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this doesn't have to be anything at all

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'This doesn't have to be anything at all'- stop draggin' my heart around by Stevie Nicks

........

"What's wrong? Why are you in my lab, Lewis? You shouldn't be in my lab," Tony says, taking a step towards Darcy where she is curled up, hugging her knees under one of his workbenches.

"I think it's pretty obvious I'm hiding," Darcy says.

"But this is my lab. You need to not be in my space. Go pester Bruce. I have things to do here," Tony says, waving his arms about for emphasis.

"I'm pregnant," Darcy says, breath hitching.

"Why are you telling me this?"

"I don't know. Jane's in New Mexico, and I don't have anyone else, and you asked," Darcy says, wiping tears away as they form.

"Why aren't you talking to the golden boy or the one-armed wonder? Aren't you besties?" Tony asks as he fiddles with something in his hands, and Darcy shakes her head no. "No? What it's not Barnes' sprog is it? I thought you knew better that to touch that hot mess, and the Widow called dibs."

"No, it's not Bucky's," she says pulling the sleeves of her oversized green sweater over her hands.

"Well, it's not like it's Steve-o's, he’d have to take his purity ring off first," Tony says, stepping around Dummy, reaching for a screwdriver, and sitting on the floor beside Darcy. "Hello, Earth to Lewis? Are you even listening to me? That was funny. Captain Freezer-burn, knocking you up. Isn't he with Agent Blondie?"

"Agent Carter," Darcy says as she worries at a loose thread on her sweater. "The boys have been on assignment together with her for the past month."

"So who's the baby daddy anyway?" Tony asks. Darcy winces and looks away. "Lewis?"

"Steve," Darcy says, her voice barely a whisper. Tony stops working on the bits of metal and wire in his hand and looks at her.

"That's not funny, Lewis."

"No, it's not."

"How?"

"The penis goes in the vagina...."

"But you're not dating. You haven't been on a date since that Agent Walleye spilled his wine all over your yellow dress. Why do I not know about this?"

"Because it's a secret."

"But I should know this," Tony says.

"Nobody knows but JARVIS," Darcy mutters and Tony narrows his eyes at her.

"What do you mean JARVIS knows? And not me?" Tony says affronted. "JARVIS?"

"Miss Lewis and Captain Rogers requested I not tell you of their dating, sir," JARVIS says.

"We never dated," she mutters under her breath.

"Excuse me, Miss Lewis. Sargent Barnes and Captain Rogers are inquiring after your whereabouts."

"Oh god, I'm so fucked."

"That's what she said. JARVIS, tell them Darcy isn’t in the tower today," Tony says.
“Very good, sir,” the AI replies, and Darcy lets out a breath she didn’t realize she had been holding.

"Thank you," Darcy says, throwing her arms around Tony. He awkwardly pats Darcy's back, and she blinks back more tears. Dummy offers her a box of tissues that she accepts with another watery thank you.

"So how long have you been making the Star Spangled Beast with Two Backs?"

"Since that battle with Doom and that mechanical squid thing that tried to tentacle rape you, broke Barton's leg, and gave Natasha a concussion."

"It did not try to do anything to Iron Man," Tony sniffs. "Wait a minute, that was months ago. You've been bumping uglies with Red, White and Blue Balls for four months?"

"It just sorta happened...and kept happening. And he's with Sharon now and I can't fuck that up for him. I can't ruin his life because I missed a pill when you took the nerd herd out for Shwarma and I got food poisoning and spent two days with my head over the porcelain throne."

"Again, why are you telling me this?" Tony asks, splaying his hand over his chest above the arc reactor.

"Such an asshole. I don't know what Pepper sees in you," Darcy laughs and straightens up on her own.

"I'm very flexible and have a huge cock," Tony says, reaching up to play with another scrap of metal. "You okay, kid?"

"No, not really," Darcy says, hugging herself, "I'm gonna go see if I can book a flight out to Grandma Lucy in Spokane."

"Book?" Tony scoffs.

"It's what us plebeians do," Darcy says as she stands up, dusting off her jeans.

