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the rhythm method

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"I'm sorry, you did what?" Darcy asks as Steve walks toward the door.  Lovely for him to drop this little bomb on her the second the knock on the door comes.  Babysitting instead of necking on the couch while clinging to the dubious excuse of watching some black and white grandpa movie that Steve is all excited about before finally dragging their asses to the bed.

"It's just a baby," Steve says.  "I'd thought you'd want to.  You like kids, right?"

Darcy can feel her face scrunch up like she just stepped in a big pile of dog shit.  "Yeah, as a concept.  Like, yay babies that will grow up into adults and start paying taxes so social security won't collapse and I can retire before I turn 85."

She's deflecting like a mad woman because they've never really talked about kids (mostly because they've been dating for six months and that seems way too early to be starting that whole conversation).  Most guys take her reticence about kids to mean that she's somehow not maternal or not nice, and Darcy is sick of dealing with that kind of bullshit.  She likes kids just fine and will probably want a couple when she's not twenty-five, broke as fuck, and getting blown up occasionally for a living.

Steve turns around for a split second before he opens the door and Darcy pins him with a really annoyed stare.  "Plus it's DATE NIGHT," she sighs as Jane and Thor's face greet her as the door opens, little Emma squirming in Thor's arms, "I want to get L-A-I-D."

"Darcy!" Steve points at the baby. "Not in front of her."

Darcy's jaw juts to the side in annoyance.  "Okay, she may be the daughter of a brilliant astrophysicist and a demigod, but yesterday she tried to shove Jane's Shuffle into her mouth and then pooped herself.  I think she's a few steps from spelling or understanding sex."

Steve just looks really uncomfortable.  Whatever.

Darcy would be annoyed, but she's too busy staring at Thor, who looks like something out of a movie poster for The Pacifier.  He's got a diaper bag hung from each shoulder, a wiggling toddler in his arms that looks burrito-sized because he's got biceps the size of tree trunks, and while he's wearing a very lovely blue button-down tucked into his jeans, Darcy can see he's also wearing the shirt she had gotten him with Emma's photo printed across the chest underneath.  The shirt that he has taken to wearing EVERY. DAY.

(Why would I choose not to wear a shirt with my progeny on it? Thor had asked while fitting Emma into the BabyBjörn he had strapped on, and Clint had laughed so hard that he nearly tipped his chair over.)

"Okay," Jane says, reaching over to pull one the bags off of Thor's arm, "there's a couple bottles and a few of her toys in the bag.  Diapers, wipes, whatever.  All in the bag.  She's had a nap and we'll be back in a few hours before she'll need to be put down for the night, so just keep her entertained."

"Jane," Thor says, and he's got this look on his face that makes Darcy's heart bleed a little.  Goddammit, Thor can look like a big wounded puppy sometimes, and it just makes Darcy want to cuddle him until he's got a goofy smile on his face.  "I am beginning to think it is a better plan that we remain home for the evening."

Jane, on the other hand, looks like she does every time Coulson or Fury marches into her lab thinking they can tell her what to do.  Namely, she looks like she's going to take exactly ZERO arguments on anything.  "Oh no," she says.  "Nope, we're going out.  Give Emma to Steve."

"Love..."

"Don't you Love me.  I need a night out.  I need adult conversation and table cloths and someone in a bad tux serving me overpriced salad.  I need to pretend that I'm going to get a giant glass of red wine because I'm not breastfeeding.  I need something other than babies for the evening."  Jane sounds a bit hysterical towards the end, and Darcy feels genuinely bad for her.  She's still been coming down to the lab for a few hours each day, but Darcy can understand how cabin fever might be starting to set in.  "So hand her over."

Okay, so it's pretty adorable that Thor of all people is having separation anxiety.  "But I fear that harm may come to her..."

"Hey!" Darcy grouses, suddenly offended. "I've kept that thing," she points her finger up and down at Jane's body, "alive for nearly five years.  While she thought that driving around the desert picking up spacemen was a sane idea, I might add.  So I think I can handle Thor Baby for a couple hours."

Thor cuddles Emma tight to his chest for a few seconds, then hands her off to Steve with a face that looks so pained that Darcy can't help but reach over and squeeze his hand.

"Can I feed her thumbtacks?"

Thor takes a startled breath and Jane's eyes get wide.  Her mouth screws into a frown.  "Shut up, Darcy!"  Jane turns to Thor and runs a calming palm over his arm.  "She's kidding, honey."  Jane guides Thor away, waving over her shoulder.  "Be back in a couple hours."

Thor makes it to the end of the hall before he turns to yell, "She prefers to chew on the ring of gummy!  It is purple!" as Jane yanks him into the elevator. 

Darcy sighs loudly, watching Emma squirm in Steve's arms this time.  "See what babies do to people?"

Steve rolls his eyes.

 



--

 



It's very clear to Darcy that Steve thought that he might be good with babies.  It is also very clear to Darcy that Steve thought that she might be good with babies.

It is very clear to Darcy that Steve was living in a fucking dreamworld because apparently they are both shit with babies.  Emma likes Steve well enough, but by a half-hour in, she's getting a bit fussy and is no longer fascinated with fisting handfuls of Steve's hair between her chubby little fingers.  The toys that Jane has provided are also proving to be of limited use.  Apparently Emma has the exact same attention span as her mama, and Darcy isn't nearly as adept at dealing with a Jane-clone when she can't be plied with sugary breakfast foods and old episodes of Masterpiece Theatre.

