Fandom, eh? One minute you're a minor character whose main character trait is an obsessive love of your iPod, the next you're living a fully-fledged fictional existence fighting aliens and capturing bad guys as an integral part of the Avengers team.
... By which I mean, I really love the personality Darcy (from Thor) has taken on in fandom, the one where she's the lazy, bitchy, secretly hyper-competent assistant to the Avengers, in a universe where they all, Jane included, live in the same building and bicker about who drank the last of the milk in between saving the world. So, because it's not like I had final exams to worry about or anything, here's some superPA!Darcy fic. Hope you enjoy it.
As a side note, I am very, very British (just try taking my tea away from me, seriously), and although I've done my best to replace the Britishisms in this fic with the equivalent Americanisms, I'm sure there's still about eighteen howlingly obvious errors in there. I can only apologise; I hope they don't impede the flow of the story too much, and please point them out to me so that I can fix them as soon as possible.
Also, may contain egregious abuse of semi-colons.
Of course, aliens have to invade New York while Darcy's on the coffee run. All power to them, they've actually manage it quite subtly this time. Darcy doesn't even realise until she returns to Stark Tower, juggling three lattes (Steve, Jane and Maria), two espressos (Clint and Natasha), one herbal tea (Bruce), two make-it-black-and-make-it-hots (Fury and Coulson, Darcy's damned if she's got enough balls to call them by their first names), one does-this-drink-even-obey-the-laws-of-physics (Tony, duh), and one I-like-this-beverage-another (Thor). Oh, and one super-duper-triple-chocolate-cream-and-sprinkles mocha for herself. Babysitting superheroes is a stressful business and she'll take her perks where she can get them. A typical day at Stark Tower involves trying to stop Clint and Natasha from killing each other during sparring matches, doing PR after Tony's blown up R&D (again), and making five or six coffee runs before getting dragged from her bed at 3am because Thor's taken fright at the shower's gurgling and tried to destroy it . She even had to explain gay sex to Steve once (Tony's fault, and not an experience she's keen to repeat, hilarious as it was to watch him slowly blush red as a fire truck).
So, anyway, Darcy's making her way back to the tower and cursing Tony for making her run to Starbucks when he could invent the perfect coffee machine in a heartbeat, when she catches sight of a weird bluey-purple creature, seven feet tall and heavily armoured with it, standing guard by the entrance. She stops, ducking back down the steps till she's out of its line of sight. Around her, people walk past like they haven't noticed anything odd. Then again, this is Stark Tower. They probably think the creature is some new prototype robot. Well, good. A city full of panicking civilians would only make this more complicated.
(Darcy registers, vaguely, that she doesn't really count herself as a civilian any more. Businesslike, she pushes that bit of information to the back of her brain, to be dealt with as and when she's got the opportunity for a massive freakout. There's more important things to be done right now.)
Cautiously, she raises her head and peers up the steps at the creature. Seven feet tall, check. Bluey-purple, check. Heavily-armoured and looking a bit like the Chitauri's uglier cousin, check. (And oh yes, Darcy's heard all about the Chitauri: initially from news feeds while stuck somewhere with fjords listening to Jane muttering incomprehensible technobabble, and then again from the Avengers team when they arrived in New York for Jane to take up her place in Tony Stark's R&D department. The second time was definitely funnier, mostly because of Tony's congenital inability to take even his own near-death and the nuclear destruction of Manhattan seriously. He'd demonstrated the progress of the fight to her using little Lego skyscrapers and leftover bits of pepperoni that supposedly represented the Chitauri until Fury came along and told them both to get back to work.) These critters are definitely more intelligent than the Chitauri, though, if they've taken over Stark Tower without anyone noticing; it's the perfect base to launch an assault on the rest of the city. Darcy wonders how they got there. Teleportation, invisibility cloaks, massive great helicarrier like Fury's? Not that it really matters. What's more important is how the things managed to take over Stark Tower, presumably incapacitating a good dozen of the smartest people she knows in the process.
Darcy peers up at the tower again. Everything looks normal, except- It hits her. No lights. These alien must have shorted the power, which means the defence systems are also out, which means- Shit. The team were sitting ducks.
