|If You Give a Hulk a Lab Assistant
Author: Lt. Commander Richie PM
SHIELD assigned Darcy Lewis to be Bruce Banner's lab assistant, for what little scientific help she'd be. But hey, at least she can work Stark's coffee machine. Written for a prompt on the LJ meme, Bruce/DarcyRated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Romance - Hulk/Bruce B. - Words: 5,756 - Reviews: 37 - Favs: 168 - Follows: 41 - Published: 08-15-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8430990
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
If You Give a Hulk a Lab Assistant
A/N: Written, like so much of my recent stuff, for a LiveJournal meme. I feel as though my fanfiction account has been sorely neglected as of late, so I'm just dumping a few things onto it for lack of anything really new and interesting to post. Do enjoy!
AS ALWAYS, THIS IS PROBABLY BEST READ ON 1/2 OR 3/4 WIDTH WITH A LARGE FONT SIZE. COULD JUST BE MY EYESIGHT GOING THOUGH.
To date, Bruce Banner has gone through seven lab assistants, three interns and twelve MIT Graduate Students. He doesn't try to get rid of them, or scare them off, or accidentally make them feel like everything their expensive educations has ever given them amounts to exactly bupkis- but it happens.
To his credit, only one of them was scared off by the Other Guy. The rest could be accredited to nerves, sudden feelings of inadequacy and run-ins with the coffee maker that Stark built out of an outdated beam accelerator and parts from a microwave. Honestly, at this point, Bruce was hoping he wouldn't have to break a new one in- they all left too quickly anyway.
-which was why he was so surprised to find a somewhat diminutive woman in a thick black sweater and glasses sipping coffee next to the espresso machine from hell.
"Thought you'd be taller," she said by way of greeting, before offering the doctor a mug of coffee. He accepted it carefully, eyeing the chipped white mug with skepticism. "You probably get that a lot though."
"Occasionally," he admitted. "And you are-"
"Darcy. Darcy Lewis. I'm your new file-filer and coffee-maker," Darcy pointed an elbow at Stark's coffee machine, rolling her eyes. "This thing does everything for you though, so I'll probably be out of a job soon unless you're really, really bad at filing."
"You're not a lab assistant?" Bruce asked, taking a sip of the coffee. It was actually rather good for having been made by a hellish Frankenstein monster of a machine.
"Dude, I majored in poli-sci. You can try and teach me how to use your shiny toys but I don't think it would end too well," she drained the last of her coffee from her mug and then set about forcing the coffee maker to relinquish another cup. "Besides, there's no such thing as a coffee maker that I can't work. If beans go in one end I can make coffee come out the other. I worked in a Starbucks my freshman year, too, so I can make all the really fancy stuff-"
"And SHIELD debriefed you?" Bruce had to cut her off, because the woman was starting to go a mile a minute. "You know about-"
"The Not-So-Jolly Green Giant?" To her credit, Darcy didn't even stop her coffee-making as she spoke. "Yup," she popped the 'p' at the end of the word, "we're totally cool. I tazed Thor once."
Bruce, in the middle of drinking, spat his coffee back into the cup in surprise. "You-"
"What? He was freaking me out. Crazy dude in the middle of the desert, what else was I gonna do?" she stepped back from the coffee maker triumphantly, her prize a fresh cup of coffee. "He went down like a bag of bricks."
The thought of the Mighty Thor felled by a small woman with a tazer and thick-rimmed glasses was utterly hilarious to a part of the doctor (the big green lummox, he figured), but all that really showed on his face was a small smile.
It turns out that Dr. Banner's filing system is, in fact, really crappy, which is great because Darcy isn't out of a job. It still took her about a week to differentiate between the scribbly English the good doctor used and the Thai he occasionally used as shorthand for whatever reason, though. Reports, requisition forms, notes, they switched freely between scribbles in one language and (for all Darcy was concerned) completely illegible squiggles.
She took a gulp of coffee and pulled another stack of lab reports and paperwork to her person from across the desk. The top one was clearly labeled in scribbled Thai, and she sighed before pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose and adjusting one of her iPod earbuds. Opening it revealed the contents to be a combination of massive chemical chains drawn on lined notebook paper and notes written on paper napkins in ballpoint pen.
Darcy resisted the urge to facepalm. The red palm-sized mark on her forehead was testament to her weak powers of resistance.
