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Here, Warm This Up For Me (This Heart of Mine Has Been Too Cold)

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When Johnny met Darcy, he was just walking into the Avengers building, duffel bag over his shoulder, lifting his sunglasses high and letting out a whistle at the impressive, sleek lobby.

"You might wanna keep those on," a voice called out, adding a snort. "The glare of Stark's grandiose 'look at how rich I am, I can afford a wall-aquarium of endangered fish' might burn your retinas."

He turned slowly, searching her out, before finally his gaze landed on a brunette, signing a number papers one of the spooks was holding out for her; she shrugged her long dark hair so it draped over one shoulder. She looked like she was fresh out of college; still wearing the broken-in jeans and loose sweater of comfort, but the SHIELD agents were all acting like she was of the higher-up variety.

All Johnny knew was that she was hot; with a pretty face and some serious curves going on. He pasted on a grin and walked toward her. "The Human Torch," he introduced himself, hand out. He winked. "But you can call me Johnny."

She snorted at his suggestive tone. "Thanks Luis; get those up to Coulson ASAP," she told the agent, before turning her attention fully to Johnny; she shook his hand, hard and quick. "I'm sure you've had enough women calling out your name," she said, lips tilted amusingly. "FYI, I work with Tony Stark, so this…" She waved a finger up and down to take him all in. "Juvenile pick-up stuff." She reached up and patted his cheek.

Back to business, she continued, "Agent Ryerson—" Another agent seemed to come out of the shadows of lurkdom, package in hand. "—has your welcome package; it's got everything you need in it. Emergency numbers, like who to call when something blows up, which it will. Or which alarm to hit when the big green guy comes a'calling; trust me, he's just a big angry teddy bear that could squish you with his thumb. Or, my favorite, when one of Tony's inventions goes rogue and starts plotting world domination…" Her eyed widened for emphasis. "Yeah, we have protocols for that."

"It was only the once, Miss Darcy," a floating voice replied, loud enough to be heard over the hustle and bustle but far enough away that Johnny knew it wasn't exactly standing with them.

"Once is all it takes, JARVIS. High school Health class," she replied with a mock sigh. "Oh! That reminds me." She pointed upward and Johnny's gaze slowly followed to see what she was trying to show him; he found the ceiling. "JARVIS is a kickass AI who has electronic eyes and ears on everything. He's snarky, super smart, and stealthy like a fox. He'll help you out when he can, if you're lost or in trouble or you wanna find out who put your underwear in the freezer…" She raised a hand. "Heads up, it was me."

He blinked and finally looked back at her. "I'd appreciate the old school pranks, but, snag in the plan, I don't wear underwear…" He shrugged. "I like it loose."

"You wear a spandex suit," she reminded glibly.

He grinned. "I wear only a spandex suit."

She snorted. "That sounds mildly unhygienic."

His brow hiked "Topic change; you are…?"

She grinned. "Darcy Lewis, babysitter extraordinaire to the Avengers…" She shrugged. "I make sure nobody gets maimed… too much. That they all eat—" She amended, "Well, mostly the scientists three on that one, actually. 'Cause Steve, Thor, and Clint are pretty much always eating if they can. And Natasha's independent to the extreme." She ticked off a finger. "I read them their bedtime stories and tuck them into their little Avengers beds at night. Make sure they don't ruin the public image SHIELD mocked up for them. Mediate their many, many petty arguments, often about who has a better suit." She raised a finger. "Just so we're clear; it's Natasha. It's always Natasha. Don't get on her bad side and don't let any of the boys think you like one over the other; they're mildly narcissistic toddlers with muscles."

"Your job sounds stressful…" He wiggled his eyebrows. "Maybe I can help."

She laughed. "Don't worry about it; there's an app for that." She winked before walking past him. "Welcome to my playground, Storm. Try not to break anything."

"No promises," he called back.

"They never promise." She turned her head up. "JARVIS, clue me in, what's the sitch?"

"I'm afraid Dr. Banner and Mr. Stark have congregated in one of the labs… There's been talk of black holes…"

Darcy quickened her steps. "Not again…" she muttered. "Send DUM-E in with the fire extinguisher until I get there; distract them as long as you can."

"Of course," he intoned.

Johnny's head tipped as he tried to process that.

Black holes… huh.

Could be interesting.

An agent suddenly walked over and handed him a basket before returning to lurkdom, speaking into his cuff as he went.

"The exotic cheeses were Mr. Stark's idea. The calming herbal teas, great in times of overwhelming stress, were Doctor Banner's," JARVIS told him. "The various self-made manuals about what to do during various crisis, of which there are many and have all been put to great use, are Miss Lewis' doing… As well as the complimentary taser and iPod, much to Mr. Stark's displeasure. I am programmed to inform you that Apple products are inferior to Stark's in every way. Should you want to trade in the iPod, he would be happy to give you a much better model; all while sticking his tongue out very childishly at Miss Darcy…"

He stared down at his basket and said, "Weirdest welcome gift ever."

"Ah, but certainly the best suited for the situation."

He snorted before giving a 'go with it' shrug and hugging it to his hip. "So, uh, JARVIS…? What's the deal with Darcy?"

"She tased a Norse God and now looks after the most complicated, deadliest group of superheroes in the world… The deal would be that she is a very strong, capable, intelligent woman who is quite respected despite, or more likely because of, her unique personality… While I've yet to form a judgment on you, Mr. Storm, I have great respect for Miss Darcy and I can make life very complicated for you should come to hinder her in any way."

Johnny gave a salute as he walked toward the elevator. "Read ya loud and clear, JARV. She's a special snowflake."

"You might underestimate my abilities because I appear to be just a voice in a box, sir… But regardless of what I could do to you, and I promise there is a great deal, what Miss Darcy could do would be far more impactful…"

"Tasered a Norse God," he remembered.

"A fact worth remembering."

"Duly noted." A minute passed. "So where's the black hole lab?"

JARVIS gave a long-suffering sigh.

For all that he played it off, Johnny wasn't actively courting the sting of a taser. In between kicking ass and saving the world, practically by himself (never mind his team or the Avengers), he didn't have a whole lot of time to chase around the woman who seemed to have a fire extinguisher or a box of Pop-tarts in hand every time he saw her.

She stopped him in the hall in the middle of his week and passed him a still packaged pair of strawberry Pop-tarts, a robot mechanically whining at her feet.

"Thanks, but I already ate," he said, raising an eyebrow. "If you're free for lunch though, I'd be happy to take you out."

She rolled her eyes. "Don't get your hopes up, Sparky." She snapped open the packing and then turned over each of his hands, dropping a tart in both. "Heat 'em up for me, will ya? Somebody's owner…" She looked down at the sad, mopey robot. "Blew up the lab's toaster." She shrugged. "I was gonna go upstairs and find another one, but you've got those nifty hands of yours, so…" She waved at him. "Amaze me." With a frowned, she added, "Just don't burn them."

Johnny never had a problem performing on command and this was no different; he concentrated on his hands and felt as the heat and fire inside of him toasted the underside and melted the middle. He held them back up for her, grinning as they steamed. "Generally, women want my hands for other reasons."

Darcy grabbed each back, careful not to burn her fingers, and stacked them on top of the empty silver packaging they came in. "Obviously these women didn't know the importance of a hot Pop-tart and what it means to science." She winked at him. "Thanks for saving me a trip; I owe you one." She side-stepped him and snapped her fingers. "C'mon you," she said down to the robot. "I'm not forgiving Tony yet, but if you're good, I'll let you use the fire extinguisher on Bruce when he gets too cynical."

The robot perked a little.

"Glad I could help…" Johnny called after her as she walked away. "Any chance that favor can be redeemed in dinner?"

"I'll drop a Michelina's in your lap later," she returned cheerfully. "Enjoy!"

He snickered to himself as she rounded a corner out of sight, holding a metal robot hand.

Later, a frozen Michelina's dinner was actually left with him via one of the SHIELD mail couriers.

Unfortunately, the Pop-tarts set a precedent.

"Heads up, Fire-crotch!"

Johnny ducked, but his hands rose automatically to catch the loaf of bread being tossed at him. Brows furrowed, he looked from it to the snarky super-babysitter. "What're you trying to say here, Lewis?" He smoothed a hand down his stomach through his leave-nothing-to-the-imagination suit. His eyebrow arched. "Carbs are my friends?"

Darcy snorted. "You don't have friends, Storm. You have flings." She pointed at the loaf and told him. "Toast."

He blinked at her, before cocking his head and saying pointedly, "Toaster." He pointed at the plugged in appliance a few feet to her left.

"You're faster," she said, shrugging.

Johnny sighed, but, 'cause he was an awesome dude with awesome powers, dug out a slice of bread and toasted it between his hands. He smirked, looking proud of himself, and tossed it over to her.