Darcy's knees weaken and she slides unsteadily down to sit on the steps. She's not sure what's worse, the thought of her friends ambushed, trapped and possibly fighting for their lives in a building that was supposed to protect them, or the fact that all the aliens had to do to accomplish it was turn off the power. Jesus, isn't that the kind of thing Tony's supposed to have prepared for?
Hot coffee sloshes into her lap as she sits there, shivering, and it turns out to be just what she needs to snap her out of her daze. There's no time to sit around on her ass being Darcy Lewis, lazy civilian liberal arts major, when her friends are in trouble. Time to man up and become Darcy Lewis, badass PA to gods and superheroes, veteran of a thousand coffee runs and definitely more than a match for a few lousy aliens.
She doesn't give herself time to think. If she did, she would undoubtedly lose her nerve. Instead, she hoists her cardboard container of coffee cups high, puts on her most confident grin and, privately wishing she had her taser with her, heads directly up the steps to the door. She's about ten metres away when the alien guard notices her and thrusts an extremely unpleasant-looking weapon in her direction. It appears to be the bastard child of a turtle and a laser rifle, and seriously deadly with it. The alien doesn't look much better. Darcy swallows, forcing herself to ignore the gun, and holds up the container with the same bright grin.
"Coffee!" she announces, and keeps walking like that should be enough explanation. The guard isn't buying it, apparently, because he shakes the turtle-laser at her and emits a horrible gargling sound from what is presumably his mouth. Hang about, is this alien even a he? It's not like Darcy can just go ahead and ask, and the design of its armour doesn't give much away, so- Darcy forces herself to stop rambling. Focus, Lewis. The Avengers are depending on you.
Out loud, she says, "Oh, nobody told the intern I was coming, huh? Trust me, I feel you. I'd barely even started my shift before my boss was all, 'Hey, buncha aliens invaded Stark Tower, best take 'em a peace offering,' and then I was chucked out before I could even ask whether aliens like coffee, and-"
The alien, having apparently had enough of her monologue - if it had even understood it, did aliens even understand English? Darcy would have to ask Tony that when she found him - retracts its weapon and waves her past. Success! Darcy has to stop herself punching the air as she trots into Stark Tower, hoisting the coffee onto her hip.
The huge entrance lobby is deserted and dark, with little damage but no signs of life, either.
"JARVIS?" whispers Darcy as she heads for the stairs - elevator's out, obviously - "JARVIS? Are you there?"
There's no response, which is discomfiting if not unexpected. Well then, Darcy will just have to do this alone. Vaguely wondering if it's against the rules to start drinking her mocha while on a rescue mission, Darcy marshals her considerable knowledge of the building's layout and decides that the third floor is probably the best place to begin her search. R&D is up on tenth, but third is the real nerve centre of Avengers operations, and it's where everyone would head in the event of a power outage. Right into the alien trap.
The stairwell is empty, but the third floor definitely isn't. Darcy pokes her head around the corner and almost immediately draws it back at the sight of a corridor swarming with aliens, croaking at each other like a colony of bullfrogs. If bullfrogs were hideous and blue and bent on world domination. How the hell is she supposed to get through there?
Well, if a bluff's worth using once, it's worth using twice. Darcy straightens her shirt, brushes back her hair, and holds the coffee out in front of her like a shield as she heads into the corridor. The croaking stops immediately. It's extremely unnerving - almost more so than Fury's death stare was, that time Tony's video mission report turned out to be a rickroll - and it's almost enough to make Darcy turn tail and flee. Instead, she once again puts on her brightest grin, grabs a cup from her collection and pushes it at the nearest blue monstrosity.
"Coffee!" she sings. "Coffee delivery!" The creature stares in utter incomprehension and then, as she nods encouragingly and gestures for it to take the coffee, slowly reaches out and grasps the cup.
"Thank you for choosing Starbucks!" she smiles, and moves on, handing out more cups as she makes her way down the corridor. It's working. The aliens are too stunned - either by her air of confidence or by the discovery of coffee, she's not sure which - to challenge her. She's going to make it.
That is, until an alien even huger than the rest steps into her path. She looks up at it, eyes widening. It's eight foot tall if it's an yard, heavily scarred and clad in inch-thick armour pitted with dents. It's clearly the leader and its expression is, at least as far as she can tell, murderous. Nick Fury would probably have gotten on well with it.
