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You Make Me Unsteady on My Feet

Chapter Text

"Okay, I trust you."

Natasha froze for only the barest instant on hearing the words before her instincts took over to keep the mission going.

"Good," she said, "just follow my instructions and we'll get you out of there – for now stick by Clint, the man who just gave this earpiece to you. I'll let you know if you need to do something different."

––

"I-," Darcy glanced over at the man, Clint, who nodded and motioned her to follow. The who-knows-how-many hours she'd spent in that facility had apparently taken a toll on her, because she was unsteady on her feet when she tried to stand.

Clint frowned. "Can you walk?"

"Yeah," she said, "I just ... they hit me in the head a couple times, and I haven't had anything to eat or drink since I got here, so I'm not exactly as sharp as I normally am."

Darcy heard what sounded like a sharp inhale in her earpiece. "Natasha?" she asked worriedly into the comms.

The agent in front of her didn't bother to wait for a response, and pulled out a canteen from one of his pouches and handed it to her. "Drink, but quickly. We need to move soon."

––

Natasha was eminently professional – she had literally trained for decades to be that way – but she couldn't help the rush of new emotions over Darcy, now that she'd heard her voice, heard her soulmark words. Natasha could be professional, like she always was, but she couldn't help the deep-seated anxiety, the need to get her soulmate out safely. It almost felt like desperation, and Natasha was never desperate – not even when she was close to dying (which had happened a couple of times).

This new feeling of needing her soulmate to be ok didn't sit well with her, not after so long of never needing anyone – even her debt to Clint didn't feel like this – but the idea of letting anything bad happen to her newfound soulmate sat even less well. Agent Romanov focused on the chatter from the rest of the team to find out whether it was safe for the two of them to leave the cells – suddenly Natasha was glad that a different coordinating officer couldn't be found in time for this mission, giving the Widow the excuse to oversee what was happening and give her soulmate the best chance of escaping alive.

"Ok, clear to move – stick to the northeast passages," she said over the comms to Barton and Darcy. She gave the others the heads up that the evacuation was underway and a timeline for extraction. Everything went smoothly, almost too smoothly, and Natasha didn't exactly trust it, although she was vaguely thankful that the extraction was going so well. Despite her internal emotional misgivings, the Black Widow narrowed her eyes, keeping herself 110% focused on the action and surroundings until everyone was safely back aboard and they could return to base.

––

Everything was going absolutely wild, and only the calm instructions of Agent Barton (she heard Natasha call him that) and Natasha were keeping Darcy from completely panicking. That and the knowledge that panic wouldn't be useful right now, and Darcy wanted nothing more than to get to safety, so she kept a lid on her panic. The sounds of fighting kept echoing down the hallways as they hurried along, and the rescued intern couldn't be sure if they were running towards or away from the sounds. It was extremely disorienting.

Sure, Darcy had survived the craziness that was New Mexico and then London, had even tazed a literal god, but she was just an intern and had only barely skated through both encounters on equal parts blind luck and sarcasm. This time though she had been specifically targeted because of her associations, and the intern knew that she'd need to figure out some better way to not get picked on by the bad guys.

Well, something to think about later, when she wasn't literally running for her life.

The hallway kept shaking, but Darcy managed to remain upright by keeping her hand against one of the walls as they half-ran, half-crouched to what she desperately hoped was safety. Barton reached the end of the hallway and told her to wait, so she leaned against the wall and panted, catching her breath. She was definitely getting back to those regular gym workouts if she was too out of shape to even run down a couple hallways without breathing heavy.

Clint ducked back into the doorway just as Natasha's voice came over the comm.

"Ok Darcy, it's clear – follow Clint again."

Her soulmate's voice was both soothing and exciting her, and the strange dichotomy of emotions was too much to process right now – so Darcy didn't, packing it away into the back of her mind. She hurried out as best she could into the bright light outside. Darcy had expected it to be night, since it had been dark and windowless in the base, and she emerged blinking into the sunshine, bewildered by all this light.

She stumbled a little, and then Agent Barton was there at her elbow, steadying her. "Do you see that aircraft there?" He gestured to a big black jet sitting in a clearing a short distance from the base, and Darcy nodded. "I want you to get up the ramp and inside, then sit down and wait – I'm going to go help the others withdraw."

"Ok," Darcy said, somewhat nervously.

Natasha's voice came over the comm. "You're doing great, you'll be fine – I've got eyes on you now."

Darcy nodded, not looking back and keeping her eyes on the entry ramp ahead of her, although she heard Clint's voice behind her calling out warnings to the other Avengers. It seemed like it took forever to reach the aircraft, but it must have only been a couple minutes. She could still hear the sounds of fighting, and as she reached the top of the ramp she couldn't help looking back to see if the others were coming.

A hand touched her arm. "They're on their way."

Darcy turned to see the owner of that beautiful voice she'd been listening to over the comms. Her soulmate had red hair and what appeared to be the most incredibly sexy catsuit Darcy had ever seen – Darcy of course vaguely recognized her from the news footage about the Avengers, knew that she was Black Widow – but she didn't have much time to stand there and gawk. Natasha immediately guided her further inside the craft and over to a seat next to a bank of monitors. This appeared to be her soulmate's comms station, because Natasha quickly sat down in the chair just next to Darcy and started talking into her earpiece.

Darcy could see several angles of the fighting, one that appeared to be a satellite feed, a fixed POV from the jet itself, and a couple that appeared to be shoulder cams of some kind. After relaying a few commands over her earpiece, Natasha turned back to Darcy who blinked when their eyes met again – the woman looked intense, but Darcy supposed that might just come with the job. She was, after all, an Avenger.

