Author's Note: Sorry that took so long! But look! WE FINALLY HAVE THE REST OF THE TEAM!
"I'm disappointed in you, Lewis." Tony Stark leaned against the breakroom's fridge, swigging from a mug of probably-not-just-coffee in his hand.
"Buh?" Darcy glared blearily at his drink from her position by the coffeepot, waiting for it to finish brewing the new pot. "You totally stole the last of the coffee, didn't you. Even though there are like three breakrooms that I can think of that are closer to the labs than this one."
Tony winked and took a long drink from his mug, smacking his lips together exaggeratedly. "Ahhh. Yep."
Darcy groaned and leaned her head down on the top of the coffee maker miserably. "I hate you, Stark. I hate you so much. This is why people keep trying to murder you specifically, you know, right?"
"Keeps me on my toes, Lewis. You know, my hair may actually be insured for ten thousand. I'm not actually sure, Pepper keeps track of that kind of thing."
She stared, waiting for the words to actually make sense in her head. Finally, just when he was starting to look mildly concerned and very bored, Darcy spoke: "What the fuck are you talking about?"
He rolled his eyes. "Remind me to never talk to you before noon again."
"Sorry, sweetheart, Pepper'd kill me, and your rack's not good enough to risk her wrath."
Darcy stuck out her tongue, flipping him off as well when he just did his calming-the-Coulson grin. The coffeemaker beeped, letting her know it was done, and she made herself a cereal-bowl of coffee that had equals parts sugar and half-n-half. Tony looked disgusted as she gulped her concoction down, wrinkling her nose back at him as she responded. "Just answer the question, asshole."
"Heard from Barton you were asking around about Ed and recording it. This is another movie thing, right? Like with Thor last year. I'm starting to get worried, Lewis, since I'm the only real celebrity in this dump."
"You own this dump, Stark. And no, it's not another Mean Girls thing. That movie is old. Get with times, dude. You're losing your touch." Darcy drank down more coffee, already feeling the caffeine kick in. Or the placebo effect. Whatever, she wasn't picky.
"Hey, you're the one that started it. So tell me, then."
She sighed. "I just wanted people's opinions. Since he's kind of late to the team and stuff. Is this really why you came all the way over here?"
Tony shrugged, and gestured to the door. "I'm insulted you haven't asked me yet. Lead the way. And how else am I supposed to see my favorite intern?"
"I am not an intern anymore, dammit!"
Five days earlier...
It was probably best if Darcy got the hardest part over with first. She tried to keep that in mind as she psyched herself up at the door of Black Widow's favorite training room (at least according to schedule logs). Still, it took her a good ten minutes to actually reach out to open the door.
At which point it opened. And smacked her in the face. Of course.
"My apologies, agent. Were you looking for someone?" Agent Romanoff's voice was as flat as her standard expression, and Darcy had to keep from flinching when the older woman looked her up and down in assessment. If anyone ever figured out how to make an expression kill, it would be the Black Widow.
"I—uh—Yes! Um. You, actually. Ma'am." Darcy's voice came out as a squeak, and she tried valiantly to not die on the spot. She'd just called the Black Widow 'ma'am'. There was no recovering from that.
"Agent Lewis, correct?" Darcy nodded, feeling somewhat petrified. "Dr. Foster's assistant. What do you need?"
Darcy swallowed, trying to make her brain function on some level other than sheer panic. Loki wasn't half as intimidating as Agent Romanoff. He was evil, she could deal with that. She could not deal with working with Natasha Fucking Romanoff. "Actually, I've been...reassigned..." The redhead's eyebrows were climbing higher on her forehead by the second, and the level of disdain in her expression with them.
"I see. Have you had your official orientation? I remember Agent Hill mentioning that anyone on Dr. Foster's project were to be treated as independent contractors."
Apparently that was all the answer Agent Romanoff needed. She sighed heavily and started walking briskly, dragging Darcy along by her shoulder. "Come with me."
Twenty minutes later, Darcy had an appointment for a fitting and no more Saturday mornings in bed. Her sideways entrance into S.H.I.E.L.D. seemed to have skipped some pretty critical basic combat and weapons proficiency training.
And she still hadn't managed to ask the Black Widow any questions. Darcy decided she could skip it.
After that slightly exhilarating failure, Darcy felt she deserved a break. And with a choice between Tony Stark's sense of humor, a potential green rage monster, someone who called the Black Widow 'Tasha', and a guy who still turned red every time her looked at Darcy...Well, Captain America was going to win every time.
She'd done her fair share of papers on the propaganda machine that had been Steve Rogers before (and, sometimes, after) he had decided to go gallivanting across Nazi Germany with his 'Howling Commandos' and then mysteriously disappear. How could she not? Almost every poli-sci major Darcy knew was completely fascinated by him. He was Captain America, like a freakin' living Statue of Liberty. The USA's very own martyred saint. And then he'd come back after seventy years frozen in ice, and now Darcy was stuck trying to figure out how to turn popping that cherry into a political slogan for her eventual grand takeover.
