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This Sounds Like The Start of a Bad Joke

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Darcy thinks it's weird that he likes sushi. She also thinks it's weird that he has a twenty four dollar a month comic book habit (twenty four dollars for six comics! What the hell is this world coming to?), eats spoonfuls of sugar from the bag, and drinks at least two 'steroidal bodybuilder' protein shakes a day. But the weirdest, and saddest, thing about him, according to her, is his inability to get drunk. She finds it completely unthinkable.

“It's not like I had particularly good experiences with alcohol prior to the... thing,” he says, and glances behind them to make sure no one's listening in. Nobody is, including Darcy, who's about a foot away, leaning against a wall. He stops and backtracks.

“You,” she pants, waving her finger at him. She's only just started coming on runs with him; he has to remember that not everyone can go as fast as he can, but he's so used to doing these things alone that it's taking some getting used to.

“Your legs are like...” She leans her head back against the wall and glares at him. “Are like twice as long as mine. I can't keep up with you, that's just... just science.”

“Sorry,” he says, and pulls his bottle of water out of his bag. “Water?”

“Yeah,” she says, swiping it off him. She takes a long drink from it, pulls a face, and spits it back out. “What the hell is in that?”

“It's just protein powder.”

“In water?” she asks, her voice going a little shrieky. “That's disgusting. You're disgusting.”

He laughs, and puts his hands in his pockets, rocking back on his heels a little. “Didn't you bring your own water?”

“I didn't realise we were running a marathon!” She stretches out her legs, then doubles over. “Oh, cramp, ow, ow, ow.”

“Are you okay?” he asks, immediately feeling bad for laughing, and comes up beside her.

“I'm in agony,” she says, clutching at her leg.

He drops down in front of her, resting his hands lightly on her outer thigh. He nudges her hand away until she lets it fall to her side, then starts gently massaging first his knuckles, then the pads of his fingers into her leg. She shifts a little at first, hissing through her teeth as he works into her twitching muscle, then slowly stills and puts her hand on his shoulder to steady herself. Her fingers trail up until they hit the back of his neck, and she absently strokes the hair there while he keeps massaging her leg.

He takes a shaky breath. “Okay, how's that?”

“Huh,” she says, as she does what she's told, pointing the toe of her beaten up tennis shoe towards the sidewalk. It really isn't any wonder that she got a cramp, those shoes aren't anywhere near good enough for this kind of exercise. “Better. You've got yourself some magic hands there.”

He drags his 'magic' hands across the brick wall behind them to distract himself. “Yeah, well.”

She grins at him and pushes herself off the wall. “How about we finish this off with a brisk walk, okay?”

Her 'brisk walk' is more of a limp, leaning against his side a little more heavily than probably necessary.

“Man, I need a drink,” she mutters when they're a couple of blocks from his apartment.

“You're still welcome to my 'disgusting' bottle of water.”

“I meant a real drink, like... hey, like that.” She points to a poster plastered onto the side of a construction site. They've been popping up all over the neighbourhood in the last week, on lampposts, and underneath the windscreen wipers of cars on his streets. His neighbours aren't particularly happy about that, from what he's heard. That pub must really want people to come to their Halloween night.

“Alcohol,” Darcy whispers reverentially, stroking the crudely drawn cartoon of a leprechaun in devil horns.

“Electrolytes,” he counters, kissing the top of her head. “Come on.”

“Mm,” she responds, still looking at the poster. “We should go to this.”

“What?”

“It'd be fun,” she insists. “Oooh, look, and they're having a costume competition.”

“Who'd it be fun for?” he asks.

“For me, Steve, for me. And maybe for you too. At some point you're going to have to relearn how to socialise with people who aren't me.”

“Is that even possible now?”

She narrows her eyes up at him. “You're trying to be funny again. But seriously, it wouldn't be a bad idea for you to, you know, mix with other human beings. And it's Irish. Your heritage!”

Steve can almost guarantee that no Irish person has ever been into this place. “I don't... mix because I don't want to get recognised. I'd like to be able to walk around my neighbourhood without getting stopped and stared at every five minutes.”

“So, I'll get you a mask.” As soon as she says it, her eyes light up. “Yeah, it'll be perfect! You'll be able to talk to people without getting recognised, and people won't even think it's weird.”