"Hey doc?" Bruce looked up from the microscope he had his face pressed to, his glasses perched up in his hair to keep them out of the way. Darcy shook the file full of cocktail napkins and notebook paper, careful not to let anything go flying. "You and Stark trying to see who can turn in the most ridiculous paperwork? 'cause you're totally winning if you are."
"Are those the chains I wrote out at the charity ball last weekend?" Darcy shrugged at him and sat the file down, before her hands went up in surrender.
"They're on napkins and looseleaf so I guess so? Watcha makin', anyway?" Bruce pulled his glasses down from his hair and crossed over to the corner desk that Darcy had set up shop on, taking the unoccupied seat across from her. He picked up the thick file and flipped through it, occasionally adjusting the angle of a cocktail napkin. His eyebrows knit together in confusion as he flipped through the looseleaf chemical chains, and finally he closed the folder and promptly dumped it in the trash can next to the desk.
"Hey-" Darcy tried to protest.
"Chemical formulae of the drinks menu," Bruce explained as he got up, brushing imaginary dust off the front of his gray slacks. "I must've had a few by the time I did that, explains where I got all the napkins from."
"I dated a guy once that invented base eight math on my kitchen floor with a Sharpie while blackout," Darcy shrugged and moved on to the next file in the tower of manila folders. "College was crazy."
"Crazier than working for superheroes?" the doctor asked.
"Yup," the response was immediate. She popped the 'p' at the end of the word again- it seemed like a habit. "Engineering department put their heads together once and made a five-story slip-n-slide down a staircase." Darcy finally gave up and began sorting files by the language it was labeled in.
"…huh." At a loss for words, Bruce made his way back to his microscope.
It was, of course, only a matter of time before a situation arose that required a large green solution. When it comes to superheroes, this sort of thing is rather inevitable. What struck Darcy as odd, however, was the absolutely massive amount of Zen her boss had about the whole debacle.
Upon receiving marching orders he had calmly put his glasses on the closest desk, removed his watch, and then told her where his spare set of clothes was. Apparently 'filing monkey' duties also included 'bring your de-Hulked boss un-ripped and un-streched clothes'.
As soon as he left Darcy went back to unpacking new equipment to pass time.
An hour later, she was done and spinning in her office chair, popping bubble wrap with glee.
Another half-hour later she was down to her last sheet of bubble wrap, slightly nauseous, very dizzy and very bored. So when Tony Stark's face popped up on the nearest lab screen, Darcy picked that exact moment to manage slipping out of the swivel chair and onto the floor with a whump.
"Lovely," the billionaire deadpanned. "You Bruce's lab monkey?"
Darcy, clawing her way upright along the side of her desk, nodded.
"Good. We just got back, we're down in Operations. Third sub-basement," Darcy nodded an affirmative and fought off motion sickness as she gathered up the new clothes she'd found right where her boss had said they were. She picked up his glasses on her way out, and spent most of the forty-floor elevator ride down trying not to hork up the Subway she'd had for lunch.
Fortunately, the Avengers were easy to find once they were done with all their Avenge-y stuff. Stark was being carefully worked on by three technicians who were attempting to remove a dented portion of his armor that refused to be budged. Standing by awkwardly, offering to just pull it off for them was the Captain. Not too far from them, her boss was drifting off while leaning against a table- an impressive feat for someone who was also holding up the last remaining bits of clothing on his person with one hand.
"Hey doc?" Bruce jumped at the noise, a reaction that didn't go unnoticed by the lab assistant. "Brought you your glasses and some clothes."
"Thanks, Ms. Lewis," he took the glasses first, somehow managing to get them on with one hand.
"You know you can call me Darcy, right?" she handed over the folded clothes next, and her boss gave her something that resembled a wan smile as he clutched them to his bare chest with his free hand.
"That wouldn't be very professional," the doctor said. There was a brief moment of panic as he lost his grip on the remains of his pants, but he hitched them up again without incident.
"Professional. Right," one of Darcy's eyebrows rose as she spoke. Behind her, there was a groan of metal and then a crash. Stark started swearing. The Captain started apologizing.
Dr. Banner shrugged.
Darcy actually spent more time reminding Dr. Banner to eat than she thought was possible. He'd probably forget his head if it wasn't stuck to his shoulders, she figured. She also figured that her getting him addicted to half-caf soy green tea lattes was a small victory in the larger war of getting him to regularly pursue the act of consuming food, though.
"Doc?" the doctor was focused on one of the lab's floating touchscreens, shifting blueprints and scan maps around and flicking them off onto other screens for later perusal. His eyebrows were knit together in concentration, his mouth slightly open as though he was perpetually on the cusp of explaining something. He was ignoring her.
