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and the horse it rode in on

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- Date 1.a -

"His greatest concern was about disappointing you."

Darcy doesn't jump when Phil just appears at her elbow out of thin air, she's been living in the mansion for too long for that, but she does blink a little. "His greatest concern should have been keeping his blood inside his body."

Phil huffs at that, a sound of commiseration. "Whenever I try and tell him that he makes the talking hand at me and tells me I'm nagging."

"Talking hand?" Darcy asks, sliding her eyes sideways so she can see Phil make a hand puppet and flap the finger mouth open and closed a bunch of times. It's a little incongruous to watch him do that standing next to the viewing window into the med bay in SHIELD while Clint's getting a long line of stitches to hold his side together and stop anything falling out.

"He's fine." It would be empty assurance coming from anyone else, but with Phil Darcy believes it, knows it's just a fact and not an empty promise because Phil doesn't make those. Last month when Clint had been missing for six days, Phil had said I don't know when Darcy had asked if he would be okay. It wasn't reassuring, but it was the truth.

"They want to keep him in overnight though," Darcy says, can't really help it. Clint looks pale, dark bruises under his eyes. He's bitching at the medical attendant but it's only half-hearted, like he knows they would really worry if he didn't at least try to be a smartass.

"He hit his head when he fell-" Darcy watches Phil physically stop himself from the rest of that sentence, pretty sure it's because it's awful, like off a building or, down that mineshaft awful. Phil finally settles on, "Down."

"We were going to grab Mexican food and then go see a remastered version of The Birds," Darcy says.

"For what it's worth, he was really looking forward to it."

"Me too," Darcy sighs, lets her head rest on the glass, knowing Clint can't see that she's there, not sure if she wants him to know.

- Date 1.b -



"No... that's... no, you're fine. Don't wake up. I'm just... christ I didn't realise how late I was. I'm sorry, I know I should have called but there was a whole thing with another thing and like... you don't care about that though. You look really pretty... or you probably did before you slept on your face and had your makeup go all Joker and all but no... still pretty. I'm just going to assume that it was Tony that drew the sad little raincloud on your forehead with your lipstick. You really shouldn't sleep out in any communal areas."


"No, shh. Stay asleep. I'm just taking your boots off. We'll... hopefully you'll let me reschedule tomorrow."

- Date 1.c -

"We're army wives."

"I don't remember getting married."

"We have to sit at home and wait for a phone call."

"We've got a live feed. We're watching them now, live. I can see them all."

"We have to stay at home with the children-"


"-and the roast going cold in the oven-"

"The last time I checked all you could make was sandwiches and I can't even do that."

"-waiting on our respective honeybears to return to us, hopefully safe and sound."

"I don't think I could ever call Thor honeybear with a straight face." Jane looks up at Darcy who is standing, one fist curled over her heart and a suitably tragic expression on her face. "Is this all because you're supposed to be on a date right now?"

"He could've texted me. Not even so much as a frowny face."

"He's right there," Jane says, pointing at the television screen. Then she kind of squints and turns her head sideways. "Okay, maybe you can't see Clint right now but where there's copious amounts of smoke and carnage and other Avengers, there's Clint."

"It's alright for you. Thor's a showboater, you can keep an eye on him." Right at that moment, Thor proves Darcy right by zooming across the sky, holding a doombot head aloft and doing a mid-air bump and grind that it would be safe to blame Tony for presumably.

"Wait, isn't that Clint there?" Jane says, sounding surprised and with good reason. The news camera is panning across the wreckage when it catches on the usually elusive Hawkeye and sticks, not wanting to miss the rare opportunity to capture him. "What's he holding?"

"Looks like a flat bit of doombot," Darcy says, flopping down on the couch and hugging her knees. "There's writing on it."

"It says, Sorry honey, stuck at work late. Next time for sure," Jane reads, then snorts.

"Wait, there's more, he's turning it over," Darcy says, punching Jane excitedly in the arm which she doesn't seem to approve of if her expression is anything to go by.

"Bossman says I get a promotion if I keep doing good." Jane blinks then looks at Darcy who has swooned back on the couch, a hand dramatically flung to her forehead. "Oh my god, I'm banning you two from watching Mad Men," she grumbles.

