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
Darcy got used to the new routine. Clint would knock on her door to pick her up, and they'd head over to work together. Before, she would have taken the subway, or gone in with Jane. But Clint preferred to walk, and Darcy figured the exercise would do her good since she sat around on her ass all day in the lab.
He'd been given a desk in the lab, but he barely used it. He would pace, stare out the windows with that weird thousand-yard stare. Darcy figured it was some messed up Gulf War vet thing, until one day he told her that there was a pool on the roof of one of the neighbouring buildings, and he was scoping out a hot blonde. Darcy had smacked his arm (which was like hitting a freaking rock) and they'd walked down to the cafeteria—or what passed for a cafeteria in a Stark property, which was more like the most expensive mall food court in the history of the world, only free.
Darcy knew that normally he'd spend half his day at the weapons range and the other half in the gym. She worried that he was gonna get totally flabby hanging out with her, eating Lucky Charms and watching bad made-for-tv movies on cable. But Clint admitted he worked out after she'd gone to bed half the time. She figured his room must be like full of weights or something, but she didn't ask and he didn't tell. Clint stayed super-cut and she got sleep. Everyone won.
Sometimes instead of going straight back to the mansion after work, they'd grab dinner in Curry Hill, or at little hole-in-the-wall diners where Clint knew the names of all the servers and usually got free cheese fries. He had a sixth sense for every place that served breakfast all day in Manhattan, and Darcy ignored his cutting remarks about eating pancakes for dinner.
It was like dating, only without the sex. Darcy wasn't sure how she felt about that.
Still, it was nice to go places full of normal people who didn't travel from place to place via a flying aircraft carrier. It reminded her that real life existed, and that not everything involved life-or-death stakes, insane Asgardian family values, or someone trying to take over the world.
Sometimes, life was just hanging out after work with a dude, munching cheese fries with a side of way too bland guacamole, while watching sheets of late summer rain came down outside.
"I'm just saying—Superman totally sucks at the whole secret identity thing. I mean, at least Batman wears a mask and gloves. All Lex Luthor has to do is run his prints, and the guy's totally screwed."
"This from a guy whose super-secret disguise is a pair of shades?" Darcy pointed out, shaking drops of hot sauce onto a guac-laden corn chip.
"It's not a disguise. I'm not a superhero—I'm Special Ops. They help cut down glare. Which is, you know, useful for a sniper."
"Yeah, but you don't wear gloves," she said around a mouthful of food. He tossed her a napkin, and she gave him the finger.
"I don't have Ma and Pa Kent on a farm in Kansas like sitting ducks for any psycho who runs facial recognition on me."
"Where are Ma and Pa Barton?"
"Buried in Saint Mary's in Waverly, Iowa."
Darcy winced, wishing the floor would open up and swallow her. "Sorry. Didn't mean to be—"
"It's okay." Clint cut her off with a wave of his hand. "It's not like I talk about it all that much. They died when I was just a kid. My dad was drunk, there was a tree. It happens."
He shrugged, but Darcy was still unnerved by the casualness of his admission.
"You don't have any other family?"
"My brother, but..." Clint pushed the empty creamers around in a circle on the Formica tabletop. "We don't really get along."
"He doesn't approve of the whole Secret Agent thing?"
"It's a really long story. What about you?" Clint asked, clearly switching topics away from Casa Del Barton.
"My dad lives in LA with his new wife and two toddlers." Darcy shrugged. She'd got over her dad ditching them for the Lewis Family Mark II a long time ago. "My mom and I are still okay, though."
"Where does she live?"
"Long Island. She's embraced her life as a bridge and tunnel person."
Clint raised a brow. "How did you end up in New Mexico?" he asked, as if it were the moon or something. Then again, compared to Manhattan, Puente Antiguo was pretty much another planet.
"Compromise. I wanted to go out to California, to put the maximum amount of distance between myself and my folks, but my dad wigged. Which is ironic, considering he's in Orange County now with Bethany or Trixie or whatever her name is. Anyway, UNM gave me a scholarship, and they had a decent Women's Studies programme..."
Clint pulled a face. "You started off in Women's Studies?"
"It's a long story. I switched to English my junior year, and then settled on Political Science last year."
"That's kinda... random."
"It was Albuquerque." Darcy shrugged. "Not a lot to do there unless you're a snowboarder or a stoner. I took a lot of electives. I like learning stuff."
"You gonna stay in school forever?" Clint asked, and Darcy felt her cheeks heat up with how close to the mark his innocent question was.
The truth was, Darcy had bounced around from department to department like a pinball. She had moved to the Southwest with one goal in mind: strike out on her own. But once she'd got there, she had realised she didn't know who she was—or who she wanted to become. She'd figured that was normal. Wasn't that what college was for? Sure, it's about getting a degree, but mostly it was about testing the waters personally and intellectually. That meant experimenting with clothes, experimenting with alcohol, experimenting with sex, and experimenting with her own views of the world and her place in it.
