Darcy meets Clint at some godawful meet and greet where she loses track of Jane and gives up trying to corral her. Jane is sneaky. A no-good rotten sneak and Jane will escape if she wants to, no matter how many people want to speak with her. The only perk Darcy has before she gives up trying to hunt the scientist down is that while she's scouring the upstairs balcony, she literally trips over Clint Barton, and would have fallen face-first on the floor if he hadn't intervened. By pushing her in mid-air so that she lands on her ass.
It's an improvement in that she doesn't have a broken nose or black eye, but her tailbone does not thank him at all. But the rest of her does, and they hit it off. She learns he's an Avenger and a little deaf, and he gets to learn that she's a technically unemployed recent grad freeloading off of Jane Foster in exchange for food, a place to sleep and adding herself to Jane's friends and family plan. Yay. It's not that Darcy isn't motivated, smart, and charismatic, it's just that the new grad unemployment rate is like, 13 percent and there's a lot of people even more motivated, smart and charismatic than she is.
Her time at the party ends with Clint encouraging her to send Jane a text saying she’d be gone for the night, don't wait up, and to drink some water. The cab ride back to his place is longer that she'd thought, but seeing as she's mostly interested in untucking his dress shirt and leaving lipstick on his collar, she's actually surprised at where they end up.
"Wait, where are we?" she says, hitting his chest lightly with her hand. "I thought you said you were..." At Clint's sharp look she lowers her voice. She's not drunk at all, but she's a little bubbly at the progression of the evening. "An Avenger? Don't you live at the Tower? Or the Mansion? Jane made it sound like y'all lived there." Or even like, SHIELD quarters or something. Not a dingy, ragged and possibly ready to fall apart building in the middle of--"
"Um, Bed-Stuy." Clint looks a little uncomfortable. "And I've got a room in the Tower, in case it's late, but I like my place."
Darcy shrugs, because really, not her place to judge, seeing how she lives in Jane's spare room. Or an RV. Or whatever couch is free wherever Jane has been sent to next. Also, she's not from New York. She doesn't actually know what that means or where that is. She's not from big cities, and can only sort of wrap her head around the concept of neighborhoods as big as where's she's from - if she compares them to subdivisions.
He tugs her out of the car, up to his apartment and then closes the door and pushes her against it and the night is totally looking up.
The morning brings with it a few problems: an uncomfortably full bladder, cotton mouth, and the discovery that Clint Barton both sweats and cuddles in his sleep. The third is really only a problem because of the first two, because homeboy is a deadweight when he's asleep. Darcy carefully moves herself out from his grip with a smile before grabbing a random shirt from the floor and heading out to the bathroom. Clint mumbles something about coffee before she closes the door.
Clint's bathroom is a mess, but it's not dirty, at least not as bad as she's seen in a lot of guys’ apartments. For some reason there's a stack of papers that look like leases, each labeled in fairly nice handwriting, which therefore is obviously not his, with different numbers for each apartment. Just balancing on the sink, as if all important paperwork is done sitting on the toilet.
Okay, so Darcy remembers a lot of studying done in the bathroom. She had four roommates and they pissed her off and there were only so many ways to get back at them. Monopolizing a bathroom was one of them. She washes her hands, runs some water over her face, and finds some mouthwash to get rid of that horrible morning mouth feel. Her hair is a mess and the shirt she grabbed is a pale violet.
She climbs down the steps from the loft to the main level because that is where the coffee is and she is most of the way to the kitchen when she notices a head with black hair resting on the arm of the couch. She doesn't remember bringing anyone else back last night and a threesome sounds like the sort of thing she would recall, and she frowns, taking a few steps forward. The figure sits straight up and looks around. It's another girl, and Darcy knows she would have remembered that. This girls has dark, sleep-wild hair, pale skin and huge eyes that slowly narrow as she looks at Darcy.She's also young. Like, too old to be his kid but just a hint too not-able-to-legally-drink.
"Clint!" Darcy calls out. "Why is there a teenager on your couch!"
Darcy hears a loud bang, and the girl is utterly unaffected by the sight of Clint running down the steps trying to zip up a pair of pants. The girl looks at Clint and sighs out in a long-suffering moan. "I'm Kate, you where his dick ended up last night?"
There are really only two reactions to a question like that. Clint looks horrified, his jaw practically on the floor, trying to articulate words of protest. If Darcy takes a moment before answering it's more because, well, there's no coffee in her brain yet, and she has to decide which way to take what Kate says.
"Well, yeah. I mean, have you seen those abs? They’re so solid, you could use each one as a handhold." Darcy laughs and oh yeah, Clint shirtless is a wonder to behold. He's also hilarious, the poor guy, and her heart just turns over at his bewildered and nervous expression. But he's also obviously proud of the compliment. Clint doesn't seem the sort that gets nice things said about him enough and the corners of his mouth perk up.
"Kate's my, uh..." Clint struggles for words, "she's Kate." He shrugs, because sure, that's some sort answer. Just not a very informative one.
"As long as she's not a girlfriend, it's cool. I hate being the other woman." Darcy makes her way to the kitchen again and fusses with the coffee machine.
Kate follows her with a shark’s grin. "Oh no, that ship sailed. Let's call me an associate."
