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the mcu but everyone is happy!

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It was Scott Lang’s idea, because of course it was. Everything that goes horribly wrong is pretty much always Scott’s fault. Stephen isn’t really sure if he should fight back or give up, try to gain some control over this situation or let the disaster unfold. He doesn’t think there’s anything he can do, so Stephen simply sits back against the couch, watching the chaos.

 

Two Days Earlier

 

Scott plops down at the breakfast table, wiping sleep from his eyes. Stephen passes the coffee pot so Scott can fill his mug, earning him a grateful nod.

 

After a long sip, Scott gazes at the others seated at the table. “Movie night!” he announces.

 

Natasha, with her legs thrown over Clint’s lap, simply gives an eyebrow lift over the lip of her own coffee.

 

Tony gives a long sigh from the stove, flipping the last pancake. “Absolutely not.”

 

“Why not?” Scott whines.

 

“Because,” Clint intejects, shooting a glance at Tony. “someone always complains about the movie, and when said someone has superpowers, things go very wrong very quickly.” Natasha hums in agreement, and Tony points his spatula at Clint to emphasize his point.

 

“No, it’ll be fun!” Scott scoffs.

 

The pitter patter of small feet draw Stephen’s eye to the doorway, where little Morgan, still in her footsie pajamas(are those the ones Okoye bought her last Christmas? Stephen can’t be sure, but he thinks so.) “What’s gonna be fun?” she asks, rubbing her eyes with the backs of her hands.

 

Before anyone in the room can stop him, Scott does it. “Movie night! With everyone!” he tells her, and Morgan’s eyes light up. Natasha drops her head back against the chair and groans, and Clint just gives Scott a deathstare. “Dude,” he mutters.

 

“Daddy can we? Please?” Morgan looks to her father, and Stephen immediately knows there’s no going back now. Tony shoots Scott a dirty look, but smiles down at his daughter.

 

“Of course we can!”

 

By lunchtime that same day, Morgan has excitedly tracked down every Avenger(or other category of superhero) and formally invited them to movie night.

 

Essentially, they’re fucked.

 

Present Evening

 

“Movie night,” he mutters to himself. “Yeah, Scott, that sounds like so much fun! Let’s just get all the most powerful people in the universe into one giant room. What could possibly go wrong?” He ducks as a pillow whips past him.

 

Mantis launches herself across the room, tackles Thor, and proceeds to bash him over and over with a pillow. “I… am the PRINCE OF ASGARD!” Thor shouts, lifting her off of him and chucking her into a mountain of pillows.

 

Before Thor can even get to his feet, Peter Quill slams him with a pillow of his own. “Footloose IS a great movie!” He shouts.

 

“I haven’t even seen it!” Thor responds, knocking Quill to the ground. Gamora, one of the only other semi-mature beings in the room, laughs at Quill from her perch on the table.

 

Something hits Stephen in the back of the head, distracting him from that corner of the room.

 

When he turns, Morgan gives him a sheepish wave from behind the barrel of a massive Nerf gun. “Sorry Uncle Stephen!” He considers turning it into a watergun or something else ridiculous, but Natasha just bought that for Morgan and if there’s anyone Stephen is genuinely fearful of, it’s Natasha when someone fucks with Morgan or the young Peter. So instead he criticizes from a distance(albeit fondly) as Peter and Shuri help her aim it at her father.

 

Watching the Nerf bullets fly across the room leads his gaze closer to the TV, where Natasha and Clint seem to be winning against Steve and Sam. That is, of course, until Bucky(who’s freed himself from Rocket) jumps into the fray, and lifts Natasha into the air with his metal arm. She squeals and kicks back, but Bucky’s smart enough to keep her out of kicking range.

 

“Not my girlfriend, Barnes!” Clint leaps onto Bucky and moves to chokehold him.

 

“Against the rules, Legolas!” Tony screeches, and Clint just rolls his eyes.

 

“Who said anything about rules?” He quips, but Tony’s bought just enough time for Steve to sneak around and knock Clint off of Bucky, although Bucky loses grip on Natasha, who smacks him so hard in the face with a pillow that she knocks him on his ass. Carol laughs.

 

“Nice one, Nat!” Carol says, earning her a laugh and wink from the redhead before Bucky’s up on his feet to retaliate.

 

Loki, true to his trickster name, is transporting around the room, smacking people and then disappearing before they can swing back, cackling as he fades. Wanda, watching from the edge of the chaos, catches Loki just as he reappers beside Drax and Rhodey and flips him into the pillows Mantis had just vacated.

 

Drax and Rhodey barely even pause from slamming Scott with pillows to thank her.

 

“Oh, you witch!” Loki laughs, throwing a pillow in her direction. It completely misses her, but nails an unsuspecting Vision in the chest. Vision hasn’t been involved much in all of it, preferring instead to block Wanda when Clint chucks one her way or simply enjoy watching Wanda redirect pillows from their intended targets.

 

Stephen has to admit it’s pretty funny when Wanda redirects one of Clint’s throws, smacking Natasha in the face with it and causing her to pounce on her boyfriend, who doesn’t even have time to apologize before he’s being buried in pillows.

 

When Loki appears beside Peter, Shuri, and Morgan with a pillow in hand, Okoye tackles him to the ground and T’Challa cackles.

 

With Okoye wrestling Loki on the ground, Tony and T’Challa take the opening to launch an attack against Peter and Shuri. They fight back the best they can, but it’s a losing feat. That is, of course, until Carol comes to the rescue, swinging hard. Morgan, secured on Carol’s shoulders, shoots with surprising accuracy, nailing T’Challa in the face a few times.  

 

“Okay, little one, I surrender!” T’Challa laughs. Morgan jumps down from Carol towards him and he catches her carefully, then turns her upside down and swings her by the ankles, giving her a good laugh, and causing Tony to lose a little bit of color from his face. Tony doesn’t have long to fret about his daughter, though, because Peter swipes his feet out from under him and knocks him over, then leaps at Tony with a pillow.

 

Just as everything is reaching a fever pitch, a loud yell pierces the chaos, and everyone freezes.

 

“STOP!” In the doorway, Pepper, Bruce, and Happy hold massive bowls of popcorn. They’re staring out at the still room before them.

 

It’s quite a scene.

 

Peter is prepared to wack Tony, who is flat on his back, with Morgan’s unicorn PillowPet(Stephen had been unfamiliar, but after she fell in love with an infomercial for them, she’d received one from literally every member of the team and now has pretty much all the animals.) Morgan is still upside down in T’Challa’s arms, in the middle of being tickled by Shuri. Okoye, Carol, and Loki are staring each other down, in battle positions, armed with pillows. Steve is apparently trying to save Sam from Bucky as Rocket gazes longingly at Bucky’s arm, and Clint is halfway to freeing himself from Nat’s chokehold. Drax and Quill are pinning down Thor, Mantis frozen with a pillow just barely touching Thor’s face, and Gamora still judging them. Rhodey and Scott sheepishly drop the pillows they’d been beating each other with. Wanda and Vision, still off the side, try to look as innocent as possible.

 

“We were gone for five minutes ,” Pepper, exasperated, steps over the mess of scattered pillows and makes her way to the couch, where she plops down beside Stephen. “Can we please just watch Shrek like a normal family?”

 

Grumbles and dirty looks aside, truces are made and the couch is filled up. Morgan lays happily across T’Challa and Okoye’s laps, Natasha and Bucky pass around the popcorn, and Tony presses play.

 

If, perhaps, a pillow from Stephen’s end of the couch should smack Tony in the back of the head during the movie, Stephen blames it on the cape.

Chapter Text

Darcy has never really been fazed by the overwhelming grandeur that was the Avengers. At first, sure, it was a little daunting to bump into Captain America in the elevators or share a toaster with the Black Widow, but quickly enough they became just the blushing blond who softly insisted that she “call me Steve, Miss Lewis” until she did, and who still sometimes fails to call her Darcy, and the (still terrifying) Natasha, who smiles when Darcy calls her “Nat” and knows how Darcy takes her coffee.

 

She recovered fast from her initial shellshock, and now she sees them for the people they are. The quirky, hilarious, frustrating, sassy, kind souls who inhabited the Avengers Tower are Darcy’s friends, her family, and dammit if Darcy isn’t the kind of person who learns every little thing about her friends, treasures every unique trait.

 

She likes to call it Character Studies of the Galaxy’s Most Intimidating Dorks, but the only person who knows that is Clint(and he thinks it’s hilarious). Clint prefers to call it A Guide To Not Getting Murdered By Superheros . Each hero has their own little unique quirks that are incredibly endearing and often useful in trying to connect to the more guarded of the bunch.

 

It’s forever incomplete and changing, but Darcy is pretty proud of her analysis.

 

Bruce Banner

Bruce Banner loves tea. Everyone knows that, and everyone knows that he tries to stay away from caffeine for fairly obvious reasons. Darcy, however, had been first to figure out how much tea Bruce could drink, and when. He likes sweeter teas in the morning, and he can only tolerate two cups at the most. Darcy had found a couple really good sweet ones that he likes - a blueberry one, and a rosehip hibiscus that was certainly one of her favorites.