She winked. "Look at you, being useful and stuff," she teased, before slathering on some butter and digging out the apricot jam. "I might just let you stick around, kid."

He smirked at her suggestively, wiggling his eyebrows "Always happy to please..."

Walking out of the communal kitchen, she paused, reaching up to pinch his cheek. "Good for you, hot hands."

He rubbed the sting away and watched her over his shoulder as she sashayed out of sight, brushing toast crumbs from her ample chest.

He grinned down at his upturned hands. "You just get more and more useful, don't you?"

"How's it going, Stormcloud?" she greeted, twirling as she passed him. "Break many hearts yet?"

"Can ya blame me? You know yours is the only heart I want," he answered, grinning at her.

She rolled her eyes. "This one's locked up tight; needs fingerprints, retinal scan, and there's a punny little brain teaser that'll stump even the smartest of 'em." She pointed at him. "You're not up to the challenge yet, but better luck next time."

He sighed as she walked away.

Ben, lumbering down the hall and obviously eavesdropping, gave a gruff laugh. "She is way outta your league…"

"Thank you, Pebbles, your powers of perception are, as usual, amazing…" he replied distractedly.

"Hey, just a friendly warning…" he said, shrugging. "And, uh, don't forget…" Ben knocked him in the shoulder as he passed. "She's got a team full of protective Avengers that wouldn't mind snapping you in half if you broke her heart…"

Johnny merely grinned. "They'd have to catch me first."

"Lend a hand, Matchstick," Darcy said, holding out her cold bowl of soup.

Johnny looked down at it. "You know I save lives, right? Like…" He waved his hands around. "The whole world, once or twice."

She rolled her eyes. "And what kinda world is it when I'm stuck with cold soup?" She stuck her bottom lip out.

Damn it, she was adorable. If her eyes got any bigger, they'd reach Puss and Boots limits!

He sighed at his weakness, frowning. Still, he took her bowl and placed one hand on the bottom and the other over the top. "You know, my hands are always up for something a little more…" He grinned. "Personal."

Darcy took her now steaming bowl of soup back and winked. "I'll send out a memo for you."

He smirked to himself as she gave a hum of approval, slurping up a bite of her soup and leaving him behind to stare after her longingly.

"Johnny…" Sue said, in that chastising tone of hers that never spelled out f-u-n.

"Sue…" he replied mockingly.

She put her hands on her hips. "Are you flirting with Miss Lewis?"

He frowned, leaning back in his chair. "Does it count if I'm failing at it?" he wondered, steepling his hands and narrowing his eyes with faux-thought.

She tipped her head, peering at him. "Johnny, Stark was doing us a favor letting us stay in his tower…" She shook her head. "Please don't do anything that might offend him."

He blinked at her. "Stark doesn't get offended… He gets even." He shrugged. "I'm prepared to be blown up…" He grinned. "Might even be fun."

Sue sighed.

And Johnny knew it was her way of silently begging, all the while knowing it wouldn't work.

"This wasn't what I meant when I said personal…" he grumbled.

Darcy grinned, taking her now warm, knit socks back from him. "My feet get cold."

He waved his fingers around, drawing a bridge between his topics as he said, "My feet could warm your feet if we were in a bed together."

"Listen… I snore. Loudly. To the tune of Rebecca Black's Friday…" She shook her head slowly. "Trust me; you don't wanna none of this jelly." She waved a hand around herself. "Cut your losses, wave the white flag, head back for somebody more your speed," she suggested, bending to pull her socks up her feet.

He steadied her when she nearly fell over and was briefly distracted by the cinnamon scent wafting up to him. "You wound me, Lewis… I'm starting to wonder if you know me at all."

With a snort, she stood upright, flicking her long hair over her shoulder. "I know your type, Bic, and while I'm all for casual sex…" She wrinkled her nose. "Not so much with somebody who's probably whittled away their bedposts with their all their itsy-bitsy, supermodel conquests. No judgment, honest; I just like to break my boys in myself." She patted his chest, paused to let her hand linger over his flexing pectoral muscles, and only retracted her hand when he grinned smugly. "Here, I'll even help you out… Jessica in stationary thinks you're hot." She waved her hands. "Be free, man-child… Just—" She shrugged. "Y'know, not too free…" She hiked her eyebrows meaningfully. "This tower is not baby-proof… It's barely Stark-proof." She shot the finger-guns at him. "So, wrap it up!"

And with that enlightening piece of information, Darcy left, using her warm, wool socks to slide across the hardwood floors.

Grumbling to himself, Johnny stalked away, but he didn't end up anywhere near the stationary department.

"What are you doing?"

Johnny flicked his sunglasses up off his eyes and raised an eyebrow at an emotionless Natasha Romanoff. "Tanning…" He pointed at the sun. "Might surprise you, Porcelain, but the big yellow thing in the sky does wonders for the pasty look." He dropped his glasses back in place and stretched out further on the chair he'd scooped up and brought to the roof of the tower.

Romanoff tucked her arms behind her back and cocked her head. "What are your intentions toward Darcy?"

"Is that what this is about?" He snorted. "Listen, Red, my intentions are obvious… No worries though, she's not biting."

"Perhaps that is why you keep fishing."

He frowned. "You think I'm the stereotypical 'want what I can't have' kinda guy?"

She blinked at him. "You're a man… It's in your nature to desire that which eludes you."

"Probably a good tool to use; break it out of your assassin-y DIY kit often?" he mused.

She merely looked away, lips pursed.

"Look…" He pushed up so he was sitting, resting his elbows on his knees. "I like Darcy. She's snarky and gorgeous and I saw her jump out of a plane once…"

"She was shoved."

"Eh, same thing." He shrugged. "I'm not saying we're soul mates, I'm just saying something's there… Something that could be awesome, if she ever game me a chance outside of personal microwave..."

Natasha took a step toward him before saying, never letting her voice raise or fall, "If you hurt her, I will encase you in liquid nitrogen before I shatter you into pieces so infinitely small, your sister won't know you from the dust on the floor."

He blinked, and it was all it took before she was gone.

Very slowly, he laid back, considering what happened, his options, and finally, where Darcy was in the building.

"JARVIS?" he called out.

A sigh echoed from the speaker near the door, very used to this by now. "I suppose you haven't been dissuaded in the least, sir?"

He grinned.

"Miss Lewis is in Dr. Foster's lab… Currently trying to persuade her to eat while simultaneously keeping Thor from eating the week's supply of Pop-tarts."

He saluted the AI before standing from his chair, his suit hanging down from his hips, leaving his upper body on display.

Advantage: Johnny.

Disadvantage: while she admired his half-naked state, naturally, she was a little too busy dealing with a hungry Thor and a cranky, tired Foster.

Plan: Foiled.

Johnny tried not to move too much; he was putting on a good show for Ben, Sue and Reed, but everything hurt. The stitches over his eyebrow pulled when he moved any part of his face and his ribs ached when he breathed in too deep. After this afternoon's heroic fiasco, he took back that he was prepared to be blown up. It hurt like hell and he couldn't see it getting much better in the long-run. He was dreading sleeping; he knew he was going to wake up even stiffer, the adrenaline fading away to let all the pain wash in.

Ben was the first to turn in and Johnny made the obligatory jokes, though a lot flatter given how he was feeling. "Sleep like a rock, Landslide!"

He stayed sitting upright on the couch, a pillow tucked into his side, and tried not to wince too much as Reed talked and talked and scienced and blah blah blah.

Before finally, Sue yawned.

After Sue and Reed left for bed, he told them he was still too wired and he'd find a way to work the excess energy off.

Sue gave him her patented, motherly 'please don't do anything I wouldn't approve of' look, but he merely smirked, despite how much it hurt.

As soon as they were out of sight, he slumped, hand going to his ribs, and let out a pained breath as he screwed his face up and tried to breathe through it.

Johnny'd had his fair share of broken bones and stitches; he lived a life of chasing adrenaline rushes, so it was expected, but he never really remembered the pain when he got himself in these situations. Considering it was of the 'world saving' variety and not just a one-off for funsies, it was a little different. Things like this weren't exactly avoidable; although he'd definitely be ducking the next time he saw something coming at him from the corner of his eye. It was more or less the force of the blast that got him; sending him careening into a building, ricocheting off, and falling about forty floors before Iron Man caught him, complimentary snarky jab in tow.

He winced as someone plopped down on the couch next to him and tried to plaster a careless expressionless on his face as he turned to see who it was.

Darcy stared back at him, eyebrow raised. "Not lookin' so hot, Storm," she said.

"Really? I'm feeling extra toasty today," he returned.

She hummed. "I saw the footage where your body got really close and familiar with the building..." She clicked her tongue. "Not your prettiest moment."

