The winter air hits Darcy's face like cold water, and she feels much steadier. New York below them is gorgeous, lit up in celebration, crowded with all these people the Avengers have made it their purpose to defend, and just like that Darcy knows that, however this goes, it'll be okay.
"Hey," she says, "Jan?"
"Yeah?" Jan's been gazing delightedly out over the city too, but she turns to Darcy with her bright infectious smile.
"I like you," Darcy says. "Like, stupid massive crush like you. And it's cool if you don't, but --"
"Ten!" comes a sudden chant of voices from inside. "Nine! Eight!"
Janet laughs, though Darcy can't hear it over the countdown. She reaches up and smoothes her hand across Darcy's gold shirt, just over her collarbone.
"Three!" goes the crowd. "Two! One!"
Janet pulls Darcy down to her and kisses her, soft and firm and happy. Darcy wraps her arms around Janet's waist, pulling her in, not sure if the lights behind her eyes are metaphorical fireworks, or real ones, or maybe one of the paparazzi catching this for tomorrow's news.
The hashtag is going to be great.