 

Mintier herbal teas are Bruce’s go-to around lunchtime. The classic peppermint tea is a solid choice, particularly when he looks stressed, or if he’s Hulked out recently. He’s also recently taken to a lemongrass mint tea, but(as poor Peter Parker had figured out when Darcy had distractedly asked him to buy more of the tea for Bruce), only from one certain brand. The ever-scrutinous scientist took one sip of the new tea, wrinkled his nose, and hadn’t asked Darcy for a cup of tea for another week. He’s very specific about his tea, and generally doesn’t like asking people for thing, only daring to if he’s confident that they don’t mind and that they’ll do it right. Darcy can understand that.

 

In the afternoons and evenings, Bruce loves chamomile, of course, but also has a funky, unlabeled jar of looseleaf tea from his time in India, and as far as she knows, Darcy is the only other resident of the Tower who’s had a cup. It’s got a deep, not-quite-spicy flavor, and an aftertaste akin to something like dark chocolate(but the really fancy kind), and Darcy is probably going to cry when Bruce finally runs outs. He lets her have a cup sometimes, if she’s stayed late in the lab helping him or if he can tell when she’s having a bad day(despite getting as into his work as Jane does, he’s really very empathetic and takes note of everyone’s wellbeing outside his unofficial role of Team Doctor When Cho Is Unavailable).

 

The memorization of his tea schedule was imperative, because she’d also done the impossible - get Bruce Banner to hang out with her. Even Tony had been shocked speechless when he’d stumbled across Darcy and Bruce just chilling. The key was something Darcy had stumbled across completely by accident.

 

Of all the things, Bruce really, genuinely loves to color. And not the super intricate, supposedly “calming” adult coloring books that Darcy found stressful and hated with a passion, but the kiddie ones. Bruce Banner, supergenius, proud owner of seven PhDs and human home to the Hulk, lights up like a Christmas tree when Darcy walks in with coloring book which loudly declares Color All the Animals of the Zoo in obnoxious font.

 

He laughed when she brought in a Hulk coloring book once, and Darcy remembers smiling when she stumbled across one of the images from that same coloring book in his desk drawer - one of the ones Darcy had colored in and then given to him. It was a drawing of Hulk holding several kittens, more swarming over him, and in the corner Darcy had written you’re not all that scary with a little smiley face.

 

Now, several times a week, more if it’s especially stressful, Darcy will bring in a coloring book and they will sit, tea in hand, at a table, and color in silence together for a half an hour(more if he doesn’t have anything pressing to attend to). Sometimes, if Darcy is really lucky, he’ll talk. When Bruce does talk in their coloring sessions, it’s usually only to invite her to chat about her day, or something funny that happened. She likes to regale him with tales of Tony being an idiot. But there have been a few rare occasions where Bruce will rumble quietly, sometimes for ten or so minutes at a time, about his research, or his life before the Hulk, something that made him happy that day, or, as Darcy has been privy to only a handful of times, Bruce will vent. It’s never anything earth-shattering, most were just a calm but frazzled account of a machine not doing its job or research not turning out how he liked, but Darcy treasures those moments. Bruce, though sweet and caring to everyone on the team, was slow to open up about himself, to bond with Darcy from his end of the friendship, and each time she sees him take a step it fills her heart with warmth.

 

Natasha Romanoff

Natasha is by all accounts an absolutely terrifying woman. She doesn’t have resting bitch face, she has resting I have no emotions and absolutely no trouble murdering you should the situation call for it face. Needless to say, it took Darcy a hot second to figure out a gameplan to buddy up with the Black Widow herself. The opportunity presented itself before Darcy could come up with anything concrete, and so Darcy just rolled with it.

 

Surprisingly, Natasha and Darcy operate on pretty similar schedules. Well, sort of. They meet in the kitchen nearly every morning sometime around 7:30am, though Darcy is coming in her pajamas for breakfast and her second cup of coffee, while Natasha is getting more coffee and breakfast after her early morning workout. Different strokes for different folks, but regardless it puts Darcy and Natasha in the same room for a half an hour often enough that bonding was inevitable.

 

Breakfasts together gave Darcy just the chance she needed to learn a little more about the redhead, enough to needle her way into the woman’s heart. It worked. It took Darcy about a month, but by the end of the month she and Natasha were making breakfast for each other, whoever showed up first simply getting started in the kitchen.

 

There are two absolutely crucial things about Natasha Romanoff that Darcy has noticed.

 

First, Natasha doesn’t drink her coffee black. Everyone kind of assumes she does, because it fits really well with the whole Russian superspy murderess aesthetic, but she doesn’t. Darcy, who is fond of sweet things, genuinely cannot stomach how much sugar and creamer Natasha prefers in her coffee.

 

The first time Darcy showed up in the kitchen before Natasha, she thought she’d try her hand at making Natasha a cup of coffee. Having seen Natasha do it enough times, Darcy put in a ton of creamer, and then calculated how much sugar she could stand in her coffee and doubled it. That should be good right?

 

Natasha wandered in only a couple of minutes later, the coffee still steaming, and Darcy handed it to her with a calm smile. Natasha raised an eyebrow, but smiled warmly and took it all the same. Darcy pretended not to notice and tried not to gag when she saw Natasha put more sugar in a little while later.

 

If Natasha hadn’t wanted Darcy to see her do it, though, Darcy wouldn’t have seen it. So it became routine - whenever Darcy beats Natasha to the kitchen, which truly isn’t often, the first thing she does is make a coffee sweeter and lighter than Darcy could ever imagine drinking. Then she starts on two bowls of Greek yogurt, granola, berries, and honey(Darcy and Natasha stumbled across the realization that they shared a favorite breakfast food, and that was their go to. If either of them was in need of a change, it was common that the other was too.)

 

Sharing breakfasts every day made befriending Natasha a lot easier. The second vital thing that Darcy noticed sealed the deal.

 

Natasha Romanoff is a notorious stealer of clothing. It’s not uncommon for someone in the Tower to have an item to go missing, only for it to turn up on Natasha. It does, however, end up back in their closet or laundry basket(usually).

 

On their third day of breakfasts, Darcy found Natasha in the kitchen in a sweatshirt that was definitely Steve’s. Steve Rogers is the kind of dork who writes his name on the tags of his clothing, mostly just his sweatshirts. Darcy chuckled to herself but didn’t say anything, mostly because she assumed that meant Steve and Natasha were a thing, which she did NOT see coming. Okay, maybe a little bit.

 

But a few mornings later, Natasha was sporting a crewneck Darcy knew to be Clint’s, and Darcy caught on. Every couple of mornings, Natasha would show up in something that was definitely not hers. Steve’s hoodie, Clint’s crewneck, a pullover of Bucky’s, Shuri’s beanie(Shuri is literally always bundled in layers upon layers, complaining that she isn’t built for the cold, even when it really isn’t cold. T’Challa thinks it’s hilarious), Wanda’s jacket, Tony’s Henley, a tee of Sam’s, they were all nabbed by Natasha at one point or another.

 

Darcy came to see it as a sort of sign of affection, like Natasha claiming that person as part of her family. So when Natasha showed up to their breakfast in Darcy’s Sesame Street nightshirt, Darcy smiled, endeared to the little Russian, and said nothing.

 

Shuri

Shuri was ridiculously easy to befriend. The bright eyed little girl had bounced off the kjet she arrived in, taken one look at Darcy, and started showing her memes on her phone. When Darcy recognized and/or laughed at every one, it appeared she’d passed some sort of test in Shuri’s mind. Darcy quickly came to think of Shuri as a younger sister of sorts, though she’s not nearly as protective of Shuri as T’Challa(and Bucky, to be frank) is.

 

So becoming Shuri’s friend was easy. Really sealing the deal came later. Everyone sees Shuri as this goofy but responsible, hilarious, incredibly intelligent inventor of things, a scientist on par with Tony, Bruce and Jane. And to be fair, she is. But everyone seems to think that her intelligence somehow cancels out Shuri’s age, which Darcy thinks is complete bullshit. So when Shuri is clearly exhausted and Darcy knows that she really just needs to be a kid for a little while, Darcy makes a couple of calls.

 

The next morning, Darcy knocks on Shuri’s door, Peter Parker and two suitcases in tow. Shuri wipes the sleep from her eyes as she blinks at Darcy and Peter. “What’re you guys doing here?” Darcy lifts her suitcase and a pair of mouse ears in response.

 

“Disneyworld!” Darcy announces, and Shuri’s eyes light up.

 

Shuri slams the door in Darcy’s face. Peter glances at Darcy. “That was weird.” He murmurs.

 

And then they hear it, a soft squealing through the doors which are meant to be soundproof, and Darcy realizes that Shuri is celebrating on the other side of the door.

 

Sure enough, she opens it again a moment later, smiling from ear to ear.

 

“Get packed,” Darcy says, “We leave in an hour.”

 

When they return a week later, the world is(contrary to T’Challa’s best arguments) still spinning despite Shuri’s absence, and Shuri’s glowing in ways T’Challa hasn’t seen since he first put her in charge of technology for Wakanda. This he says to Darcy as he gives her a hug and an apology.

 

Darcy simply hugs him back, and reminds him that though Shuri is an incredible kid, she’s still just that. A kid.

 

T’Challa

Though more guarded than his baby sister, the key to T’Challa’s heart is far more simple than a Disneyworld trip. It comes in the form of loving and protecting Shuri, and banana bread. The first one is a given, but the second had surprised Darcy.

