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Tony was in his workshop working on his latest design for an upgrade to the suit.  “Jarvis, what time is it?” he asked as he pulled a large pair of goggles off of a peg.

“It is just past 1AM, sir.” 

Ah.” Tony had meant to drop by the labs to meet the rest of Foster’s team. “Oops.”

Jarvis chimed in, knowing what his creator was thinking.  “I am certain they will understand, sir.  Doctors Foster and Selvig are both scientists as well, after all.  They understand how time can slip away from oneself. And even if they do not, I am sure they will forgive you as you are providing them with state of the art equipment, funding, and free room and board.”

Tony smirked and put the goggles over his head to rest around his neck.  “You forgot kick ass work environment.” 

“Oh yes, sir.  How remiss of me.”

Ignoring the AI’s sarcasm, Tony put the goggles on over his eyes.  “Did Foster and the rest of team Rainbow Bridge to Valhalla find their rooms satisfactory?”  

“Thor has requested that I remind you it is a bridge to Asgard, not Valhalla.  And yes, sir. All but Miss Lewis.”

Tony paused.  “Lewis doesn’t like her rooms?”  What was not to like?  Knowing she was Foster’s main assistant (not to mention the woman who tased Thor- she’d won major points when he’d heard of that), Tony had given her a full apartment with upgrades! Lots of upgrades!  What was NOT to like?

“She has yet to see them, sir.”

“Oh.” Jarvis’s answer was like dose of fire extinguisher foam to the face- cooling, though more than a little unexpected. “Where is she?”

“Still in the lab, sir.” 

Oh.” Well, that was different.  Obviously she was seduced by science.  Not an uncommon occurrence- science was a sexy, sexy mistress.  “What’s she doing?”

“It would appear that Miss Lewis fell asleep at the desk.”

He didn’t judge- they’d all been there. “Huh.  Well,” Tony said as he started putting on heavy leather gloves, “when she wakes up, remind her that her room is a place that exists. With a bed.”

“Of course, sir.”

“Excellent.  Now how about some music, J?  And don’t lower the volume until I say to unless it’s life or death. Daddy needs to work.”

“Very good, sir.” Jarvis responded, before blaring one of Tony’s ‘Loud and Proud’ playlists for when he was feeling particularly badass.

*

Tony was busy welding his second redesign. The first design hadn’t quite worked. Neither had the first re-design.  But that’s life (if at first you don’t succeed, well, you know).  And not just life. That’s science!

“Sir,” Jarvis said over the blaring music.

Tony didn’t hear.

Sir,” Jarvis said again, louder.  He would have just lowered the volume like he usually did, but Tony had given him a direct order not to lower it unless someone’s life was in danger. Which, it wasn’t.

Tony’s torch continued to blaze as he bobbed his goggled head to the beat of Black Sabbath’s Iron Man (a personal favorite).

“Sir!” Still no response.  Tony was in the science zone.  If he hadn’t been so focused and if the music hadn’t been so loud, Tony would have actually heard Jarvis sigh in frustration.  “DUM-E,” Jarvis asked, “be a dear and get Tony’s attention for me?”

DUM-E whirled in response before picking up a fire extinguisher and approaching Tony’s back with it.

DUM-E was almost within firing range when Tony’s hand shot out and wagged a finger at the bot (his DUM-E senses had been tingling). “AH-AH!” Tony shouted sternly as he finished what he was doing before turning.  “What is it?”

Jarvis took this as his chance. “Sir!”

“Oh.” Tony turned off the torch. “What’s up Jarvis?”

“There is something I must tell you.”

Tony pursed his lips.  His AI sounded… anxious. Tony took off his gloves and raised his goggles to the crown of his head before giving Jarvis his full attention. It wasn’t every day he sounded like that. “Ok, nix the music.” The music instantly cut out and Tony waited expectantly for Jarvis to speak. 

“I…” Jarvis hesitated.  A computer that hesitates.  Tony had really outdone himself when he’d made Jarvis. “I have a confession to make. It is not that I was purposely keeping this from you, sir.  It’s just that I never deemed it important enough to mention as I could take care of the issue myself.”  Over the next hour Jarvis told Tony about the words ‘I-Where are you?’ coded into his programming, his constant attempts to delete them, and their continual return. He showed Tony the clip of his first words to Darcy and her first to him.  “Sir… as unlikely as it seems, it would appear that Darcy and I are soulmates.”

Tony was gobsmacked.  “Huh.” He was such a genius that sometimes it even boggled his mind.

“Sir?"

Tony shook himself out of it. “Sorry J- that was a bit of a shock. But congrats!  This is great news!” 

