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Darcy narrowed her eyes as she exited the elevator one morning.

They were back.

Someone had been plaguing her mornings for the last month by whistling, extremely well she had to add, every morning just as she arrived at her desk. He, or she, was doing their level best to work his, or her, way through the entire 80's hair band anthology. Thereby insuring that Darcy had whatever song they whistled as an earworm for the rest of the day.

Not to mention whistling, by definition, is just that. Whistling. No lyrics were heard. This meant that for the majority of the morning, Darcy had some stupid song stuck in her head and couldn't, for the life of her, figure out what it actually was. Which was beyond annoying and verged on psychological torture.

Many a lunch break was spent on Youtube and Google trying to Name that Tune before she screamed.

On top of that, she had no idea who they were. They were always down the hallway and disappearing into the stairwell by the time she got near enough to hear him or her.

But on this particular morning, she’d arrived early due to a conference call to the UK Coulson wanted her to listen in on. She walked briskly down the hall once she heard the whistling and realized it was actually near her desk.

She rounded the corner and shouted, “Ha! Finally!”

The guy who was exiting Coulson’s office stopped mid-blow and stared at her.

Whoa, Darcy thought looking him over. Dude has nice lips.

“Uh, hi there,” the whistler said before smiling at her.

Double whoa, Darcy thought again. Dude has nice everything. Holy Toned Pectorals, Batman.

“So you’re the whistler,” she said attempting to get her brain out of the gutter.

“I guess I am,” he said. “Sorry. Has it been annoying you?”

“Yep,” she said dropping her bag on her desk. “But not as much as it would have done if you were crap at it. And I’ve been wanting to bone up on my cheesy 80s rock anthems.”

“Thanks,” he said his stupidly attractive lips quirking into a smirk. “And they’re not all cheesy.”

“Yes, they are,” Darcy said putting a hand on her hip and looking at him. “But that’s ninety percent of the appeal, so...”

“Don’t tell me you’re into death metal,” he said his eyes narrowing.

“Please,” she said rolling her eyes. “I tried for about six months in high school, it didn’t take.”

“High school, hunh? And when was that?” he asked. “Last week?”

“At least it wasn’t during the Gerald Ford era,” she retorted.

The whistler’s eyes widened and then he started to laugh. “Son of a bitch, who are you?”

“Darcy Lewis,” she said. “Research Assistant to the man.”

He grinned. “So, you’re the one who sends us those easy-to-understand briefs?”

“That’s me,” she said impressed that people were actually reading the stuff she slaved over. “And you are?”

“Barton,” he said holding out his hand. “Clint.”

She shook his hand and yelled at her brain to stop slobbering all over the place at his warm, firm grip with the interesting calluses. Which reminded her… “Oh, you’re that guy! William Tell.”

He arched an eyebrow.

“You know,” Darcy said. “Bow, arrow, apple on the kid’s head, pissed off at the Austrians.” She stared at him. “Surely people have made the connection.”

“Oh, they have,” he said. “They hardly ever mention the Austrians, though.”

“That’s the fun part,” she said grinning.

He grinned back and she had to tell herself that jumping an Avenger was not a smart move.

“So you’re in charge of making sure us grunts know what the scientists are actually doing?” he asked leaning against her desk. “You’re Coulson’s version of Cliff’s Notes?”

“Oh, no,” she said leaning over her desk to grab her notepad. She flipped to a page she’d stuck half of a pink sticky note on and said, “I summarize, abridge, condense, outline, synopsize, and most recently, rehash information for you grunts.”

“Wow,” Clint said. “That was a lot of words that sounded really similar.”

“Yeah, they’re called synonyms, William,” she said. “And Coulson always has a new one for me every couple of days.”

“At least you’re not bored,” he said.

“How can I be?” she said, not actually kidding. “I’ve got a boss that is a walking thesaurus, I get the low down on all the wacky stuff you guys are up to, and I get at least one 80s song stuck in my head on a daily basis due to some guy whistling like a dork every morning.”

“You do not pull any punches, do you?” he asked sounding amused.

“Saves time,” she said with a shrug. “And what’s with the fascination with Def Leppard?”


“You tend to whistle them the most,” she said. “Did you secretly want to become a one-armed drummer?”

“The idea has crossed my mind more than once,” he said. “Plus? They’re bitchin’.”

Darcy snorted. “They’re okay.”

“Okay? Okay?” he said leaning forward and oh, his eyes were really pretty. “They were pioneers of metal in their time.”

“Wow,” Darcy said ignoring the lusty fluttering in her stomach. “You have totally just confirmed my theory.”

“What theory?”

“That despite all your talent and badassery and intelligence, the Avengers are actually a bunch of dorks,” she said. She paused. “Except for Natasha. She’s cooler than all of you combined.”

“Yeah,” he said looking weird. “She is.”

Darcy wondered if there was a story there. Probably. It was like Days of our Lives most of the time around the Institute. She opened her mouth to ask, but Coulson appeared at the doorway to his office.

“Miss Lewis,” he said. “If you’re done maligning Agent Barton’s musical tastes, I do need those notes on the latest sit-rep.”

“No prob, boss,” she said. She grabbed a powder blue binder and waved it at him. “Ready when you are.”

Coulson nodded and went back into his office.

She felt Clint watching her as she got her stuff together and she wondered if he was staring at her ass. She wondered if he liked her ass. She was pretty sure she liked his.

“So,” she said raising her eyebrows.

“So,” he said still watching her.

“Uh, I gotta go,” she said gesturing towards the door.

He nodded. “Have a nice day.”

“O-kay,” she said not really sure what was happening anymore and not liking the feeling.

She headed towards Coulson’s office and had just crossed the threshold when he asked, “So who’s yours?”

Darcy turned around. “I beg your pardon?”

“Your embarrassing 80s band fixation?” he asked looking far more serious than the question called for.

A slow smile spread across her face. Then she just said, “Guess.”

Feeling braver and more in control than she had in a long time, she went into Coulson’s office.

“How about lovin’, touchin’, squeezin’?”

Darcy looked up in surprise at Clint standing next to her table in the cafeteria, his tray in hand. She blinked and cleverly said, “What?”

“Is it Journey?” he asked looking too cool for school in his tanktop and cargo pants. “Your favorite 80s band?”

“Oh,” she said. “That. I thought you were just being a perv. And no. It’s not Journey. I mean, it might have been at one point, but freakin’ Glee ruined it for me.”

He sat down. “Right. Not Journey. Hmmm.” He took a massive bite of his enormous sandwich and then paused to look at her. “Oh. Do you mind if I sit here?”

“I’m tempted to say ‘yes’ if only to watch you try to swallow and juggle your food over to another table,” she said feeling really amused by the guy. “But I’m not that cruel.”

“Yeah, but I bet you can dish it out if it’s called for,” he said after swallowing.

“How can you tell?” she asked. “I’m not actually wearing my ass-kicking red panties.”

He froze with his mouth completely full of sandwich and stared at her. Darcy struggled to keep a calm expression on her face when all she wanted to do was clap her hands over her mouth. God knew she had a smart mouth, but she’d just said ‘ass-kicking red panties’ in front of an almost total stranger. What the hell was up with her?

But, Clint resumed chewing, swallowed, cleared his throat and just said, “And I thought I was the only one who had a pair of ass-kicking panties.”

“Yeah, but I bet yours are like, leopard-print or something,” she said still trying not to grin.

He just winked at her and she told the butterflies in her stomach to calm the fuck down.

“Underwear aside,” he said. “Phil hired you. That usually means you’re well-versed in how to get people to get in line and stay there.”

Darcy felt really pleased by the statement, but simply asked, “You get to call him Phil?”

“Only when I’m not on-duty,” he said.

“Ah, then it’s ‘Sir’ or else?”

“Pretty much.”

Darcy tilted her head to the side and studied him while he demolished his sandwich. He stopped mid-bite and asked, “What?” with his mouth full.

She snickered. “Nothing. And chew with your mouth closed.”

He just made a noise and went back to eating like all the sandwiches in the world were going to disappear in the next thirty seconds.

Her phone beeped just as she was considering asking him if he had any embarrassing stories about Coulson. She sighed. “Ugh. Back to deciphering the latest from Stark.”

“Are you summarizing or condensing today?” he asked as she got her stuff together.

“Neither,” she said. “I’m actually blue penciling, which I didn’t know was a thing and had to look up. Did you know that it actually refers to when people used blue pencils to make corrections?”

“I did not know that,” he said smirking. “Not usually much call for proofreading in combat.”

She considered that. “Good point. Anyway, I suspect he used it because it’s also used in regards to censorship and Tony’s not exactly polite when he’s in full flow.”

“I can imagine,” Clint said. “Have fun.”

“Thanks.” She paused and wondered if she should do anything else, but sort of gave him a smile that may have been more like a grimace and turned to leave.


She turned back around.

“Is it Michael Jackson?” he asked,

Darcy rolled her eyes. “Look, I think we can safely say that it’s none of the superstar 80s icons. Which means no Michael Jackson or Madonna or Prince.”

He looked thoughtful. “Good to know.”

“Are you seriously going to just keep asking me?” she asked. “’Cause that’s gonna get old real fast.”

A smile spread across his face. “Are you saying that I should be more inventive about this? Challenge accepted.”

She frowned. “How much am I going to regret this conversation?”

He just grinned and said, “Don’t you have a report to blue pencil?”

With narrowed eyes and a parting glare, Darcy left the cafeteria. Once in the elevator, she let herself grin. This was going to rock.

The next morning, a very groggy Darcy awoke to the very distinctive sound of Bon Jovi singing You Give Love a Bad Name. Oddly enough, it was coming from her phone. She blindly groped for it and pulled it close to her face, trying to read the screen without her glasses. Eventually, she realized it was actually her alarm going off, and it had somehow morphed from its usual loud chirp to New Jersey's resident bad boy.

