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 buttoned up the dark red button down shirt as far as it would go, and sighed as she unbuttoned it and grabbed a black tank top from the top of her folded laundry. Pulling it on, she re-buttoned the now-wrinkled shirt and decided it would have to do. Someday, she would find a blouse that fit her at the neck, shoulders and cuffs that would also button over her chest without needing a tank top to keep her from looking like she should be working at Hooters. Today was clearly not that day. She pinned her dark hair into a loose bun, and pushed her glasses further up onto her nose with one knuckle as she studied her reflection in the mirror.
After dropping Darcy off at the mansion, Fury had taken Clint and Natasha back to the tower, probably to ream them out in private. Jane had pounced on Darcy pretty much the second she'd walked through the door, absolutely livid that S.H.I.E.L.D. had stolen her intern. It took two beers and a lot of hugging before Jane calmed down enough to listen to Darcy as she explained she was okay with being reassigned.
For one thing, as Jane tried to unravel the secrets of Asgardian tech, Darcy had been left feeling more and more useless. And for another, her six college credits weren't really an issue any more, and Darcy wanted to stay in New York. Plus, Jane would get way more work done, Darcy figured, having a research assistant who actually understood what Jane was talking about at least fifty percent of the time.
"But we're a team," Jane had said, and Darcy smiled fondly.
"You used to hide from me on the roof."
"Only all the time."
"Only when you were driving me crazy."
"Which was... a not insignificant portion of the time."
"Yeah, but the rest of the time we were a team," Jane wailed, and Darcy patted her shoulder.
"I know, honey. We can still be a team! Just not in the lab."
That was when Jane started on her fourth beer.
By the time Thor had come to Darcy's rescue, Jane was near tears, and reminiscing about all the nights they'd spend in the van in the middle of the desert, arguing about radio stations and whose turn it was to wash the dishes piling up in the sink.
The god of thunder lifted Darcy off her feet in the kind of bear hug that would have crippled her had Thor not been extra careful, then carted the slightly tipsy (Jane was a seriously cheap date) astrophysicist off to bed.
Sometimes it was weird, hanging out with a scientist who forgot to eat half the time and never wore matching socks, and an alien bohunk who pretty much ended every sentence with an exclamation mark.
Other times, it was kinda okay.
By the time Clint got back to the mansion, Darcy had killed three more beers from the second six-pack and was halfway through a Black Books marathon on BBCA. Once she'd assured herself that he wasn't a) fired b) being reassigned to Siberia or c) mad at her, they'd pretty much fallen into bed, exhausted. Clint might have been used to getting a full day of sniping and archering in on only four hours of sleep, but Darcy hadn't pulled many all-nighters since she and Jane had left New Mexico.
Of course, when she'd been awakened at the crack of dawn by her alarm clock, the terror had firmly set in.
Coulson. The guy was a freaking ninja. Not to mention, Darcy was used to showing up for work in jeans and vintage tee-shirts beneath layers of cardigans and legwarmers. Somehow, she couldn't imagine showing up for her first day as Coulson's assistant looking a boho grad student on a leave of absence from her master's programme. Even if she technically was a boho grad student on a leave of absence from her master's programme.
An hour, three changes of clothes, and seriously regretting giving Loki her last Xanax later, Darcy stepped out of her bathroom, and struck a pose. "How do I look?"
Clint rolled over onto his stomach, the sheets tangled low on his hips as he gave a low wolf-whistle. "Like every naughty librarian fantasy I've ever had."
Darcy flushed happily as she checked the pins in her hair for the zillionth time.
"Except for the shoes," he added, smiling lazily.
Darcy lifted the cuff of one pantleg, angling her foot. "What? They're Danskos. They're comfy, and totally awesome if you're going to be on your feet all day."
Clint rolled his eyes. "They're clogs."
"Clogs can be sexy."
"Babe, normally I'd say anything you wear is sexy. But they're still clogs."
"I'm not gonna wear five inch stilettos to work. And I'm sure as hell not going to wear five inch heels to work for Coulson."
"Okay, but if you did, that would be so awesome."
Darcy crossed her arms in front of her chest and glared at him. "Not gonna happen."
