Title: When Darcy Met Steve
Summary: It's in the title. Is it possible to write platonic pwp? Because that is totally what this is. It's possibly the most self-indulgent thing I've written, and I wrote Spike/Buffy during high school.
When Darcy first meets Steve, she does not crash into him regardless of how Tony tells the story. Tony was not there and he should really stop making shit up. There may have been some distinct juggling of boxes when she rounded the corner in SHIELD headquarters only to almost hit the silent ninja that turned out to be Steve Rogers, but no actual crashing occurs. Instead, after the inevitable awkward dance of not hitting each other, Darcy realizes that the cute blonde guy looks more like a lost puppy than a SHIELD agent. Fresh from her triumph of finding the damn office supply closet, Darcy generously decides to help him.
Of course they both just get more lost (seriously, do proper agents get GPS embedded in their heads or something?) and she considers sacrificing her hard-won paperclips to make a trail the fifth time they wander past the same damn Dark Energy Lab This Way sign. But wasting away to nothing in the endless corridors is not to be their fate once Darcy decides the only thing left to try is the Authorized Personnel Only door over Steve's objections. It leads them to the cafeteria, where Steve was headed in the first place. So Darcy calls it a win.
Having bonded over their bewilderment (Thor later insists it was the glory of the questing; Darcy's pretty sure it was the lost thing), she snags a new lunch buddy and friend to fetch things from high shelves. It only takes three weeks before she learns that her Steve = Captain America, after she lures Jane from her lab with the combined promises of Taco Day and proof that Darcy has actual social skills.
Darcy would be surprised by the ease with which she rolls with it, were it not for the fact that it explained basically everything about him. When someone looks under thirty and doesn't know Sesame Street, something is obviously going on.
Super soldier frozen for seventy years makes a lot more sense than "most badly prepared alien spy ever" which was Darcy's back up choice. So yay! Friends for everyone! Like with My Little Pony, but with ... actually, about the same amount of superpowers.
Steve is totally Applejack, she decides.
The reveal of Steve's not actually very secret history does not drastically change Darcy's opinion of him, as he feared. Well, it does change things, but not by turning Darcy into some weird fangirl of omg, Captain America.
Instead, Darcy informs him that she is now taking responsibility for his introduction to the twenty-first century.
By then, he knows her well enough to be very afraid. He tries to argue that everyone else has been very helpful in that regard, and he really doesn't need another well-meaning soul trying to compensate for all the lost years. Really, Tony is enough. Tony is more than enough.
"Do you know who the Simpsons are yet?" she asks after Steve tries this argument on her.
"They're the yellow people on tv?" he hazards after a moment of thought.
Darcy gives his answer the full consideration it deserves. "They are, but I think that was said without sufficient conviction. Which is clearly why you need me. I put real effort into this, you know. I looked stuff up on Wikipedia and everything."
Even before she knew about Steve's issues, they still managed an entire conversation over lunch about why Snow White was a masterpiece. Somebody who remembered a Disney movie with such fondness, she decides, needs a proper introduction to the wonders that have come since. Particularly once Wikipedia tells her all the good Looney Tunes were made in the 1950s. No wonder Steve stares at her blankly whenever she starts singing Kill the Wabbit.
Hence the whole History of Western Animation (With Stopovers in Studio Ghibli Because Duh) as Chosen by Darcy Lewis; it is an epic weekend's work. There is an accompanying list for Introduction to the Twenty-First Century Via Movies as a supplement, but Darcy knows her audience.
Steve holds out until a particularly stressful week. It isn't a picnic for Darcy either, as everyone rushes around at SHIELD in order to keep the Avengers informed about who and what the Masters of Evil (that was actually their name) are. But Steve actually has to fight said Masters of Evil, including their leader who turned out to be the son of one of his old Nazi enemies.
So basically, that week sucks.
Darcy is all set to curl up on her couch and turn off her brain, having spent the last few days running primarily on catnaps and caffeine, when he shows up at her apartment. He's only stopped to change after the debriefing and looks even worse than she feels.
After making sure he doesn't require actual medical attention, Darcy follows the unspoken request and starts up her Looney Tunes dvd, followed by Cinderella. There are times when you need cartoon animals to solve your problems.
Thankfully after that, he doesn't need a crisis to swing by and see what else has come up in her research. Sometimes they even commandeer a room in Tony's mansion for their viewing entertainment, and the rest of the Avengers wander in to see what is playing. But it's usually just the two of them hanging out, watching the decades roll by in glorious animated technicolor.
The first time Darcy sees Steve's SHIELD issued cellphone, she resists the urge to laugh. It buzzes during lunch, and she gets treated to the sight of Steve painstakingly trying to a) read a text message and b) reply.
