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Of Old Habits

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It has not been edited so mistakes galore ahead,

you have been warned =)

 




The best invention ever, and Darcy was ready to fight if anyone disagreed in that moment, was the hazmat suit. How she hasn’t seen it before was beyond her. It was better than sliced bread and indoor plumbing. The crotch of the neon creation hung somewhere around her knees, the mask kept getting fogy and she had to constantly push the sleeves up otherwise the gloves were falling of her hands. Still, best thing ever. She had never felt more fabulous in her entire life. It was astonishing how much you appreciated your skin not breaking out in angry red, fist sized blisters as if the sun had just roasted the fuck out of you.

Which was precisely what was happening to her unfortunate companion. At one-point Darcy’s dinner attempted to make a surprise come back but she managed to push it down. This was not the evening she had planned. You might ask why was she, Darcy Lewis, a person with a decent common sense and above average survival instinct, doing in a hazmat suit at 3.40 o’clock in the morning putting wet towels on Captain America’s back? Because she was an idiot that’s why. Did she also mention she was technically one foot out the door job wise? It added another level to the whole absurdity of the situation. Dedication was a like an old habit she couldn’t get rid of. Jane Foster was to blame here, Darcy was sure.

Long story short, some wannabe bad guy pulled a fast one on the Avengers, from what Darcy was hastily told. No one realized that they were exposed at the time, once the pain and blisters galore kicked in the only other person within the exclusion zone was, of course, her eager beaver self.

Uh! Mmmmm!” Steve Rogers did his best not to be too loud. It was admirable. It also made it sound like she was torturing him. It sure looked like it. Another massive blister went pop splattering its content surprisingly wide.

“Just curse, Captain. Do us both a favour. I won’t tell.” That wounded animal whimpering was messing with her head and Darcy needed to stay focused. Anger usually did it for her. Jarvis, Stark’s AI, had instructed her how to proceed and that was to wash and wipe all skin that encountered the noxious substance. A little tricky being stuck in flat with no running water. Luckily there was a water cooler still full in the kitchen because she they couldn’t leave the premises.  

“Miss Lewis, you must finish cleaning the wounds. May I suggest removing dead skin if it’s impeding your access?”

A mouthful of sick hit the roof of her mouth and it took a moment wrangle it down, followed by couple of coughs. She wasn’t going to have smoked fish ever again. The flavour didn’t mix well stomach acid.

“Ok… Yes. Right.  When are we getting the water back again?” The miracle of running water was eagerly anticipated. Fun had been had by no one this evening. On the plus side Darcy had done a decent clean-up and the open wounds were visibly healing at the edges. Darcy worked faster. Constantly falling forward hood and fat fingers of the oversized suit were getting in the way and made operating standard office scissors difficult. But still neon was her new favourite colour and not getting stinking bodily fluids on her skin was an amazing option to have.

So why was she the one in the wonderful hazmat suit popping blisters on Captain America? Even though SI was about to fail her probation? Cause her stupid ass still did her best to do the job. It included meeting Dr Banner coming back from the mission to pass on some allegedly vital paperwork. Why it couldn’t have waited for the morning?  Or why it couldn’t have been sent via Jarvis? Well, those were questions for Mr Andrews. Darcy was done arguing with that prick. It wasn’t worth the energy anymore.

Mr Andrews wanted something done? Darcy had it done. Simple, efficient, impersonal. That was the formula she was sticking with. Tonight, was a slight deviation from that. But as previously established Darcy was indeed an idiot that cared about her job.

 Every girl in the Tower had at least once fantasized about the perfect abs of Captain America. The dude was obviously fit beyond fit, ok? Darcy Lewis was human. She also wasn’t going to conjure no such visions ever again because, surprisingly enough, that smooth skin wasn’t as attractive when you had to literally cut it from his body.

To say the least Darcy squealed with joy when the shower head blasted water onto them.

“Fuck, yes!” Had she had the luxury of time there might have been even tears coming out. Not this time, she was going to save that for the nervous breakdown later. Now equipped with a sponge and scissors Darcy did her best to work under the torrent of heavenly water. First time in years sharing a shower with a man, Captain freaking America in all his naked glory, and Darcy would have preferred to be anywhere else.

Fucking Andrews, if I ever get a chance to get back at him once I leave…

“Thank you…” The soft words were almost drowned by the shower running at full capacity and Darcy snapped back before her tired mind clocked the meaning of them.

“What? Oh… Yeah, welcome. I would usually say pleasure all mine, but we could have lived without this memorable experience. Ok, is it still burning anywhere?” Darcy did her best to be thorough. Hands, chest, and left thigh were worst hit so she had cleaned those first. Back looked bad but the damage there was purely on the surface and there was hardly any bleeding.

