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No Church in the Wild

Chapter Text

 

 

‘I am someone no one falls in love with.

I am always lost,

always desperate,

always drifting.’

 

Maybe once upon a time her philosophy of ‘wherever Jane goes, so goes my nation’ had been a productive and ideal move. Darcy was beginning to have her doubts, though. She’d stopped counting the countries she’d been in when the number hit double digits. Her inner ten-year old that used to stare at the world map tacked up on her bedroom wall has ceased jumping for joy. The exotic foods and towering buildings, the telescopes that could peer into the vastness of space and see galaxies millions of years away; all of it has lost its shine. Darcy’s twenty-eight year old back and feet ache with a perpetual kink from spending hours slouched in an office chair or bent over a desk.

Loathed to admit it as she is, but her days of riding on her favorite astrophysicist’s tailcoat were at an end and if she’s going out, she’s going with a bang.

“Darcy, I need those readouts from last week’s—”

“They’re already on your desk along with this week’s, too,” Darcy cuts her off and rounds her desk.

Jane’s pen pauses long enough for her to look up, brows reaching her hairline. Darcy smiles at her and holds her arms out, executing a little spin. Jane’s eyes narrow.

“You’re leaving?”

“Tomorrow is Friday, Boss-Lady, which means it’s Thorsday and I have a date.”

Sighing, Jane turns her attention back to her work, her tone resigned; “Just try not to get arrested again, yeah?”

“That was one time!”

“I mean it!”

Blowing a childish raspberry at the tiny stargazer, Darcy hefts her purse onto her shoulder and hums an affirmative on the way out the door.

They’d been in Japan for a month and according to Jane it was one month too long. Well, long enough for Darcy to find trouble. Okay, so she’d watched one too many Fast and Furious movies and had maybe fallen in with a sketchy group… Can you blame her, really? Racing around was the most fun she’s had since she met Thor. And the fact that she is actually really good at it is just a small victory. Jane is clearly just jealous that she’s stuck behind her machines all hours and can’t join her. That’s Darcy’s theory anyway.

Sighting the sleek black car that’s purring by the curb makes Darcy smirk and she quickens her steps. The night air is humid and her stilettos strike the concrete with a snapsnapsnap as she exits the office building.

“You’re late.”

“You can’t rush genius,” Darcy retorts sliding into the low bucket seat and buckling up.

“Mhm,” the driver says and leans over, his jaw jutting out. Darcy rolls her eyes and tilts over placing a placating kiss on his cheek. His smile is sly and makes her danger meter ding.

The engine rumbles through the cabin of the car like a hungry lion and Darcy’s heart races in anticipation. He shifts the gear into drive and with a cursory glance the car leaps into traffic along with her pulse. The lights of the city fly by casting shadows like a strobe light; red, green, yellow; blur. Darcy doesn’t watch them, though. Her gaze is on the way the veins climb along the shifting muscle of his arm, the fluid way his limbs work as if he is a part of the vehicle. She isn’t sure what she loves more; being in the driver’s seat herself or watching him. Either way it always leaves her high.

Darcy met Kent at a club a week after being trapped in a lab and begging Jane to let her loose on the city. Jane met him once and it didn’t end well probably due to the fact that their first encounter had been at the police station. What?! Who knew alcohol and a love for speed wasn’t a great combination? At least Darcy had had enough sense to take Kent’s keys, so really it hadn’t been her fault. His car had just been begging for her to play. His drunken encouragements might have egged her on. She isn’t sorry. After that remarkably freeing night (despite the police, angry scientist, and whopping speeding ticket) Darcy and Kent had been thick as thieves. Friends with benefits, actually, if there needed to be a label... Maybe that was another reason why Jane was so ‘anti-hot-rich-guy-with-amazing-car’.

