PROLOGUE TO 'I BELONG WITH YOU AND YOU BELONG WITH ME'
They got back to New York on Monday, a week before Darcy had to report for her first day of work. She spent the week ingratiating herself with Jarvis, hoping that the AI could help her with Stark Wrangling. Clint bounced back and forth between the helicarrier and the mansion every day. The first night he came back he was so tense Darcy shoved him facedown on the bed and rubbed his back until he finally unwound. The second night, he told her that people at S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't trust him anymore, after Loki forced him to attack the helicarrier. Darcy crawled into his lap and held him around the neck quietly until he relaxed.
Later that night after dinner, Natasha poked Clint in the waist, and when he raised an eyebrow at her, Natasha shrugged and said, "Getting soft there." Clint's outraged expression made Darcy giggle.
Clint and Natasha were up at the crack of dawn the next morning, finishing their work out just as everyone else was waking up. Clint didn't look as stressed when he left that morning as he had the morning before.
That Thursday Tony brought her with him to the Tower in the morning. Her condo was done, and he needed her to choose colors and furniture. Her rooms were on the corner of the building. Darcy was blown away after Tony opened the door with a big flourish.
There was a short wall on the left, broken by an alcove with hooks for coats and a bench. A neutral tan carpet was covering all the floors. On the right was a large empty room with two walls and a floor to ceiling window. Further into the space, Darcy found a massive bedroom. Instead of a wall along the edge of the building, there was a floor to ceiling unbroken window. Tony showed her how to make it opaque before taking her into the closet off the right side. It had a small chandelier hanging over a large space between the his and hers sides, and more drawers and shelves of all sizes than Darcy really thought she could even fill. There was an emergency elevator behind a shoe rack that would take her to the same secure location in the basement that Pepper was to go to if the Tower was attacked again.
Their last stop was the bathroom, diagonally across the room from the closet on the same side as the alcove. Like everything else, it was massive. There was a his and hers sink, gorgeous white tile on the floor, a shower stall, and a sunken tub that Darcy knew would get a lot of use. Tony was very uncomfortable when she turned and threw her arms around him, babbling her thanks. He awkwardly patted her on the back and told her to spend the day picking out colors and furniture and get back to him. After he left, Darcy walked back to the bedroom and sat down cross-legged in the middle of the floor.
"Jarvis?" She whispered. Anything louder echoed in a creepy way.
"Yes Miss Lewis?"
"Where do I start?" She begged.
The AI was silent for a long time, considering her words. "Mister Stark began work on his penthouse by asking Miss Potts' input. May I suggest a call to Agent Barton?"
Darcy whipped out her phone and dialed Clint. He was worried at first, because she was whispering, but promised to come to the Tower on his lunch break. Darcy got to her feet and started pacing through the condo. She had no idea where to start designing a home, and it was overwhelming.
When Clint got there, she was sitting in the center of the floor in the first room. He walked past her and quickly explored the space on his own, always needing to know for himself that the rooms were clear and they were safe. He came back and collapsed onto the floor in front of her.
"This is amazing." He said, sounding awed.
"I feel like I skipped a few steps." Darcy whispered to him. He looked around the room, confused.
"What do you mean?"
"Like, to be a grown-up." She explained. "One day I was stuck in a never ending internship with just a bed in an RV and now I have this whole huge space and a serious relationship and a great job. What happened to having crappy apartments, awful first jobs and using for years before I meet a nice guy in line at the bank and settle down?"
He cocked his head to the side. "You've really thought about what a normal life is, haven't you?"
"I've been sitting here freaking out about normal for the past two hours."
He tugged her forward into a hug. "You want that normal life?"
She laid her head on his shoulder, breathing deep to catch a whiff of his aftershave. "Only if you're that nice guy in line at the bank. I don't really care about the rest of it." He laughed and held her a little tighter.
"Do you know anything about interior design?" She asked hopefully.