"That would probably be my naked PeTA ad," he agreed.

With a snort, she shrugged. "Aside from looking far too cocky, it made for a nice calendar."

He laughed, before wincing, and inhaling sharply. "Oh God, don't do that."

"'Fraid I'm naturally hi-larious," she said, but climbed off the couch carefully.

"Don't go," he breathed, looking up at her searchingly. "This is the first time we've talked in awhile and you weren't getting me to cook something."

"You can't watch a movie without popcorn," she argued, "And you were right there…" She put her hands on her hips. "Besides, I totally let you share."

"You let me half a handful and when I went in for another, you slapped my hand and warned you'd get out the newspaper."

She grinned. "Yeah, well, I live with a bunch of men who eat their weight in food… You let 'em get too comfortable and you'll starve!" She nodded for emphasis. "Why do you think Jane's so skinny? She lives with Thor!"

He snorted. "Yeah, but that guy like, worships her, he'd probably get her all the Pop-tarts in the world if she wanted them."

"Are you saying my team doesn't worship me?" she asked, brow cocked. "'Cause I'll have you know, I'm kind of a big deal around here…"

He smirked, eyebrow twitching with a twinge. "I know… I've been warned to stop hitting on you by everyone but Rogers, although he did make a long speech about respecting women and acceptable behavior in the workplace."

Darcy's head tipped. "They warned you off?" She laughed. "That's adorable!" Still chuckling to herself, she started to walk around the couch.

He tracked her, frowning. "You got somewhere to be?" he wondered, hating how pathetically needy he must sound.

"Hmm?" She looked over at him, and for the first time he realized she was dressed for bed. Low slung pajama pants with ducks on them and a SHIELD t-shirt covered her from ankle to neck. Her hair was ruffled and she was wearing her glasses instead of her contact lenses. "Nah, I'm just grabbing something." She walked into the kitchen and Johnny turned back around; it hurt to turn his head too much, but he could hear as the fridge door swung open, along with the cupboard and utensil drawer.

He sighed to himself and wondered what she'd have him heat up for her this time.

It was leftover take-out one night, a bottle of chocolate syrup for her ice cream another, Jane's cold tea yesterday, and more than once she'd dangled those old wool socks of hers for him.

When she returned, he was distracted, only turning when he felt her sit down closer than before, her thigh pressed to his.

His eyes widened slightly and his mouth quirked on one corner.

"Here," she said.

His smile faded, remembering, but when he looked down, she was holding out a bowl of… ice cream?

"Uh, pretty sure I can't heat that up," he muttered. "Unless you like it soupy, in which case, I'm glad we never dated, your taste is appalling."

"Cute," she said, rolling her eyes, but jangled the bowl so the spoon knocked against the side. "No warming up this time, Glo-stick, just a bowl of rocky road…" She waved it under his face. "Cures what ails ya…"

He raised an eyebrow, but took the bowl. "Unless it's laced with painkillers, I don't think it's gonna help much."

"Thought of that too…" She climbed off the couch before stepping up on top of it.

He turned his head to watch, confused, but then she slid around behind him, taking a seat on the back of the couch, before her hands came down on his shoulders and started kneading, gently at first, finding a rhythm.

"Oh…" He leaned back into her, wincing at the pull in his ribs until he relaxed into the cradle of her legs. "So this is all it took, huh? Tiny explosion?" He let his head fall back, offering up a smirk.

She raised an eyebrow at him. "Don't get any ideas… Even if I was willing to turn this into a naked, oily, fun massage, you wouldn't be up for playing…" She rubbed her hands down the slope of his shoulders, using the edges of her thumbs to dig in a little deeper. "And really? Tiny explosion?" She rolled her eyes. "You were one with the building; you were a pancake."

"But an attractive pancake, right?"

She scoffed. "There's another kind?"

His lips twitched.

Darcy smoothed her hands down his chest and used the heels of her palms to rub circles all over, rubbing the outline of his pecs and down his sternum, before finally dragging her hands straight back up until they ran over the length of his neck. She turned them around and slid her fingers through the back of his hair, letting it sift in between, tugging lightly, nails scrubbing softly.

"Keep it up and my foot's gonna start shaking like Thumper…"

"With that suit you're wearing, your foot's the least of your problems."

He snorted. "You said it yourself, Darce, I'm not exactly up for fun tonight…"

"Hm," she said thoughtfully, "I think you'd find a way if I were offering."

His eyes were at half-mass, lazy and enjoying her touch. "Are you?"

"What? You get blown up twice and I'm supposed to toss my panties in the ring? Hah!" She shook her head. "I might not be adding my name to your list of one-night stands but I'd call myself your friend… I mean, you warm up like 90% of my meals, so…"

"You give all your friends massages?" he wondered.

"Just Natasha, but that's clothing optional."

He went very still, an image coming to mind that he wasn't sure whether he loved or hated.

She laughed. "You're so easy…"

He pouted. "That was cruel."

She dragged her nails from his temples back and he almost purred, eyes falling closed. "Better?"

"You could always kiss it; probably help more."

"Pretty sure most of your injuries are South of your neck, so, not happening."

He raised a hand and pointed at his forehead. "Got an owie right there for ya, Lewis."

"I'll keep that in mind," she said, amused.

His hands fell back to his lap while he leaned a little deeper into her. "So what's the deal?" he wondered. "You won't date me because I've been… around… But you'll let me play chef and doctor my injuries?"

"I won't date you because I don't do casual." She sighed, shrugging. "Monogamy is my cross to bear…" she said, faux-woefully.

"You don't think I could rock a long-term relationship?" His eyebrows hiked. "I might surprise you!"

She grinned down at him, walking her fingers around the top of his head. "You're a good guy, Johnny, and I'm sure we'd have fun together..."

He wiggled his eyebrows. "Comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee!"

Her lips twitched. "No refunds or warranties?"

"Never needed one," he said, shrugging.

"See, I live with explosive personalities, and, in some cases, literal explosives, so I can't take a chance here…" She stared at him searchingly. "You catch my drift?"

"You need solid."

She nodded. "And you're… fire." She shook her head. "Fire is free, likes to wander, cause chaos, which is cool. Good for fire. But I'm more like…" Her eyes narrowed in thought. "Water."

"Fresh or salt water?"

"Doesn't matter. See, water moves, does good, does bad, feeds and bathes and nourishes, occasionally drowns…" She shrugged. "But water's consistent. Water has a big job and she does it; pretty damn well, too." She shook her head. "Water and fire don't mesh; they occasionally meet up and usually water puts fire out of his misery. But they're not exactly bed buddies, y'know? So water sticks to what she knows best and fire keeps up his life of burning through whatever he touches and just generally enjoying himself, and the cycle continues…"

"Maybe it's getting thrown into a building or the fact that your head massage is making me sleepy, but that sounds a lot more complicated than it needs to be…" He frowned, eyes drooping drowsily. "Couldn't water and fire just… go on a date? Fire warms water up, water cools fire down, give and take…"

"Sounds good in theory," she admitted.

He was starting to drift, his face pressing to her thigh, cheek rubbing against the soft fabric of her pajama pants. "I jus'… wanna chance…"

Darcy sighed, and just before he fell asleep, he felt as she leaned down to kiss the stitches over his eye. "Sleep tight, Johnny-boy."

He woke up alone, lying on the couch, pillow under his head and a throw-blanket tossed over him.

The room was dim, a light in the kitchen reaching him faintly.

When he crawled off the couch, his body was still hurting, but as he dragged himself to his bed, he couldn't help but grin.

Not only did she not ask him to heat anything up, she actively touched him.

In fact, he'd technically been between her legs, so…


Things changed a little after that; Darcy didn't come up to him solely because his hands were personal stoves.

"How's the ribs, Comet?"

Johnny stretched his upper body first to the right and then to the left. "Just about good as new." He wiggled his eyebrows. "Wanna help me take 'em for a test drive?"

She snorted. "Rain check." She raised an eyebrow at him. "Doc says you haven't been taking your pain meds…?"

He crossed his arms over his chest. "You checking up on me?" He took on a mock-surprised face. "Why, Miss Lewis, am I growing on you?"

"Nice try," she dismissed. "SHIELD covers your medical, especially since you were playing shot-for-shot with a bad guy. So what's up? Why are we saying no to free pills?" She stared up at him, eyes wide. "Don't you know we're a country that loves to medicate?"

He shrugged, turning his eyes off. "They make me foggy…" He frowned. "I like to be on my best game."

"Yeah, well, take a few days on the bench until you're back up to par." She dug out a bottle from her bag and pressed it against his chest. "If you're hurting, we find a way to make it stop, all right? I want you back on your feet too, but only if those feet are under a healed body."