"Are you alright?" Natasha asked, putting a hand on Darcy's shoulder and looking the newly rescued woman up and down. She was probably checking for injuries, but Darcy couldn't help the blush that rose in her cheeks. Her soulmate was checking her out. The young intern felt giddy – although, honestly, now that Darcy thought about it that could be low blood sugar. Maybe it was the low blood sugar.

"Maybe low blood sugar," Darcy said, and almost immediately wished she could take the words back, grimacing slightly. She wasn't sure how they'd even slipped out.

Natasha gave her just the barest hint of a smile. "Ok, we'll get you out of here as soon as we can," she said, turning back to her screens.

The Avengers didn't take much longer to wrap things up, and then the rest of the team was filing back into the jet. Darcy, already overwhelmed and distracted, was only really able to say hi and smile at the dizzying blur of people as they came into the cabin. Then, Clint was at the controls and they were lifting off, and Natasha set her earpiece down and pulled Darcy into the back of the plane away from everyone else. Darcy sighed in relief and almost melted into the seat that Natasha directed her to.

––

Natasha tried to wrangle everyone back to the quinjet as quickly as possible – she even let Cap and Tony stay behind to guard the subdued kidnappers until the local authorities came to collect them, something that she was probably going to get in trouble for later. But fuck it, she wasn't a real handler, and she wanted to get her soulmate away from danger as quickly as possible.

As soon as they were all back aboard and the doors were sealed, she pulled out her earpiece and relinquished the comms station to Sam, who nodded at her when she waved him over. Darcy had seemed bewildered and a little shocky, and Natasha wasn't at all sure that the younger woman wasn't injured in some way. It could be just she being overwhelmed – honestly, Natasha hoped like hell that's all it was.

The spy led her away from the others to some semblance of calm in the back of the plane, and helped Darcy to a seat, sitting down at her side. The young woman was objectively gorgeous, with curly brown hair and big brown eyes, but she had some dried blood on her face and in her hairline and bruises on her face and arms. She looked like she'd be thrown around a little bit by her captors, and Natasha had a strong desire to go back to find out who her captors were and repay them.

Agent Romanov drew her soulmate's attention to her by softly asking how Darcy was doing. Letting her fingers brush over Darcy's head and face, Natasha did a more thorough check for injuries, asking Darcy to tell her what parts hurt at her touch. The younger woman stared at Natasha, wide-eyed, almost as if she couldn't look anywhere else. The staring could have been unnerving in other circumstances, but the Widow wanted, no, needed to make sure her soulmate was safe first. Feeling uncomfortable could come later when they were in, well, more comfortable circumstances.

After thoroughly checking for head injuries or a concussion, Natasha breathed a deep sigh of relief when she found nothing serious. She then checked the rest of Darcy, asking asking the younger woman to self-examine places that Natasha wanted to avoid pawing at until after they'd gotten to know each other better, but otherwise the former Russian agent was extremely thorough. Once that was done, the Widow went to pull out the first aid kit from the front to start cleaning her up. She studiously avoided the questioning looks of the other members of her team and busied herself disinfecting the cuts and scrapes she had. Thankfully, the rest of the team took her ignoring them to mean that they shouldn't barge in with questions about Natasha's uncharacteristic behavior – at least for now.

Darcy continued to stare at Natasha wide-eyed, with only a few winces and some cursing when the strong smelling disinfectant stung her. The flight back was short, but even so, Natasha finished dressing Darcy's cuts before they got back to Avengers Tower. The Black Widow then, without intending to or realizing what she was doing, started stroking the side of Darcy's head gently.

The younger woman smiled and immediately closed her eyes, leaning into Natasha's touch. For her part, the Russian ex-assassin felt a smile form unbidden, and she couldn't stop it even if she wanted to. She rather disliked that she had the rest of the team as an audience for this, but since they were keeping away and weren't disturbing them, Natasha was fine just ignoring them for now. She knew she'd have to eventually deal with that problem head-on later, but shuffled it to the back of her mind.

Darcy must have been exhausted, because in the few minutes between dressing her wounds and arriving at the tower, she had dozed off against Natasha's shoulder, only coming to with a jerk once they'd landed. Blinking and disoriented, she let the spy wrap an arm around her just below her shoulders and help her out of the aircraft.

Natasha had to run a little bit of interference before she could get Darcy to medical. Assistant Director Hill wanted to do a debrief right there with whoever had been on overwatch, but the Widow wasn't having any of it and just walked straight past her, brushing her off. Romanov knew she'd probably get in trouble for that later, but she was too anxious about getting Darcy cleared and fed and resting to worry about that now.

She took Darcy down to medical as quickly as she could. The younger woman was already stumbling from exhaustion, and Natasha wasn't sure if she should just carry her, but then the younger woman might fall asleep and Darcy should probably stay awake until she could eat something. After they finally got to medical, the doctor noted that most of Darcy's topical injuries were already taken care of, but asked Darcy to strip so they could be thorough – though the younger woman didn't want Natasha to leave the room, so she was able to help Darcy get undressed and into scrubs. Despite the activity of changing clothes and answering the doctors' questions, Darcy fell asleep on Natasha multiple times, basically whenever she stopped moving for more than 30 seconds at a time.

By the time they finished Darcy's examination, the other Avengers had already ordered some food, so Natasha was able to quickly grab some and leave without getting much if any attention. She'd left Darcy on the couch in her apartment wrapped up in a blanket, and she fully expected her soulmate to be asleep by the time she got back. Her prediction was exactly correct – Darcy was softly snoring when she opened her front door. She quietly set the food up in front of her. She hoped the young woman liked Chinese food. Natasha had probably grabbed more than she needed to, but the other Avengers were big boys/girls and could order more if they were still hungry.

