Jane was nearly out of her mind, Darcy decided. She’d gotten a phone call minutes ago that had turned her into a raving lunatic. She was rushing around tidying up the lab, and muttering to herself under her breath. Darcy knew it was better to stay out of the way when that happened, but after five frenetic minutes, she had to ask.
“Jane, what’s going on?”
The astrophysicist froze, and then blinked. “Thor. It’s Thor! He’s back, somehow. And he’s coming to visit!”
If Darcy found a mirror and tried to make herself a little more presentable, she figured no one would really blame her.
Jane evidently wasn’t expecting Thor to arrive with friends. Quite a few friends. They kind of burst into the lab, bringing a little chaos with them. And holy shit!!! That was Tony Freaking Stark! How did Thor know Tony Stark?
Jane frowned at the explanation Thor offered for why he was back. Some kind of confused rambling about his brother and dark matter. She’d probably question him later. Darcy didn’t even care. She was too busy oogling the eye candy Thor had brought with him.
Tony Stark was handsome, but way too impressed with himself. There was another cut blond guy who looked a little too apple pie to fit in, but he was certainly drool worthy. The lips! The eyelashes! The backside! The woman, a redhead, was lethal and beautiful. The man she stood with had amazing arms, and a compact, stocky build.
The last man seemed completely out of place. His hair was a disheveled mess, and his clothes were rumpled and poorly fitted. He wore eyeglasses, but still blinked at everything as if it were blurry. But he seemed at home in the lab, wandering around inspecting equipment. Stark, surprisingly enough, walked with him, and offered commentary. Darcy didn’t get it. Stark seemed to be the type who would belittle someone like the mop-headed man.
Thor didn’t really explain who the visitors were to him. Just that they were his ‘friends’.
It seemed as if Darcy and Jane had missed a very important piece of world news in their relocation to their new remote job. Because when Thor mentioned the battle in New York, both women blinked at him.
“What battle?” Darcy asked.
She flinched when all eyes turned to look at her. “What? We just relocated to the middle of nowhere! I don’t get internet service out here, so we have no idea what’s going on!”
Tony Stark snorted and waved a dismissive hand. “Oh you know. Alien invasion end of the world type thing. S’okay. We handled it.”
Darcy squealed. “We? Like Iron Man and Thor?”
“Nah…all of us,” Stark corrected, waving a hand out to all the visitors.
Darcy didn’t know anything about the rest of them. “Um...okay. Are you all superheroes too?”
The redheaded woman sighed in exasperation. “Please ignore anything Mr. Stark says. He has this unfortunate problem of not being able to keep his mouth closed when he should.”
Stark waved dismissively again. “I told you what I thought of all this secretive bullshit. We wouldn’t be here if these two didn’t have clearance. I mean, that was just because of Thor, but still...” He looked around. “I don’t know what you thought you heard, Legolas, but it seems like all is well here.”
The guy with the arms (Darcy already was thinking of him as Arms) frowned at Stark. “I know what I heard. Selvig got a text from Foster, telling him where she was relocated. Loki was all over that. He wanted to ‘collect’ her. He sent a squad of five mercenaries after her.”
Jane finally pulled her face away from where it had been glued to Thor’s. “What?”
Stark shook his head. “How do you survive? The whole alien invasion thing? It was spearheaded by Thor’s brother. He mind control zapped your pal Selvig into building the portal necessary to bring the aliens through to Earth. And you texted your new location to him? Geez.”
Darcy’s eyes widened. “So that was the reason for the sudden relocation? S.H.I.E.L.D didn’t say, just that they strongly recommended we go.”
“And no one has been here?” the redhead queried.
Darcy shook her head. “No. Just us…and us. And all this empty space.”
Arms shook his head. “Would the control have faded when Loki was shut down?” he asked.
Thor shrugged. “I am not certain. I am not a sorcerer and I do not claim to understand all that my brother can do.”
Arms didn’t like that answer. “I don’t like it. C’mon Tasha. Let’s make sure the perimeter is secured.”
Arms and the redhead left. Jane and Thor went back to canoodling, which was slightly sickening.
Darcy was making a beeline for Apple Pie, because she totally wanted to pinch his cheeks. And not the ones he smiled with. She’d gotten a good glimpse of the perfect peach halves that rested at the base of his back, and she couldn’t resist.
Before she made it three steps, Arms and the redhead tumbled back through the outside door, shouting about suiting up. What the hell?