"You lost me after you said you wanted me…"

She rolled her eyes. "Take the pills, Johnny." She wagged a finger. "Don't make me force-feed you."

As she moved to walk away, he stepped in front of her. "Your massage skills worked better than any pills could." He tossed the bottle back to her. "But thanks for the offer."

He walked off, grinning to himself.

Darcy wasn't easily put off; apparently when she wanted somebody to do something, they did it.

"You totally just winced," she said.

He looked over at her from where he was reaching for the cereal. "Stalking, Lewis? Should I be flattered?" He paused. "Scratch that. No question needed. I am. Deeply. I might never be the same."

She shook her head. "You're still hurt. The doctor said you bruised your ribs pretty bad and I saw how hard you hit that building. You might have a thick head, but the rest of you is just fleshy human."

He shrugged, pouring himself a bowl. "I hit things all the time. I fell off a mountain once."

She blinked at him. "Tell me the story later," she dismissed. "For right now, I want you to take two." She unscrewed the top off the bottle and poured them out in her hand.

"And then I call you in the morning, right?" He leaned in closer to her, wiggled his eyes. "Maybe get a physical?"

"I'll set you up a prostate exam with the SHIELD doctor if you want," she suggested with a smirk.

He gave a shudder. "Work on your people skills, Darcy, they're scary sometimes."

She laughed, before reaching over and taking his hand, turning it over, and placing the pills there. And then she stared up at him, a sultry smile in place. "I want you…" she said, in a husky voice that made his mind go blank. "To take your meds," she finished in her normal voice.

He swallowed, throat dry, and then popped the pills in his mouth, watching her all the while. He used the milk from his cereal to wash it down. Licking his lips, he stared down at her, gazing at her mouth a long second, before finally saying, "You're playing with fire… Thought water didn't like doing that…?"

"Water's concerned…" she murmured argumentatively.

"So there's exceptions?" He raised an eyebrow, lips curling at the corners. "I can work with that."

He heard her breath as it came out in a tiny stutter and then he stepped back, dug his spoon into his cereal, and winked at her. "Thanks for the check-up, Doc."

She pursed her lips, but dug the bottle out and held it aloft. "Take another two at lunch," she ordered.

He eyed them before shaking his head. "Now why would I do that when I can have you come and make me?" He grinned. "Sounds a lot more fun and… You know how fire is? All about the games."

She sighed, glared at him, and then turned on her heel.

Johnny called after her, "Did I forget to tell you how pretty you look today?"

She waved a middle-finger back at him.

"That hurts, Darcy," he shouted at her retreating back. "Cuts me deep!"

He chuckled as he finished off his cereal, finally feeling like they were a little closer to equal footing.

It didn't last long.

Darcy was smart. And evil.

Sue was the one who found him at lunch and she had a frown and his pain pills for him. "Johnny…"

"Low blow," he muttered to himself, but had to give her credit. Calling in the big guns was smart.

"Coward," he declared, dropping into the chair across from her desk.

Darcy raised an eyebrow at him. "Nice to see you too." She leaned back in her chair and cocked her head. "Something I can do for you?"

"The list is long, but I could whittle it down if necessary." He raised a finger. "The first, and this is with a bullet point, so you might want to write it down…" He waited comically for her to get a pen, but she merely blinked at him. "Ready?" He raised his hand as if making a banner declaration. "Go on a date with me."

"Hmm…" She sat forward and flipped through her planner. "No… It looks like I'm booked up 'til… forever…" She chewed her lip. "Oh, wait, I might have an opening on, yup… Hell freezing over. Which…" She frowned. "Fire and brimstone, right? Probably gonna be a really sad day for you."

He rolled his eyes. "C'mon! We had a moment, right?" His eyes widened. "You were there! There was touching and massaging and ice cream that I never ate but appreciated the sentiment, so…" He stared at her beseechingly. "Give a guy a chance, Darcy… I was just thrown into a building," he reminded, "I could have internal damage! How would you feel if I died?"

She snorted. "Do you often get sympathy dates?"

He shrugged. "It's worked more than once."

"Hm." She closed her planner. "Since you keep striking out with me, your luck's probably gotta change soon. I vote you try it out on someone else, see how it works out for you…" She stood from her desk. "I need to go make sure Clint isn't freaking out the new batch of agents that just came in… He likes to test their paranoia quota; it's mental warfare and, unfortunately, Coulson's recruits don't usually stick around long after." She walked to her door and turned her head to see him following after her. "You take your pain meds?" she wondered as he fell into step with him.

"If I said no, would I get another head massage?"

"You'd get another lecture from Sue."

He frowned. "You know, one of these days you're going to give in and then all this time you spend fighting it will be wasted…"

"Feel free to tell me you told me so," she encouraged, before banking right down another hallway.

He watched her go. "I will!" he called after her.

She laughed back.

"You… what?"

Johnny raised an eyebrow. "I have a date." He buttoned his shirt. "You know what that is, right? I mean, didn't you tell Reed you had to have a mandatory date night?"

"He usually ends up working through it," she said dismissively, before waving a hand. "Johnny, I thought you liked Darcy."

"I do," he said, grabbing up his cologne.

"Then why are you…?" She shook her head, waving a hand at him, all dressed up.

He grinned at her proudly. "I've got a plan!" he declared.

Her face cleared and she sighed. "Johnny…"

"No, really, it's a good one," he assured.

She pursed her lips. "You're trying to make her jealous?"

"I…" He turned his eyes up. "I'm trying to make her jealous," he admitted, nodding. "Okay, so it's not the most complicated plan…"

She shook her head. "Somebody's going to get hurt tonight… Maybe it'll be your date or maybe it'll be Darcy, but somebody is going to get hurt."

He frowned. "She's told me, repeatedly, to date somebody else…" He shrugged. "So I am." He grabbed his keys. "You want me to wait around forever for a woman who might not want me?" His eyebrow ticked. "I was kinda hoping in this equation I wouldn't be the one hurting…"

She watched him turn to leave. "She's just scared," she offered.

His jaw ticked. "And what am I?" He threw his arms out. "I'm not a chump, Sue. I keep putting myself out there and she keeps shooting me down… Ya think I'd try this hard if I didn't really want it?"

"What is it though, Johnny?" Her brows furrowed. "What do you want from her?" She walked toward him, her head shaking. "Have you thought this through? What it means to date her?"

"You know, just because everybody expects me to get bored and leave her as soon as the bed gets cold doesn't mean I'm not capable of having a real relationship…" He frowned. "I really like her."

"I know you do," she said soothingly, reaching for his arm and squeezing. "But do you like her enough?" she worried.

He clenched his teeth. "I'll never know if she never gives me a chance." He pulled away from her. "I've got a date… With somebody who wants to go out with me…"

He stalked away, glaring at nothing in particular.

Hours later found Johnny brooding in the communal living room.

"So?" Darcy sat down next to him, smiling. "What's her name?"

Johnny looked over, frowning. "I dunno, started with an M…" He twirled the rose he was holding, the edge of his thumb scraping over one of the thorns. "Guy was selling them on the street," he said, waving it at her.

"You buy one for M-something?"

His brows furrowed and he shook his head. "She was nice… Smart, too…"

"If you add stacked and awesome to that list, I've figured out your type," she returned, grinning.

He snorted, but it was half-hearted. He stared down at the blood red petals of the flower. "You ever go out with someone and not feel something?"

"Sure. Tons of times… There was this guy Joey back in college; totally nice guy, funny, genius-level brain…" She shrugged. "But every time he talked I'd zone out, start thinking about whether I needed to pick up milk or if I remembered to TiVo Mad Men… Plus he had this creepy thin mustache and I kept scratching my lip if I looked at it too long…"

His mouth twitched in a smile, but it faded as he sighed and leaned back into the couch. "This girl was gorgeous… Wasn't so long ago, that's all I'd need…" He shrugged. "Pretty face, hot for danger, and we were set…"

She nodded, drawing her legs up onto the couch. She tugged her sleeves down lower on her arms and wrapped them around her knees. "Maybe M-something just wasn't what you were looking for. Or, oh, hey, maybe…" She grinned at him. "You're maturing!"

He scoffed, shook his head. "Probably not…" He tilted his head back against the couch. "Sue told me I shouldn't do it… She said somebody would get hurt…" He shrugged. "And the stupid thing is, I was hoping it'd be you…" He ground his teeth together. "See, I wanted you to be jealous and to wish you hadn't kept pushing me away or turning me down…" He crossed his arms over his chest. "Which is an asshole thing to do, right? Totally not mature…" He frowned. "And you don't even care, so…" He stared at the ceiling, brow furrowed tightly.

He felt a tug near his fingers and slowly the rose was pulled from his grip.