It was a challenge to stay impartial, she wasn’t supposed to be there. Had she wanted to deal with messes like that Darcy would have elected to train as a nurse, having a weak stomach played a vital part in this decision making.

“I’m…” Captain took a moment to concentrate and Darcy let him even when though she wanted nothing more than to snap him out of this stupor.  “Ok.”

Awesome.” That probably wasn’t the case, but the dude’s skin was no longer peeling, and no new blisters were visible.  Wasn’t that exciting? Freezing cold stream did its job to significantly reduce redness. Honestly, Darcy was impressed. Not to mention grateful that the poisonous fumes only had limited lifespan when released.  Something to do with it bonding to oxygen molecules or some such thing. “We're out of the woods.”

Water meant the premises were about to get unsealed and people that should have been here dealing with the situation will finally be able to come and take over. The very thought of it happening made her feel better.

Captain perked up too. “Are you going to check on Tony?” Maybe if she has been paying attention Darcy wouldn’t have been startled so badly.

“It’s a poor form to bring another man up while you’re naked with a girl.” Since deciding that it was time to change her place of employment things like that had been coming out her mouth. Dumb things she didn’t seem to be able to regret.  “I mean sure. As soon as I hand you over, I’ll drop in on him.” Normally the answer would have been no, but the pained and hopeful expression on the man’s face disarmed her way quicker that it should have. Stark was ok kind of dude, funny. She could do that, even though his own PA was probably handling it. Since Dr Banner had elected to stay somewhere else instead of returning to the Tower with the rest of the team Darcy had time to fuss over Stark for a bit.

“Hand me over?”

Did he expect her to nurse him all night long? She had to sleep. Stuff to back. A job to find. Life to live outside this Tower. “Yeah, to whoever is on duty, you know, to help.”

You could always draw a lot of conclusions from silence. It was remarkable.

“Help?”

The nod made the hood fall forward again obscuring her vision. She was wearing glasses, mask with air filtration unit underneath it. She was sweaty, sticky, stinky and cranky. Her mouth tasted like vomit. She couldn’t drink anything, and it was driving her mad. Not to mention having to constantly curb her desire to swear was seriously taxing. Why was she even doing that? “Yes, help, the kind that comes equipped with their own latex gloves and a medical degree.”

“It was just a minor exposure.” Those few long moments could have turned awkward, Darcy just stared back. Life was considerably simpler when you didn’t give a fuck about getting fired. Simpler but more dangerous. A lot of things can be said when you no longer fear the consequences as much.

“Your skin came off. Are you saying no one called the doctor? What logic can be behind let’s not call a medical professional to attend these possibly life altering injuries?”

Have you ever had an urge to pick the scissors and stab somebody and you catch yourself reaching out? Darcy was at that point, the fine line where the overtired conscious mind starts to slip. Anger, frustration, and fear were incredibly powerful emotions. This last hour had been intense, physically and emotionally. Seeing Captain America in the nude, sitting on the floor of his shower, with this tired vacant look on his face, covered in bruises, blood and open wounds that were just beginning to heal was not something that contributed to stable mental state.

Darcy was angry. At him, at herself, this situation. There were clearly things going down she wasn’t being told about. Like why it was important to keep his injuries under wraps? Her mouth clamped shut before she said anything else.

Water was bouncing of them while sat there in silence. He wasn’t offering information and it wasn’t her place to ask.  One of the things that Darcy had recently learned that sometimes when there was nothing you could do, moving forward was the best move. Do what you can, instead of obsessing over things that you can’t change.

“Are you still oozing, Captain? If not, I need to check on what’s-his-face-with-the-goatee.”

“Thank you. I… didn’t expect you were going to stay and help with my injuries. You didn’t have to, it’s not your-” Darcy stopped the monologue before it went too far. It wasn’t needed.

“Not your job, not my job… Let’s not go there, my dear Captain.” Because talking was hard when you were angry and there was nothing you could do about the situation but watch from the side-lines. “Can you stand?”

“Yeah… We’re lucky you came to meet us.” Darcy didn’t answer and instead just helped him get up. Luck was a fickle thing and depended heavily on perspective.  


Standing at the heavy armoured door Darcy wanted to bang her head on it. Maybe she could knock herself out. That would save her from next encounter.

“I’m naked.” Mr Stark’s voice was calm when it carried to her through the intercom.

Who opens a conversation like that? “I’m sorry?” Maybe he though she was someone else.

“You can’t come in to check on me, Lewis. I’m currently unclothed.”

This was annoying, he was clearly injured, and Darcy was too tired to argue. She needed to get this done and over with. “Open the damn door. Now!”

“Or what?” For a moment Stark sounded a little peeved.

It was a bad idea to dare her. She looked around for a camera. “I will go and tell Captain America, who will have to get his injured, bandaged ass out the bed to come and kick your door in. You should be ashamed of yourself to make me do that, Mr Stark.”