"Oh yeah, baby. Talk stern to me. Tell me no talking in the stacks."
"You're a perv. And everybody knows that the stacks is where everybody goes to get laid."
"Well, or the study rooms. Rooms witht ables and doors that lock—catnip to the stealth student sexy fun times. Or so I've been told."
"No giant libraries in the School of Hard Knocks."
"If this is your way of asking me to fornicate in Howard Stark's library, you're just gonna have to wait til I get off work."
Clint made a grab at her legs, and Darcy whapped him on the shoulder.
"Don't wrinkle me! I'm freaked out enough as it is."
"You'll be fine. Phil wouldn't have asked for you, if he didn't actually want you under him."
She gave him a look.
"Working for him. With him. Seriously. He's a great guy."
Darcy narrowed her eyes. "What happened to his last assistant?"
"She didn't get killed in the line of duty or anything," Clint assured her hastily. "She actually left to get married."
"Yeah—her wife is some fancy uptown lawyer. There was cake and everything."
"How long ago was that?"
"Um... before New Mexico, but after the Harlem Incident?"
Darcy did some quick mental calculations, and then whistled lowly. "How has he been surviving, with no-one to fetch him coffee?"
"The guy's an expert on surviving tough situations. A few months having to get his own coffee from the cafeteria is nothing compared to Chechnya."
"What happened in Chechnya?" Darcy asked, curious.
Clint opened his mouth, and then snapped it shut again, frowning. "What's your clearance level?"
"I have a clearance level?"
He patted her shoulder, smiling broadly. "Yeah. Don't worry. You'll be fine."
Agent Coulson wasn't as scary as Natasha, but he still spooked Darcy a little. Mostly because of the CCTV footage from New Mexico, but also because for all he appeared to be a forty-something paper pusher, he was actually Fury's go-to guy when it came to herding superheroes like cats. Having spent the last few months living with superheroes, Darcy had a whole new respect for Coulson's cat-herding abilities.
She got directed to his office by one of the bazillion suit-wearing S.H.I.E.L.D. minions as soon as she arrived. It was barely eight in the morning, and he was already there, drinking coffee, with his suit jacket draped over the back of his chair.
"Good morning, Ms Lewis."
Darcy opened her mouth to say 'Good morning, Agent Coulson,' but what came out instead was "Holy shit, is that you and the Obamas?"
Coulson's eyes flicked to the framed photo on the wall of his office.
"It was taken at the National Council of Women's Organisations Inaugural Ball."
Darcy stepped closer to the photo, checking out Coulson's date. She looked like a class act in a sleeveless dress that sparkled as well as revealed seriously toned arms, blonde curly hair swept up off her forehead. Coulson had his arm around her, and was—for him—genuinely smiling.
"Who's the blonde with the awesome guns?"
"That's the Deputy Director of the NSA."
Darcy's jaw dropped, and she forcibly restrained herself from saying "Shut the front door!", instead looking back and forth between the quiet, deceptively unassuming guy behind the desk, and the smiling man in the photo flanked by the President and First Lady.
"How come you have a picture with the President, First Lady, and the Deputy Director of the NSA?"
"She was my wife at the time."
Darcy blinked at him.
"Don't worry. She's stopped tapping my phones. Mostly. I think technically, she had GCHQ doing it for her. I do miss the dog, though."
"She took your dog? That's harsh."
"She claimed that she couldn't deal with my job. It was too secretive. It's kind of ironic. You're early, by the way."
"I was kinda expecting you to come in, um... later."
"Actually, I was here all night."
"That's hardcore. Does that thing fold out, or something?" Darcy jerked a thumb toward the sofa along one wall.
"No—no, there are guest quarters in the Tower. Trust me—you'll be glad we have them soon enough. I recommend keeping two changes of clothes on hand, a tooth brush, that sort of thing."
"This is pretty much my only pair of 'work pants'. Mostly, I wore jeans and leggings when I worked with Jane."
"Ah. In which case, take tomorrow morning off to get properly outfitted. Personally, I usually go for long-wearing, rather than flashy."
