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28 January 2012 @ 00:08
"Simple, Not Easy" 9/18, 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 9

When Darcy came down the stairs, the Avengers were assembled in the kitchen, and all of them were staring at her.

Darcy turned to Clint, crossing her arms and frowning. "You called a family meeting?"

"My way or the highway," Clint reminded her.

Thor, at least, was still smiling, though Jane looked worried. Steve and Tony had come back from their excursion. Cap looked serious, but not too mad. It was hard to tell what was going on behind Tony's shades. Darcy was guessing he was hungover. Darcy couldn't tell Dr Banner was thinking; he was seriously Zen. But there was no misreading Natasha's scowl. Darcy wanted to hide behind Clint, but took a deep breath and stood her ground.

Tony jumped up and gave Darcy his chair. "First of all, mazel-tov. So glad you crazy kids finally got your shit together."

"Tony—" Natasha said, a warning in her voice which of course he ignored.

"Secondly, I've had a little talk with Jarvis about unexpected visitors. Thanks for that, by the way. I'd been wanting to test out the new security system which clearly still needs work."

Darcy couldn't tell if Tony was being serious, or making fun of her. "Um, you're welcome?"

"Let's just say the next time your BFF shows up for a movie or to do shots or whatever, he's not going to find it quite so easy."

"There's not going to be a next time," Natasha said firmly. "Not here. Understood?"

"It's not like I can control how or when Loki shows up, you know," Darcy tried to explain, but Black Widow continued to glare at her.

"Darcy," Steve said, using the Dad Voice. "It was very irresponsible of you, not to notify us immediately Loki infiltrated the mansion. Do you understand how dangerous that was?"

"Yes, sir," Darcy said meekly. Steve looking all disappointed in her made her feel about five years old.

She reached for Clint's hand under the table. He gave her fingers a squeeze.

"Okay, so Tony's volunteered his house in Malibu, because it's isolated, with no chance of civilians being caught in the crossfire if there's an incident."

"Isn't there anyplace closer?" Darcy asked, dismayed. "I mean, at least in the state of New York?"

"Not that we can control," Clint pointed out. "Not in less than a day."

"You guys built that whole base in New Mexico in, like, an afternoon," Darcy said, confused.

"That was S.H.I.E.L.D.. We're on our own here."

"But Malibu is six hours away!"

"Not in the Quinjet," Steve pointed out, but Clint shook his head.

"We can't take the Quinjet. For this to work without Director Fury finding out, we have to do this as a side op, off the books."

"Isn't he gonna notice if the entire Avengers Initiative hop on a plane to California?" Darcy asked.

"Not when it's the Stark private jet," Tony said with a grin. "Already filed the flight plan. And it's less than four hours in my jet. I modified it myself. But here's the thing—I just had the house re-done. So you break it, you bought it."

Darcy tilted her head and narrowed her eyes. "That would be the fifty million dollar Lautner house built onto the side of a cliff in a part of the country that has earthquakes and mudslides, right?"

"It's completely safe. Architecturally sound. And did I mention I just had it rebuilt? Okay, Pepper did. And, you know, she'll kill me if I break it again. It'll be like that one time I was dying, only she'll actually kill me. And then you won't have Iron Man to play with any more. So you're not allowed to break it. Are we clear on that?"

"We're clear," Clint confirmed, and then turned back to Darcy. "It's just going to be you, me, and Tasha to run point and co-ordinate."

"It's dinner, not the invasion of Normandy."

"Actually, it's kinda a lot like—" Steve began, and Darcy glared at him. "Right. Sorry. I'll just stop talking now."

"Thor, Cap, Bruce and Tony are all gonna stay here, and cover for us. So the next question is, how do we actually get Loki to show up at the secure location?"

"If you tell him Sif'll be there, trust me, he'll show up." It was the first thing Bruce had said since Darcy had sat down, and all eyes turned to him. "What?"

"I forget sometimes that you have a girlfriend," Tony said as he reached for Thor's orange juice. "How does that work, anyway? I mean, with the whole elevated heart rate thing—"

"Tony, focus," Natasha snapped. "So how do we get the word about the new location to Loki?"