Darcy turned it off and lay in bed staring up at the ceiling trying to remember when she’d re-programmed her alarm. She was positive that she hadn’t. Then her brain actually woke up.

“Son of a bitch!” she said out loud sitting up and staring at her phone. “How the crap did he do that?”

She jumped out of bed and hurried through her morning routine, forgoing washing and doing her hair. If she was fast enough, she might be able to catch the dork after his early morning de-brief with Coulson.

She wasn’t fast enough.

“Damn it,” she said loudly when she got to the office and there was no sign of Clint.

“Is there a problem, Miss Lewis?” Coulson called from his office.

“Not really,” she said dropping her bag on the floor and twisting her hair up on the top of her head, now wishing she’d washed it. “Unless you count someone molesting my phone.”

“Do I need to count someone molesting your phone?” he said after a few moments.

“Naw, I think I’ve got it,” Darcy said. “Thanks, boss.”

She sat down heavily in her chair and went to turn on her computer, but stopped when she saw the sticky note on her monitor which read:

Are we livin’ on a prayer this morning? –CB

“Well, fuck me,” she whispered. “Oh, this is on like Donkey Kong.”

Darcy was seated in the cafeteria during her mid-morning break jotting down some notes when Natasha joined her.

“I hear you managed to decipher Bruce’s latest research without having to ask him any questions,” she said by way of a greeting.

Normally the lack of a ‘hello’ would bother her, but after a month of coffee and tea, Darcy appreciated Natasha’s minimalistic approach to conversation.

Darcy grinned. “I think he took my last email begging him to please, please, for the love of God, stop using equations to explain something to heart.”

“Are you still up for this afternoon’s session?”

“Yep,” Darcy said. “I’ve been practicing and I’ve been doing those yoga moves every night.”

“Good,” Natasha nodded. “You’re showing improvement in your balance already.”

“I’m never going to be like you, though,” Darcy said.

“Of course you’re not,” Natasha said. “That’s not your purpose. But, it never hurts to be prepared. Still, you’ve done really well.”

That, Darcy thought, was as good an opening as any.

“So, you and Barton,” she said. “There actually was a ‘you and Barton’?”

Natasha blinked and then said, “Yes, there was. Briefly. Why do you ask?”

“Something he sort of said the other day,” Darcy said.

“We were lovers,” Natasha said bluntly. “And then I had to leave him for a mission.”

“I’m getting the impression that there’s more to the story,” Darcy said getting that heebie-jeebie feeling she always got when top secret stuff was being hinted about.

“There’s always more to the story,” Natasha confirmed. “But it’s partly classified and partly something I’m not proud of.”

“Got it,” Darcy said nodding. “We’ll speak of it no more.”

“Are you interested in him?” Natasha asked. “If so, I say go for it. He’s terribly…decent.”

She said ‘decent’ like it was a bewildering concept and Darcy felt a pang of something she didn’t quite have a name for, but it was the same feeling she got when Steve got that look on his face when he remembered his life Before.

“I don’t know,” Darcy said answering Natasha. “He’s cute and I’m having inappropriate thoughts about his arms. But I don’t think I’m his type.”

“Sure you are,” Natasha said almost smiling and looking Darcy in the eye. “You’re decent, too.”

Darcy smiled broadly. “Can I get that in writing to show to my mom when she starts complaining about my personal habits?”

Natasha smiled back and they sat sipping tea, well, coffee in Darcy’s case for a few moments.

“He put a song onto my cell phone as my alarm clock,” Darcy said eventually. “I have no idea how.”

“Do you want to know how?” Natasha asked.

“Not sure, yet,” Darcy admitted. “I do know that I want revenge. I don’t suppose you want to help me out with something of a retaliatory prank on him?”

Natasha arched an eyebrow. “What did you have in mind?”

The next day, Darcy arrived to find Clint sitting at her desk.

“Hi,” he said with a smile. “Do you, by any chance, have any idea how my phone came to play Pour Some Sugar on Me when Commander Fury calls me? I’d like to add that I discovered this new feature during a team meeting.”

“I think that’s a terribly appropriate ringtone for him,” Darcy said dropping her bag on the floor. “He’s really such a creampuff.”

A noise that resembled a choked off laugh may, or may not, have come from Agent Coulson’s office.

“Right,” Clint said. “And you know nothing about this?”

“I haven’t the foggiest, William,” Darcy said. “Oh, and FYI? It’s not Whitesnake or Hall & Oates. Thanks for getting Maneater stuck in my head.”

“It’s catchy, isn’t it?”

“Just like typhus,” Darcy said. “Although I do have to commend your diversity.”

“I’m an equal opportunity kinda guy when it comes to the tunes,” he said a corner of his mouth turning upwards.

“Wow. You’re such a dork,” she said starting to grin. “Get out of my chair and go shoot arrows into some bad guys, will ya?”

“Task-master,” he said getting up from her chair. He leaned in close and Darcy’s breath caught in her throat. He smirked. “I’m going to figure it out, you know.”

“Keep dreaming, William,” she said far more breathy than she wanted, but her point got across because his smirk deepened.

“Every night, Lewis,” he said. Then he gave her one of his infuriating(ly adorable) winks and sauntered out.

Darcy sat down in her chair and took a deep breath. She could still smell him. Nothing too distinctive, due to the whole sniper-stealth thing, but it was there.

“I think I have a problem,” she said out loud.

“You do,” Coulson said from right beside her desk.

Darcy jumped and banged her elbow. “Son of a biscuit!”

“Clearly,” Coulson said. “I need those reports of Dr. Foster’s condensed and ready for dispersal by 1300 hours.”

“Sir, yes sir,” she said cradling her aching elbow. “Can I have some coffee first?”

“Only if you make it yourself and bring me back some,” Coulson said before going back into his office.

“Sweet,” Darcy said as she resolved to immerse herself into the world of physics and not think about how nice Clint Barton smelled.

Darcy was on the phone with Jane when she walked into the cafeteria.

“I don’t know, Jane,” she said in answer to her science woes. “Have you tried reversing the polarity of the neutron flow?”

“Okay, the Doctor Who jokes were funny the first time you used them,” Jane said.

“Are you saying I need new material?”

“I’m saying that I’m stuck!” Jane said. "And I'm not sure where I'm going wrong."

"You know I do work in the same building as Tony Stark, I could forward your thoughts to him, if you wanted," Darcy said eyeing the veggie lasagna.

Jane sighed. "No, I'll figure it out. I just needed to complain."

"Hey, it's what I'm here for," Darcy said juggling her lunch tray. She turned around and spotted Clint who was watching her with a grin. His grin widened and he kicked the chair on the opposite side of the table out, making room for her to sit.

"He's doing it again," Darcy said to Jane.

"What? Who?"

"The guy with the bow and the arrows and the arms," Darcy said. "He saved me a seat at his lunch table."

"Does he carry your books to class, too?"

"Oh, hush. Go defy the laws of physics, science girl."

“Let me know if he asks you to go steady,” Jane said before hanging up.

“Wench,” Darcy said under her breath. Then she headed over to Clint’s table.

“How’s it going?” he asked still grinning.

“Fabulously. I got to watch Coulson tear a politician to shreds over the phone,” she said. “It was epic.”

“I bet,” he said. “Some days I think Phil’s the most dangerous out of all of us.”

“He is,” Darcy said digging into her lunch. “Oh, and by the way, I love Duran Duran as much as the next girl, and yes, their new vid with all the supermodels is trés kitsch. But, come on.” She gave him her best look of derision. “Rio? If you’re gonna bring the boys, you gotta go with Hungry Like the Wolf or Girls on Film. I mean, really.”

“What?” he asked looking wounded. “Rio’s a classic. It’s got a sax solo and everything.”

“Fair point. But it’s no Hungry like the Wolf.”

“So was I right this time?”

“Nope,” Darcy said happily. “Sorry, William. Try again.”

“Damn it.” He looked honestly bummed out and Darcy thought it was adorable.

“And hand the cookie over,” she said. “I know you got the last snickerdoodle and I know that you know that I’m unreasonable when it comes to those.”

“You have a problem, Lewis,” he said handing the cookie over.

“You don’t know the half of it, Barton.”

He didn’t carry her books afterwards, Darcy noted to herself. He had to go save the world from giant robots. Again.

Goddamn robots.

It occurred to her in the midst of looking up the definition of Fourier transforms, that she could actually ask him out. There was nothing wrong or against the rules about it.

Half the time, Darcy got the impression they were just work buds. People who made snappy observations and exchanged banter over lunch and coffee breaks, but amicably parted ways once the clock hit five. Or 3am, depending on the work day. But other times... well. Sometimes he just kind of looked at her, and she'd get all queasy inside. The good kind of queasy. The kind ofqueasy that gives you a thrill up your spine.

Despite all appearances, Darcy was not a frivolous or impulsive person. She processed on her feet really, really quickly, but she still processed. She actually used the task list in Outlook, and sets up the alert system to warn her about deadlines. She's organized. She really likes her job and doesn’t want to lose it due to some guy that may or may not like her.

Let’s face it, she thought as she glared at the page of equations that Jane sent to her, there’s no way the guy could be into me like that. Darcy never attracted the hot, actiony guys. She attracted the geeky, hipster guys who liked to talk polling statistics and read Wired. Which, whatever. She liked to read Wired and talk polling statistics. She just... liked this guy too.

We’re just friends, she thought firmly. Just. Friends. Crush on him all you want. But it’s not gonna be reciprocated.

She sighed and propped her chin in her palm and scrolled down the page trying to figure out what the heck Jane was talking about and ignore her inner angst about Clint Barton.

Her phone vibrated with a new message and she tapped to see what it was.

boys don’t, u kno. cry, that is. –cb

A text that made perfect sense considering she’d woken up to Boys Don’t Cry by the Cure that morning.

Oh, fudgesicles she thought. Why are you so goddamned cute?