When she'd filled out the paperwork to take the internship with a crazy theoretical astrophysicist out in the middle of the desert between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, it was a whim. She had wanted a change of pace, a change of venue, and frankly, a change from the Poli-Sci graduate programme. She'd picked the coursework because she was interested—but she had no clue what she wanted to do with that knowledge out in the world. It had just been safe, hiding in academia.
Which made it ironic that she had quit six credits away from a masters degree to move to New York and play sidekick to a bunch of superheroes.
"I dunno. Job market sucks, and as long as S.H.I.E.L.D. is still paying me, I have a handle on my student loans. And as day jobs go, it's not so bad."
"Except for the part where you keep getting targeted by costumed psychos."
"Eh, it happens." She shrugged as casually as she could, and Clint smiled into his mug as he tipped it back to drain the last swallow of coffee.
Darcy wouldn't admit even under torture that her eyes were totally glued to his throat as he swallowed. Nope. She'd take that secret with her to her grave.
Clint pushed the mug to the side, and got up. "I gotta—"
"—go to the little archer's room?" Darcy finished for him, raising a brow. "After, like, 6 cups of coffee? What a shock."
"Be right back," he said, and Darcy dug through her bag to fish out her wallet to cover her half of the cheque. She looked up when someone slid into the booth opposite her, and froze.
"What happened to 'Farewell, Darcy Lewis. We shall not meet again'?"
Loki shrugged. "I lied."
He was wearing a wrinkled white button-down over what appeared to be a faded ABBA tee-shirt and rumpled black blazer, with a green knitted scarf wound several times around his neck and a dusty grey tweed grandpa hat with a sad little feather in its brim.
The problem was, Darcy was pretty sure he was wearing the entire outfit unironically.
"Okay, for the record, hipster ranks even lower on the 'acceptable to be seen with' scale than Harvard MBA."
"I merely wished to blend in."
"Please tell me you are not wearing fingerless gloves. That was so 2005."
He lifted a hand, wagging his fingers in her face. Yep. Gloves.
"You are so hopelessly tragic." Darcy waved the server over. "You know, my friend's gonna be back any minute."
"No he won't."
Darcy's mouth dropped open in shock, and by reflex she reached for her taser, which she was now legally able to carry thanks to Coulson, even though he'd warned her that if she used it on anyone on S.H.I.E.L.D. property he'd personally tase her. "What did you—"
"Calm yourself, little cuckoo. Your bodyguard is fine. Just... indisposed. To give us a little much-needed privacy."
"Tell me you didn't use magic."
Loki leaned forward, looking her straight in the eye. "I did not use magic," he said in a conspiratorial whisper.
Darcy rolled her eyes. Weirdly, she wasn't as freaked out as she felt she should have been. Maybe it was the knowledge that Clint was in the bathroom, and she was chipped like Paris Hilton's chihuahua. Or maybe she was just getting immune to Loki, due to constant exposure. Either way she just scooped up another chunk of avocado and cilantro with her fork.
"So how goes your courtship of Lady Sif?" Darcy asked, her face splitting in a wide grin. "See what I did, there? I can talk all fancy too, you know."
"The Bifröst is closed to me. Heimdall would not let me set a foot upon it unless I was under heavy guard, on my way to my own execution."
"Asgard has no email? That sucks. For a supposedly technically advanced people where science is indistinguishable from magic, you'd think you'd at least have instant messaging."
"One of the many ways in which Midgard has surprised me with its cunning and ingenuity, that is true."
Loki leaned back in the booth and flexed his fingers over the empty coffee mug in front of him. Darcy rolled her eyes as steam began to rise from the mug, along with the rich aroma of fresh ground coffee beans that were definitely a grade or three above the burnt-tasting stuff that the server had poured for them earlier.
"Thor said your buddy Heimdall sees everything," Darcy asked as she added another packet of sugar to her cocoa. "Can't he, like, pass her a note when there's a feast, or something?"
"Heimdall never abandons his post. And he bears me considerable ill-will."
"You tried to kill him, didn't you." It was a statement rather than a question because hello, it was Loki. Not really a stretch there. Darcy stared at him over the rim of her cup, and was not at all surprised at the way his eyes slid away from hers. "This is why they don't let you join in all their reindeer games. I'm just saying."
"It was purely in self-defence," Loki pointed out. "I offered him a blissful retirement on a beach someplace warm. He drew steel first."
"Yeah, I'll bet. You're like a walking Xanatos Gambit."
Loki looked confused, and she waved it away.
"Never mind. If you had the internet, I swear to God you'd never actually get around to trying to take over the world because you'd so spend a month in TV Tropes. Okay, on second thought..."
She grabbed the napkin Clint had tossed her, and scribbled down the url. Then, on impulse, she added a phone number and pushed it across the table toward Loki.