"Billionaire," Tony says, and Darcy looks at him blankly. "I own a plane, several in fact. Stop looking at me like that. JARVIS, can you have the jet ready for Darcy within the hour?"

"Yes sir."

"I can't—"

"Don't finish that sentence. Go pack, go visit grandma Lewis, and call JARVIS to send the jet to pick you back up in a few days."

"You won't say anything to Steve or anyone?" she asks. It's cowardly, but she just wants to get away and not have to destroy the bubble of happiness Steve has found, even if it breaks her heart.

"Cross my heart," Tony says making a cross over his arc reactor. Darcy looks dubious for a moment, but really, what choice does she have?

She finally nods and takes a steadying breath. "Thank you," she says, and Tony shakes his head dismissively.

Darcy is nearly out of the lab when Tony says, "You love him."

"Yeah, but he doesn't love me," she says softly and slips out the door.

........

Months go by and Darcy still hasn't returned to New York. She gets away with her absence from the lives of superheroes, due in part to the high level of Super Villian activities in New York and dotted around the globe, and the buffer of a supposedly heartless man of iron.

She cries a lot. She blames the hormones, but Grandma Lucy can’t be fooled as well as Darcy can fool herself. Grandma fusses over her and makes endless cups of milky tea with fresh baked cookies. She helps her grandmother run the farm, bake cakes, and make preserves that are sold in a little farm shop down the road. She calls her mother, but they have never had much to say to each other that didn't end in a screaming match.

It's a craving for cupcakes and decent Mexican food that brings Darcy into the city of Spokane the day everything falls apart. She is licking the icing off her fingers when there is a rumbling beneath her feet as she walks along one of the elevated walkways between buildings.

Her jaw drops as she looks down on the street below, where a man is riding on the back of an enormous turtle with a purple and green mask on. Darcy pulls her earbuds out of her ears and grips her phone tightly in her hand, icing smearing across the screen. She crosses the bridge and into a small shopping centre glancing from the man on the turtle to the phone in her hand.

Men dressed in green with wide purple belts and matching masks pour into the building shouting and waving guns. Darcy curls a hand protectively over her bump and thinks about the taser in the bottom of her purse. She may be a coward, but she isn't stupid; she leaves the taser hidden under candy bars, two balls of wool, knitting needles, a battered paperback, and her spare iPod.

The day after she arrived at her grandmother's farm, a package arrived from SI containing the latest Stark tech, including the phone in her hand, with a panic button hidden on the side. Closing her eyes, she presses and holds the button. Maybe it will just be Iron Man that saves the day.

Of course it isn't. Her luck has never been that good. Within the hour of the downtown area being taken siege, the whole damn team arrives.
An explosion ripples the windows, chunks of glass rain down as a bright red and gold figure streaks past. One of the Igors grabs Darcy by the arm and drags her to the edge of the broken window. Iron Man hovers in the air, but it's not Tony that saves her. She doesn't hear the bullet that burrows into the Igor's skull, doesn't hear Tony shouting through his mask, or the chaos in the shopping center behind her. All she can do is stare down at the figure in red, white and blue on the street below.

She is so focused on Cap, she doesn't register the cold metal wrapped around her until Iron Man calls her name and her whole body jerks, hands scrabbling against metal when she realises her feet are dangling above the ground.

"Calm down, Lewis," Tony says.

"Fuck you and your calm down. I want back on the ground now," Darcy shouts pointing at a parking lot below them. "Over there by the blue truck."

"Any other demands?" Tony says when he lands and carefully, setting Darcy on her feet.

"No, I...no, just go be heroic. I'm going home," Darcy says, pulling her keys out of her bag.

"You know they know you're here," Tony says.

"I know," Darcy says, climbing into her grandmother's truck and slamming the door.

She gets out of the city and out to the farm on autopilot. It's only as she parks the truck that her hands shake so much she can't pull the keys out. She drops her head to the steering wheel, breathing slowly, one hand rubbing over her bump feeling the baby’s fluttering movements. “It’s okay. We’re okay now,” she murmurs, not sure if she is talking to herself or the baby.