He frowns at her and she pouts.

“Oh, my leg!” she cries, grabbing at it. “It's hurts so much. Oh God, I think it's going to have to be amputated. It's too late for me!” she says, letting go of his arm and slapping one hand over her heart, staggering a little. “Save yourself!”

“Okay, okay!” he says, biting back laughter. “Okay, stop, you win.”

“Yay,” she says, taking hold of his arm again.

“So, what're we gonna to go as?”

“Oh,” she says, battering her eyelashes at him. “Don't worry about that, I'll think of something.”

Somehow, that does not fill him with confidence.

-

It's so easy these days to avoid talking to people, he's sort of got used to not making eye contact, only mumbling his thanks, and rarely getting into conversations of more than a few minutes with his neighbours. It certainly makes his life easier in a lot of ways. Darcy was a little surprised when she found out that he uses the self service checkouts at his local grocery store whenever he can, because even she wants to 'tase them' sometimes, but once he figured out how they work, it was just so much simpler than the assault course of the checkout lines. If he didn't have Darcy, he probably wouldn't talk to anyone but Fury and agents assigned to him at S.H.I.E.L.D., and it wouldn't ever be anything but shop talk. It's kind of ridiculous when he thinks about it, to lose the one thing he was always at least vaguely proficient at, making friends, and gain the one thing he was always utterly hopeless at, having a girlfriend.

He guesses that after a while, he just got complacent, mired in the tedium of his new 'life', and that's why the prospect of this party tonight is making him so nervous. That and parties have never been his thing. Dressing up, however, he's an old hand at.

Darcy pretty effectively keeps both of their costumes under wraps in the two weeks before the party. He's pretty sure that at one point she hides them in the cupboard under the sink, because she yells at him when he goes to look in there for garbage bags, but the next time he looks (totally innocently, of course), there's nothing in there at all aside from an old bottle of bleach. After that she keeps a close eye on him whenever he's poking around her apartment.

For the 31st, they agree that he should go back to his apartment for the day, that she'll come over after work and 'wow him' with her creativity. He lies in bed at 'early o'clock' that morning, watching her stumble around in the dark without her glasses on, collecting up her clothes for the day, and he really doesn't want to go anywhere. More importantly, he doesn't want her to go anywhere, but there are bills to pay, she says, and at least one of them has to have a steady job. He kind of likes how she's starting to refer to them as a couple; it kind of scares him, too, but maybe he likes that as well.

She comes round to his place at five thirty, wearing his shirt and an oversized parka that used to be her dad's (apparently stealing other peoples' clothes is a pattern with her) over black leggings, and carrying a canvas bag.

“So, what am I wearing tonight?” he asks as she kicks off her tennis shoes.

“First,” she says, reaching into her bag and pulling out a box of something, “I got candy. You know, in case there were kids.”

“Oh, I already got some,” he says, pointing to a bowl on the kitchen counter.

“Oh no,” she says flatly, “now we're going to have to eat it all ourselves.”

He smiles. “All right, come on, how bad is it?”

“Not bad at all,” she says, and pulls something else out of the bag. Something red and blue and... “I got the biggest size they had,” she says, shaking out the... the top.

“What is... no,” he says, reaching out and touching the material. It's thin and scratchy under his fingertips. “Please tell me this isn't a cheap Captain America costume.”

“Will I get arrested if I lie to you?”

Darcy,” he groans, dropping the material and shoving his hand in his pocket.

“No, look, it'll be awesome.”

“The whole point is that I'm not recognised.”

“And you won't be! Who would ever think that Captain America would dress up as Captain America for Halloween? It's the perfect ruse. And it's funny!”

“No.”

“Steve.”

“No.”

Steve.”

He crosses his arms over and uses his best glare on her. “No,” he says, with an unmistakable note of finality.

“Well, fine,” she says, stuffing the costume back in her back. “I guess we'll just stay in then.”

“We can still go, just...” he starts, waving his hand at the bag, but Darcy's shaking her head.

“Uh uh, I'm not going to be the one with the idiot in civvies. We'll just watch whatever torture porn is on the television tonight, it's fine.”