"... Coffee?" suggests Darcy, her sing-song tone faltering as she holds out her own super-duper-triple-chocolate-cream-and-sprinkles mocha (well, you've got to make some sacrifices in the face of alien invasion). The leader stares flatly at her. Then a low, spine-chilling growl bubbles up from the pit of what Darcy assumes to be its throat and it takes a step towards her.
"Okay," says Darcy, and she flings her mocha at its crotch and runs.
Mental note number one, thinks Darcy as she careens down the corridor, closely followed by Frog Fury. Hot coffee in the groin area is as effective a weapon against evil frogs from beyond the stars as it was against asshole patrons when I was waitressing my way through college. Mental note number two: pissing off said interstellar frogs is a seriously bad idea if you have plans to survive past lunchtime. Not only are they fast as all get-out - Darcy glances over her shoulder and picks up the pace a little - but they have the added advantage of being able to run up walls.
As Darcy whips her attention back to the passage in front of her - no sense surviving this far and then getting caught by tripping over a fire extinguisher - she gets a glimpse into one of the conference rooms scattered along the corridor. The Avengers are in there. They're also extremely unconscious. On instinct, Darcy grabs the doorframe and wheels round, ducking as Frog Fury springs at her. It sails on and smacks into a nearby wall as she slams her hand on the biometric entry panel.
Nothing. Of course; there's no power. Cursing, Darcy pounds on the glass of the conference room door. Obviously, nothing happens; Tony has proofed it against any and all disasters up to and including nuclear apocalypse. Darcy is going to have serious words with him as soon as she's sorted this mess out, words very similar to, 'What the hell kind of idiot designs an impregnable HQ and then doesn't fit a back-up power supply?', only with more cursing. Just as soon as she's avoided the clutches of an alien frog that wants to kill her, broken into a supposedly impenetrable room and roused a dysfunctional collection of superheroes, who she is currently desperately hoping are just asleep, and not-
The alien, recovered from its close encounter with the wall, slams into her, knocking her off her feet and into a window on the opposite side of the corridor. The glass shudders as she bangs her head on it, and Darcy is suddenly incredibly thankful for Tony Stark's nuclear-and-alien-proof-windows-of-doom. Natasha may be able to make falling from the third floor of a tower block look as easy as taking a morning jog, but Darcy'd rather not try it for herself. The alien throws back its head and roars at her, sounding, she thinks dizzily, somewhat like Thor when the nuances of texting have bypassed him yet again. She's probably going to die now, isn't she?
Frog Fury bares vicious fangs at her, and Darcy snaps back to full consciousness. She's pinned against the window by its bulk, but her arm is flung out along the wall, and beneath her fingers...
Darcy grins, draws back her fist, and smashes the (not Stark-designed, not nuclear-proof or alien-proof or even coffee-toting-PA-proof) glass of the emergency kit. There's several of them installed on each floors, for eventualities just such as this (alright, maybe not just such as this, because she's fairly sure even Fury hadn't planned for the whole alien frog debacle, but still). Besides crowbars, emergency med kits and (at Tony's insistence) 80% proof whiskey, there is a whole variety of interesting weapons, including-
Darcy grabs the taser and shocks the alien hard in what she hopes is its neck. It twitches once, then slides to the ground, freeing her. She leaps down - note to self: nominate whoever invented the taser for some sort of award at the earliest possible convenience - snags the crowbar from the kit and attacks the conference room lock with a vengeance. Stark-designed or not, the combination of her terror (it's surely not going to be long before the other aliens come and investigate what happened to their leader) and several feet of solid steel does the trick, and in a remarkably short amount of time, the door slides open.
The choking cloud of gas that envelops Darcy as soon as she dashes across the threshold quickly puts paid to her fears about the Avengers. They're perfectly okay: not dead, not injured, just zonked with industrial-strength knock-out gas. That explains why Bruce hasn't hulked out; they'd probably gathered here when the power went out and the gas had been pumped in too quickly for any of them to react. (Which, worryingly, implies that the aliens had inside knowledge, but unravelling that little conundrum is hardly top of her to-do list right now.) Head swimming, Darcy dashes across the room and throws open the windows. Within minutes, the brisk breeze is clearing the air.