She loses track of the time she sits in the truck, but the shadow from house has crept along the ground when she opens the door and climbs down. She has only a few moments peace. She barely makes the top porch step when a shadow falls across the yard. She straightens her shoulders and watches as the quinjet lands beside the barn. She has a moment to be thankful her grandmother has gone away for the weekend with her quilting circle, because there is no easy way to explain why the Avengers are spilling out of the jet and onto her farm. Darcy digs her nails into the wood of the porch railing bracing herself.

"What the fuck are you doing out here, spitfire?" Bucky asks.

"Darcy," Steve says as he comes to a stop beside Bucky.

"Hey guys. Natasha. Welcome to the family farm," Darcy says, slowly stepping back down the stairs. Tony is practically bouncing on his toes, watching as Steve goes utterly still, his gaze flicking from Darcy's face to her abdomen.

"Darce," Steve says, voice trailing off.

"Steve," Darcy says, hand curling protectively against her abdomen.

"Darce? Who the fuck knocked you up? Is that why you won't come home?" Bucky asks.

"Oh please, do let me tell," Tony says, clapping his hands together. Natasha arches a brow. Darcy says nothing at all, just stares at Steve, watching the color drain from his face.

"Were you gonna tell me?" Steve asks quietly, his hands rhythmically clenching and unclenching. Bucky whips his head around from Darcy to Steve.

"Yes. No. I don't know," Darcy says, and she honestly doesn't know the answer. She'd just hoped she wouldn't have to face him. "You're with Sharon and you're happy and you love her. I...I didn't want to burden you."

"You didn't want to burden me," Steve repeats, and Darcy can't meet his eyes, just stares at a spot on his undershirt, eyes swimming in unshed tears.

"You’ve been fucking around with Darce. Knocked her up and left her. Captain Fucking America," Bucky snarls grabbing Steve by the shirt with his robotic arm.

“He didn’t—,”Darcy says, her line of sight is obscured by red and black as tears trickle down her cheeks. She doesn't see the fight break out, only sees Bucky punch Steve before Natasha guides her up the steps into the house closely followed by Dr. Banner.

Natasha places a cup of tea on the scarred kitchen table in front of Darcy, a curl of steam rising towards the ceiling. She wraps her fingers around the mug, the paper tag tickling her hand. There is a quiet tapping of knuckles on the doorway, and Steve is standing sheepishly rubbing the back of his neck. He looks like hell; black eye swollen up, busted lip, and a livid bruise on his temple.

Natasha looks from Steve hovering awkwardly in the doorway, to her, one eyebrow twitching up in question. Darcy has no doubt that Natasha would incapacitate Steve if she asked.

Taking a steadying breath she nods and watches as the Widow steps aside, Natasha glaring at Steve for a moment. Not a word is said aloud, only the twitching and rising of eyebrows, and Darcy almost laughs at the absurdity of talking eyebrows.

Darcy takes a sip of her tea, grimacing at the taste. "Bitter?" Steve asks quietly from beside her as he pulls out a battered kitchen chair and sinks down in it. The chair creaks ominously but holds.

"No, I'm not bitter."

"I meant the tea," Steve says softly, running his hand through his messy hair.

"I know what you meant. Dr. Banner found it in the tea cupboard. Looks like piss and tastes like pond scum," Darcy says putting the mug carefully back down. "It's supposed to be calming and good for the baby."

"Are you okay? And the baby? I, uh, missed when Dr. Banner talked to the others," Steve says as he traces a scar on the table top.

"Yeah, just a stressful day," she says, absently rubbing her belly. Steve goes suddenly still beside her, she looks up to see him focused on the movement of her hand.

"You told Tony but not me?"

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you about the baby. I panicked, I saw the pictures of you, Agent Carter, and Bucky at the party in London, and you looked so happy with her. I didn't want to ruin it. I was just the girl you fucked, not the girl you love. So I panicked and hid in Tony's lab. I didn't have anyone," she says, and he flinches. She doesn't have to say how he was her friend and confidant before she ran. Now everything is so fucked up.

"M’sorry, Darce," Steve says, rubbing a hand over his face, wincing when his fingers press against his black eye.