“Yes, sir.  It would appear even the universe thinks you are brilliant if it deemed me sentient enough for a soulmate.” 

Tony rolled his eyes.  “No, buddy. I mean this is great news because it means you have someone that the universe decided would be just right for you.  Darcy is yours, Jarvis. And you’re hers.  No matter what kind of relationship the two of you end up having, you’ll always have each other because of those words.  If there’s anyone in the world that I’d trust to keep you company if anything ever happened to me, it’d be your soulmate.”  When Jarvis didn’t respond, Tony continued. “That is, if you want her to.”  Tony didn’t want to make Jarvis feel like he had to do something- this was his moment- all him.

Tony’s honest words shocked Jarvis. It’s not that he thought his creator a liar (though he knew he did, on occasion, stretch the truth- he’d been there), it’s just that he hadn’t expected him to be so pleased- at least not for Jarvis. Looking back at that now however, Jarvis realized his error.  Of course Tony would be pleased for him.  Despite all of his actions, Anthony Stark, as Miss Potts had been known to say, did have a heart. A rather large one as far as the AI was concerned.  He’d been created to serve, care for, and protect Tony.  But perhaps Tony wasn’t the only one he was meant to protect.

“I do.” The AI responded back quietly.

Tony smiled.  Jarvis sounded almost in awe of the situation.  Not that he blamed him.  This was a pretty awe-inspiring moment. “Where is she now?”

“Darcy is making coffee in the communal kitchen.”

The fact that Jarvis had dropped the formalities when referring to Darcy wasn’t lost on him.  By now it was past 7am.  “Alright, I’m going to go join her and welcome her into the family.”

“Sir, if you intend to give her the ‘shovel talk’-”

“Relax Jarvis, I’ll be on my best behavior. Besides.” Tony stepped inside the elevator, “It’s called the iron talk when I give it.”

As the elevator stopped and the doors opened Tony could hear Darcy’s voice from down the hall.  “Wait, whatNow? Jarvis, the parent meet and greet usually doesn’t happen quite so soon.”  Apparently Jarvis had warned her Tony was coming.

Hearing her anxiety Tony strode quickly into the kitchen, a smile on his face.  He didn’t want either of them to panic anymore than they possibly already had. Usually meeting your soulmate was a happy occasion that tended to resolve any stress or tension because, whew! You’d found your soulmate!  But this was an unusual situation.  Darcy all but squeaked when he came into sight.  Without hesitation Tony wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into a tight embrace.  “Welcome to the family, Lewis.”

Darcy stiffened in surprise.  But after a moment she relaxed and hugged him back. “I… uh… thanks.”

“Pepper is going to love you.”  Tony said reassuringly as he rubbed small circles on her back.  “She’s out of town though.  But have dinner with me tonight anyway. Nothing formal.  Come up to the penthouse and we’ll celebrate.”

Someone cleared their throat from behind them before Darcy could respond.

Steve stood in the doorway looking stiff.

Steve had known Tony had been a monumental playboy of legendary proportions before Pepper, but now they were together and he’d been told those days were in the man’s past.  And while Tony was still a shameless flirt, Steve had believed those words and had never pegged Tony for a cheater.  Steve’s face was hard as he stared Tony in the eye. “Tony…”

Ooooo, Steve was using his ‘Captain America is disappointed in you’ tone. Tony turned to glance at Steve before looking back down at the woman in his arms. Darcy’s face was bright red. Tony stepped away from her but left his hand on Darcy’s back in silent support as they both turned to face Steve.

“Relax, Cap- it’s not what you think.”

“So you’re not holding another woman while Pepper is out of town making plans for dinner and a ‘celebration’ in the penthouse?”

Tony shook his head, then nodded, then shook it again as he said, “No.  Well, yes, but no, not that way.”

“Captain Rogers,” Jarvis interrupted. “Sir was inviting Miss Lewis to the penthouse for dinner in celebration.  Of us. She is my soulmate.”

Steve’s face went slack.  “I… wow.  Really?” Steve asked, looking up at the ceiling.

Tony removed his hand from Darcy’s back and stepped in front of her, blocking Steve’s view.  He crossed his arms over his chest and lifted his chin at the man. Super soldier or no, if he said anything wrong Tony would deck him. “Really,” he answered for them.

Steve looked back at Tony, who looked him straight in the eye in complete seriousness.  Steve exhaled, a little smile turning up the corners of his lips. “Jarvis that’s fantastic! Congratulations.” He said sincerely.   