"Dr. Banner, I have food," Darcy, ever the helpful lab assistant, held up a white take-out bag from a tiny restaurant called Wo Hop in Chinatown. It smelled like wonton soup and curry beef and freshly-fried sesame balls.
Her boss didn't react. She rattled the bag slightly, careful not to upset the container of soup or crush the fortune cookies. Still nothing.
"Dude," the diminutive woman reached out and batted the touchscreen away- it floated off to join its electronic brethren. She shoved the bag of takeout into Bruce's hands and pointed at the nearest clear desk. "Eat," she demanded. "I got in here at ten minutes past way-too-goddamn-early and I haven't seen you eat since then."
"…what time is it?" Dr. Banner asked. He checked his watch instead of waiting for an answer, balancing the takeout in one hand as he did so. "Five? Huh."
"Yeah, huh," Darcy pursed her lips and gave her boss a look that made his eyebrows nearly disappear into his shaggy dark hair. "You're gonna keel over and start twitching if you don't eat. I've seen it happen. Finals weeks were crazy shit, man."
Bruce silently resigned himself to his wonton soup future with a small smile.
Before this moment, Darcy had never actually met the Other Guy. He was the proverbial elephant in the room, though, almost literally in a few cases. There had been a couple close calls that had been smoothed over with bubble wrap therapy (in one case) and Darcy's unfortunately extensive knowledge of ways to talk down people on really bad trips (every other case), but she'd never actually seen the big guy in person before.
He was actually a bit smaller than she thought he would be.
The Geiger counter that had been jury-rigged to detect the specific Gamma signatures of the Doombots attempting to invade the city dropped out of her hand, and she brought the walkie-talkie in her other hand up to her mouth very slowly.
All without breaking eye contact with the Not-So-Jolly Green Giant.
"Found him," she said. The comm. erupted into noise and she let that drop to the ground too, her glasses sliding down her nose. She made no attempt to correct them. She'd been thrown through the air at one point and her hip hurt, but her hair was the more frightful mess.
It was odd, Darcy thought- seeing Dr. Banner's face on a great big green mountain of a creature that easily weighed two metric tons. The same sweet Dr. Banner that didn't look like he was capable of eating meat, let alone hurt a fly. The same guy she had to remind to eat lunch at least once a week. The guy that she made coffee for and had learned how to read Thai for. His face curled up into a snarl seemed unnatural.
The Hulk advanced on her from down the debris-littered New York street, and though she knew very well that it would do exactly jack-shit against him, she pulled her tazer out of her messenger bag with very slow movements. She didn't have to wait very long for backup, though.
In an impact that cracked the pavement and set off car alarms, Thor hit the road between the two of them looking a bit worse for wear. At the sight the Hulk's snarl turned completely vicious, and he charged the god with intent to cause bodily harm- and probably gleefully too. More than happy to acquiesce, Thor set into the fight with gusto. Unfortunately, however, his opponent was smarter than he appeared- the Hulk immediately snatched the god by the cape and whipped him into the pavement a few feet from the lab assistant like a dishtowel. A Doombot's torso crunched beneath his giant green foot as he advanced on the small lab assistant that was the object of his focus.
Standing toe-to-toe, Darcy reconsidered her opinion of the Hulk's size. He was exactly as big as she thought he would be. He spent a moment sizing her up, his scowl deepening before he hunkered down to her level and roared so loud into her face that she thought she might go deaf.
Instead, scared stiff and unblinking, she did the first thing that came to mind.
Darcy Lewis planted her feet in the rubble-strewn street, clenched her fists and roared right back at the great big lummox that her boss turned into on bad days.
When she finished there was a moment of stunned silence between the two of them- neither quite comprehending the series of events. After a moment, however, the Hulk's hamster wheel brain must have kicked into gear because the giant began to laugh. It wasn't a mirthful laugh, like 'oh, ha ha, that's quite the tale old chap'- it was vicious. Darcy was very clear on the fact that the great big green guy in front of her was laughing at her tiny self and the audacity she had to try and stand up to it. Her, the puny human, screaming at the Hulk.
He laughed until he tipped over backwards, and then laughed some more until he began to shrink. He was still laughing, though it was much happier, when he turned pink and was no longer two tons of giant green Avenger.
