ljc (taraljc) wrote,

"Simple, Not Easy" 17/18, 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 17

Monday wasn't as bad as Darcy had feared it would be.

She hit snooze three times that morning and Clint had to drag her out of bed by her ankles—and not in a good way.

"Can't I call in sick?" Darcy asked from beneath the pillows as she tried to maintain her deathgrip on the headboard. However, this left her incredibly ticklish sides completely undefended. Clint only stopped her when she threatened to pee on him.

"I could be sick. Feel my forehead."

Clint laid the flat of his hand against her forehead. "You're hot."


"Yep. Super hot." He dropped a kiss on her lips. "But not running a temperature."

Darcy threw a pillow at him. Being Clint, he caught it without even looking and tossed it back at her, sending her glasses flying off the bedside table. Unfortunately, they didn't break. Now that she actually had vision insurance, she was thinking about getting contacts.

She still dawdled as much as she could, purposefully letting people in front of her at the Starbucks, claiming she couldn't decide on her choice of breakfast pastry, and then asking them to remake her drink twice. Eventually Clint gave up and walked the rest of the way to the tower without her. However, he was waiting for her outside the glass doors when she finally arrived.

"It'll be fine," Clint gave her hand a squeeze before he got out of the elevator. Darcy leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes until she reached her floor.

Coulson was (as always) already at his desk. He looked up when she hung up her coat.

"How was your week-end?" he asked.

Darcy just stared at him. She couldn't always tell when Coulson was winding her up. He had that kind of way about him, where he always sounded reasonable and courteous and totally harmless right up until that moment where he snapped and went all spooky ninja on your ass. Darcy had seen it happen at least twice; once when Sitwell took the last sesame bagel, and once when Coulson was escorting a known terrorist from the helicarrier to the holding cells in subbasement four. Sitwell had bought bagels for the office four Fridays in a row; the terrorist had his jaw wired shut and had to consume all his meals through a sippy cup for two months.

"Hawkeye filed an incident report," he offered by way of explanation.

Darcy winced. Of course he had. At least Bathroom Stall Guy hadn't filed a police report. She had a feeling that she would have been called back up to Fury's office, if he had. Research project or no research project, S.H.I.E.L.D. had a thing about civilian casualties.

"It was okay, I guess."

Darcy set her messenger bag beneath her desk and changed from her clogs into the fancy office shoes she kept in her drawer.

"Hey, Boss?" she called toward Coulson's open door.

"What, Lewis?"

Darcy propped her elbow on the edge of her desk and cupped her chin in her hand. "You think I'll ever actually go on a date that doesn't involve somebody having to file an incident report?"

Coulson gave her one of those smiles that she suspected made people underestimate him out in the field. "I believe that's up to you, Ms Lewis."


And just like that, it was over. No recriminations, no stern talks. She got down to scrolling through the three dozen emails that had gone out between leaving S.H.I.E.L.D. on Friday night and arriving that morning.

It was Sitwell's birthday on Wednesday, and there was going to be a cake in the conference room on the twentieth floor. Dr Banner had apparently requisitioned several species of exotic plants that were technically illegal to import to the United States. And for a chick with pins holding her femur together, Bonnie was still the first one to get to the fruit and breakfast pastries left over after the Monday morning briefing.

Work was work. Darcy put one foot in front of the other, scheduling meetings and handling correspondence, wrangling junior agents and even making it on time to her hand-to-hand sessions with Clint. What had started as the two of them half goofing off, half serious became all serious. She would never take down six Hydra guys on her own, but heaven help any idiot who tried to snatch her purse.

It was weird. A year ago Darcy was filling out applications for internships. Today she was learning how to handle an opponent in a knife fight.

Most of the time, she wasn't exactly sure what Clint was teaching her—if it was Aikido, Eskrita, Krav Maga, or down and dirty street-fighting. All she cared was whether it worked or not (and praying like hell she'd never have to find out). Most of Clint's training was about not fighting, which Darcy was totally cool with. Had she known S.H.I.E.L.D. special techniques for disarming an opponent with a knife consisted primarily of "throw a chair at the bastard and run like hell" she'd have laughed—until she watched Natasha and Clint drill the moves over and over again. According to the Widow, she'd be fully trained in four months.

Watching Natasha and Clint, Darcy was pretty sure she was never ever going to be fully trained. Not like they were trained. Not like Coulson and Sitwell were trained.