Tony relaxed.  It’s not that he’d expected Steve to be cruel (Tony doubted there was a cruel bone in the man’s body) but Steve was from a time where same sex soulmate pairs had been expected to be platonic only.  He’d had no idea how the man might react to a human/AI relationship- of any kind (platonic or otherwise- ew, ok, so not his business.  He was not going to go there. Definitely not going to go there.  Oh dear god, why was his brain going there?  And now it was stuck there! Think of something else- ANYTHING else!  Puppies! Lots of puppies!).

Darcy peaked her head out from around Tony to look at Steve.  Steve noticed. “Congratulations, ma’am,” he said, giving her a huge apple pie smile.

Darcy smiled up at Steve’s sweet smile. “Captain America just blessed my Soulmatch… are little birds waving the American flag going to start singing?”

Steve shook his head.  “Sorry to disappoint.  I gave them the weekend off-“

Suddenly images of small cartoon birds were projected onto the walls and cabinets before they began flying around the room while singing the national anthem.  Steve started laughing.  Darcy looked confused. Tony smiled and shook his head. When he noticed Darcy staring at him in confusion, he just said, “Jarvis.” 

Realizing Jarvis had given her singing birds to keep her from being disappointed, Darcy laughed.  Where had he even gotten a clip of cartoon patriotic blue birds? Her Soulmate was definitely something else- this could be very fun.  “Thank you Jarvis,” she said up at the ceiling. 

The birds disappeared as Jarvis stopped projecting them.  “You are welcome, Miss.”

Tony didn’t miss that Jarvis hadn’t dropped the formalities around Steve. 

After he stopped laughing Steve straightened and wiped a tear from his eye.  He looked at Darcy and extended his right hand.  “Steve Rogers, ma’am.”

Darcy smiled and automatically reached out in return. She was looking at Captain America. And he was waiting to shake her hand! “Darcy Lewis.”  She was shaking Captain America’s hand.  Wow, first Tony Stark- the Iron Man hugs her and now Captain America shakes her hand!  Darcy liked to think she wasn’t too much of a fangirl but she was definitely feeling a little overwhelmed and- oh shit!  She turned to Tony with wide eyes.  She hadn’t introduced herself yet!  Not a ‘nice to meet you,’ not a ‘hi, how are you’- no! Nothing!

Tony looked at her wide eyes and smiled. “It’s ok, Lewis. I didn’t give you the chance to introduce yourself.  But I know who you are, and you know who I am… Right? Or am I the creepy stranger in the trench coat who just hugged you?”

“Strangers have the best candy,” Darcy deadpanned.

Tony smiled, “But Starks can buy you the whole candy store.” 

Darcy nodded, “Why do you think I didn’t tase you?”

Tony liked her.  “I like you.  Remind me to give your taser a few upgrades. I can-”

Sir.” Jarvis’s plea sounded longsuffering.  “Need I remind you of the outcome the last time you tried to upgrade something? And the resulting incineration?”

Tony didn’t skip a beat.  “That toaster oven was totally out of line and you know it!”

“Be that as it may, sir, the upgrades you gave it still caused it to turn evil.  I’m going to insist that you not turn any of my Soulmate’s things sentient.”

“Or evil.” Darcy added.  “I can see the appeal of making a few kitchen appliances self aware, but what happens when one gets mad at you?  Burnt toast?”

“And attempted murder,” Jarvis responded dryly.

“That was a dark day,” Steve recalled, nodding his head.

“Yeah,” Tony agreed.  “No toast.”

Steve shook his head.  Clearly he and Tony considered that day to be dark for very different reasons.  He looked back at Darcy. “So, when did you find out?”

“Around 4am.  I fell asleep at my desk and when I woke up Jarvis spoke to me.”

“Were you planning on going public?” Though he was speaking to Darcy, Steve was looking at Tony.

Tony put his hand on Darcy’s shoulder. “That’s part of what I wanted to talk to the two of you about tonight.  I’ve been thinking about protocols for team Soulmates for a while now and I feel it’s safer if they stay unannounced.  It is, of course, your and Jarvis’s choice ultimately, but my opinion is that you not go public and that we keep this in-house.  I don’t even think we should tell SHIELD.”

Steve nodded.  “I think that’s wise.  It’s my opinion as well.  Jane and Pepper are both high profile enough as it is.  Everyone already knows about Pepper and Tony. But we don’t advertise Jane being Thor’s Soulmate. It’s just safer for all of you if we don’t reveal who you are. And SHIELD has loose lips.”

Darcy nodded.  She could see the reason in that- Soulmates were a special thing that many people treasured.  But that also meant that they were a thing to be exploited by an enemy.  While no one could particularly hurt Jarvis (at least, not enough to make her worry- Darcy knew Jarvis ran all of Tony’s homes simultaneously, so it made sense that he was backed up several times over) that didn’t mean that people couldn’t hurt her to try to make Jarvis do things for them. She looked up at the ceiling, not wanting to leave him out.  “Jarvis?”