As the car winds deeper into the city Darcy lets all of her worries fly out the window. If tonight is going to be her last hurrah then she damn well isn’t going to dwell on her problems. With that in mind she reaches out and turns up the music that’s been nothing but a mumble then lets her head rest back, the thrum of the engine and the melody of the pounding bass soaking into her frame. Her lashes close with a flutter and a smile curves her red lips.

 

* * *

 

Four hours later… Darcy yelps as she’s thrown onto a massive, messy mattress. Somewhere in the condo music is playing and people are laughing and talking. There’s a haze in the room from the weed they smoked an hour before and Darcy is too lit to care about the other bodies already on the bed. She watches as Kent sheds his shirt and moves to the dresser. His back is a work of art as he bends over whatever he’s messing with and Darcy kicks her stilettos off while watching the way his body moves. She grins at him when he turns around, inhaling through his nostrils loudly and pins her with his dark eyes.

When he offers her a line of the white powder on the back of his big hand, she happily snorts it.

When he crawls onto the bed between her thighs and whispers dirty things to her in a voice that would put Lucifer’s seduction to shame; she holds onto him greedily.

When the couple next to them joins and there are too many hands and mouths for her utterly wasted mind to count; Darcy forgets her name and how she’s supposed to be a ‘good person’. She forgets that she’s leaving in a few hours. She ignores the beep of her phone in favor of the orgasms that they wring out of her. And when she passes out around three in the morning, she forgets that she has spies as friends.

It’s the third rendition of Rihanna’s ‘Birthday Cake’ blaring from her phone that wakes her up less than two hours later. Still fucked up, Darcy climbs out of the tangle of limbs around her and falls off the side of the bed with a curse. Vision blurry and itchy from contacts worn too long, she crawls over a sea of discarded clothes until she finds her purse under a neon-blue bra that definitely isn’t hers. Fishing her phone out of its depths, she answers the call just to have blessid silence. Not firing on all pistons, she stares at it for a good thirty seconds as the call timer counts down before realizing someone is actually on the other end. Putting it up to her ear hesitantly, she stares at the bra against the white carpet and clears her throat.

“Oh good, you’re alive. I’m assuming you’re on a bender or still asleep, probably both since you haven’t yelled at me yet, but regardless, I’m outside. You have five minutes before I come up. In the suit.”

Darcy glares at the bra willing it to burst into flames, the sound of Tony Stark’s voice issuing orders making nails scratch across a chalkboard inside of her foggy head.

“You wouldn’t,” she croaks, her throat a little raw after the ‘activities’ the night before.

“Wow… I could make so many inappropriate jokes right now but I’m tired, Lewis. I haven’t slept in almost fifty hours and I spent all night in a boardroom. You know how much I love those and I’m willing to bet my tower that your ‘friend’ Foster’s so fond of is in there still, and I would love to meet him.”

“NO!”

“That’s what I thought. So you have, oh look at that, you’re wasting time, four minutes and counting to get down here.”

“Fuck you,” Darcy whispers harshly, her prior raised exclamation having made someone in the bed turn over.

“Contrary to popular belief I don’t take advant—”

She hangs up on him and begrudgingly looks around for her clothes. Once she’s somewhat decent, Darcy looks back at where Kent is stretched out on the bed with the other woman’s hair draped across his shoulder and back. The sheet only covers his right side from the small of his back to calf and she takes just a moment to mourn what she’s leaving behind. He might be Trouble with a capital T and make her want to have a little too much fun, but he’s a good guy and she’s gonna miss him. With her shoes and purse clutched to her chest, Darcy makes her way out of the condo through the sea of passed out and snoring bodies, and down into the weak light of dawn.

Instead of the usual driver there holding the door open for her, Tony himself is leaning against the side of his rental in a perfectly cut suit, with his arms crossed across his chest, and sunglasses firmly in place.

“Jesus, kid you look like hell,” he greets.

Just this side of self conscious despite the fact that they’ve seen each other at their worst, Darcy tugs the hem of her little black dress down and drops her gaze to the sidewalk.

“Have you already packed?”

Nodding, she glances up at him as he heaves a sigh and pushes away from the car.