"Not a thing." He said cheerfully. "How about you?"
"Less than that." She said ruefully.
He stood, taking her with him.
"What do you want to use the rooms for?" He asked. Darcy looked around.
"I could see us staying here part of the week and at the mansion part of the week." She mused.
"So we'll need a kitchen." He decided. Darcy favored him with a grateful smile. It was easier, with a starting place.
"Jarvis, can we put a kitchen in this room?" She queried.
"Indeed Miss Lewis, quite easily."
Clint called and took the rest of the day off, and by six they had a good idea of what colors, flooring, and furniture they would get. Tony came downstairs and got them, and they all piled into the limo to go back to the mansion in good spirits.
The next morning, Tony dragged Darcy out of bed at seven and threw her, Pepper, and Jane into a limo. They were taken to a day spa, and Darcy had never felt so pampered in her life. They spent a full day getting massages, facials, haircuts, mani-pedis, sugar scrubs, and enjoying a fabulous lunch. Darcy imagined at the end of the day as they piled back into the car that her bones had been relaxed into jelly. When they got back, there was a little party with the team to celebrate Darcy and Jane staring at the Tower the following Monday.
The next day, of course, her muscles felt like they'd taken a beating because of her massage and the dancing she'd done at the party. When Clint rolled out of bed to go work out, she put on a bikini and followed him down to the lower levels. Climbing into the hot tub, she closed her eyes and leaned back into a particularly nice jet that was pounding between her shoulder blades. Clint joined her when he was done at the gym, and when they went back upstairs they were both in a fantastic mood.
Finally, after spending the weekend exploring Manhattan (when she and Clint could drag themselves away from their bed), it was time for Darcy's first day at work. Pepper had given her a garment bag before bed the night before with a bright smile, and when Darcy pulled the suit it held out in the morning, she couldn't hold back her grimace. It looked like it belonged on Pepper, all starched and corporate looking and knee length, but Darcy wouldn't hurt Pepper's feelings for the world so she put it on and added some black flats and carried her tablet in front of herself.
Tony and Pepper were waiting for her by the door to carpool to work, and when he saw her, he grimaced before turning to Pepper.
"You meddled, woman." He groused. Pepper looked surprised.
"I think she looks wonderful." She argued. Darcy shifted uncomfortably.
"I told her it was a jeans and t-shirt dress code. I'm not CEO anymore, there's no need for her to look like Executive Brunette Barbie." He said flatly. "She looks like a mini-you. And she's not going to be a mini-Potts, so don't try to make her one." He turned back to Darcy and nodded his head back up the stairs. "Go put on a pair of pants kid." Pepper was pouting, but Tony held firm, so Darcy raced back upstairs to change into jeans and a red turtleneck, brown heeled boots and a knitted hat. Stuffing the StarkSlate into a messenger bag as she went, she hurried down the stairs.
Darcy spent the morning familiarizing herself with Tony's lab, awkwardly making friendly with the robots, especially the one that had sprayed her with the fire extinguisher. It seemed remorseful, and Darcy warmed up to it pretty quickly, thinking it was really cute. She got a little desk in the corner to work at, and she spent some time personalizing it.
Finally, her tablet beeped after noon, and she called out, "Be ready to leave in half an hour Tony. Board meeting."
"Uh huh." He grunted as he twisted a screwdriver into a hunk of metal.
"Jarvis, could you start that countdown?" Darcy asked sweetly.
"Of course, Miss Lewis."
In the corner of the computer screen Tony was nearest, a small countdown began. Tony noticed it when he set the screwdriver down and turned to look over his schematics.
"That's distracting, Lewis. Make it go away." He commanded.
"It's supposed to be distracting Tony." She pointed out. "You're supposed to be finding a good stopping place."
Tony glanced up at her. "So here's the thing, Lewis. I'm not really going to that meeting. They're stupid meetings."