Stark was unamused at the suggestion. “I really don’t think Cap wants to see me naked as much as you do, Lewis.”

Oh, she would do it. She would feel bad about bothering Captain America, but she would do it, it was his damn idea. “I don’t know, Mr Stark. He would probably come over for moral support if he thought you were injured.”

“I strongly-”

Darcy snapped angrily.  “Open up, Stark! You’re wasting my time!”

“Which part of I’m naked you didn’t get?! Unless that’s why you’re here. In which case I feel like I should at the very least been bought dinner or a drink. And just for the record you won’t sue me for indecent exposure at work, right?”

“No.” She probably had missed a ton of opportunities to get rich quick via lawsuit while working here and she wasn’t going to start now. “Please, dude, it’s late. I just need to see that you’re not actively dying, and I’ll be on my way.”

“Not actively dying… Can you set the bar any lower? What if I’m just dying?”

“I have to maintain plausible deniability in case anything happens.” Darcy cleared her throat and spoke with a trembling voice, “‘Your honour, he was not actively dying last I saw him.’ It just sounds better.”

“I can assure you, Lewis, it doesn’t.” It must have been convincing though, the door soundlessly slid to the side allowing her entrance.  “Also, straight on your right there’s a small bar. Pour me double, please. One ice cube.”

That wasn’t happening. “No. Where are you?” She wasn’t there to play a barmaid. Where was he anyway. The workshop was vast. It took up an entire floor of the building. She didn’t have the time play hide and seek. His voice came from somewhere above her, so it didn’t help.

“Lewis, I have standards. I’m naked, you’re not, and I’m not even drunk. Help me out here.”

“It’s a formal welfare check, not a date.”

“What are you, the Police now, Lewis? I probably could rustle a up a pair of handcuffs if you need those.”

Darcy paused, considering it, but for a reason Mr Stark wouldn’t have approved. “Have Miss Pots ever considered getting you neutered?”

“Highly likely, also highly illegal, it’s one of the very few things I mind losing, thank you very much!”

“Where the fuck are you, man?” While hazmat suit was greatest thing on the face of the planet, walking around in it wasn’t exactly comfortable. The initial adrenaline has worn off a while back. The situation sucked. It was late, it was so late actually that it was now too early to be doing what she was doing. On the plus side Mr Stark wasn’t Captain America.  She could finally let those therapeutic swear words fly.

“Mr Stark is currently in the bath. It’s situated at the end of the hall on the left.” Once again, she was being directed by Jarvis. The composed neutrality in his voice made the irritation spike.

“You better not be fucking injured, you fuck…” Darcy grumbled under the breath.


The door opened with a bang. Thankfully, it made him jump only slightly.

“I hate the lot of you…” Lewis paused before continuing. While the words were harsh, it was said more in a matter of fact way. “Not like really hate, but you all are acting stupid and I don’t know why I’m here dealing with it.”

“Because you shit out of luck, Shorty?” Because she must have, wearing high viz hazmat suit, pulling the trouser legs up so she could walk without tripping over. A sight to behold. That was dedication. Tony was willing to give her that.

“Yeah, there’s that. Now… what the fuck?” Acknowledging the fact of the mess they were in and moving on to solve it. That was what they were doing. Lewis had a good grip on the situational awareness. That was the reason Tony allowed in. Jarvis kept him updated on the way she approached and dealt with Cap. She saved him from having to call a professional in and which would have leaked to Fury and resulted in another type of mess that they were all eager to avoid.

“Before you say anything, it’s on record that you have been warned about my current state of undress.” He was submerged up to his neck in a free-standing bath, there were no bubbles to spare Lewis the view of his very naked self. Well, nearly naked, he had the small hand towel over his privates. He didn’t have a habit of exposing himself to women that were not fully on board with what was happening.

Lewis looked unimpressed, staring at a point above his head. Surprisingly professional. “We can both agree you being in the buff is the least of our problems tonight.”

 Tony liked that fact that she wasn’t trying to use the situation like some would have. He might have been talking big but that all it was right now.

“Got to say I like your attitude and technically it’s morning.” It was getting lighter outside, floor to ceiling windows gave a magnificent view of the city. The question was why he was snarking at her. They were both tired, he was injured, she was annoyed. He was naked, she was dressed for a biological warfare. This meeting shouldn’t have lasted more than a minute. All she was here for was to make sure he wasn’t dead.

“Are you having a spontaneous soak at this hour because you haven’t pampered yourself in a while or ….?” She trailed of and Tony shrugged.

“It’s the or but it’s minor. I pamper myself on regular basis. You should try.” The reason he was soaking  now was to get the toxins out of his skin, but Shorty knew that. Not to mention he had sore muscles everywhere

She was at his side now, examining his face. “Good on you and what with the specs? Because if you got anything in your eyes, I’m calling a doctor. I’m not qualified for that.”