Natasha managed to get Darcy to eat almost an entire container of Chinese food before the younger woman's exhaustion won out. She carefully wrapped her up in a blanket where she was, curled into the corner of the couch. She left all the food out on the table, just in case Darcy woke up and was hungry again. It was just barely sunset now, and Natasha was far too anxious and full of energy to curl up around her soulmate and go to sleep too.

The Black Widow sighed, and decided now would be as good a time as any to go get her debrief taken care of with the Assistant Director. She left her rooms, notifying JARVIS to inform her if Darcy woke while she was out, and left to get this annoying task over with.

––

When she came back a couple hours later, she found that Darcy had sprawled out over the couch and was sleeping soundly. Assistant Director Hill had not been impressed with her behavior at landing and had grilled her more than she probably would have otherwise, probably as a punishment for Agent Romanov ignoring her earlier. Natasha hadn't yet directly informed anyone that Darcy was her soulmate, and the Widow guessed that Hill had probably been fishing for information of that sort in her debrief-turned-interrogation. But Natasha was a Russian ex-assassin, and kept the same laconic answers and outwardly calm demeanor the entire time. Hill was probably frustrated by the end of it, but Natasha didn't owe her any answers, and she could keep this up all night if she had to. This was nothing compared to the Red Room.

Shutting the door quietly behind her, Natasha walked a few paces into the room before she noticed a presence behind her. She spun, hand going to a throwing knife at her hip, before she calmed. Clint was lounging against the wall, watching her. She could tell that he had been keeping an eye on Darcy, and she appreciated it. Natasha walked closer so they could speak more quietly, and hopefully keep from disturbing the sleeping rescuee (who was still snoring from her pile of blankets).

The Widow was certain that Barton would have questions for her, given how she had reacted. They had spoken of their soulmarks before – Clint had even seen her words when he had tended a wound just above where they were indelibly marked on her hip – and she was sure that the archer had known instantly that Darcy was Natasha's soulmate when he'd overheard the conversation.

"So," he said, glancing over at the snoring noises coming from the couch. "She's cute."

Natasha nodded, expression softening. "I didn't think ...," she glanced over at the couch as well. "I didn't think it would be like this," she said honestly.

Clint nodded back in understanding, and Natasha put a hand on his shoulder. They stood there in silent communion for a few minutes, not needed words to express what they felt.

After a while, Natasha released the archer and looked over towards the sleeping form on the couch. "I should put her to bed – she's already starfished herself halfway off the couch."

Barton snorted softly. "Yeah, I noticed that. She seems like an active sleeper – good luck with that," he said with a wink. Natasha slapped him lightly in the shoulder.

Before the archer could walk out, she gripped his upper arm in unspoken gratitude for him keeping watch over her soulmate while Natasha was being debriefed, and Clint nodded again in understanding. Romanov appreciated how well they were able to communicate without words.

"I'm here if you need anything," he said softly, then slipped soundlessly out the door.

Natasha considered moving Darcy to the bed, which she could probably do without waking the other woman since she was sleeping so soundly already. The Widow hadn't gotten a chance to convince Darcy to change out of her dirty clothes or wash up – that had been fairly low on the very short list of priorities – but Natasha could just change the sheets later. The younger woman was so deeply asleep that she didn't even twitch when the Black Widow picked her up, so Natasha ended up changing the sleeping woman into some comfy sleep shorts and a soft tee before tucking her into Natasha's bed.

Natasha cleaned herself up and got ready for bed, taking a blanket out to the couch. She didn't know if Darcy would feel more comfortable or less to wake up finding herself in someone else's bed, but Natasha figured it would probably be better if she weren't there in the bed with Darcy. They were still strangers after all, and had only just met a few hours ago. They could get around to knowing each other better later after they both woke up again.

The ex-assassin laid down on the couch under the blanket to get comfortable – she had certainly slept in far worse environments – and pondered getting to know the beautiful young woman better. She just hoped that Darcy wouldn't mind someone with so much baggage, so much red in her ledger. Pushing the thought aside, which was one talent she definitely didn't mind still having from her Red Room days, she closed her eyes and tried to fall asleep.

––

Darcy woke up later, when the sky started lightening with pre-dawn – she hated how her body usually woke her up with the sun, no matter how much she still wanted to sleep. For a moment she was disoriented, and didn't remember where she was or how she got there. Then she recalled the kidnapping and rescue, and falling asleep on Natasha's couch.

She smiled, remembering how attentively the other woman had looked after her from the moment she'd appeared at her elbow on the entrance ramp to the quinjet – no, from the moment the Avenger had said her soulmark words over the comms. Darcy looked around the room. There were few decorations in the room, but Darcy could guess that it was Natasha's bedroom. The redhead wasn't with her in the bed though, and looking at the sheets it didn't seem like anyone had been in the bed with her during the night either.

Frowning, Darcy got up and went to the doorway to look out at the quiet living room. "Natasha?" she called out in a soft voice. Maybe the Avenger had gotten up early?

There was a rustle from the couch, and a head of disheveled hair popped up over the back of the couch. "Hmm? Darcy? Is something wrong?" Natasha said in a sleepy voice, blinking herself to full wakefulness. The Black Widow quickly got up from where she'd apparently been sleeping on the couch.

Darcy blinked and asked the first question that popped into her head. "Why are you sleeping out here?"

Natasha, still rubbing her eyes but obviously more active and alert than Darcy herself was, came over to stand next to Darcy in the doorway and looked over her intently, as if confirming to herself that nothing was wrong. It made Darcy feel warm inside.

"I didn't want to bother you," the redhead replied.