“It is my opinion as well, Miss. Might I suggest no one besides the Avengers and those closest to them be told?”

Darcy nodded.  She’d been planning on telling Jane either way.  “I agree.”

“When do you plan on telling the others?” Steve asked.

Darcy looked between Steve and Tony. Other than the fiasco in New Mexico when she briefly saw Clint, she hadn’t actually met the other Avengers yet.

“Agents Barton and Romanoff are not currently in the tower but are scheduled to be back later this evening. Might I suggest after dinner?” Jarvis said, chiming in. 

“Well kid?”  Tony asked, looking at Darcy, his hand back on the small of her back in reassurance.  “It’s your call.”

Darcy nodded.  “Yeah, that sounds good…”

Steve heard the hitch in her voice. “What’s wrong, Darcy?”

“I just…”

Tony pulled her in for another hug. “Don’t worry about it kid, they’ll love you.  No one’s gonna say anything funny about it.” If they do, he thought, I’ll blast them.

Darcy nodded. 

Steve gave her his gentlest smile. “No one will say anything mean- I promise.  And since Captain America would literally implode if he told a lie, you can rest assured everything will be fine.”

Darcy huffed out a laugh.  “I didn’t know Captain America had a sense of humor.”

Tony looked smug as he let her go. “He didn’t.  But he’s been spending just a bit too much time with me.”

Steve rolled his eyes before saying his goodbyes and excusing himself to go shower after his run.  “I’ll see you tonight, Darcy.  Congrats again,” he said with a smile before retreating.

*

That morning Darcy walked into the labs with wide eyes looking for Jane.  Spying the woman across the room seated in a rolly chair Darcy wordlessly walked over to her and gripped the back of the chair before pulling Jane away from her work station.

“Need to talk.”

Jane jolted and gripped the seat of the chair with both hands at the sudden movement. “What? Now?

Darcy never stopped moving, her eyes on the door. “Now.”

Jane looked at her friend with concern. Normally when Darcy had a problem she needed to talk it out she did come to Jane, but usually it was Jane who was dragging Darcy away from the labs for some one on one girl talk.  Whatever it was that had Darcy spooked (and she did look spooked- which scared Jane. The woman had tased Thor and had helped Jane save London- what could possibly spook her?  Whatever it was, Jane reasoned that if Darcy was scared, she herself should be terrified.) “Like, now, now?”

Darcy grabbed Jane’s purse off the coat rack and put it on the woman’s lap as she pulled her out of the labs. She was fully prepared to pull Jane out of the building and down the street to the coffee shop with her if she had to.  “Now, now.”

“Ok, stop pulling me- I can walk. Unless this is a kidnapping. In which case, as your friend, I will try to make it look believable by not standing and acting like I’m somehow stuck to this chair.  But if it is, as your friend, I also have to say that this is by far the worst kidnapping I’ve ever been apart of.  Next time you might want to consider rope.”

Darcy stopped pulling her friend.

Jane slung her purse over her shoulder and then shoved the chair back into the lab.  “Where are we going?" 

“Down the street.”

“Wanna elaborate?”

Darcy looked strained, though incredibly serious as she said, “It’s 9am.  It’s coffee time.”

Jane walked with Darcy to the elevator silently. Obviously whatever she wanted to talk about wasn’t something she wanted to discuss with so many eyes and ears in the tower.  They left the tower in silence and didn’t speak until they walked into the coffee shop, ordered drinks and pastries, sat down in the oversized, worn armchairs in the window and received their drinks when they were brought over.

Jane eyed Darcy over the rim of her ridiculously (fabulously) large coffee cup.  Darcy hadn’t so much as looked at her coffee since it came. “Ok.  Spill.”

“I met my soulmate last night.”

Jane’s eyes bulged as she inhaled while trying to drink (a mistake- a large mistake- a large coffee flavored mistake). Coughing she put down her drink. “You-” wheeze “what?”  Jane finished coughing and gulped more of her latte to clear her throat.  “When? Wait, no, forget when! Who!

Darcy stared at her friend as she worried the inside of her cheek with her teeth.  She trusted Jane- knew the woman would always have her back.  But this was still a weird bomb to drop. 

Jane sat and waited while Darcy warred with herself. What was she not telling her? If her Soulmate had done or said something to her best friend, Jane would not only sic Thor, the Warriors Three, and Sif on them (they adored Darcy), but would go mad scientist on them herself. Darcy looked her in the eye.

“Jarvis.”