His tentative curiosity as to exactly what 'torture porn' entails, though he can hazard a good guess at it, and his instant guilt at ruining her night jostle for position for a moment, before he settles on saying, “What were you going to go as?”

She sighs. “Not that even matters any more...” She pulls her coat off, dropping it to the floor, then starts to unbutton the shirt, revealing inch by inch a black vee-neck sweater underneath. It's just about skin tight, practically merging with her black leggings to look like one continuous outfit. She drops the shirt to the floor, and he swallows.

“I was thinking of going Pfeiffer Catwoman at first, 'cause that chick was just awesome, but drawing all those stitches on seemed like it would be really time-consuming, and store bought PVC costumes are just, eh, not good. Then I thought, like, Halle Berry, but man, you would have had a coronary, so I settled on a Julie Newmar/Eartha Kitt thing with a little bit of the comics thrown in.” She pulls a couple of other things out of her bag: a hair band with black pointy ears fixed to it, a mask with a piece of elastic to hold it in place, and a belt made up of metal loops strung together. She puts the whole ensemble together and stands with her hands on her hips, feet apart. He notices that there are also a pair of knee high black boots in the bag.

Oh, God.

She arches an eyebrow at him. “But since we're not--”

“Okay,” he says, “I'll wear the-- yeah, okay.”

She grins. He gets the impression that she had this all cleverly planned out from the start. Amazing plans, indeed.

The costume, of course, looks ridiculous, even more ridiculous than his USO get up, which is a really impressive feat. The pants don't even come close to fitting.

“Well,” she says, sitting on the arm rest of his couch, trying to adjust the top as much as possible, “I think they expected that a guy with a fifty inch chest would have hips wider than a sixteen year old girl's.”

“Neither of those things are true,” he mutters.

“Whatever,” she says, giving the top one final ruthless tug and frowning at it. “Do you have any pants you can wear with it? Oh! What about your actual Captain America pants?”

“Do you know how much the suit costs? Fury would kill me if he found out. I think I have a pair of jeans that might work.”

She agrees that the jeans will work for the costume, but is so offended by the 'Momness' of them that she makes him promise to throw them out immediately after the party. She looks so thoroughly appalled that he has to laugh, and then agree to it very solemnly.

“Okay,” she says, zipping up her boots, “I think we're good to go.” She's taken her glasses off to wear the mask, and he wonders how much she can actually see. Judging by the way she's squinting hard at the zippers on her boots, not very much at all.

“Are you going to be okay without your glasses?”

“Of course,” she says. “Suffer for beauty.”

“How far can you actually see?”

She straightens up and takes long calculated steps towards him until they're almost nose to nose. “Hey, there you are!” she says, leaning up to kiss him. The edges of her mask scrape just underneath his eyebrows, and he smiles. He kind of wishes they were staying in now, but he doubts that there's any way he could get her to agree to it.

The doorbell goes. Do trick or treaters ring the doorbells of apartment blocks these days? That seems kind of time-consuming.

“Shit,” Darcy mutters. “I kind of invited Jane along? She was just seemed so sad when I told her what we were doing, and it just sort of came out. I think you're rubbing off on me. I hope that's okay.”

“Yeah, why wouldn't it be?” Honestly, he's been a little worried about Jane since the night she slept over at Darcy's. He knows what it feels like to have the world suddenly overwhelm you.

“Obviously no reason,” she says, giving his top another tug.

Oh, he thinks, as she turns from him and buzzes Jane in. He guesses that she had some other ideas about how this night of probable heavy drinking would go, but it's hardly his fault that she invited along a third wheel.

Jane is dressed as Supergirl, and when Darcy sees her, she makes a cross with her arms and cries, “Supergirl, my nemesis!”

“There is so much that is wrong with that,” Jane replies, then catches sight of Steve and grimaces sympathetically.

“Let's not talk about it,” Steve mutters.

-

It's easy to blend in at the pub, both because it's pretty full, and because there are a lot of Captain Americas. And Steve is the crappiest.

“This is just embarrassing,” he says to Darcy.

“No, it's funny too,” she says, and drags him and Jane over to the bar. “Three beers!” she yells at the bartender, slapping money down. Another 'Captain America' slides up to her as Steve watches, leaning in to say something in her ear. “Sorry, dude,” she says, “I've already got a Captain America. And Cap would never say that, by the way.”