- Date 1.d -

"Yeah, this doesn't count either."

"Really? There's food, ambiance-"

"There's whatever Steve found in the kitchen that wasn't buried under rubble and the ambiance with which you speak of? Would that be a bunch of Avengers lying around poking at their wounds?"

"I have no wounds!" Thor announces from across what was once a pretty nice Chinese restaurant and is now mostly a crater. The kitchen is still intact and a single section with a few tables not too burned and that's where the Avengers have settled in for the night.

"I know Thor, honey. You're the bestest at not being hurt," Darcy assures him and Thor beams, always a sucker for praise no matter what kind.

"I'm not poking," Steve grumbles from the other side of table, then continues to do so until Tony smacks his hands away from the various scrapes and bruises he can't seem to leave alone.

"Infection is no one's friend, not even a super soldier," Tony scolds, then scowls when Natasha grabs him by the head to check a sluggishly bleeding cut on his temple. "Ow, hell woman, I'm equal parts terrified and turned on by your manhandling and comfortable with neither right now."

"You need better padding in your helmet. You're getting an awful lot of concussions lately."

"Really? I don't remember them," Tony says, smirks until Natasha jabs a finger into his cut.

"Yeah, okay, I'm done," Darcy says, pushing her box of noodles away and making a face.

"You wanna get out of here?" It looks like Clint's trying to waggle his eyebrows, but he's got some kind of black sludge coating his head which makes it hard to tell.

"Maybe we should take you back to SHIELD and see if they have something to remove whatever that is." Darcy passes her hands around his head, unwilling to touch the stuff. "Before you end up with absolutely no hair."

Clint looks suitably horrified. "I like my hair."

"I do too. Which is why we need to get you into a shower, pronto."

"Is this just an excuse to get me naked?" Clint asks, letting Darcy tug him up by the hand.

She looks over her shoulder at him, is able to raise her eyebrow. "Do I need an excuse, soldier?"

Clint swallows. "No Ma'am."

- Date 1.ah, screw it -

"This is really not my fault."

"This makes eight times, Darcy. I'm starting to sense a pattern."

Darcy's not sure if arguing about her ability to be kidnapped at inopportune moments while being kidnapped is the best time. "It's not my fault. I've got the Lois Lane thing happening."

"The what?" They're yelling at each other through some kind of shock-proof glass, proven as such because Clint can't seem to get through it even though he's tried a chair, his dagger and a small, explosive tipped arrow. Okay, Darcy's kind of glad that one didn't work because she thinks maybe it might've triggered the other explosive, the one she's trapped in a small room with.

"You hang out with super heroes; you end up being a bad guy magnet."

"Maybe you shouldn't-"

"Oh hell no," Darcy practically snarls. "You are not breaking up with me for my own good right now."

"That's not-"

"That's exactly what you were about to do," Darcy says, thumps the glass with a frustrated fist because she can't thump Clint. He doesn't even look up from the keypad he's got opened, wires spilling out over his hands. He's sweating because the happy little timer on the bomb behind Darcy just ticked over the four minute mark and Natasha keeps informing them that they'll need about forty-five seconds to make it far enough away not to be paste when it goes off.

The closest Avenger other than Clint being about six minutes out is not improving Clint's mood.

"I can't break up with you because we're not really dating. We haven't had one successful date."

"Screw that," Darcy says and Clint does spare a precious few seconds to glance at her. "I'm overruling whatever dumbass rules you've got about this. You're my boyfriend, officially."

Clint's not smiling because duh, still mortal peril here, but Darcy kind of gets the feeling that he wants to. "Okay."




Darcy squeaks when The Hulk bursts through the opposite wall, panting hard.

"Hey, buddy. A little help?" Clint says, steps aside as The Hulk ambles over and rips the reinforced door off its hinges that Clint had been trying to break through. He throws it aside, nearly clipping Clint with it but Clint appears to be used to that, just sidesteps easily.

"So, we could class this as the first date," Clint offers, darting in the room to tug Darcy out.

"Nearly dying?"

"No," Clint says, a wicked gleam in his eye. "Hulk riding. That'll be a story for the kids."