Darcy stood from the couch and twirled it in her palm, staring at it a long second. When she looked at him, she said simply, a sad smile playing at her lips, "I cared… I just didn't want to." With that, she turned to walk away.

"It was for you…"

She paused, looked back, brows furrowed.

He stared at the floor. "When I bought the rose, I was thinking of you…" He smiled sarcastically. "Didn't even think about giving it to my date…"

He heard the soft padding of her feet as she came back, and then her hand curled under his chin and drew his head back once more. Her lips settled over his, upside down, soft at first, feather-light, ghosting across his so gently he could barely feel it. And then she pressed deeper, scrubbing her nails over the faint whiskers across his jaw. She nibbled and sucked at his lips, her tongue stroking over his teeth, his tongue, the roof of his mouth. He reached up and buried a hand in her hair, his head pillowed on the back of the couch, though the angle made his neck ache a little at the bend.

She hummed, moaned when he nipped the tip of her tongue, and scratched her fingers down his temple. Darcy was a vocal kisser; he could hear ever hitch in her breath, every tiny noise she made when she liked something. When she finally stopped, she was panting into his mouth, their lips still touching. She smoothed a hand down his chest and settled it over his heart, which he could feel hammering away.

"Maybe it's me who's no good for you," she murmured, licking his lip, long and slow. "Ever think of that?"

And then she was gone, and a thorny red rose was left behind.

He inhaled the scent deeply and let it lean against his still buzzing mouth.

No. She was definitely good for him.

He'd never felt like that after a kiss; like everything fell in place only to be ripped away.

He liked the first part better. So he was gonna go for just that next time.

And yeah, there'd be a next time.

He grinned.

Darcy suddenly got very good at avoiding him.

For the next two weeks, it was like no matter what he did or where he went, he couldn't catch up to her.

He thought he might've seen the tail end of one of her oversized knit sweaters once or twice, or heard her voice complaining about explosives or eating or 'Why would you put that in there? What did you think was going to happen?' But when he turned the corner, she'd be gone, like she was getting the heads up that he was on the way and she needed to get lost. He narrowed it down to either JARVIS or the assassin with the bird's eye view.

Since the last time he talked to Barton, the killer spy threatened to shoot him with a knock-out dart and drown him in the coldest part of the ocean if he ever hurt Darcy, he figured it was better to interrogate JARVIS first.

"Miss Darcy has asked that she be informed when you're in the vicinity," JARVIS told him honestly.

"Okay, and the override for that command would be…?"

He replied simply, "Above your clearance level."

"That hurts, JARV, I thought we were bonding here…"

"While I've concluded that you're not an immediate threat to the Avengers or Miss Darcy, and even believe you would make a good couple, I must respect her wishes…"

"Thanks for the vote of confidence," he said, sighing. "Look, what about… delaying the warning? Can you work with that?"

There was a pause, as if JARVIS were considering it. "I suppose that might work…"

"Great, so where is she now?" he wondered.

"I've been sworn to secrecy… At least, if you're to ask, I can't inform you…"

Johnny's eyes narrowed before he shouted, "Reed! Ask JARVIS where Darcy is!"

"What?" Reed looked up from his work, dazed, pinching the bridge of his nose, blinking repeatedly. "Why would I need to ask him—?"

"Just do it," he complained impatiently.

Reed frowned, but turned his eyes up. "JARVIS, where might I find Miss Lewis?"

"Miss Darcy is on the roof, sir."

Johnny frowned, turning his eyes toward the window. "It's pouring…"

"Indeed, sir. Congratulations on that rousing conclusion."

Snorting, Johnny hopped off the couch and started for the door, brows furrowed.

He took the elevator up to the roof, paused on the threshold of the door when he looked out on the rain bouncing as it hit the top of the tower. He walked outside, eyes scanning for her as water soaked him almost immediately. Darcy was standing near the edge, peering out over the city scape, her arms hugged around her.

Johnny walked toward her silently; it wasn't until he was ten feet away that JARVIS suddenly said.

"Miss Darcy, Mister Storm is approaching."

She whirled around to leave, but came face to face with him.

She frowned, glared over his shoulder, and said to the AI, "Traitor!"

"Not his fault," Johnny said, putting his hands on his hips. "There a reason you're avoiding me…?" He blinked as rain fell into his eyes. "Or why you're standing out here?"

"I thought that'd be obvious…"

"Is this about the fire and rain analogy?" he wondered.

She rolled her eyes. "We kissed."

"I remember, vividly."

She chewed her lip and turned back around, staring out at nothing in particular. "You know, when I met Thor, I tased him…"

"Heard the story; kind of a legend around here…" He moved to stand next to her, watching her out of the corner of his eye.

"I escalate quickly," she said, shrugging. "He freaked me out. He was huge and acting drunk and when he started getting loud, I just pulled the trigger…" Her lips twitched. "He went down quick."

"Bigger they are, harder they fall," he mused.

"I'm high-emotion; level is boring. I react, I don't plan. And I wanted to stop that… I needed to stop that. I take care of the friggin' Avengers; do you know how much time and energy that takes?" She rolled her eyes. "If they're not blowing themselves up, they're destroying cities while simultaneously saving the world… And it is exhausting trying to mother them and doctor them and make sure some get three square meals while others aren't in food comas! I didn't have time to be Darcy, fresh out of college and still figuring herself out… I didn't have time for dating or flirty fireballs or super-abs in super-suits…" She flicked her fingers at him. "I still don't…" Head shaking, she stared up at him. "I only look put together; half the time I can't find the matching sock and I'm inwardly freaking out… The fact that I've written sixteen different pamphlets on what to do when the Avengers do this or that or these two things that should never be done together, how is the world even still spinning? It's not an accomplishment; it's a necessity… There's a reason Coulson gave me this job; it was giving him heart problems!"

"Helps that you're good at it…" He turned to look at her. "So this is why you won't date me? Work stress?"

She snorted. "And your history with women wasn't exactly a shining endorsement…"

He see-sawed his head. "True."

Sighing, she dropped her arms, hands fisted. "You need to be sure about this… If we do this, I jump in with two feet, and if you're not all the way in, this ship is going to tip and I'll drown and it'll just be a thing…"

"What is it with you and water?" he muttered, before reaching for her and pulling her in close, his arm around her waist, squishing since her sweater was soaked through. "I'm in," he said seriously.

She smiled slowly. "Okay…" She slid her hands up his chest and around his neck. "Check it out, you're standing in the rain…"

He looked around him, blinking as rain drops hit his eyes, clung to his lashes. "And still as hot as ever…" He felt his body heat rise and smoothed a hand over her cold cheek, letting it seep into her.

She let out a content sigh, leaning into his touch.

"Full circle," he said. "Still warming stuff up for you."

With a snort, she pressed closer. "Might be more effective if we weren't still standing in the rain… Kind of defeats the purpose."

"Even more effective if you weren't wearing soaking wet clothes…"

A smirk tilted her mouth. "You gonna help me get them off?" she asked.

His brows hiked slightly. "Always willing to lend a hand."

"Bring both just in case," she said, before stepping back and starting toward the door.

Johnny followed after her, hurrying to catch up, his hands falling to her hips as he pressed in close against her back. "Ever write a pamphlet on dating your co-workers?"

"No, and don't make me," she warned.

He laughed, dropping his head to her shoulder, their slick skin rubbing together. "All right, but at some point, there's going to be a fire safety pamphlet and my face will probably be on it."

"Just as long as my bed doesn't get set on fire at any point, we're good…"

"How do you feel about fire retardant sheets?"

"How do you feel about celibacy?"

He paused. "This is a slippery slope; I think we should avoid it."

She laughed.

The elevator brought them down to the floor her apartment was on and Johnny watched as she swiped her key card before doing a fingerprint and retinal scan.


She raised an eyebrow as she pushed her door open. "Think about who I work with…"

"Point." He nodded, following her inside.

He didn't have much time to take in the décor, not that he was really looking, or caring, since Darcy had already started the stripping process by tugging her sweater up her waist and pulling it off. The bra she was wearing was a dark blue, fringed with lace; it made her white skin seem even paler.

Her sweater fell to the floor with a wet plop and she reached for her jeans.

He was in front of her in a flash, moving her hands out of the way to unbutton and unzip them for her. She wiggled her hips as he pulled the wet fabric down her legs. Her skin was cold, damp; as she stepped out of her jeans, he started at her feet; rubbing his hands over the tops, heels swiping across her toes, before he slid up to her ankle, squeezing them each, and then his touch smoothed up and around her calves, making swirling patterns. He could feel it as her skin warmed, as the chill was chased away.

The backs of her knees were ticklish, he found out as his fingers dragged over them and she shivered, letting out a breathless giggle.

