That time Darcy really needed help

The tower is always quiet; it's not something Steve even notices. It's not an upsetting thing or a depressing thing or an there-isn't-anybody-here thing; it's just- well, two assassins, a man who isolates himself to keep himself calm, and Tony, who's always locked away in his lab. Steve knows that if Thor were here, it would be less quiet, because Thor can't seem to do anything without broadcasting that he's doing it. It's more of a subconscious knowledge though, just a small niggling at the back of his brain telling him that something's missing.

Then, one day, the tower isn't quiet anymore, which is a little upsetting at first.

It's not really Darcy's fault. She's not overly loud, and she's not obnoxious (like Tony when he's around); she's just constantly talking. Constantly listening to music or watching TV or playing with ingredients in the communal kitchen or yelling at Jane that she needs to take care of herself or the Rainbow-Frost Bridge (her exact words) will never get re-made.

Jane's a lot quieter, and he's not certain if it's because that's just how she is, or if it's because she's always holed up in the lab with Tony and Bruce and so he just never hears her. It's baffling, trying to put the two women together in his mind- they don't fit right and there's too many left over gaps in the 'how did this friendship even happen?' equation.

It's about a month and a half into the two women officially living at Avengers Tower that Steve first interacts with Darcy. They've talked while he waits for his coffee, and they've sat together over a documentary about Mount Everest, but outside of that it's just been smiles and a quick 'hello.'

"Steve! Oh thank god I found someone!" Darcy's hair is tied back in a messy bun, two pens dangerously close to falling out of it, and her mascara's smudged slightly underneath her eyes. He can see the tell-tale signs of someone wearing the same clothes as yesterday.

She's tugging on his arm and leading him back down the hallway before he can register what she's going.

"Darcy?" Is all he has time to get out before she's shoving him into her room.

This, this is unexpected and not something he knows how to handle. He's in her room- which, admittedly, is made less awkward by the fact that their rooms are all more like large apartments- and she's pushing him further in, towards the couch.

"I need you-" his ears clog and he can't seem to hear anything over the sound of his breathing; which, thankfully, is still even and not yet reflecting his panicked state. She's still pushing him, and he doesn't know why he's letting her- he doesn't want to know what she's planning on, he shouldn't be in her room alone, and his mind really needs to start functioning again.

"Steve please!" Darcy says, her tiny fist smacking him lightly at the small of his back, and it's enough to get him to register his surroundings again, to note that he's stopped moving and that she's standing behind him like she's trying to hide. "Please get it out of my room!"

Her hand waves towards the couch that he's standing just to the side of, and he can see a rather large spider scuttling across the cushion.

Suddenly this entire scenario is the funniest thing he's been part of (well top 14, Bucky and Howard were both quite the character he thinks, and almost doesn't feel the pang of sadness over how funny this current situation is).

"So, uh, I'll just kill it for you, then?" He goes to pick up an obnoxiously ostentatious crystal bookend that Tony has on all the bookshelves, but stops when she moves to cut him off.

"No! No don't kill it! Just, get rid of it. Take it outside?" The smudges under her eyes make them seem overly large, and for the first time he notices just how blue they are. She's still hiding behind him, like the spider's going to suddenly jump off the couch and attack her, and he notes with amusement that every time it changes direction she tugs on his shirt a bit; like she's trying to make sure he's not in its line of fire or something.

"Ok Darcy, I'll take it outside. Got any jars?" She hands him a large tupperware container with attachable lid, and watches him trap the spider from the safety of her kitchenette.

Darcy should be less nonplussed

So it turns out that Darcy isn't quite wired right. It's something he's coming to expect from anyone who lives in the tower, but it's still a bit unsettling to look at someone who seems so normal and then hear her talk and realize that she's really not.

It's not an issue, really, because Steve doesn't mind listening to her talk about how Thor is going to have his poptart privileges revoked when he gets back ("long-distance relationship only work if you talk, Steve, and he really dropped the ball on that one when he came by Earth and didn't even leave a note." "Darcy, we were kind of fighting aliens and trying to stop Loki and saving New York at the time." "And that's why he's only getting poptarts taken away, instead of getting tazed again."). Or watching her invent new recipes by throwing whatever she thinks tastes good into a bowl (they don't always taste good together), or even listening to her eclectic music that's usually on the 'not really my taste' end of the spectrum for him.

But this is something else- because Steve has seen her get completely riled up about spiders; the bigger they are the less likely she is to not scream, just a little, when she first notices them.

Someone who 'flips their shit' (Tony's words) over a spider should not be taking being held as a hostage by an alien race so well. Oh, and there were laser robots with guns involved.