 

Sure, T’Challa always liked her well enough, especially because she and Shuri had hit it off so well, but Darcy hadn’t been expecting him to absolutely love banana bread.

 

She’s baking one rainy afternoon, this time having actually taken requests, which she doesn’t usually do unless it’s someone’s birthday or they’re seeming extra run down- six dozen chocolate chip cookies mostly meant for Clint(a fan of the classics) and Steve and Bucky(literally classics), three dozen red velvet cupcakes for Nat, Wanda, and Sam, 20-odd coconut clusters for Strange and Bruce, and a loaf of banana bread. She doesn’t make much of it - though it gets eaten, it’s no one’s favorite. However, Steve’s been off on a mission, so the bananas that would usually go in his protein smoothies have browned, and Darcy could go for a slice of banana bread. It’s the one baked good Darcy can stand to put nuts in. But no one really adores it, so she rarely makes it.

 

When T’Challa walks in as she’s pulling it from the oven, she’s shocked to see his eyes bug out of his head as he catches a whiff.

 

After he begs her for a piece(kindly, everything he’s done and said around Darcy has been so kind, so polite, that she almost thinks he doesn’t like her, but then realizes he’s really just like that), and scarfs down said piece, he explains that it’s the closest he’s found to something his father used to bake when T’Challa was a kid, one of the only things his dad took the time out of leading to do. T’Challa is warm and inviting and the story has Darcy feeling like she knows him just a little bit better, like he’s given her a vulnerable piece of himself for her to guard and to protect.

 

So Darcy simply smiles at him, and makes sure to make another two loaves and have them sent to T’Challa’s quarters for him to find.

 

Steve Rogers

Darcy meets Steve Rogers as soon as she moves into the Tower, years after his defrosting. As he’s calling her ma’am, helping her with her bags and introducing himself, Darcy sniffs out a shocking piece of information. Somehow, no one’s taken the time to educate the poor man on pop culture. Sure, they’ve given him names of albums and movie titles and books to read, but Darcy thinks that’s halfassing - no, quarter assing an incredibly important job. Darcy’s got more than enough ass to do what needs to be done, so she starts.

 

One Tuesday evening about a month after moving in, FRIDAY assures Darcy that Steve’s in his quarters and not doing much of anything. So Darcy grabs some flaming hot Cheetos and The Princess Bride (fuck you, Netflix, get it on there), and hops in the elevator.

 

She knocks on his door, and hears a muffled, “I’m coming!” before it swings open to reveal Steve, who is shirtless . Darcy gulps internally, but steels herself. She’s got a job to do.

 

“Miss Lewis?” Steve says, glancing down apologetically at his bare chest and probably doing the math on whether it would be more rude to shut the door in her face and grab a shirt than talk to her bare chested.

 

She decides to interrupt his train of thought before he can make a decision. “Wanna watch a movie?”

 

He blinks at her. “Um, what?”

 

“You need an education on pop culture, and no one seems to think that you need a Mr. Miyagi in all that, so I’m here with a really good movie and a snack you’ve definitely never tried, and we’re gonna hang out.” Darcy explains.

 

Steve processes for a moment, and then nods. “Okay. But I don’t know who Mr. Miyagi is?”

 

Darcy laughs to herself as he steps aside to let her into his apartment. “ Karate Kid. We’ll get there.” She assures him.

 

It becomes routine. Every Tuesday, she shows up with a movie and a snack, and they settle in. When Thor finally, officially moves into the Tower, she starts up a book club to help them both catch up.

 

Steve loves Harry Potter and nearly cries when she shows him the Percy Jackson movie(Darcy doesn’t even watch it, she’s seen half of it and wants to stomp it out from existence) because he adored the books so much.

 

They start listening to albums, because Steve sits in with Darcy while she bakes, sometimes reading, sometimes whisking something for her, or just watching her go. He likes to help when she does Sunday night dinners, and she puts on Amy Winehouse or Michael Jackson or Prince, and slowly, bit by bit, brings Steve fully into the 21st century. He tells her, one night, as the end credits to Return of the Jedi are rolling, that he’d felt stuck between two times, half present in the now, and that this helps. That Darcy helps.

 

Darcy thinks that’s the best thing anyone’s ever said to her.

 

Bucky Barnes

He stands quiet in the corner of the room the first time Darcy meets him. Steve introduces him to her when she shows up for movie night one Tuesday, but he goes into the bedroom after she waves at him and doesn’t come back out until after she leaves. Steve sighs a heavy sigh and gives Darcy a look with tired, grieving eyes.

 

The first time she hears Bucky speak is the fifth time she sees him.

 

He walks into the kitchen on the common floor just as she’s transferring chocolate chip muffins to a cooling rack, and she holds one out to him with a bright smile. “Muffin?” She offers, and he blinks at her.

 

He looks down at the muffin, back up to her, and then at the muffin again. Darcy doesn’t know what to do. “It’s chocolate chip,” She says, dumbly.

 

He still doesn’t move. Darcy sets it down on the edge of the counter, in case he wants it, and picks up one to eat. He watches her eat hers, and then she turns her back to him as she starts on the dishes. When she turns around, he’s sitting at the counter, unwrapping the muffin she’d offered him. He freezes when he catches her looking at him, but she just smiles and turns around again.

 

He finishes it quickly, and Darcy turns back to look at him when she hears him get up. Again, she just offers him a small smile. “Thank you,” he says, nearly inaudible, and then leaves.

 

Three days later, Darcy is washing the mixing bowls clean of red velvet cupcake batter when he wanders into the kitchen again. They’re Natasha’s birthday cupcakes, but she’s made extras because she knows she’ll never keep them from getting eaten, and so when she sees him eyeing them she nods and says “go ahead.” He hesitates, and so she explains, “they’re for Natasha’s birthday, but I made extras.” She can’t help the way he perks a little at I made , and as he devours one she wonders if maybe he’s only willing to take it because he trusts her not to poison him. The thought makes her sad and a little hopeful all at once.

 

Clinging onto this idea, Darcy decides to roll with it. She starts baking and cooking even more, which Clint loves , and makes sure to always leave a note with her name on it, explaining who made it and what it is. Steve asks her about it one evening. Well, not asks her, because he’s never direct about Bucky, but hints at it.

 

“Bucky and I came up from the gym the other day, and Wanda was making chili,” Darcy’s mouth waters here, because damn does Wanda make good chili, “and I had a bowl but Buck wouldn’t touch it. The next day he came into our apartment eating some of those cookies you made for Parker since he got hurt.” Steve states, and Darcy knows he’s really asking why does Bucky only eat food that you make?

 

Darcy smiles at Steve. “I make two meals a day and dessert three times a week.” It’s an odd statement, and it doesn’t answer the question he stumbled his way around asking, but it’s enough to make Steve give a little sigh of relief, enough to reassure him that she knows Bucky’s trust in her is rare, and that she’s feeding him intentionally, looking out for him.

 

Slowly, bit by bit, Bucky starts spending more time with Darcy in the kitchen. Instead of eating and running, he’ll come in and watch her move about the kitchen, and she talks to him. She tries to stay away from asking too many questions that can’t be answered with a nod, instead talking about her day or regaling him with tales of Jane and Bruce’s antics, and she nevers gets a smile, but sometimes his lips will twitch and Darcy counts it the same.

 

She’s got her back to him, washing a pan, when he speaks in one of the first full sentences she’s heard out of him. “Why do you do that?” His voice is quiet.

 

Darcy turns to look at him, grabbing the dish towel to start drying the pots and pans she’s cleaned. “Do what?”

 

He watches her, careful, calculating. “Turn your back on me.” he says. Darcy’s brow furrows.

 

“Why wouldn’t I?” she asks, keeping her voice soft and tone light.

 

“Aren’t you,” he pauses, glances at his metal arm, back at her, gulps. “Scared of me?”

 

Darcy shakes her head, restraining the clawing urge to give Bucky Barnes a fucking hug. “Of course not.”

 

This seems to confuse him, which only makes her want to hug him more. He tips his head, studying her. Slowly, as if he’s explaining it to her, he speaks. “I’ve done bad things, I’ve killed people, I’ve-”

 

Darcy cuts him off. “When you were brainwashed.” Her no nonsense tone makes him blink, but he still seems unconvinced. “Are you going to kill me?” she asks, tilting her head at him, and his eyes get big.

 

“No, of course not.” He says, clearly ready to run from the room.

 

Darcy sighs, offers him a warm smile. “Well then. There you have it. You’re not going to hurt me, I’m not going to hurt you, and we’re friends. I have absolutely no reason to be scared of you, I never have.” She thinks she sees a hint of a smile when she says the word friends , but she doesn’t push.

 

He gets better surprisingly quickly after that, at least around her. He has his bad days, but they start spending more time together.

 

She can’t sleep one night, and wanders into the living room to find him staring at the TV. She stifles a laugh when she sees Real Housewives of Orange County on, and Bucky frowning at it. He offers her a small wave when she walks in, and she plops next to him, close to him, on the couch. He glances at her, but doesn’t ask her to move. “Don’t worry, Buck, everyone’s confused by this show. It’s not just you.”

 

An episode later, Darcy is starting to get sleepy. She puts her head on his shoulder, and he freezes. Just for a second, though, and then he relaxes against her, bringing a smile to her face. She falls asleep on him. When she wakes, she’s in her own bed, tucked in under the covers, and her shoes are placed neatly by the doorway of her bedroom. Darcy can’t help but smile at the glass of water on her bedside table. She adores the man.

