"Steve? Steve? Ohmigod, wake up, wake up, shit shit, no, wake up, this is not good—STEVE."
Steve grunts. He feels like he's been dragged out of the ring after being knocked out by Joe Lewis, and then had an elephant sit on him. When he opens his eyes everything seems at least fifty times brighter than it should be, and the first thing he can manage to say is, "The hell am I hungover?"
"Steve!" Darcy whines. She's leaning over him, her eyes wide with concern and her hair pulled over one shoulder in a sloppy braid. Something silvery and shimmery sits atop her head, and if Steve squints, it looks a little bit like tinsel. "You're not dead! Good! This is good!"
He groans again and tries to sit up. Is this a hangover? He can't remember the last time he had one, back when he was capable of it. He knows that at some point he became very friendly with the floor, and he recalls Bucky complaining about ruining a couch. He rubs his forehead and tries to focus on Darcy, who has since calmed down somewhat after shaking him back into consciousness.
He looks around the room that they're in—sparsely, generically decorated, with a television mounted on a wall above a chest of drawers. Why are they in a hotel? The last thing he remembers is being at Tony's place in Malibu, and there being a cake of some kind. "Where are we?" he asks.
"Las Vegas." Darcy is pacing and the tinsel on her head bobs up and down. Watching it move is making Steve feel a little bit woozy, so he tries to focus on something else.
Wait. Las Vegas? "How're we in Las Vegas?"
Darcy drops onto the bed beside him. Well, it's not so much beside him as it is near him; the bed they're sitting on is huge and has the softest sheets that Steve has ever felt in his life. He looks down to stare at them and then—
"What is on me?!"
His torso looks like a disco ball has thrown up on him. Flecks of silvery stuff are all over his chest, stomach, and hands. He tries to brush it away, but only some of it flakes off into the sheets. He covers his eyes with his hands and takes a deep breath. "Darcy?" he says slowly. "What happened?"
Darcy still looks vaguely shell-shocked. Without saying a single word, she reaches for her tablet on the bed next to her, pokes at the screen for a second, and shoves it into Steve's still glittery hands.
CAPTAIN AMERICA MARRIED BY IRON MAN! reads the headline on TMZ, and below it is a photograph of him and Darcy standing next to a man wearing a very nice imitation of the Iron Man helmet.
"Oh, fuck," Steve says.
Hill ends up debriefing them, because Fury is too busy laughing his head off to talk. Which surprises Steve—he would have figured that Director Fury would have been on the verge of a meltdown at the absolute worst, and at the best shoved him off to Extra or one of those awful tabloid shows for an exclusive.
But no. When he and Darcy are called to HQ twenty-four hours after the news drops, they are greeted by the sound of Nick Fury cackling.
Darcy grabs Steve's hand, which startles him. "Please tell me he's not going to Uncle Phil us," she says, and then adds, "You know… laugh and then bust out a huge can of righteous anger?"
Steve nods slowly. He's seen enough reruns in the past year to pick up what she's dropping. "I hope not."
Fury's laughter just gets worse when he sees them walk in. "My money was on Stark!" he says, wiping tears from his eye. "Or Romanoff and Barton, maybe. But you, Captain? I—"
And then he laughs some more, and all that Steve and Darcy can do is look at each other uncomfortably until Agent Hill shows up.
"So what's the last thing that you both remember?" Hill asks once they've left Fury to his giggle fit.
"Cake," Steve says. "We were at Tony's, and there was a cake."
"For my anniversary," Darcy adds. "One year of assisting Stark Industries and S.H.I.E.L.D. and all."
Hill nods and uses her stylus to poke at something on her tablet. "Oh, the cake. About that."
"That doesn't sound good," Darcy says.
Hill places the tablet down. "The cake was tampered with."
"Tampered with how?" Steve asks.
Hill goes into a detailed analysis of the lab results on the cake. Steve doesn't understand half of it, but Darcy's eyes keep getting wider and wider. "So basically, what you're saying is that we got space roofied?" she blurts out, cutting off Agent Hill as she begins to list side effects of whatever-the-hell-it-was that was in the cake.