Sometimes (though rarely, as of late) Bruce begins to wonder why it was that SHIELD even gave Darcy to him as a lab assistant. She can do basic assistance, make him coffee, bring him food, file his paperwork and get him new clothes after missions, but she's not an intellect on par with his. Hell, the only science she ever really did was political, and if there was one thing that Bruce disliked more than the Other Guy, it was politics.
He begins to wonder, and then she manages to do something that explains exactly why it is that she was chosen.
She's successfully talked him down from accidentally letting the Other Guy out not once, not twice, but three times. On one such memorable occasion he'd managed to get massive splinters of glass in one hand from a broken beaker, and as he grit his teeth and fought off the roar in the back of his mind that accompanied the excruciating pain in his hand she'd grabbed both sides of his face in her hands and made him look her in the eyes. She then proceeded to talk him into calm not unlike someone dealing with a friend on a bad trip- which she'd apparently had lots of experience with in college.
(Every now and then, Bruce also wondered where the hell she'd gone to college to have so many absolutely insane stories- it'd been so long since he'd been that he couldn't remember if that sort of crazy shit just happened regardless of the era)
He can't tell if she's fearless or if she just has a death wish.
"No, Thor," she stared up at the god with her arms crossed and a very patient look on her face.
"No. Dr. Banner is not training with you, not drinking with you and the Warriors Three, and is not charging into glorious battle to make his ancestors proud with you. Not today, not tomorrow, and not while I have anything to do with his well-being, okay big guy?"
Thor looked suitably put-out about it, and the diminutive woman seemed to deflate slightly.
"Dude, it's okay. See if Stark wants to, I'm sure he'd be happy to do battle with your many foes," when this didn't seem to make the god any happier, she picked a tablet up off of a nearby table and flicked all the open data on it over to another screen with her fingers before opening a web browser. A few clicks later she shoved the screen into his large calloused hands, a shrill song filling the lab.
"…it is a pop tart, yet it is a cat? And it rides upon a rainbow?" Darcy nodded, and began shoving the Avenger out of the lab and away from her boss.
"Yes, it's called Nyancat. Go, show the magic of Nyancat to everyone. I bet Fury wants to see it," she assured him. As soon as the god was out the door she closed it behind him, leaning against it for support. She blew hair out of her eyes and adjusted her glasses, shooting her silent and confused boss a wide smile.
Upon further consideration, Bruce decided that Darcy Lewis was just plain fearless.
With a crack of cheap plastic against Formica, Darcy sat three trays down on the cafeteria table between herself and Bruce. She had to do some serious juggling to get it done, but not a single square of innocent Jell-o or piece of lasagna was sacrificed to the floor.
If her boss protested when a tray ended up on top of the tablet with his write-up of the Atlantean Oceanography project on it, Darcy didn't care. As it was she was too busy adjusting the three binders-worth of paper scattered over the four-person table that only sat her and Bruce. The doctor made to move the tray of food off of his paperwork, but his assistant's hand shot out and held the other end of it in place.
"Bruce, eat it before it gets cold," she said. He sighed and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose before pulling his utensils out and setting into his lasagna. Darcy did the same, idly sorting files one-handed by their destination department.
It wasn't the quiet of the dead that fell over them for the next few moments, but the quiet of those preoccupied with food and paperwork.
After a few minutes Darcy realized that Bruce hadn't taken another bite of his food beyond the initial one, and had somehow managed to pull his project write-up out from underneath his tray. His fork hung from his mouth and he was typing wildly with one hand on the tablet next to his food.
"Eat," she reminded him around a mouthful of lasagna. She poked him with her fork and he jumped with a startled ow! and a small recoil, giving her what was probably supposed to pass as a stern look over the tops of his glasses before going back to his food. Darcy did as well, tucking with gusto.
The two of them took nearly identical large bites, their attention returning to their respective piles of paperwork as they chewed with comically large cheeks. They both swallowed and repeated the motion, Darcy catching a bit of melted lasagna cheese with her fork and twirling it before chewing. Bruce, engrossed in the tablet and the write-up he was working on, nearly fed his cheek a forkful of food before realizing what he was doing.
Darcy was the first to look across the table and notice that her lunchtime companion had the same affinity for a very large bite:chewing ratio that she did. She made a very unladylike snort of a laugh around her mouthful of lunch, getting the attention of her boss in the process. He gave her a cursory glance while chewing, and she flashed him a chipmunk-cheeked smile. His chewing slowed to a stop as he looked back at his assistant, though, confusion coloring his features.
