English is not my native language so there are spelling mistakes, I don't do those on purpose and try to weed out as much as I can spot, but there will be some that I miss, so if you find them point it out to me and I will correct it. The same goes to the wrong use of words, I am not doing the mistakes on purpose point it out, please. Many Thanks for your understanding =)
The chapters are being edited by Wino, who is amazing, so there should be less and less mistakes as time passes. Thank you for understanding
Late Call for Bad Judgement
It wasn’t intentional. Honestly. Who would be that crazy to come up with shit like that anyway? It was a poor judgement, a bad a decision. Sleep deprivation was a terrible thing.
Darcy Lewis enjoyed her sleep. It was important. She also hadn't been getting much of it since she started working for certain astrophysicist.
“No, Jane, you can’t have your phone back.”
“It’s my phone!”
“I just said that. You still aren’t getting it back. SI will be calling this phone, to bypass me, and discuss with you the terms of the contract and the adjustments that we want, and so help me Thor, you are not losing this phone again under the mountain of papers after putting it on silent!”
“It happened once.”
“I nearly had a stroke. Is that what you want? For your smart, beautiful, funny PA to just drop dead from stress?”
“Did I hire somebody else? That PA is question being funny…”
Darcy tossed a pencil at her boss lady and of course missed by a mile.
“Lame, Darcy… Ouch!” the second one bounced off of Jane’s head and Darcy stuck her tongue out at her friend.
“Keep talking and I will let them have you.”
“The big bad wolves from SI Legal Department… so scared. Please make sure the clause for non distribution without permission being at their discretion is gone.”
“Yeah, yeah. That’s funny, how I’m the one busting my ass for it?”
“You were the one that brought it up.” Jane was giving her PA a sidelong glance. “I don’t even have to sign it.”
“Ha ha, no. Thor-bro is there. The…”
“He can just as well be here. He can travel.”
“I am ok. OK?”
“But if we hold out…”
“Jane, it is not the first date with Thor where you want to hold out, before you put out, because you really don’t want to look easy. Stark Industries is the land of real funding. Real funds that can buy real equipment that you don’t have to build yourself or get me to build it. I know we pretend hat most of our stuff is held together by duck tape because it is unique but we both know the answer is, we are broke. ” Darcy finally pocketed her boss’s phone and put on a kettle. “And we will get paid.” They were running low on tea again, and sugar… and dignity.
“We have the grant money.”
“That wouldn’t keep two hamsters alive, if we didn’t build majority of the equipment ourself. We live in your mum's flat and she pays the bills. We are that broke. I know we play it cool when Thor-bro swings by between saving the world and sorting issues on other worlds. It is time to move on. ”
“Stark can afford…”
“Until SHIELD will loosen up the vise on the rights to publish your work no one will touch it. He wants you there, because he knows you are brilliant and that you are on the right path to break physics. I’m not saying we shouldn’t get the most out of it, I’m just saying we should not take a piss.”
The argument was ongoing since the offer from the SI NYC came through two months ago. They wanted Jane there, but they also wanted her on a leash, to parade her like a prized poodle. There was always a compromise, but the legal department’s inflexibility was wearing them down.
All the while Thor lived in New York, because the Avengers resided there and he was often called, not being able to travel the vast distance if there was an emergency on either end fast enough even with the help of Mjolnir was taking a toll on his relationship with Jane. He was still gone off world most of the time so he was eager to have Jane move if only to have a peace of mind that she was safe and sound in the company of his new friends.
“I still think we should hold out.”
“I think you need to finally get a move on if you don’t want to miss your train.” Darcy was already rocking her bright green Hulk pjs, while Jane was ready to go catch the night train to Glasgow for the family reunion. “I need my phone.”
“No, you have my spare phone and a prepaid sim with all the numbers. Honestly, I got this under control. If the SI wants us they will have to finally crack and give us something.”
“Yes, just how much…”
“Foster, If you think that I will not toss you out head first through that door, you are in for a surprise. "
Darcy was content in the knowledge that Jane knew that she was doing the best by both of them. With SHIELD breathing down their necks and tempting with their standing offer to join up and sign their lives away, and SI being jerks, life for the Poli Sci with a mountain of debt wasn’t easy.