“Migraine caused light sensitivity. You wear the hazmat often or you are trying make me feel special?”

“It’s my little secret. I get off on not being exposed to poison.”

“I share your sentiment.” There was a surprisingly large number of issues they viewed in the same way, or more precisely the way she expressed them. That rarely happened for him. “It’s safe to take it off now, Shortstack.” Tony motioned at the suit and half expected her to question it, but the brunette didn’t need to be told twice. From inside the eye gouging coloured protection emerged a tired looking hot mess. The relief on her face was adorable if he was honest.  Rogers must have been some hard work. Not that he was surprised. The America’s Favourite Scout Boy could get on your nerves. “Drink?”

“Oh, please.” Most of the small water bottle content was gone in few seconds.

“Take it easy champ, there’s plenty to go around.” It was obviously wrong time to notice but she wasn’t wearing a bra.  Darcy Lewis had one a loose-fitting t-shirt and a pair of sleeping shorts.  She must have taken off the bathrobe to put the protection on when the alarm sounded. Why was life testing him at a time like this? “I will take a moment to be inappropriate and say that this is not how I imagined being naked in your company.”

“On an even more inappropriate note your junk is not the first I have seen tonight. Don’t feel special.” To top it off she kissed her teeth at him. This sort of stimulation was precisely what Tony didn’t need right now. She had a bun at the top of her head that seemed permanently on the verge of unravelling. He did his best to concentrate on it as opposed to the way couple of the tendrils of hair stuck to her cheek so near to that saucy mouth.

“So, you left the best for last. Didn’t know you thought so highly of me.”

The eye-roll was so hard it could have beaten his any day. This woman had skills.  “Absolutely, you’re the highlight of my night. I prefer men whose skin is not peeling off. Now that we have establish how delighted I am to be here; I need you to get your naked ass out so I can make sure you’re not hiding some injuries. I did try to come up with a way to ask you this without sounding creepy. Like, not try a lot, but an attempt been made.”

Should he make it easy? Or not? Why was he even considering it? “I knew you wanted to see me naked.”

“Yes, and it’s rude to make a girl wait.”

Oh, nice move, Lewis. “Only if you get me a drink.”

Without missing a beat Lewis made a motion to pass her water bottle to him. Tony lowered the sunglasses to glare at the clearly faked innocent smile she had on. Such cheek. He was enjoying it and she knew it. She must have.

“Lewis, contrary to what you might have heard, I’m not a cheap date. I’ll have the scotch. Double, one ice. Please.”

“You’re annoying, that’s what you are. I can’t believe I’m doing this. You should feel lucky.” He did. This was a decent end to a disastrous night. Especially since he had a chance to watch her rear move in those stretchy shorts. He couldn’t help but push his luck.

“I’ll have-”

“Can’t hear you!” Lewis shouted back from the hall. Easy theory to test.

“Your backside looks exceptionally perky in what you got on.”        

There was a pause before she shot back. “… Enjoy the view. That’s the closest you ever going to get to it.” Yeah, she heard him fine. Tony grinned for the first time this evening. It felt good to talk to someone that didn’t take offence at the way he spoke.

“I’ll have anything starting with Glen-”

“Be specific!”

“Glenfiddich, right hand side. You’re amazing!” The words echoed. 

She was back couple of minutes later with the glass in hand, still mildly peeved. Thankfully, it wasn’t at him. This night been long and trying for them both.

“Just to be clear, I’m not doing it for sexual gratification. This is not how I get my kicks.”

“Understood.” Lewis had remained cool and professional during the brief inspection. The quick twirl and a bow got him a little tired laugh.  All he had were some red marks on his legs. It could have been worse. They all could have been much worse. Cap might have been shedding skin like a snake, but it wasn’t going do any lasting damage. Tony made sure of that. The Other Guy didn’t even feel it and Bruce didn’t have a single mark on him when back to normal, that’s why he stayed with SHIELD. But that was another story all together.

Once done Lewis let out an annoyed little sigh. “Excellent, looks like I have wasted a trip. I’ll be going.”

“I disagree, you got to ogle me to your hearts content, on top of that I now owe you a drink. Worse things could have happened.”

She was already at the door when she turned to laugh at him. It gave him another chance to appreciate the way the material of the t-shirt was falling at the front. Nothing could beat natural breasts, small, big. It didn’t matter. 

“Sure. Why not? The nakedness won’t be included, though.” 

“That's ok. I’m flexible.”

“Good Night, Mr Stark.”

Shorty was already out the room and down the hall when he shouted after her “Feel free to dream of me!” The laughter was his only response and Tony was going to take it as a good sign.  

 



What you think, Peeps? It haven't been edited so sorry about the mistakes=)