They both swallowed their food, and while Darcy gave the doctor a wide and bright smile, the smile Bruce gave her was subdued and a little uneasy as though it wasn't quite sure what it was doing on his face. They held eye contact for a moment before Darcy shied away, turning her attention to something else-
"Oh my god your tablet-" the moment was broken as Bruce looked over in alarm to see a dollop of lasagna sauce and a piece of noodle had plopped down right in the center of the very expensive piece of equipment. The two of them exploded into action to save the defenseless piece of machinery, their food forgotten.
There wasn't a lot of warning before the lab windows exploded inward in a massive shower of glass, fire and noise. In fact, the only warning either of them got was the slight whine of the rocket- the warning klaxons didn't start going off until the two of them had been thrown against the far back wall of the lab along with a good amount of broken glass and debris. Darcy swore as she hit her head on something, her glasses clattering across the floor and a bloody cut on her forehead obscuring some of her vision.
Through her hazy consciousness, she thought she was forgetting something- something important. Part of her job. Couldn't remember what for the life of her, though.
"…Bruce?" she called out groggily, groping around for something to hold on to so as to get back up onto her feet. She wiped blood from her eye (her blood, eugh) and tried to make sense of the fuzzy world around her. Something crunched under her foot and she lifted it immediately, revealing her slightly-crushed glasses. It hurt to think, but as she put them on her vision became clearer.
Almost immediately she wished she hadn't.
Shit was on fire, there was glass everywhere, and her boss was curled up into the fetal position about fifteen feet away from her and very steadily taking on a green tinge. Most people would have booked it out the lab door, but as contrite as it sounded Darcy Lewis wasn't most people. Also the only door out of the lab had a desk blown against it.
"Bruce! Oh god-" she faltered as she stepped towards him, unsure of what to do. She'd never seen Banner transform accidentally, didn't know what to expect. She didn't have long to think about it, however, as the whine of another missile hit her ears. She looked out at the lab windows- at least, what was left of them- absolutely terrified.
"Run!" the word bled into a roar as Bruce pushed himself up off the debris-strewn ground, fabric ripping around him and flesh turning green as he grew into the Other Guy. The world became a blur of noise, sound, and quite a lot of pain. The second missile struck, the explosion ripping apart the few pieces of the lab that were still standing. For a moment everything was fire and noise and quite a lot of screaming, though Darcy wasn't quite sure who it was that was doing all of it.
In the confusion she felt a large hand grab her about her midsection, sweeping her off her feet and tossing her behind what had to be the last standing piece of furniture on the entire floor at this point. She hit the ground and slid, her head cracking against a broken piece of wall. For a moment she saw nothing but stars and little dancing green men, and the bellowing roars of the Other Guy and sounds of terrified screaming (they were being invaded now?) seemed worlds away.
That's odd, she thought. I think I may be bleeding.
In fact a sticky wet feeling was blossoming across the back of her head and down past her ear, and her hair felt like a mass of goop plastered to her skin. The more she thought about it the worse her head started to hurt, though, so instead she let her thoughts drift to things like unicorns and mewmews and Bruce's terrible habit of forgetting what food was when he was working. From there it just sort of spiraled downward and she began thinking in 'Hark! A Vagrant' panels, except it was Bruce going Ooh, Ms. Darcy- and there was something poking her in the side.
"Lewis," when he wasn't screaming, the Other Guy sounded quite a bit like a rock crusher trying to make words. After a moment of trying Darcy decided that opening her eyes was a Bad Idea, because the light just made her head hurt even worse than it already did. The Hulk poked her in the side with one finger again, the action surprisingly gentle for a giant rage monster. She squirmed and batted at the offending appendage, the motion making her sick to her stomach.
"'m alive," Darcy croaked out. "What happened?"
"Doom," the Other Guy growled deep. Something screeched and groaned like ripping metal, and a moment later something large and sparking was dropped in front of the lab assistant. She risked opening her eyes to see just what it was that had been presented to her, and even without her glasses on she could tell that it was the twisted remains of a Doombot's head.
"Again? I hate that guy," honestly, her voice really did sound like crap. She felt like she'd screamed herself hoarse- she probably had. At some point the klaxons had stopped, but the infernal ringing in her ears wasn't going to stop any time soon it seemed. She weakly reached out and punched at the metal cheek of the Doombot, a small chuckle escaping her somewhat deliriously as it rolled over and settled on its side.
About then was when Darcy lost consciousness.
She woke up in SHIELD's medical ward with her boss sleeping awkwardly in a plastic chair beside her.
