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If she were to guess, Darcy would pin the whole thing on Tony. Because...well, it’s Tony. It’s almost always Tony. The public relations team, headed by Agent Beaumont, is having a hell of a time talking the Avengers out of it. It’s Steve that admits that the men are participating in ‘No Shave November’ mostly to rile up agent Beaumont, Assistant Director Hill, and to mock the media image of the Avengers and make Fury live up to his name.

Tony often doesn’t shave when he’s in the lab for days on end, so it’s no surprise there. She tells Jane she thinks he looks like a rather dashing Pa Ingalls. Thor looks like himself just a little less perfectly groomed and all the happier for it. Bruce’s beard is nearly all grey and after that initial awkward faze he resembles her high school English teacher Mr. Sweeny. Clint normally seems to shave at random intervals, or when Natasha makes him.

Steve on the other hand...well, Steve has Darcy more than a little flustered. He’s easy on the eyes all the time, with his bright blue eyes, Disney prince smile, wide shoulders, and itty bitty waist. Perfect and untouchable.

Mint condition. Original packaging.

Now though, halfway through November, she has a problem. And that problem is sitting across from her in the lounge with his sketchbook on his knee, pen poised in one hand while he thoughtfully strokes his beard. Lips are bitten red from concentrating as he sketches. Pale hair contrasting with the dark hair of his beard, grey sweater pulled tight over his chest and wide shoulders.

Darcy squirms as her thoughts spiral out of control and she can’t remember what it was she was valiantly trying to read. The words blur out and she imagines Steve tearing the book from her hands and spreading her out on the couch cushions.

“Darcy, did you hear me?” Steve asks in that low rasp that does nothing to tear her mind from burrowing deeper into the gutter. God, she needs help.

“Huh?”

“I’ll take that as a no then. I said, do you want another cup of tea?” Steve says, mouth ticking up into a crooked grin. Darcy blinks and looks down at her untouched cup.

“Oh...it’s fine,” Darcy smiles, lifting the cup and taking a sip. “Blurgh...gross.” Steve snorts and pulls the cup from her hands and heads for the bar across the room. Darcy curses whoever taught Steve to dress in modern jeans that mould to him like a second skin. Rolling her eyes at herself, Darcy flips back seven pages in her book until something sparks as vaguely familiar.

“Good book I take it?” he asks minutes later as he sets the mugs down on the coffee table between his couch and the plush chair Darcy is curled up in. Whorls of steam rise from the mugs—Steve’s dark blue with a single star, and hers the shape of a fat bellied white owl.

“Yeah, it’s good. Thanks for the tea,” she replies, hoping that if she keeps her answers short she won’t babble. There is a real danger of babbling when his eyes sparkle with amusement as he settles back on the couch, idly pulling up the arm of his sweater to scratch his nails over his forearm.

Tearing her eyes away from Steve she takes a cautious sip of her tea. It’s far too hot to drink but the cup fits in her hands, warming them as she breathes in the steam. Steve shifts on the couch, reaching for the pencil case on the table beside his mug. The tip of his tongue slips between his lips wetting them as he chooses a pencil and Darcy mug tilts, tea splashing onto the open pages of her book. “Damn it.”

“Everything alright?”

“Yeah I’m just an idiot who is easily distracted by...shiny things,” Darcy says, setting the mug down on the table. Steve eyebrows tick up and he pulls a cotton handkerchief out of his pocket and reaches across the table with it. “Thanks,” Darcy murmurs. Their fingers graze together as she pulls the handkerchief from his hand. Bright white cotton trimmed in red and blue stars. She can’t help but arch her brows in amusement. “Really, Steve?”

“It was a gift,” Steve says with a wry twist of his lips as he settles back amongst the cushions. He drags the pencil across the open page of his sketch book. Mopping up the last of the spilled tea Darcy flicks her eyes over the page of her book, internally groaning as she turns the page to find the protagonist and the antagonist’s battle of wills collapsing as they fall into bed together. Not something she should be reading when her mind is already fixated on thoughts of Steve’s beard tickling against her thighs. No, no, no.

There was probably a special circle of hell for illicit thoughts about bearded superheroes.

Steve scratches at his beard with his free hand and Darcy sinks lower in her chair. “Fuck me,” she mutters under her breath. The pencil snaps and Steve drags his eyes up from his sketch to meet hers. “Oh god.” Darcy’s cheeks burn under the intensity of his gaze and she waves the book at him. “It’s a really good book.”

Steve’s brow quirks up and he leans forward plucking the book from her hand. It a vintage romance, and Steve examines the art on the cover; a blonde man with a beard clutching a dark haired woman dressed in little more than rags. “The hero is very um...heroic and beardy? It’s sexy,” Darcy says. Her eyes widen as Steve turns the book around to skim over the back. The pink lettering of the title catches her eye, ‘The Captain’s Mistress’ and Darcy squirms into her seat.

“Heroic and beardy?” Steve asks, a grin slowly spreading across his beard covered face. There isn’t a drop of Disney to this grin. It’s dark and dirty and sends a jolt of heat skittering down her spine.