ljc (taraljc) wrote,

"Simple, Not Easy" 11/18, 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 11

Sif was gorgeous.

Darcy had known that—but she hadn't seen the Asgardian in a long time, and the gut-punch reality of it had faded. Plus the last time she'd seen her, she'd been in her armour, her hair pulled back in a pony tail, getting ready to kick some Destroyer ass.

Sif stood in Stark's entryway, her dark hair loose around her shoulders but held away from her face by a simple silver circlet. She was wearing some kind of Grecian-style gown that was twisted at her shoulders and fell in loose waves to her knees, the deep neckline showing off the fine silver mesh sort of tank-top beneath. Darcy would bet a month's supply of Pop-Tarts that it was some kind of wacky Asgardian kevlar, but somehow Sif made it look like a fashion choice.

"I bring a host-gift." She raised her left hand, revealing two corked amber glass wine bottles. "Asgardian mead."

"I've been wanting to try that," Clint said as he took the bottles from her.

"My friend, it is good to see you again," Sif said, clasping Darcy's hands and giving her a bright smile.

"Hey, you too! You look amazing. This is Clint."

"Agent Clint Barton, ma'am," Clint said, extending his hand. Sif stared at it for a moment, then shook it tentatively, obviously unused to the custom.

"My lady," Loki said, giving her a deep bow. Sif's expression was blank, but she allowed him to brush her knuckles with a kiss.


"Hey, Jarvis, how 'bout some tunes?" Darcy said to the ceiling to try and dispel the tension, and jazz began playing softly in the background.

"So this is the dwelling of the Man of Iron?" Sif glanced around, taking in the details and no doubt marking the exits. Which, seeing as how the house seemed to consist almost entirely of windows, were many.

"One of them. He loaned it to us for the night."

"It is... charming."

Loki gave Darcy an I told you so look, and she just rolled her eyes at him.

They walked into the dining room, which in Stark style was enormous, sparsely furnished, and thankfully full of delicious-smelling food.

"Holy crap, you weren't kidding," Darcy said as she grabbed a plate and perused the mile-long sideboard. There were chafing dishes full of steamed vegetables, an entire prime rib under a heat lamp, and tureens of savoury looking soups.

And then there was the ice-sculpture.

"It's just so... wrong." Clint shuddered.

"It's a pretty good likeness." Darcy tilted her head, studying it. "Who knew you could get the douche-goatee so accurate in ice?"

They loaded up their plates (the plates were even warmed—almost but not quite too hot to touch) and approached the table. There was an awkward moment where everybody tried to figure out where to sit. Darcy took the lead by grabbing a chair, and gesturing for Clint to sit opposite her so he wouldn't elbow Sif as he cut his meat (Clint being a lefty). Then she indicated the chair next to her, and gave Loki a look. He set his plate down, but moved around to the opposite side to pull Sif's chair out for her.

Clint pulled the cork out of one of the bottles Sif had brought, and began filling wine glasses. Darcy took one sip and her eyes widened.

"Holy shit—this is like beer on steroids."

"Honey wine, brewed by the Sjöfn's daughters," Sif said with a small smile. "It is better cold."

"Allow me," Loki said, and took the stem of her glass in his fingers. The skin of his fingers darkened to cobalt blue, and frost began to creep up the glass, etching intricate patterns as it climbed.

"Neat trick," Darcy said, but then she saw Sif's face. She looked completely horrified, and almost ready to bolt, and she gripped her steak knife in her right hand.

"What good is the jötnar blood that runs through my veins, if I cannot use it to my own advantage from time to time?" Loki said, but there was an undercurrent of bitterness beneath his words as he set the glass back down.

"Loki, can I talk to you in the kitchen for a sec?" Darcy asked, forcing a smile. As they rose from the table, Clint gave her a questioning look, but Darcy was intent on her task as she grabbed Loki's elbow and steered him to the ginormous empty kitchen full of expensive shiny appliances that she would bet serious money Tony had no idea how to use.

"I know what you're trying to do, so knock it off."

"And what do you assume my motives to be, Cuckoo?"

"You're purposely trying to freak Sif out. You just went all Frost Giant on her to throw it in her face. Like you want her to reject you. That is such a dick move. Seriously."

Loki opened his mouth to deny it, but then shut it again, scowling.

"I... She is being so cool to me."

"You tried to smite her with a giant killer robot! Did you think this was going to be easy?"

"I had hoped she at least would want to see me."

"She does. She wouldn't be here if she didn't. But you gotta cut her some slack. I know that it's, like, deeply ingrained self-preservation technique, so if she rejects you, you'll feel totally justified in going all supervillain on her. But you gotta give her a chance."