Darcy pulled out her mobile. "Hang on, lemme Facebook him."

Clint blinked. "Loki's on Facebook?"

"I know, crazy right? Okay, I messaged him and poked him."

Tony actually lowered his mirrored shades, peering at Darcy from over the frames. "You poked Loki. On Facebook."

Darcy shrugged. "Well, he was making this big deal about wanting more Facebook friends than Thor."

"What is this Facebook?" Thor asked, clearly confused. "You have told me of it before, but I have never been to such a place."

Darcy opened her mouth to explain, but then closed it as Clint gave her a look.

"We'll introduce Thor to social networking later," Clint said. "Right now, we need to keep our eyes on the prize. Namely, getting out of this with no casualties, or having Directory Fury toss us on off the helicarrier over the Atlantic."

"He wouldn't actually do that," Jane said, looking back and forth between Clint and Natasha, whose faces were grim. "Would he?"

"You don't want to get on the director's bad side," Natasha said diplomatically, and got up from the table. "I know the Malibu house inside out. No problem with prep, and I don't see any issues with execution. What else do you need from me?"

"I need—" Tony began, and Natasha just gave him a look. "You know what? Never mind. I'm good. You good, Clint? 'cause I'm good."

"Why are you guys doing all this?" Darcy blurted out. "I mean... I get why Thor would want to help his brother out. But why would the rest of you?"

"I figure, if Loki's getting laid regularly, it'll reduce his murderous impulses." Tony flashed her a grin. "Incidentally, also goes for Clint."

Clint gave Tony the finger.

Steve opened his mouth—probably to verbally smack Tony down—but it was Jane who said "Darcy, we're a team."

Everyone at the table turned to look at the diminutive scientist.

"We're more than a team. We're family."

"I wouldn't actually go that far," Bruce said, and Darcy laughed. Clearly, the absurdity of the situation was finally getting to her.

"I'm taking Darcy," Natasha said, a hand on Darcy's shoulder.

"Taking her where?" Clint asked, and Natasha only smiled at him. It was a scary smile.

"That's need to know, and you don't need to know. Don't worry—I'll have her back in time for us to make the flight."

Darcy let go of Clint's hand reluctantly.

"You'll be fine," Clint assured her.

"Okay. Oh hey, what about the actual dinner part of dinner? Security is awesome, but so's food."

"I can do that!" Tony said with a grin. "That, I can do. I've got a guy—fantastic sushi chef. Thor, does Sif like sushi?"

"What is sushi?" Thor asked, confused, and Natasha took that as their cue to leave.

Darcy figured that Natasha would take her to Bendel's or Barney's, or maybe one of those tiny trendy boutiques on Fifth Ave where they didn't even have mannequins in the windows. So she was a little confused when they got in a cab, and Natasha gave an address in Brooklyn. But whatever—this was the Widow's side op. Darcy was just a passenger.

"Is this the part where you tell me if I break his heart, you'll break my legs?" Darcy asked as they headed towards the bridge, not knowing whether she should be scared or relieved when Natasha laughed.

"No. Clint and I were a train wreck. A beautiful train wreck, but still a train wreck. I'm actually more worried about him breaking your heart than the other way around, but you're a big girl. You get to make your own choices. And you made a good one when you picked him."

"'Cause he's a really good guy?"

"Well, that. And he's phenomenal in bed."

They got out of the cab in front of a shabby-looking brownstone in a residential neighbourhood. The windows were all covered with heavy drapes, and instead of going to the front door, they went down a short flight of stairs to knock on the basement door.

The door was opened by a tall blonde woman with pale green eyes and high cheekbones. She seemed wary at first, until Natasha rattled off something in Russian, and suddenly they were embracing and kissing each other's cheeks, and the ice queen pulled the door all the way open and ushered them inside.

"Darcy, this is Vasilisa Ivanovna. She's going to help us get you ready for tonight."

"Um, hi," Darcy said.