'Captain America' smirks over at Steve and slides away again.

“Dick,” Jane mutters, then turns to Steve. “Regret agreeing to this yet?”

“I regretted it as soon as I said 'yes',” he replies, then plasters on a smile as Darcy comes back with the drinks.

“Did you get a load of that guy? Captain Americas have a thing for me, apparently. Too bad he was totally gross,” she says. Jane pokes her in the arm, and she rolls her eyes. “And I'm totally monogamous, of course, so.” She yanks him in for a kiss, making a show of it for gross Captain America, Steve's pretty sure. Not that he's complaining. There is something kind of freeing about being masked in a situation like this.

“I guess it's not so bad here. I'm starting to feel a little home,” he says, nodding to a guy in an Iron Man costume. There are at least three Iron Mans (Iron Men?), a couple of women in bright red polyester wigs, a guy with a quiver strapped to his back, all of the Captain Americas, and... at least one Thor. When Steve catches sight of him, he hopes Jane hasn't seen him as well, but it's useless.

“Ew,” Darcy says, and glances at Jane.

“That,” Jane says, waving her finger at the guy. “That is a shitty Thor costume.”

“So shitty,” Darcy agrees gravely.

“Yeah,” Steve chips in.

“I'm getting drunk now,” Jane adds, reaching for her glass.

“That's my girl,” Darcy says fondly, wrapping her arm around Jane's shoulders and ruffling her hair. Jane shoves her an impressive distance.

-

The music isn't bad, but the beer is pretty awful. Darcy and Jane switch to tequila shots pretty quickly, getting slices of lime and sachets of salt from the bartender, and slamming the glasses down on the bar afterwards.

“We're not making you uncomfortable, are we?” Jane shouts over the music, leaning across Darcy, practically lying in her lap. She's grinning, shitty Thor apparently forgotten.

“With this stuff?” he says, poking at Darcy's empty glass. “That's barely alcohol.”

“Oh, really?” Darcy says, setting her elbow on his shoulder and eyeballing him.

“Yeah. Back in the day, we drank moonshine.”

Darcy screws up her face. “Moonshine? Yuck.”

“Well, we didn't drink it 'cause it tasted good,” he says, and Darcy's eyes widen.

“Okay, money, mouth,” she says, beckoning the bartender back over. “Three shots, please.”

Steve lowers his voice as the guy drops another glass on the bar and fills all three in one smooth motion. Darcy tells him to leave the bottle. “This isn't gonna to do anything to me, you know.”

“I just can't imagine this drunk, rebellious Steve. I need a learning aid.”

“I wasn't a lush,” he argues. He couldn't have been if he wanted, he was a strictly one and done sort of guy, back when Bucky could drink Steve's weight in beer and still walk in a straight line. But Darcy just grabs his hand, licks a stripe between his thumb and index finger, and sprinkles salt on it.

“Salt, shot, then bite into the lime and suck the juice out,” she orders. “On one. Three, two, one.”

He follows her and Jane motion for motion, knocking back the tequila without even tasting it, grabbing the lime and sucking it dry, just as fast as they do.

“Damn,” Jane says, as he spits the lime back out and licks the juice off his teeth.

He grins at their twin looks of surprise; he knows he's not drunk, but he's got that heady feeling, loosening his limbs and his smile, which accounts for why he's not worried when Darcy's look of surprise turns predatory. She grabs one of the many sachets of salt, rips it open, pours it into her mouth, and gets hold of the front of his flimsy top, pulling him in before he has any idea what's going on. He opens his mouth against hers, because he always does, because that pleasant ache in his limbs doesn't let him do otherwise, and then her tongue is pressed against his, salt sharp in his mouth. His pseudo-drunkenness allows him one groan, long and high-pitched, before he digs his fingers into her hair and tilts his head, his nose pressed against her cheek. Fuck it, he thinks as he distantly registers catcalls that are probably aimed at them; no one here knows who either of them are. He dislodges her mask as he tries to run his fingers through her thick hair, the cardboard edge of it catching against the rough material of his own.

She pulls her mouth off his with a smacking sound, and he feels slightly like he might fall off the barstool, fumbling to regain his wayward sense.