Agent Hill pauses to consider this. "Well… more or less," she says. "Thor was helpful in—"
"Loki," Steve says. Of course. Why wouldn't it be Loki?
Hill glares at him. "May I continue, Captain? Thor was helpful in determining the origins of the toxin, and in helping to pinpoint exactly what it does."
Darcy raises her eyebrows. "Which is…?"
"In addition to… okay, enough report talk." Hill sighs. "It makes you feel hungover, and apparently awakens your deepest desires. Agent Barton's was to sing 'Piano Man' at karaoke, Agent Romanoff's was to jet off to Bali strictly for pleasure, Banner's was to discover a new dinosaur, Stark's was to pet a dolphin and ride a llama…" Hill is having a hard time keeping a straight face at that one.
Steve really can't fault her.
"So basically," Hill says, "You two…?"
"That doesn't explain why we don't remember being married in Vegas by a justice of the peace in an Iron Man mask," Steve says.
Darcy nods. "Plus, I would've totally remembered seeing Cap being shirtless and having glitter dumped all over him."
Steve looks at her out of the corner of his eye. He can see the corners of her mouth twitching into a smile. He notices that she's wearing lip gloss, and it's not the usual reddish shade that she usually wears—it's a little softer, and pink. He wonders if it's the kind that has a flavor to it. Darcy had asked him to help her "test" a pina colada lip gloss once. The shade was a garish bright pink with little flecks of glitter in it, and didn't look quite right on her, but that detail was forgotten once she grabbed the hem of his shirt and pulled him in for a kiss. The gloss smelled like candy and tasted like the alcohol-free version of its namesake. I like it, he said when she broke away.
"—is temporary," Agent Hill says. "The blackouts last for about twelve hours at the least, and up to thirty-six at the most. Everyone save for Stark has snapped out of it. He still keeps… griping about llamas."
Steve watches as Hill tries to keep from laughing. "Of all the things for Tony Stark…" She shrugs and stares at him for a moment. "It's all up to you two now," she says in a decidedly serious tone. "If you're fine with this current arrangement, then, congratulations. If not, well, I sincerely hope that you work it out."
"Well," Darcy says as they leave Agent Hill's office, "Looks like I have to finally call my mom with the news." She reaches into her bag and pulls out her phone. "Look." She holds the screen up so that Steve can see the stream of text messages. "Between her, Jane, Erik, and half my graduating class blowing up my inbox, I'm surprised the phone didn't actually explode."
"I don't even want to check mine," Steve says. He starts to reach up and rub his forehead before he remembers that his hands are still caked in glitter. "I still want to know how this happened," he says, frowning.
"Don't look at me, I hate the stuff," Darcy says. "It's the herpes of craft supplies."
It's a bizarre, utterly Darcy thing to say, and it manages to make Steve laugh a little. "That actually makes perfect sense."
Darcy stops to drop her phone back into her bag and sighs. "In a way that we don't?"
She glances up at him. "Because, I mean, c'mon. You're… you, and you're all noble and honorable and so gosh-darn nice, and I'm me and I'm kind of a mess and a terrible influence and all, and you're great, but—"
There's this little part of Steve that feels wounded by this admission. There is a part that is telling him to be sensible, that if Darcy wants to go for an annulment or divorce, that it's fine, but the selfish part of him doesn't want to let go of the idea of them and what they could be just yet. "Tomorrow we can go and fix this… take care of it…" he stammers. "I mean, if you—"
"Oh my God, come here," she says, and she's grabbing his shirt again and practically yanking him down to her level. Steve wants to point out that they're in the middle of a hallway and that they're probably taking up too much space, but practicality be damned, Darcy is kissing him, and her lip gloss is still candy-sweet and her hands are wrapped tight in the hem of his shirt. He places one hand on her hip to move them over to the side of the hall, at least, and he cups her cheek with his free hand.
She lets go of his shirt and slowly pulls away from him. "Okay, okay," she says with a giggle. "I was trying to say, uh, why not give it a shot?"
It takes a moment for it to sink in for Steve. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and says, "Really? Are you sure?"
Darcy nods. "Only one condition, though."
"I'm hyphenating. Darcy Rogers-Lewis."
He shrugs. "Fine by me."