01 February 2012 @ 00:00
"Simple, Not Easy" 13/18, Rated R to NC-17  
Title: Simple, Not Easy
Fandom: Thor (2011), Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rating: R to NC-17
Pairings: Darcy/Clint, Loki/Sif, Natasha/Coulson
Summary: Darcy should have seen it coming. She couldn't hang around the spandex crowd forever and not end up with a great big target painted on her back eventually. She was just surprised it took Loki so long.

Disclaimer: The Avengers and all related elements, characters and indicia © Marvel Studios 2012. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situations—save those created by the authors for use solely on this website—are copyright Marvel Studios 2012.

Please do not archive or distribute without author's permission.

Author's Note: This story is all Lunik's fault. HUGE thanks to my flatmate/betas/cheerleaders/people who couldn't get out of the way fast enough when I started emailing them drafts: Boosette, Celli, Victoria P, Seren, Fringedweller, Aj, the aforementioned Lunik, and everyone on El Jay who cheered me on during the nearly 4 months when this story ATE MY LIFE.

AO3 | LJ

Chapter 13

When they boarded the jet, Clint and Natasha took special care making sure none of the flight crew had been secretly replaced by shape-changing aliens. It wasn't until Natasha was satisfied that the Stark jet took off back toward New York.

Darcy sat next to Clint, the armrest up and her legs draped across the empty aisle seat as they talked quietly while the Widow sat up front, tapping away on her laptop.

When Natasha had shown up with the Stark car, they'd been ready. Well, they were wearing pants, and considering how much of an effort it had been to get to that point, Natasha was surprisingly lenient with them. Especially given she'd spent time undercover as Stark's assistant. According to her, Tony was a legend when it came to not even being in the correct timezone to be on a plane when he was supposed to be.

Darcy's hair had still been wet, even after towelling it dry, dampening the neck and back of her tee-shirt. Which wasn't a huge problem in Malibu, but Darcy had shivered as the plane's a/c came on. Without a word, Clint had dropped his leather jacket over her shoulders, and she'd snuggled against his broad chest. She had draped it across her lap once they reached cruising altitude, and Clint surreptitiously slid his hand beneath the leather to stroke her thigh.

"It was weird. Seeing you with Loki, I mean."

Darcy swung her stocking feet around, tucking them beneath her as she bowed her head to his.

"How weird?"

"Deeply weird. He was almost like a regular guy. Sorta."

"A regular guy who thinks that razing a small New Mexico town to the ground is an appropriate response to finding out you're adopted, you mean?"

"Well, yeah. But you guys act more like siblings than him and Thor."

"You mean we're, like, bros?" Darcy raised both eyebrows, and Clint shrugged.

"I guess I'm just used to him trying to kill us. I keep thinking he must be playing some angle."

"I think his only dastardly master plan right now involves getting into Sif's pants."

Clint chuckled, and pulled her closer, pressing a kiss to her mop of dark hair before whispering, "Speaking of which... wanna join the mile high club?" in her ear.

"Maybe some time when your ex isn't ten feet away and we're the only people on the plane?"

"Where's your spirit of adventure?"

"Dude. We just double-dated with Norse Gods."

"Fine. But when we get back to the mansion..." Clint slid his hand under her tee-shirt, "all bets are off."

"Deal." She leaned her head on his shoulder. "We were really like bros?"

"Let's just say, if you'd asked me a week ago if I'd ever see my girlfriend manhandling a supervillain like a naughty toddler, I'd have said hell no."

"Oh my God, he was totally being a dork with that whole 'In case I haven't mentioned, I'm a Frost Giant' bullshit. He was never gonna get laid if he kept that shit up. Do you think he has a shot with her?"

"Hard to tell. On the one hand, she did come all the way from Valhalla or whatever for dinner. On the other hand, I was pretty sure, at one point, they were gonna start throwing shit. My plan was to get you outta there, and fuck Tony's renovations."

"Yeah. It was... I guess I'm just used to Thor, you know?"

"Yeah, well, even Thor can be hard to deal with. The first few missions he went out on, Steve had to explain to him that once you've got a guy in custody, you're not allowed to cut their head off, or whatever."

"Fury must have shit a brick."

"Tell me about it. Thor's a great guy to have in your corner when you've got Doc Ock or Doom coming at you. But dude doesn't always get due process."

"Ever wonder about that?"

"About what?"

"I mean, Thor does stuff like throw the phrase 'mere mortals' around, and like you said, threaten to lop off the heads of his enemies or whatever, and we just go 'Oh, it's Thor' and roll our eyes. But Loki does the same shit, and we just... always hold it against him."

"Thor doesn't kill civilians."