But Apple Pie was pulling a shield (seriously, what the hell?) out of the duffel bag he’d been carrying. Arms went one better and pulled out a bow and quiver of arrows from his bag. Who used a bow in this day and age? Redhead was packing, because she suddenly had guns in her hands.
Stark won the prize though, because he tossed the weird metal briefcase he’d been carrying on the floor, stepped on it, and the damn thing was suddenly expanding to cover him in an Iron Man suit. Yeah, wow. Darcy didn’t even look twice when Thor pulled his hammer out of a bag, and got armored up. She’d seen his party trick before.
That left Moppy. Darcy stared hard at him, just waiting. He noticed her looking and shrugged.
“Yeah, I think I’ll sit this one out. There’s a lot of breakable things around here. Equipment, people...”
That made Darcy very curious as to what his trick was.
Thor, after a quick conversation with Arms and Red, herded Jane and Darcy into the middle of the room, inside a protective circle. Jane was scared, and held tight to Darcy’s arm. Darcy, after having survived the giant robot attack in New Mexico, felt like she had a handle on things. But she had grabbed her bag and had her taser ready, just in case. She offered a grin as Moppy joined them, looking worried.
It happened quickly. One moment they were all standing there, waiting. The next moment, men were coming through the door and window. They had guns. There were a lot of them.
“You said five!” Stark protested in his tinny, Iron Man voice.
Arms shrugged, releasing an arrow. “There were five sent. It looks like they found friends.”
Which was such a complete understatement at the sheer amount of men pouring into the observatory lab that Darcy wanted to punch Arms.
The enclosed space was hampering Thor and his friends quite a bit. Thor and Iron Man weren’t really designed for close quarters combat, but Apple Pie, Red, and Arms seemed to be doing just fine. Thor was trying, with short, vicious swings of Mjolnir. Stark was really hampered, and was using blasts from his hands and occasional multi shots from his shoulders.
It was going well. Attackers were piling up on the floor, and Thor and his friends were relaxing a little when it happened. One attacker evaded an arrow and dove through the protective ring, rolling to his feet with a gun pointed right at Darcy. She froze, because yeah, the barrel of that gun looked cannon sized when it was pointed at her face.
That was when Moppy stepped in between her and the gun. Was he nuts? He just put himself in front of a gun. And…what the hell? He was taking his glasses off and pocketing them. She fully expected him to raise his fists and taunt the attacker.
“Put the gun down,” Moppy said in a reasonable voice. He seemed so very calm, and Darcy didn’t know how he wasn’t completely freaking out with a gun pointed at him.
The attacker snarled something in a language that Darcy didn’t understand, and waved the gun threateningly. Moppy didn’t even flinch.
“You really don’t want to do this. Trust me. Just leave and take your friends with you.”
He was nuts! And about to get shot. Apple Pie was yelling something about someone taking out the attacker guy, and when Arms swiveled, arrow now pointed at the guy inside the ring, the attacker acted in desperation. He pulled the trigger.
Darcy screamed, expecting Moppy’s blood to spray all over her. Instead, Moppy roared and swelled and turned green. The bullet plinked to the floor harmlessly, and the guy with the gun went sailing through the closest wall. Big Green roared again, and surged forward toward the attackers, completely bowling over Thor and Apple Pie in the process.
So that’s what Moppy did.
It went a little crazy from there. Big Green wasn’t happy about being shot, and all the attackers had focused on him as soon as he came boiling out from between the others. Attackers were flying left and right. Darcy figured that later, she’d probably freak out about it, but right now, she was just enjoying the sheer carnage that Big Green was doling out. He seemed to always have two men in hand, using them to bash the other ones, or throw them at others. There wasn’t a whole lot of finesse in what he did, but it was effective.
Arms shrugged, and put his bow down. He leaned his hip up against the nearest desk and watched with bored disinterest as Big Green mopped up the attackers. Red fired a few more shots and then joined him.
It was funny watching Iron Man standing there with nothing to do. Stark seemed a little grumpy about it, based on his mutterings inside the suit. Thor and Apple Pie picked themselves up off the floor and watched. They both seemed a little tense still. Darcy couldn’t figure that one out until Big Green finished with the attackers and whirled around to focus on his friends. He still wasn’t in a very good mood.
Thor held up a placating hand. “It is over, Banner.”