Ivanovna set a silver tray with three small glasses of clear liquid down in front of them. Natasha immediately picked one up and downed it, and Darcy followed her lead. She then coughed and sputtered as it turned out to be ice-cold vodka that was probably closer to freaking moonshine than Stoli. Ivanovna only laughed, and poured another round.

"In the world of haute couture, designers do not love women. They love clothes. They create clothes to fit women built like hangers, so that nothing spoils the architectural lines of the clothes. Real women have curves. Clothing should celebrate women's bodies—not men who hate women's ideals of clothes."

"Ivanovna specialises in clothes for women who are more... zaftig," Natasha explained.

"What does zaftig mean?"

"It's a nicer way of saying stacked. Most of her clients are burlesque performers."

"No way! That's awesome!"

They got up from the sitting room, and followed Ivanovna to another room. This one was larger, with shelves from floor to ceiling. Darcy gasped. There were platform pumps and open-toed slippers festooned with feathers, fans and scarves in every colour of the rainbow, and sparkling jewellery that probably single-handedly kept every Michael's Crafts store in the tri-state area in business. There were closets with their doors hung open to show the bright jewel tones and wild prints of the clothes that hung on padded hangers. An entire standing rack was reserved for leather jackets, sequinned tops, and fur wraps dyed in crazy colours and patterns, ranging from fuchsia leopard print to bright green zebra stripes.

"Oh my God, it's like rockabilly heaven in here." Darcy immediately gravitated toward the animal prints. Natasha carefully steered her back toward a closet full of satin and taffeta.

"I'm thinking something retro, but not necessarily vintage. Something classic, made for the hourglass figure."

"Made to draw the eye and enflame the soul," Ivanovna said completely straight-faced, and Darcy had to cough to cover a giggle.

"Usually we'd go from the skin-out, but we're pressed for time. So we're going to pick a dress and shoes, and then go to Ivanovna's brother upstairs. He will have just the right lingerie to go with the dress."

Natasha was looking at her in a way that made Darcy blush, and she was really regretting doing the vodka shots earlier.

"I'm thinking something with light boning for support, and garters for stockings. Definitely garters."

Or maybe just not doing enough of them. It was a toss-up.

"Okay, let's get started."

By the time they got a cab back to the mansion, Darcy was, if possible, even more afraid of Natasha than she had been before.

When she came back down the stairs in her new dress and shoes, an overnight bag slung over her shoulder, she was focussing so hard on not falling on her ass from the unfamiliar height of the platform heels, she didn't realise that Clint, Steve and Tony were all waiting for her at the bottom.

"Holy shit," Clint said, eyes wide and mouth hanging open.

"Way to keep it classy, Barton." Darcy rolled her eyes, but her face felt hot. Her original plan had been to just throw on the one nice top she owned, jeans, and boots.

Natasha'd had other ideas.

The dress was seriously amazing. Ivanovna had called it a classic "wiggle" dress, modelled on vintage patterns from the late fifties. It was dark blue sapphire satin, sleeveless and had a tight fitted bodice and wide straps. The wiggle part came in from the knee-length pencil skirt, though she added an eight inch vent in the back so Darcy could actually walk.

Topping off the whole ensemble were silk stockings with seams up the back. Natasha had done her hair parted to one side and held up with a single black lacquer comb. When Darcy looked down she wasn't used to seeing so much of her assets on display. The wisdom of wearing a corset on a three hour plane ride was highly questionable. But Darcy had decided it was so worth it, from the looks the male Avengers were giving her. Clint seemed to be having trouble forming words. Tony's eyes were practically falling out of his head. Even Steve seemed a bit awe-struck. Score one for the power of cleavage, Darcy thought with a giggle.

"You look like Rita Hayworth," Steve blurted out, and then actually blushed. Steve was ridiculously cute when he did that.

"That's good, right?"

"It's very good," Tony said with a wry smile. "And it confirms what I've long suspected—that Cap actually does have a sex drive. It's just stuck in the era of Esquire pin-ups. Steve, have you ever even seen a girl naked?"

"I did travel all over the US and Europe with an entire troupe of USO girls, you know," Steve pointed out, sounding slightly annoyed. Darcy had noticed that Tony was the only one who seemed to bring that out in Steve.