"She cannot even bear to look at me!"

"But I thought you wanted this to work. Was I wrong? Tell me now, and we'll call this whole thing off."

Loki stared at her, his throat working as he swallowed the words he would have said, and instead breathed out in a sigh.

"I am duly chastised, and shall be on my best behaviour."

"Damn right you will. Turn on the Prince Loki charm! Make her feel like she's the only woman in the universe for you, and keep it sincere. I know you can do it. I have faith in you."

He looked at her with those wide, unblinking green eyes, and a small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.

"Would that you had been born an Æsir, Darcy Lewis. I would have much enjoyed your company."

"Yeah, well, sucks to be human. Now get back in there and charm her socks off."

She turned him around and gave him a shove in the small of his back to get him moving. It felt deeply weird to be manhandling someone who could take her apart with a flick of his fingers, but maybe it was the Xanax at work after all.

"Oh, and FYI, lay off the mead. Xanax and booze equal coma. Got it?"

He rolled his eyes. "I'm not going to go into a coma."

"You don't know that. And I'd be on the hook for giving you unprescribed meds."

When they came back, Sif and Clint were animatedly discussing throwing knives. Darcy was not the slightest bit surprised.

"Hey. Sorry about that."

"Everything okay?" Clint asked, reaching down to clasp her fingers beneath the table.


"So, Darcy Lewis, how did you and Clint Barton meet?"

"He returned my iPod," Darcy said at the same time Clint said, "In the 7-11 checkout line."

Darcy's mouth dropped open. "Bullshit."

"It was the day Thor broke into the S.H.I.E.L.D. crater to get his hammer. You were buying, um, stuff... You cut ahead of me in line. But the chick in front of us was taking a million years buying lottery tickets, and so you started making fun of the covers of the gossip rags."

Darcy just blinked at him. She remembered that day. After breakfast at Izzie's, Erik had convinced Jane to let Thor go off and do crazy cut homeless guy stuff, and they'd come back to find S.H.I.E.L.D. agents taking their equipment. Jane had disappeared into the desert with the van, and so Darcy had wandered over to the 7-11 to buy snacks.

She had the vaguest memory of a scruffy guy she'd never seen before (Puente Antiguo was small enough that after two months, Darcy could recognise just about every hot guy between the ages of sixteen and thirty on sight), laughing dryly as she'd made decidedly uncomplimentary comments about Kim Kardashian while Lupe Alonzo had blown a chunk of her Wal-Mart paycheque on scratch cards ahead of them.

"Wait—you were Cute Red Bull Guy?"

"Red Bull Guy? Seriously?"

"Well, you had like two cases of the stuff under your arm."

"It wasn't all for me."

"At least I remember you as 'Cute Red Bull Guy' and not 'Random Red Bull Guy'."

"Clearly, it was love at first sight," Loki said dryly.

"What is this Red Bull?" Sif asked, and Clint opened his mouth to answer, but Loki who beat him to it.

"It is a human drink meant to act as a stimulant, much like coffee. Although the taste is very different. It is sometimes mixed with spirits, although I for one cannot imagine why."

"Mainly because frat boys are idiots," Darcy said, thinking not so fondly of one of her exes' habit of ending up in the ER with blood alcohol poisoning thanks to V-Bombs.

"I would like to try coffee. I have heard it is a most wondrous drink."

"It is usually served as an accompaniment to the dessert course, at the end of a meal."

Sif looked surprised. "You seem well-versed in the customs of Midgard."

"I have spent a great deal of time here over the centuries. Mortals can be quite ingenious."

For once, he was talking about humans without the hard edge of scorn beneath his words. Darcy actually felt a twinge of pride.

"I remember the first time I saw you," Loki continued, looking down at the fish on his plate he was cutting into smaller and smaller pieces, instead of at Sif. "Your mother had brought you to court. You ran away from the solar where the women were spinning down to the practice field, to watch my father's Einherjar drill. Afterward, you hid in the library, because you'd torn your kirtle on a nail, and were worried you'd be beaten for disobedience."

"And so I was; I could barely sit for days. You were scarcely older than I. You tried to mend the tear with magic."

"Yes, well. I was young, and not very good. I should have known I'd have done better plying a needle than my silver tongue."

"So you guys met when you were little kids?" Clint asked.

"Our mothers were close. I was supposed to be fostered at court to become a handmaiden—not a shield maiden."

"My mother knew the way of the sword as well as a spindle. I still do not see why it caused such an uproar."

"Why was it such a big deal?" Clint asked.

"There was never a female Einherji, before Sif."

"What about the Valkyries, like in Wagner's ring?" Darcy asked. "Weren't they total badass warrior babes?"