"That is just wrong," she announces after watching him try to hit the tiny buttons and mutter almost-curses as the wrong letters keep coming up.
He glares at her.
"No, seriously. That is what they gave you?"
The phone in question is ancient, the kind that has a two-color screen and number keypad, so you have to cycle through the letters every time you want to type. Darcy didn't even know such things still existed.
"It's an upgrade, actually," he mutters. "The first one they gave me only made calls and I know that phones are supposed to do more than that now. I am not actually stupid."
He is making a very concentrated and angry face. Darcy knows that face. It is Steve's I Will Adapt to the Twenty-First Century face. This was now a Thing for him. Captain America can fight aliens and save the day; Captain America will master the cellphone.
Captain America really shouldn't have to master a stupid phone like that. Darcy takes pity on him and snags it before he smashes the keys to bits in frustration. "What are you trying to do?"
Steve is scowling at her. Now it's his I'll Never Learn if People Keep Babying Me face. She ignores it with ease and gives him her Stop Being Stubborn face.
Either hers is better or Steve's manners override the scowl, because he relents and tells her he was trying to respond to Bruce for what time the team meeting was that night. And then demands the phone back once she finishes sending the text, in what he clearly feels was an embarrassingly short period of time.
She refuses, even when he brings out the sad puppy eyes.
"No, absolutely not. Whoever gave you this is an idiot; there's no way someone should have a phone without at least a qwerty keyboard these days; texting off a number pad is for teenage girls only. I was one, so I have mad skillz, but seriously if you want a modern phone you should actually have a modern phone."
"I just got this one; I'm not going to throw it away," Steve protests. Darcy wonders when he'll break and ask what qwerty means. He's probably memorizing it to look up on Google later. Reason #136 why Steve needs a smart phone. Instant answer power.
"Yes you are. It's either we go visit the techs and shame them for getting rid of their old stuff by handing it off to you, or you show it to Tony and see what he gives you after his head finishes exploding from being around something so out of date."
Steve considers his options for a moment. He sticks his hand out and there is a distinctly mischievous glint in his eyes. "Tony will probably be at the meeting tonight."
Darcy hands the phone over with her own evil smile. "I knew there was reason I liked you. I'd tell you to take pictures, but that will have to wait until you get an upgrade."
Steve may have lacked a camera phone, but the next day he does present her with a sweet sketch of what exploding head Tony looks like along with his new, Tony-approved Starkphone.
Darcy puts the sketch up in her cubicle and makes sure to download the Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary apps on his new phone, as well as demonstrate how to use them.
When Steve is able to look up the meaning of "pwn" without asking someone, Darcy's pretty sure he was ready to propose on the spot, were he not, you know, Steve. Instead she finds out what a thank you hug from Captain America feels like.
It feels like joy and awesomeness, in case you were wondering.
Sometimes Darcy forgets what exactly the whole "asleep for seventy years" thing means. She knows that it means there are things that Steve doesn't know; that there are references and skills that even someone who was the age he would have been barring the ice would understand, or at least make their grandchildren understand for them. Sometimes she slips and thinks of him as someone from far away, a new arrival to the United States. Like Thor, but less … Thor. The past is another country, right? Only Thor can take the Bifrost back home whenever he wants to and Steve never can.
At least, Darcy thinks so. She's willing to believe time-travel is possible; given everything she's seen, even likely. But she knows the kind of trip Steve wants to take would destabilize the time-space continuum or end reality or clock roaches or however Jane phrased it last time the scientists talked quantum physics in public. He's here to stay and he can never go back.
So he has bad days. Days where he's not really listening as she babbles a mile a minute about god knows what, and Darcy hopes she always notices when that happens, she really does. Because when she does notice, she shuts up and drags him outside and they go for a walk. She lets him take the lead and it's okay if they get lost. She's got a tazer and he's Captain America. The biggest danger would be if he were unable to respond to an Avengers emergency, which is why they have cellphones anyways. He talks and she listens and if she has no idea what to say, at least she's not saying the wrong thing.
So she increases her stash of old movies – that's pre-1945 old – and makes sure Steve's art supplies never get low and does her best to run interference when people should really just stop expecting him to save the day 24/7 even if he agrees with them. There's a reason Fury's got a team, that's T-E-A-M as in more than one person to rely on.
Darcy knows that there's a gap between them, between recent college grad stumbling through adulthood and defrosted super soldier from World War II. But aren't friends supposed to close the gap, or at least reach a hand out across from it?
That metaphor makes no sense, but Darcy's willing to stand by it.
Steve may be a man out of time, but he's still someone who just recently celebrated his twenty-eighth birthday.