She bent down toward him as his hands settled at the tops of her knees. She grabbed the back of his sweater and pulled it up and over his head; he released her long enough for her to peel the fabric down his arms and toss it away. She gripped his shoulders, kneading at the muscles playing beneath as he focused two hands on one thigh; kneading and rubbing, making soothing circles with the heels of his palms as he warmed her skin, from her knee up to her hip, fingers gently walking the seam of her soaked matching underwear.

He repeated the process on her opposite thigh, leaning in to press a kiss against the center of the dark blue triangle of fabric that covered her. Her nails dug into him and she shook a little under his touch. His hands curled around either side of her underwear and gave a tug. Her grip softened and he took his cue, dragging them down her hips. She used him for balance as she stepped out of them and he quickly replaced his hands back on her hips, moving them around to the back and cupping her ass as he pulled her closer, the trimmed strip of hair above her pussy meeting the tip of his nose. He breathed her in, his fingers kneading her cheeks, as he turned his head and licked along the seam of her thigh.

He kissed over the top, leading to the other side, nipping and licking as he went. She buried a hand in his short hair and tugged at it.

He looked up at her; her face was flushed, cheeks a bright pink, and her bottom lip was trapped in her teeth. Her hair fell in wet chunks around her shoulders, dripping down her chest, water catching on the swell of her cleavage. He slid a hand down to pull her legs apart, spreading her. And then, eyes meeting hers, he let his tongue slid between her slit and take a long, firm lick.

Her breath left her on a moan and he could feel her knees shake against his chest. She was tangy, warm on his tongue, and he wanted her wetter. He caught her clit between his lips and he sucked on it a few seconds, circling it with the tip of his tongue, before licked lower, over and between her labia. He let his teeth and tongue play with them, suckling her folds between his lips. He slid one of his hands lower and dipped a finger inside her, swirling it, and she gave a cry, leaning into his tongue and then pushing back toward his finger.

His mouth warmed up, his finger a few degrees hotter, and he watched as she felt it; her eyebrows hiking at the change of temperature. He dragged his tongue flat across her, and added a second finger to plunge a little faster inside her. She smoothed her hands up and down the back of his neck encouragingly. She was breathing quicker, her head falling back as he caught her clit gently between his teeth. He moved quicker, more firmly, until he could see her, feel her, as she started to climax, and then he flicked her clit repeatedly with the edge of his tongue, the heat coming off it almost too much for her to take,

"Unh, Johnny!" She gripped painfully tight at his hair as she came, grinding against his mouth.

He lapped lightly, mouth and chin soaked with her.

When she let go and pulled back, his tongue was literally steaming. He grinned and pushed up from his knees, wincing at the pressure of his jeans against his dick. "Bad time to say I told you so?"

Rolling her eyes, she reached around behind her and unclipped her bra, shrugging it down her shoulders and tossing it away.

He nearly swallowed his tongue. "Thank you, Santa," he said, reaching for her. "The naughty list pays."

Darcy laughed as his mouth slanted over hers, her bare chest soft and cold against his. He wrapped his arms around her, rubbing them up and down her back and encouraging his heat to seep into her skin. He could feel her nipples harden against his chest and smirked, hands falling to palm her ass, leveraging her up until her legs wrapped around his waist and squeezed.

She panted into his mouth, nipping at his lips. "Nifty trick," she said.

"Comes in handy," he agreed.

He found her bedroom and kicked the door wider. When he dropped her on the bed, she bounced, and he grinned, watching appreciatively.

She moved up to her knees, pausing to grab a condom from her bedside table, dropping it on the mattress, within reach, before she reached for his jeans. They got them down and off quick enough, but as they were ringing his knees, she was already reaching for and gripping his cock, ringing her fingers around the shaft, squeezing and pumping him between both hands, rubbing her palm over the head at random. His hips jerked as he leaned into the touch, kicking absently to get his jeans off.

She grinned at him just before she wrapped her lips around the tip, tongue dragging across the slit. His fingers tangled in her hair, tugging as she sunk her whole mouth down, swallowing him.

His free hand slid down her back, fingertips digging faintly into her skin.

Between her hands and her mouth working him, he wasn't sure he'd last long. Darcy was licking up the underside, her hands twisting in opposite directions as they slid from the base to the tip, one after the other. She rubbed her tongue against the slit until he couldn't take it anymore and pushed on her shoulder to stop. As she sat back, licking her lips, he took a few seconds, focusing on his breathing while she crawled up her bed and laid back against the pillows.

"I've got all day," she told him. "In fact I've got the weekend if nobody lets my scientist's three play together for too long."

"Best weekend ever, you heard it here first," he said, before climbing up her bed and lying down next to her, head pillowed on his arm. He watched for a minute, some of her hair was dry from where he'd held it.

"So what are the chances you'll accidentally set me on fire while we're doing this?" she wondered, eyes narrowed.

He chuckled. "You ask the hard-hitting questions, Lewis, I like that in a girlfriend."

She raised an eyebrow at him. "And this is based on your extensive history of long-term relationships?"

"No, definitely based on my knowledge of reality TV…"

She laughed, turning onto her side to face him. "They censor out all the really good stuff…"

"We'll just have to make up for it here." He reached over and brushed her hair back from her face. "I might suck at this slow thing."

Her eyes lit up. "Are you worried you won't be able to make love to me?" she said, her tone teasing.

"Not worried, exactly. Mildly concerned. I'd put it somewhere between yellow and orange on the threat recognition color scale…"

She bit her lip to hide a smile. "We could always just go with the flow and see what sticks," she reminded.

"That sounds too easy," he argued, flopping back against the bed. "Relationships are hard."

"Really? We've been together maybe a half hour…" Rolling her eyes, she climbed into his lap. "Which actually puts this into perspective… You're either better than I gave you credit for, or I'm a little more slutty than I remember…"

He snorted, settling his hands on the tops of her thighs. "Are you kidding? It took us three months to get here. Your reputation is intact," he assured.

"You sure?" She grinned. "We could always get dressed, go see a movie, innocently hold hands…"

He grimaced, but shrugged. "If you wanna do that, I'm in… I might die of blue balls, but I'll take that bullet for you, Lewis… Remember me well… and naked. It's my best angle."

Her head fell back as she laughed throatily.

Grinning, he slid his hands up, squeezing and rubbing her hips. He inched higher and higher, smoothing over stomach, before he finally cupped her breasts, circling the nipples with his thumbs. His jaw twitched as he watched them tighten under his touch, a rosy pink. Her skin was ridiculously soft; which he must've said out loud, because she said, "Body butter, dude."

He leaned up, his hands sliding around to her shoulder blades, and he brought her closer as his mouth wrapped around a nipple, suckling and nibbling. He swirled his tongue and used his teeth to pluck at it. She buried her fingers in his hair, gripping and tugging, pulling him closer. He kissed his way over to her ignored nipple and repeated the action. She ground her pussy down against his stomach and he could feel her clit against his skin.

His hands smoothed down her back, massaging from her shoulders to her hips and back. She slid a hand down between them and wrapped it around the tip of him, her thumb swiping back and forth. His legs tightened up, every muscle stretching, as he tried not to push up into the fist of her hand. He fingers slid lower, curving under to drag across her slit, dipping inside a few times, only to stretch back as soon as she started rocking against them, kneading her ass.

She dragged a nail down the underside of his dick until he bit down against her nipple, his toes curling. He panted, brow furrowed, and looked up at her, only to find she was smirking back. He let his tongue draw soothing circles around her areola as he reached between her legs, moved her hand out of the way and instead guided the tip of himself inside her. Her head fell back, mouth parted, and he couldn't help feeling smug as she slowly rotated her hips, taking him in an inch at a time, stretching, spreading her legs further apart. He slid his hands up and down her stomach, rubbing his thumbs over her ribs, framing her boobs in his palms. Leaning in to press kisses up and down her chest, licking at her skin.

She dug her nails into his shoulders and pressed him back against the bed. It barely took her any time at all to tear open the condom and roll it down his cock before she was arching her hips and sinking down on him until he was bottomed out. She bent down then and started pressing sucking kisses over his front, scraping her teeth over his clavicles, nibbling across the lines of his pecs, swirling her tongue and nipping at his nipples. Her hair spilled over her shoulders and dragged over his skin, light and tickling. She stroked her hands down his sides, curling her nails against his ribs, and started moving her hips, sliding off him slowly only to snap back down, hard and quick.

His hands skimmed over the tops of her thighs, pressing into her skin as she squeezed around the length of him. His hands made their way up her back, skin warming, leaving a path of heat everywhere he touched. She dug her nails into his chest in the same moment her mouth slanted across his; she slowed her hips for a few strokes, focused on his lips and his tongue, the edges of his teeth.