"Not now. He's learned not to, 'cause he has all of us to go 'bad dog, no biscuit.' But you should have seen him when he first got to New Mexico. He was kinda a total douche right up until he and Jane took off for the hammer."

"He kicked our asses pretty hard. Did I ever tell you I was there?"

Darcy shook her head.

"Coulson had me up in a crane, ready to pop him if he hurt anybody—I mean, seriously hurt anyone. I was actually rooting for him. But when he couldn't budge the hammer? He just... stopped. Like he was broken. Like nothing mattered anymore."

Darcy whistled lowly. "It was totally a week for existential identity crises for the Odinson boys."

"How do you mean?"

"Thor got sent to Earth 'cause his dad thought he was acting like a total tool and needed a time out. Meanwhile, Loki found out his dad wasn't his dad, and totally lost his shit. As much as shit was blowing up all around us in town, no-one actually got killed. Okay, except Thor. And he totally got better."

"Yeah. I wish I had a force reset button," Clint sighed. "I was laid up with a dislocated shoulder for two months after one of the HYDRA missions. If Thor hadn't shown up with his 'healing stones', I would have been reassigned from active duty."

"Yeah. Magic rocks from space are hella useful."

"Wait, Thor was a tool?" Clint looked sceptical. "How have you never told me before that Thor was a tool?"

"Total entitled rich dude bullshit. But he got over it. He even took Izzie a mug, to replace the one he'd smashed—he did that whole 'Another!' thing like it was a Greek restaurant or some shit, and Jane was all 'Oh fuck no'."

Clint had a moment where Darcy could tell he was trying to picture the big guy being all, well... Stark about shit.

"I dunno. I can see where you're coming from, but I still don't buy it. It all comes down to making a really simple choice. Thor chooses to be a good guy, Loki chooses to be a bad guy. And as long as he does, I guess I'm not really ready to cut the guy any slack."

"It's not that I'm saying we totally invite him to the next Avengers backyard barbecue, or anything. I guess it's just... hard to think of the same guy drooling over Sharon Stone shooting it out at high noon with Gene Hackman, as the guy who tried to take over the world last Thursday. You know? It's like him being a total headcase makes him seem more normal somehow."

"Darce, Loki tried to kill his brother. When your brother does shit like that... it's not always an easy thing to forgive."

They fell into silence, and Darcy could tell something else was bugging Clint, but she wasn't going to try and shake it out of him. She figured he'd tell her what his deal was when he was ready to tell her.

Still, she couldn't shake the feeling that Loki got a bad rap that he did his best (worst) to live up to sometimes. Just to piss his bro off, if for no other reason.

"I'll tell you one thing. I look at Thor and his family, and suddenly being an orphan doesn't suck quite so much."

Darcy snuggled deeper into his shoulder, and twined her fingers with his. "You're, like, Batman without the childhood trauma. Or maybe Green Arrow—different millionaire turned vigilante. Were you stranded on a deserted island?"

"Nope. Just joined the circus."

"And yet—surprisingly well-adjusted. I thought all superheroes had a terminal case of manpain?"

"I'm Special Ops, not a superhero."

"So you keep saying. What's the difference?"

"I don't have mutant powers, my hot girlfriend totally knows what I do for a living, and I can't afford fancy trick arrows without government funding. As for manpain..." Clint shrugged. "I've got it pretty good. Great job with awesome health insurance, I live in a mansion, and did I mention, my girlfriend is ridiculously hot?"

"Good answer," Darcy breathed the second before her lips met his. The tap-tap-tapping of Natasha's nails on her laptop's keyboard didn't even slow down, even though Darcy could practically feel the Widow's smirk from four rows away.

They made out pretty much right up until the pilot announced their approach into Teterboro. As soon as they touched down, Darcy peered out the window over Clint's shoulder to see an unmarked black SUV outside the hangar with a familiar figure in a black leather trenchcoat leaning against the door.

"Holy shitballs," she said, and Clint gave her a look. She jerked a thumb toward the window and he visibly deflated.

"Fuck. We're so busted."

Natasha just picked up her laptop case and patted Clint on the shoulder.

"Time to face the music," she said with a shrug, and Darcy reached for Clint's hand. Together, they walked down the fold-away stairs to meet Director Fury and possibly their doom.




"Do you think I'm stupid?" Fury asked as the SUV pulled away from the airport, the bright afternoon sunshine muted by the smoked glass windows.

"What?" Darcy said at the same time Clint muttered, "No, sir," and the Widow kept her mouth shut.

"I'm not actually asking you, Barton. I'm asking your girl. Miss Lewis—do you think I'm stupid?"

His tone was genial, even friendly. Darcy had a sinking feeling he was—currently—neither.

"No—I mean, no, sir. Of course not."