"I haven't given you a key, Bishop. Did you pick my lock again?" Clint has regained his voice and this is probably a really awkward morning after for him. Darcy pays it no mind, there's been worse. And she likes Barton. He was fun to talk with even before they progressed to making out in a dark corner. If he was agreeable, it might be worth making a go of it and seeing if it lands anywhere near a relationship.
"It's not breaking in if you left your door unlocked." Kate shoots back, exchanging a goofy grin with Darcy, and she leans in to say quietly as she takes over the coffee maker, "I don't mean to alarm you, but you aren't wearing pants."
"Am I wearing panties?" Darcy shakes her hips and feels the cotton rubbing against her. "I am. I'm okay with this." Surprisingly, she really is okay with this, even with the addition of a teenaged girl showing up when she could be getting sleepy morning sex, but Kate's amusing enough.
"I thought you were with the team last night?" Clint asks, walking into the kitchen and practically burrowing himself into a seat at the lackluster kitchen table, which is falling apart at the hinges on the table leaf.
"I was. And then Billy and Teddy got a little bit," Kate mimes squeezing her hands together, "Billyandteddy and I kinda needed to leave. This Hawkeye don't play third wheel. And I couldn't find Noh-Varr and I didn't want to go home by myself."
"By yourself?" Clint repeats, wiping his face with his hands, "Yeah, Katie, that's going to need some further explanation. You like having your own place, even if you are always here. Truth-laying?"
Kate rustles beside Darcy, shifting side to side on the heels of of her feet while mumbling softly. Darcy catches the words and laughs to herself. Clint looks at Darcy with just this look, a look like she should spill everything she heard. It's another torn moment. Solidarity between chicks or with the guy she's having a pretty good morning after with?
The answer is whatever is funnier so she says, "Kate said, 'The Black Widow knows where I live.'"
"Natasha hasn't booby-trapped your condo, girlie. I wouldn't look around here too closely though." Kate pours the first cup of coffee and hands it to Darcy, pours the next for herself and walks the pot over to Clint. Everything about the two of them is just a sign of a deep-seated friendship. That clinches it. She wants to keep seeing Clint, because in most of the men she's dated, they didn't have that sort of friendship with women. They talk to women, they like women, but respecting them as friends? It's a rare thing.
"You’re going to burn your tongue, Barton." Katie glowers menacingly. "And go get this woman some sweats or something, since she doesn't seem to be leaving first thing."
"I am pretty irresistible." Darcy grins, pointing to her mouth, faking dimples and innocence. "Why would you ever want me to leave?"
Clint blinks a few times while he looks them over, his face contorting into a complex sequence that ends in fondness. He moves his fingers and hands around, and Darcy remembers that he said he was kind of deaf, but she doesn't know any sign language except for a couple of swear words a classmate taught her in the 7th grade. Kate just replies with her middle finger and a shit eating grin and Clint achingly starts moving back upstairs.
Darcy has been on the receiving end of many looks in her fairly short and boring life. Most of them were exasperated, some were angry, and once or twice she's gotten furious and turned on. She's proud of those. But this is a new look for her. Kate has razor fine attention and it's all on her, and her voice is deceptively easy-going.
"He likes you," she says. "What's your tragic backstory?"
"My tragic whattery?"
"Okay, I don't really know who you are yet, but the people Clint associates with? We're not exactly shy on the horrific, tragic pasts that motivate and hinder us. If you get ten of us together, you'll be lucky to find five living parents. And you didn't balk when I talked about Black Widow, so you obviously know something about the work we do. So what’s your tragedy?"
Darcy covers her face to try to keep the laughter from boiling up in her, but it doesn't help. "Kate, I'm 24, at the very most underemployed and living with my boss-slash-best friend and, when he's around? The God of fucking Thunder. The great tragedy of my life is that I haven't really gotten around to having a life yet."
"That's refreshingly uncomplicated." Kate gulps down her coffee. "I like that. He could use a little uncomplicated. He's a good guy, you know, and a lot of what makes him an idiot comes from not trusting that he is a good guy. You want to see him again?"
"Are you his kid sister or his matchmaker?" Darcy's still smiling, but she really doesn't need some kid giving her permission to see a guy she just slept with, so she rolls her eyes with it.
"Oh please, my family is only screwed up in normal ways. There's no way I'd want to be in his."
Darcy shrugs. "Takes two to tango. If he's up for it."
The stairs creak with the weight of Barton coming down and Kate leans in again. "Just be sure to know where you stand with him. That's sort of the biggest thing he's an idiot about."
There's a wooden snap and a crash. "Aw, railing," Clint whines piteously from the bottom of the stairs, holding out a pair of sweatpants.
"Well, that and just about everything else," Kate adds. "Clint! The girl you brought home still wants to see your sorry ass again."
Clint is up and on his feet in moments, in the kitchen and has his arm wrapped around Darcy in what has to be just a mere second later. "Really?"
"Don't make me regret it." Darcy smiles and Clint kisses her, dropping the sweatpants on the floor.
Kate groans, "Okay, not again. I'm going to go brave my place now that it's daylight. Hawkeye, don't make a mess."
"Go away, Hawkeye." Clint moves his mouth off of Darcy just long enough to get out the words before he starts pulling at her shoulders to walk with him without losing any sort of contact.
So this day is looking up too.