It’s been months now since Darcy stumbled into this thing with Bruce. Months, and they still haven’t gotten sick of each other. Nobody’s screamed or even slammed a door and actually meant it, and not just because of the whole Hulking situation. They squabble, yeah, but it’s nothing they haven’t been able to work out. This is new territory for Darcy, who’s always had the sneaking suspicion that real, adult relationships are one of those things for other people who aren’t her, like button up tops that fit properly without being nipped in at the waist and driving any slower than ten miles over the speed limit. But here she is, somehow not completely fucking up the whole feelings and communication ballgame.
Considering her last 'relationship' was with a guy who she’d occasionally fucked in the back alley behind whatever club they were at after a night of drinking and dancing, she thinks she’s doing pretty damn well. She’s even starting to think that maybe, just maybe, Bruce isn’t going to wake up one of these days, look over at her, and realize he’s involved with a girl who doesn’t know the difference between a proton and an electron and once spent a night in jail for stealing a Ronald McDonald statue. He hasn’t yet, though, and the more time that passes, the more she thinks he isn’t going to, and the fact that this could very well work out is both terrifying and exhilarating.
So she completely blames the heady high of that thought for why she asks Bruce, “Do you ever think about, you know, the future,” while they’re both still naked and curled around each other and slightly tacky with sweat.
Bruce’s fingers pause where they’re scratching lightly at her scalp, and Darcy wiggles a little until he starts up again. It’s hard not to feel that pause like a kick in her gut, but she thinks she does pretty well at not letting it show.
“The future,” Bruce says lowly, his voice all rough and rumbly the way it almost never is except right when he wakes up or after they’ve finished making love. (And that’s another first. Darcy has screwed, fucked, and banged like nobody’s business, but Bruce is the only person she’s ever been with who made that term feel right instead of trite and stupid. When he touches her, it feels like being worshipped, and her heart hurts with how much she wants to make things good for him.) He hums, a soft vibration she can feel against her cheek where it’s resting on his clavicle, and hooks his ankle over hers. “It’s still strange to think I’m going to be able to have one, to be honest.”
Darcy’s breath stutters and she clutches him a little tighter. “You can,” she says and kisses the underside of his chin, the hinge of his jaw. “You can have anything you want. You know that, right?”
His fingers tighten in her hair, tipping her head back until he can easily dip down to claim her lips in a gentle kiss. “I’m starting to get the idea,” he says into the tiny space between them, close enough that his lips catch on hers and cling just the slightest bit, and it’s only the fact that it’s not physically possible for anything to happen again this soon that keeps her from sliding down his body to take him in her mouth.
Darcy combs her fingers through his chest hair, presses a kiss to the ticklish spot where his arm meets his chest instead. “Good,” she says, and hopes her voice doesn’t sound as tight as her throat feels. “That’s really good.”
“I think so,” Bruce says with a full, beaming smile that’s become so much more common these past few months that it’s almost strange to see him without it. Darcy ghosts her fingertips over it, needs that proof right now that it’s real.
“So this future you’re starting to let yourself think about,” she makes herself say, because fuck if she isn’t going to finish this now that she’s started it. “What all do you think is going to be a part of it?”
“Well, there’s you,” Bruce says, the ‘obviously’ no less tacked onto the end of the sentence for all that it goes unsaid. And Darcy thinks this is probably what glowing feels like; there’s suspecting, and then there’s hearing it. She snuggles a little closer against his side, and Bruce’s arm cinches her in a little tighter. “And there’s the team.”
“Kids?” Darcy has to ask, even though the word is so soft that she thinks Bruce must guess at it more than hear it. And there’s this flinch, this tiny, almost unnoticeable flinch that makes her want to grab the question out of the air and swallow it back down. Bruce’s eyes drop away from hers, and Darcy wants kids, she does, but more than that she wants that look to get off of Bruce’s face and never come back. He looks bruised suddenly, a hair too tense and pinched to pass for normal.
“Forget it,” Darcy says. She curls her fingers into Bruce’s side, and she knows she’s holding him too tight, but can’t make herself stop. “That was stupid, just ignore that. Pretend I didn’t say anything.”
Bruce kisses her--close mouthed and gentle, but firm--until her lips stop moving under his, then pulls away. He swallows with a dry click. “It’s not that.”
When he doesn’t go on, Darcy cautiously touches his cheek and says, “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” She doesn’t have to tell him that she’d rather he did, because Bruce is good at reading between the lines like that, but he’ll also know she’s sincere about not pushing it, which is the important bit.
He tenses against her, braces himself is the only way she can think of it. “That sort of thing,” he pauses and his nose scrunches briefly in frustration. “It might not be possible anymore.”
Darcy frowns, not certain she quite gets it.
“Darcy.” Bruce sighs and absently threads his fingers through her hair, and Darcy wonders if it makes her a horrible person if she likes that he can touch her so easily even when he’s obviously so uncomfortable. “I was exposed to a lot of gamma radiation. That sort of thing--it tends to have side effects.”
“Yeah, we’ve all seen your smashier side,” Darcy says as she lightly strokes her fingers over the tight tendons in his neck.
“Other side effects,” Bruce says, his eyes cutting away from her face. He clears his throat. “Of the fertility variety.”
“Oh,” Darcy says, and it’s more of an exhalation than an actual word. Bruce feels like a tightly coiled spring next to her, and Darcy slots her leg between his in an attempt to keep him from popping up and away from her.
“And I get that that’s not something you signed on for,” Bruce keeps going, one of his hands waving vaguely in the air. “I completely understand that, and it’s fine if you can’t or don’t want--"
“Stop,” Darcy says in her sternest voice. It’s the one she uses when Jane hasn’t eaten anything other than poptarts in days or when Tony steals her iPod to ‘update it’ or that one time she caught Clint wearing her bra on his head. It’s the voice that says she is somebody be to listened to, and by God she’ll taser anyone who doesn’t. Bruce still doesn’t look at her, but he shuts up, which is probably as much as she can hope for right now.
“There are a lot of things in my life right now that I didn’t ‘sign on for’,” Darcy says carefully. “Thor alone has entire subcategories devoted to all the ways he’s sent my life in ways I didn’t expect. And you know what?”
She prods Bruce in the side to let him know that’s his cue, and he dutifully asks, “What?”
“I don’t care.” Darcy frames Bruce’s face with her hands and forces him to look at her. “I. Don’t. Care. If I can roll with other worlds and super soldiers and Natasha’s attempts at pancakes, I can more than roll with this. The only reason this even rates at all on my 'Things I Should Freak Out About' chart is because it's upsetting you.” She leans in to brush a kiss over his slack mouth, then another over his forehead. “Yeah, I want kids someday if I’m with someone who wants that too, but we’ll figure it out, okay? So don’t freak.”
Bruce’s grip on her hip is tight enough to hurt, his eyes so wide that the stretch looks like it would be uncomfortable. “We?”
Darcy tugs his arm up so that she can tuck herself against his side and use his shoulder as a pillow. “Yes,” she says firmly. “We will.”
It’s slow going, but Bruce finally starts to relax underneath her, though his breath is still an unsteady rhythm against her hair.
“I do, you know,” Bruce says softly after several minutes have passed. “I’ve always wanted kids.”
Darcy hugs him a little tighter and takes hold of his hand so she can kiss his palm. “Okay,” she says, like it’s just as simple as that. She waits until she can feel Bruce’s small smile curve against her forehead before adding, “Tony never gets to babysit, though. Not unless Steve is there to supervise.”
That startles a laugh out of Bruce, and his fingers squeeze hers. “Agreed.”