But she wasn't getting so dizzy she was practically throwing up half-way through a session. And while she wasn't losing weight according to the scale, her clothes were loose on her, and she had to buy another pair of black work slacks a size smaller. However, her rack was still, well... her rack. Which continued to fascinate Clint no matter how many times he saw it. But if Clint was a boob man, Darcy was an arm girl and Clint's biceps were epic.

While the sex was phenomenal, what surprised her was how much time they spent just talking. Okay, talking and fooling around. Clint still never talked about his family, but sometimes he would tell her about the circus. He even juggled oranges for her once, and she had to tackle him to keep him from starting to juggle knives.

"I can do it," Clint protested.

"No, you'll cut off your thumbs." Darcy grabbed the knife block, stuck it in the fridge, and then leaned against the door.

Clint made a grab for the door, and Darcy's sneakers squeaked on the tile as he pulled. "I will not cut off my thumbs."

"You'll shoot your eye out!" she said, bracing herself and pushing back against the door with all her weight.

Clint just rested his forehead against hers, hands dangling at his sides. "You are never allowed to watch that movie again."

Darcy laughed, and then tried to juggle the oranges herself. She kept dropping them. Clint just laughed and then tried to teach her. It ended up with a lot of bruised oranges, and getting caught making out on the kitchen floor by Dr Banner, who turned bright red and left without his tea.

One night when they were lying in his bed for a change, Clint kept tracing circles around her tattoo with his thumb as they dozed.

His room was pretty much just as Darcy had pictured it—completely bare except for a weight bench, a milk crate full of porn that he stashed in his closet after the first time he'd caught her going through it, and a hanging heavy bag. But there were surprises—like the acoustic guitar he could actually play, as well as the comprehensive collection of 1930s hardboiled detective fiction and The Green Hornet radio plays on cd.

Darcy was pretty sure eventually he'd end up in her place. Mainly because half his gear was in her bedroom, and her fridge was always stocked while his only contained leftover cartons of Chinese and curry well on their way to applying for NATO membership.

"Hey, you were Special Forces, right? So how come you don't have any ink?" Darcy asked.

"Lasered off," he said with a shrug. "No identifying marks, except for this." He tapped the side of his nose.

"I like your nose."


"Yeah." She rolled over so she was sprawled on top of him and kissed the end of his nose. "It's got character."

"Yeah—I'm a character, all right."

Sometimes, Darcy wondered exactly how she'd got so lucky. It wasn't that Clint was perfect. He definitely wasn't. They argued about music, about movies, and about whose turn it was to sleep in the wet spot. There was an epic fight about her mom wanting them to come out to Long Island for her cousin's Bat Mitzvah. Clint stood his ground, repeating he "didn't do family gatherings". Darcy kept on pushing. Jane and Thor took sides, and it threatened to divide the mansion for a whole six days. Then the whole thing turned out to be moot when Darcy spent that week-end working thanks to some whackjob called Kraven The Hunter while Clint was half a world away on a black ops mission.

Darcy was fully expecting a re-match, come Thanksgiving. There was only so long she could put off introducing Clint to her mom. Especially while they were living less than an hour away.

Clint ate like a teenager, often drank the last cup of coffee in the pot, and tended to forget to actually text her when he was on missions. But he also brought her TheraFlu and home-made matzo ball soup from their favourite diner when she got a nasty chest cold. He understood that sometimes she needed quiet time to look at videos of baby sloths after work, instead of going out on those rare nights when they were actually free and could. And best of all, Clint made her laugh until she was in actual physical pain.

Plus she made him watch Benson all the way through, though Darcy did almost make Clint's head explode by constantly referring to Clayton Endicott III as "Benson's boyfriend". Her unerring ability to detect (or manufacture) homoerotic subtext in everything up to and including Disney movies drove Clint nuts, but he still hung out on her sofa watching stuff with her. Even when he swore she'd ruined Top Gun forever for him. Darcy maintained that guys took Top Gun way too seriously (and also that Iceman and Maverick were totally a couple).

Coulson's weekly "no capes" poker game became a thing, even though Darcy sucked at five card stud and Sitwell couldn't bluff worth a damn. Fury never showed up, but Natasha often did, smoking long black cigarettes and going home with the pot—when she went home. Darcy pretended Natasha and Coulson flirting wasn't both terrifying and hilarious. Everyone else pretended it wasn't actually happening, due to being creeped out. To be fair, imagining Coulson having sex was kinda like discovering your parents' porn stash. But Darcy still thought it was adorable, and made sure to schedule them "debriefings" in a conference room with locks on the doors and blinds.