She pushes a shot glass into his hand, holding a quarter of lime between her teeth, and he sort of gets the idea in an abstract sense. He takes the glass from her, knocks that one back too, and leans forward to bite into the lime, his nose touching hers. She doesn't let go, the look in her eyes challenging, and then pulls the slice back into her mouth, grinning.

The catcalls are definitely for them, and before he can get blind sided by embarrassment, he slides one hand around her hip, presses his lips to hers, and when she gasps in surprise, he takes the opportunity to push his tongue into her mouth, get hold of the lime, and pull it back out. He drops it into one of the shot glasses, and there's at least one whoop, before his embarrassment rushes up to meet him.

He covers his face with his hands and starts laughing, a weirdly light feeling jangling around inside him. Darcy pulls him against her side, smoothing her hand over his back.

“God, what're you doing to me, Darcy?” he murmurs, loud enough for only her to hear.

“I don't know, but I'm liking this side to you.”

He tries to imagine what Fury would say if he'd seen that display, or what Tony would say. Even thought is mortifying, but for some reason he's still laughing softly.

“That was really hot,” Jane says, sprawled out across the bar.

-

He cries off doing any more shots, citing that it's a waste of money and that they're horrible, and hopes that people will stop staring at them soon. Darcy just about accepts his excuses, but only because he lets her drag him up and dance for a little while. It's more like shuffling on his part, but he doesn't step on her toes, so he chalks it up as a success.

“Hey, where's Jane?” he asks, when her 'dancing' has devolved into trying to feel him up underneath his shirt. He really should make more effort to stop her.

“Making out with shitty Thor, I think.” She points vaguely across the room to where he can see the back of a stringy blond wig on a guy who is nowhere near Thor's stature.

“Is that a good idea?”

“Nope. But if you can't make bad decisions while drunk and dressed up as Supergirl, when can you?”

“Never?” he guesses.

“Correct,” she says, and rewards him with a kiss.

There's commotion across the room, loud enough to rise above the general din of the crowded pub. Darcy looks disapprovingly at the source of the noise, gross Captain America, and wraps her arms around Steve's neck.

“On a scale of one to America, how much does that offend you?”

He raises an eyebrow, mouths 'what?' at her, but he'd probably rank pretty high on that 'scale'. The guy's been trying to make trouble all evening, emphasis on 'trying', because no one's been paying any attention to him, but every time Steve sees the 'A' on his plastic helmet, he kind of wants to punch him in the face.

The bartender's leaning over the bar now, trying to get the guy's attention while he's picking a fight with Frankenstein. It'd be funny if the jerk wasn't dressed up like Steve, and being, well, a jerk.

“Okay, dude, I'm gonna call the cops if you don't get out,” the bartender says to no avail. Steve ponders the scene for a moment before letting go of Darcy.

“Oh, that guy's in trouble now,” she whispers in delight, and follows him as he weaves his way through the crush.

“Hey,” he says, stepping into the guy's space. Steve does his best not to use his size to intimidate others, especially after he realised just how easy it was to slip into that mindset, but he'd be lying to himself if he denied that the way this guy has to tip his head back to look him in the eye is immensely satisfying. “I think it's time that you leave.”

“Oh yeah?” the guy says, narrowing his eyes.

Steve sees the punch coming about five seconds before the guy even decides he's going to do it. Try to do it. He catches the guy's fist, spins him round smoothly, and pins his arm behind his back.

“You seriously need to leave, sir,” he says, and he's pretty sure that the sharp bark of laughter he hears is Darcy's.

The guy wriggles in Steve's grip. God, this guy is really, really pissing him off. He gets him by the back of his jacket and lifts him clean off the floor. “Okay,” he says, and carries him to the door, people moving aside for them. He starts to set him down, then thinks better of it. “Did you drive here?”

The guy nods pathetically and doesn't even argue when Steve holds his hand out for the keys.

He sets him on the sidewalk outside the pub and waves the keys at him. “I'm going to give these to the bartender, and you can come back for them when you've sobered up.” Then he shuts the door firmly in his face.

“My hero!” Darcy says, wrapping her arms around his middle.

“Man, you really should be Captain America,” someone behind a 'Scream' mask says. Darcy giggles into Steve's top, and he bites the inside of his cheek to stop from laughing.