 

The next time she watches late-night tv with him, he hesitantly puts his arm over the back of the couch behind her, peeking at her and softening when she smiles up at him. Later in their little marathon, she tucks her legs up on the couch and rests her head on his chest, and she can feel the soft inhale in his chest.

 

Eventually, his arm comes down to rest around her waist, and they stay like that for a long time.

 

Darcy knows what it is to be an outsider, having grown up in the foster system. So she just treats Bucky like a person, like a friend. Because he is. First and foremost, that’s who he is.

 

Tony Stark

Tony, for all his bright-eyed, outgoing, exorbitant behavior, was one of the hardest heroes to truly befriend. Darcy realizes that he’s kind to everyone but rarely lets anyone into his heart - she supposes he’s been abandoned and let down too many times for that, which just makes her soul ache.

 

So Darcy does the one thing that the rest of the team, by the simple nature of their jobs, can’t do. She’s there. She’s always there. Anytime Tony makes plans with her, she follows through on them. Anytime he asks her for something, she comes through for him. Even when he doesn’t have the words to ask, she’s there for him - when, one night, he stares into his tea cup with haunted eyes, she just sits there with him until the sun rises and wakes him from the distant trance he’d been in. Tony all but jumps when he sees her still there.

 

“You didn’t leave?” he asks, voice small and eyes vulnerable. Darcy simply smiles and shakes her head, squeezing his hand with one of her own.

 

She settles into an understanding of his sleepless nights, knows how to help him. Darcy learns when to give him coffee and when to make a calorie-heavy, protein-loaded breakfast because that’s the only thing that’ll get him through his day, when to ignore his complaints and literally force him to get some sleep, and when all she needs to do is sit in silence beside him, let him drink his chamomile tea, and wait for his head to droop and for him to eventually fall asleep on her shoulder(at which point she commandeers Bucky or Steve and persuades them to carry Tony to the nearest available bed).

 

And it becomes almost wordless, their communication, an easy flow of understanding between kindred souls that Darcy can rely on to help her support Tony. The more he lets her in, the easier it is for her to predict what he’ll need and do it before he gives up enough to ask.

 

Pepper comments one evening, as she stumbles across Darcy pinned by a sleeping Tony, that she’s never seen him trust anyone quite the way he trusts Darcy, besides maybe Rhodey. Darcy gives her a small smile and asks her quietly if she wouldn’t mind tracking down Bucky for her.

 

Clint Barton

Clint is the most childish of the Avengers, and in that way is easy to befriend. But in his own way, he’s the most guarded. He doesn’t talk about the things that bother him, about the ghosts that haunt him, instead covering all of that up with several thick layers of childish immaturity, coating it in pranks and giggles and everything that is happy and as far from serious as he can get.

 

Darcy quickly figures out that the best way to work through Clint’s defenses is to copy his coping mechanisms - she helps him prank Tony or Phil Coulson and at the same time will tell a story from her childhood or something that terrified her, keeping a light, funny tone about her, but all the while attempting to convey her trust in him, her confidence that he’ll keep her secrets and support her how he can. Slowly, she builds the bridges between them, over his moats and canyons of distance separating his relationships and his issues.

 

Though the bridges only see one-way traffic for a long, long time, Darcy maintains them. She does everything she can to show her faith in Clint, and hopes that someday that trust she gives him will make it easier for him to do the same.

 

She bakes his favorite treats and walks his dog with him and with every piece of herself that she gives to him, she gets the tiniest inkling of something in return. Even if it’s just the slightest recognition in his face when she’s describing her eleventh foster home, she sees Clint digging his way out from behind his walls, heading straight for Darcy, and Darcy does everything she can to help him.

 

Pieces of the true Clint appear to Darcy. The Clint who knows absolutely everyone’s birthdays and never forgets to celebrate them because he never had a birthday party as a kid, who cries when Darcy throws him a surprise party, who can read the shut off Natasha with a look and has never once not been there for her, who put the redheaded Russian back together and transformed himself into the glue she needed to stay that way. His love for Natasha is one of the most innocent, pure things about Clint. For all they’ve seen and done, the genuine bond between them is pure white, fresh and clean from the damage of their lives.

 

Darcy notices Clint opening up to her exponentially more after she and Natasha start to hang out together, after Natasha apparently decides that Darcy is someone to be loved and trusted. Darcy revels in that faith Nat has in her, does everything she can to foster it and reciprocate it.

 

Darcy loves her assassins. She loves the serious but loving one, and the childish but detailed one, and keeps addings pieces to their puzzles as they trust her with them, and treasures each piece.



Wanda Maximoff

After the loss of her brother, Wanda is a different girl. She’s quieter, she laughs less, and she trusts less. Darcy had a brother once. Not the same, but not that different. Darcy’s brother was only a foster brother, but Luke was the only one who’d ever looked out for Darcy in any of her foster homes, and they got transferred twice together, creating a fierce bond.

 

When Luke was killed, Darcy shut down. The only thing that pulled her from the pits of her grief was Anne, an older girl who walked Darcy home from school every day and talked to her. Darcy didn’t respond to her for almost six months, but Anne never left.

 

So that’s what Darcy does. She talks to Wanda, makes sure she sticks to the girl like glue, and talks until she finally gets a smile. The slightest crack of a grin, a tiny sliver of a smirk, but it’s enough.

 

From there, their relationship bursts into being. Wanda and Darcy share clothes, throw sleepovers(Nat usually joins sometime between their third and fourth romcom), and often end up sleeping in the same bed.

 

Darcy catches onto a protectiveness in Bucky, and nurtures that spark, remembering that Bucky loves to take care of people, to take in strays, and reckoning that maybe Wanda could use a little taking care of. It’s quite the friendship, and the healing goes both ways. Steve and Darcy stand to the side and watch Wanda and Bucky pull each other out of their respective pits.

 

Steve hypothesizes that caring for someone else helps Bucky feel useful even when he can hardly function, because all Wanda really needs is someone who can stand beside her and be a crutch when she needs it. Wanda needing Bucky is all Bucky really needs, because her success is his in the same way that an older brother cares for a sibling. Steve and Darcy share smiles when they find the two bickering, and when they find Wanda and Bucky asleep together, her head in his lap and his hands in her hair.

 

Darcy works hard to personally befriend and support each hero in any way she can, sure, but she’s also figured out that sometimes the best thing she can do for someone is find them someone else who has exactly what they need.

 

Sam Wilson

The quickest way to befriend Sam Wilson is to get him absolutely hammered, and to support his vendetta against Bucky Barnes that Darcy in no way understands but thinks is hilarious.

 

Bucky’s first introduction to Silly String is Darcy and Sam’s first time getting drunk together.

 

It’s a surprisingly calm Saturday evening in the Tower, and the Avengers have hard a pretty hard week. A few bad missions and tensions are running high, so when Sam, who Darcy knows only in passing, holds the bottle of wine he’s drinking from out to her, what’s she gonna do, say no?

 

They pass it back and forth, and as the buzz sets in, so do the giggles.

 

And then Darcy mentions that she’d bought 20 cans of Silly String, intended for a prank she and Clint are planning, and Sam realizes that Bucky, Steve, Tony and Natasha are all having dinner together, and Darcy and Sam look at each other and come to a realization at exactly the same time.

 

Five minutes later, armed with Silly String, they’re creeping around a corner into the dining room on the common floor. Natasha spots them out of the corner of her eye, because she’s Natasha, but she doesn’t say anything, giving Darcy the smallest sliver of a smile.

 

Darcy’s greatest superpower, besides her skills with a taser and ability to befriend pretty much anyone, is her accuracy with a spray can of Silly String. So she makes the first attack, hitting Bucky right in the side of the face. Sam bursts out laughing as Bucky shouts and jumps out of his skin. Sam and Darcy, each armed with a can in each hand, spray their way into the room - Natasha had slipped under the table as soon as Darcy first hit Bucky, and neither Sam nor Darcy is particularly intent on fucking with her.

 

Darcy’s text has apparently done its job, because as Steve, Tony and Bucky are still trying to figure out what’s going on and are backing up to try to get away from Darcy and Sam, Clint drops from the vent behind them with a whoop, spraying them before he’s even hit the ground.

 

Tumbling in behind him is Wanda, who uses her powers to control the spray of five cans at once, directing them all at Bucky.

Tony is laughing through a web of string at this point, and Steve and Bucky are still trying to figure out what’s going on.

 

A few moments later, the cans are empty, and Sam gives a celebratory cheer. “THAT’S WHAT YOU GET, BARNES!” he exclaims, and Bucky, who has completely given up at this point, just glares as he’s trying to remove Silly String from his hair. Nat pops out from under the table as soon as the chaos ceases, and Clint startles.

 

Because he’s an idiot, and because he’s Clint, he produces another can from behind his back. Before anyone can reason with him, and before Natasha can kill him, he’s spraying her. He hits her right in the face, and complete silence falls over the room.

 

Clint freezes, probably realizing what he’s done. He sighs and hangs his head. “Fuck.”

 

Darcy just grabs Sam by the wrist and hauls him out of the room, away from the sounds of breaking glass and Clint yelling apologies, and they head off to open another bottle of wine.