"My finances are kinda—"
"Not an issue." He pushed an envelope across the desk towards her. She fished inside it, and pulled out a charge card. "And before you get any bright ideas, there's a daily limit, and all your purchases are subject to internal review."
"No sprees, no porn, just the essentials. Got it."
Coulson blinked. Darcy figured this was probably due to the fact that, aside from Tony (who didn't need S.H.I.E.L.D. money), and Clint (because he was Clint), very few S.H.I.E.L.D. employees would even mention buying porn with the company card.
"Most of your duties will involve co-ordinating travel, processing paperwork, requisitioning supplies, and some general office work. Can you type?"
"I've been online since I was seven. And who do you think wrote all of Jane's reports, not to mention her grant applications for the last year?"
"I thought as much. You'll also have to go through some S.H.I.E.L.D. training programmes—just the basics. Small arms proficiency, hand-to-hand, that sort of thing. Also, Agent Sitwell wanted to make you take over Dorothy's position as 'Evacuation Warden' for the floor, but I figured, let you actually meet everyone and learn the lay of the land before we give you a blaze-orange vest and ball cap."
"You guys have to do that a lot?"
"Well, we do have fire drills on the first Tuesday of each quarter."
That didn't exactly answer Darcy's question, but considering the last town she'd worked in had been blown up by a giant robot, she figured she was still probably going to be okay. At least the Tower was chock full of heavily-armed agents and the occasional superhero, not to mention Stark Industries security on top of that.
Coulson got up, gesturing for Darcy to follow him back out to the workstation outside his office.
"So, this is yours." Coulson gestured to a glass and chrome desk that was completely bare except for a state-of-the-art computer monitor, and a phone that looked like it could scramble eggs and arm a nuclear weapon from orbit, all with a touch of a button. On the one hand, she wasn't stuck in a cubicle. On the other hand, anyone could totally tell if she was slacking off as they walked by. Not that she slacked much working with Jane. Still. She was going to miss surfing the 'net with impunity.
"All we ask is that you refrain from decorating it on holidays. There was a memo. Otherwise, it's yours to do with as you please, assuming you don't set it on fire."
"Somebody set theirs on fire?"
"I was told it was accidental. Also, S.H.I.E.L.D. has a policy about office-appropriate language. I suggest you familiarise yourself with it as soon as possible."
"You mean, like calling you 'sir'?"
"I was going to say, refraining from some of the more colourful and profane idiom."
"So, no plastic Santas, no incendiary incidents, and no swearing at my desk?"
"How does that work with Directory Fury?"
"His assistant has a jar. Last year, the company picnic was actually financed entirely from the contents of the jar."
"Sweet!" Darcy grinned, and Coulson tried to give her the Stern Face. But he'd spent time with her in new Mexico, and knew what he was getting into when he requested her.
"Your email's already been set up, and you'll find a number of documents in your inbox with S.H.I.E.L.D. workplace manuals, codes for the copiers and printers, health insurance and IRA information, and take-out menus for a sixteen block radius of the Tower. They might be a little out of date, though, so I suggest you try Grubhub."
"We work a lot of late hours, in case you hadn't noticed."
"Mostly, I was just blindsided by the whole health insurance thing. Doesn't that usually only kick in after three months?"
"Actually, your hire date is retroactive from when S.H.I.E.L.D. took control of the Foster Einstein-Rosen Bridge project. It comes with a nice salary bump too."
"I thank you, and my student loans thank you. Oh, hey—what's my clearance level?"
"As of this morning, your clearance level has been upped to Three, though I have to tell you, your mother's arrest record came as something of a surprise."
"Yeah. She had this thing about handcuffing herself to bulldozers."
"So I gathered."
"So what was my clearance thingie before?"
"Level Two. Which basically meant you know about the Avengers Initiative, and Thor's origins."
"What does Level Three mean?"
"A slightly shorter hold time when you have to requisition more staples."
"You still print out hardcopy?" Darcy was vaguely horrified.
Coulson shrugged. "I'm old school."
Coulson really hadn't been kidding about being 'old school'. Half-way through her mid-morning coffee and Facebook trawl, four bankers boxes full of paperwork needing to be processed appeared on her desk.