“So, can I ask you something?” Clint asked over their Tuesday mac n’cheese. (Which was incredible, by the way. This wasn’t Velveeta orange non-food, it was like, gruyere and the mac was some kind of fancy noodle that Darcy was considering erecting a shrine for.)

“Hit me,” she said around a mouthful of cheesy heaven.

“You’re such a peach,” he said. “I was just wondering how you happen to have such an extensive knowledge of music that was clearly before your time.”

“What? A girl can’t have interests?” she said before taking another bite of mac n’cheese. She closed her eyes and moaned. “Sweet Jesus, this stuff should be illegal.”

“You having a Meg Ryan moment over there?”

“Not quite, but we’ll see how I’m doing after a few more mouthfuls.”

“I’ll keep count. So, my question?”

“Oh, right,” she said eating another bite and sighing happily. “My cousin, Tara. When I was a kid, she came to live with us while going to college. You know, to save money. She was cool and was into music and I was impressionable.”

“Interesting,” he said looking thoughtful.

“So, tell me,” Darcy said. “What exactly are you getting out of this?”

“Out of what?”

“The whole musical wake-up call thing,” she said. “What’s in it for you?”

“Personal satisfaction?” he said with a shrug. “I don’t know. It’s kind of nice to have something to think about that’s not, you know, life and death and urgent.” He paused. “Oh. Urgent. Good song. Is it--?”

“Nope, not Foreigner,” Darcy said. “But you’re not too far off on the whole they were a band in the 70s and 80s.”

His eyes narrowed. “Hunh. Thanks.” He looked at her. “I’m thinking I should get some sort of prize when I get it.”

Darcy felt a flush coming on. “Oh, yeah? What sort of prize, William?”

“I don’t know,” he said thoughtfully. “An admission of my brilliance and god-like powers of deduction would not go amiss.”

Darcy snorted. “Dream on. And no. It’s not Aerosmith, either.”

“Damn it.”

Coulson came to stand in his office doorway as Darcy sat down at her desk after lunch. “Don’t you have somewhere else to be?” he asked.

Darcy stared at him blankly for a moment before groaning. “Oh, man. Do I have to?” she asked, well aware that she sounded like a three year old. “I really don’t want to. I don’t like guns. I prefer my taser.”

“You signed a contract, Miss Lewis. All SHIELD employees must have at least twenty-five hours of practice using firearms, even if you never intend on using them,” he said. He gave her a Look. “I don’t want to see you back here until you’ve had at least thirty minutes in the range. And I will be checking the log books. Go.”

She scrunched up her face and dragged her feet all the way to the elevator.

Darcy paused just outside the firing range and bit her lip. She watched some of the SHIELD agents as they practiced.

“I’m going to suffocate on the testosterone,” she said under her breath.

“I’m thinking about getting nose plugs,” a mellow voice said next to her. “It’s pretty bad in there.”

Darcy turned and gave the woman now standing beside her a smirk. “Afraid I left mine in my Boys are Gross lunch box.”

The other woman, who was seriously gorgeous, smiled and asked, “Are you down here to practice?”

Darcy sighed. “Actually, I’m down here to learn. My boss says I have to learn how to fire a gun. For protection or something. Which is just dumb. I have a taser.”

“I see,” she said. She looked out at the range. “I could teach you if you’d like. Give you a female perspective on how to handle a weapon, as it were.”

“Well, that sounded dirty,” Darcy said. “I’m in. Thanks.”

“Not a problem,” she said smiling again. She held out her hand. “I’m Val.”

“Darcy,” Darcy said shaking Val’s hand. She’d expected it to be cool, but not etched with calluses. Darcy tilted her head. “Are you an Avenger?”

“Why?” Val asked. “Do I look like one?”

“You look like you know how to cause some serious trouble,” Darcy said. “And you’re graceful. Two prerequisites for being a superhero.”

Val laughed, a low throaty laugh that made Darcy grin. “Well, no. I’m not an Avenger.”

“No?” Darcy asked.

“No,” Val said. Then she looked directly up into the camera above them and said with a wink, “Not yet.”

Darcy’s grin widened. “Whoa. I have totally missed the first part of what is probably an epic story. But seriously, you’re awesome and I like you already. Will you please show me how to shoot at stuff?”

“It would be my pleasure, Darcy,” Val said.

“She flipped him,” Darcy said to Clint later during lunch. “The woman got the drop on Fury! How freakin’ bad ass is that?”

“Yeah,” he said waving his fork a bit. “But this is just her side of the story. What is it you kids are saying these days? No photos or it didn’t happen?”

Darcy snickered. “Something like that, gramps. And I’ll get the pics, don’t you worry. She said it happened on the roof. I can get the video feed.”

She stared off into the distance. “Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine,” Darcy said. “How fierce is that? Apparently her parents were killed because of their political leanings and she joined the cause to avenge them. SHIELD’s courting her because she’s deadly. She’s teaching me how to shoot stuff.”

“I could teach you how to shoot stuff,” he said frowning.

“Of course you could,” she said patting his arm. “But, I like learning from a woman.”

“Fair enough. So, Fury didn’t delete this alleged ass-kicking?” Clint asked.

“Oh, no. He did,” Darcy said. “But I did not hang out with the nerdy computer guys in high school for nothing.” She leaned forward and said in a dramatic voice, “Nothing is ever truly deleted.”

Clint smirked. “So every time I clear my browser history…?”

“Yep,” Darcy said with a nod. “There is a record of every porno site you have ever visited. Sorry, dude.”

“Damn,” he said. He opened his mouth to say something else, but the sound of Def Leppard’s Hysteria interrupted him. He pulled out his phone and then glared at Darcy. “Banner gets Hysteria? Really?”

“What?” she said with a shrug. “It suits him. And it’s what you get for waking me up with Bryan Adams this morning. Not cool.”

Hysteria happens to be a love song,” he said before answering.

“How can you tell?” she shot back.

He glared at her while he answered, “Hey, doc, what’s up?” Then he whispered to Darcy, “And Adams had good stuff, you know. It wasn’t all Robin Hood crap.”

“You mean that ‘Hurts so Good’ song?” she asked. “Yeah, that was okay.”

He actually let the phone slip from his hand to stare at her in shock (Darcy could hear Bruce saying, ‘Uh, Clint?’ over the phone). “That’s Mellencamp! How--? You better be jerking me around, Lewis.”

Darcy just stuck her tongue out at him.

She was woken up the next day with William, it was really nothing by the Smiths. Her hand slammed down on her phone just as Morrissey launched into a wail.

She flopped back onto her bed and muttered, “asshole,” but was still unable to stop the stupid smile from forming on her face.

Darcy was deep into deciphering the latest report from Jane for her weekly enumeration (not one of Coulson’s best, but still a pretty decent noun) of just what wacky things the scientist had been up to and what Asgardian Tech Can Do For You, when Coulson appeared next to her desk.

“I have a meeting with the Secretary of Defence and Agent Hill is away on a mission,” Coulson said. “Therefore, I need you to do the brief for the Gamma Team this afternoon.”

“What?” Darcy said. “Me?”

“They’re heading out for a follow-up reconnaissance of the original Asgard bridge site,” Coulson said. “I’ve emailed you the agenda. You’ve already got the report.”

“I do?” Darcy asked her eyes widening.

“Yes, you’re currently writing it,” he said glancing at her screen. “It’s a simple recon mission. They just need to have a brief background on the area and the tech.”

“Um, okay?” Darcy realized that she had essentially been phrasing her answers as questions, but she couldn’t seem to stop.

“Excellent,” Coulson said. “You’ll be fine. Good luck.”

“Thanks?” she said.

He paused. “Is there a problem?”

“Um, no?” Okay, this was getting ridiculous. She cleared her throat, sat up straight, and looked him in the eyes. “No, sir. Thank for this opportunity. There’s no problem.”

“I have a problem,” Darcy said as she sat down across from Clint at their usual table (which was something she was going to have to think about later – the fact that they had a usual table).

He looked up from his hamburger and said, “No, you don’t. I got the last two slices of pie.”

He slid a plate with a gorgeous slice of cherry pie with a mound of Cool Whip on top and Darcy smiled.

“You’re a ridiculously good person,” Darcy said. “Oh, and this reminds me. It’s not Warrant.”

“Really? Are you sure?” Clint asked with a grin.

“Very. Never play them again,” Darcy said pointing a finger at him. “I object to their blatant misogyny.”

“Fine, fine,” he said. “No more misogynistic bands.” He stared into space. “Which helps to narrow down the field.”

“And anyway, I still have a problem,” she said.

He stared at the pie. “What? It’s got Cool Whip on it.”

“Not the pie!” Darcy said. “Ugh. Coulson wants me to give the mission brief to the Gamma Team.”

“Cool,” he said. “They’re off to New Mexico next week, right? You know the place. You’ll be fine.”

“Thanks,” she said feeling stupidly pleased by this. “But I’ve never done one of these before. What if I screw it up?”

“You won’t,” he said far too casually.

Darcy waited. “What? That’s it? I won’t?”

“Nope. Why would you?” he asked.

“Because!” she said slumping in her chair and not feeling up to elaborating.

“Darcy,” he said. “You’ll be fine. You know the stuff, because you probably wrote half of it, and you’ve been to the area, so you know the layout. Plus you’re the least shy person I know, so yeah, you’ll be fine.”

“I guess,” she said poking at her salad with a fork. “But giving a talk is different from just talking. I get all red in the face when I have to talk in front of a bunch of people. I hated giving reports in class.”

He shrugged. “Just picture them all naked.”

“Oh, my God,” she said. “That’s the worst advice ever. Have you seen the Gamma Team? I’m trying decrease the amount of red my face gets when I have to speak in front of people. Not increase it.”

“What? They’re not bad-looking,” Clint said around a mouthful of French fries.