Mostly, Darcy and Steve are trying to keep her from crying by making cooing noises at her and helpless noises at one another.  God, if Steve wasn't so good at fucking her brains out, she'd seriously be sending him to the doghouse for the foreseeable future.  Right now, Steve should be making himself comfortable between her legs.  Instead, they're watching Emma drag her diapered butt around Steve's coffee table and rattling overpriced Fisher Price toys at her.

Then... the smells start.

Oh shit.

Literally.

Steve looks at Darcy like:

1) He knows exactly what little Emma Odinson (or is it Thorson?  Thordaughter?  On Earth, her birth certificate actually lists her name as Emma Frigga Foster) has done in her diaper
2) He is silently praying that Darcy will do something about what has been done in said diaper
3) He, somewhere deep inside, knows that Darcy ain't touching that with a ten foot pole

Darcy shakes her head, pointing at Thor Baby's diapered butt.  "Oh no," Darcy says.  "Don't even think about it.  You're the soldier.  You go jump on that shit grenade, buddy."

Steve gives Darcy a deeply unimpressed look.  "Really, Darcy?"

Darcy can feel her face morph into something reallllly ugly, and she's not sure what it looks like, but Steve shuts up, hauls Emma up and heads to the bathroom with her diaper bag.  Yeah, that's right. 

"Wipe front to back!" Darcy yells down the hall.  "FRONT TO BACK."

He hears Steve's pained groan from the bathroom.

 



--




Holy FUCK, babies are loud.

Darcy is slowly reevaluating.  She's not sure she's going to want one when she's not twenty-five, broke as fuck, and getting blown up occasionally for a living.  Or like, ever.

Then Emma barfs on Steve, and the horrified look on Steve's face sends Darcy into a hysterical fit that gets the baby wailing again.

Looks like Steve's reevaluating too.

 



--

 



By the end of an hour of near endless crying, she hears the door to Bucky's bedroom swing open violently.

"Oh FOR FUCK'S SAKE!" she hears Bucky yell as he stomps into the room.  Usually on date nights, Bucky is an awesome wingman and goes out so she and Steve can have time alone (to bone, let's be real), so she's kind of surprised that he's actually in the apartment.  Darcy had no idea.

(Which then makes her wonder if he really does go out when they stay in, because Darcy's not exactly quiet during sex and neither is Steve... yeah, that's a thought to reexamine later.  Ew.)

"Give her to me," he barks at Steve, holding out his hands, and Steve passes off the kid with the sort of blind love and gratitude of a drowning man being pulled from an ocean full of sharks.  Bucky tucks Emma right up into his chest and starts lightly jiggling her, running a thumb over her onesie-covered back.  "What the hell is wrong with the two of you?"

Darcy looks at Steve, who still has a big stain on the shirt he's wearing from the second time Emma barfed all over him, and starts laughing again.

"You're a lunatic, Lewis," Bucky says, the toddler's cries finally dying down, and Darcy only laughs harder, falling over onto the carpet.

 



--

 


By the end of the second hour of pure, beautiful silence, Darcy is seriously considering boning Bucky out of pure gratitude.

"You know when you're in a dream and you've dreamed up something so wildly impossible, like a kitchen sink full of laser-guided snapping turtles, that you know you're in a dream and you just need to wake up?"  Darcy looks over to where Emma is gleefully climbing all over Bucky, who keeps tickling her sides, making her squeal happily.  "I'm there.  I'm totally fucking there."

Who knew the Winter fucking Soldier was also Supernanny?  Too many secret identities in this apartment.

"He was always great with kids back in the day," Steve tells her quietly.  "Had a younger sister, plus his Ma would take in some of the neighbourhood kids when their parents had to go away."

Steve has such a fond, happy face watching Bucky play with Emma that Darcy thinks it may have been worth it all just to see Steve this content, which is rare.  Though she wasn't the one who had to jump on the shit grenade, so she's not sure what Steve's balance sheet is looking like on this parade of terrible decision making.

When Thor and Jane return, Jane's looking so much more relaxed, which makes Darcy's heart so much lighter.  Thor just looks disgustingly happy to see his daughter in one piece and takes her from Bucky as quickly as he possibly can, letting her burrow into the shirt that has her face printed on it.

"Thank you, friend," Thor says to Bucky, clasping a hand on his shoulder.  "I appreciate you caring for my daughter."

Bucky seems completely unsure of what to do with the compliment, like he wasn't expecting to be praised on his bizzare mastery of babies and their accoutrement.  "Uh, no problem," he says with what looks like a secretly pleased grin before disappearing back into his room.

"Thanks," Jane says.

"No thanks needed because we're never doing it again!" Darcy says cheerfully, which makes Jane laugh.  "Seriously, next time I'll give her to Stark and you'll come back to Iron Baby, complete with rocket launcher."

Thor's face is STONE COLD and Jane sighs and pats the arm not holding Emma.  "She's kidding, honey."  Jane waves over her shoulder, picking up the diaper bags before closing the door behind her.

Darcy sighs very loudly, and then weighs her options.  Yeah, not even the evening they've just had is enough to kill her libido.  "So, sex?"

The apartment is dead silent.  Then, from Bucky's bedroom: "YOU BETTER BE ON BIRTH CONTROL, LEWIS!"

Darcy flops, howling with laughter, into a decidedly unamused Steve.