Interestingly, Coulson was still always the first person at the office. And if Darcy did notice some a bruise beneath his crisply starched collar that looked suspiciously like a love bite, she sure as hell wasn't going to be the one to mention it.

It had started out as just her and Jane, but she genuinely liked hanging out with the Avengers and their friends, lovers, support staff, and fellow minions. Darcy even got over most of her fear of the Black Widow, mainly due to exposure and copious consumption of vodka. Natasha could still be scary, but Darcy didn't quite feel so inadequate next to her any more. Sure, she'd never be able to do that thing where she had a guy flat on his back with his neck in a scissor-lock. And it was likely she wasn't going to learn to fly a helicopter. But the times when they hung out were actually pretty great.

It should have been weird, being friends with Clint's ex. While it seemed to freak him out a little, what was weird was how wasn't. Clint never got on her case about it—except when she blew off a training session. Plus her little shopping trips to Brooklyn meant he got to unwrap a lot of presents in the form of daring undergarments and dangerous shoes, so he didn't object too strenuously.

Life with the Avengers was never boring. Occasionally frustrating, always demanding, but never boring. Some days, Darcy actually longed for boring.

Jane got on Darcy's case for getting Thor addicted to cheesy 1980s teen movies. Darcy got on Jane's case for never replenishing the margarita mix. Clint got on Darcy's case for skipping two of her small arms sessions to go shopping with Natasha. Nobody ever got on Natasha's case, though Tony made it his life's mission to get on her last nerve regularly. Which was how Tony ended up in medical with a sprained wrist, two bruised ribs, and a mild concussion. And Darcy got stuck having to tell Pepper, because Coulson was out in the field. Luckily, because Pepper had twelve years' experience dealing with Tony getting on people's very last nerve, once Darcy started the sentence with "Natasha—" Pepper just sighed and asked Darcy to let her know if Tony did anything else stupid enough to land himself in Medical. And then they chatted about shoes for twenty minutes.

Darcy was actually surprised at how she didn't feel like the mascot anymore. She didn't look at the people around her, and feel like she was going to be declared a fraud and an impostor. She wasn't sure what had changed—except maybe everything had been that way all along and it was her who'd changed.

"Do you ever think about him?" Clint asked one night as they ate samosas with spicy green sauce and drank beer at one of their favourite curry restaurants.

It had been nearly a month since the club. There was no question about who he meant. Loki was always "him".

Darcy started peeling the label off the Kingfisher bottle with her short fingernails.

"He's off the radar. No sightings for weeks."

Clint nudged her knee with his under the table. "Hey, Townie—that's not what I asked."

"I know," she said with a shrug.

The first few weeks after "The Incident", she'd been hyper-aware. Every time she passed a tall thin guy in the street, there was that half-second of panic before she registered it wasn't him. She'd go to the comics shop every Wednesday, ears pricked for a familiar giggle, always looking to catch a glimpse of green cloak out of the corner of her eye. As she stood on the line at the Starbucks, her eyes would flick to the door every time it opened. But while there were hipsters and MBAs aplenty, none of them wore that familiar smirk, dark hair slicked back with too much hair goo.

After a while, the fear turned to something else that she tried to pretend wasn't longing. She didn't miss the uncertainty, the flashes of terror, the random appearances when she least expected it. She didn't miss the spamming of her Facebook wall with random photos and nonsensical comments involving a lot of umlauts.

But a part of her did miss having someone to talk to, those nights when the Avengers were out in the field. Those nights she usually spent with Jane. It often culminated with hangovers and swearing off tequila forever—or at least until the next time the team boarded the helicarrier and set off for parts unknown.

She would lie awake, listening to her iPod playlists, and pretend everything was fine. And sometimes, it was.

The mansion roof became where she went to think.

Sometimes Clint came with her, and they'd sit and talk the way they'd used to atop Smith Motors. They never dangled their feet over the edge the way they had in New Mexico. Partly because they were higher up, and partly because it tended to freak people out. Especially during the day when people could see them from the street.

When the weather turned cold—really cold, not just "wear a sweater cold"—Darcy still went up there in her giant purple puffy coat that she'd almost never worn in New Mexico. She had purple gloves with rainbow fingers, and a ridiculous hat she'd knitted herself. She liked to watch the sun go down over the park.