“I know! They’re the opposite,” Darcy said after eating a bite of pie forgoing her salad completely. “They’re hot! I don’t think picturing Agent Tate or Agent Flores in their underwear is going to help.”

“Agent Flores is a woman,” Clint said looking at Darcy speculatively.

“Yeah, a very hot woman,” Darcy said. “Trust me, the underwear thing isn’t going to help.”

He blinked and then grinned. “Christ, I really like you, Lewis.”

Oh, and there was that red-faced thing that she was talking about. But, thankfully he wasn’t looking at her; he was too busy decimating his pie.

“Has the underwear thing ever worked for you?” she asked taking a bite of her own pie.

“Not really,” he said. “Then again, I don’t do much talking. And usually if I’ve got to be briefed on anyone, well…”

He stopped eating and stared at his plate.

“Oh,” Darcy said feeling bad for bringing it up. “Less with the underwear and more with the, ah, bullseye?”

He snorted and nodded. “Yeah. Something like that.”

Darcy frowned at her pie. “Out of curiosity, if you’ve been trained as a sniper, what’s with the whistling? Aren’t we supposed to not hear you coming?”

Clint laughed and she instantly felt better for making him do so. “Yeah, well. I like to whistle and I don’t get the chance that often. So, when I see the opportunity, I take it.” He looked at her. “I thought you didn’t mind it?”

“I don’t,” she said. “It’s nice. Sort of, I don’t know, familiar now.”

She raised her head and felt something in her stomach shiver and clench at how he was looking at her.

“I like being familiar to you,” he said after they’d stared at each other for a while (another thing Darcy was going to have to think about later).

“Yeah?” she said breathlessly and God, when had she turned into a Harlequin cliché?

“Yeah,” he said his voice going all low and sort of gravelly; the Harlequin thing apparently was contagious.

Her phone pinged, startling her out of their staring match. And it was a good thing, too, because she was probably two seconds away from kissing his stupid face and licking the tiny bit of cherry pie from the corner of his mouth.

“Gotta go,” she said standing abruptly. “Duty calls and all that.”

“Have a good afternoon,” he said leaning back in his chair. “And you’ll be fine.”

“I will?” she asked.

“With the briefing,” he said. “You’ll be fine.”

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “That. Yeah. I will. ‘Cause I’m awesome.”

“That you are,” he said smirking and looking way too hot.

“Yeah,” she said. “Uh, see you!”

She gave an awkward wave and then scurried, actually scurried out of the cafeteria, remembering at the last minute to get rid of her trash and food tray.

Once she was in the safety of an empty elevator, she let out a deep breath. “I still have a problem,” she said out loud. However, she wasn’t talking about the briefing.

“Now, remember to check your stance, relax your breathing and then fire whenever you’re ready.”

Darcy did as she was told, steadied her hands and her breath and then fired.

After five shots, she lowered the gun, dismantled it and set it on the shelf in front of her.

“Good,” Val said behind her. She pressed the button for the target to slide back. “Very good. Look at you, hitting all center mass and everything.”

“Just call me Annie Oakley,” Darcy said struggling to take her earphones off.

“Well, you’re not ready for the OK Corral, but you’ve really improved,” Val said giving Darcy a quick squeeze on her shoulder. “I now pronounce you sufficient with a firearm.”

“Sweet!” Darcy said bouncing a little. “What I’ve always wanted! Do I get cake?”

“But of course,” Val said. “After you tell me how your first ever briefing went.”

“Pretty good,” Darcy said. “I mean, I was freaking out all the way up to the moment that I was standing in front of them, but then I just started to tell them about the place and the tech and yeah. It went well. I think they appreciated me telling them where to get the good snack food more than the rest of it.”

“Never underestimate the power of a good bag of potato chips,” Val said. “Now, what’s going on with you and Mr. Biceps?”

“His uniform does sort of accentuate certain features, doesn’t it?” Darcy said tapping her chin thoughtfully.

“It does,” Val said pulling up a new target and gesturing for Darcy to put her earphones back on. “Now, talk.”

Darcy waited until Val had riddled the target with holes from two different types of reaches of her gun, before she said, “I think I have a problem.”

“Which is?” Val asked as she examined the target sheet.

“I really like him.”

“This is a problem?”

“I haven’t been in a relationship that lasted more than a week in, oh, let’s see – ever!” Darcy said giving Val a desperate look. “He dated Natasha for over a year!”

“So?” Val said frowning at one of the holes in the target and re-trying her grasp of her gun.

“So? So? So, it means that I am woefully out of my league,” Darcy said. “I can’t compare to her. Not that I was planning on even trying.”

Val finally looked over at her and Darcy realized that her voice may have gotten a bit shrill. “Darcy, do you like this man?”

“I think so,” Darcy said. “But I don’t really think I’m his type.”

“Dollface,” Val said her lips twitching in what was most likely amusement. “Men do not spend a great deal of their personal time trying to figure out which band from the 80s a girl likes, if they aren’t interested. They certainly don’t eat lunch with them every day.”

“I know,” Darcy said. “Ugh, I know! I’m just---“

“Nervous that you may like a man that is terribly different from what you’ve been with before and you’re experiencing feelings and urges you aren’t quite sure what to do with? Not to mention having to consider the multitude of reasons why it would a very bad idea to act on any possible feelings you have, despite the fact they might be returned?” Val asked, not quite looking at Darcy. “The fact is you’re apprehensive and that’s okay. But don’t let it stop you from getting what or who you want.”

Darcy’s eyebrows rose. “Thanks. Although, we’re not just talking about me and Mr. Biceps anymore, are we?”

Val hitting the button for another target answered her question.

Darcy spotted him almost immediately upon entering the cafeteria. She suppressed the desire to smile stupidly, and went to get her lunch.

Once she had a large bowl of chicken Caesar salad, she made her way over to him and said, “I threw my phone across the room this morning.”

Clint looked up and grinned. “Hello to you, too. Not a Van Halen fan, I take it?”

“Oh, Hot for Teacher’s all right,” she said sitting down. “But, it wasn’t the band so much as the fact that somehow it managed to sing Right Now just as it went off.” She speared a piece of chicken and pointed at him. “You’re lucky that it hit something soft when I threw it. Otherwise, you’d be buying me a new phone.”

Clint chuckled. “Duly noted. And no Van Halen. Check. And thanks for choosing Rock It as Stark’s ringtone. He’s really happy about that one.”

Darcy just grinned and went back to her salad.

They spent the rest of their lunch talking anything and everything and when Darcy’s phone beeped to signal the end of her break, she had to suppress a sigh of disappointment, which was annoying.

She got up and gathered her stuff. “Well, have fun punching things later. And try not to die.”

“I’ll do my best,” he said. “What are you doing this afternoon?”

“I’m writing a précis,” Darcy said with the proper inflection. “I’m looking forward to it.”

“Sounds like a barrel of laughs,” he said.

“Don’t judge,” she said pointing a finger at him. “I happen to like my job.”

“I know,” he said with a smile. “It’s one of the things I love the most about you.”

Well, that made her blush like a little girl, but she ignored the heat in her cheeks and just mumbled, “Thanks.”

She turned away and then turned back. “By the way,” she said thoughtfully. “In regards to my wake up calls?”

“Yes?” he said drawing out the word and raising an eyebrow.

“Your selection is, well, kinda sexist,” she said. She gave him a meaningful look and he frowned and then she practically saw the lightbulb go off over his head.

“I’ll try to remedy that, Lewis, thanks,” he said.

Darcy merely lifted her chin in the air and sauntered out of the cafeteria.

The next morning she woke up to Blondie’s The Tide is High. Still not her favorite, but definitely a decent wake up.

Darcy drew a little daisy in the margin of her notebook while a guy from Finance went on and on about budget and line item reports. She snuck a quick look around the table and noted that every single Avenger, apart from Steve who was too polite, looked bored beyond all belief. Even Coulson was beginning to droop. Darcy held in her snicker and gave her daisy a smile with tiny fangs.

Just as the money guy was about to start talking about expense reports, everyone’s phone started to sound the alarm for a general wackiness occurrence. Coulson’s phone actually rang as did Darcy’s.

When she saw who was calling, she answered, “Jane? What’s going on?”

“Darcy! I did it!” Jane sounded elated and out of breath.

“What? Wait! As in ‘you did it’ did it?” Darcy asked sitting up straight ignoring that everyone in the room was looking at her. “You got him back?”


“Holy shit, Jane!” Darcy yelled. “You rock!”

“I know! I know!” Jane shouted back. “I do!”

Darcy started to laugh when she heard Thor in the background yelling happily, “Jane! It has been too long since my lips laid claim to yours!”

Darcy’s eyes widened when she realized what she was hearing. “Oh, hello.”

“Miss Lewis,” Coulson prompted.

“Oh, uh,” she looked over at him, “Jane got the bridge working. Thor’s back.”

“So I gathered,” Coulson said. “What is Dr. Foster currently doing?”

“Um,” Darcy listened for a second. “I think she’s getting the crap kissed out of her. Breathe, Jane. Through your nose!”

Tony and Clint snickered and Steve grinned. Natasha and Val just looked amused. Coulson was suppressing an eyeroll, Darcy could tell.

“Darcy?” Jane said when she came back sounding really out of breath. “I’m kind of smart.”

“Heck yes you are,” Darcy said. She spotted Coulson looking very patient beside her. “Oh, Agent Coulson would like to have a word, Dr. Foster.”

“By all means, Miss Lewis,” Jane replied.

Darcy handed Coulson her phone.

“Congratulations, Dr. Foster,” Coulson said. “We at SHIELD had every faith in your abilities.”

“I can’t believe we get to meet a god,” Steve said Bruce.

“Don’t let the deity status fool you, he’s a sweet potato,” Darcy told them.

Clint snorted. “Yeah, a sweet potato that knocked out a dozen agents in less than fifteen minutes.”

“Yeah, but he was having a bad day,” Darcy said.