Jane blinked.  Jarvis what?  Jarvis saw the exchange? Jarvis heard the exchange?  Jarv- oh god, wait. No. “…Jarvis is your…?”

Darcy stared at her with wide, sleep-deprived eyes. She nodded. 

“I… he… oh god, wow.” Jane leaned close to her friend. “How do you feel about it?” No wonder Darcy had dragged her outside of the tower- her Soulmate was the tower. Jane was a bit shocked by Darcy’s words- who wouldn’t be- it wasn’t something you expected.  But then, her Soulmate was an alien that she hit with a van after he dropped out of the sky.  Jane figured she of all people could be open minded about this turn of events. And truth be told, despite the shock, she was very happy for her friend.  She never would have considered the pairing, but now that it was in front of her, she could see it was actually pretty brilliant.  But it wasn’t about what she thought.  It was about what Darcy thought. 

Darcy shrugged.  “I mean, at first I was kinda freaked out.” Jane nodded. “Like really freaked out.  How can I be paired with a computer?  But then we talked. And… he’s pretty cool, Jane.”

Jane smiled, relief flooding into her knowing her friend was feeling good about this.  “So you’re ok with it.”  Darcy nodded. “And you like talking to him.” Darcy nodded again. “Then why are you so anxious?”

Darcy stuffed half of her pastry into her mouth. “Because.”  She said around the sweet like that one word explained everything. When Jane just stared at her she sighed and elaborated.  “Because we have to tell the team tonight after dinner and… and…”

“And you’re concerned they won’t like you.”

Darcy’s eyes dropped.  “Or us…”

Jane nodded in understanding. Darcy had never cared too much if people liked her- she’d just find others who did.  But she was bothered by the thought that those closest to her Soulmate wouldn’t like the notion of them. “I wouldn’t worry about that. If anything, they’ll probably be floored but happy for you both.”

Darcy nodded.  “Jarvis told Tony this morning after he and I had figured things out. Tony came up and welcomed me to the family with a hug- we’re having a family dinner tonight. Steve walked in on us making plans and he seemed genuinely happy for us.  But…”

“But the others aren’t Jarvis’s creator or have the reputation of being sweet as apple pie,” Jane finished.

Darcy nodded. 

“Well,” Jane said, “I’m on your side, as are Tony and Steve.  Thor will be too. And you know Erik will be also. And I’m sure the Warriors Three and Sif will want to throw you a party when they find out… though that seems to be their standard reaction to everything. Bruce is a total sweet heart so I doubt he’ll think anything negative of it at all.  From what I understand, Natasha is intimidating but not mean, and I hear Clint isn’t either.  And I’m told that Sam is a nice guy.  I think the team will be fine.  Some of the public might make a stink though, you know, the whole Skynet thing-”

Darcy shook her head.  “Tony, Steve, and Jarvis all think we shouldn’t tell anyone else. Tony said he’s been thinking about it for a while and doesn’t think team Soulmates should be advertised for safety reasons.  Both Steve and Jarvis agree.  I do too. They don’t even want to tell SHIELD.”

Jane nodded.  “I think that’s pretty wise too.  We don’t advertise who my Soulmate is.  I’ve got a big enough target on my back these days as it is. I won’t say anything.” Jane smiled at her friend.  “Also, congrats.”

Darcy smiled back.  “Thanks, Jane.”

*

Darcy looked at the clock.  It was 5pm- time to go to dinner with Tony. Jarvis had already informed her that Tony would have food delivered to the Penthouse- all she had to do was take the elevator up. 

“You ready to go?” Jane asked from a worktable across the lab. 

Darcy nodded.  “Yeah.” 

“Relax, it’ll be ok.  You’re not going in alone- you’ve got Jarvis.”

“Indeed.” Jarvis chimed in.  “I assure you, Miss, that Sir is looking forward to this. I know he has a reputation of being obnoxious, but he is genuinely happy to welcome you into the family. And should he get overly excited and try to turn your cellphone evil, I shall be there to gently remind him of our earlier discussion.”

Darcy smiled at Jane’s confused frown. “Thanks, J.”

*

Dinner was Italian that Tony had ordered from a 5 star restaurant in town.  “I didn’t know this place did delivery.” Darcy said as she filled her plate. There was so much food it looked like Tony had just ordered five of everything off the menu.

Tony shrugged as he poured the wine. “They do for me.”

Darcy shook her head as she carried their plates to the couch.  Tony had meant it when he said nothing formal.  He had changed into clean clothes but he still had some grease in his hair.

“What?” Tony asked, setting the wineglasses down on the coffee table before accepting his plate from her.

“This.”  Darcy said.  “All of this. It’s all unreal.”