Chapter Text

He takes long walks around the city on nights he can’t sleep. It’s not the place he once knew, and perhaps that should make him sad, or nostalgic, but Bucky can’t help but be relieved by that. He’s not the same man, why should anything else stay the same?

 

Bucky almost laughs to himself as he thinks of the one thing that is most definitely still the same. Steve. It’s two am, and it was just twelve hours ago now that Bucky saw Steve literally take on four giant monsters made of stone by himself. Punk’s gonna give him a heart attack someday, and then Steve’ll probably try to sacrifice himself over that too.

 

He walks for another hour, trying to get the image of Steve, bloody, flying through the air, out of his head. It isn’t helping, not really. Bucky sighs and turns the corner, finally starting to feel sleepy enough to head back towards the Tower.

 

It’s the supersoldier hearing that has him picking up on it. The slightest mewling, coming from a cardboard box in the alley to his right.

 

A tiny grey kitten, with eyes still closed and ears still folded, crying amid shredded newspaper. No sign of a mother, or other kittens. When Bucky lifts the kitten, he can all but see each of the kitten’s ribs through its soft down fur.

 

Whether she’s dead, gone, or simply gave up on this little one, Bucky knows there’s no momma cat returning for the kitten. His hoodie has one of those kangaroo pocket situations, so Bucky nestles it in and starts the walk back to the Tower.

 

He talks to the kitten as he walks back, and slowly its mewls quiet and cease, and the kitten falls asleep in his pocket. It’s far too early to tell if it’s a boy or a girl, so Bucky starts calling it Punk, because that’s gender neutral, right?

 

As he’s riding the elevator to his floor, Bucky suddenly thinks he remembers doing something like this once before, only vaguely. It doesn’t surprise him, the whisper of a memory, largely because he knows he can remember always being one to take in strays. That’s how I got Steve , some part of his brain quips, and Bucky chuckles softly.

 

“Hey, FRIDAY?” he asks, quiet despite being alone in the elevator.

 

“Yes, Sergeant Barnes?” the AI responded immediately. Sure, it’d taken quite a while for Bucky to get used to the whole artificial intelligence thing, but now he was actually quite fond of her(it?).

 

“Do we have kitten formula in the Tower?”

 

“No, but I can have some delivered within the next half hour, along with any other supplies you may need.”

 

Bucky thanks her, gives her a list off the top of his head of things he may need, and asks her to gather a list of veterinarians nearby for him to look at in the morning.

 

He can tell that Steve is asleep when he walks into the apartment, and so he stays by the door, kitten in hand, for his delivery to arrive, not wanting the knocking to wake Steve.

 

True to FRIDAY’s promise, he hears someone approaching just about twenty minutes later. She unloads two large boxes into the apartment and leaves with a quiet smile. Bucky wants to thank her for coming at this hour, but he’s still not great with people he doesn’t know, and opts for a gruff nod and the barest hint of a grin.

 

Bucky takes off his hoodie, folds it into a bed shape, and settles the kitten onto it.

 

Punk falls asleep pretty quickly, and Bucky sets about opening the boxes as quietly as he can. Everything’s there - formula, eyedroppers to feed the formula with, a heating pad that won’t get hot enough to burn, even if he leaves it on for a while, a few bottles with different sized nipples for when he eventually needs it, some ultra-soft fleece blankets(fleece, he knows, doesn’t fray like cotton, so he doesn’t have to worry about little strands wrapping around the kitten’s toes or paws), some stuffed animals, and a gram scale. A quick Google search tells Bucky that he just needs to rub the kitten with a warmed, damp tissue in order to help it go to the bathroom, so he doesn’t fret over litter boxes just yet.

 

Bucky decides to set everything up next to the couch, and once he feeds Punk, the kitten falls asleep, head resting on the leg of one of the stuffed animals, almost immediately. Bucky sets an alarm for two hours, grabs a blanket, and lays down.

 

He wakes up just a few minutes before his alarm goes off, a little after 5am, because the sunlight is just barely starting to stream in through the curtains. He and Steve have blackout curtains in their room, because neither of them can sleep with the sun coming in, and that really sucks when they get home from a mission at 6am.

 

Punk is asleep, but after a moment starts to wake up, and cries softly for food. Bucky feeds the kitten again, helps it go to the bathroom, and lets it settle down on Bucky’s chest, right over his heart, because it had started to mewl when he’d tried to put it back on the heating pad. Maybe it doesn’t want to be alone. Bucky can understand that. He surprises himself with how quickly he’s able to fall back asleep.

 

Steve’ll definitely be up within the next two hours, so Bucky doesn’t bother with an alarm this time.

 

Sure enough, a very confused Steve shakes him awake about an hour and a half later. Bucky rubs sleep from his eyes, and when he feels awake enough, looks up at Steve.

 

“A kitten?” Steve asks, and Bucky lets a small smile tug at his mouth.

 

“Found it abandoned on my walk. Poor thing’s emaciated.” He says, and as if to prove his point, the kitten gives a small whimper from its place on Bucky’s chest, and kneads its paws against him.

 

“Okay,” Steve says, just like that, and presses a kiss to Bucky’s forehead. He makes breakfast for the both of them as Bucky feeds the kitten again.

 

Bucky and Steve both have the next week or so off - Steve technically broke his arm, even though it was all but healed, and Tony’s policies mandate giving any wounded Avengers at least a week off after getting out of the hospital before they’re allowed to be in the field again(and their partners are allowed the same time off to take care of the injured hero as necessary). Usually, Bucky hates that policy, preferring to stay busy, but now he’s genuinely grateful to have piles of paperwork to do crack down on in between feedings.

 

He takes Punk to the vet at the end of the week(Steve had complained about the nickname, but Bucky assured him it wasn’t permanent), and finds out that Punk was twice the weight she’d(yep, she was a she) been the night Bucky found her, and, based on his information that she’d opened her eyes about two days after he found her, Dr. Carraway estimates that the kitten was probably about two weeks old, give or take a day or two.

 

On the drive home, Bucky decides she needs a real name, one that isn’t “Punk,” if for no other reason than to appease Steve.

 

He tries a few.

 

“Ellie?” he offers, and he swears she’s giving him a stink eye. So that’s out.

 

“You’re definitely not a Phoebe. None of those silly cat names are right for you. How do you feel about Millie?” Bucky asks, glancing down at the kitten, and when she blinks softly at him, the name sticks.

 

He smiles. “Hello, little Millie.”

 

Within the next week, Millie’s met practically everyone in the Tower.

 

Natasha makes him a kitten-adapted baby bjorn, which Clint thinks is hilarious but Bucky actually finds really useful. Millie doesn’t mind riding around in it, so she goes with Bucky and Steve to Steve’s appointment with Helen, who clears Steve for duty and then spends twenty minutes cooing over Millie. Bruce, who’s allergic, watches with adoring eyes from a distance and tries not to sneeze.

 

Darcy and Jane(mostly Darcy, and maybe sometimes Jane when she looks up from her work) absolutely adore Millie. Darcy offers to take Millie whenever he needs to go away for work; Bucky thinks he remembers her saying that one of her foster moms was a vet, and so he genuinely considers saying yes.

 

That ends up happening sooner than he’d like - three days after Steve is cleared for the field, they get an all hands on deck call that Tony expects will take them at least two days. So Bucky calls Darcy, packs a little bag of Millie’s formula and such, and takes the two floor ride down to drop her off at Darcy’s.

 

“She’s only three weeks old, but she can go three or four hours before she gets hungry, and she’s doing most of her peeing and pooing pretty independently, so you don’t have to-” Bucky starts, but Darcy just rolls her eyes goodnaturedly at him.

 

“Buck, I’ve fostered kittens before. Younger than her. We’ll be fine.” Darcy says, smiling at him. He sighs.

 

“Okay, but-” he tries again, and again Darcy cuts him off.

 

“You need to go. We’ll be fine, please go supervise your dumbass boyfriend so he doesn’t fall on a grenade or crash a plane into the Arctic again.”

 

Some of the tension at leaving Millie lifts from his shoulders, but when he processes her words it all comes rushing back tenfold. “Wait, what do you mean AGAIN?!”

 

Darcy, blanching, takes Millie from his hands before she, throwing all of her body weight against him, pushes him out the apartment door and shuts it behind him, sending a quick apology text to Steve.

 

Bucky returns after four shitty, shitty days, anxious to see his girl. Before he can knock, though, Jane opens the door and motions for him to be quiet. Curious but following along, Bucky trails behind Jane into the apartment. On the couch, Darcy Lewis is passed out, Millie curled in a tiny grey ball on her stomach. Even after one of the worst missions they’ve had in a while, the innocence of the scene before him brings a smile to Bucky’s lips. Jane makes him a cup of tea and they wait for Darcy to wake up.

 

Millie seems glad to be back in his apartment when he finally brings her back home, after having stayed to play several rounds of Scrabble with Jane, Darcy, and Clint and Natasha, who’d wandered to Darcy’s floor in search of brownies she had apparently promised them.

 

In the end, they all got brownies and Bucky got his ass kicked by Darcy and Natasha.

 

Bucky stops taking walks around the city at night. Not because he doesn’t want to find any more kittens, but because the sleepless nights have become less and less common.