"Bucky did a real number on your face," Darcy says, and can't stop herself from reaching out to brush her fingertips along Steve's jaw. She drops her hand back in her lap and whispers, "Sorry."

"Tony threatened to put me back in the ice," Steve says, reaching out to tentatively take her hand. Their fingers lace together and Darcy stares at their joined hands.

"Good thing Thor's in Asgard," Darcy says and bites her lip when Steve winces. If Bucky, Natasha, and Tony treated her like family then Thor treated her like she was his baby sister. Bucky could hurt Steve, but Thor?

"Yeah," Steve says pulling their hands into his lap to play with her fingers. "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you. I'm sorry—"

"You don't have anything to be sorry about," Darcy interjects. "You've had enough heartbreak in your life, and I didn't want to saddle you with another responsibility when you were falling in love with Agent Carter. God, Steve I wouldn't destroy your life when you just started living it again. She's so beautiful and it’s so rare that you smile like that. We just...you're my friend...were my friend. Oh God, it's dark out, and I didn't feed the animals."

"Don't cry, Darce," Steve says and squeezes her hand gently, reaching up to wipe the tears from her cheek. "Clint and Bucky have gone to feed the chickens and milk the cow. Tony's gone after them with his phone."

"Clarabell won't like that," Darcy says with a watery laugh. "And since when does Clint know anything about farm animals?"

"He says back in his circus days Bertha, the bearded lady, had a cow. Not sure how truthful that is but Tasha says he got stuck on a farm for six weeks after turning all the laundry purple on the helicarrier," Steve says, a slight smile curving up his lips.

"I'm not sure which is more believable," Darcy says and tugs on Steve's hand. "Can I..."

"What?"

"Is it too much to ask for a hug?" she asks, voice barely above a whisper. Steve doesn't say anything, just moves and wraps his arms around her, pulling her into his lap and holding her like she is made of glass. She wraps her arms around him and presses her face to his neck, breathing in the scent of sweat, earth, and the faint woodsy smell of the aftershave he prefers. "Tighter," she orders, and Steve tightens his hold on her.

"I missed you so much, Darcy. I got lost in old memories and—"

"You don't have to tell me anything. I'm glad you're happy with Agent Carter," Darcy says into his neck. Steve laughs bitterly.

"I'm not with Sharon. She and I...we wanted different things. I was chasing old ghosts. All the things I thought I wanted. I was stupid and she...just...fuck," Steve says, rubbing a circle on her back. "M’sorry. Shouldn't swear."

"Bit late to apologize over cursing. You swore a lot when we were in bed together," Darcy says, a grin curving her lips. Steve huffs and rubs the back of his neck sheepishly. "You can put a quarter in Grandma's swear jar if it’ll makes you feel better."

"Gee thanks," Steve says dryly, mouth quirking up. Darcy's heart clenches, and she fights the urge to kiss the side of Steve's mouth. "So..."

"So?" she questions and Steve drops his gaze to the table. “The baby’s moving. Do you wanna feel?”

"Can I?" Steve asks glancing down at her bump, eyes wide, and brow furrowed with worry. Darcy pulls his hand from her side to curve against her abdomen. She bites her lip watching his face light up with wonder when he feels the tiny jabs the baby makes."Oh, Darce..."

"Yeah," she murmurs, tears pricking at her eyes.

"The baby is okay?" Steve asks, voice thick with emotion as his thumb rubs back and forth.

"The baby’s fine. He is fine," Darcy says, placing her hand over Steve's and watching as he swallows hard.
“He?” Steve asks his eyes flicking up to meet hers.
“A boy,” Darcy nods.

"When?"

"When is he due? Or when did you start the bun in my oven," Darcy asks, and Steve's eyebrows twitch up. "He’s due in three months."

"And...?"

"Um...well," Darcy says, squirming a little in Steve's lap her cheeks heating up. Steve's eyebrows arch up higher, and she wonders if they might disappear into his hairline and never be seen again. "The office."

"The office," Steve repeats.

"You were still in the suit," Darcy clarifies, but she needn't have by the color creeping into his face.