He flipped them over then, grinning at her surprised face, eyes widening slightly at the change.

"Nice moves, slick. A head's up next time would be cool."

He shrugged, reaching down to hitch her legs high on his hips. "Where's the fun if you're expecting it?"

"I think you've exceeded expectations in general; no need to keep adding to the list," she assured.

"But this is something I'm actually really good at," he reminded, brows hiked.

She opened her mouth to reply, but Johnny had stretched one of her legs over his shoulder and was sliding out of her before swirling his hips slowly, his hand settling over her mound, heel pressing and rubbing against the edge of her clit. Her breath caught and he nodded, reaching down with his other hand to drag the tips of his fingers down the back of her thigh, raking the blunt edges of his nails over the cheek of her ass before starting again at the top.

"I wanna see you come again," he told her, watching as she reached back and grabbed onto her pillow, fisting it tightly.

He moved inside her slowly, shallow thrusts that kept her on the edge, and continued to just brush up against her clit. He turned his head and mouthed at her ankle, circling the bone with his tongue before licking a stripe over her calf. Her muscles stretched and her toes curled. He brushed his cheek against her skin and let the faint whiskers scrape against her. When she twitched, squeezing around him, he did it again, and the next time he pulled out and sunk in a little deeper, faster.

Darcy's skin looked especially white against how tanned he was; from head to toe, she was soft and pale.

He massaged his hand over the length of her leg, and slipped his other away from her clit. He rubbed the seam of her thigh meeting her pussy lips with his thumb, and kneaded at the leg she had wrapped around his hip.

He picked up his pace until she was arched off the bed, her head back, breasts thrust up, and then he pulled out of her completely and sunk only his fingers back in, curling them so they rubbed up against her g-spot. He swiped his thumb up and circled her clit.

She was panting, crying out, "Uhn, uhn…"

He bent over her, fingers moving quick, and he sucked one of her nipples between his lips.

"Fuck, fuck," she muttered, before she let go and came with a hoarse shout.

She was sweaty, her skin flushed, and she dropped an arm over her face as she sucked in air desperately. Her hair was clinging to her neck and temples. He licked up a few salty beads of sweat from where they collected between her boobs. He drew his fingers free slowly and watched as she bit her lip, moving her arm out of the way so she could watch him. He slid them into his mouth and licked them clean; she swallowed tightly and drew her knees up, readjusting on the bed and reaching for his hips.

"Having fun?"

He grinned. "I can do this all day."

She snorted. "What happened to dying of blue balls?"

He shrugged, before dropping down to lie on top of her, his elbows on either side to hold up most of his weight. He mouthed kisses down the side of her neck, licking at her salty skin. "So where do you wanna go on our first date?" he asked, nuzzling her hair out of the way so he could kiss the shell of her ear.

"You wanna talk about this now?" She laughed. "We couldn't plan in the post-climactic afterglow?"

"I get sleepy," he said, shrugging. "Then we'll nap, wake up for a snack, end up eating it off each other, round two will start, you'll keep putting me off, and when the weekend's over and you're all sexed out, my fragile heart will be broken and no first date will be had."

She quirked an eyebrow. "Are you getting insecure on me, Storm? I thought that ego was legendary…"

"Most of me is legendary…" He smirked. "And I live up to all of it."

She laughed. "There's the arrogance I was looking for."

He kissed down her chest and over to the other side, his body rubbing against hers on the way. "Hmm… I should be worried," he reminded, nipping at her shoulder lightly. "You were the one avoiding the obvious…"

She skimmed her hands up and down his back. "And you can see how well that worked out for me."

He grinned, nuzzling his face against her neck. "Still… If we don't have solid plans— plans that JARVIS can repeat back to prove you're a heartbreaker— who's to say I don't get dumped as soon as Sunday ends?"

"Well, it's a long weekend, so you're staying 'til at least Monday…"

He rolled his eyes. "Darcy…"

She laughed. "Did you just use Sue's disapproving tone on me?"

He frowned. "Yes." He shuddered. "Don't ever make me do that again. It was awful. And also…" He pressed his hips down against hers. "Let's never talk or think about Sue when we're in bed…"

"What about in the shower…?" She rubbed her heels down against the small of his back and the muscles at the top of his ass. "Or on the couch or the kitchen counter or, ooh, my desk…?" Her eyebrows flashed. "And my table's pretty sturdy. Although, the majority of those aren't flame proof…"

"This is gonna be a busy weekend…" he mused, smiling slowly, nodding.

"There's a place a few blocks over, kind of small, kitschy, makes an awesome rice bowl…" She shrugged. "I might be persuaded to eat with you… Given the right incentive."

"Two orgasms weren't enough?" He gave a mocking scoff. "You drive a hard bargain, Lewis, but I'm willing to bite." He wiggled his eyebrows. "What are your demands?"

"They weren't obvious by now?" She glided her hands down to squeeze his ass and pulled him in against the cradle of her hips. "One more orgasm and a nap…" she said meaningfully.

He nodded, smile fading as his mouth slanted over hers, tongue dabbing at her lips before sinking inside to flick the back of her teeth. "I can do that," he hummed.

He dug his knees into the bed for a little more leverage and parted her knees from him as he reached a hand down, stroking himself a few times before he sunk into her. Her lips parted on a gasp and he nibbled on the bottom one. He pushed his hands down on the mattress as he drew out of her, hips angled down so he was rubbing against her clit each time he thrust back in. One of her hands found his ass again, nails dug into his cheek, while the other was gripping at his bicep, smoothing up his shoulder off and on. He kissed her a little harder as his pace picked up, finding a rhythm they both liked.

He could feel as his body started to heat up, as the base of his spine started to tingle. Sweat built up between them and her skin flushed a deeper hue of red from the warmth. Steam curled off his back and little flickers of flame sizzled over his skin before he'd catch them and tamp them down. It'd been a long time since he'd lost control; since he couldn't keep every flame under wraps. But as she started to flutter around his cock, his hips stuttered and he felt a line of fire that curved along his spine, spit up and then burn out.

Darcy groaned, biting at his lips. "No fire extinguisher," she panted. "Donated it to DUM-E for Tony's lab…"

He nodded, trying to reign it in, but it was hard with her squeezing around him; she was so hot, so wet, so fucking tight. "Darcy…"

She smoothed a hand down the back of his head and his eyes rose up and caught hers.

"I got you," she promised. She rubbed her hand down his face and thumbed the curve of his cheek. "Let go."

She climaxed seconds after he did, her nails tearing at his skin.

When he came, his eyes squeezed shut as his hips kept moving, pistoning into her deeply. A shot of pure, orange fire speared out of his back and hit the ceiling, blackening it on contact, heat rolling, smoke clouding off of it. It was sucked back into his body as he collapsed down on top of her; his cheek stuck to her chest, her skin sticky with sweat.

They spent a few minutes just coming down, nothing but their harsh panting filling the silence of the room until they separated briefly for him to dispose of the condom while she went to clean up.

Finally, as they laid back down beside each other, she broke the quiet.

"It's probably weird that sex-related fires are really common in this building," she mused. "Enough that we have our own insurance policy for it."

He laughed, lips curved in a grin, dragged his fingers up and down her side, listening to her heartbeat awhile.

"Nap time?" she asked him.

He hummed, nodding.

"Since you earned it…" She scrubbed her nails over his temple and he twitched against her leg.

With a light chuckle, she rubbed her hands down his back.

"We'll save round two for when you're not so exhausted," she assured.

He hugged her close and rolled onto his side, pulling her with him, their legs tangled.

"Hey?" he said against her hair.


He grinned. "Told you so."

She snorted. "Gold star, Charmander."

"Thank you. I tried very hard and it's good to be recognized..."

She shook her head, amused. "I'll have a medal made for you."

"I'd appreciate it."

She shifted around until she was comfortable, pulling her hair out of the way and dragging up a sheet to cover them. Finally, she laid down beside him, her leg over his hip.

His head fell back against the pillow and he opened lazy eyes to look at her. "You're not gonna ditch me again, are you?" He raised an eyebrow. "Last time I fell asleep between your legs, I woke up alone…"

She snorted. "Totally different circumstances." She waved a finger. "Plus this is my apartment… Little hard to avoid you if you're hogging my bed."

He stared at her.

"Fine." She rolled her eyes. "I solemnly swear I won't pull the avoidance card…" She smirked. "When you wake up, we'll share a bubble bath and talk about our feels."

"Cool." He tipped his head up and puckered his lips.

Amused, she stretched up for a kiss.

"Bath sex?" he asked as he closed his eyes and relaxed.


He grinned and fell asleep to her fingers stroking up and down his back soothingly.

Johnny woke up alone and stared at the black mark on the ceiling a long while, his jaw ticking.