Darcy spent most of the morning trying to organise Coulson's files. They suffered from both a backlog of six months and his former assistant's quirky filing system. For example, surveillance reports on Dr Banner in South America had been filed under "Green", while correspondence between Coulson and the CEO of Stark Industries had been filed under "Inappropriate Workplace Crush". Then there was the part where the offsite backups being scrambled due to an unexpected EMP thanks to some dickweed trying to take out Iron Man too close to the server farm.
"Um... can you bilocate?" Darcy called over her shoulder towards the open office door as she flipped through Coulson's shared Outlook calendar.
"'Cause it says here you're supposed to be appearing before a senate subcommittee in D.C. at the same time you're meeting with the Latverian Ambassador at the consulate."
Coulson leaned in the doorway, his tie crooked and powdered sugar from his jelly doughnut dotting both his tie and his knuckles. Darcy blinked. She'd never seen him look anything less than starched, pressed, and lethal. "Reschedule the subcommittee."
Darcy blinked. "Can I do that?"
"Of course you can. You're my assistant. And it took me seven months to set up a face-to-face with the Ambassador. Senator Stern can wait."
"What's so important about the Latverian Ambassador?"
"Nothing much—just that he's one of Doom's henchmen, and suspected of laundering the equivalent of the gross national income of Peru through the Embassy trade agreements. And importing illegal particle beam weaponry."
"Oh. Are you going in there alone?"
"I'll have Sitwell with me. He's the one who knows how to work the MP3 recorder."
"Shouldn't you maybe have, like, backup?"
"You think I should have Cale and Garrett come along in the car?"
"You're asking me?" Darcy squeaked.
"It's a good idea. Also, Cale's been complaining I never let them out of the van."
"Which one is Cale?"
"The one with no sense of humour."
"Well that narrows it down," Darcy muttered, but started combing through her contacts menu to send an email. "Holy sh-crap—Garrett's the State Fair guy?"
"Do I want to know?"
"What, that we have photographic evidence that Thor can deep-throat a corn dog?"
"You're right, I don't want to know." Coulson pinched the bridge of his nose as if he was in pain. Darcy didn't blame him. "What's my afternoon like?"
"You've got a briefing with Director Fury on the Helicarrier, then lunch at Stark Industries."
"Good. I should be back around four. Or earlier, if no-one is actually at Stark to meet me, despite making an appointment. Twice."
"Gotcha, Chief. I'll email Ms Potts' assistant, and make sure you're on their calendar. I'll text you if it's cancelled."
"Thanks. And Ms Lewis?"
"Don't call me 'chief.'"
"Okay, Bossman." Darcy gave him a jaunty salute.
"Oh, and one more thing," Coulson said as he opened his briefcase and pulled out a brown file folder and dropped it on her desk. "This is Agent Romanoff's report on your little double-date in Malibu. I think it should make for interesting reading."
The front of the folder read Threat/Vulnerability Assessments and Risk Analysis.
"Awesome," Darcy said with a bright, brittle smile.
"I can't believe they stole you," Jane lamented, stirring another teaspoon of sugar into her coffee. Darcy glanced down and yep—one blue sock, one purple. Though, to be fair, ever since Thor had fallen out of the sky, Jane's personal grooming had been a lot better.
"I told you—it's no big deal. I'm just working on another floor. And I bet the new guy—"
"I bet he's awesome."
"Well, he's been studying the background radiation of the cube, in relation to Thor's hammer and armour, and he has some interesting theories—"
"See? You've got a new geek pal. You'll be fine. Just train the dude to bring you Pop-Tarts every two hours, and it'll be like I never even left."
"But he's not you." Jane looked genuinely unhappy.
Darcy was touched. She'd never realised how much Jane thought of her as a friend, rather than just the only grad student who'd applied for the unpaid internship.
Darcy patted Jane's hand, and then flipped past the surveillance photos to the neatly typed Threat Assessment printed on dark grey paper with a S.H.I.E.L.D. watermark behind it. She scanned Natasha's summary of the night in Malibu, not really paying attention since she'd actually been there. Then she flipped to the last two pages with the Widow's final findings.