He's never told anyone this before (he knows very well not to, he knows he'd never see the light of day again if he let it slip) but when someone walks in a room with him, his immediate urge is to smash. The Other Guy is practically a force of nature in his rage, and no matter how much Vietnamese orchestra or Buddhist chanting he listens to he just can't drown him out. The urge is always there, a whisper in his ear- break them crush them you are a God and they are sand bring their buildings down around their ears punish the cage-makers and the weapon-wielders destroy the puny- it never ends. It's why he doesn't like most major population centers.
"Bossman? Where d'you want these stable fusion postu-whatsits to go?" Darcy stood on the other side of the (brand new) lab table from him, waving a thick manila folder that may or may not have been mostly disposable napkins pilfered from the cafeteria instead of regular paper. Her unoccupied hand was in a blindingly green cast, and she knocked it against the tabletop to try and get his attention. Her voice was still a little rough, but the frog in her throat couldn't keep her out of the lab.
"Just, uh- the pile of stuff for Tony is fine," she smiled at him and even around the livid bruise creeping across her left cheek and the cracked pair of glasses it was still the kind of radiant that made the doctor wonder about the cruelty of the person that had assigned her to him. He was a smart enough man that he knew he looked like a complete dork when he smiled back at her, and so he busied himself with transferring his old files onto his new personal hardware instead.
Even after Doom's newest incursion upon SHIELD the lab was pristine- almost too much so. The windows were all new, as were the desks and most if not all of the hardware. What hadn't been ripped up by the initial two explosions had been smashed by the Other Guy when the Doombots had come through the charred hole in the side of the building that had once been large beautiful bay windows. Everything, in fact, had been smashed- except Darcy. In fact, when Bruce looked at the diminutive woman he didn't even hear the dull roar of the Other Guy telling him to crush destroy smash kill (though he preferred to not hear anything at all, because when Darcy was around the Other Guy's immediate urges of late had made him flush to the tips of his ears and toes).
He realized with a start that he'd been staring blankly at a 100% complete transfer bar on his tablet for about two minutes.
"You look like your train of thought derailed," Darcy stood on the other side of the table from him again, a different file in her free hand. The labels on it were in very messy Chinese, however, and the lab assistant didn't look too amused by it. "What's with the sudden change in language, anyway? Trying to keep me on my toes? I already learned how to read Thai for you, what more do you want from meeeeee-" she whined mockingly.
"Sorry, I was listening to Cantonese Opera while writing that out. That's an analysis of the past month's solar mapping of northeastern Europe," Bruce took the file and then started, his focus snapping to her face. "You learned how to read Thai for me?" he asked. He sounded genuinely surprised- and he was. For the second time in ten minutes Darcy smiled at him, and the doctor wondered who specifically he'd smashed to deserve this kind of torture.
"I mostly Google Translate but yeah, I can at least read the squiggles," she turned to go get another stack of files to sort through, idly tapping her green cast on the tables that she passed. Bruce sat back in his chair, pulling his glasses from his face to rub at the bridge of his nose. His tablet winked into sleep mode on the table in front of him, but he didn't bother with it.
Nobody had ever, ever gone to those kinds of lengths to help him before. Sure there was giving him space and having a response team at the ready for accidental appearances of the Other Guy, but those were safety precautions. Those weren't nice gestures. But there was Darcy, screaming at the Other Guy and steering Thor around like a trained babysitter and working a coffee machine that could probably divide by zero while making a double mocha latte with salted caramel and learning how to read an entire language just to help out in his lab-
"Darcy? You, ah- you doing anything for lunch?" at Bruce's question she looked up from the stack of files and tablets she was balancing in her arms, her eyes fractals behind spiderweb-cracked glasses.
"Yeah, why?" she sat the stack down on the lab table between them and began sorting through them by the language they'd been written in.
"Nevermind," Bruce picked his tablet back up and flicked it on again, trying to look busy.
"I can cancel," Darcy had a look on her face that was almost mischievous, though it was somewhat ruined by the bruise on her cheek. "I usually have to go to lunch with this guy that keeps forgetting to eat, but I think he'll be alright if I leave him alone for a day."
"He'll be fine," Bruce agreed. He got up and pulled his coat from the back of his chair, and almost reached for his tablet before stopping himself. Darcy huffed a sigh and grabbed it herself, before heading for the door.
"C'mon, it's Taco Tuesday!" she smiled at him again, and Bruce let himself smile back.
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