Tony is the first to wake. Massive ego possible factor in recovery time? notes Darcy. Maybe ask Bruce to investigate. Then she launches herself across the room to beat ten kinds of shit out of him.
"What the hell kind of genius doesn't install a back-up generator for their 'totally impenetrable, impossible to attack, safe-as-houses' penis-substitute tower, jerkwad?" she yells as he rubs his head and attempts to ungum his eyes. Possibly that's a bit harsh, but hey, she just had to taser an alien frog. That definitely wasn't in her job description.
"'S not a penis substitute," slurs Tony, proving that, even when semi-conscious, his ability to pick out the least relevant part of any argument and attack it head-on remains unmatched. Darcy doesn't know whether to hit him or to be happy that life is back to normal.
"Ms Lewis," says a gravelly voice behind her, causing her to jump violently and spin a full 180 degrees while still in the air. "Not that we're not indebted to you for rescuing us, but would it be too much trouble to explain what the hell just incapacitated a dozen of the finest minds in New York?"
"Ah! Yessir, Mr Fury, sir!" Darcy says (look, the guy's fricking scary, okay?) "Well, basically, a bunch of alien frogs invaded by cutting the power supply, which Mr Super-jerk here hadn't thought to back up. Come to think of it, they're still out there; we should probably-"
There's a loud crash from outside and one of the aliens appears in the doorway. Natasha immediately shoots it and where the hell did she come from? Darcy knows Nat's basically a ninja, but she could've sworn she was unconscious thirty seconds ago.
"Sir, Clint and I can clear this corridor," she says. "It ought to be enough of a distraction to allow Tony and Bruce to get to the generators."
"Go ahead," says Fury. "Cap, get up to the roof and try to find out where these aliens got in. Stark, get your ass back here once you've fixed the generators and we'll have a little talk about how your buddy Banner is in charge of everything from now on." Tony pouts and is clearly about to protest; Fury gives him the eyeball till he closes his mouth again and sulks off after an apologetic Bruce.
"Congratulations, Ms Lewis," says Fury, causing her to jump all over again. "Looks like you just saved New York. Now, order some goddamn pizza; it's lunchtime." And he's off too, yelling instructions to Clint and Natasha as they hack their way down the corridor.
Darcy glances at her watch. He's right, it is lunchtime, and now she has to take on the challenge of finding a single pizza place in New York that doesn't already refuse to deliver to Stark Tower on the grounds of their delivery guy having been attacked by robots, sexually harassed by Tony, blown up, experimented on, sexually harassed by Tony, caught up in the city's third alien invasion that week or sexually harassed by Tony. Job satisfaction her ass. She doesn't even remember what job satisfaction feels like anymore.
A quiet cough alerts her to the fact that she's not alone in the room.
"Well done, Ms Lewis," says Coulson. The compliment is measured and understated, and Darcy knows perfectly well that it's his way of saying, Thank you for saving New York, America, and quite possibly the rest of the universe as well, using only your native wit and several cups of coffee against enemies who had already disabled several of the most powerful people in the world; people who are, in fact, supposed to be defending against exactly the kind of threat they got caught out by.
She smiles, and realises that she's still carrying one cup of coffee. Apparently even alien invasion isn't enough to shake her ingrained PA instincts, the first of which is, Do not ever, ever, on pain of having to help Tony in the lab for a week, forget Coulson's coffee.
Darcy holds the coffee out to her boss, hand perfectly steady despite the traumas of the day (and she'll deal with what her newfound calmness under fire might mean as and when she's got the opportunity for a massive freakout; there's more important things to be done right now). He takes it, and smiles, an open, amazed smile that she sees only too rarely.
"Thank you, Ms Lewis," he says, when he's schooled his features back into implacability. "I think you may be due a pay rise." Which means, Never before have I had an assistant as dedicated and resourceful as yourself. Please do not quit, lest I be forced to face Tony's tantrums alone once more.
"You're welcome, sir," she replies, and he follows the Avengers out the door, apparently without the slightest concern about the very real danger of being eaten alive by alien frogs. Darcy allows herself to stare after him, insides pleasantly warm and fuzzy, for several moments. Then she hauls out her cell to dial the first pizza place.
Oh, yeah. Now she remembers. That's what job satisfaction feels like.