Darcy knocked back the remainder of her drink, pretending not to notice the painful burn in her throat as she swallowed. Just as she pretended not to notice the way Bucky was enjoying the attention of several beautiful girls, leaving her alone at the bar.
He had asked her to accompany him to this event, now that he was a celebrity of sorts after joining the Avengers, and she had foolishly thought there had been some deeper meaning behind his request. Some form of romantic interest. Something, anything, which would progress their relationship beyond the platonic stages it had been stationed in ever since she first began working in the Stark Tower.
Sure, she enjoyed being best friends with a good looking, hilarious and downright scary superhero, but being best friends with someone you constantly imagine naked is not the easiest of tasks. Especially when they insisted on dragging her out to fancy parties and then ditching her for other girls.
It was now clear to Darcy that her role at this party was nothing more than a safety net to reassure Bucky, though he didn't seem to need reassuring as an exotic brunette brushed against him, laughing far too hard at something he said, which, knowing him, probably wasn't even all that funny.
"You're looking way too beautiful to be all alone," said a voice beside her, and she turned to find a decent looking man with blonde hair smiling at her, leaning casually against the bar.
"I wasn't when I first got here," she sighed dramatically, shooting him a small smile.
"Who's the heartbreaker?" blondie questioned.
She considered telling him everything; her pathetic and unrequited love for Bucky, how she knew intimate details about him, how she had helped him recover mentally, and, most annoyingly, how he didn't see her as anything more than a close friend. She certainly had enough alcohol pumping through her blood to blurt out the embarrassing story, but she refrained, instead slipping a sultry smile on her face and shaking her head.
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Of course," he shrugged. "I'm Matthew, by the way."
He held out his hand and she shook it glancing over to where Bucky was now sat on a sofa, three girls around him. He didn't even glance in her direction.
"Darcy. Nice to meet you," she flicked her eyes back to Matthew and moved her shoulders in that certain way that made her boobs look fucking incredible and watched with satisfaction as his eyes flickered downwards and his teeth bit into his lip. It felt good to be wanted by someone.
He was attractive enough; tall, blonde hair, brown eyes, strong jaw. And she hadn't had sex in such a long time. Here was a perfect opportunity to hold up a big 'fuck you' to Bucky and his complete ignorant bliss of her angst and turmoil, and while she did that she could also have some decent sex. Hell, she deserved some decent sex with the hours she had been spending on Bucky recently - calming his anxiety, dispelling his guilt, educating him on pop culture.
"So, what's a good looking guy like you doing alone at a party?" she asked, willing herself to find his answer interesting.
"I've been single for a while," he laughed and she cursed herself as her gaze slipped over his shoulder to where a redhead was kissing Bucky's cheek. And his eyes were close and his mouth was smiling. "And my friend invited me tonight, so I thought, 'why not?'. So here I am!" he chuckled again.
"You've been single for a while?" she repeated increduously, one eyebrow quirked.
"You don't know me too well," he shrugged, "maybe I have a weird sock collection or something."
His comment drew a genuine laugh out of her and she found herself leaning further and further towards him as they flirted and laughed, and her eyes moved to Bucky less and less. Several more drinks later, courtesy of Matthew, her head was buzzing pleasantly and her confidence spiked as she pressed against Matthew's body with her own, aware of how good she looked in her dress - the dress Bucky had bought for her - and how, if she lent just so, her boobs pressed into his chest.
"Look, I'm not usually this forward, but do you want to get out of here? My apartment's two blocks away," he said, his voice slightly pitchy and Darcy couldn't tell whether it was nerves or alcohol.
She swallowed. Looked at Bucky. Looked away as she saw him kissing the brunette from earlier, open mouths, searching hands, grinding hips-
"I would love to," she told Matthew, her own voice slightly breathy and she knew it wasn't from the alcohol, but it wasn't from nerves either.
Matthew easily slipped his left arm around her waist but it was too warm and soft and she wanted a different left arm around her waist. The same left arm that was currently groping some girl's ass shamelessly in a black-tie party. Her expression darkened and her pace quickened, eager to get out of there and never have to watch as Bucky took another girl into his arms with the same eager enthusiasm he held for everything.
As they reached the door she turned one last time, against every threat and instruction that her brain was yelling at her, and shot a last look at Bucky, who happened to be coming up for air. He was turning his head as though scanning the crowd, eyes narrowed, ignoring the girl on his lap. She didn't have the courage to wait until his eyes found her and so she turned away at the last second, ducking through the door and smiling at Matthew on the other side.
"Are you okay? You seem a little distracted..." he ventured as they walked through the lobby of the building and out onto the street.