"I just always assumed you kept your eyes closed when they were changing."

Steve ducked his head, ears going pink. "Well, I did—but I kept bumping into, um, stuff."

"It's too bad you slept through the fifties, buddy. You would have loved them."

Steve turned back to Darcy. "I really wish I had my sketchbook. I'd love to draw you."

"You can say stuff like that and it doesn't even sound dirty coming from you." Tony appeared fascinated. "How do you do that?"

Steve just shrugged, his ears still pink. "I'm just a kid from Brooklyn."

"Even Danny Kaye would get a hard-on from Darcy in that dress, and I have it on very good authority that he didn't even like girls."

That seemed to jerk Clint out of his stupor. "Hey, that's my girl you're talking about, Stark."

"Are you kidding? I gave Tony Stark a boner. Go me!" Darcy pumped her fist in the air. "Even if you are totally old enough to be my dad."

Tony closed his eyes, wincing. "I need a drink."

"You look swell, Darcy. Really swell." Steve at least was keeping his eyes on her face, and his smile was genuine, so Darcy gave him a peck on the cheek. It didn't even leave a Montezuma Red lipstick mark on his face. Apparently that was what happened when you bought lipstick that cost as much as a nice dinner out on the town, instead of $4 from the cosmetics aisle at the CVS. Who knew?

Also, she was amused to note, in the dangerous shoes, she was almost eye-level with Steve's face instead of his sternum. That was kinda weird, but she decided she liked it.

The dangerous shoes also put her at eye level with Clint, which made it all the more noticeable that his eyes were glued to her rack. Darcy smiled fondly, and then slapped the back of his head lightly with her open palm.

"Hey, Robin Hood. I'm up here." She swirled her index finger around her face, and he looked up, blinking.

"Sorry, babe—I just. Goddamn you clean up nice."

"Why, Mr Barton, I think that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me." Darcy batted her eyelashes at him. "You clean up nice, too, Stud."

He too had been pounced on by the fashion police, as he was dressed up. Well, dressed up for him, which meant that he was clean shaven, his dark slate blue silk shirt untucked, wearing slacks with neat creases instead of jeans, and his shoes were polished like mirrors. Darcy was betting he would use them to try and look up her skirt any minute and get a sneak peek at the fancy underwear Natasha had insisted she wear.

"Sorry to spoil this Kodak moment, kids." Tony threw an arm around Clint's shoulder and walked him toward the door. "But you've got a plane to catch."

Darcy glanced around, confused. "Where's Natasha?"

"Already at the airfield—she's taking point, remember? She left straight from the mansion after dropping you off."

They filed out to the waiting limo, where Tony's driver Happy was idling. Clint took her bag and his and tossed them in the back, while Happy came around and opened the door for her. Getting into the back seat was a bit more difficult than it usually was, but Darcy managed it without either popping out of her dress or scuffing her heels, so she was counting it a win.

"Wait—what happens when the rainbow bridge opens and deposits Sif in Malibu? How do we keep S.H.I.E.L.D. from storming the complex during the soup course?"

"Actually, Thor cleared Sif's visit with Coulson. So that's one less thing to worry about. It's also part of our cover for going to Malibu."

"What is our cover for going to Malibu?"

"We're furthering Midgardian-Asgardian relations. Also, we told Coulson that Thor was engaged to Jane, Sif was a bridesmaid, and you're the maid of honour. So as far as he knows, Sif's meeting you to help plan a bachelorette party."

"In Malibu."

"That's where they're holding the wedding." Clint mimed airquotes around wedding, and Darcy laughed.

"Thor's getting married?" Happy asked from the driver's seat, and Darcy started. She kept forgetting that Tony and Happy boxed in the Avengers gym, and Happy had met Thor loads of times.

"Probably. Eventually," Clint said absently to Happy, and then turned back to Darcy who was rooting through the mini-fridge built into the back seat. "Look, it was the best we could come up with on short notice."

"Okay. I hope somebody remembered to tell Jane, so when she gets cornered by Deputy Director Hill about getting the guest list cleared or whatever, she doesn't wig."