"Also, here is the number of my therapist. Only, like, don't tell her I sent you, 'cause it took me forever to find her. And if she's seeing both of us, she might have to drop me and I so called dibs first."
"What? I'm just saying, there are more effective ways of working out your daddy issues than world domination."
"I do not have 'daddy issues',"
This time it was Darcy who raised a brow. They were engaged in a game of chicken, but Darcy refused to be the first one to blink. Finally, Loki glanced away, his green eyes flicking to the cars zooming by outside the diner's windows.
"For all my... issues with what my father did, the truth is, even before I learnt I was stolen from Jötunheimr, I envied my brother his position, his winning charm. Even his woman. All the things I could never have."
"I thought you said that Sif wasn't actually engaged to Thor?"
"All Asgard assumes so, though she has never expressed any desire to be Queen. Sif is ever her own woman. It is something I always admired about her. Even if she chose to spend all of her time on the training field with Thor and those oafs the Warriors Three."
She thought about Thor's friends. "I kinda liked Volstagg, but Fandral's skeevy. Does Hogun ever actually talk?"
"I much prefer Hogun's silence to Fandral's incessant inane chatter."
"I know, right? When it looked like he was gonna be stuck on Earth, he was all 'Are all as fair as you?' with the hand kissing and Mr Suave routine."
"Do you know he calls himself 'Fandral the Dashing'?"
"Figures." Darcy snorted with laughter. "Okay, this is kinda weird."
"What is?" Loki asked as he took a sip of his coffee.
"Um, gossiping with you?"
Loki's green eyes sparkled beneath the shadow of his cheesy hat. "I would not call it 'gossiping,' per se."
"I mean talking like this. Like we're friends." Darcy frowned. "We're not actually friends, are we?"
"I do not know. I find you amusing, and have no immediate desire to kill you. I suppose I am fond of you, as one might care for a small defenceless woodland creature."
"You're saying you think of me like a pet?"
Loki grinned. "Thor has his pet human—why shouldn't I?"
"I had a dog, once. His name was Baker," Darcy said wistfully, and sighed. "Right. So... does that mean you're gonna feed me, and walk me, and give me treats?"
"Is not the pleasure of my company treat enough?"
"You still killed Dave."
"I could bring him back, if you like," he offered with a smile.
"No way, Mister Monkey's Paw! I know how you operate. I'd end up with Zombie Dave, trying to eat my brains. No thank you. How 'bout you try not to kill people to begin with?"
"There are always casualties of war. Do you think my brother's hands are so clean? He has slain many in battle."
"Operative words there, Sparky: in battle. If a dude's trying to kill you, I say you try to kill him right back. But getting off on it is super creepy and so not okay."
"And how do you know that I take pleasure in killing?"
"'Cause you keep on doing it?" she shot back.
"You presume much, little cuckoo."
"Okay, tell me I'm wrong. No, wait—I've got a better idea. Show me. Go an entire week without killing anybody." Darcy leaned across the sticky booth tabletop, smiling widely. "I double-dog dare you."
"What does that mean?"
"It's like a dare times five. You totally can't back down."
"And if I win this wager? What is my prize?" He dropped his eyes from hers down to her rack, and Darcy barely resisted the urge to smack him.
"Oh, just when I thought you couldn't get any creepier." She pulled her flannel shirt closer around her, purposely covering her cleavage. "Okay, you go a week without killing anybody, and next time you totally kidnap me from my home or workplace, we'll go wherever you want. Dancing, drinks, bar-hopping. Just no murder sprees. Also, I am not putting out."
"And if someone is trying to kill me?"
"Easy—do not engage. You're an all-powerful prince of Asgard, right? Just, like, go poof or invisible or whatever it is you do."
"And be branded a coward?"
"Oh please, who of us puny Earthlings could actually hurt you? Just laugh your ass off at anybody dumb enough to try you, and skedaddle. I mean it. Do not engage."
Loki's lips twitched into something like a smile. "I agree to the terms."
"Okay, now swear. On something that means something to you. Like, I dunno—your Mom. Or Sif's boobs. Whatever."
"I swear by the Lady's Sif's creamy white—"
"Oh, how did I know!"
"—bosom that I will not kill anyone for the span of seven days."
"Awesome. Now, I need Clint to pay his half of the cheque. Can you undo whatever you did so he can get out here before I'm stuck paying for his dinner?"
"Which one is Clint?"
"Archer dude. Remember the exploding arrows at the World Trade Center site last month?"
"Oh, him." Loki sighed dramatically. "You know, you can do so much better."
"Shut up, I actually like the guy."
"As you wish," he said with the smile twitching still at the corner of his mouth. With a wave of his hand, he faded from view just as the men's room door swung open, and Clint came sauntering back to the booth.
"What did you do, fall in?"
"What do you mean? I was only gone a minute."
Darcy rolled her eyes, and dropped a ten on the table.
It was only then she realised the damp napkin on which she'd scrawled TVTropes.com and Dr Cunningham's office number was gone, too.