Apparently Big Green didn’t think so. He roared and swatted Thor to one side. Apple Pie was similarly treated. When Iron Man blasted him, Big Green only blinked, and threw a desk at Stark.
Arms and Red backed off slowly, hoping to draw Big Green’s attention, but instead, it fell on Jane and Darcy.
“Oh shit,” Darcy muttered. There was almost nothing left of Moppy in Big Green. Well, the hair was similar, and she thought she could still see Moppy’s eyes. But right now, Big Green looked a little crazy, like he still wanted to bash.
She took a cautious step back, pushing Jane behind her. Big Green didn’t like that, and took a gorilla hop forward, slamming his fists into the floor and roaring.
“Bruce! You don’t want to do this!” Red called.
Big Green didn’t even look at her. He hopped another step closer, and snarled, spittle flying from his lips.
Darcy whipped her taser out. “I tased Thor, so don’t think I won’t hesitate to lay your big green ass out on the floor!”
“Uh…probably not the best idea,” Arms called.
Yeah, she saw that. Big Green looked like a rabid dog as he snarled again. Darcy could see Thor climbing to his feet, shaking his head, and didn’t think he was close enough to help.
“Oh we’re going to die,” Jane hissed in her ear.
Big Green seemed to agree. He surged forward, and Darcy pulled the trigger on her taser. It brought the big guy to a halt. He stood there, shaking his head, and made a mewling noise that was quite unlike anything previously.
Darcy shook a finger at him. “I warned you,” she said, proud that her voice trembled only a little.
“What the hell am I seeing?” Arms asked.
Darcy wasn’t sure either. Big Green had cocked his head to one side, and made that strange mewling noise again. The taser was still hitting him, but it would lose its charge soon. She didn’t know what was going to happen when it did, but right now, it seemed to be confusing the beast.
When he reached out toward her, Darcy was very proud that she didn’t flinch. The taser dropped from her fingers, spent. It didn’t change the way Big Green was looking at her. He touched her hair gently, with one finger, and made that mewling noise again.
“What is this?” Thor asked softly.
Stark flipped the face plate up and studied the scene. “I think she just gave Hulk his first sexual experience.”
Oh yuck? Seriously? But then again, with the way Big Green was looking at her, maybe Stark was right.
“He might think you’re his mother,” Jane whispered from behind her.
Darcy stayed completely still as the big green finger stroked her hair, and then her face. No, Big Green wasn’t looking at her like she was his mother. He was giving her a quizzical look that she thought would be more at home on Moppy’s face.
When Apple Pie moved toward them, Big Green growled warningly. He didn’t want to share with anyone else. Darcy wondered if they would all just stand there staring at each other, but then Big Green stepped forward and scooped her up in one very big green arm. She managed not to shriek, and tried to still her heart.
“Darcy?” Thor asked. His brow was creased in concern, but as soon as he shifted forward, Big Green growled again.
“I’m okay,” she called, not really sure if she was. If Moppy was in there, somewhere, he had seemed fairly harmless, but she wasn’t sure if he had any control. She was not hurt – tucked in against the big guy’s chest, with his arm gently cradling her. He was warm, like a furnace, and the gentle wash of air every time he snorted wasn’t unpleasant.
Stark was loving it, holding up a phone to record the whole scene. “I can’t wait to show this to Banner! Hulk in looooovvvee,” he sang in a very annoying singsong.
“Would you please shut up?” Darcy asked. She didn’t really want to think about it. It was like a twisted version of King Kong or something. “What do we do now?”
“We need to get him to calm down,” Thor said.
Stark snorted. “Yeah, you’d think. Hulk just had his first moment, so he should be about ready to crash and sleep.”
“Please shut up,” Darcy begged. Her mind did not want to go there.
Apparently Big Green didn’t want to hear it either. He growled at Stark, looked around at the others, and tightened his arm possessively around Darcy. With another growl, he launched himself at the ceiling. Darcy did shriek then, but he hunched over her as they crashed through the roof and into the air.
Waking up on top of a naked Moppy was not how Darcy wanted to start her day.
Light behind her closed eyelids roused her. She pried her eyes open and blinked against the rising sun. Ugh. What had she been drinking? She’d had the strangest dreams of Thor and a big green beast that carried her away.
When she tried to sit up, her elbow dug into something soft that groaned. Darcy froze, blinked, and then really looked around. She was inside a barn, laying in a soft pile of hay. Laying on something that was alive.