Clint said something else to the rest of the team, but Darcy had tuned back into Coulson’s conversation with Jane.

“We’re sending transport for you as we speak,” Coulson said. “We look forward to seeing you and Lord Thor, soon.”

He handed Darcy’s phone back to her.


“So I finally get to see the infamous Institute and meet the Avengers?” Jane asked.

“You’re going to love it!” Darcy said. “So, I’d planned on letting you and your god bunk together. Will you be wanting a two-bedroom or a one-bedroom?”


“One-bedroom it is,” Darcy said with a grin.

“You’re horrible,” Jane said, but she was laughing.

“I don’t hear you asking for that two-bedroom,” Darcy sang back at her.

“Darcy. I just. I really did it,” Jane said actually sounding confused.

“Of course you did it, you crazy science chick,” Darcy said. “Did you honestly think you wouldn’t?”

Darcy hung up and looked at Coulson expectantly.

“We’ll need to set up Dr. Foster and Lord Thor –“ Coulson said.

“In their own living spaces and allocate lab space for Jane,” Darcy said. “I’m on it, sir.”

“Excellent,” Coulson said. He turned to Director Fury and Steve. “Captain, perhaps I should brief the team about Thor in more detail.”

Darcy turned away from the rest and dialed Linda in Property Services. “Linda, it’s Darcy. Remember those two people I said would be joining us at some point? That point has arrived. What have your magical property powers got for me?”

A few minutes later, a satisfied Darcy hung up and turned back to listen in on the discussion of Norse mythology. She grinned when Clint looked over at her; he just smirked and shook his head at her good mood. She didn’t care. Her friend was awesome at science and was coming for a visit.

The morning after Jane arrived, Darcy forcibly dragged her out of her new lab and straight to the cafeteria. She'd be worried about her cafeteria obsession, but seriously, that place was totally becoming her new spiritual home.

“First, we grab breakfast,” Darcy said heading for the baked goods. “Then, we confab.”

“Confab?” Jane said. “Has your vocabulary always been this good?”

“Yep,” Darcy said selecting a fruit bowl and a massive blueberry muffin. “But it’s really started to flourish lately.”

“I can tell,” Jane said going for the large chocolate muffin.

They got their coffee and went straight for a table already occupied by Pepper, Natasha and Val.

“Ladies, the incredible Dr. Jane Foster,” Darcy said as they sat down. “Einstein-Rosen Bridge re-creator extraordinaire.”

This was met with actual applause and grins from the other women, while Jane blushed. “I didn’t actually create it,” Jane said. “I just found it again.”

“Either way,” Darcy said. “You are brilliant and must be regarded as such. I think you met everyone yesterday.”

Jane nodded. “Hi.”

“Dr. Foster,” Pepper said. “I’d love to talk to you later about coming up with some possible uses for your discoveries with Stark Industries.”

Jane blinked. “Seriously? Stark Industries?”

Pepper nodded. “Oh, yes. We’d love to have first, well, dibs, if you will, on you. After SHIELD, of course,” she added after both Darcy and Natasha gave her a look.

“Um, yeah, yes!” Jane said smiling. She looked over at Darcy. “Yes?”

“Dude, it’s your break-through,” Darcy said. “You get to do what you want with it. You filled out those forms I sent you, right?”

“Ye-es,” Jane said.

“Then it’s yours,” Darcy said with a grin.

“Wow,” Jane said a smile spreading across her face. “I didn’t actually think about what I’d do past figuring out how to find the bridge. What do I do now?”

“You work,” Darcy, Pepper and Natasha said all at once. Val laughed out loud when they all looked at each other.

“Dr. Foster,” Val said, still smiling. “You’re in a very good position. You have something that a lot of people want and are willing to fund so you can keep doing what you do best. Just read over everything before you sign and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. “

“Oh, I’m good at saying no,” Jane said before popping a piece of muffin in her mouth. She chewed and swallowed. “I just want make sure what I’m doing is going to actually make a difference.”

“It will,” Natasha said. “I’ve seen the preliminary development reports and what you’ve discovered is going to revolutionize a lot of technology.”

They heard a crowd of voices approaching the cafeteria and saw most of the male contingency of the Avengers stroll in. When Thor entered the smile he aimed at Jane was bright and blinding.

“Wow,” Pepper said under her breath, her brows rising in appreciation.

“I know, right?” Darcy said. “You should see him naked.”

Clint followed Bruce and when he saw Darcy he grinned.

“Well?” he called out across the room.

Darcy rolled her eyes. “Keep trying.”

“Aw, come on,” he said looking crushed.

“Hey, I love Pat Benatar and I truly believe in the message of Billie Jean, because Fair is Fair, but she’s not my all-time fave,” she said shrugging.

“Fine,” he said walking backwards towards the others. “But I will get this, Lewis.”

“Whatever makes you happy, William,” she said.

He winked at her and she grinned as she picked up a slice of apple. As she bit into it, she realized that the other women were staring at her.

“What?” she asked.

“Oh, nothing,” Pepper said not hiding a smile.

“I thought his name was Clint?” Jane asked.

“It is,” Natasha said. “She calls him William for William Tell.” Natasha smirked. “It’s cute.”

“Very cute,” Val agreed, smiling over her coffee.

“I don’t think I like any of you,” Darcy said narrowing her eyes.

Jane looked confused. “I thought you two were just friends?”

“We are,” Darcy said.

Val snickered. “Please. Darcy here is warm for his form.”

“Warm for his--,” Darcy stared at Val. “How the hell are you a contessa?”

“You’re a contessa?” Jane asked her eyes widening. “That’s an actual thing?”

Darcy just laughed at the look on Val’s face. Served her right. Warm for his form. As if.


She was.

But the whole world didn’t need to know that.

“Tell me I got it today?”

Darcy looked up from her phone and grinned at Clint. “Sorry. Although, I do love Siouxie Sioux. It’s always fun to wake up to a song with the phrase ‘jeepers creepers’ in it.”

“I aim to please,” he said taking his seat. She watched him get a handle on his Reuben and raised an eyebrow the sheer volume of roast beef in the middle, and the length of time he left it dipped in the sauce. Before he shoved it in his mouth, he asked, “Can I have a hint, though?”

Darcy thought for a moment. Then she looked down at her lunch, which consisted of a Greek salad and other nibbles from the salad bar, and grinned. “I think you just need a better understanding of cheese.”

“Cheese?” he said with his mouth full. “Really?”

“Now, cheese is an important part of a balanced diet,” she paused. “Except for those who’re lactose intolerant, but I understand there are some decent alternatives out there. But, for the purposes of today’s discussion, I’m going to disregard those.”

“You’ve really been enjoying writing up and giving those briefs, haven’t you?” Clint asked.

“I really have!” she said happily. “Who knew? Anyway. Cheese.”

“Cheese,” Clint said taking another bite of his Reuben.

“There are many types of cheese,” Darcy said. “Some are creamy and some are hard.”

“Heh. Dirty.”

“Shut up. All are good. But, only some stand the test of time,” Darcy said. “Only some can be used in many different settings.” She speared a piece of feta in her salad. “Take feta. A decent cheese, but not to everyone’s liking. A bit too sharp and some people have a problem with its texture.”

“Tell me about it,” Clint said eyeing the feta with distaste.

“Plebe. Now, one of my favorites, gruyere-“

“The stuff they use in the mac ‘n cheese that really pushes all your buttons?” he asked.

“Oh, yeah, that’s the stuff. Now, that’s a nice cheese, but not always what you want,” Darcy said. “Its flavor is extremely distinctive and sometimes a bit too strong.”

“Not too strong, got it,” Clint said submerging the remainder of his sandwich into the sauce before shoving it in his mouth.

“Then there’s Velveeta, which is just processed cheese. Cheese that has never experienced life and just comes from some vat,” Darcy said making a face. “Now, it’s got its place. And can be quite tasty. But, in essentials, it’s not going to make the grade and truly fulfill.”

“I should not be enjoying this as much as I am,” Clint said shaking his head. “Go on.”

“Thank you,” Darcy said. “Now, we come to the ultimate cheese. The cheese that can be used for everything. Cheddar. A good, hearty cheese that has history and different nuances to its flavor. It has lots of different varieties and always satisfies a craving for cheese.”

Clint just stared at her and Darcy wondered if her particular brand of wackadoodle was too much for him.

“You’ve clearly given this a lot of thought,” he said at last.

She shrugged. “I like to think.”

“That’s cool,” he said. “Thinking’s not really a big part of my life. Reaction’s always been more my line.”

“I’ve noticed,” Darcy said remembering watching the latest street battle. He’d done this leaping thing off of a building that had her holding her breath until he landed safely. “But, that’s important. So I think a lot. Big deal. I could never do what you guys do.”

“Sure you could,” he said around a bite of food. “You’re taking Natasha’s classes and Val’s teaching you about weapons. You’re learning.”

“Just to make myself more well-rounded,” she said and to his immense credit, his eyes did not leave her face to check out her rack.

He did grin, however as though he knew exactly what she was thinking.

“Sooo, your band is the equivalent of a good Cheddar?” he asked changing the subject.

“Yeah, pretty much,” Darcy said after chewing and swallowing.

“Hunh,” he said. “I can work with that.”

“It’s a band that has history and is almost fundamental for your body to keep going,” Darcy said. “You’ve already gotten the gender. Finally.”

He said, “So, I’m looking for a band that has gravitas and substance as well as not being afraid to be, ah, cheesy.”

Darcy smiled. “Got it in one, William. And kudos for using gravitas in a sentence.”

“I blame you,” he said. “I never felt the need to try to impress anyone using words before.”

“Just used to flashing the guns at a girl and they swoon?” she said eyeing his arms and feeling the urge to leer coming on.

He laughed. “The ladies do like the gun show.”

“Oh, God,” Darcy groaned. “You kiss them and I’m outta here.”