"They chose to live apart from men. I had no desire to..." Sif frowned, trying to find the right words.

"Switch teams?" Darcy supplied, helpfully. However Sif only gave her a confused look.

"I believe what Darcy meant was you had no desire to eschew the company of men forever, solely to be allowed to wield a sword."

"Oh. Like the Amazons," Clint said as understanding dawned.

"I never took you for a scholar," Loki drawled, taking a small sip of his wine.

"Oh, he knows all about Amazons," Darcy grinned. "I'm betting he has a secret stash of Wonder Woman."

"Actually, I didn't get into the comics as a kid—but I never missed the TV show."

"Lynda Carter single-handedly catapulted you into puberty, didn't she?"

"She had help from Julie Newmar, but yeah—pretty much."

"Do none of you mortals read actual books any longer?" Loki asked with a sigh, and Darcy nudged his foot under the table.

"Hey—I knew about the Amazons way before I read comics. Or, you know, watched Xena. I just never realised they had them in Asgard."

"The Valkyrie are noble warriors. Brunnhilde, their leader, is as fierce as Thor in battle. But I did not wish to become a woman warrior among other women. I wanted to be seen as equal among Odin's lone warriors. I fought long and hard for my right to bear arms as an Einherji."

"I think both Odin and Thor would have preferred you to me," Loki said. "I was never so proficient at arms."

"I still bear some small scars that give lie to that," Sif said, her mouth curved in a wry smile. Apparently talking about the Good Old Days made her nostalgic enough to release her death-grip on her knife. Darcy relaxed a fraction at that, and Clint gave her a wink.

"So, you guys grew up together?"

"Sif used to join us at our lessons, and after much subterfuge—including dressing in my brother's cast-offs—she was allowed to be trained at arms with us."

"The Allfather was gracious to allow it, though my mother never truly forgave me." Sif smiled fondly at the memory. "She still hopes I will put away my sword and give her grandchildren."

"You're only, what? A thousand? Two thousand?" Darcy waved her concern away. "She's got plenty of time to get grandkids."

"I weep for my unborn children. I have no skill at nurturing."

"I dunno—you put up with him and his brother." Darcy jerked a thumb at Loki, who was spreading a thin layer of butter on a roll. "If that's not a lifetime of training for how to deal with toddlers, I don't know what is."

Sif nearly choked on her mead, and Loki gave Darcy a black look.

"Oh, and like you weren't thinking it."

"We three were never apart, it is true. Thor always had us at his side—to stay his hand when it was needed, or to guard his back," Loki said softly.

"I never would have thought I would have needed to guard him against you, Loki Laufreyson," Sif said quietly, and the mood plummeted as Sif brought them back from pleasant reminisces to the cold hard reality of their situation.

"Neither did I," Loki said, a muscle in his jaw twitching. "I loved my brother. I love him still. But my father's lies changed everything."

"You would blame the Allfather for your acts of cruelty and destruction?"

"How am I any different from Thor? He slew near a hundred in Nornheimr in the heat of battle. How is a berserker rage warranted instant forgiveness, but the day I lost everything—my name, my family, my very identity—and acted out of justifiable anger at being denied the very truth of my parentage, I am to be scorned forever after?"

"You lie, and scheme. That is not the heat of battle, but killing in cold blood. Why can you not see the difference, Loki?"

"Because to me there is no difference."

"Do you feel no remorse at your actions at all? Or are you merely sorry you were caught?"

"I... I have regrets. If I could go back and change what happened, I would."

"Would you? Truly?"

"If we had not gone to Jötunheimr—"

"No, Loki." Sif shook her head. "If you had not led our enemies past our defences in the first place—all to spoil your brother's coronation. That was what began the wheels turning. That was the action I cannot forgive. You believed that day you were a true son of Odin, borne of your mother's body. Yet you treat it so casually, like a little mischief. Leaving Asgard open to the Frost Giants is no small thing. It is not like cutting my hair when we were children. Men died. Men who were their father's sons, with wives and children of their own, died defending the Cask of Ancient Winters."

"You are right," Loki said.

"I—what?" Some of the wind went out of Sif's sails, and Darcy was pretty blown away as well. In all the time she and Loki had been having their little "chats," she never would have thought to hear him admit so easily that he'd fucked up.

"It was my envy of my brother that moved me to act unbecoming of a prince of the Æsir. I brought shame on myself, my name, and all I loved. And I did love my brother. This I swear to you. I never lied about that. As much as I hated his arrogance and his haughtiness—as much as every slight he ever voiced when he belittled me or my abilities—I loved him. And I knew in my bones that he was not yet ready to become king. I wanted only for father to finally see that."