 

Every night, Millie curls up on his chest once he and Steve are settled into bed. Her continuous, comfortable, relaxing rumble of a purr rocks him to sleep each night, and her unmoving warmth keeps him peacefully asleep through the night.

Chapter Text

Natasha wakes up to Maya’s cries. The six month old is fussy at nights still, and despite Steve’s warnings(you gotta ferberize her, Nat!), Natasha allows Maya the comfort of someone coming to hold her. Yes, she’s read the parenting books and knows that self-soothing is important, but Natasha’s only had Maya for three months, they need to bond. And she knows what it is to be a young child, alone and abandoned, and Natasha never wants Maya to feel that way. 

 

So Nat hauls out of bed and to the crib. Maya stretches towards her, chubby arms reaching, and Natasha scoops her up. Unsurprisingly, Maya’s little hands go right to Natasha’s bob of red curls, and Nat winces. “Easy there, kotyonok.” She chides softly, unwinding her hair from Maya’s fingers and rocking her daughter back and forth, and Maya’s cries begin to lessen. 

 

Natasha’s too tired to manage a full lullaby, but she cuddles up on her bed with Maya on her chest and hums something familiar, something Russian from her childhood, and a few minutes of that does the trick. Maya nods off, thumb in her mouth, and Natasha follows, one arm wrapped protectively around her daughter, holding her to her chest. 

 

When she wakes, it’s to the curtains she forgot to close letting in the earliest rays of sunlight. Maya is still fast asleep, so Natasha doesn’t move. Instead, she gazes down at the sleeping baby on her chest. Maya’s got thick, full eyelashes and a messy mop of blonde curls(Natasha thinks maybe she can remember a baby photo of herself with blonde wisps soon to turn red, but before she can focus on it, the memory is gone), and the chubbiest cheeks that Clint has taken to pinching like some old grandma. When she tells him this, he just laughs and shifts Maya to his other hip. “Yeah, but like a cool grandma, right?” he’d said, making Natasha laugh. 

 

It doesn’t take long for Maya to stir, shifting on top of Nat and blinking open clear blue eyes. She doesn’t cry; Maya’s a very happy baby and really only ever cries if she’s left alone. Natasha can understand that. Natasha sits forward and bends her knees, resting Maya against the rise of her legs. 

 

Mornings are the best, in Natasha’s opinion. They’re both early risers, and often Natasha can get a good hour or so alone with Maya before duty forces her to get started with her day. Today, though, Natasha plays with Maya for twenty minutes before she decides they’ll go to the common floor for breakfast today. Maya’s starting to show signs of not liking strangers, and Natasha wants her to be as comfortable with people as possible. So she changes Maya’s diaper, puts her in just the cutest yellow sunflower onesie Bucky’d bought for her a few days ago, and gets dressed herself. 

 

It’s only seven am, so the common room kitchen is only populated by Nat’s fellow morning people. And Darcy, who isn’t a morning person but can’t sleep after Bucky gets up, so she’s slumped over a cup of coffee. She gives Nat a tired wave and a soft smile to Maya, who gargles at her happily. 

 

Bucky rolls his eyes at his sleepy girlfriend and comes to coo over Maya, taking her from Natasha. He’d at first been terrified that Maya wouldn’t like his metal arm, or that it would somehow hurt her, but she treats it as a drumset of sorts, slapping her chubby hands all over it, and Steve and Darcy find it hilarious.

 

“Sleep well?” Bucky asks, and Natasha offers him a small smile, a silent not really, thanks . Steve just sighs and hands Natasha his mug of coffee. She sips gratefully, watching Bucky settle Maya in the highchair Tony’d bought for her(Natasha’s too afraid to look at the price, especially after the way Darcy’s eyes had widened after Googling it), and Steve reaches over Natasha to get the carrots & peas baby food out of the cupboard above her head, which he tosses to Bucky. It’s the only one Maya will eat this week, which a very unhappy Clint learned after Maya covered him in just about every other flavor they have on hand. 

 

Maya’s squeezing Bucky’s metal thumb in both hands, so he feeds her with his right. Natasha had been blown away by how good Bucky is with Maya, but now she’s just grateful for their bond, because it guarantees her a night or two by herself each week while Bucky and Darcy watch Maya. Steve thinks they’re taking to Maya so much because they’re thinking about having kids of their own, but Natasha prefers to believe they just really love her daughter. So does she, to be fair. 

 

Steve starts on making waffles, eggs and bacon for everybody, and Darcy, finally awake enough for food, hands Bucky a bit of her banana for Maya to mouth at. 

 

Clint and Sam tumble into the kitchen around the same time that the smell of bacon really starts to waft out of the room, and Maya babbles happily at them. They’re certainly not morning people, but they’ll sniff out food faster than a bloodhound. Sam ruffles her hair affectionately, and gets a nasty glare when he does the same to Bucky. 

 

“Look, Barnes, if you don’t want people messing up your hair, cut it!” Sam grumbles, and frowns when he reaches for the plate of bacon, only for Natasha to pull it out of his reach. She lifts an eyebrow at him, and he sighs.

 

“Sorry, Bucky.” he mutters, and Bucky just grunts in response. Sam grabs the bacon and eyes Natasha, but doesn’t say anything to her. 

 

Clint, however, does. “Motherhood turning you into a peacekeeper, huh, Nat?” he laughs, but there’s no snark to his words and his eyes are soft. He, of all people, was most for Natasha adopting a baby, even though she would be a single mother. 

 

Clint knows everything about her, from the sterilization to the red she still feels is dripping from her ledger, though he would be the first to tell her it’s perfectly clean. He knows all of that, and knows how desperately she wishes she’d been able to have a child, and when she’d told him, one night, that she was thinking of adopting, he’d shown up at her door early the next morning with eight adoption agencies fully vetted. He’d gone with her the first time she met Maya, and taken the first pictures of them together, and been there when Natasha had signed the papers to bring her home.

 

Natasha offers him a smile, and turns to see that Bucky has finished feeding Maya, and Steve has her in his arms, burping her. Steve, they’ve learned, is surprisingly good at burping Maya and staying clean of spit up. Again, Clint is the one who consistently gets covered in it, so Natasha has all but sworn him off burping duty. 

 

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,” Darcy pipes up, looking around at all the superheros surrounding Maya, “anyone, boy or girl, breaks her heart, they’re in for one hell of a scare.” 

 

Bucky laughs. “From us?” When Darcy nods, he just snorts. “We’re just cleanup. If anyone ever breaks Maya’s heart, Natasha’s gonna disappear them faster than they can say ‘fuck,’ doll.”

 

It earns a laugh from Steve, but the swearword has Natasha chucking an apple at Bucky’s head. He dodges easily, and she rolls her eyes. “No cursing around my daughter, Barnes.”

Chapter Text

God, he’s exhausted. Cassie’s got the stomach bug, and a sick Cassie is a clingy Cassie. The Avengers Compound is, however, a pretty good place to have a sick child, because FRIDAY(yes, it took Scott a month to stop calling her creepy ceiling lady, get off his back about it) can deliver anything he may need to his front door within a half hour. So far, she’s had to get him chicken soup, saltines, three fleece blankets, and a new panda PillowPet(Cassie hadn’t noticed she threw up on hers, and he was hoping to keep it that way). Finally, she’s asleep, and he expects her to sleep for a good while, so he sneaks out of their apartment in search of food and coffee. It’s about 2pm, so he really doesn’t expect much commotion in the common areas of the Compound. 

 

The former he smells as soon as he hits the common floor. Lasagna . He chases the smell, and promptly smacks into the doorframe when he makes eye contact with Captain fucking America. Okay, yeah, he’s hung out with Captain “call me Steve” America a good dozen times now, they’ve even shared a couch, but there’s something about the man(his face and his body) that Scott can’t quite put his finger on(HIS FACE AND HIS BODY) that has Scott fangirling over the Captain every single time he sees him.

 

This time is no different. “Hey Scott!” Captain America offers a wave of one beefy fucking arm, and Scott has to remind himself that he does, in fact, understand English.

 

“Hi Captain,” it’s a mumble, but they’re logical syllables and that’s really the goal, isn’t it?

 

The Captain sighs, gives a small smile. “Scott, how many times have I told you to call me Steve?” 

 

Scott’s really starting to feel the exhaustion now, and he just sits down. 

 

“Scott, I gotta tell you pal, you don’t look great.” The Cap- Steve says, and before Scott knows it, Steve’s pressing a glass of cold water into his hand and he’s draining it. “You okay?” Steve says, and who the hell gave him permission to have such beautiful fucking puppydog eyes?

 

“Yeah, uh, Cassie’s got the stomach bug. When she’s sick, she just wants someone with her 24/7. Which is great, I mean I love her but-” He starts to ramble, and Steve holds up a hand, a sympathizing smule on his face.

 

“I get it. Before the serum, I was sick all the time, so I got used to it, but whenever Buck caught the slightest cold, he’d be wrapped in seventeen blankets and beg me to be by his side constantly.” Steve smiles fondly at the memory, and Scott can’t help but feel he’s intruding on some sort of private moment. Steve perks up again after a moment. “Speaking of Bucky, I’m actually making his Ma’s lasagna recipe, and you look like you could use a decent meal. It’ll be ready in about ten minutes, if you want some?” 