Darcy suspects she's the only person aware of this. She's just dropped off another round of paperwork with the accountants, and walks by the highly amusing sight of Steve calmly explaining to an agent about why the Avengers are going to do one thing or another that SHIELD would rather them not. There is judicious use of the word "son" and the agent keeps nodding seriously and attentively as Steve talks.
Darcy's seen this guy's desk; he has pictures of kids in high school that are presumably his own and not some complex spy cover thing. But he doesn't seem bothered at all that Steve's in full Captain America lecture mode.
Once he's done, she waits until the agent is out of hearing range and turns to Steve to point out the obvious. "Okay, I get the respect Captain America's authoritah thing, I really do. You're awesome and deserve it. But does anybody actually know that you're not ninety-four for reals? Or am I the only one?"
Steve just looks at her. "Colonel Fury is aware."
"Colonel Fury doesn't count," Darcy says, confident that when he inevitably hears this on the security tape it will be understood in the proper context. She hopes. "You just called a guy with a kid checking out colleges 'son.' There is only one way you can get away with that, and that's because people can't do math."
"I'm sure that everyone employed here fully understands – "
"That you haven't hit the big three-oh yet?"
"You are totally about to tell me to keep it down." Darcy studies Steve's face carefully. He's blushing. "You're using it! You are taking total advantage of the fact nobody can hold 'fought in World War II' and 'still unable to run for President' in their heads at the same time."
He opens his mouth to protest, but that hard-wired honesty streak prevents him from doing more than stammer. Darcy grins at having caught Captain America in an almost lie.
"People patronize me enough as it is," he says seriously, only a little red in the face now. "If sometimes I don't correct them when they are willing to defer to my experience, then it's for a good cause. I have a responsibility to those I lead – "
She holds up a hand. "You actually don't have to justify it; I'm just teasing. If we're going to be serious here," Darcy pauses to gather her thoughts for a moment. She wants to say this right. "It's not cool though that people forget. When you went all Capiscle, you didn't really live through those years. You're not the same age as my grandfather even if you're from the same age; he may never get the internet but you're still young. You'll learn. Super serum aside, you'd still have another sixty-plus years here to figure it out. People should remember that."
"You have an awful lot of faith in a guy who still doesn't understand," he casts around for an example, pronouncing it just a little awkwardly, "Twitter."
"Steve, nobody understands Twitter. I use Twitter and I don't understand it. And the less said about Facebook, the better."
"And the tumbler?"
"Tumblr is awesome and a reminder that the internet's real purpose is to give us ridiculous macros and cat pictures."
"And someday I will understand that?"
"No, someday you will understand that the internet and its cat pictures are what bind us, penetrate us, and hold the universe together."
"I thought that was the Force."
She smiles. "And they said you can't be taught."
For reasons known only to Jane, she has a tendency to act as if "former intern to the scientist" gives her the right to meddle in Darcy's life. Darcy has suspicions that this is related to Thor, as if successfully interfering in Darcy's life will somehow be prep for theoretical future god babies. Darcy is not sure if that is a compliment or not. It's definitely annoying.
"I'm worried about you," Jane announces during one of their girl time lunches. Darcy looks up from attempting to fold the perfect taco and avoid salsa shirt. "I've dragged you into this - "
By this Darcy assumes she means the whole SHIELD thing, which is not true at all. Jane and her experiments (and Thor, which was more Odin's fault than anything else) definitely put Darcy on SHIELD's radar and vice versa, but she actually could have gone on with her life with nothing more than a stolen iPod and a non-disclosure agreement as a consequence. Only between the alien invasion and a remarkably unkind job market to poli-sci graduates, Darcy figured this was the best place for her to make a difference, which is really all she wanted in the first place. She has no desire to be a field agent, but someone has to keep them organized.
And Jane is still talking. Darcy tunes in to hear the closing question and tries not to roll her eyes.
" - you seem to be handling it but Darcy," Jane puts on her concerned face, "do you have any friends your own age?"
"Uh, yeah," she answers, weirded out that this was going to be Jane's target. She would have aimed for the whole "you work for the secret spy organization that stole your iPod, what are you doing with your life?" Darcy was willing to grant that was a legit avenue of attack; her actual mom had a variant on that one, minus the stealing and more on the "what does this have to do with your degree again?" part. Particularly because she can't tell her mom she helps the people who help save the world. Which Jane does know, so what is up with Jane being on Darcy's case? She follows with, "I'm friends with Steve. You know that."
"He was born in 1918," Jane says, punctuating with an emphatic fork gesture. And what does that have to do with anything, Darcy wants to know. She goes for a rebuttal.
"And thanks to the miracles of science and a really long nap, he's got five years on me, tops. And I've got way more modern savvy so it evens out." She attempts the taco. She just barely makes the plate before half the contents slides out the back. At least salsa shirt was avoided.