Subject possesses above-average skill at close-quarters combat, bladed weapons, projectile weapons (specifically: throwing knives), and ability for site-to-site teleportation of self and others without apparent technological means.
Subject exhibits morphogenic abilities akin to other threats currently on file (see attached file, Darkhölme R.). Without tissue samples, it is impossible to ascertain if they are due to alien physiology or the result of a genetic mutation (Xavier, C.F. "The Homo Sapiens Legacy" Oxford University Press, 1962). Blood samples were retrieved onsite, but were degraded before S.H.I.E.L.D. labs could isolate specific genetic sequences. New samples must be obtained for study if possible.
While possessing above-average strength, endurance, accelerated healing, accelerated language acquisition, and markedly above average stamina, Subject rarely engages in hand-to-hand, preferring to observe and direct attacks from nearby whenever possible. Subject shows propensity for animating inanimate objects as preferred form of initial attack, resulting in significant collateral damage to attack sites and civilian casualties, resulting in to date 196 hospitalisations of civilians, 39 hospitalisations of S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel, 5 civilian fatalities, and 13 S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel fatalities since initial contact (see Puente Antiguo Incident Report, 05/19/2011).
Subject is paranoid, narcissistic, given to fits of extreme violence and benevolence with little measurable warning as to change in mood (microexpressions, macroexpressions, body language/bearing/carriage) and displays few tendencies toward long-term goals and planning. Instead, subject is ruled largely by emotion, given to brief spurts of activity followed by significantly long periods of dormancy.
Subject displays above-average intelligence, and sociopathic tendencies. However, this could also be the result of cultural conditioning as other Asgardians have similar issues regarding acceptable collateral damage/human loss of life in combat situations.
Subject displays deep-seated sibling rivalry where foster-sibling Thor Odinson is concerned. However, despite his professed hatred of his 'brother', in repeated physical clashes, stops short of fatally wounding Odinson. This suggests that despite both implied and declared threats, Subject prefers humbling and humiliating Odinson to an outright termination. In fact, Subject has passed up multiple strategic advantages wherein Odinson could have been terminated, choosing instead to taunt and verbally abuse Odinson (see attached incident reports).
Subject initiated relationship (platonic) with Lewis, Darcy (see attached personnel file) and despite initial threats to her health and safety, appears to have forged some kind of bond with the research assistant, where they have met socially several times (see attached surveillance reports) without collateral damage to Lewis or bystanders.
For more, please refer to CCTV footage from Stark residence, Malibu, 10/09/2011, audio only 00:47:06 - 01:07:56.
Threat assessment: Moderate to High.
"What's that?" Jane gestured to the file with a forkful of salad.
"Just paperwork Coulson wanted me to, um, look over while he's out." Darcy closed the file, and dropped it into her messenger bag, trying to play it off like no big deal. But seeing the body count had seriously shaken her—even if Loki hadn't killed anybody in the last month, it reminded her that she was pretty much playing with fire.
Then again, she'd tased a god that one time. She had a habit of shooting first and asking questions later.
"So tell me what Erik's been up to since he went back to the university?" Darcy asked as she took a long sip off her mocha, and Jane filled her in on what her godfather had been up to since he'd taken off back to his department. Darcy only half listened, making appropriate noises here and there, until her phone beeped, letting her know her 45 minute lunch break was coming to an end.
Jane followed her as they set their plastic trays on the conveyor belt that would take them off to the mysterious dishwashing robots Tony had probably installed in the kitchens.
"Hey," Jane said, touching Darcy's shoulder before they headed off in opposite directions. "Are you okay with the new job? Really?"
"To tell you the truth, I was kinda glad they found you somebody who actually knows what the hell you're talking about most of the time. Not that I haven't learned, like, a ton of stuff the last year. But I think this is more my speed, you know? It's probably good for both of us. And you'll probably get way more work done with New Guy."
"As long as you're happy," Jane said, grave and serious, and pulled Darcy into a fierce hug.
Darcy patted Jane's back awkwardly, and then straightened her glasses.
"It's all good. And it's not like we won't see each other, you know? I mean, we do both still live in the same house and everything."
"Right." Jane gave her a hopeful smile, and then headed off toward the bank of elevators that would take her back down to her lab.