Especially when the two of them lived on the grant money and did their best to do actual scientific research with the remaining funds.
Mrs Foster’s old 2 bed semidetached rental property, that she let her daughter occupy for the time being, was draughty and damp. Darcy was convinced that even the roaches moved out due to the conditions, but it was rent free so they made do.
She was a glorified intern now, also known as PA. No paycheck, though. Still. If SHIELD hadn’t Fucked Up, Darcy probably would have convinced Jane to sign up by now, but as it stood the two women lived under the crippling weight of NDA that didn’t allow Jane to advance her career and be able to finally pay said PA.
But Stark Industries were a totally different ball game, they could do stuff there, because funding, glorious unlimited funding, might finally enable Jane to replicate the data from New Mexico that they couldn’t recover after the Jack Booted Thug Brigade returned the machines.
While Darcy knew, that the difference between London and NYC was 5 hours she wasn’t even mildly surprised when the phone rang at 3am London time, because the SI Legal was a bag of dicks. The caller ID was flashing SI.
“Dr Foster’s phone.” She yawned as she rolled onto her back and stretched in the single creaking bed in the spare room. “Her PA, Darcy Lewis speaking.”
“No, it’s Lewis, Darcy. The PA.”
“Put Foster on, Darlene.”
Darcy glared at the ceiling.
“Sure. Paragraph 17 clause 3. The matter of Dr Foster’s accommodation at the Stark Tower. Has it been updated?”
“What?” the person on the other end sounded quite taken aback.
“I’m asking you, anonymous caller from Stark Industries, New York, Legal Department, have the amendments kindly requested by me on behalf of Dr Foster, been done?“
“What? No? Yes? I don’t know? Put Foster on, Dahlia.” ‘Oh…yeah… now that is likely.’
“Moving on. Paragrah 19 clause 7. Equal pay and compensation events. Has that been expanded?”
“If you are done being cute. Put. Foster. On.” There was an actual growl on the other side of the line and Darcy’s eyebrows shot up as she steam rolled ahead.
“I take that as a no. Seeing as none of our requests have been yet added, I suggest you email Dr Foster with your counter proposal, as we haven’t seen that either. Till then I bid you a goodnight.”
“You are not going to hang up on…”
‘Asshole.’ Darcy seethed as she indeed hung up with no little amount of satisfaction.
Unfortunately the screen didn't even go dark before the person was calling back. ‘Oh, come on.’
“You hung up on me!”
“Do you know who I am?”
It was 3am in the land of the Big Ben, but it was 10pm in the land of Times Square. Darcy wasn’t in the mood to play the game of who the fuck are you with an asshole that called people on purpose at bumfuck o’clock with nothing to show for it.
“Yes. You are the dick, that thinks that a well respected scientist should take a 15% pay cut, because she is moving in with her boyfriend that lives in Stark Tower already, rent free, I might add. Not to mention the fact that you consider the fact that Dr Foster has to sit down as she takes a piss significant enough reason to dock her pay a further 10%. Last, but not the least, it’s 3AM! You do not call people at this hour, act like a chauvinistic cunt and expect them to fall all over themselves doing your biding. Dr Foster is not a dog on your beck and call. Goodnight! ”
There wasn't a call back, and she briefly wondered if their contract got pulled before pouring herself a shot of whisky and going back to bed.
Darcy didn't fall asleep till the sun rose.
The next call came the following night at 3am. Again. Darcy groaned in frustration.
“Dr Foster’s phone. Her PA speaking.”
“Congratulations. Did it hurt?”
“Hurt what?” Sounded like the same person. Wasn’t Darcy a lucky girl? What happened to that old Mr Spools dude whose idea was to pay Jane peanuts in exchange for the privilege of living in the Tower?
“When you got neutered.”
“I got… are you drunk?”
“Sleep deprived. Some dick's been calling at 3am.”
“I got your contract sorted. ” There was a pause like he was waiting for something and it took Darcy another minute to understand that she was expected to reply.
“My contract is directly with Dr Foster. Thank you very much, but no.”