Chapter 10
daisybalance: Smoochdaisybalance on 28th January 2012 06:26 (UTC)
*iz b-muzeded* Oh, Tony.

Is it weird that I couldn't quite figure why you used the tag "crackfic" until I added [baby sloth] + [Loki's campaign to have more Facebook friends than Thor]...?

Of course then I collapsed in a fit of giggles.

Loving the tone you've got goin'!
ljc: thor (dangerous loki)taraljc on 28th January 2012 06:49 (UTC)

For me, crackfic is usually about how a story takes shape more than anything else. I thought of this as "crackfic" from the start, because the premise--Loki kidnaps Darcy by mistake and they bond over being adopted--is cracky as hell. Then (with a lot of cheerleading from boosette and celli) I dove in headfirst and wrote pretty solidly for 3 months solid, without an outline, or much of a plan, beyond following the premise through as best I could. Sure, it gets hella serious. Sure, it's actually got a plot and character arcs and shit. But in my head, it's still crackfic :) It was DEFINITELY cracky, as I shared snippets of the WIP under flock, because it had been a long time since I had amusing banter to share with folks that cracked my ass up as I was writing.

It's a thing I do sometimes, mixing hilarious absurd banter and plot twists with realistic, grounded characters. I can't help it when things grow a plot. I just keep glorying in the high I get from writing.

Edited at 2012-01-28 06:54 (UTC)
daisybalance: SV - Chloe smilesdaisybalance on 28th January 2012 07:12 (UTC)
mixing hilarious absurd banter and plot twists with realistic, grounded characters.

*Love* this sentiment -- and it is definitely what you've managed to do.

I recently read a remark to the effect that sometimes we get wound up about how 'plain' or 'silly' dialogue seems on the page, because people, particularly writers, forget that these are the conversations we have in real life - especially the 'plain' ones and the 'silly' ones. Strip away the heightened powers, etc., and your characters are real people having real conversations about (slightly fantastic) stuff that happens in real life. :-)

(I can't remember specifically who or where, but I am pretty sure it's not that unusual, so I don't feel completely terrible in paraphrasing and failing to attribute.)

I can't help it when things grow a plot.

My favorite part of *your* remark is the idea that the plot just happened, much like life.

Can't say enough good things about you and this story!!

Edited at 2012-01-28 07:12 (UTC)
ljc: thor (loki in jotunheimr)taraljc on 28th January 2012 07:38 (UTC)
I think what makes fiction work isn't that it's like real life (because it genuinely isn't--in a story, everything is constructed and carefully planned and executed. Everything happens for a reason, either to further the plot or develop a character or--ideally--both) but that it convinces the reader it's realistic. And for me that has to do with characters making choices based on who they are at their core, and making sure what they say and what they do and how they grow and change feels organic and most of all, inevitable. That stuff happens the way it happens because of who these people are. So that's the goal I'm always reaching for, when I write.

It's all artifice. It's all puppets on strings. But if I do it right, then you don't see the strings or the puppeteer. You believe the puppets are alive.
skippy_peanuts: o_0skippy_peanuts on 28th January 2012 09:17 (UTC)
haha nice! I loved Clint's reaction when she came down the stairs! brilliant!

Once again, a great chapter! I cannot wait to see what's going to happen next. :0)
ljc: curvy (she is my idol)taraljc on 28th January 2012 22:03 (UTC)
In my head, Clint is definitely a boob man. His brain just kinda short circuits when he sees Darcy in this dress (only in blue satin):