"Do you really think," Fury continued, that scary smile still in place, "that the three of you could up and take off for twenty-four hours on the pretext of planning a bachelorette party, and I wouldn't know exactly what you were up to?"

"Um... no?" It came out as a question, and Darcy frantically looked at Natasha for help, but both she and Clint were stone-faced, though Clint's hand in hers remained warm and his grip firm.

"Seriously. Do you think there is anything that you people do that I don't know about?"

"And that's not creepy or anything," Darcy said without thinking, and Clint's fingers twitched around hers.

"Loki's... technology, magic, Asgard voodoo, whatever you want to call it, leaves an energy signature. There's a whole cadre of S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists that have been using the data from the Puente Antiguo sites to try and track him."

Darcy winced. "Oh."

"Yeah. Oh." The smile was gone now, and Darcy felt pinned to the seat by his one-eyed glare. "Now, I don't always know what they're talking about, in terms of non-ionising radiation and beta particles. But you know what I do understand? Knowing my enemy."

Darcy flipped from chagrin to anger in an instant. Her eyes narrowed, and she actually leaned toward Fury. "So you've been using me as, what, Loki-bait?"

"Let's just say that your relationship with Thor's brother has made it that much easier for us to keep tabs on him and learn more about how his technology functions."

"So is being both bait and your research project covered under the mountain of paperwork I signed in order to keep working with Jane? Or do we just assume it's covered by the Patriot Act?"

Darcy knew she ought to be dialling back the snark since her job and life was pretty much on the line, but she couldn't help it. She was who she was, and Director Fury should have known that when he'd had her cleared for duty in the first place.

"FISA, actually."

Darcy blinked. "The government has classified Asgard as a Foreign Power? Are you shitting me?"

"I am not shitting you," Fury said with a completely straight face.

"Wow. S.H.I.E.L.D. is a class act."

"S.H.I.E.L.D. is an organisation that exists to protect the people of this country—and by extension, the world—from whackjobs like Loki. I'm sure as hell not going to apologise for using whatever resources we have at hand."

"What if I quit?"

"Well, then you have two choices. You can either ask to be reassigned to a different S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, or you can consent to severing all contact with the Avenger Initiative. Permanently."

Darcy's mouth went dry. Her hand tightened around Clint's, and when she glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, his mouth was a grim line.

Fury followed her eyeline, and his teeth flashed white in the dim light of the SUV. "Yeah. I didn't think so. But I think it's time we stop keeping you around to baby-sit Dr Foster."

"But—I'm Jane's intern! You can't just fire me—"

"I didn't say we were firing you. The truth is, Dr Foster's research is too important to the Initiative to risk alienating her by reassigning her BFF, or some shit, to Timbuktu. Coulson tells me that maybe we can do a lot more with a young woman of your... myriad talents. So starting Monday, you're being assigned to him as his assistant."

"Wait—lemme get this straight. My punishment for totally trying to hide the fact that Thor's bro was popping in and out of the mansion like he was a latchkey kid is to promote me?"

"Oh, don't think of it as a promotion. We're just reallocating resources."

"So I'm like a freaking piece of office furniture?"

"Much more useful than a desk chair, but slightly less important than a printer. You handled yourself pretty well, according to Agent Romanoff's report."

Darcy's mouth dropped open in shock and she leaned forward to fix Natasha with a glare. "You wrote a report on our super-secret off the books clandestine thingie?"

"Actually, Agent Romanoff was assigned to be my eyes and ears on the ground in Malibu the second Stark filed the flight plan."

"Traitor," Clint muttered beneath his breath.

"Someone had to make sure that S.H.I.E.L.D. was informed, in case there was an incident," Natasha said, still ridiculously calm. Darcy was pretty much back to being afraid of her. "Just because there wasn't doesn't mean we shouldn't have been prepared had there been."

"So, what? You had three dozen S.H.I.E.L.D. guys in the bushes with bazookas last night, just in case?" Darcy couldn't keep her voice from rising on the last three words, and Clint pulled her slightly closer to his side. She wasn't sure if he was holding her back, or just keeping a good grip on her in case the Widow decided to toss her out of the moving car.

"Just the helicarrier on stand-by off the coast, with Thor, Rogers, and Banner aboard," Natasha said, not looking even the slightest bit guilty.

It was Clint's turn to sputter in shock. "You'd let the Hulk smash up Stark's house?"

"Are you kidding?" Fury grinned again, a scary feral grin. "I was looking forward to it."

"Does this mean we're not, um... grounded?"

"Do I look like your father? You are a grown-ass woman, so act like it. And that goes for you too, Barton. Next time your girlfriend has a plan to wine and dine a crazy alien, it's your job to stop her—not freakin' order the damned wine and cheese."