“Oh.  Right. That.” He nodded.  “I guess to the average person it would be, but come on- you’re not exactly average.  You hang out with an astrophysicist who believed she could open portals to other worlds, the god who proved it- who you tased. By the way- nice, and his four friends.  You hacked the DMV, went toe to toe with a government agency without blinking, were there during Loki’s attack on Puente Antiguo, stayed cool and collected, and managed to save a bunch of animals and people to boot.  You were in London during that whole evil space elves incident and from what I understand helped save the world that time.  Thor was just the distraction- you, Jane, Erik and Ian getting that device in place is what saved us.  Now you live in Avengers Tower with Captain America, Falcon, Black Widow, Hawkeye, the Hulk, and ahem, Iron Man-“ Tony paused for a brief moment and talked out the side of his mouth conspiratorially, “who is of course your favorite.” At Darcy’s smile, he continued. “You’re not average. It’s why you accepted things so fast and aren’t freaking out.  It’s why the universe thought you’d be a perfect match for Jarvis. And I’m inclined to agree. You accepted our crazy right out the gate, kiddo.  And you ran with it.”

Tony’s words made Darcy relax a bit. He was right.  She’d never actually stopped to really think about things before- she’d just done what needed to be done.  But he made her sound like… well, like she belonged here.

As if he’d read her mind, Tony spoke again. “You belong here.”

“Indeed.”  Jarvis sounded pleased.  “You will always have a place here, Darcy.”

Darcy smiled up at the ceiling for the umpteenth time that day.  “Thanks, Jarvis. It’s just, I’m nervous about telling the others.”

Tony figured as much.  “Relax kid, it’ll be fine.”

Darcy spoke between bites of pasta. As anxious as she felt, the food was really good. “But what do I say? I mean how do I tell them that I’m Jarvis’s Soulmate? They don’t exactly make paper announcements for this…”

“We could put the announcement on fortune cookies if you’d like,” he quipped.

Darcy paused in thought, though she wasn’t serious. “I do like cookies,” she mused.

Jarvis’s reply was quick and sincere. “Shall I order a batch, Darcy?”

Darcy smiled at his eagerness. Was he going to turn out to be one of those men (uh, AI’s) who bought whatever a woman looked at or mentioned for them? This could get dangerous. And very, very fun.  “No J, I don’t think so. We should probably just flat out tell them.”

“That would be my preference.” Jarvis replied. “However, if you’d like a bit more fanfare, I could always play a trumpet solo.”

Darcy could see Tony getting excited at the idea. “Thanks J, but that’s ok. Unless,” she hurried to reply, “you want to?”

“No Darcy, I’m perfectly fine without the fanfare. Though perhaps a short reception should follow?  I can have dessert delivered.”

Darcy put down her plate and reached for her wine. “Now how did you know I like cake?”

The AI’s response was smug.  “Everyone likes cake.”

Tony smiled over the rim of his wineglass. “Order it, Jarvis.”

*

As the evening wore on the rest of the Avengers gathered back at the tower after their days had ended.  Tony and Darcy had finished dinner while Jarvis informed the team that their presence was requested in the common living room for an important announcement.  As they rode in the elevator Tony could still feel Darcy’s apprehension but he was confident in his team.  He may not always get along with them, but he knew them.  And he knew they’d not only love Darcy, but accept this as well. He’d already phoned Pepper that day who’d all but screeched at the news in excitement.  Like Tony, she’d never dreamed that Jarvis would have a Soulmate.

Though he was confident in his team, he still began to feel a bit on edge himself.  Her anxiety made him feel a swell of protectiveness in his chest that he normally didn’t feel toward the people he lived with- after all, they could take care of themselves for the most part.  Sure, he regularly caused a scene in public to give the rest of them a chance to get away mostly unnoticed by the media, but he’d always just considered that part of his job.  He was Iron Man- the flashy guy flying around in a shiny red and gold suit making repulsor sounds to distract while some of the team could move in shadow.  But this was a little different.  This wasn’t a mission.  This wasn’t to give his team a chance to adjust to the media or to hide out of sight so that they could do their jobs in peace.  This was Darcy and Jarvis. 

As they entered the common areas, Tony braced for a fight.  Not that there would be much of one.  He’d beat on anyone who made Darcy feel even slightly uncomfortable.  If there was so much as a sniffle out of her he’d attack.

Natasha and Clint were both on the couch, occupying each other’s space while Sam sat in one of the large recliners. Thor and Jane occupied another while Bruce and Erik sat at the table discussing something science related. Darcy turned to see Steve smile at her, leaning against the wall behind them in silent back up. 

Sam looked up as they walked in and smiled. “So what’s up, Tony? Jarvis said it wasn’t an emergency, but some good news?”