When she finally had the nerve to look down, she had to admit to a little relief when she saw Moppy, and not the big green guy. Relief turned to more than a little freak out when she realized that Moppy was naked. There were a few shreds of clothing clinging to his waist and legs, but not enough to keep a blush from her cheeks. Hmm…Moppy had his own big proportions.
Thank god she was still fully clothed.
He groaned again, and opened his eyes, staring up at her in confusion. “Did he hurt you?”
Sweet. “Nope,” Darcy answered. “I think we had a first date.”
He squeezed his eyes closed. “He carried you off?”
“Yep. I think it was because you secretly liked me at first sight, but were too shy to say anything. So when you went all alpha male, it seemed only natural to grab me and make a getaway.”
Moppy pressed a hand to his forehead. “Why are you sitting on me?”
This was too good to pass up. “I think we fell asleep together.”
His eyes flew open and looked completely horror struck. “What? I…what did he do? I mean…what happened?”
“Relax. We had a moment. I think I gave him something else to think about other than smashing and roaring.”
Moppy’s groan wasn’t reassuring. Darcy didn’t want to freak him out any more, so she delicately moved some hay to cover up his…cough cough…big parts. Then she scooted off to one side.
“I’m Darcy,” she introduced herself. “Thor never really got around to introducing any of us before the shit hit the fan.”
“Bruce,” Moppy grunted.
“Does it hurt? When you go big and green?”
“He doesn’t feel anything, but I do, when I wake up. It’s pain in every nerve.” He squeezed his eyes shut again.
“I’m sorry. It’s really impressive though.”
He snorted. “Am I naked?”
Darcy winced. “Mostly. Sorry, I uh, couldn’t help but notice that.”
“Yeah, that usually happens. They’re trying to find something that will survive the transition, but it hasn’t happened yet. Thank you, for the hay.”
It was so uncomfortably awkward that Darcy was relieved when thunder and lightning sprung up out of nowhere. Thor dropped through the hole in the barn roof moments later, followed by Iron Man.
“Darcy, are you hurt?”
“Nah.” She waved reassuringly at Thor. “I’m good. Do you have any clothes? Bruce seems to have bulged right out of his.”
Stark was carrying clothes. The look on his face, when his faceplate popped up, promised lots of harassment for Bruce. “Oh Banner,” he chided, shaking his head. “Your alter ego had a great time last night. And look, he even went home with a girl!”
“Shut up, Tony.”
Stark laughed obnoxiously, and tossed the clothes down into the hay. “A hay barn? Really? Isn’t that a little old fashioned, making out in the hay barn.”
“Really Tony, just shut up.” Bruce sat up, pulling the clothes to him.
“I can’t wait to tell Mom. This most recent development will be fascinating.”
Darcy’s eyebrows went up. “Mom? Who’s Mom?”
“His name is Nick Fury. He brought us together.” Stark grinned. “He’ll love this.”
Bruce groaned, and then waved at them dismissively. “Do you mind? I’d like some privacy.”
Darcy accepted Thor’s hand up, and moved away as soon as she was on her feet. Thor helpfully stood with his back to Moppy, blocking Darcy’s view. Not that she hadn’t seen enough already. Bruce looked pretty nice without clothes.
Stark clanked over to her. “So…did he rock your world?”
Darcy sighed. “Stop. Just stop, okay?” He really was an obnoxious jerk.
He shook his head. “You’ll have to come with us for a debriefing.”
She snorted. “As if that was ever in question. Jane isn’t going to let Thor out of her sight, now that he’s back.”
Bruce stood up a little shakily, buttoning his shirt. He avoided looking at Darcy, which she thought was adorably cute. So, apparently, did Stark.
“Oh look! He’s like a deflowered virgin. C’mon Banner, it’s no big deal. Just because Hulk got off on a taser hit…”
That brought Bruce’s eyes, widened comically, to Darcy’s face. She bit her lip, and waved her fingertips at him. He looked back at Stark, then at Thor, who abruptly took an interest in the sky. “I don’t want to know any more,” he decided.
Stark opened his mouth, but shut it when Darcy slapped the back of his head. His big, shit-eating grin was bad enough.
Thor tilted his head to the side. “Ah. The others have finally caught up. Let us go.”
Darcy followed him, aware of the little sidelong looks Bruce was throwing at her. He seemed fascinated, but was it more with her, or his alter ego’s interest in her? Hmm…this could be something to explore. And since she went where Jane went right now, it seemed like she would have the opportunity.