"I'm more bothered that you're not there," Darcy blurted, immediately chagrined to find her brain-to-mouth filter obviously wasn't functioning yet this early in the morning. "After the day I had, I would much rather have you next to me. It makes me feel safer."

Grabbing Natasha's hand, Darcy started pulling the shorter redheaded woman backwards toward the bed before the ex-assassin could respond. For her part, Natasha just made a noncommittal humming noise, but the spy was smiling faintly so Darcy took that to be agreement. Darcy wasted no time pulling the covers back and scooting in, if somewhat ungracefully because she refused to let go of her soulmate's hand. The Avenger dutifully climbed in after the younger woman when Darcy tugged on her hand.

"So how do you want to do this?" Darcy said, too tired to be anything less than direct. "Big spoon? Little spoon? Me sprawled all over you?"

Natasha's mouth quirked upwards. "I don't much like having someone behind me while I sleep, otherwise whatever you're comfortable with."

"Well, I am 100% a-okay with being the little spoon – I love being cuddled," Darcy responded immediately.

Darcy rolled over, switching the hand that she held so she could pull the Avenger into place behind her. The redhead slid up next to her, almost but not quite touching. That wasn't quite close enough for Darcy, so she scooted backwards until she was pressed firmly against Natasha's front. She sighed at the contact, suddenly feeling so much calmer. She could definitely fall back asleep now.

Settling the Avenger's arm around her waist, Darcy snuggled further into her soulmate and her pillow. She heard and felt the redhead's soft exhalation in her hair, and her soulmate finally relaxed into the hold. Darcy hummed in satisfaction, and felt herself drop quickly into sleep.

––

Not much later – definitely not long enough, at any rate – the two soulmates woke to the sound of someone knocking loudly on Natasha's door.

The ex-assassin came immediately awake and tried to reach for the weapon she kept under her pillow before she remembered that she'd removed it when she'd tucked Darcy into her bed. Her soulmate was also awake now, but only barely, judging by the way she was blinking uncomprehendingly at the noise. Darcy was clinging to the arm that Natasha had slung around her waist, probably out of fear or anxiety, and the ex-assassin wasn't going to deprive her of that comfort to get a weapon. Instead, Natasha left her arm in Darcy's grip and rolled to put her knees under her smoothly, using her other hand to grab her throwing knives from the nightstand drawer.

One-handed, she clipped them to the back of her belt in a practiced motion, where the black of the holster would be mostly hidden against the black of her sleep shorts – she owned a lot of black for this very reason – and quickly surveyed the room to confirm that no one had breached her sanctuary yet.

"JARVIS? Who is it?" she asked.

"I'm sorry to disturb you, Agent Romanov, but Dr. Foster is rather worried and looking for Ms. Lewis," the building AI stated in his usual calm voice.

"Jane?" Darcy said, coming more awake now. "Oh, she hasn't seen me since the kidnapping."

"She saw you, but you were asleep – it was while the doctor was running tests," Natasha supplied. Dr. Foster had been distraught and worried yesterday, wanting to talk to Darcy, but young intern hadn't woken up at all. The ex-assassin had assured Jane that she would personally make sure Darcy was taken care of before the scientist had left.

The knocking came again, this time louder and more insistent.

Natasha sighed. "You'll have to let me go so I can answer it," she said gently to Darcy, tugging her arm slightly to remind her soulmate that Darcy still had it.

"Oh," Darcy said, blinking and looking down at Nat's arm, before releasing it.

By way of apology, Natasha brushed a quick kiss against the other woman's cheek before she even realized what she was doing. She was out of bed and walking towards her front door when she registered that she'd just kissed her soulmate for the first time, but it was too late now to worry about it so Natasha seamlessly continued onward to the door.

Pulling it open, Natasha found Dr. Jane Foster just reaching forward to knock again, the aborted movement turning into an awkward wave.

"Oh! Hi, um," Jane started, before regaining her composure. "JARVIS said Darcy was here? I'm coming by to check on her."

Darcy appeared from the bedroom door, looking exactly like she'd just woken up.

"Jaaaaaaaane," Darcy groaned, "it's way too early." She rubbed at her eyes and pouted a little at her boss. Natasha thought it was absolutely adorable and had to work hard to quash the smile before it could spread across her face.

Dr. Foster noted that Darcy had come from the former assassin's bedroom, and was giving the Avenger a look, but Natasha didn't let herself react. It was their business what they got up to. Instead, the Black Widow calmly stepped back to let the scientist enter her apartment.

Darcy wandered over to the kitchen area of Natasha's open plan apartment and opened up the fridge to see what there was. It surprisingly made Natasha feel warm and fuzzy inside to see her newfound soulmate at ease in her space. The happy feeling caught her so off-guard that the ex-assassin almost hummed out loud in satisfaction. She quashed that urge, but only barely.

"Have you eaten yet, Jane?" Darcy asked, peering through the cupboards now. She found a box of cereal. "Oh man, you've got Frosted Flakes?? I haven't had these in forever."

Natasha walked over to the island to sit herself down on a stool, Jane following in her wake, although somewhat more hesitantly, both of the two older women observing Darcy's antics with differing degrees of amusement.

"What, no poptarts?" Jane joked as Darcy pulled out a bowl and milk.

In response Natasha wrinkled her nose. Darcy giggled when she saw the expression, and the hardened ex-assassin blushed slightly despite herself. To change the subject, Natasha offered instead, "There's still leftover Chinese food from last night."

Darcy gasped, dropped the spoon she'd just pulled out into the bowl, and then went to search through the fridge again. "Is that what's in this bag? I was just wondering what that was." She pulled out the white plastic to-go bag and set it on the island in front of the other two women. "Hmmm," Darcy said, apparently in indecision, "maybe ... I'll have cereal first and then some Chinese in a bit when I get hungry again. Oh my god, I'm still so hungry. I was too tired last night to eat enough."