Darcy fidgeted.  Tony placed another reassuring hand on the small of her back and propelled her a bit further into the room as he nodded.  “It’s very good news.  I trust you’ve all now met Doctors Foster and Selvig,” he said, nodding to each of them in turn.  The team nodded and waited for him to continue.  “This is Darcy Lewis, their assistant.  She’s also going to be assisting me and Bruce.”  Tony looked at Darcy and raised an eyebrow, waiting for her to take over.

Darcy’s hands retracted into the oversized sleeves of her sweater.  “Hi,” she said quietly, giving the team a small wave. “Um… Sooooo…”

The team noted her fidgeting and patiently waited for her to continue.  While they might not be too intimidated by each other (everyone was intimidated by Natasha) they knew they could be a lot to handle.  The spies eyed her with calm, non-hostile eyes; Sam smiled at her and waved back; Bruce eyed her with kind detachment; and Thor grinned at her like a child on Christmas (Darcy was one of his favorite Midgardians).

“It’s ok Darcy, go ahead.” Steve said encouragingly from behind them.

Darcy nodded and took a deep breath. “Last night I fell asleep in the labs while getting things set up.  When Tony heard, he asked Jarvis to remind me when I woke up that I did have a room in the tower I could sleep in… which he did… with these exact words.” Darcy pulled up her shirt a bit to reveal the words in crisp font of her Soulmark.

A stillness fell over the room. Darcy barreled on. “Jarvis is my Soulmate.”

Jarvis chimed in.  “There is code in my systems that constantly returns each time I delete it in Miss Lewis’s favorite font.  The words are the first she ever spoke to me.  Miss Lewis is my Soulmate.”

At this point almost everyone’s mouths had fallen open. Natasha was the only one with her mouth closed. She didn’t show much reaction but merely raised one well shaped brow.

Jane’s mouth was also open, though more in excited glee at the official announcement than shock.  With an excited squeak she jumped up and threw confetti into the air she’d been hiding in her pockets, causing Thor to laugh in surprise. Jane rushed up and hugged her friend, throwing more shredded bits of colorful paper as she went. “I’ve been cutting paper all day!”

Darcy laughed nervously.  Jane could tell it wasn’t her friend’s normal laugh. Jane glanced at Tony and then at Steve. They all shared a determined look and Jane nodded at them.  They were both standing with Darcy incase anyone said something unpleasant. Jane put her hand on Darcy’s shoulder and turned to the rest of the room.  She was grateful that Tony and Steve were supporting Darcy. But she was the best friend, so she had first dibs to defend her. 

Thor let out a shout as he raised his hands in the air before bringing them back down in front of him with a clap. “This is indeed marvelous news!” he boomed out. Standing, he spread his arms out to Darcy who smiled and rushed to him.  Lifting her in the air he spun her around like a small child.  God of Thunder strength was great for more than just opening the pickle jar. “I did not know such things were possible but I am glad for you both!” 

Erik and Bruce both had their heads tilted in consideration.

Bruce nodded as he began picking confetti from his hair.  “Well I can’t say I was expecting that, but that’s great news.” He said calmly as he continued to brush the paper away.  “Congrats Jarvis,” he said to the ceiling before looking back to Darcy and giving her a calm smile.  “Congrats Darcy. And it’s nice to finally meet you.”

“Thank you, Doctor Banner.” Darcy said, still raised up in Thor’s arms.  She wiggled a bit and Thor set her down back on her feet as Erik opened his arms to hug her as well.

“Mmm,” he said, engulfing her in a hug. “I wasn’t expecting that either, but this is wonderful!”  Releasing Darcy he looked up at the ceiling and addressed Jarvis. “Do I have to tell you to be a gentleman?”

Tony spoke before Jarvis could. “Psh, I programmed him-“

“I know,” Erik said flatly.  “That’s what has me worried.”

Several of the others laughed before Jarvis replied. "No Doctor Selvig, there is no need for the ‘shovel’ talk.”

Thor shrugged. “Erik gave me the ‘shovel’ talk when I first arrived.  Though there were no shovels involved, which I admit confused me after I heard the talk’s title.”

Darcy repressed a giggle while Jane smiled and rolled her eyes.  Sometimes her friend’s Soulmate was too cute.

Clint was the first of the spies to break their silence. “Woah.” He said, eyes wide with a small smile on his lips. “So, wait. How are you two gonna-”

Knowing where Clint would take this train of thought Natasha raised her right arm back, smacking him in the face with her hand. Clint’s arms flew up at the contact but she just calmly looked at Darcy as if she hadn’t just clobbered the man. “Congratulations.” While she didn’t offer too much expression, her features did soften slightly and she did offer Darcy a small smile.  