"What the hell is a laser robot?!" He hears Darcy yell over the din of gunshots and the echoing screech of metal being pressed together and pulled apart. The alien holding her by her waist doesn't seem very happy that he managed to get the one hostage alive who wouldn't shut up.

"No seriously? Is it anything like a laser screwdriver? Because I've seen that episode, and the sonic screwdriver was the better choice in the end, man," Steve doesn't understand her when she starts talking about pop-culture, but it's a little reassuring to hear her talking non-the-less. If she's talking she's alive; of course, if she keeps talking then big, slimy, and alien, will probably get fed up and just kill her.

Tony's laughter sounds over the chaos, and it's still weird for Steve to hear- all electronic and reverberating; Darcy keeps telling him she's going to make him watch Star Wars with her so he can finally make a joke about Tony's Iron Man suit. He's not really sure why he'd want to do either.

"A girl after my own heart. Bruce, we should invite her over for our next Star Trek marathon," Tony says as he somehow manages to maneuver Darcy safely out bad-guy-ot-the-week's grasp. Steve's heart shutters beneath his ribcage as he watches them soar up into the air too high, too high.

He's already making his way to the top of the building that Stark's dropped her off at, and it's a good thing that everything's already been taken care of, because he completely forgets to give his team orders before abandoning them.

Darcy's on the edge of the roof, looking down at the laser robots, watching the team as they finally put the alien into custody. When he reaches her, she's pale and her eyes are wide.

"Holy shit Cap, I think my brain's just now telling me how scary that was."

Darcy Lewis isn't wired right. She's made to react to things and to do things and her body won't let her acknowledge that she's in danger until later.

Later, where she panics on the roof of an abandoned building and clutches at Captain America like he's going to leave her behind; all quick breaths and grasping hands and eyes that are impossibly wide. And Steve doesn't really know how to handle that, because he's only ever had to talk someone into getting over their fears and doing what needs to be done, not trying to calm them down when they're safe.

Clint's great

"This is awkward. You're awkward. Please make this stop," Tony says as Darcy makes breakfast. Surprisingly, it's just the two of them- it's probably because everyone else went out on some huge team-building exercise (see: Natasha has never been to a zoo and Steve wouldn't abide by that so they're all out having fun while Darcy is home sick with Tony as the world's worst caregiver).

"Your next sentence had better make sense or so help me I will sneeze all over your food," she says with a sniffle, before uncapping the cough syrup and taking a healthy chug.

"Just ask Steve out already. This whole awkwardness thing you two have going on is getting in the way of me being able to successfully distract and embarrass him. You know, embarrass him with things other than implying what kind of lingerie you're wearing or wondering if foreplay has changed all that much since the forties." Tony's utterly unapologetic about the fact that he's not only imagined her in her underwear, but that he's trying to get other men in on the conversation. And so help her, it completely endears him to her. The bastard.

"Well for future reference: I don't own anything in blue," she flips the omelette, and tries to ignore the fuzzy feeling her brain's getting from the cough syrup.

Tony's face when she turns to look at him is completely horrified, "but that's his color! It's like, it's like you're betraying your country, Darcy," he's not so horrified that he can't eat the food she places in front of him, though.

"Sorry," she says around a mouthful of bacon, and wonders if she should drink some coffee or just go to bed.

"No but really. Ask him out, he's not going to be the one asking you. And until you two are a thing he's only going to be distracted by you, and not my totally awesome new toys."

"Oh. Well, we can't have that. Sorry my awesome face and shining personality are more appealing to the general populace than your robots."

"Not the general populace, Steve," he corrects, trying to make an omelette-and-bacon sandwich with his toast and failing miserably. Poor Tony, can't even make a simple sandwich without fucking it up.

"Hey, you're the one that said not owning a blue bra meant I was betraying my country. Apparently this means that my country likes my face," she's not going to have coffee. It's been decided- she's going to sit on the couch and watch Blue's Clues and lament over the lack of the old host Steve. Which, man, that kind of makes it seem like she's pining after her Steve. And that's stupid because he's just at the zoo and also he's not hers.

"Well shit Tony, I think I might have to ask him out," and with that she leaves the kitchen- Tony can clean up, she's sick after all (he probably shouldn't have been eating the food she made, but whatever. He's an adult and when he gets sick she can tell him that all of his life choices seem to keep biting him in the ass. Maybe she'll even let him get away with the lewd comment he'll say after that.)

It's later, when the team's back from the zoo and she's holding onto her sanity and being awake by a thread, that she really takes the time to think about how completely bat-shit insane it was for everyone to leave Tony Mr. Irresponsibility Stark alone to take care of her.

They could've totally blown up the tower.