Natasha and Jane accepted bowls of cereal as well, and the ex-assassin pulled out glasses and orange juice for everyone. "It's fresh squeezed," she said, handing a glass to her soulmate before pouring one for her other guest and herself.

Darcy squealed in delight and took a big gulp, moaning dramatically when she tasted it.

The ex-assassin flushed a little, but mostly kept herself under control. This girl was going to be the death of her. She topped up Darcy's glass up again. "I guess I should buy more of it then."

"Oh my god, yes please! I love fresh-squeezed orange juice."

Jane gave Natasha another look, and the ex-assassin could tell that the scientist had noted her blush. Dr. Foster then took a sip of her own.

"Wow, that is, good," the scientist said with a blink of surprise, drinking some more.

"This is the last of it – I'll have to get more oranges if you want more," Natasha said, setting the jug down in the center of the table for everyone to reach.

They ate in mostly silence for a while, before Jane gave both Darcy and Natasha a significant glance.

"So ...," Dr. Foster said, setting her spoon down in her bowl. "I expected you to be back at your own apartment this morning, Darce."

The two soulmates blushed. "Um," Darcy started.

The ex-assassin came to her rescue. "She kept falling asleep on me, and I knew where everything is that she'd need in my apartment already, so it made more sense to bring her here rather than taking her across the city to her own place," Natasha said, trying to appear nonchalant and mostly pulling it off.

Thor, and therefore Dr. Foster, had had a temporary apartment in Stark Tower while Jane negotiated with Tony about future funding for their research at the tower. Darcy was expected to eventually be included as their intern once everything was settled, but had insisted on living outside the tower until then for whatever reason – Natasha hadn't been really interested in the political arguments so hadn't inquired further at the time. She had agreed though that it was better to have Dr. Foster and her colleague Dr. Selvig at Stark Tower with the Avengers on hand for protection – especially since one of the two scientists had been essentially kidnapped by an Asgardian once, and the other was in a stable relationship with a different Asgardian. Of course, now Natasha would be strongly advocating that Darcy move permanently into the tower too, though for slightly different reasons.

"Also, I didn't want to sleep alone, after ... that," Darcy said, coloring strongly and waving her hand in a vague gesture that Natasha knew was a reference to her kidnapping.

Jane nodded soberly, but then a moment later pinned the two other women with a shrewd stare. Natasha could suddenly imagine how Dr. Foster's science experiments must feel when she focused on them. "But ... you were sleeping in the same bed? Is there something you want to tell me?"

Natasha kept her face perfectly blank, but Darcy blushed bright red and looked over at the Avenger.

"Um ... we're soulmates," the intern said after a few moments.

Jane clapped her hands to her mouth and squealed excitedly, eyes wide.

"Oh my god, Darcy! You're soulmates? You found your soulmate?" She jumped up and wrapped Darcy in a tight hug, her assistant laughing and hugging her back, happy tears prickling the corner of her eyes. The intern looked over her boss' shoulder to beam at Natasha, and the ex-assassin couldn't help but smile widely back.

Jane pulled back from her hug to see the expressions on both the two soulmates' faces. "Awwww, look at you both, you two sickly sweet cinnamon rolls." Natasha was a little insulted by the term applied to her, but before she could even lift a judging eyebrow, Dr. Foster surprised her by scooping the Avenger into a tight hug as well. The ex-assassin started to return the hug cautiously, and then Jane pulled back and pinned the shorter redhead with a serous look. "And if you ever hurt her, I have an Asgardian god with a magical hammer at my beck and call," she said, without so much as breaking eye contact.

"Jane!" Darcy exclaimed in shock at her mentor.

Natasha didn't bat an eyelash, and nodded. "If I ever hurt her, I'll ask Thor myself," she replied, equally seriously.

"Ok, stop that, stop that," Darcy said, inserting herself between the two women and pulling her soulmate into her arms. "No one's hurting anyone this morning – we've only just had breakfast, for fuck's sake." She ran her hands through the shorter former assassin's short red hair, almost as if trying to soothe her. This time Natasha did hum in satisfaction and closed her eyes a little, losing herself in the simple pleasure of having her soulmate stroke her hair.

Darcy giggled at her soulmate's reaction and kept her running her hands through Natasha's hair.

Jane coughed in a way that suspiciously sounded like a laugh. "Well, I suppose I should take that as my cue to leave," she said, clapping her hands together once decisively and standing up. "Darcy, you don't need to come into work for the next two days – I'm sure you'll find some way to fill up the time," the scientist added with a sly look, and then swept out of the apartment before either of the two soulmates could say anything else.

Chapter Text

Darcy brushed her hands through Natasha's hair again, this time going down to her shoulders on either side of the ex-assassin's neck and then leaving them there. She stared at Natasha, biting her lip in either indecision or anticipation, and the former assassin almost surged forward to capture that lip in her own teeth. She managed to stop herself though, and raised a hand up to rest on Darcy's upper arm.

"I should get you into the shower – you fell asleep before you could last night. I'm sure you want to get clean after your ordeal, and I want to check your injuries again."

Darcy brightened. "Are you going to join me in the shower?" she asked with a smile.

Natasha's hand squeezed Darcy's arm before she could control the impulse. "Well ... I want to take care of you, and I don't want to push you too fast ....," she said, trailing off.

"Oh, I can be good," Darcy insisted, with what Natasha thought was the most not-innocent look that the ex-assassin had ever seen.

"Hmmm," she hummed noncommittally, but allowed herself to be dragged towards the bathroom.