Darcy visibly relaxed, "Thank you."

Natasha continued, her face a carefully neutral mask.  “Are you going public?”

Darcy shook her head.  “No.  …We thought we’d keep this between the team and team Soulmates only.”

Natasha nodded, obviously pleased with Darcy’s answer. “Good. Don’t tell SHIELD either.”

Steve shook his head. “We talked about that this morning- SHIELD has too many people in it to ever keep a secret. Besides, this is need to know and-”

“They do not need to know.” Natasha finished, very matter-of-factly.

Steve nodded. “Exactly.”

Clint stopped rubbing his face and looked at Steve. “Wait, you knew?”

Steve nodded again, a slight blush rising up his neck. “I walked in on Tony congratulating Darcy and got the wrong idea.  Jarvis told me to clear the air.”

Natasha’s lips thinned in a slightly annoyed line. “Clinton. Will you not congratulate them?”

Clint’s eyes shot back to the woman on his left. “What? Oh, right! Yes!” he exclaimed as he jumped up and bounded over to hug Darcy.  “Congrats, kid.” He said as he gave her a tight squeeze. She may not know it, but Clint was already pretty fond of her from when he’d first watched her during the initial destroyer incident.

Surprised, Darcy weakly hugged him back. “Thanks.”

Clint pulled away from her with a goofy grin before looking up at the ceiling and saying, “Congrats Jarvis!”

“Thank you, Agent Barton.”

Sam smiled at her as he patiently waited for his turn. “Congratulations. I’m Sam, by the way.”

Darcy finally relaxed more as the last of the team gave their approval.  “Thanks, Sam.”

Sam noticed.  “What’s wrong Darcy?  Why so tense?”

Darcy fidgeted a bit.  “I’m just relieved.  I mean, it was kind of a shock, but I’m happy Jarvis is my Soulmate- I like computers and tech and he’s great.  But we’re probably the only Soulmate couple like us in the world and I didn’t want you all to be weirded out by it.”

Clint surprised everyone and said, “Ok, yeah, it’s not exactly what any of us expected- or even realized could happen- and yeah, you might be the only Soulmatch of your kind, but as technology advances it’s clear you won’t be the last- you’re just the first.  And that means you must be even cooler than I thought you were when I shadowed you in Puente Antiguo if the universe decided you could handle pioneering this.  And there probably would be some people who would be put off by it and would freak out. But ignorance always freaks out when combined with the fear of what’s different and new.  Knowing what I know about you, and knowing Jarvis, I think you two are pretty great.” 

Sam smiled. “I think it’s pretty great too. Usually we’re concerned about the Soulmates of such high profile figures like the team, but in your case you’ll never have to worry- I mean, Jarvis is definitely part of the team, but the two of you will never be ‘seen’ together.  Plus, if anyone ever tried to hurt you, I can totally see Jarvis going all GlaDOS on them.”

“Cake will be served immediately,” Jarvis quipped. It was true- he’d ordered it.

Darcy got serious and ran over to Sam before she looked at him, eyes wide with mock horror.  “The cake is a lie,” she gasped out in a strangled whisper as she grabbed at his shirt.

“The cake is not a lie,” Jarvis responded, playing along.  “The cake is delicious.”

Tony rolled his eyes.  Those two really were perfect for each other. “But seriously,” he said to the others who were looking slightly confused.  “There’s cake.  Jarvis thought a reception might be a nice idea.”

And it was true- the cake was delicious.  Jarvis had ordered from the most highly rated bakeries in the area after consulting magazine reviews, food critic blogs, and even Yelp.  Tony had walked out to grab the cake boxes that they’d hidden.  Steve helped him as there were several cakes and Natasha had wordlessly gone to the freezer for ice cream.  Sam had walked up to Jane and asked if he could have some confetti too.  She’d gladly pulled more out of her oversized coat pockets and had given him a large handful.  The two of them and Thor had thrown the rest of the confetti around while Erik and Bruce had grabbed plates and utensils.  Clint had given himself the all-important task of ice cream server and had grabbed the ice cream scoop.

Half way through cake Darcy stopped and looked at Clint- both of them covered in bits of paper thanks to Jane, Thor, and Sam. “Wait.  You shadowed us? You were one of the ‘it’s classified, ma’am’ black booted foot soldiers SHIELD sent to take all our stuff?” 

Clint looked a little guilty as he scooped out more ice cream.  “No, I wasn’t anyone you actually came into contact with.  I just watched you.”

“…Why?”

Clint gave her a grin.  “It’s classified, ma’am.”