"Then why? Why did you not merely speak to your father?"

"If I had, he would only have dismissed it as jealous envy, with no basis in truth. Tell me true—would not you have done the same? Anything I would have said against him would only have been seen—by my father, and all of Asgard—as the second son griping at always being second best."

"You don't know that."

"But I do. How many times have the bumbling Warriors Three made mockery of my magics—even when they saved their lives on the field of battle? How many times had my own brother called them tricks, unworthy of a warrior? I fight as well as any of you—but I do it in my own way. And my way will always been seen as lesser. You know that. Do not deny it."

Sif looked uncomfortable. As did Clint, forced to play spectator to what was clearly a seriously personal discussion. Even Darcy squirmed in her seat, wishing she could think of a solid excuse to give them some privacy.

"I thought perhaps, as we left childhood behind, that the taunts would stop. But instead, I felt them more keenly when they fell from a man's lips than a boy's. And when you too joined in their laughter... it hurt me more than I could bear."

"But we all tease one another! No harm was meant—"

"But harm was done. When did Hogun or Fandral ever thank me for cloaking them in shadows and mist, to ease an escape? When ever did you or Thor praise my cunning, when we avoided a bloody battle? No—you thrived on mayhem, and hated being deprived of the glory. Even Volstagg, who as arms master when we were children, praised my prowess on the practice field, mocked my 'leaden' tongue to my face."

"Even after our battle with the destroyer, Volstagg still speaks of you fondly. For all your faults, you were stalwart on the field of battle, and your company—if not your lies—have been sorely missed."

"I did not know his heart was so much bigger than his stomach."

"Must you speak ill of him, even as I tell you of his fondness for you?"

"All those little hurts—more than I could ignore or forget—merely festered like a wound until a part of my very soul was diseased. I regret the harm you came to. I regret the rashness that made me believe truly that the only way to change my situation was to keep Thor from ever returning to Asgard. But I cannot forgive all, my Lady. I cannot pretend that I was the only one at fault, and brought the house of Odin no glory ever but shame. It was my right as a prince to demand respect, yet it was always easier for everyone—including you—to be blind to Thor's faults while taking me to task for mine."

There was an uncomfortable silence, and Darcy picked up her glass and drained her remaining mead in a single swallow. After a second, Clint did the same. Darcy made a move to get up, but Loki's hand fell on hers, even though his gaze was still locked on Sif.

"Why did you never speak of this?" Sif finally said, her voice softer, and her dark brows drawn together in confusion. "If not to your brother, or the Allfather—why did you never tell me?"

"You would have thought me weak. And while I could have borne it from the others, not you. Never you."

Sif reached across the table, and clasped Loki's hand in hers. He seemed startled by the gesture, and Darcy watched the tips of his ears go pink at the simple contact.

"Come to Asgard, then. Repent of your crimes, and face the Allfather's judgement. Your mother mourns you, Loki. You were ever her favourite."

"She always favoured Thor above me."

"Then you are blind as well as foolish. She is not the only one."

"I will... I will think on it."

"That is all I ask."

Sif released his hand, and seemed mollified. There was another long silence while they ate, and nobody seemed willing to start up the conversation again. Darcy had just opened her mouth to ask Sif how the Warrior's Three were doing, when Loki set his knife and fork down, put his elbows up on the table, and rested his chin on his steepled fingers.

"Before my father was claimed by the Odinsleep, he told me he wished to forge a lasting peace with Jötunheimr by an alliance. Through me. All my life, I had believed our mothers had struck a bargain for you to marry Thor. But if my father had decreed you and I to wed, to marry Laufey's son to the noblest of Asgard's Shield Maidens—would you have taken me as husband?"

"Holy shit," Darcy breathed, and then slapped a hand over her mouth. But Sif and Loki continued on as if they were alone, her interruption ignored. It was like she and Clint were invisible. At the sparks that were flying between the Asgardians—not romantic, so much as potentially homicidal—dread coiled in her stomach.

"I am loyal to the Allfather, and would have followed his command," Sif said stiffly.

"So you would have come to our marriage bed out of duty, rather than affection?"

Sif dropped her fork on her plate, the sound of metal on china making Clint flinch. Considering he was usually all spooky-sniper-calm, Darcy took that as a bad sign. Beneath the table, she clutched her napkin in a death grip, twisting the poor piece of linen in an effort to keep from screaming.

"Any affection I held for you died the day you ordered the Destroyer to kill me."

"Not to kill you, only to stop you," Loki said, a muscle in his jaw twitching. He held up the knife he had been using to cut his fish, and Darcy couldn't move. She was frozen on the spot, eyes riveted to the silver blade.

