If Darcy were to be honest, she isn’t quite sure how she got here - sitting on the end of his bed, clutching a sheet to her naked body, watching him dress himself from the pile of clothes they left on the floor the night before. That’s not exactly true - she knows how she got here . She took the F train and walked three blocks in the snow when she got the text with the mysterious address. But the figurative here was another story.
And well, if she’s participating in honesty hour, she was presuming this was his bed, but she couldn't be sure. In the eight months they’ve been doing this, she’s never been to a place that wasn’t hers. A few of his things were scattered about the relatively small apartment. And believe her, it was small even by New York standards. If she tried she could probably keep one foot on the bed and reach the kettle on the stove at the same time. Come to think of it, Darcy vaguely recalled reading something about Tony having a room this size just as a lost-and-found for things women had left behind in the pre-Pepper era.
The size didn't strike her as odd though. The strange part was that all of his things she could see were things she recognized. The clothes he was putting back on his body. The small knife he placed inside his left boot. The gun he tucked into the holster at his back. The dagger stowed discreetly at his wrist. There were a lot of weapons. She suspected there were more, but she knew better than to ask. James would probably show her if she asked, but she didn't think anything good could come of it, so she left it alone. He's tried to keep that part of his life away from her for a reason.
Other than that, there really wasn’t anything else she could see that suggested this place was his home or even a home. There weren’t any photos, memorabilia, books, music, and not even a dish or utensil left out from use. Darcy was a little afraid to look in the drawers and closet because she wouldn’t be able to ignore the nagging feeling at the back of her mind telling her that James didn’t live here. It would confirm what she already knew - that she should be running for the hills because he’s dangerous in a way that she's never known before and dangerous in a way that she's not sure if she would be able to handle. She knows one thing for sure though. She doesn't want to let go of him. Not while he still wants her. Not yet. She's afraid maybe not ever.
James isn't so big with words so when Darcy watches him run a hand through his hair for the second time, she takes the hint. Shifting off the single mattress on the ground she starts to put her clothes back on. Perhaps a little too slowly for James’ liking, but she's making a point. She doesn't really care that he’s in a hurry. This is a two-way street she tells herself for the umpteenth time. Darcy won't be used and she’s decidedly ignoring the voice telling her that's exactly what's happening here.
As soon as she’s dressed, she gathers her purse and coat, and makes her way to the door. She's about to touch his arm in their traditional goodbye, the metal one this time - she makes it a point that he never sees her prefer one over the other, when he pulls her back gently.
“Let me take you back. It's late.”
She looks at the phone in his flesh and blood hand, bidding him to the person she knows he’s going back to. The one he always goes back to. The one he never talks about, but she knows all the same.
“Next time maybe.” Darcy touches his cheek - something she never really does. It feels too intimate. But she couldn’t help herself this time.
“Darce, m’sorry.” He’s letting her see the Brooklyn in him so she knows he really means it. If James could help it, he’d never reveal anything about himself.
“I get it. Duty calls. I’ll see you later.” She’s avoiding the fact that, yeah, it’s work, but it’s also the elephant in the room that they are both doing their damndest to ignore.
The corners of his mouth lift for just a second.
She smiles back at him because she knows he doesn't mean to take so much from her. He hates that he does. He’s tried to make it up to her in small ways to show that he’s appreciative and to show, that no matter what, he still cares about her. Like when some mornings he stayed in bed with her a little longer than he normally did, especially when she’s had a rough week at work or her mother has found a way to knock her down a few pegs. Or when he makes her breakfast before leaving. One time, he even hung a painting that had been propped against a wall for weeks because she’d just never gotten around to it. Darcy’s still not sure how he managed to do it without waking her up. And then, on some nights they just laid in bed, fully clothed, and fell asleep holding on to each other like life preservers. Holding on so tight that she could feel his fingers marking her skin long after he's gone. Darcy likes to believe that those nights are for both of them, not just her.
She knows James wants to give her something more though, but they both know that the thing she wants most, he can't give. The mark under his heart couldn't make it more clear. He doesn’t belong to her.
Darcy wonders what things might have been like if he hadn’t been marked or if she had been the one marked for someone else, or marked at all even. But she knows not to think about it too hard now. She always finds herself at the bottom of a bottle of wine when she does.
She pulls the door shut behind her when she leaves. He won’t leave at the same time she does. Just in case. Knowing him, he’ll probably sneak out the window anyway. Old habits die hard she guesses.
Darcy’s putting on her coat as she steps outside. It’s stopped snowing and she’s wondering if she can catch the last train of the night when her phone rings. She hangs her head in defeat and kicks a clump of snow when she looks at the caller ID. She didn’t need this right now. Not so soon after James. It was as though the universe wanted her to drown in an ocean of guilt and suffer for taking something that wasn’t hers to take.
“Hey Cap. What’s up?”
“Hey Darcy, sorry to wake you up so late.”
“Don’t worry. I was up anyway. What can I do for you Steve?” Darcy asks as she stomps angrily down on another mound of snow.
“We’ve got an Assemble and we’re down a handler.”
Darcy does some quick math. If she can catch a cab, then…
“I can probably be at the tower in under 20 minutes,” she guesses.
“That’ll do. Want me to send Happy?” Steve asks. Always kind. Always polite. Always thinking of others. Darcy wishes, not for the first time, that the earth would swallow her whole.
“No I’m good,” Darcy says as she sees the tell-tale yellow of cab in the distance. She’s sticking her hand out to hail it when she continues, “I’m basically in the cab already.”
“Okay, it’s a small tactical unit with me, Buck, and Natasha.”
Darcy’s a little confused as she gives the cabbie the quickest directions to Avengers Tower. The cabbie is rolling his eyes at her, but she doesn’t mind.
Darcy’s just started acting as a handler, but it’s not really part of her role. And even then, she’s only ever done it for Clint. She tells Steve as much.
There’s a moment of silence on the phone. It’s long enough that her stomach starts to sink and she thinks that karma is finally catching up to her.
“I know. I was hoping you wouldn’t mind covering Bucky. He’s positioning as a sniper today. So it won’t be too different from Clint. And well, Bucky trusts as many people as he can count on one hand and...”
“And I’m one of them” she completes for him. She pauses for a beat and then answers “yeah, okay. I'll see you soon”.
When she hangs up the phone, Darcy lets her head fall back onto the headrest with a little more force than was entirely necessary. This is a bad idea. The worst one that has ever existed. Darcy’s sure of it. But she couldn’t exactly say no. What was she supposed to say? No can do mon Capitane, I’m emotionally compromised when it comes to your soulmate because I’m an evil homewrecker.
As Avengers Tower nears, Darcy briefly wonders who this is most unfair to. Her? James? Steve? Because at the end of the day, she wasn’t really sure she was a homewrecker. Not when she knows the truth. James Buchanan Barnes has one love, his soulmate, Steve Rogers. There wasn’t a version of reality, an alternative timeline, or another dimension in which that fact wasn’t true. Like they always say to each other when they think nobody’s listening. Till the end of line . Steve would never hurt James, and James would never let anything tear them apart. Darcy wasn't really sure she could be a homewrecker when she never had a shot in hell in the first place.