"Oh," Steve says, eyes going suddenly dark and he swallows convulsively gaze dropping down to her mouth and back up again. "Oh."

"Yeah," Darcy says looking away and trying to will the blush from her cheeks.

"You're gorgeous when you blush like that," Steve blurts out and she darts her gaze up to his face and the red tips of his ears. “Damn,” he curses under his breath his hand still warm on her belly.

"You gonna kiss the girl or just keep being an awkward bastard?" Bucky asks from the doorway, and they both jump, Steve carefully steadying Darcy as she stands.

"Fuck off, Bucky," Steve grumbles, getting to his feet.

"You alright, dollface? Need me to beat his ugly mug in a bit more?" Bucky asks as he swaggers across to hug Darcy two bottles of beer held in his robotic hand. "Knew you were a freak, punk, but I never thought you were into the Stars and Stripes, Darce."

"Oh my god," Darcy says, burying her face in her hands. "Tony didn't hear that, did he?"

"Nah, he's still watching that cow beat the shit out of Barton." Bucky grins, though his eyes are serious as he stares at Steve. Darcy shifts, uncomfortable with the tension strung out in the room.

"Shall I leave while you two eyefuck each other?" Darcy asks, rolling her eyes. Steve splutters and Bucky laughs outright tossing one of the bottles to him.

"Pretty sure fucking’s what got you in trouble, Darce," Bucky says with a sly grin and Darcy barks out a laugh covering her mouth with her hand.

"You're an asshole, Barnes," Steve says, leaning against the counter beside Darcy, his hand warm on her back as he sips from the bottle.

"So how the fuck did you manage to sneak around ‘fonduing’ without anyone knowing?" Bucky asks, gesturing with his half empty bottle.

"Jerk," Steve mutters, shaking his head. "Don't you have someone else to bother?"

"Probably. Jus' wanted to make sure the spitfire was okay. We all missed the fuck outta you, Darce. 'Specially that asshole next to you, after Carter stomped all over his heart," Bucky says tilting his head towards Steve.
“She didn’t stomp on my heart. It just...it didn’t work out s’all,” Steve grimaces, taking a long swig from his bottle.
"Leave them alone James," Natasha calls from the doorway, and Bucky swings around, a charming smile on his face. Natasha tilts her head to the side and walks away. Bucky shrugs, shoots Steve a dark look, and follows after her.

"So..." Steve says in the awkward silence they are left in.

"So I'm gonna go lay down upstairs for a bit. I'm exhausted. Call me when there's food, okay? Carrying your baby is hungry business," Darcy says, turning and bouncing up on her toes to kiss his cheek. She misses the slightly dumbstruck look on Steve's face when he touches his cheek as she walks from the room.

..........

Steve wakes her up an hour later, sitting on the edge of her bed, his hand warm on her shoulder as he calls her name. Darcy rolls over, snuggling into his side. "Mmm warm."

"Come on, doll, food's here." Steve chuckles and brushes a loose strand of hair away from her face. Darcy stretches her legs, touches her bump, and Steve's breath catches the tiniest bit.

"You looking at me that way is how I ended up in trouble in the first place," she says, and Steve's blue eyes focus on hers.

"Will you go out with me," Steve blurts out. "On a, um, date? Try to do what we should have done instead of..."

"Fucking like rabbits," Darcy supplies as she sits up.

"I wouldn't have put it so bluntly."

"It's still true."

"Yeah it is," Steve says rubbing his knuckles along his jaw. "I really...fucked things up. I missed you, and I don't want to lose you and the chance of us being a real family."

"You aren't the only one who fucked up. I shouldn't have run away. It was stupid and even if you didn't want this—"

"I want this," Steve says solemnly, cupping her cheek. "I want a chance to do things the right way. I want a chance to start over with you. I want....please, Darce."

"Okay," Darcy says softly, her eyes welling up with tears at Steve's warm smile. He leans forward and presses his mouth to hers. His lips are warm and dry as they rub against hers. The kiss is gentle, full of promise, and all too brief for Darcy. She sighs when he pulls back to kiss her forehead.

"Come on let's go get you fed," Steve says gently, tugging her to her feet.