Steve, like Jane's crew back in New Mexico, seemed to gravitate towards rooftops these days, and that was where Darcy found him. He split most of his time between training and sketching, and he'd told Darcy that he didn't really know what to do with himself most of the time. It was hard not to feel bad for the guy.
"Hey! I've been looking for you!" Darcy tried not to snort when Steve jumped, startled by her greeting.
He half-turned to face her from where he was sitting, and Darcy noted—slightly smugly—that he'd turned faintly pink when he realized it was her. "A-Agent Lewis! Hello. What can I do for you?"
"What indeed." He turned even redder at her tone, and Darcy had to grin. "Sorry, sorry. You know I'm kidding, dude." Walking up to him, she leaned over his shoulder to get a peek at his sketchbook. "Doing another skyline?"
Steve shrugged, turning back to his drawing. "It's just changed so much. I don't know that I'll ever be used to it." He gestured vaguely to the spot on the bench beside him. "Have a seat. What can I do for you, Agent?"
"Jesus, Steve, call me Darcy. I promise I'm not here to be all official n' shit." Cap, despite—or maybe because of—his military background, was pretty wary of anything S.H.I.E.L.D. wanted him to do beyond just running around with the rest of the team and saving people.
"Sorry, Darce. I've just been fielding calls from reporters at all hours lately." He sighed tiredly. "Everyone wants to know who Captain America's voting for. S.H.I.E.L.D.'s been on me not to answer any of them. As if I know anything about politics these days."
"That sucks. I promise I'll resist the urge, my major or not." She pulled out her phone, running absentmindedly through the menus until she found the recorder. "What do you think of Ed?"
"Ed? Ed Hallison, you mean?" Steve shrugged again, and closed his sketchbook. "He's all right, I guess. I don't know much about him. Bruce has him up in the lab, most days." He grimaced. "I know how that is."
There was a long pause, and Darcy was just about to say something when Steve started speaking again. The words were halting and slow, like it was difficult to get them out, and his eyebrows were knitted together like he was concentrating or confused. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. "He—He doesn't—seem to like—Thor much." As soon as he said it, he relaxed and smiled at Darcy, apparently unaware that anything had been strange. "He's all right. Seems nice. Why do you ask?"
"Uh...huh." She paused, resisting the urge to scoot away from the Captain. "Uh, just curious. You know. Since he hasn't been on the team that long."
"It's been something like six months, Darce. That's a pretty long time."
Darcy forced a laugh. "Yeah, you would know." She pocketed her phone and stood. "You gonna do a portrait of him like you did everybody else, then?"
Steve froze a moment, and in that same slow voice said: "No. No, I don't think so."
"Right. I'm gonna—I'm gonna go now." Darcy hurried off the roof after that, typing notes into her phone as soon as the door was closed behind her.
Barton was obviously her next choice after that little bit of weirdness, but he and the Widow were off on some weird 'recovery mission' in Russia that had apparently taken months to set up, and wouldn't be back until the next day. That was completely fine by Darcy. An Avenger-a-day kept the psychiatrists away, or something.
God, there were too many capes in her life. Even if technically only two of them actually wore capes. Edna Mode would not approve of her and Jane's choice in men.
Darcy cornered him as soon as he walked out of his debriefing, looking slightly dazed. Agent Romanoff was still in there, and Darcy was pretty sure she could hear shouting even through the soundproofed walls of the debriefing room. She tried to ignore it as she tiptoed up to the Avenger's resident Medievalist. "Hey there, Robin hood!"
He jumped. Finally. She'd been trying to get him for weeks, with his super-secret-agent-refined senses and all. He turned stiffly, and Darcy felt suddenly guilty at how very tired the sniper looked. "I promise it won't take long, dude. I just wanted to get your opinion on something."
Clint sighed. Why did everyone always sigh around her? "What do you need, Darcy? I want to go home."
She winced and patted his shoulder gently, pulling out her phone with her other hand. "Just—what do you think of Ed?"
"Huh? Ed? Why?" Clint smirked. "Why, thinking of asking him out? Can I beat you to that?" He winked.
Darcy rolled her eyes and smacked an unbruised portion of his arm. "Didn't know you swung that way, Barton."
He grinned and waggled his eyebrows at her. "I don't."
"Uh-huh. Thought you had something with Black Widow."
Grimacing, Clint glanced at the door to the debriefing room. "Don't call her that. And...Yeah, not so much. Anymore, at least. Bad shit went down." He smirked again. "Above your security clearance, agent."
She stuck her tongue out. "Sorry. And I'll get there someday. And then I will know all your shit. Count on it. Anyways, answer the question and I'll let you go."
He wrinkled his nose. "He's all right." A pause. "He seems...really familiar. Maybe it's just the type, I don't know."
Well, that was interesting. "Huh. Try not to collapse on your way home, dude. See you later."