Insecure wasn't something he often was. He was almost never unsure, rarely embarrassed, and struggles with women were just about nonexistent. But there was something about wanting to be with Darcy, wanting to stop chasing her and just have her, all the while knowing she was fighting it every step of the way, that made him feel all of those things in various degrees.

It was stupid, but waking up there and not having her within reach immediately made him think that she'd changed her mind or woke up and realized what had happened and why it shouldn't again. Maybe she'd been caught up in the moment and when the haze wore off she came to her senses. He reached up and dug the heels of his hands into his eyes, giving a long sigh.

And then the door swung open and Darcy walked in, wearing a cotton robe and tying her hair up. "Hey, you slept longer than I expected," she said. "I threw our clothes in the washer and ordered in some dinner. Busy night though, it won't be here for another hour." She wiggled her eyebrows. "I've already got the bubble bath supplies ready, so you better be up for smelling like roses."

He shoved the blanket off, crossed the room, and grabbed her up around the waist. His mouth slanted across hers, hard, needy, possessive.

A reaffirmation that that he hadn't been rejected; that she wasn't shutting him out.

Darcy moaned, dragging her fingers through his hair and curling down his neck.

He untied the waist of her robe and slid a hand underneath, skating it over her stomach and ribs, around to her back, dipping low to palm her ass.

She shrugged the shoulders off and he shoved it quickly from her body before he bent, grabbed her around her thighs, and lifted her, hugging her legs around his waist. He could already feel her getting wet, spread as she was against his stomach. She steadied herself with her arms around his neck.

"You always this enthusiastic when you first wake up?" she teased.

Johnny swallowed thickly and recognized again just how much power she had without even knowing it. This was why he did casual, because when he got attached, he expected the worst. He expected to be left behind or dropped or not taken seriously. He'd always been the guy women had fun with and he'd been fine with that. He'd been burned a few times in the past, when he was younger and thought he could find someone who could meet him on every level and not get bored and fed up or just grow out of him. But they always did and so he got used to just being the fun-times guy, a niche he filled well. And then Darcy was there and she was snarky and beautiful and she challenged him.

He wouldn't call it love, yet. The word still made his skin feel too tight and his heart drop to his feet, but then, so did sky-diving before he leapt out of the plane. Or mountain climbing before he got high enough to see over the trees and felt like he was on top of the world. The best things, he'd found, always scared him initially, which was why he tackled them, why he went in head first and faced them down. The rush would wear off eventually though and he'd have to chase another.

Here, now, he wondered if Darcy would be the exception.

"It's in your nature to desire that which eludes you," Romanoffhad told him

But Darcy wasn't eluding him anymore; she was right in front of him and offering more. Offering a weekend and then a date and a future of monogamy that he might've cringed at and run away from in the past. But what really worried him was that she wouldn't be happy with what he had to give; she'd get bored of the jokes and childish pranks; the shine would wear off. It was that thought that always kept him from getting too attached to any woman he met, no matter how attractive or devil-may-care they might've been. With Darcy, he approached it like he approached the most dangerous of dare-deviling activities…

He jumped in with both feet and hoped he landed in one piece.

"I prune easy," he warned. "It might be a condition."

Her head fell back as she laughed and he grinned to himself before he leaned in to kiss her throat.

She hummed and squeezed him. "You know what I just thought of?"

"What?" he wondered, walking them into the bathroom.

He dropped her to her feet so she could start the water and pour her girly salts and soaps and whatever into the deep, Jacuzzi tub.

She sat on the edge, waving her hand through the water to stir it around. "If the water gets cold, you can warm it up…" She grinned up at him. "This analogy is kicking some serious ass."

He shook his head, grinning, and bent down to kiss the top of her head.

"We don't even need jets; you could probably make it into our personal hot spring!" Her eyes lit up. "You get more and more useful, Storm. I might just keep you around for the long-run."

"Well as long as I come in handy," he said, before circling to climb into the water, bracing his hands on either side. She crawled in after him, sitting so her back was against his chest, and propped her head over his shoulder.

She slipped his arms up and around her, covering his soapy hands with hers over her stomach. She tipped her head and bit lightly at the hinge of his jaw. "You still tired?"

He shook his head and pulled his arms from the water, dripping as he hugged them higher around her shoulders. He kissed her temple and rested his cheek against her hair. "You remember when you said we'd talk about feelings?"

She nodded. "Yeah, but I figure you'd veto that idea…"

He licked his lips and watched as she used her toes to turn off the taps. She had a toe ring she hadn't taken off; it was silver and spiraled around.

"Women liked me, relationships didn't," he said, keeping his eyes strictly on her ring. "The class clown is only funny for so long… Eventually you get tired of him, you want serious, and I was never good at that…" He ground his teeth. "So they moved on and I learned what I was better at… Short-term."

"You got burned."

"And now I'm made of fire, so you can see the irony."

She shook her head. "You think I'll want to change you eventually, and when you don't I'll just…" She shrugged. "Pack your bags for you and send you on your way?"

"Darce, it took three months for you to treat me like anything other than an oven, I don't think it's a stretch to think you'll drop me and not look back."

"Again, I remind you, I liked you…"

"You had a weird way of showing it."

She rolled her eyes. "I'll hire a skywriter next time."

"I'd prefer a singing telegram… Send it to Ben first, repeatedly, and I'm sure he'll pass on the message."

She bit her lip to keep from laughing. "Johnny…" She tipped her head back to look at him. "I like you. A lot. And I wanna see where this goes…"

"See? That wasn't so hard." He hugged her.

She rubbed her hands up and down his knees, where they stuck out of the water. "I don't want you to change," she murmured. "I like how you are…" She shrugged. "I don't plan on growing up much past this point, maximum level of awesome reached, so we should be around the same level."

His mouth stretched in a smile. "Sounds good to me."

She gathered up bubbles in her hand and then blew them off, grinning. "Feels talk done?" she wondered.

He made a checkmark motion with his finger.

She ducked her hands back down into the water, cleaning off the bubbles, and then held them up, wiggling her fingers at him. "Pruney."

He took one of her hands, his fingers curling through hers from behind, and brought it up so he could kiss her fingertips. "If this is a sign of the future, you make a hot old lady."

She laughed thickly. "Move over, Chloris Leechman."

His eyebrow ticked. "Not Betty White?"

"Please, I've got nothing on Betty…" She waved a dismissive hand.

"I don't know… I think if it was down to you or her, I might just settle for you."

She scoffed. "Oh sure, make me hated by America when I steal you away from their favorite funny old chick."

"There's no pleasing you, Lewis," he sighed faux-sadly.

"I don't know about that." She turned over on top of him, water sloshing, and grinned. "You were doing a good job of pleasing me earlier and I seem to remember there being promises of bath sex..."

Johnny rubbed his hands down her back, water sluicing off, and turned up his body core temperature until the water began to bubble like a hot spring.

"Awesome," she declared, before leaning up to kiss him.

And round two commenced; wherein the floor was covered in half the bathtub water.

Much of the weekend was spent naked, testing the strength of various pieces of furniture, and, when they were too tired to do much of anything, cuddling in bed watching TV and movies on Netflix.

Late Monday night, they sat on the balcony overlooking the city; she donned one of her favorite oversized wool sweaters while he just pulled on his clean jeans, loosely hanging off his hips.

Darcy had her feet up on the rails, crossed at the ankle. She passed him over her graham cracker, topped with a piece of Hershey's chocolate. He dug a marshmallow out of the bag next to him and plopped it on top before holding his hands around them and letting the heat melt it all down. Biting her lip as she grinned happily, she covered the top with a second graham cracker and then leaned back against him, taking a large bite out of her gooey s'more.

"You rock," she garbled, chewing.

He wiped at a gob of chocolate on the corner of her mouth and licked it off the corner of his thumb.

Darcy picked at her marshmallowey treat and tucked her head against his neck.

"If you squint, you can see the restaurant we're going to tomorrow night," she told him, pointing.

He leaned forward to look, but it was hard to make out much more than lights and vague building outlines. "Well I'm sold…" He hugged his arms around her waist. "Think they'll cater our future wedding?"

She laughed. "No."

"No they won't cater it or no you won't marry me some day in the future?" He pointed at her meaningfully. "And before you say anything, I shotty the right to say 'I told you so.'"

Darcy rolled her eyes, still smiling. "All the power to you."

She never did clarify, but she did let him have a bite of her s'more.

She also brought the leftover chocolate into bed with them and placed little squares of it all over his chest before telling him to melt them down. Her mouth went to work cleaning them off and Johnny knew he'd be spending a lot more money on chocolate in the near future.

Darcy was right.

They didn't do catering.

He did, however, get to say 'I told you so,' at their water and fire themed wedding.

It might've possibly, definitely, been in his vows.