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Beta'd by WithinHerHeart


Jane rolled her eyes in exasperation, carefully placing a test tube back in it's holder, and turned to face her younger assistant. Darcy was pacing a hole in the floor, muttering furiously under her breath, her hand running agitatedly through her brown curls.

"Calm down Darcy, this isn't the end of the world," she attempted to soothe.

"Not the end of the world. Not the end of the world!" Darcy exclaimed, a tint of hysteria working it's way into her voice, "Jane, I'm…I'm…"

"Pregnant, you're pregnant," Jane supplied slowly, "Do you really have that much trouble saying the word?"

"How can you be so calm about this?" she demanded an answer, "I'm…I can't believe…there is a child growing in my womb, like an actual baby! How…we were always so careful!"

"Well, you know it only takes once," Jane quoted.

Darcy glared darkly at her friend. "Don't, just don't. I hate that damn saying. Say something useful, like what am I supposed to do now?"

"I don't know," Jane shrugged, "Um, have you spoken to Bruce yet?"

The young woman paled automatically at her boyfriend's name and, if anything, she seemed to freak out more. "Oh my god! Bruce! I hadn't even thought about him! God, what is he going to say? He told me before that he wasn't entirely happy with the idea of Big and Green around small children, what if he can't control his anger around the kid? No, don't be stupid, Bruce has amazing self control, you know that would never happen," Darcy corrected sharply, shaking her head as if to rid herself of the thought, "But what if he's not ready to be a father? Hell, what if I'm not ready to be a mother? I mean, I can't even take care of a Tamagotchi!"

Jane had had enough. With speed that Darcy wasn't even aware her boss possessed, she crossed the room and had a strong grip on her forearms to keep her in place. Darcy was forced to look her in the eyes, blinking slowly.

"Darcy," she began, her voice firm and demanding in a way that meant Darcy could do nothing but listen, "Calm down, okay? You need to breathe – in, out; in, out – good. Now, listen to me very carefully: The choices you make concerning his baby is up to you and Bruce, no one else can make that decision for you, but you both need to be absolutely sure your decision is the right one, because once you decide, that's it. There's no going back, so make sure you have all the facts. You and Bruce would be brilliant parents – you can calm him down if he ever starts to lose his temper, and he has enough sense to keep you on track. Yeah, it'll be difficult – but parenting is, especially during the first few months. But you'll learn, just like every new parent out there has to, and its not as if you'll be alone in this. We'll all be there for you as avid and a little unbearable Aunts and Uncles, like we are with little Sep-"

"I still can't believe Rosetta let Loki call their son Sleipnir," Darcy murmured under her breath.

"-Who is also a good example of how it is entirely possible for a member of the Avengers to raise children, even if the set up of the family unit is a little…unorthodox," Jane continued as if she hadn't been interrupted, "So if you really want some advice, here's mine: talk to Bruce. Find out what you both want and make a decision together. Now, what are you going to do?"

"Talk to Bruce," she mimicked.

"Good," Jane released her hold and patted her on the head in a patronizing fashion, "Now go."


Bruce glanced over the rim of his glasses and was suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling of nervousness that churned in his gut, a lump in the back of his throat and a panicked expression on his face. Darcy was perched awkwardly on the chair across from him (it was the lounge that Tony had insisted needed to be installed on every floor, which had become the place for Darcy and Bruce to just be alone to talk or watch movies or whatever, away from the rest of the Avengers, since their relationship grew from friends to lovers) with her hands clasped tightly in her lap. Her head was inclined downwards, as if she were trying to hide something from him that was clear on her face, or as if she didn't want to meet his gaze.

He wondered what this was all about. He'd been working in the lab he shared with Tony when Darcy came down to ask whether she could speak to him for a moment. Tony had, of course, teased him about "being in trouble", but he couldn't think of anything he could have possibly done, especially not anything that could bring that expression to her face. Bruce had been in a relationship with Darcy for nearly three years now (3 weeks until their anniversary, he remembered) and he didn't think he could remember a time where she had looked so worried about something. If anything, he could say she looked…afraid. Tapping his foot nervously against the designer rug that was laid out between them, he searched his mind for an explanation.

"Bruce," she finally said, her sighing voice drawing him quickly from his thoughts, "I, ah, I need to talk to you about…something…it's really important, and, um, I don't want you to freak out. See, you mean so much to me and…"

Automatically, Bruce tensed, the words seeming to echo. Oh. Well, that explained everything. His chest ached at the thought, made his eyes beginning to burn. It hurt, but he wasn't surprised; he had just hoped it would never happen. But, he supposed, you can't put off the envitable. Darcy was much younger than him, excitable and outgoing, just a beautiful human being in every sense of the word – she had her whole life ahead of her and, really, given the choice, who would really want to spend the rest of their lives with someone like him: older, shy, a private person; someone who was scarred with serious anger management problems. It really wasn't a hard choice. He could only imagine how easy it was for Darcy to make her decision.