 

Scott nods more urgently than he’d intended to, but God is he hungry. “Yeah, that’d be great! I haven’t really eaten or, uh, slept since yesterday.” 

 

Steve frowns at that. “If it’s alright with you, I can watch Cassie for the rest of the day, let you sleep. Only if she’d be comfortable with it, though.” 

 

Scott shakes his head. “No, Cap- Steve , I couldn’t ask you to do that.” 

 

Steve just shrugs. “Why not? I adore the kid, and remember, serum, I can’t catch whatever it is she’s packing. We’ll hang out, it’ll be fun! I’ve been meaning to watch a couple of those Disney movies anyways.” He heads over to the oven, pulls out a lasagna that smells like heaven, and Scott hesitates.

 

“Are you sure you don’t mind?” Scott asks.

 

Steve, cutting pieces of lasagna, doesn’t even hesitate. “I really don’t mind. I know you’d do the same for me, and besides, I do really like her. It’s no trouble.”

 

Steve puts a massive piece of lasagna and another glass of water in front of Scott, and Scott catches his eye, says with as much gratitude as his exhausted brain can muster, “thank you.”

 

Steve just smiles and nods. “Of course. What are friends for?” This, of course, has Scott squealing so much internally that he can barely process what Steve says next, but it’s something along the lines of “med cots are pretty comfy” and “don’t you dare set an alarm.”

 

Whatever, dude, he’s freaking friends with Captain America!

 

Eight glorious hours later, Scott is heading back to his quarters, well-rested and ready to take on whatever manner of horrors lay beyond the door of his apartment. 

 

There are none. Instead, Cap-Steve gives him a glance over his shoulder and a signal to be quiet from his spot on the couch. Scott complies. When he rounds the couch, he sees a passed out Cassie, her head in Steve’s lap, and Steve pulling a blanket up and over her shoulders. Frankly, the sight is too adorable for Scott’s eyes. 

 

The end credits of Moana are still rolling on screen, and Scott leans over, grabs the remote, and shuts the TV off. 

 

“She fell asleep about an hour ago, didn’t wanna move. Besides, that movie isn’t half bad.” Steve mumbles, and Scott smiles. 

 

He scoops Cassie up in his arms(one thing he knows about his daughter is that she’ll sleep through anything) and brings her to her room, tucks her in for the night. A kiss to the forehead and a little adjusting of blankets, and Scott heads back out into the living room where Steve is cleaning up.

 

Steve talks a little louder now that Cassie’s in her bed with the door closed. “She only threw up once while I was here, and her fever’s gone down, so I’d say she’s on the mend. And she had a full bowl of chicken soup before she went to bed, kept that and a good amount of water down.” Steve rattles off Cassie’s condition like some mix between a superdoctor and a superbabysitter, and Scott just blinks.

 

“Thank you. I mean it, Steve.” Scott says, and Steve smiles at Scott’s use of his name. 

 

“No more Captain?” Steve asks.

 

Scott flushes. “No more Captain.”

 


 

Bucky doesn’t see it coming. Scott does. These aliens are ugly and frankly mean as hell, and when one lunges at Bucky’s back, Scott doesn’t even think. Just leaps in front of Bucky, shielding him as best he can. The blow is hard, and Scott thinks he knocks Bucky over with the brunt of it.

 

He can feel something bleeding, and knows he’s about to pass out, but in his last few seconds of consciousness sees Bucky take out the alien that Scott had jumped in front of, and then Bucky’s concerned face, saying something to Scott, leaning down towards him. Then, nothing. 

 

When he wakes up, it’s to the familiar ceiling of the Avengers medical wing. 

 

And then Scott feels the pain. His ribs feel like they’re stabbing into him, and it only gets worse when he tries to move. He tilts his head to the side, and nearly squeaks when he sees Bucky Barnes asleep in the chair beside his bed. 

 

“Uh, Bucky?” Scott tries, voice quiet and tentative. Nothing. “Bucky!” A little louder does the trick, and Barnes jerks awake, scans the room for any sign of danger(and fuck is it still just a little creepy the way he does that), and then when he sees Scott is awake, breaks into something of a smile, an emotion Scott is hesitant to call relief on his face. 

 

“Scott.” he says, and Scott just nods. “Are you alright?” 

 

Scott tries to shrug, and winces when he realizes how not fun that is. “Kinda hurting. What happened?”

 

Bucky leans over and adjusts what Scott thinks is a morphine drip, because he starts to very suddenly not hurt as much. “We were fighting those freaky iron aliens, I got distracted, and you, uh,” Bucky clears his throat here, “you saved my life. Broke four ribs and bruised your kidney in the process, got stabbed with something.” Bucky looks guilty now, and Scott feels terrible. 

 

“Oh, that’s okay. I’ll heal.” he says, flapping a hand at Bucky. 

 

Bucky blinks. “Scott, you were seriously hurt, you could’ve died , all to save me.” He says, and again Scott dismisses him.

 

“Well I’m on the mend, right?” He says, and Bucky frowns. “Besides, I’d do it again in a heartbeat, no questions asked.”

 

“Why?”

 

Scott just stares at him. “Well if I had to guess, it’s because I’m actually quite fond of you, old man, and I don’t want to see you hurt. You’d do the same for me, wouldn’t you?”

 

Bucky watches him with those calculating eyes, silent for a moment. “Yeah,” he murmurs, so quiet that Scott has to strain his ears to hear him. “Yeah, I would.”

 

“See? Good on us. The world was saved once again, no one died, and we’re officially friends. Ain’t that a hell of a day?” Scott quips, and feels a flush of pride when Bucky gives him one of those rare, genuine, wide grins he usually reserves for Steve, Darcy and Natasha. 

 

Bucky sends a text. When he catches a questioning glance from Scott, he explains, “everyone else is outside, waiting for you to wake up. Thought I’d end the suspense.”

 

Before Scott can ask Bucky to clarify just who “everyone else” is, the door swings open and people pour into the room.

 

Steve, carrying a sleeping Cassie, leads an army of Clint, Natasha, Sam, Tony, Rhodey, Thor, Bruce, Helen, Darcy, Jane, Wanda and Pepper into his not-very-big med room.

 

Luckily, no one looks too banged up from the fight. Natasha has a gash above her eye with a butterfly stitch on it, Wanda a brace on her wrist, and Sam looks a little bruised, but Scott himself is probably the worst of the bunch. And that morphine sure is doing its job. 

 

“Hey guys!” he says weakly, waving the arm that isn’t connected to his broken ribs. They all give smiles, a few greetings, and then Darcy takes the giant vase of sunflowers Scott hadn’t noticed Thor carrying and sets it on the tray table beside his bed. 

 

“Here!” Darcy says, smiling. “These are from all of us, but mostly from Steve, for, and I quote,” Darcy throws up air quotes to accentuate her point. “Saving his dumbass Bucky from getting vaporized.”

 

Steve shoots her a glare, but is mostly too concerned with not laughing out loud at the look on Bucky’s face. Clint, however, takes the opportunity to bust out into his loudest laugh, earning him a death glare from Bucky. 

 

As Natasha steps in between Bucky and Clint, staring at Bucky as if to say Try it, I dare you, Steve takes the opportunity to gently wake Cassie, ignoring the little pool of drool she’s left on his shoulder like the gentleman he is.

 

“Daddy!” She squeaks when she sees him, and probably would’ve plunged from Steve’s arms in her attempts to get to her father if Steve wasn’t faster. He is, though, and the hunky supersoldier carefully sets Cassie down on the side of Scott that’s in the best shape. 

 

“Easy, sweetheart,” Scott laughs, wincing when Cassie squeezes too tight as she hugs him. 

 

“Are you okay, Daddy?” Cassie looks at him, eyes wide and innocent, and Scott feels so lucky to be alive. 

 

“I will be, Cass, but I got hurt, and it might take me a little while to heal.” Scott explains as best he can. He thinks the words “broken ribs” will scare Cassie more than they’ll help, so he leaves it at that. 

 

“Like when I fell and scraped my knee, and got that scar? You gonna scar, Daddy?” Cassie asks.

 

Scott thinks he hears Bucky murmur God, she’s adorable , which warms his heart, and he just nods at his daughter. “Yeah, baby, I am. I’m gonna be just fine in a few weeks though.”

 

“Cassie, hon, your dad has to stay here tonight though,” Steve cuts in. “Would it be okay with you if I stayed with you tonight?” he glances past Cassie, looking at Scott for approval, who just nods. If you can’t trust Captain America, who can you trust?

 

Cassie blinks. “That depends, Uncle Steve,” she says, in a way that makes Scott want to kill Darcy for “teaching her sass.”

 

Steve laughs a little at the six-year-old perched on the bed. “On what?”

 

Cassie breaks into a grin. “If Auntie Nat can sleep over too! Oh, and Uncle Saaaaaaam!” Sam’s name gets drawn out as Cassie leaps off the bed and at Steve, who dutifully catches her with an adoring smile.

 

Sam pipes up. “Sure thing, pumpkin. How about a bunch of us come over, watch Moana with you, and then Uncle Steve and Auntie Nat sleep there with you?” 

 

Cassie’s grin is wider than that time that Scott told her she could get as many different flavors of ice cream as she wanted(she’d punched a bully in the face, frankly he’d have given his daughter the moon that day if she’d asked). She pauses and turns to Scott. “Daddy? Are you gonna be okay if we have a slumber party without you?”