She woke up the next day to the Pretenders’ Brass in Pocket.

“Oooh, getting there, William,” she said and sang along as she headed to take her shower.

There were many places that Darcy considered sacred. Her shower was one. When she was in the shower, no one bothered her; that was her time. Past roommates learned this the hard way.

Another such place that inspired reverence in Darcy was a well-stocked office supply closet. She blamed it on visiting her mom’s office when she was a child and being given free reign with the pens, markers and paper clips.

Therefore, Darcy never considered it odd when going into a supply closet to take a moment to simply breathe in the atmosphere of clean, untouched notebooks, sticky notes and highlighters.

She was mid-sigh when Clint appeared behind her.

“Are you having a religious experience?” he asked.

“Almost,” she said, her eyes roaming over the shelves. “This is as close to bliss as I’m likely to get.”

“You need to get out more,” he said stepping into the closet.

“Bite me,” she said happily.

“I’m guessing you inside an Office Depot is a sight to behold?”

“Oh, yeah,” she said turning to him. “My personal nirvana.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he said his mouth curving up into a smirk.

“Did you need something?” she asked. “And nice job with the Kate Bush this morning. Still not it, but very nice, just the same. I’m surprised you know her.”

“Hey, don’t let the flawless physique fool you,” he said. “I’ve got depth.”

“Ha! I’ll just bet you do,” she said snickering. She turned away and perused the shelves for more post-it flags and a new highlighter. “So, looking for something in particular?”

“Not really,” he said. “I was on my way to see Phil and could have sworn I heard the hallelujah chorus coming from in here.”

“Cute,” she said spotting the post-it flags and cursing the tall woman from admin who kept forgetting to put some a bit lower.

“Problem?” he asked.

“Nope,” Darcy said placing her foot on the bottom shelf and stretching upwards. “Got it.”

She wobbled a bit on her toes as her fingers tried to poke the flags off the shelf.

“Oh, yeah,” he said stepping up behind her. “This doesn’t spell disaster.”

“Please, I do this all the time,” she said, her voice rising a little when his hands settled on her waist. She looked over her shoulder at him. “Um, hi?”

“Hi, yourself,” he said grinning. “Get what you need and I’ll make sure you don’t fall over.”

“I’m not gonna fall over,” she said turning back to get her flags. “I think you’re taking advantage of a small, enclosed space and fulfilling your heroic tendencies.”

“Well, yeah. Of course, I am,” he said a goofy smile on his face while his fingers spread just a little wider on her waist, covering more area. “Steve doesn’t have the monopoly on heroics, you know.”

Darcy shook her head, trying to ignore how very, very good it felt to have him touch her. Little synapses she hadn’t been aware of were firing like crazy and voices were shouting in her head saying stuff like, “Yes! This guy!” and “More! More of this!” and “Forget the stationary and kiss him!” She startled herself with that last one and her fingers slipped a bit, and not only poked the flags off the shelf, but also caught a large stack of post-it notes.

She winced and braced for getting pelted by falling stationary, but instead felt herself being whirled around. Darcy opened her eyes in surprise and the first thing she saw was Clint staring at her with that smirk on his face.

“Uh?” she asked brilliantly.

“I told you this spelled disaster,” he said glancing over his shoulder at the fallen yellow post-its.

“They wouldn’t have hurt that much,” she said, her voice a lot softer than she would have preferred.

“Maybe not.” He just lowered his head to look her right in the eyes. “But, this way was more fun.”

Darcy discovered that she was staring at his lips and could not seem to stop. Her eyes flickered up to his to see if he’d noticed and was kind of gratified by the fact that his own eyes seemed to be doing the same flickering from her lips to her eyes. Feeling a bit out of her depth and overwhelmed, Darcy nervously rubbed her lips together, which had an interesting impact on Clint’s eyes as they did this darkening thing and his own lips parted.

Oh. Wow, she thought. I think I’d really like it if he kissed me.


Clint jerked away from her so fast, she felt dizzy and had to grab onto a shelf.

“What?” she said softly. Then she realized who’d called her. “Oh!”

She stepped out into the hallway and rushed back towards her desk. “Director Fury. Sir. You called?”

Fury stood beside to her desk and glared. “You do know that you work for me?”

“Ah. Is this a trick question?” she asked, her equilibrium shot to hell and back and aware that most of her brain power was still trying to work out what had almost happened in the supply closet.

“No, this is not a trick question,” Fury said. “You do know that you work for me, correct?”

“Yes. Yes, sir, I do know that, sir,” she said nodding a bit frantically. “And I’m happy to continue to do so.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” he said. “So, since we’ve established that you do know that you work for me and you want to keep working for me, perhaps you might let your little friend know that I do not appreciate having my personal files hacked into and perused like they are her own personal subscription to Vanity Fair!”

Aw, crap. Val, what did you do? Darcy thought.

“I honestly do not know what you are talking about,” Darcy said, but quickly added when Fury’s glare intensified, “However, I will surely inform all that I know that your personal files are off limits. Beyond off limits. So far off limits they don’t actually even reside in this plane of existence.”

“Thank you,” he said. “I appreciate it. And while you are informing all you know this particular fact, would you be so kind to tell them that if they wish to know more about me, they should just man up and ask next time.”

I think I’m being asked to pass on a note in class, Darcy thought. This is really weird.

“I will certainly relay your message to the appropriate people, sir,” Darcy said.

“See that you do,” Fury said with a nod. He stalked off and Darcy let out a sigh of relief.

“Val,” she said under her breath. Then she dashed back to the supply closet and saw that it was empty; her post-it flags stacked neatly at eye level. She stared at the flags. He almost kissed her. She almost let him.

But, we’re just friends, she thought plaintively. Friends don’t kiss.

“Okay,” she said to the flags. “It’s fine. I’m not freaking out about this at all. Nope. Not me. Not at all.”

Except for how she totally was.

As most things in life, the particular situation Darcy found herself in a few days later could totally be blamed on Tony Stark.

That thought made her dig her fingers even harder into the forearm that was currently holding her in a choke-hold while the bad guy holding her yelled at everyone else in the room.

She’d just needed clarification on a section of Tony’s latest research, because she couldn’t tell if he’d finally superseded his own genius or if it was a series of serious typos.

Darcy’d handed the printed version over to him with a, “For the love of God, Stark, not everything needs to be capitalized.”

“What? It reflects my inner exuberance,” Tony said as he took the page from her hands. “And wow. I…do not remember writing this.”

“So…typos?” she offered.

“Possibly,” he said. He cocked his head to the side. “Although that bit right there kinda makes sense.”

Darcy had opened her mouth to tell him to hurry it up, because she had a deadline, but she was cut off by the klaxons going off and a guy in all black burst into the room right behind her.

“I will not fail in my mission!” the guy yelled. Darcy had had no time to react before her hair was grabbed and (god damn it, she was never wearing her hair in ponytail ever again) was pulled out of the room.

She’d done her best and fought the asshole as best as she could while being dragged down the hallway. She was pretty sure the crack she’d heard was his nose breaking and the fact that blood was splattered across her shoulder while he yelled at everyone else gave her a perverse sort of satisfaction.

But then he'd gotten hold of her wrist and twisted it up and around her back in a way that'd made her cry out. Basically, she was trapped.

They’d ended up in one of the large training rooms with a whole passel of agents and superheroes surrounding them.

Yep. Totally Tony Stark’s fault, she thought grimacing as more blood fell onto her blouse while the guy yelled at everyone some more.

The bad guy had run out of room and was backed up against the wall, but he kept moving Darcy back and forth so no one could get a good shot in.

Her eyes caught Val’s at one point and the other woman re-adjusted her grip on her gun. Darcy saw Thor, Steve and Natasha practically vibrating on their toes and Coulson looked even more impassive than ever which meant he was furious.

She didn’t see Clint; which hurt almost as much as the grip the bad guy had on her wrist.

Coulson finally said, “Your colleagues have given up and left you here. There’s no way out. Let her go.”

The bad guy actually snarled and Darcy cringed and really wished she had her taser and then she heard it:

A short, sharp whistle of the William Tell Overture above everyone’s head.

Darcy grinned widely, then let her body go limp. The bad guy lost his grip on her in surprise and as she fell to the ground she heard the whisper of an arrow flying through the air, followed by a hollow thud.

She didn’t look behind her; she just let Val help her to her feet.

“Honey, are you okay?” Val asked looking at all the blood on her shirt.

“Yeah,” Darcy said, letting herself shake a bit. “It’s not mine. I think I got him in the nose.”

“You did,” Natasha said from behind them. “Nice job.”

Darcy huffed out something like a laugh. “Thanks.” Then she turned around to finally look at the asshole who honestly thought breaking into the Institute was a good idea. She frowned.

He was pretty non-descript: sandy-brown-hair, brown eyes, round face. He was also still alive. An arrow was holding him to the wall by way of his shoulder.

“You okay?” Clint asked.

She turned her head quickly, both startled at his silent approach and glad to see him. She turned a bit too fast because her head swam a bit and she swayed on her feet. He immediately reached a hand out to steady her. His hand on her waist was warm and large and she felt like swooning for a whole new set of reasons that had nothing to do with the blood on her blouse and the ache in her neck.

“Yeah,” she said nodding and wincing at the motion. “I’m okay.”

Clint frowned and she saw his grip on his crossbow tighten. He just stared at her neck and her very gross blouse.

She frowned again. “Hey. You missed.”

His gaze snapped up from glaring at her neck (and she couldn’t wait to see the rainbow of bruises in her mirror the next day) to meet her eyes.

“No, I didn’t,” he said evenly.

“You didn’t?” she asked glancing back at the guy who was moaning and groaning in pain while Natasha ruthlessly pulled out the arrow.

“Coulson wanted him alive,” he said in a grim voice that she’d never heard before.

“Oh,” she said. “So…you didn’t miss?”