He suppressed a pain filled sigh, and forced a watery, understanding smile to his face. "It's okay. You don't need to say anything. I-I know what you're going to say…"

Darcy looked up, confusion and shocked mingled on her face. "You…you do?"

"Yeah, I mean, it was bound to happen at some point – well, I hoped it wouldn't, but yeah, I knew it. You could do so much better than me; someone younger and with less issues. I understand that, and despite how you may feel now, I love you and I want you to be happy whether it's with me or…or not…"

Darcy rolled her eyes with exasperation – a hint of fondness, but mostly exasperation. Grasping one of the cushions behind her, she chucked it roughly at the man in front of her, the well-aimed throw hitting him square in the face. He let out an undignified yelp, cutting off his speech.

She narrowed her eyes at him. "Bruce, I'm not breaking up with you. We've had this discussion before. I am happy where I am, as your girlfriend, lover, roommate; working for SHIELD along side Jane. I don't ever want to change that because I love you too, so stop thinking our relationship will end soon enough because the next time you bring it up, I may end up strangling you, Hulk or no Hulk."

Relief settled into his system at the firmness of the words, and it was as if a weight had been lifted from his chest. His cheeks flushed with glee and embarrassment. Maybe he shouldn't assume the worst, it always seemed to end up with some kind of bodily abuse on Darcy's part – soon enough, he was sure she'd probably refuse to talk to him about anything serious. Still, the questions didn't stop pouring out.

"Then what's this all about?" he demanded, "Why do you look so worried?"

She wanted to address the situation delicately, to judge Bruce's reaction rather than just jump in, head first, and get a migraine as well as completely freak Bruce out. She raced through every phase that she could recall from movies and tv shows that she could possibly use, imagining a different – but equally bad – scenario in her mind.

"How do you feel about having little Banner's running about?" Darcy found herself blurting out before she'd fully at the change to analyse the possible reaction behind the words. She bit her bottom lip nervously, and watched Bruce closely.

He blinked slowly, the words obviously having stumped him. "Little Banner's?" he echoed, "You mean children? You…you want to talk to me about children…having children even, with you?"

"No, with Steve."

"I'm sure Tony would have something to say about that."

"Bruce, be serious," Darcy whined, reaching out to grasp his larger hand in her own. She turned it gently in her palm, enjoying the tingling feeling of his callous fingertips against her palm and admiring the contrast in colour that seemed to emphasis the differences in them both. Their relationship was surprising enough (she could easily recall the expressions on the Avengers faces when they found them making out in the penthouse lounge – well, except for Tony who had merely grinned and said to not "sweat up my new sofas") but was it even possible for such different people to raise a child? The thought subduing her, her voice lowered to a whisper when she continued, "How'd you feel about the two of us starting a family together?"

"Honestly?" he said after a moment of pause, reaching out with his free hand to cover their clasped ones, moving so he was holding the pale limb against his palms. "I would love to start a family with you. I put that thought aside a long time ago, but I kind of always hoped it would still be on the cards – and a lot of things have happened that I never dreamed would," his thumbs caressed the end on the back of her hands, relishing the smoothness of the skin behind his own, "So yes, I would want nothing more to have little girls and boys with your hair and smile…"

"And your eyes and smarts," Darcy added with a small smile.

"If you want," he shrugged his agreement, "...can I ask why you're asking me this now?"

"Um, yes, that's another thing I needed to tell you…" she bit her bottom lip.

Then, it was as if something clicked inside Bruce's head. "Wait…" his eyes widened and darted wildly between her face and her midriff, searching for some kind of confirmation or rejection, "Are…are you…"

"Maybe…I mean I've been feeling sick in the mornings recently and I have a craving for oranges, so I did one of those home tests and that's what it said. I'd have to check with a real doctor first just in case it was a false result or something – because apparently, those can happen, which seems a little cruel for people who are actually trying to have a baby, which you know, we weren't so…yeah…" she trailed off, flushed pink, very much aware of her nervous rambling.

Bruce tugged her closer by her hand, leading her easily around the coffee table that was placed between them, until she was settled straddling his lap so he could see her face. Darcy rested her hands on his shoulders to keep steady, and watched as his hands stroked her stomach through the fabric of her vest top, his eyes light with emotion.

"A baby…we're going to have a baby…" Bruce breathed out in disbelief. Darcy was sure it was possible to be blinded by the smile he gave her.

Her heart light, she brushed stray strands of hair from his forehead. For this moment at least, the worries of parenthood subsided – because if anything put that expression on Bruce's face, it cannot be a bad thing.

"Yeah, we're going to have a baby…"