The bartender drops three clean glasses onto the bar. “Drinks are on the house for you guys for the rest of the night.”

-

Darcy and Jane take the offer of free drinks to heart, drinking a legitimately scary volume of alcohol for their small sizes. Binge drinking in action, he thinks, as Darcy drops a shot glass into her beer. She takes a long sip, then screws up her face and shakes her head like a dog drying itself off. “Ick,” she pronounces, and hops off her stool. Steve puts his hand out to steady her as she stumbles.

“I'm going to use the restroom,” she says, and looks at Jane expectantly.

“Have fun,” Jane says.

“Aren't you coming?”

“I don't need to go,” she says, frowning.

“What about the girl code?”

“The what?”

Darcy sighs. “You are a terrible social misfit. Fine, then guard Steve. There are some people here who seem to be getting 'ideas'.” She surveys the room suspiciously for a moment, then turns and unsteadily flounces away, bumping into more than a couple of people on her way.

Jane frowns at her retreating back for a moment, then slides across onto Darcy's stool and smiles at him. She tries Darcy's drink, and has much the same reaction as Darcy did, then calls the bartender back over. “One beer and a...”

“Lemonade,” he says, and Jane pulls a face but doesn't comment.

“You know,” she says after a moment, “I kinda thought Darcy was crazy to go out with you, no offence, but you're weirdly perfect for each other.”

“Thanks?”

“Mm,” she responds, and leans against his side. She slips, flailing her arms, and he puts his arm around her shoulders to steady her. “Mm,” she hums again, cheek against his chest, then adds, “You're a really nice guy.”

“Thanks.”

“Darcy isn't very nice.”

He smiles. “She's nice to me. Most of the time.”

Jane nods distantly, barely listening to him at all, he's pretty certain. He's also pretty certain that she's thinking about Thor. She sighs into the beer that the bartender hands her, and Steve rubs her arm tentatively. The bartender is looking at them, a little disapprovingly, Steve feels, but Jane seems comfortable, and he knows exactly what missing someone and being completely powerless to rectify the situation feels like. They sit quietly for a couple of minutes before she shakes herself a little and glances up at him.

“You don't say much, do you?”

“Don't have a lot to say.”

“Wow, I doubt that.”

He shrugs, and glances up in time to see Darcy coming back from the restroom, walking with the concentration of someone who's really plastered and possibly a little blind, too. He glances back down at Jane, slumped against him like girls used to get with Bucky, and bites his lip.

“Great work guarding him,” Darcy says, patting Jane on the head as she passes, and comes round to Steve's other side to settle down on his lap. Jane sits back up and Darcy gets good and comfortable before saying, “Oh, hey, gimme your phone,” and holds her hand out in front of his face.

He pulls it out of his pocket with a frown, and she takes it, fiddles with the buttons for a moment, then wraps her arm around his neck. “Cheese!”

“What?” he says, as she mashes their faces together and the phone flashes.

She scrutinises the picture for a moment, then grins at him. “Captain America and Catwoman look good together.”

“They're not bad,” he agrees, and she kisses him for real.

-

Best costume goes to a guy dressed up as the Wolf Man (a movie which, at twenty three, kind of unsettled Steve a little; Bucky said he'd spent too much of his childhood with his nose in lurid pulps). Jane objects, because 'that guy is obviously a make up artist'.

“And best Captain America goes to that dude,” the bartender says, pointing at Steve. “Sorry we don't have anything for you, dude.”

“That's okay,” he replies. Darcy has got herself firmly ensconced in his lap, and she's laughing softly.

“We kind of wanna know what you look like under that mask, though,” the bartender continues, setting his elbows on the bar.

“Secret identity, sorry.”

Darcy reaches up and covers his face with her hands. She only pokes him in the eye twice. “Super secret, no looking.”

“Hm,” the bartender hums, eyeing them thoughtfully.

-

The party starts to wind down as last call approaches, though there's a brief upswing when Darcy leads a rousing number of 'Drunken Sailor'.

“Sing along, sailor!” she cries, and he can't help but laugh.

“I wasn't a sailor,” he says, “I don't know the words.”

“Well, what songs do you know?”