His eyes met hers again. “No, I didn’t miss. I wouldn’t miss.”

Oh. Oh. Well.

Darcy wanted to say something. Anything. Anything at all. Like ‘thank you’ or ‘I think I might be in love with you’ or ‘I had a dream about you where you were mowing the lawn at my parents’ house, is that a metaphor for something, do you think?’

But before she could say anything, Val was back and wrapping someone’s jacket over her shoulders and saying something about a shower. She tore her eyes away from Clint’s to acknowledge Val and when the warm hand disappeared from her waist, she looked back to see him walking away to talk to Coulson.

“—shower fixes everything. Darcy? Girl, are you sure you’re okay?” Val asked.

Darcy shook her head. “I really don’t think I am.”

She let her head fall onto Val’s shoulder as they left the training room.

Her song the next morning was Eternal Flame by the Bangles and Darcy decided that enough was enough. She got up and got dressed and was out her door in a matter of minutes.

Darcy paused just outside of Clint’s door and wondered, not for the first time, what she was doing.

I’m just thanking him for saving my life, she thought. That’s all. No big. Right? Right.

She lifted her hand to knock.

“He’s not in,” Bruce’s voice came from down the hall, startling her.

“Sweet Jesus on a motorbike,” Darcy said her hand pressed to her chest. She turned to look at Bruce. “I think you need a collar with a bell on it.”

Bruce blinked. Then said, “I’ve never been told that before, I have to say. But, yeah. Clint’s not here.”

Her hand still pressed to her chest, she asked, “Is he alright? Where is he?”

“Mission,” Bruce said coming closer. “In, uh, Dubai, I think.”

“Oh,” Darcy said eyeing Clint’s door and making a face.

“He’ll be back in a day or two,” Bruce said. “I think it’s a re-con thing. Not a full scale battle thing.”

Darcy glanced at him. “They really need to get you a copy of the User’s Guide to Battle Lingo.”

“I’ll put it on my next requisition list,” Bruce said with a sheepish smile. “Underneath the collar with a bell attached.”

Darcy tried to smile back but must have only made a creepy face because Bruce looked worried.

“Are you okay?” he asked. He eyed her bruised throat. “You look a little, um…”

“Beaten up? Rough? Awful? Gross?” Darcy offered as she slouched against Clint’s door. “Yes. All of the above.”

“I heard about yesterday,” Bruce said. “I’m glad you’re okay.”

To Darcy’s absolute disgust, she found herself tearing up.

“Oh whoa, hey now, uh,” Bruce said looking panicked. “What’s going on? Are you okay?”

“Ugh, yes,” Darcy said covering her face with her hands, sending her glasses askew. “Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve totally missed something? Like, you’ve been doing stuff and you can remember it all, but it’s actually sort of hazy when you look back on it and it was you, but it wasn’t you at the same time? It was this alternative you that you had no idea you were projecting? But it wasn’t a completely alternative you, it was still you?”

She dropped her hands and looked at him. He just stared back at her for a second, and then lifted his hand in a wave. “Hi. I’m Bruce Banner.”

“Oh, crap,” Darcy said covering her face again with her hands. “Sorry. I’m really sorry. I’m just all over the place today.”

“Is this about what happened yesterday?” Bruce asked taking another step closer. “You’re going to talk to someone about it, right?”

“I’ve got an appointment with the shrink tomorrow afternoon at two pm sharp,” Darcy said dropping her hands. “And it’s not yesterday. It’s everything.”

Bruce frowned and leaned against the wall nearby. “You’re not worried about your job, are you? Because I can finally understand all the reports that Tony writes now, thanks to you.”

“You couldn’t before?” Darcy asked. “I thought you were a brain.”

“Oh, it wasn’t the concepts I had a problem with,” Bruce said. “It was the stream of consciousness style of writing. I never really got into the whole post-modernism thing.”

Darcy chuckled. “Then you should avoid the latest article going around about the symbolism of the Hulk and what it means for the modern world.”

Bruce looked like he smelled something rotten and Darcy grinned.

“That really disturbs me,” he said pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Yeah. Whatever you do, don’t read the comments,” Darcy said.

“Got it,” Bruce said shaking his head and sighing. “Anyway, it’s not your job, is it?”

“No, it’s not my job,” Darcy said her head falling back against the door with a thud. “I love my job. I love you guys. It’s amazing here. He’s a hard guy, but Coulson is the best boss ever. I’m thinking of getting him one of those mugs that says ‘Number 1 Boss’ on the side.”

“I’d like to be there when you give it to him,” Bruce said.

“I know, right?” Darcy said. “So, no it’s not my job.”

Bruce nodded. “So, then it’s Clint?”

Darcy’s face heated up and she looked down at the floor.

“Ah. It’s Clint,” Bruce said. “Well, um, he, ah, likes you? If that helps?”

Darcy looked over at him and couldn’t stop her grin when she saw how uncomfortable he looked. “He does? Does he talk about me in the locker room?”

“Kinda yeah,” Bruce said rubbing his jaw.

“No way! He does?” Darcy asked turning to face him, still leaning on the door with her shoulder. “I was totally kidding.”

“Oh well, he does. Talk about you. Nothing racy,” he added quickly. “Just about what you said or did or, um, wore.”

“I knew it!” Darcy said pointing a finger at him. “You guys are a bunch of old hens. That’s just priceless. So he likes me?”

“Oh yeah,” Bruce said. “A lot.”

“Oh,” Darcy said smiling. “Good.” She stopped smiling. “I think I’ve been doing it all wrong, though.”

“Doing what?” he asked.

“Everything?” she offered. “I let it get weird and it didn’t need to get weird. So now everything’s…”



“Darcy.” Bruce’s tone was serious, so she looked over at him. “We hang around with a guy who was frozen for seventy years, another guy who wears a metal suit and flies, and I turn into a giant, green hulk of rage. Weird is what we do. Apparently.”

She smiled. “You’re a very good guy, Bruce. Thanks.” She leaned over and kissed his cheek. His eyes widened and so did hers. “Oh, no! I didn’t like, trigger something? How’s your heart rate?”

“Elevated, but not critical,” Bruce said honestly. “It’s okay.”

“Good,” Darcy breathed a sigh of relief. “I don’t have my taser with me.”

“I hate to say it, but I don’t know that it’d do any damage,” Bruce said. He turned thoughtful. “We might have to try that some time, though.”

“Not with me in the room, buddy,” Darcy said.

“Naturally,” he said still sounding thoughtful. “Are you feeling better?”

“Meh,” she said shrugging her shoulders. Which was true. It felt pretty darn good to know that Clint actually liked her, but she still had to do something about it.

“Well, I was going to go meditate,” Bruce said slowly. “I don’t know if that’s your kind of thing, but it can help to put things into perspective and calm your thoughts down.”

Darcy thought for a moment, then nodded her head. “Sure. I’ll try anything once. And my thoughts could definitely do with being slowed down. Thanks!”

For the record, meditation was not her thing. But there were a few moments when she could actually feel her breathing and her mind did sort of focus. But then her nose itched and she scratched and Bruce sighed heavily and Darcy apologized and left the room.

She’d definitely consider trying it again. Only maybe without the company of a guy who depended on it for his and others well-being.

A few days later, when five-thirty rolled around, Darcy got up from her desk to go drop off the late afternoon batch of reports into the mail room. She was halfway to the elevator when she realized that she’d forgotten to check Coulson’s desk for anything he’d needed to send out. With a massive sigh that was far louder than it needed to be, she turned around and headed back to her desk.

She stopped abruptly when she saw who was standing next to her desk and took in what he was doing. Her jaw dropped.

“No freakin’ way!” she said loudly. “You? Really?”

Coulson barely spared her a glance as he continued to program what she assumed was her next morning’s wake-up call onto her phone. “Yes. Me. Really. Frankly, I expected you to figure it out sooner.”

Darcy just stared at him.

Finally she asked, “But why?”

“Because Agent Barton asked me to and in return, he promised to turn all of his paperwork in on time and in accurate condition,” Coulson said. “It seemed like a fair exchange.”

“Okay,” Darcy said putting her hands on her hips. “But… Why?”

He stopped and looked at her. “A very smart man once told me that a very wise man told him to be sure to take time to treat yourself to a present every day. Whether that is a good cup of coffee, a moment reading a good book or” - he held up her phone – “playing DJ for a colleague.”

Darcy watched him finishing tapping on her phone. Her eyes narrowed and she said, “You’re a bit of dark horse, aren’t you, Phil?”

Coulson smiled and handed her the phone. “Sweet dreams, Miss Lewis.”

Then he walked back into his office while Darcy stared at the phone.

Darcy didn’t sleep very well that night. And considering the glasses of red wine she’d drunk while watching all the Liv Tyler movies (Empire Records, Stealing Beauty, Armageddon - but only because it was on TNT, again), this wasn’t really surprising. So, she was awake when her alarm went off.

When the chorus of What About Love by Heart came on, she let out a laugh of delight.

“He actually got it,” she said out loud. “How the hell did he get it?”

She sat up and picked up her phone and, as it had become something of a habit these days, she stared at it. She stared at it so long that the alarm popped back on after the usual five-minute snooze.

“Ugh!” she said, turning it off and then tapping Val’s number.

“This had better be of the utmost importance, Darcy,” Val’s voice was lower than usual with sleep.

“He got it,” Darcy said. “He got my band. He figured it out. How did he figure it out?”

“Because you’ve been dropping hints for the last few weeks and because he likes you and isn’t dumb,” Val said. “Go get him.”

“What do you mean ‘go get him’?” Darcy asked.

“I mean, go get the guy you’re crazy about and kiss him on his mouth and then do whatever comes naturally,” Val said.

Darcy didn’t say anything.

“Darcy?” Val said sounding worried.

“I’m nervous, Val,” she said. “I really do like him.”

“I know you do,” Val said. “And you were nervous the first time you fired a gun and when you gave your first briefing. But you did it and you can do this.”

