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Operation: Zaniness

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Darcy was hiding in Captain America’s apartment.

Why was she hiding? Well… she might have played a prank on Tony Stark. And she might have recruited JARVIS to help her do it. Which meant Tony wasn’t asking for JARVIS’s help, which meant the AI couldn’t hide her or misdirect the billionaire, the way he usually did when Darcy went a-pranking. No, this time she had to avoid detection the old-fashioned way: namely, find somewhere relatively devoid of cameras to hide. In Avengers Tower, that meant holing up in an Avenger’s apartment; most had only enough sensors of any kind to allow JARVIS to do his job, and they were all (nearly) inaccessible to Tony. (It was the former Stark Tower, after all, and Tony was Tony.)

Tony’s apartment was out for obvious reasons, and Thor’s was the first place he would check. Clint and Natasha were away on a mission, and they... didn't like to have guests while they were gone. (They'd explained this to her before their first post-Darcy mission; she'd walked in, intending to wish them luck, only to find them setting up traps for unsuspecting "visitors.") Bruce had asked for extra cameras, in case of accidental Hulkage. That left Captain America’s place.

She would be so much more comfortable with this if they were friends or friendly acquaintances or had ever actually met. But, desperate times…

Darcy just hoped that he would be cool with a complete stranger using his apartment as her base of operations for a prank.

“O Great and Powerful Oz," she said to her partner-in-crime, "can you keep me updated on what Tin Man’s doing to try to find me?”

“The Mighty Oz has heard your request and will grant it,” the AI formerly known as JARVIS replied.



Steve was glad to be back, in a distant, exhausted sort of way. Mostly he was just looking forward to taking a hot shower, eating a hot meal, and collapsing into his bed. Preferably in that order.

He was not prepared for anything unusual when he stepped into the elevator. Which was why he jumped when, in reply to his usual polite request to be taken to his floor, a very-nearly-booming voice said, “You would ask a boon of the Wizard of Oz?”

“I… what?”

The doors of the elevator opened, and the voice spoke again, saying, “Return when you are prepared to properly address the Mighty Wizard of Oz.”

He was hungry, tired, and he smelled. He was not interested in taking the stairs. “Can’t I just click my heels three times and say, ‘There’s no place like home?’”

The doors slid shut and the voice, which now sounded significantly more like the JARVIS he was used to, spoke again as the elevator began to move.

"Override accepted. Captain Rogers, you will be exempted from Operation: Zaniness for the next thirty minutes."

“O...kay then.” When the doors opened again, he was on the correct floor. With a sigh of relief, he walked into his rooms. Once inside, he headed straight for the bathroom, dropping his bags, kicking off his boots, and pulling off his shirt as he went.

He found himself glad that he hadn’t undressed any further when he opened the door and found a pair of feminine legs stretched across the ground behind the entrance to his (ridiculously, wonderfully large) shower.

“I’m hungry, I’m tired, and I haven’t had a hot bath in two weeks. If the Wicked Witch of the East is dead in my shower, I’m taking the damn slippers and giving them to Toto.”

There was a squeak and a clatter as something was dropped onto the tile floor of the shower; the legs were withdrawn, only be be replaced by a curvy young woman on her knees pulling herself to her feet. Dark hair framed red lips and wide blue eyes, and if he hadn’t been so tired, he’d probably have whistled or started stuttering.

Possibly both.

“Okay. Wow. Um. Not how I was expecting to meet you—you, Steve Rogers, or you, my Soulmate. This is… huh. Wow. You are not wearing a shirt.”

“No, I’m not.” They stared at each other for a moment. He, at least, might have kept staring for a lot longer, but his stomach rumbled, reminding him that there were things he needed to take care of. He wanted to give her his full and undivided attention, and he couldn’t do that if he was stupid with hunger and lack of sleep. “Listen, doll,” he said, the part of him that wasn’t asleep on his feet noting with interest that the old-fashioned endearment made her blush, “as much I want to spend the next few hours talking to you—and believe me, I do—I really need to shower, eat, and sleep first. Preferably in that order.”

She smiled at him. “Want me to get food in Thor-sized portions while you take your shower?”

He was already having a hard time thinking straight; her smile wasn’t helping. It took him a moment to process her question, and another to make a decision. “I… yes. Please.”

“‘Kay, just let me grab…” She darted back into the shower and emerged with a laptop. She headed for the door, then stopped and turned back. “Oh… er, temperature control on the shower works like usual, but to turn it on, you have to say ‘O Mighty Oz, I’m melting.’”

His eyebrows shot up. “...and to turn it off?”

“‘O Mighty Oz, I’m melted.’ Uh, but it doesn’t actually have to be ‘mighty.’ Just… an ‘O,’ one or two ‘you are awesome and omnipotent, particularly in this tower’ adjectives, and ‘Oz.’”

“ JARVIS is the Wizard of Oz now, and I have to ask for things with Wizard of Oz references.”

“Yup!” With a bright smile, she darted out of the bathroom and shut the door behind her.

He sighed. “At least it’s a movie I’ve actually seen. And liked.”