"I would sooner see my own blood flow freely than spill a drop of yours, and that is a truth it costs me much to admit."

"Jesus," Darcy gasped as Loki drew the thin knife across his palm. Shocked out of her paralysis, she moved to staunch the bleeding with the tortured napkin in her hand. Loki tore his wrist from her grasp, letting the blood flow down his wrist, staining the white cuff of his shirt livid red.

"I thought—I believed that the only way for father to see me as a worthy son was if I stood in the light, instead of in Thor's shadow. I believed that if I vanquished Jötunheimr, if I killed their king without a single drop of Æsir blood spilled on the field of battle, then he would for once—truly—have seen me as a son of Odin."

"But it was not just a single drop of Æsir blood shed that day, Loki," Sif countered, two bright spots of colour staining her cheeks. "It was mine, and our friends', and your own brother's. And I do not know how long it will take me to look at you and not see Thor breathing his last mortal breath, flung aside like a toy at your hand. And that is a truth it costs me much to admit, for we have been the best of friends since childhood, and it hurts me to see your soul poisoned with such anger and hatred."

A muscle in Loki's jaw worked silently, and he finally picked up his cloth napkin, pressing it to his hand. When he wiped away the blood, Darcy saw that the gash had healed cleanly, without a scar.

"If there can be no love between us, I ask only for peace. Can there be peace between us, Lady?"

"I do not know. And that is my truth, Loki." Sif pushed away from the table, and looked down at Clint, who looked more freaked out than Darcy had ever seen him, probably because this was way more information than he'd ever really wanted about Thor's home life.

"I ask to take my leave of you, that I may reflect on what has happened here."

"Um... yeah. Okay by me." Clint looked at Darcy, who bit her lip.

"Sorry you're going to have to miss dessert," Darcy said sincerely because she was pretty sure Sif would have enjoyed the cherries jubilee because it involved booze and shit being set on fire.

Sif gave her a tight smile. "Some other time, perhaps."

Loki didn't watch her go, but kept his attention on his plate. The sound of Stark's front door closing seemed deafening in the sudden silence. There was a brilliant flash of light, followed by the windows rattling in their frames, and then there was just the clink of flatware on plates as Loki resumed eating.

"Dude, you totally should have quit while you were ahead," Darcy said after a long minute, and Loki shrugged.

"Truthfully, that went better than I thought it would." Loki said softly, lifting his fork to his lips.

"Seriously?" Clint asked, looking back and forth between Loki and Darcy, every line of his body tensed as if for a fight.

"Seriously," Loki repeated. "I had assumed she would try and drag me before my father's throne in chains."

Darcy just blinked at him. "Wow. First-date-wise, you kinda set the bar low, there."

Loki looked at her, the ghost of the mocking smile she was used to crossing his lips. He set his knife and fork down, and stood. Wordlessly, he took Darcy's hand and kissed her knuckles. Clint half-rose from his chair, but Darcy gave him a look, and he sat back down.

"Your half of our bargain has been honourably discharged, Darcy Lewis," Loki said, and then just like that, he was gone.

"You're welcome," Darcy said to the air where he'd been.

"Perimeter is clear," came Natasha's voice over Clint's comm. "Looks like you guys are on your own."

"Thanks, Tasha," Clint said at the ceiling. "There's still plenty of grub here—you hungry?"

"I'm fine. You two have a candle-lit dinner for two. I'll check back in when we need to head back to Stark in the morning. Also, Tony sent a message: Stay out of his shop. And no glove, no love."

Clint turned bright red, and Darcy leaned forward to speak directly into the comm.

"We've got it covered. Thanks!"

"Okay, that was officially the weirdest first date ever," Clint finally said, and Darcy couldn't help it. She laughed. She covered her mouth with both hands, trying to stop, but it just kept bubbling up inside her until she had to let it out, or scream.

"You know, I knew Asgardian shit was fucked up," Clint continued. "But wow. I had no idea just how fucked up."

Darcy could hardly breathe, she was laughing so hard. It was a combination of nerves and she was pretty sure the mead. Clint came around to her side of the table to crouch down next to her.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah." Darcy wiped tears from the corners of her eyes. "Are you kidding? I'm fine."

"You sure?"

"It's been a really weird day."

Clint rested his forehead against hers, a slow smile curving his lips.

"Yeah. But you know what?'


"Our first date? Totally not sucking." He kissed her, and then got to his feet. "C'mon."

"Where are we going?"

"Are you kidding? We're checking out the shop."

Chapter 12
Tags: clint/darcy, crackfic, fanfic, mcu
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