"What'd you get me?" Is the greeting she gives them when they all pile out the elevator- and the only one of the bunch that looks happy is Clint; who promptly drops a stuffed giraffe the same size as Darcy onto the couch.

"Here. Now shut up and go to sleep."

"Sweet! I'm naming him Geoff," she doesn't ask how he knows that giraffes are her favorite.

You can't just ask Captain America to be your boyfriend

Except that she totally does. And Jane is never going to let her live it down, either, because it was so epically horrible that she's pretty sure songs will be sung of it for generations.

Courtesy of Tony Stark and his 'oh hey guys I just bought a record label for no reason, at all' smug-ass face.

Really, it's not her fault that Steve choked, and that she totally knows CPR.

So yeah. Her new boyfriend's Captain America, and they had their first kiss in the living room, while he was turning a decidedly livid shade of purple, and Star Wars was playing in the background (which sucked so much ass- it had taken forever to convince him to watch it, and now he'll never see it).

She's pretty sure that there will be pictures of it on a wedding slide-show, you know, should they ever get married. Not that she's already picking out colors or anything, because it's not been a whole month yet and that's crazy-chick-stalker-territory.

She really likes the idea of poppies for a bouquet though, if anyone wants to know.

We do not negotiate with terrorists

"Give it back," Darcy says, for the tenth time, as Tony holds her cell phone just out of reach. She sighs when his smile stretches even wider- she's not getting her cell phone back any time soon.

"Do you have a blue bra yet?" He asks, in a faux conspiratorial whisper.

"A, that's none of your business, and B, no," she answers as she stretches out her fingers to try and grasp at the phone. Why hadn't she worn heels today? She would totally be able to get the stupid-ass phone if she had just worn her heels.

"I'm sorry Miss. Lewis, but we do not negotiate with terrorists."

It takes her only a second to remember what he's referring to, and she lets out a loud groan, "that was like, a year ago! I'm dating the guy now! That's like, the opposite or terrorism! GIVE ME BACK MY PHONE!" Her phone chirps at her, and she just knows it's going to be something she doesn't want Tony to read. That's how the universe repays her for saving Captain America.

So she didn't do the heimlich like she was supposed to- she still saved him, it still counts.

Tony's phone chooses that moment to beep at him too, and it seems the Gods of Pity are looking out for her, because it's like some sort of signal has been sent to Tony's brain. All of a sudden he's all loop-faced smiles and bouncing-on-his-feet energy, and it's freaky as hell but he's also giving her back her cell phone so props to whatever nargle infested his head.

She's trying to get to her new message, but Tony's herding her to the elevator and in the jostling mess she drops her phone because apparently the Gods of Pity are really the Gods of Spite. Well fuck them, and the goat-drawn carriage they rode in on.

That was mean. Yeah, Thor's been a little obnoxious all week- he's suddenly entirely too interested in her business, like where she's going and what her favorite color is and "Lady Darcy, would not the weather on this fine day be a good respite from your work?"

She can't get away from him- always taking her away from her workspace and sitting next to her while she's in the common room watching television.

So Thor's being annoying, but that doesn't excuse her from insulting the guy's carriage and inadvertently calling him a God of Spite. Even if she does completely hate him for his luxurious hair.

The elevators are open before Darcy can contemplate just why Tony's being so pushy, and then she's literally shoved out the doors and they're shutting behind her. She'd yell at him via Jarvis, but there's someone in her workspace (she's going to kill Thor if he's looking through her shit again).

Except it's not Thor, it's Steve, and he's shuffling awkwardly next to her- oh my god that's where her iPod went! The little weasel totally stole it!

And figured out how to add a playlist. Huh. She'd been trying to teach him that for months.


And oh my god those are poppies on the table.

"Darcy-" his voice cracks, and she has to hide her smile in her hair. "Darcy, I uh," he's shifting awkwardly again, and Darcy's suddenly filled with an overwhelming terror.

No. No no no no no no. This is Steve and he wouldn't; but he totally would and she doesn't know why she ever thought he wouldn't and Thor was totally in on this and Tony's the absolute worst person in the world ever. She's going to make him an award for his next birthday.

Steve doesn't get to say anything else, he doesn't even have time to get down on one knee like she knows he's going to do, or reach into his pocket for the ring that she knows is going to be green with white gold because she'd told Thor those were her favorites.

He doesn't have time to do any of these things, because Darcy has thrown herself into him (not into his arms, just into him) and she doesn't know how she would've answered had she given him the chance to say his well-rehearsed speech, but she knows what she's going to say now-

"Yes. But Tony's not throwing the bachelor party."

She goes to retrieve her phone an hour later, and there's a package under it, with a note attached that reads "thought I should get you something. We can't have a terrorist married to Captain America."