 

Scott stifles a laugh and happy tears at the same time, because God his kid is just the best . “Yeah, Cassie, I’ll be just fine. Uncle Steve and Auntie Natasha will bring you back here in the morning to see me, okay?” Out of the corner of his eye, Natasha gives him a sure, confirming nod, pretty much sealing his complete and total worship of that awesome, awesome woman. She really kicks ass.

 

Cassie still looks unconvinced. “But you’ll be alone.” she argues.

 

“No he won’t!” Bucky says suddenly, still beside Scott. “I’m gonna stay with him until you get back, okay?”

 

Cassie nods then, jumps down from Steve to give Scott a kiss on the cheek. “Bye, Daddy.” She turns to Bucky, a death stare on her face that Scott has to chalk up to Natasha, especially given the look of pride the redheaded Russian is wearing. “Uncle Bucky, you keep my daddy company until I get back.” She says very seriously.

 

Bucky, to his credit, looks entirely serious as he gives her a salute. “Yes, ma’am.”

 

“Pinky promise?” Cassie asks, and Scott hopes someone manages to get a picture of Bucky wrapping his metal pinky around Cassie’s tiny one, because if they did, he’s fucking framing it. 

 

Once she’s apparently convinced by Bucky’s pinky promise, Cassie once again jumps at Steve, this time executing a move she probably learned from Peter Parker, climbing Steve until she’s perched on his shoulders. They turn to leave, and Cassie being on Steve’s shoulders means Steve has to squat down to get them both under the doorframe, a sight that leaves Sam and Wanda cracking up.

 

Scott watches them go, and then turns back to face Bucky. “Have you ever played Go Fish?”

Chapter Text

Officially, Darcy’s job is Head of Public Relations for the Avengers Initiative. Unofficially, she likes to think of herself more as a crossover between a therapist, best friend, and babysitter. Sure, Sam is the team therapist in a lot of ways, but it’s usually up to Darcy to ramp up morale and watch over everyone. She takes pride in that aspect of her job, takes caring for superheroes very seriously. 

 

Some days are, of course, more challenging than others, but Darcy is good at taking things in stride, at rising to the challenge. Even she will admit that some things cannot be fixed with a cup of tea, a chat, and an extra special Darcy cuddle. 

 

So when Darcy gets a call from Natasha simply warning her that this has been a particularly stressful, traumatizing day - the phone call a warning in of itself, because Nat never calls and she just sounds so broken - Darcy knows she has to think outside the box for this one. 

 

She has an hour until the Quinjet lands on the roof. That’s not really enough time, but it’ll have to do. 

 

FRIDAY is ever so helpful in making the hour long enough, as Darcy has the A.I. order for more blankets, pillows, mattresses, and snacks sent to the common room. FRIDAY is even considerate enough to check that Darcy wants fluffy blankets, to which she of course replies “only the fluffiest.” 

 

The supplies arrive faster than she’d bargained for, and the giant pot of mac and cheese will have to wait a moment. 

 

Darcy uses Tony’s massive sectionals as end pieces for her masterpiece, stretching blankets nearly wall to wall in the giant common room. FRIDAY apparently throught of everything, as Darcy finds adorable battery operated fairy lights tucked in with the blankets. She pads the floor with mattresses, covers them in pillows and fuzzy blankets, and edges the inside of the fort with the fairy lights. 

 

It’s beautiful. Even she has to step back and admire her half hour’s handywork, because damn is that impressive. It’s beautiful and big enough for all of them, two things which she had assumed would be mutually exclusive. 

 

She stirs the mac and cheese, sets the hot chocolate to keep warm, and just as she’s setting out bowls for everyone, she gets a notification from FRIDAY that the Quinjet has landed.

 

“Hey FRIDAY, can you tell everyone to come to the common room?”

 

“Right away, Miss Lewis.”

 

“Also, tell them that unless they’re covered in blood, they don’t have to change first. Especially tell Steve that, polite motherfucker that he is.” Darcy says fondly. There’s sweats and jumpers for each member of the team already here, and Darcy doesn’t want them to disappear off to their rooms to mope by themselves. That’s not what they need right now and she hopes they know it. 

 

If an AI can sound amused, FRIDAY does. “Of course, Miss Lewis.”

 

Natasha wasn’t kidding. Steve and Bucky lead the group into the common room, and for all of Steve’s need to pretend he’s fine all the time, he looks utterly wiped. Bucky looks much the same, tired eyes taking in the decked out room with only the slightest glint of a smile to show for it. Natasha follows, Clint leaning on her, and the redhead gives Darcy a smile, mouthes thank you when Clint perks up at the look of the fort and the smell of the food. 

 

Darcy does what she does best. She hugs Steve, one of those hugs where she goes up on her tiptoes, tries to make herself as big as possible because it helps Steve when he feels a little smaller, more comforted. 

 

For Bucky, a hand on his cheek has him closing his eyes, leaning against the touch. He blinks his eyes open. “Thank you, Darce.” His voice is thick and trembly, and Darcy wishes she could do more for him, but Bucky processes by himself. That doesn’t mean he has to be alone to do it.

 

Nat of course greets Darcy with a hug, and Clint follows, pressing a kiss to Darcy’s forehead. The fact that Clint doesn’t make some corny joke or tickle Darcy when he hugs her isn’t a great sign, but she’ll fix that. It’s what Darcy does. 

 

Sam just looks tired. He and Wanda come in looking like they are in desperate need of sleep. Scott is smiley but clearly tired. Bruce, of course, is quiet, but he gives Darcy a smile and lets her put a hand on his shoulder.

 

Rhodey and Tony are relying on each other, mainly, but they’re here and Darcy counts that as a win. 

 

Thor picks Darcy up off the ground in a bone crushing hug that has Bucky looking concerned for her safety, but Darcy just smiles and pats Thor’s beefy shoulder.

 

Everyone grabs their clothes and heads off to get changed. The clothes Darcy got are just from their wardrobes so they’ll fit perfect - except for Nat, who only wears oversized clothing when she’s off duty, so Darcy got her sweats and an old sweatshirt of Steve’s for ultimate cozyness. 

 

Steve’s the first to reappear, because of course he is, and he walks up to Darcy and hugs her again. 

 

“Are you okay, hon?” Darcy asks, putting both of her tiny hands on his frankly too perfect jawline and looking into those unfairly blue eyes. He sighs, glancing away from Darcy. Steve shifts on his feet, but Darcy knows her best friend and won’t let him not talk about it. “Steve.”

 

“I’m okay, Darce, it was just… it was kids, you know? And especially after what we saw Wanda go through recovering from everything that crazy scientist put her through, I just… it was a lot, you know?” Steve sighs, and Darcy watches him carefully, sees the way his shoulders hunch in. 

 

This is gonna take a little more than Darcy had realized, but she’s down for it, she can handle it. She hugs him again and one by one, everyone else returns. Once everyone’s assembled in the common room, Darcy claps her hands together and puts on her brightest smile. 

 

“Alright, supermen and women, there is mac and cheese and hot chocolate for everybody, and Doritos for Bucky, Sam, and Scott, Flaming Hot Cheetos for Steve and Nat, chocolate for Rhodey, Clint, and Wanda, tea and biscuits for Bruce, blueberries for Tony, and Poptarts for Thor. Blanket fort is big enough for everybody, and we’re watching Harry Potter, and then I’m making all of you take the Pottermore housing quiz.” 

 

“Yes, ma’am!” Clint and Scott both quip, and then salute in unison. God , Darcy thinks, those two are like creepy twins some time.

 




Darcy stretches her legs, which are buzzing as the feeling slowly comes back into them. After three movies and seven hours, everybody has eaten their bodyweight in junk food, and almost everyone is asleep. 

 

Darcy takes a look around. Bucky, whose hair has been elegantly braided by Natasha(who was teaching Thor), is passed out, his head on Sam’s shoulder. Clint’s legs are thrown over Sam’s lap with his head in Natasha’s. Natasha’s awake, rubbing Clint’s head and being careful not to disturb Wanda, who Natasha has one arm wrapped around as the younger woman sleeps against her. 

 

Tony, Scott, Rhodey, and Bruce are an indiscriminate pile of sleepy limbs, flopped together. 

 

And Steve, whose legs are in Bucky’s lap, has his head in Darcy’s. They’re both awake and she’s playing with his hair, and he glances up at her. “Thank you again, Darcy, for doing this,” Steve murmurs, and Darcy smiles down at him. “Even if I don’t necessarily understand the, uh, Pottermore quiz.”

 

Darcy smirks. “Yeah, I know you don’t Stevie, but that’s okay. Love you anyways.”

 

Steve snuggles against her and smiles. “Love you too, Darce, goodnight.” Like that, he’s out. 

 

The quiz, by the way, had been massively entertaining and worked out pretty much exactly as Darcy had imagined it. 

 

In the Ravenclaw category reside Wanda, Clint, and Bruce(and Pepper, she’d popped in just long enough to take the quiz).The Hufflepuffs ended up being the biggest group, including Natasha, Rhodey, Bucky, Scott and Darcy herself. Thor is the only Gryffindor, and Steve and Tony are very predictably the Slytherins of the group.

 

Darcy stretches her legs again, and glances around at all of her happy, napping children. Mission accomplished.