Miss Molly etcmissmollyetc on 28th January 2012 09:43 (UTC)
Hot damn, high fashion and heightened security! <3 Everything about this is lovely.
ljc: avengers (cap salutes you)taraljc on 28th January 2012 22:06 (UTC)
I really wanted Darcy and Natasha to bond. And Ivanovna cracked me up the whole time I was writing her.
Half of what I say is meaninglessfarwing on 28th January 2012 12:23 (UTC)
I am grinning like a loon! This is so much fun!
ljc: avengers (widow)taraljc on 28th January 2012 22:16 (UTC)
Terrieterrie01 on 28th January 2012 15:42 (UTC)
I love the Tony/Steve banter. Poor Steve. Tony just loves to embarrass him. :)
ljc: iron mantaraljc on 28th January 2012 22:16 (UTC)
It's just so EASY.
sweetumms33sweetumms33 on 28th January 2012 16:22 (UTC)
Um...AWESOME! I loved every bit of this chapter. From the family meeting to the hilarious/adorable reactions to the clothes. Nice job!
ljc: curvy (she is my idol)taraljc on 28th January 2012 22:17 (UTC)
Ta very much! I spent a RIDIC amount of time "shopping" online for Darcy, to find just the right outfit. And I love the idea that Natasha (also being a girl of the hourglass figure variety) has a seamstress in Brooklyn who also caters to the burlesque crowd!
Gunbunnyburntcopper on 28th January 2012 16:57 (UTC)
:sulks: is having dress envy.
i'd like to teach the world to sing: Pinup Vintageizzyfics on 28th January 2012 18:53 (UTC)
Oh, Steve. You are so freaking adorable. Blush some more, 'kay?

And seriously: I would love to see Darcy's get-up. She sure sounds stunning.

ljc: curvy (she is my idol)taraljc on 28th January 2012 22:19 (UTC)
I ♥ Steve.

Here is the dress that I based hers on, from pinupclothing.com.
i'd like to teach the world to sing: lipstickizzyfics on 29th January 2012 20:48 (UTC)
Oh yay! New clothing website to ogle.
(Deleted comment)
ljc: thor (curvy darcy)taraljc on 28th January 2012 22:20 (UTC)
hehehehehhee. I actually wrote the whole convo between Darcy and Tony before I found out RDJ had played Jat Dennings' dad in Charlie Bartlett.
schweinsty: Bourne: Spy Heroschweinsty on 29th January 2012 05:50 (UTC)
This chapter? Was hilarious. And now I *so* want a pinup of Darcy in that dress :P. (Though now you've linked to that site, I can see my paycheck disappearing already :P).

/ot - the banter was adorable, Steve was great, and I just loved that moment of 'We're family' - followed immediately by Darcy realizing how ridiculous this all is :D. Fantastic.

And if I may butt into your comments above, I think that's what's so great about this fic - it *is* kind of incredibly cracktastic and ridiculous, but in between MY BFF IS A VILLAIN/OCCASIONAL SLOTH and SUPERHERO ARCHER LOVES BLANCHE you have bits like Clint brushing the tears off Darcy's face and Darcy calling him Barton when she's snarky. It's fantastic and hilarious and still has you rooting for the characters seriously even if the situations they're in are rather silly.

And I think Thor is to this fic was Darcy was to Thor - every time he shows up I just start grinning, because you write his puppylike Muscles! Brotherly love! Jane! enthusiasm so well.

Uh, sorry if that's pretty rambly, but, y'know. This fic is great so far - I'm dealing with some difficult stuff IRL atm, and for the last few days this is something that I know will, without fail, cheer me up, so thanks so much for sharing it with us :D.

Edited at 2012-01-29 05:51 (UTC)
ljc: curvy (she is my idol)taraljc on 29th January 2012 06:17 (UTC)
I'll see if I can manip one. I've been working on freelance artwork all day, and a short break might be nice...

Thank you so very much for the kind words. I haven't written anything this long (okay, make that finished) in many years, and I just felt like I was on a rollercoaster ride half the time.

But what I really live about Darcy is that while is the fan favourite in many ways because she's the one most of us can identify with the most, she's also still a kid in her early 20s. And since I'm CLint's age, it's really easy for me to see her through his eyes and not come down to hard on her for making mistakes because she has this huge heart and is slightly naive. Because I imagine, with all he's seen and all he's done, he really doesn't want to see that spark disappear too quickly.

ETA: I also have that clip of Thor laughing from the Avengers trailer saved on my PC, because I LOVE IT. I love that he lives life BIG, our Thor.

Edited at 2012-01-29 06:18 (UTC)