"Be easier if you were helping, Darce. Kidding! Kidding! I'll do my best."
It was hard to find Dr. Banner somewhere there wasn't Tony, since he seemed to disappear over lunch and immediately at the end of every day. Not that she minded, but Darcy didn't think she could manage to ask anything when the two of them were being incomprehensible science-bros.
Unlike Hawkeye, Darcy made damn sure that Bruce Banner was aware that she was coming. She'd seen him go mean 'n green on the news enough times to know that she sure as hell didn't want to have a personal encounter. Loki could be reasoned into not breaking her into a million tiny pieces when he was mad. Rage-monster she'd caused to appear, probably not so much.
"Agent...Lewis, was it? I remember you from the bar." He smiled slightly serenely. Of course that's where he remembered her from. Nobody forgot Darcy in-bar. She was still trying to decide if she thought that was funny or worrying.
"Yep! That's me. Listen, this probably sounds kinda weird, but I'm just getting everybody's opinions on Ed. Might make something, welcome the new guy in, you know?" She paused. "Just a little surprise, right?" And in her case, a possibly deadly one.
The scientist raised his eyebrows at her babble and shrugged. "Seems a bit late, doesn't it?"
Darcy froze, mentally flailing for an explanation. "Uh. Yeah, I know. Had to see if he was gonna stick around, right?"
"Mmm. I see." That...was an uncomfortably conspiratorial tone of voice. Well, any conclusions Banner drew were probably technically correct. Technically. "I like him. He's certainly taking his new transformation better than I did, although his greater sense of control might have something to do with that. His physiology is fascinating, the changes in his cellular structure seem to change every time I look at them, I'm sure that's the interference of Loki's magic—"
Darcy decided to hurry up and speak before he got any more techno-babble-y than that. "Um, wow, that's great I bet, I'm gonna—go—now—" She edged out of the room faster than was likely polite.
Thor, she hadn't really meant to ask, but he just seemed so lonely these days. Darcy wasn't around much to keep track of things, since she wasn't working with Jane anymore and Loki had pretty much decided to co-opt most of her free time, but it seemed like the rest of the team was avoiding him. She doubted they were even aware they were doing it, too. But Jane was almost done with properly stabilizing her wormhole—so next time it wouldn't just collapse as soon as it got whoever it was through—and S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't want Thor out in the public much outside of missions. At least not until he had more thorough understanding of what, and was not, illegal on Earth.
He didn't even go to the training gyms anymore, since mortals weren't really up to fighting him one-on-one with Mjolnir. Mostly, Thor seemed to wander from breakroom to breakroom, looking for someone to talk to.
So when Darcy was getting a cup of coffee and nearly stumbled into him, she decided to throw the poor guy a bone. He looked like a depressed puppy anyways. "Hey, Thor. How ya doin'?"
He smiled half-heartedly at her. "I am as well as can be, Darcy Lewis. There is much trouble in the world these days. I am sorry you are not there to attend Jane anymore, she has told me she misses you."
Darcy winced. She'd been avoiding Jane after she'd heard the story of Loki burning a book in her and Thor's apartment after Darcy had come over to watch the Princess Bride. The astrophysicist was busy enough without an ex-intern dragging supervillains into her personal life (more than they already were, of course). "Yeah, well. There's a lot of data and stuff in this project I've been assigned too, and she's pretty busy herself. Maybe we can all hang out when this is over with."
Thor beamed. "I would like that very much, Darcy Lewis."
"I'll make myself a note or something, 'kay?" He nodded in response, still smiling. "So, uh, what do you think of Ed?"
The smile faded quickly. "He seems a great hero. His exploits are most grand, especially for a mortal such as himself. I do not think he likes me, though. I do not understand why. The rest of our band...he seems to like their company well enough." Thor paused. "There is something strange about him. He reminds me of someone, but I cannot think who."
Darcy resisted the urge to sigh. "I'm sure he'll come around eventually, big guy." Yeah, no. "I gotta get back to work." Thor nodded sadly, and she left.
And last, but he certainly wouldn't think of himself as least...
"So you like him too?" Darcy took a giant chomp of her Toaster Strudel, having decided that she'd had enough Pop-Tarts. For once in her life.
Tony stopped idly spinning in the chair he'd stolen from one of her coworker's desk. "Well, yeah. He's a likeable guy. Pepper thinks the whole Loki-magic thing's a bit weird, though."
Darcy paused. "Pepper's got clearance for that? I didn't know she was working for S.H.I.E.L.D. too these days. They get everyone, huh?"
Tony grinned. "Nah, she's still all mine. Security clearance higher than yours, though, kid. Being Iron Man's girlfriend has it's benefits."
"I don't know that that's a benefit." Darcy's response was absent, something clicking into place. "Doesn't work for S.H.I.E.L.D., huh? That's gotta be weird for paperwork."
"I think she likes the challenge, honestly."His pocket beeped. "Speak of the devil. See you, Lewis."