"No, seriously – I just ...," Darcy bit her lip again, "... I just want to see you."

Natasha felt a strong spike of warmth and lust at the words, and her hands found Darcy's hips and squeezed, swearing softly in Russian. "You're making it really hard to control myself," she said, her voice dropping an octave.

Darcy shivered at her words, and pulled Natasha in closer. "Maybe I don't want you to control yourself," she said lowly, making the ex-assassin shiver in turn. Darcy nosed downwards, brushing her forehead against Natasha's. The Avenger hummed again, closing her eyes briefly.

"Clean first," Natasha said, regaining some of her equilibrium and opening her eyes again.

Darcy nodded and proceeded to strip for the shower while Natasha turned the water on. While it was warming up, the taller woman let the ex-assassin spin her around and examine her cuts and bruises with gentle fingers. By the time Natasha finished, Darcy was blushing so strongly that the blush extended down her neck to her chest. Natasha's desire to rub her hands over her soulmate in an entirely different way was suddenly difficult to resist.

Natasha pulled back, saying, "Maybe I'll let you shower first."

Darcy wasn't having any of that however, and started tugging on Natasha's clothes insistently. "Just washing," she said, although she did so while biting her lip again, so the former spy could guess what her soulmate really wanted.

Once they were both in the spray, the stinging water and soap on Darcy's cuts making her wince reminded both women what they were there for, and they mostly kept their hands and minds from wandering. Natasha wanted to wash Darcy's back, and then Darcy wanted to do the same for Natasha, although the intern was much less able to keep her hands in safe places. When Darcy's soapy hand slipped around her side to cup one of Natasha's breasts, the ex-assassin moaned softly and clutched at the wall.

Both women froze for a moment, catching their breath. Darcy very gently squeezed, before pulling her hand back. "Maybe ... maybe we should get out of the shower now," she said, more than a little breathlessly.

Natasha turned around to see that Darcy's eyes were almost completely blown out. She nodded, and quickly rinsed, keeping her hands to herself but unable to do the same with her eyes. Natasha stepped out of the shower and quickly started drying herself, handing another fluffy towel to Darcy as she followed her – thank god for Stark and his insistence on buy the most expensive of everything for them, so they had extremely comfy towels. Darcy moaned at the softness, rubbing her face into the fluffy towel, much to Natasha's amusement.

While Darcy dried off, Natasha hurried back to the bedroom to pull the sheets off the bed and put down fresh ones. Darcy exited the bathroom and stood there staring at Natasha's naked body, watching the redhead's tantalizing curves while she changed the bedding. With her soulmate eyeing her like she couldn't get enough, Natasha couldn't hold back any longer, and she stepped forward to take Darcy's hand.

"I don't want to rush you, ... but ... if you want-"

"I want," Darcy interrupted, wrapping an arm around Nat's waist and directing her towards the very inviting bed. "Please?"

Natasha hesitated only a second before nodding. "I'd do anything for you," she said, perfectly honestly. She hadn't realized those were the words that would come out until she'd said them, but it was true. She had no idea how it was true so quickly, but it was, and she wouldn't take it back.

Darcy made a noise somewhere between a whimper and a moan, and leaned down to capture her soulmate's lips in her own. The moment their mouths connected, Natasha felt like all her insides were simultaneously writhing and on fire in an explosion of pleasure and love. She gripped the sides of Darcy's head and pressed their mouths together more firmly, both of them moaning at the sensation.

––

Natasha flipped them somehow as she leaned backwards onto the bed, putting Darcy on the bottom and avoiding all of Darcy's wounds and sore spots, which was a skill Darcy appreciated right now. Normally the intern would have wanted to be on top, but she was totally okay with her incredibly sexy soulmate taking control and having her way with Darcy. Definitely, 100% okay with that. More than okay with that.

Darcy's hands had moved back to rest on Natasha's breasts, where she had so badly wanted to put them in their shared shower, and she gently squeezed and rubbed. The spy moaned as she started trailing open-mouthed kisses down Darcy's neck.

She moaned Natasha's name, and the spy gave her a mischievous look as she moved to Darcy's chest and sucked a nipple into her mouth, nibbling lightly. Darcy cried out and arched upwards. The spy settled between Darcy's legs, and the intern spread them invitingly. God, Darcy wanted this so bad.

Natasha apparently did too, because no sooner had Darcy spread her legs that the ex-assassin had her hands rubbing up and down Darcy's inner thighs. She bucked lightly into Natasha's touch. The assassin started massaging her outer lips and the skin surrounding it. Darcy moaned and moved with those captivating hands, before she wrapped her own hands in Natasha's hair and held her head steady while she pressed her chest more firmly into the spy's mouth. In response Nat bit more firmly on Darcy's nipples.

––

With the encouragement from her writhing soulmate beneath her, Natasha pressed her fingers more firmly into Darcy, teasing her entrance and massaging the skin over her clit. With her vocal soulmate giving her so much feedback, she found just the right spots to drive the curly brunette wild. Natasha had never before considered herself a boob woman, but with Darcy pressing her chest into Nat's mouth, she had now become a convert.

Natasha started dipping a finger inside Darcy, much to the taller woman's pleasure, judging by her cries. The ex-assassin was having a little trouble controlling her own excitement – just hearing her soulmate calling out her name and clearly starting to come undone was having an incredible effect on her. She knew they should probably take it easy since Darcy was still a little worse for wear and probably still tired, but Natasha felt herself getting lost in her soulmate's reactions.