Darcy picked up the tablet and read off the note Pepper had made in the calendar notation. "Darcy: This is a test. Get Tony to that meeting and you pass." She put it down and raised an eyebrow at him. He glowered at her and stubbornly returned to fiddling with his hunk of metal. Darcy rolled her eyes and waited patiently.
"Alright Tony, we gotta leave in five minutes." She sing-songed.
"Told you I'm not going." He mumbled.
"Jarvis?" Darcy asked.
"Yes Miss Lewis?"
"Do you have it ready like we practiced?"
"Indeed, Miss Lewis."
Tony hunched his shoulders, clearly set on stubbornly avoiding the board, and music started softly.
"Ooooh, ooooh." A high pitched voice crooned, with a poppy background, and Tony's hands stilled.
"You know you love me, I know you care." The Biebster sang. Darcy snickered.
"Jarvis, turn that off!" Tony snapped. Just like Darcy had asked earlier, the music got louder when Tony demanded that it stop.
"JARVIS!" Tony yelled. The music started really blasting. Darcy wondered if the floor below them could hear it.
"And I was like baby, baby, baby, oh
Like baby, baby, baby, no
Like baby, baby, baby, oh."
Tony wrenched the computer over in front of him, and shrieked when he was greeted with a full screen picture of Justin Bieber.
"WHAT DID YOU DO LEWIS!?" Darcy was laughing too hard to answer, bent over her knees and slapping the top of the desk.
"I CAN'T WORK LIKE THIS, WOMAN!"
Clutching her aching stomach, Darcy stood and motioned to the door. Tony stormed past her but she caught up easily, darting into the elevator with him.
"Jarvis, penthouse." Tony snapped.
The elevator started descending to the corporate level and Tony narrowed his eyes at her.
"You're good, Lewis, I'll give you that." Darcy bowed deeply, before ushering him out into Pepper's office. Pepper was ready and waiting for them, but looked shocked to see them there ahead of time. Tony's clothes were fussed with before he was led out to the meeting room. Darcy passed him a canteen before they went in, and enjoyed the surprised look on his face when he took a swig and found scotch inside.
Wiping his mouth, he grudgingly nodded to her. Darcy tucked the canteen back into her messenger bag, feeling accomplished for the first time in a long time.
Later that evening in their condo in the Tower, after they'd made love, Clint asked her about her first day on the job. Darcy propped her chin up on his bare chest and grinned at him.
"Oh, you know, same old same old. Used Tony's own AI against him. Chased him out of the lab with tweeny pop music. Played catch with a robot." Clint started laughing, and she giggled along with him.
"Highlight of the day, aside from this, of course, was my late lunch." Darcy was laughing so hard there were tears in her eyes. "I went down to Jane's lab to eat with her, and she just wanted to keep working so I stole her pen and stuck a carrot in her hand, and she tried to write with it for like, ten minutes before she realized nothing was getting onto the paper." Clint put his head back and laughed even harder.
"And you just sat there and watched her, didn't you?" He asked.
"I didn't just sit there and watch!" Darcy protested. "I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while I watched." He wrapped his arms around her and tugged her on top of him. When they'd calmed down, he leaned up and gave her a long sweet kiss.
"I'm glad you like it here." He said. Darcy grinned like a fool at him.
"I do. I like these people. I like what you and I have." She paused, trying to gather her thoughts. "I like this solid feeling, like I'm putting down roots. Even after S.H.I.E.L.D. dragged me back in, being Jane's assistant felt temporary, but there was no way to plan for what would happen when it ended." Darcy fell silent for a minute, pillowing her chin on her hands. Clint rubbed his hands up and down her back.
"I look at Tony, and Pepper, and Bruce, and Jane, and Natasha, and you." She reached out and tapped a finger on the tip of his nose. "And I feel like I'm seeing the future."
Clint didn't really have the words to tell her what he felt when he looked at her. But he certainly did a good job of showing her for the next few hours.