Sometimes she would listen to her iPod, and sometimes she just listened to life on Fifth Avenue as it passed by below her. Voices and traffic sounds would carry, but indistinct and muffled. She couldn't quite make out individual voices—just let the sound of people wash over her. People who lived their lives every day without capes and supervillains. Who ate hot dogs and drank coffee from paper cups, and walked their kids home from school. She wasn't envious—not exactly. But she liked being reminded that there was life outside of the Avengers Initiative.

She would lie back in the lawn chair with its scratchy plastic straps criss-crossing the frame, and watch the clouds be pushed across the sky by the wind, and think about calling her mom. Emailing her dad. Maybe going out for dim sum with Jane and Thor at the place she and Clint had found in the Lower East Side. It had drunken spicy shrimp that totally killed and edamame in a spicy thai sauce that Darcy wanted to take behind the bleachers and get pregnant.

Once in a while she'd come up on the roof to find Steve in one of the chairs, a sketchbook balanced on his knee. He'd show her what he'd drawn since she'd last paged through them, and they'd talk about old movies that he'd seen in theatres and she'd seen on cable. Most of his sketches were of the people he used to know—his friend Bucky, a guy in a bowler hat with a handlebar moustache that Steve called "Dum Dum", page after page of Peggy Carter, and even a few of a guy Darcy knew from the pencil moustache had to have been Tony's dad (there was something about that family and facial hair). But sometimes there were sketches of the team, including hilarious cartoons he'd let her caption so long as she didn't use foul language. Her favourite was a series of doodles of Tony as a shark. And there was a gorgeous one of Natasha's profile that she told Steve he should give to her. He'd just turned bright red and muttered, "I dunno. Maybe," when she handed the sketchbook back to him.

Darcy even let him sketch her once, with her hair tangled by the wind, and squinting from the sun in the clear crisp autumn air. Steve tended to wear tee-shirts all the time because he said the super-soldier serum made him practically impervious to cold. Just looking at his bare arms made Darcy twitch, so she'd given him her oversized Rangers hoodie even though he was more of a baseball guy than hockey.

"No lie—hockey's awesome," she told him as he'd pulled it over his head, mussing up his perfect Brylcreem hairdo. "Both blood and vomit bounce on the ice!"

"Has anyone ever told you you're a very strange girl?" Steve asked as she'd motioned for him to bend down so she could fix his hair.

"Practically hourly," she'd said with a grin.

He kept telling her not to move, but she would pull faces, blow her hair out of her mouth, and finally dozed off. He'd sketched her looking way prettier than she was, but she recognised herself in the curve of her lips and jaw, and she'd been ridiculously pleased when he gave her the page. No-one had ever done that before. It was totally a Keith from Some Kind of Wonderful moment, only in real life.

Darcy really hoped that Steve found his Watts, because he was a great guy, but looked so sad sometimes when he didn't think anyone else was watching.

She'd pinned the sketch to her fridge with kid's alphabet letter magnets, alongside the photo of her and Clint at Coney Island. Tony had rented out the entire amusement park for the day so Steve could go on the rides without being mobbed for autographs (which had totally happened anyway, because all the guys who worked the rides and food booths were fans—or at least smart enough to sell autographs on eBay). Clint had won her a stuffed rabbit with floppy ears, despite the games being rigged, and they'd had so many hot dogs she thought she'd be sick.

(The rabbit now lived on her sofa, and she'd named it "Captain Carrot" which she would never ever tell Steve, ever.)

The roof was hardly private. After all, there was the heliport on the other side, as well as the hangar bay doors for the Quinjet. There were massive glass skylights in parts of it, and it could be seen from certain angles from the street and high ground in Central Park. But it still felt like it was Darcy's Place to her. Or maybe Clint's place he'd shared with her, since she was pretty sure he'd been the first one to drag the deck chairs and cooler up there. Most of the time it was stocked with beer and diet soda (Dr Pepper, which was another side effect of years spent in New Mexico along with the occasional yen for green chile and sopapillas stuffed with honey). It was one of Tony's inventions which kept drinks cold without ice or anything, and weirdly, no-one ever stole it even though it wasn't chained down or anything.

But most of the time, Darcy had the roof to herself. Stark had his workshop, Banner had his labs, Natasha and Clint practically lived in the gym. Thor spent most of his spare time with Jane, and Steve took off for Brooklyn when he wanted some 'me time'. And Darcy had the roof.

So, when she heard the chair next to her creak without hearing the heavy metal blast door open first, she didn't have to look to know it was Loki.

Chapter 18
Tags: clint/darcy, crackfic, fanfic, mcu
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