Jane glares. "There is a flaw in your logic."
"And yet you can't name it."
Point: Darcy. In honor of her victory, she steals some tortilla chips from Jane's plate to scoop up the extra taco meat. Success!
Jane halfheartedly slaps at her hand and aims for another target. "Are you two ...?" she asks delicately, dancing around the obvious question.
"No, we are not dating. No, I do not want to date Steve," Darcy recites in a monotone the answer that she should probably just announce in an office wide e-mail or something. She continues, "Not that Steve wouldn't be an awesome boyfriend, but that would be like dating my really hot stepbrother. Technically legal, but still ooky. Clueless notwithstanding. Besides, they were ex-step siblings."
Darcy enjoys taco-y bliss while Jane processes the Darcy logic. Darcy debates internally over whether this means Clueless belongs in Steve's Introduction to the Twenty-First Century Via Movies queue, but decides it is way more important to get him to watch the Simpsons. He hadn't agreed yet, even if she argued that it would explain so much if he just sat through a few episodes. She'd promised to curate a Best Of list and everything. Lame.
She gets a reprieve from the inquisition when Thor swings by, back from an Avengers training session. He starts narrating the mighty events of their mock battle, which then leads into the Jane and Thor Sickeningly Cute Couple Time.
Darcy considers announcing that she and Steve are in fact having hot monkey sex all over the helicarrier just to see if Jane will react, only for Jane to get an epiphany mid kissy face and rush off to the lab for more science.
Which is for the best, because Thor's grasp of sarcasm is still limited and the whole thing would have ended like a bad sitcom episode.
Jane is not the first person to suggest that the Darcy and Steve thing is romantic, nor is she the last. Honestly, Darcy finds it annoying the number of people who seem convinced she is corrupting the pure innocence that is Captain America (well, except for Tony, because he can find innuendo in anything; it's like his favorite language after binary). Even Colonel Fury gives her the eye once or twice, as if he's trying to decide if she is worthy of America's Favorite Son. Or maybe if it is worth the headache of hiding her body; it's hard to tell.
The not very secret series of SHIELD caricatures at her desk (you had to actually enter her cube and look behind the monitor) probably have something to do with that. And those were not even her fault, she was just the recipient.
Okay, she had suggested the first one. But cartoon angry!Fury was so cute!
… Maybe she was corrupting Captain America a little. But not sexually, because ew. Well, not ew, but still no. Darcy has always been the kind of girl that had guy friends as well as girl friends; Steve is just the most recent and wholesome.
When Harry Met Sally may be the finest romantic comedy ever made, and Darcy would defend that statement to the death, but Billy Crystal had been all wrong when he'd declared men and women couldn't be friends without sex getting in the way. Particularly when people decided that movie characters played by popular comedians in the eighties spoke trufax.
"Honestly," she complains to Steve during weekend movie night (The history of western animation has reached Pixar. If there's an Avengers emergency during Toy Story, Darcy will be pissed). "Is it that hard for people to understand?"
"Who is Harry and who is Sally again?" asks Steve. He toggles through the dvd menu to start the movie. Technology 0, Captain America 1. "And what do they have to do with Dr. Foster?"
Darcy waves a hand dismissively. "Not important. I'll put it on the list. You'll turn interesting colors during the diner scene. It'll be fun."
"Your definition of fun and mine tend to vary."
"I maintain that Rainbow Vodka Night was an occasion of happy fun times for all and I have the pictures to prove it."
Steve makes a pained sound at the memory.
"Tony agrees with me. Natasha agrees with me."
"Tony agrees with anything that involves alcohol."
"I note that you did not dispute the additional proof of Natasha's support."
"My mother always advised against arguing with a lady."
She throws a chip at him, which of course he catches with his superhuman reflexes. Darcy consoles herself with salty crunchy goodness. "What does that make me?"
He sits next to her on the couch. "My friend." Before he clicks play, he remarks, "You know who you remind me of from before?"
"If you say Peggy, that ruins my entire Billy Crystal is wrong theory."
"Peggy would have enjoyed knowing you," he admits, which despite her teasing gives Darcy a warm feeling inside. There are worse role models than Peggy Carter. "But actually, you remind me a lot of Bucky. He never let me get away with anything either." He laughs a moment and it's only a little wistful. "If you two had ever met, I'm not sure I would have survived the experience."
She elbows him. "You would have totally survived. And it would have been fun."
Steve leans back and finally hits play. "You're right, it would have been."
Darcy leans back as well, to ready to watch the wonder that is Pixar begin again. She's got plenty of chips, a good movie, and her best friend to share them with. Life is good.
(I think I just started shipping Bucky/Darcy. Help?)