"Yes, sir."

Chapter 14
 
 
( 15 comments — comment )
daisybalance: ST XI - Damp Scotty Likes Excitementdaisybalance on 1st February 2012 06:31 (UTC)
I'm so torn! [hand-wringing]

On one hand, of course Fury and Widow are correct to prepare themselves for Loki. He's the magically-powerful unpredictable tip of an 8-Other-Realms-Plus-This-One iceberg.

On the other hand, I have empathy with Darcy's perspective of (a) believing Loki won't mess this up, (b) feeling violated and manipulated as a pawn in Fury's chess existential-game and (c) feeling a bit betrayed that Widow helped prepare the super-secret thing and was simultaneously giving away the secrets.

And now there are another 23.5 hours until you tell us what happens next!! [/hand-wringing]

Also, I see what you're doing there. I see it like a kid-friendly purple dinosaur in the bushes. I am waiting to see what you do with said purple dinosaur.
ljc: avengers (cap salutes you)taraljc on 1st February 2012 08:36 (UTC)
I am kinda on Fury's side here--better to be prepared and not need it, than not be prepared and have civilian casualties. Plus at this point, Darcy (and the reader) are the only ones who've seen a different side of Loki. The Avengers trust Darcy, but that doesn't mean they trust Loki.
maevebran: Hunky Army Capmaevebran on 1st February 2012 06:32 (UTC)
This just gets better and better. I totally love this.=)
ljc: avengers (cap salutes you)taraljc on 1st February 2012 08:59 (UTC)
Hurrah! So glad you're enjoying it!
Kira: Izzard: choice is or death?kirashapedgirl on 1st February 2012 07:03 (UTC)
Love it! But argh! Waiting for this every day is like waiting every day for a new chapter of Two Men & A 'verse when Inell was writing it. So much anticipation!
ljc: avengers (cap meep)taraljc on 1st February 2012 09:00 (UTC)
Normally I post finished work all in one go, but this was so long (roughly 60,000 words) and so cracky that I figured it would benefit from being serialised.
symbioticdeathsymbioticdeath on 1st February 2012 07:16 (UTC)
Fury is amazing. Darcy getting being herself during the confrontation was perfect. I'm going to side with Darcy on how Loki just needs a friend but I really hope SHIELD doesn't push him to the edge.....and poor Clint, the boy can roll with the punches pretty well.
ljc: avengers (hawkeye)taraljc on 1st February 2012 09:01 (UTC)
I've always assumed that Loki always knows more than he lets on. So I wouldn't worry about him and SHIELD. As for Clint, he's a career Special Ops dude. Rolling with the punches is part of the gig.
schweinstyschweinsty on 1st February 2012 07:42 (UTC)
Did I mention I love your Natasha? Because I love your Natasha. And Darcy and Fury were both great here :D. Oh, and I can't wait to see what's bothering Clint - is it his past and his own evil brother?
ljc: avengers (widow)taraljc on 1st February 2012 09:02 (UTC)
I love Natasha. I wish ScarJo were better up to the task (as written Black Widow is OMG SO AWESOME in Iron Man 2 but I didn't feel like Johanssen had the gravitas or chops to really pull it off, performance-wise). But that's why I love writing Natasha. Because in my head, Scarlet's a MUCH better actor :)

As for Clint's family issues, I knew that comics fans would get it (and why he takes Loki so personally), but I'm not quite ready to go into it in this story. Plus I have no idea if in The Avengers we get 616 Clint, or Ultimates Clint, in terms of backstory...

Edited at 2012-02-01 09:31 (UTC)
Half of what I say is meaninglessfarwing on 1st February 2012 10:13 (UTC)
This continues to amuse me so much.
HawkMoth: cake or deathhawkmoth on 1st February 2012 12:06 (UTC)
So, the Thor DVD came across the discharge desk yesterday, and I'm all, "Hey. I totally need to watch this again before Tara finishes posting the story."

Thus, crackfic influences me even at work.

(And now I have to go and Wiki Clint.)

Edited at 2012-02-01 12:06 (UTC)
i'd like to teach the world to sing: Floating Girlizzyfics on 1st February 2012 15:49 (UTC)
Oops, caught! But I love how everyone was just waiting around for trouble while Darcy and Clint got it on. Actually, that's pretty awesome.

*needs some darcy/clint icons*
Terrieterrie01 on 2nd February 2012 01:27 (UTC)
This is part 13? We're nearing the end? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
hiddencaithiddencait on 2nd February 2012 03:02 (UTC)
Dude so freaking TOTALLY spot on with Fury's voice. SLJ was living in my head for all of ths chapter. So freaking fun!
( 15 comments — comment )