“You’re right,” Darcy said throwing off her covers. “I can. I want to.”

“Good girl,” Val said. “What are you going to say?”

“Jesus, I have no idea. I’m making this up as I go along, Val,” Darcy said getting out of bed and grabbing a hoodie.

“Honey, that’s what everyone does,” Val replied with a chuckle. “Welcome to being an adult and starting a relationship.”

There was a muffled snort right after Val spoke that did not come from her. Darcy stopped her search for her slippers and asked, “Val, are you alone?”

There was a pause and then Val said, “As an adult, I exercise the right to not answer that.”

“Uh hunh,” Darcy said with a grin. “Well, I’ll let you get back to, ah, exercising your rights. Thanks, pretty lady.”

“Go get your man, dollface,” Val said before hanging up.

“Get my man,” Darcy said under her breath as she gave up on the search for her slippers and settled on her flipflops. “I can do that. Yeah.”

She grabbed her phone, rushing out of her room and heading towards Clint's. She passed Bruce on his way to the elevator and she gave him a big grin and a wink.

“Mornin’, Bruce!” she called.

“Morning, Darcy,” he said grinning back. “Good luck!”

She waved her phone at him and continued down the hall to Clint’s door. After checking to see that Bruce had gone on and squaring her shoulders, she knocked on the door.

Clint opened it after a few seconds.

“Hey,” he said the corners of his mouth quirking up. “You okay?”

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “I’m fine.” Darcy suddenly found it hard to speak, so she held up her phone.

Clint looked at it and then at her and gave her a full smile. “Did I get it?”

Darcy nodded and took a deep breath. “I am here to acknowledge your brilliance and all-around awesomeness.”

He grinned. “You better come in, then.”

His room was spare but not empty, Darcy noticed. There were a few too many dishes in the sink, but the sofa looked soft and comfortable and magazines were strewn about the coffee table.

“Can I get you anything?” he asked coming to stand next to her and looking around his apartment. “Not that I’ve got much. Coffee. Probably.”

“No, no, I’m good. Do you like me?” she asked all in rush. She mentally slapped her forehead with her hand.

“Uh, yeah,” he said looking at her and starting to smile. “Yeah, I like you a lot.”

“Oh, okay,” she said, pleased that she didn’t collapse on the floor in relief. “I like you, too.”

“Well, that’s…good?” he asked furrowing his brow and chuckling. “I mean, you don’t look like it’s good.”

“It is,” Darcy said quickly. “It so is. I’m just kind of a dork about this stuff. I mean, all the lunches and stuff. Were we, um, like pre-dating?”

He made a face and rubbed the back of his neck. “Kinda, yeah. I thought we were heading that way. Are you here to tell me we weren’t?”

“No!” she said loudly. “No, we so were heading that way. I just. Ugh, God. I just didn’t realize that we were.

Clint just looked at her and she sighed.

“I just didn’t think you’d be into me that way,” she said. Then she scrunched her face up, because that sounded dumb. “Ugh. Not that I don’t have a good opinion of myself, but because I’m not, you know…”

She flapped her hands a little.

“You’re not what?” he asked sounding really confused.

“Look, you dated Natasha. The Black Widow!” she said. “That’s so not me.”

“Yeah, but it wasn’t really dating,” he said looking uncomfortable and kind of embarrassed. “More like a lot of angry sex.”

Darcy closed her eyes. “Not. Helping.”

“Right. Sorry.” Suddenly he was standing right in front of her with his hands cupping her face. “You are incredible. You are totally nonplussed by all of this superhero stuff and you are like a walking encyclopedia of pop culture and big words and yeah. I really like you, Darcy.” He grinned. “Not to mention that you’re fucking hot.”

“Wow,” Darcy said fighting the urge to dissolve into a puddle at his feet. “I am really bad at reading signals. Have you been flirting with me?”

“Yes,” he said nodding seriously. “I have.”

“Oh. Okay,” she said.

“Is that all right?”

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “I’ve been flirting with you, too. But I didn’t realize I was flirting with you. I thought I was just being myself. Not that being myself is a big flirt. I was just talking to you and I like talking to you. But then it took on this whole new level of meaning every time I talked to you and now I’m rambling.”

“You are,” he said. “But, it’s great. And see? All this freaking out is what happens when you think too much.”

“Good point,” Darcy said. “So, back when I started to wonder what it might be like to kiss you, I should have just kissed you?”

“Yes,” he said smirking. “You definitely should have just kissed me. Actually, you know what?” He stepped in close. “No more thinking.”

He leaned in and brushed his lips over hers. At first gently and softly, but when she made a tiny noise and her hands grabbed at his waist, the kiss deepened.

“Oh, baby,” Clint breathed against her lips when he pulled away briefly.

“More,” she said rising up on her toes to nip at his bottom lip.

He let out a proper groan before covering her mouth with his. It wasn’t until several minutes later that his phone rang, Def Leppard’s Armageddon It signaling that it was Steve calling.

He groaned as he lifted his head from hers and Darcy immediately started to kiss his throat while he answered his phone.

“Hey, Cap,” Clint said his hand sliding down to massage her ass. “Yeah, I’m gonna miss this morning’s workout. Yeah. I gotta make a lot of love to Darcy. Cool? Thanks.”

He hung up and threw the phone on his counter. Darcy burst out laughing. “You asshole! He’s going to explode from blushing!”

“Invincible, remember,” he said before kissing her.

She sighed into his mouth and hitched her leg on his hip then shifted her pelvis against him, which produced a very decent groan from the back of his throat. He pulled back enough to say, “Well, hello.”

“Hi yourself,” she said shifting her pelvis again.

“Fuck, baby,” he said pressing his forehead to hers. “I was kidding, you know. On the phone. We don’t have to do anything other than this.”

“You’re such a sweetheart. But, I’ve been wanting to do bad things to you for a while now,” she said next to his ear before nipping at his lobe. “We’re so gonna do it now.”

“Thank God,” he said before hitching her up fully against him. She wrapped her legs around his waist and held on as he went straight to the bedroom.

Darcy sighed sleepily from her position curled around Clint and dragged her foot along his calf.

“Hey,” he mumbled against her forehead. “Don’t tease.”

“Who says I’m teasing?” she asked, but her statement was derailed by a yawn.

He chuckled and let his hand drift lazily down her back.

Darcy gave his shoulder an Eskimo kiss with her nose and sighed again. She still had little tingles of pleasure running through her system. Clint’s arms were everything they’d promised, and the man knew his way around ladyparts.

Not to mention, the actual sexin’ itself. Forget diamonds, girth was a girl’s best friend. Remembering just how incredible he felt inside of her, Darcy shifted against him once again and tilted her face up to kiss his chin.

He hummed and bent his head to kiss her, a slow, steady, lazy kiss that had Darcy almost ready to climb on top of him again.

“So, why Heart?” he asked softly after a few minutes.

“Kickass sisters with great voices who play their own instruments, sing about love and men and who totally rock?” Darcy said. “What’s not to like?”

“Fair enough,” he said. “I always liked Barracuda.”

“I was thinking of making that Natasha’s ringtone on your phone, but I like my face as it is,” Darcy said.

He nuzzled said face. “So do I.”

This led to another round of lazy kisses.

“Hey,” Darcy said when they stopped. “Do you realize we could have been doing this instead of having lunch?”

He grinned. “Yeah. But I like our lunches.”

“Me, too,” Darcy said grinning back. She propped her head up on his chest. “You know, I actually have forty-five minutes for lunch. We can easily have a quickie and eat in that amount of time.” She narrowed her eyes. “The quickie first. Sex after eating fast never ends well.”

“See? This is what I love about you,” he said smoothing his hand over her hair. “Deviant and organized.”

“Love?” she asked surprised.

“Yeah,” he said. “Love.”

She smiled. “Cool. Same here.”

Then she did what she’d been wanting to do for a while, which was climb on top of him and get round two started.

It has to be noted that he woke her up later by singing Magic Man and running his hands all over body, lingering especially on her chest.

Let’s get high awhile, indeed, she thought before they headed into round three.


“You do know that Val is going to be very upset with you?” she said holding tightly to his hand, her other hand adjusting the blindfold he’d put on once they’d gotten into the cab. “I’m missing target practice.”

“You can make it up tomorrow,” he said. “We’re being bad. Enjoy it.”

“Ooh, how bad?” she asked, her hand sliding around his waist towards his ass.

He chuckled. “Not quite that bad, baby. We’re in public, I’m afraid.”

“Yeah, I do hear a fair amount of people,” she said scrunching up her face, trying to loosen the blindfold. “Where the hell are we, William?”

She felt him move around her so that he was hugging her waist from behind. His voice came from right next to her ear. “You mean you can’t tell?” he asked.

Darcy closed her eyes behind the blindfold and tilted her head to listen. It was a big space, because the sounds seemed to echo. She heard shopping carts and it sort of smelled like…

“Oh, holy crap, did you bring me to Office Depot?” she asked loudly.

He chuckled and kissed her neck. “Yep.” He removed her blindfold and Darcy blinked staring at the massive Office Depot.

“You are such a gomer,” she said turning in his arms and pulling his face down for a kiss.

“Hey, it’s our first date,” he said. “Gotta make an impression, right? We’re going for fondue later.”

Darcy laughed. “Because of the cheese?”

“Yeah and because Steve kinda insisted that it was something he would’ve done,” Clint said. He pressed his forehead to hers. “What do you think?”

“I think that you’re a dork and I’m a lucky girl and you’re a lucky guy who’s going to get very lucky later on tonight,” she said.

“Lucky, lucky me,” he said in the low voice that gave her happy shivers.

“Come on,” she said taking his hand and walking backwards. “Let’s scope out all the notebooks and try out all the pens. Then let’s see how many desk chairs we can make out in before they kick us out.”

They managed six before someone came over.