Darcy started pushing into her hand firmly and the former assassin moaned into her lover's chest. She added another finger and matched her soulmate's rhythm, pressing in harder. Darcy cried out Natasha's name again, and Nat almost lost it right then, crying out herself into Darcy's heaving breasts. At that point she knew they wouldn't last much longer and added a third finger, pushing hard. Her soulmate wrapped one of her arms around Natasha's back and pulled her strongly into her body, pressing herself upward, her cries now wordless and rapidly increasing in pitch.

Knowing she wasn't going to last much longer herself – one of Darcy's thighs was rubbing Natasha in just the right spot now – she guided her soulmate's frantic motions and rubbed the base of her thumb into Darcy's clit. The brunette arched up completely off the bed and came with a loud cry, wetness spilling all over Natasha's hand. Nat herself came almost immediately after, riding Darcy's thigh and moving her own hand and fingers to ride out both their orgasms.

When they both came back down, Darcy said, still panting roughly, "Wow."

Natasha laughed, carefree and loose and natural – and, for the first time in forever, completely unguarded.

––

Darcy cupped her hands around Natasha's head and coaxed her up towards Darcy's lips so she could kiss her soulmate. From the wetness all over her leg, Darcy could tell that Nat had come as well. She was completely relaxed and pleasantly buzzing from the aftereffects of her orgasm, but underneath it all she could still tell that she was exhausted and hungry and achy.

"When I'm feeling better, I'm so returning the favor," she said, still a bit breathless in between kisses.

Natasha hummed into her mouth – god, Darcy was starting to love that sound – and peppered Darcy's face with kisses. "When you're feeling better. There's no rush, and I'm perfectly fine to please you all day," she said huskily.

Darcy shivered and gripped the shorter woman's hair more firmly. "Don't tempt me. I still need to rest some more. Can we nap like this?" She nuzzled into her soulmate's neck, marveling at all of this. Darcy had a soulmate, and Darcy had finally found her, and they'd just had mind-blowingly amazingly awesome best-in-her-life sex. Darcy could get used to this, she could so get used to this.

The former spy hummed an affirmative and nodded, pulling the blankets over them both. When she tried to move herself over to lay alongside Darcy, the intern stopped her, hold her onto her chest. "No, stay up here – I like feeling your weight on top of me."

Natasha hummed again and tucked her head into the crook of Darcy's neck. For her part, Darcy sighed in extreme contentment and let the feeling of bliss wash over her, falling quickly asleep.

––

A couple hours later, Natasha came instantly awake when she heard a soft noise in the apartment. She had been trained to come awake without moving so she hadn't woken up Darcy, who was still lying underneath her, when she'd come awake, and Natasha tried to identify the source of the disturbance without opening her eyes. The noise didn't repeat itself, but Natasha quickly mentally ran through the weapons that would be nearest at hand based on her location in the bed.

Before she could grab any weapon though, the noise repeated itself, and Natasha identified it finally as JARVIS' approximation of a throat clearing noise. Sighing almost imperceptibly, Natasha whispered, "Yes, JARVIS?"

At a low volume, the AI replied, "I'm sorry to disturb your rest, Agent Romanov, but your presence is being requested in the team common room for a meal."

Natasha sighed again. "Both of us or just me?"

JARVIS paused for a moment before replying, "Only your name was explicitly mentioned, Agent Romanov, but it's possible that they're assuming that Ms. Lewis will accompany you and so the request for her presence is implied."

"Acknowledged. Thank you, JARVIS."

"You're welcome, Agent Romanov."

Finally opening her eyes to check the time, Natasha could see that it was now lunchtime, so they should probably get up and have Darcy eat again, if nothing else. Checking with JARVIS to verify that food was already in the common room waiting for them, Natasha started trying to wake up Darcy. When Darcy didn't wake to hearing her own name and instead just turned her face hard into the pillow under her, Natasha started nibbling on the brunette's now-exposed ear.

The younger woman groaned, "N'tasha," and trailed off into unintelligibility. Natasha smiled and continued her attentions, until Darcy grumbled and finally opened her eyes.

When Natasha explained that it was lunchtime, Darcy's stomach rumbled loudly. Darcy said, giggling, "Well, I think my stomach has made its opinion clear, so I guess we'd better get up then."

Natasha disentangled herself from her soulmate and went to pull out some clothes out of her closet that would fit Darcy. Grabbing a comfy tee, boy shorts, one of her looser sports bras, and some yoga pants – they were short, but they were supposed to be short and so wouldn't look so obviously like Darcy was wearing Natasha's clothes, unlike all Natasha's other pants – she handed them over to her still-naked soulmate. Natasha was reminded that she herself was still naked when Darcy's eyes dipped to roam over the ex-assassin's body with something akin to hunger, so the Avenger went back into her closet to grab something for herself as well.

The former Russian assassin didn't mind Darcy wearing clothes that announced that she and Darcy were together, but Natasha wasn't sure if Darcy would want that this soon. Even if they'd already slept together, that might not exactly translate into wanting to let other people in on what was essentially a brand-new relationship.

––

Darcy wasn't able to make herself stop looking at her devastatingly sexy soulmate until Natasha disappeared into her closet again. Shaking herself quickly, Darcy looked down into her hands to see what she'd been given. Fortunately, it all looked extremely soft and comfortable because Darcy could feel all the aches and bruises much worse than she had yesterday or even that morning – although admittedly that could have been because she'd been distracted by the morning sex.

The bra was a little tighter than she normally went with, but not uncomfortably so, and everything else was a decent enough fit. She was just smoothing out the front of her t-shirt when Natasha reemerged from the closet wearing her own set of what appeared to be workout clothes.

"We look like we're going to the gym," Darcy said, giggling. God, that sounded so inane that Darcy almost slapped herself on the forehead. Luckily her soulmate didn't seem to mind, because Natasha's only response was that epically sexy humming sound she kept doing.