“Well, Dr Foster’s contract has been finalized. Start packing.”
“Sure. Haven’t seen it in the inbox yet, funny enough.”
“Sent it to you, seeing as you are her mouthpiece. Darcy Lou. Very cute. Very southern. Texas, maybe? Louisiana? I would say…”
“I’m sure you would. That is my private email, please do not use it.” Darcy tried not to grind her teeth. She hadn't used that since the Ian Incident. It was the embarrassing first email address that everyone got thinking they were the bees knees. “Give me a sec. I need to log in.”
“I said, I sent it.”
“Yeah, I heard you… just a sec…logging… looking… bloody spam… ” Darcy put the phone on loudspeaker as she attempted to comb through pages of random shit.
“Your filters aren’t set correctly. Are they even set? When was the last time you adjusted them? ”
It took another minute for the situation to dawn on Darcy as she watched in growing horror as her emails were being sorted without any help from her.
“Are… are you in my emails? You are in my email.”
“And done. Yes. Sorted. No need to thank …”
“I will fucking do you in for privacy breach.”
“You are welcome, Darcy Lou. Why so defensive? Got anything interesting in them? Is that it? Are there photos? I bet there are photos.” Darcy desperately tried finding the right emails before being forcibly kicked out.
“Listen, dude, just log out…”
“Oh… Wow… Are those real? They look real. ”
Darcy wanted to scream really badly, but there was a lump in her throat that was chocking her.
“You … fucking thief.”
“I am offended. Just a sec… done. Much better. I think a canvas 1 on 2 to bring out the proportions? And first - you are implying that I intend to keep… these works of art without adequately compensating you. And second - a PA for Foster? Because it is a criminal offence not to let these see the light of day. ”
“And this is why I am a PA for Dr Foster.” Now it was Darcy’s turn to growl as she tried repeatedly to get back into the emails. “These are personal photos, you pig…”
“My compliments to the artist. The shading is just right and the angle gives this impression of suppressed movement… They are real, though, right?”
“You can’t lie worth shit, short stack. So how much?”
“They are not for sale, you douche canoe. ”
“How much is Foster paying you anyway? It is an easy buck. No foul, no harm. Need to put those someplace with good light…”
“NO! You… listen… I don’t care if you keep it in the spank bank, but I will murder you in your sleep if you show these to anyone!”
“Does that mean that I get a chance to get you in bed? Because I am game.” She could hear the smug bastard grin. She could hear it in his voice. She was so so mad. “Shortstack? Lewis? I can hear you breathing , babe, it is rather labored, should I assume you are imagining it now? Because I would rather you voiced it…”
“You will regret this. Mark my word.”
“I would rather mark you.”
“How can the legal department of a reputable company be a basket full of pigs?”
“Oh, I’m not from the Legal, Shortstack…” There were some kind of alarms blaring that made Darcy wince from the volume. “ Damn it. Got to go. I will call you.”
He hung up and Darcy continued staring blankly at the phone praying that he was joking.
It took another five minutes for her be able to log back into the email.
The Photos were Gone. Gone. He didn’t copy them. He took them completely. It took Darcy three shots and a shower to distress sufficiently to look for the contract, because if that wasn’t there this nightmare didn’t have a silver lining.
The contract was there. The updates were there. All of them. Darcy felt the stress of the last month slowly ebb away. It was a relief. She got a place in the Tower. An actual apartment in the actual Stark Tower rent free. That was going to save her a ton of money and commute, the closest place she would have been able to afford was in Brooklyn, and she would be able to keep an eye on Jane when Thor wouldn't be around. It was like the perfect outcome.
He could fucking keep the pictures, Darcy thought. It was time to let go anyway. They were her safety blanket way too long. Those were great pictures, though. But she could live without them.
It was time to move on.
There was giddiness that Darcy tried her best to control as she skimmed through the contact.
All there. All ready. Jane would just need to sign. Just right there, under the signature of …. Anthony E. Stark.
Anthony E. Stark...
She went back and forth a page.
The printed name of Mr Spools was crossed and in spidery handwriting replaced by Anthony E. Stark.
Anthony Edward Stark...
Tony fucking Stark had her photos.