There's no one near enough to hear, so he says, “'Hitler Has Only Got One Ball',” and Darcy shrieks with laughter.

He calls a cab for Jane, because she has a vague idea that she has 'something' to do in the afternoon that she needs to be in Manhattan for, although she's doesn't seem clear on what or where it is. The operator says that the fare's going to be forty dollars, and Steve's pretty sure a small part of himself shrivels up and dies.

“Okay, drunken sailor, time to go home,” he says, when it's knocking on four in the morning. He slides one arm under Darcy's knees, supports her back with the other, and swings her up into his arms. She squeals, and waves to her new friends as he takes her outside to wait for Jane's cab.

When the cab arrives, Jane collapses into it, fumbling to close the door behind her. Steve puts Darcy down carefully on the sidewalk and goes up to it before it pulls away.

“Hey,” he says to the driver, leaning against the door. He gets forty five dollars out of his wallet and tries to ignore the physical pain of handing it over. “Make sure she gets home okay.”

“I have money,” Jane mumbles, patting at her sides. “Somewhere, I've got...”

“Pay me back next time you see me,” he says. If you remember this, he thinks.

She nods, and he's starting to step back from the curb when she flails her hands a little. “Steve, Steve, wait.”

He leans back into the window. “What?”

“You're a really nice guy.”

“And you're a really swell dame,” he says. The driver looks at him funny, but Jane grins.

Darcy has her shoes off when he gets back over to her.

“You've taken your shoes off.”

“I have. My feet were sweaty.”

“Okay,” he says, and stoops to pick her up again.

“Always the designated driver, never the drunk,” she says, giggling.

“Yeah,” he says. He gets hold of her again and lifts her up easily, though it doesn't go so easy on his top, which makes an upsetting ripping sound.

“Was that your costume?”

“Yeah.”

“Bad top,” she says, poking at his shoulder. “I spent seven dollars fifty on you.”

It's almost impossible to keep a hold on her, because she keeps wriggling, kicking her legs, and trying to kiss him. Halfway home, he pulls his mask and dumps it in a trash can, which just gives her more access to his 'pretty face'. Maybe if he wasn't laughing so hard she'd stop, but she keeps ineptly tickling him and whispering incomprehensible 'dirty' things in his ear. Her silliness is weirdly contagious.

It's a bit of a relief when he gets them home. He fishes his keys out of his back pocket and tries to put her down, but she latches onto his neck and refuses to let go as he gets the outer door open.

“Darcy,” he mutters, rearranging her on his hip like a child, as he walks the short distance to his front door, fumbling to switch to his door key.

“Mm?” she responds, biting lightly on his neck.

He grunts, his key going wide of the lock. “Darcy...” he groans, which just spurs on her. She bites down harder, than trails up until she gets to his mouth. He doesn't mean to push her against the door, but then there she is, digging her fingers into his hair and sucking on his tongue. By the reactions he's getting from her, he's pretty sure he's getting kind of loud – she likes it when he's noisy – and this really isn't appropriate, in the hallway with his eighty six year old neighbour sleeping next door, but it's hard to make the entirety of his brain accept this fact.

Reality comes back to him when the outer door opens, and there are voices filling the small hallway. Steve freezes, and the voices quiet a little, then fade away as he hears their footsteps on the stairs.

He shakes his head and finally gets the key into the lock and the door open. He doesn't have any painkillers, which he thinks is going to prove a problem come whenever Darcy wakes up hungover, but he manages to get her to drink a glass of water and eat some toast before she strips off her top, puts his shirt back on, and collapses into his narrow bed, dragging him down with her.

“There isn't enough room for both of us,” he says into her hair, which smells like stale beer now, instead of the pleasantly generic perfume of her shampoo. “I don't even need to sleep.”

“Sleep,” she agrees, already halfway there herself, and tugs at him.

He looks down at her fingers twisted in the neck of his t-shirt, and wonders why he's even arguing with her over this. He pushes the covers back with his feet and gets in, shifting to fit in around her. She huffs and rolls over to flop down on top of him, her breasts flattened against his chest, her whole body warm and tightly fitting around his. She's sound asleep by the time her face hits his collarbone.

He imagines he's not going to find sleeping as comfortable as she is.