Anything either of them was about to say was interrupted when Darcy's stomach again growled.

Rolling her eyes, Darcy said, "Ok ok, we get it – we're going." She hooked an arm into Natasha's and pulled the redhead into the kitchen, but Natasha shook her head.

"We're going up to the common room – the rest of the team has already ordered food."

"Oh, nice," Darcy said with a smile. "Not that I don't mind leftover Chinese, but," she dropped her voice into a faux-conspiratorial whisper, "fresh food is always better than leftovers."

Natasha chuckled, and then led the way out of the apartment to the elevator. She punched the button to go up, then turned to Darcy and asked, "Is this your first time in Stark Tower?"

Darcy chewed her lip. "No, I came in once before when Jane first came here to check the place out, but I just stayed in the lobby downstairs reading while she looked at the labs and facilities."

The brunette hadn't exactly discussed her parentage with anyone since finding out about it – except her mother, who Darcy had confronted about keeping such a thing from her – and wasn't sure if she should bring it up now. Darcy wanted her soulmate to know that about her, but they were just moments away from having lunch so she thought maybe now wouldn't be a great time to drop this bombshell on Natasha.

For her part, the ex-assassin seemed to sense Darcy's hesitance to talk about it and didn't press any more, for which Darcy was very grateful. Darcy gave Natasha a brilliant smile in response and melted into the ex-assassin's side, pressing her nose into sweet-smelling red hair.

"Who all is going to be there?" Darcy asked carefully as they stepped into the elevator.

"I don't actually know – but I'm expecting the entire team. Everyone always comes out for food, with the sometimes exception of Tony or Bruce."

Darcy twitched at the mention of her biological father's name, but avoided that topic. Instead, she asked, "Who's Bruce?"

Naturally, Natasha seemed to pick up on that, but went along with Darcy's line of questioning without comment – on a side note, Darcy had apparently won the soulmate lottery because her soulmate was the best.

"Bruce Banner? He's the Hulk – or at least, that's who he shares a body with? I'm a little fuzzy on exactly how it works, but it seems like he and the Hulk are two separate personalities, or his personality changes enough to seem like a different person when he makes his change."

Darcy tilted her head to the side, considering this. "Huh, that's weird," she said. "I mean, I know who the Hulk is at least – I've seen him on the news sometimes – but I didn't realize that he was a separate personality sharing a body with someone else."

They arrived at the upper floor and stepped out into a huge living area with multiple couches – which made sense to Darcy, there were a lot of Avengers after all. It seemed like Natasha's prediction was correct because the room was full of superheroes. Jane spotted them first and came over to give both women hugs, followed closely by Thor.

The Asgardian god thundered his welcome, effectively announcing to everyone else in the room that they had arrived, and a few other people came over to greet them. It was the first time for Darcy to meet most of them, and Jane, Thor or Natasha pointed out who was who for her. Tony Stark himself was there, but the playboy billionaire had stayed over on his side of the room with a few other Avengers, digging into the food and contenting himself with a wave to welcome her.

Not that Darcy had expected much – she had done some research into Tony Stark after learning that he was her bio dad, so she felt she had a pretty accurate understanding of his character. Fortunately this meant that Tony probably wouldn't try to insinuate himself on her company right away, which would give Darcy some space to get comfortable in his presence before having to perform. Besides, between the people that had helped rescue her trying to talk to her, and the people she already knew, she didn't have much downtime over the course of the lunch, where she might have wanted to seek out more company.

Part way through the lunch, the doctor that had examined her the day before – had it only been a day?? – arrived and came up to Darcy asked her to stop by her office later for a follow-up. Natasha frowned and came up to listen in, standing protectively at Darcy's shoulder. The doctor noticed of course, and smiled somewhat nervously at the Russian redhead's expressionless mask. Darcy was torn between finding it sexy and cute that Natasha felt the need to protect her from the doctor, and wanting to tell Natasha not to scare the doctor.

Before Darcy could figure out how she felt, Jane pulled her into a conversation and Darcy was forced to concentrate to try and follow the excited scientist's new plans for their lab here in the tower, and how much safer they'd all be living in the tower with the Avengers. After her recent experience in being kidnapped, Darcy couldn't help but agree.

––

Natasha knew that Darcy was probably being asked back so that they could do a psych evaluation about her captivity, and she was definitely uncomfortable about it. She personally hated psych evaluations after her long years in the Red Room and dealing with manipulative handlers pre-Avengers, but she admitted that Darcy probably should be examined to help her deal with any emotional trauma she may have suffered. Agent Romanov knew first hand that wounds like that showed no scars and were sometimes difficult to even discover let alone treat.

She wanted the best for her soulmate, but it would mean that Natasha probably wouldn't be allowed to sit in the room with Darcy during the exam. At least, they never had before, but Natasha planned to press that point, and she felt Darcy would probably back her on principle – the taller woman hadn't seemed to want to be separated from Natasha at any point so far.

"Glad to see you're getting along," said a familiar voice at her shoulder.

Natasha turned slightly towards Clint, just enough to lift an eyebrow at him, and then went back to eating quietly while also keeping watch of the rest of the room. It was an old habit that she'd never really gotten rid of. "That's probably an understatement," she said softly.

The archer smiled brightly at her. "I guess that means you feel a little bit differently about soulmates now?"

Natasha just looked at the other agent before returning her attention to her food (and room).

Clint's smile didn't diminish in the slightest. "So ... are you going to try and keep this going?"

The redheaded Avenger looked over at where Darcy was making wisecracks with her boss and friend, expecting to feel conflicted or worried, but felt nothing but happiness and contentment.

"Yes," she answered simply.