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Ice and Fire: 90 Days to a Whole New World

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“Seriously, guys, I need a shower.” Darcy leaned in to press a kiss each to Steve and Bucky’s cheeks.  “A long, steamy one.  You two can keep each other company.”

“Still offering to scrub your back,” Bucky said, his pale blue eyes telling the story of their emotional day.

“I’ll wash my hair and you can brush it afterward,” she promised him.

“Okay, Princess.  I’ll be waiting.” He took her hand and kissed the back of it.

She didn’t miss the way Steve had his hands shoved in his pockets.  Sure that he needed a little extra reassurance, Darcy worked her way into his arms for one of those long hugs that he was so good at giving.

“You okay, doll?” he murmured in her ear.

“Weirded out now that I’ve joined Club Super Serum, but hey, I’m all for trying out new things. I’m a Stark. Goes with the territory.”

Steve rubbed his chin over her head for an extra cuddle, but didn’t keep her there for long. “Don’t use all the hot water,” he chided.

Since they were Stark Tower and the hot water tanks were fueled by the arc reactor, that quip earned him a snicker and an elbow to his ribs that he easily dodged.

She wasn’t kidding about the shower, but it was impossible to hide from her spouses that she needed a little privacy.  They understood, but maybe not for the reasons they thought. They weren't convinced yet that she didn't hold them responsible, not when Bucky had saved her life with an emergency blood transfusion, and no one at all had suspected sex would have anything to do with transmitting the serum.  Blood plus semen was apparently the magical combination.  That was her speculation, and Tony backed it up.  Bruce would figure it all out when he got back with the team from Sokovia.

Needing time alone really had nothing at all to do with her husbands.

Darcy needed to see. After a short shower, she dried off and dropped the towel to stand naked in front of the long mirror.  She’d changed.  Every nick and scar she’d earned from years of lab work had whitened into nearly invisible marks in the serum-induced fever this morning.  The long slash on her leg had thinned to a pink line.  The ache from the torn muscles had vanished overnight.  Her stomach grumbled with hunger in spite of the fact she’d eaten just an hour ago.  She could feel the twisting ache that would change to nausea soon enough.

She wouldn’t dare admit to being terrified.  

Dismissing the view, she dressed in the fresh clothes she’d laid on the counter.  “JARVIS?” she called out—then remembered that JARVIS was Vision, and it was Jason in their apartment now.  Friday held down the Tower and Tony’s lab; Jason managed Darcy’s affairs.  Steve still startled every time Friday said something in his mother’s native Irish accent.  Jason, on the other hand, had a British voice pitched somewhat higher than Vision’s.

“Ms. Stark, how may I be of assistance?” Jason asked.

“Never mind, I was just missing my brother.”

“I can bring him online for you,” the AI offered.  

That was the compromise Vision and Darcy had worked out.  Vision needed his own space to rediscover the world he occupied from a different perspective.  Darcy was pretty sure she felt the same as anyone whose twin had moved out of the house for good. (Verdict so far:  awkward.) “No.  It’s not necessary.”

“Of course.”

She should have known Steve and Bucky would overhear the exchange. With their enhanced hearing, it was impossible for them to ignore, and she didn’t even try to duck them when she found them on the other side of the bathroom door.  Bucky waited with a glass of juice for her, while Steve leaned against the door frame with worry in his eyes.

She gave them a wide, bright smile, making sure it went all the way to her eyes.  “Is that for me?” she asked, pointing at the juice. 

Her good humor disarmed them. Steve’s relief was apparent, and Bucky passed over the cup with a kiss to her cheek.  Still, Bucky had a silence about him that meant he was upset in all the wrong ways.  (She’d assured him a dozen times today that she’d take the serum over dead any day of the week. He still blamed himself.)

When they huddled up on the couch for a movie, Darcy got the middle.  Steve trailed his fingers along her forearm. It was everything she could do not to flinch and set Bucky off again, but her newly-sensitive skin felt sunburned.

She shifted, rearranging herself so that she could tuck her arms and hands into her shirt sleeves. Pressure didn't seem to bother her nearly as much as the light touch. In any case, she leaned against Steve so he wouldn’t notice and wiggled her toes under Bucky’s thigh.  Bucky settled his hand over her ankle, but he only held on, and Darcy relaxed under the touch of his metal fingers as they warmed.    

She could do this.  She would get used to this. Her husbands had done it.  She just needed a little time.