"No, no, I'm fine," she nodded, "sorry. I do really want to do this." She looked at him and he returned the smile, and then he was leaning forward and his hand was cupping her cheek and his lips were touching hers, warm, soft but not quite right-
"Hey!" a familiar voice cut through the quiet night and Matthew's lips were gone. "Get away from my girlfriend!" Bucky yelled, his face stormy and his eyes cold.
"What?" Matthew stuttered, pulling away quickly and looking at her in surprise.
"Bucky, what the hell?" she shot out angrily, then faced Matthew, "He's not my boyfriend, I swear."
"Um..." he mumbled, taking a step back as Bucky stormed over.
"Yes, he is," Bucky said icily. "And he would appreciate it if you would fuck off and stop kissing my girl." Matthew swallowed, looking back and forth between her and Bucky.
"Would you shut up!" she snapped at Bucky, ignoring the look in his eyes when she said that. "I'm not 'his girl'," she said quickly to Matthew, "he's going to leave and then we can carry on." Darcy shot a murderous look at Bucky.
Bucky snorted, "No, I'm not." And then, to her utter rage, he casually flexed his left hand, the streetlights glinting off the metal. Matthew's eyes dropped to the hand and widened, flicking back up to his face as he realised who he was.
"Shit, you're the... You're the Winter Soldier guy. In the Avengers," he mumbled, eyes wide and scared now. She groaned, knowing he wouldn't dare defy Bucky's order now that he knew who he was. "Uh, I'd better, um, go."
"Matthew, please, we're not together-"
"No, honestly, I don't wanna get in the middle of anything..." he said, already backing away, his eyes still fixed on Bucky's cold expression. "It was, uh, nice to meet you, Darcy..." and then he was gone, quickly crossing the street and hurrying away.
She watched him go whistfully for a second, her first opportunity at a good time that didn't involve Bucky scuttling away down the darkened street. And then her expression hardened and she spun to face him.
"You," she said quietly, her voice dangerous and hands clenched in fists. "What the fuck was that?"
"That was me saving you from a mediocre night you would probably regret in the morning," he retorted, crossing his arms defensively.
"No, Bucky, that was you scaring away any chance of me doing something that doesn't revolve around you!" she yelled, letting the alcohol coaxe her anger out and amplify it.
"Oh, like you actually want to go home with him," Bucky frowned.
"Why else would I be kissing him?" she hissed in frustration. "He was good looking, funny and wasn't groping some other girl!"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing," she dismissed angrily and kept talking so he wouldn't dwell on her words. "I just meant he was nice and we got along, and it's none of your business to get involved."
"It is when you're my date to this thing," he replied curtly and she laughed bitterly.
"Your date? You're such a hypocrite! I haven't seen you all evening on account of you, my 'date', having your tongue down some other girl's throat!"
"Well, I'm sorry for trying to do you a favour and get you out of an awkward evening."
"It wasn't going to be awkward! I was going to go back to his place, maybe have some wine and then fuck him! And to be honest, that is absolutely none of your fucking business."
He looked genuinely stunned for a moment, blinking at her with eyes that were full of an unintelligible emotion. And then the anger slid back over them and his mouth set in a hard line.
"I thought we were friends," he said bitterly.
"Yeah," she laughed a little at the irony. "Friends. That's all we are, so stop telling people that we're more than that, because you've made it pretty clear that we're not."
He paused, eyes searching hers for the meaning and emotions behind her words. "Darce-"
"You should go back inside," she interupted him. "I'm sure all the girls miss you," she added pointedly, crossing her arms in annoyance.
His face clouded again at her words. "Why are you so pissed that I'm having a good time?" he demanded.
"That's not why I'm pissed."
"Yes, it is Darcy, don't try to lie to me."
"Look, you can fuck who you want-"
"I know that," he snarled. "So why're you angry?"
"I'm not," she hissed, praying he would stop with the insistent questions.
"Why does it bother you so much?"
"It doesn't, I just-"
"It does bother you, so tell me why!"
"Because if you're going to be kissing anyone at a party, you should be kissing me!"
Her loud outburst hung in the air and Bucky went silent, his eyes wide and his mouth slightly ajar.
"But obviously you don't feel the same way," she fumbled, wishing the street would open up and swallow her, or a Norse God would appear from the heavens and take her far away from the embarrassment. "God, I- uh, I'm sorry," she cringed, "I'm going home."
She wanted to turn around and hug him goodbye properly, like they always did, but she was too proud and too stubborn and he wasn't moving and so she walked away, leaving him standing alone beneath the yellow streetlights.