“Good, then we can sleep for a few before we leave. Come on,” he opens the passenger side door and waits till she’s in to move to the driver’s side.

Led Zeppelin plays at a low volume and Tony hums along, every so often making idle comments while Darcy dozes on and off, the drugs and alcohol in her system making her sluggish and spacey. She isn’t sure how long it takes to get to the hotel but it feels like hours when he nudges her awake. He helps her out of the car and tucks her into his side, steering her into the hotel and into the elevator. Her stomach swoops violently when it begins the journey to the floor he’s staying on and she groans, leaning heavily into him with her nose pressed to his neck. His reassuring words are lost in the roar of blood in her ears, his hands warm and steadying along her spine.

When they get to his room he leads her to the bathroom where she promptly loses the contents of her stomach. He stays by her side until she’s aware enough to push him away to go get her a glass of water. While he’s gone she pees, washes her hands, and then rinses her mouth out. She takes out her contacts then avoids her reflection as she strips out of her clothes and steps into the open-bay shower. The hot water is heaven; however, Tony Stark huffing at the sight of her naked backside is not.

“Can you bring me my purse and one of your t-shirts?”

“Well, since you asked instead of ordering… You need me to wash your back while I’m at it?”

“No,” she sighs and dunks her head under the spray to avoid further conversation.

Darcy spends twenty minutes washing away the fuzzy memory of strangers’ hands and mouths on her and makes herself smell like Tony’s body wash instead of alcohol and weed. Her fingers are pruney and legs wobbly by the time she shuts the shower off. Uncaring, her modesty and dignity long gone by now, she walks into Tony’s open arms and lets him wrap her up in a fluffy white towel. While she dries off, she ignores him as he shucks his suit and takes her place in the shower. Glad that she thought ahead, Darcy pulls on clean underwear, then one of his plain black tees, and digs around in her bag for her toothbrush. Tony sings as she brushes her teeth and towel dries her hair.

Unearthing her glasses, she slips them on, grabs the water he’d brought her and her phone, and wanders into the bedroom. She has six missed calls; three from Jane, two from Tony, and one from Clint. Well, that explains how Stark knew where she was. Jane had taken to Skyping Thor in her downtime (and when he’s on the planet) and any time she mentioned Darcy, since the police department ‘incident’, he’d relayed every word to the team. While having the earth’s mightiest heroes up your ass sounds like an awesome time, Darcy can say that it one-hundred percent isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, she loves them and she’s fond of their meddling (on occasion), but keeping tabs on her from the other side of the world is a bit much.

Sighing, Darcy crawls under the covers. She sends Jane her ‘SNAFU’ text and lets her know she’s been kidnapped by their favorite billionaire and will see her after a nap, then sets her cell and glasses aside on the nightstand. She’s just snuggling down into the puffy comforter when Tony enters the bedroom.

“That’s my side.”

“Tough shit,” Darcy mumbles and closes her eyes.

Silence answers her as he messes around with something that makes the room go gloriously dark. The mattress barely shifts when he slides between the sheets but he purposefully tugs at the covers disrupting her comfortable position. She cracks an eye open to glare blearily at him.

“Don’t give me that evil eye.”

Snuffing into her pillow she wonders if she can muster the energy to turn over. As if he can read her mind, Tony snorts and invades her space, winding arms around her, and arranging her precisely however he wants her. Darcy is too strung out and exhausted to do more than grumble at him. Besides, who would pass up the chance to cuddle with Iron Man? Later she’s gonna gag if she remembers thinking that. A long time ago when the Avengers were shiny and new, and the newness of knowing actual superheroes was fresh she would have meant it. However, after years of being around them and getting to know them as people, annoyingly gloriously normal people, the sheen has tarnished. Tony is just her partner in crime who happens to have a lot of money that she sometimes helps him spend. Nothing more and nothing less. Just like Barton is just a brilliant idiot with a wicked sense of humor, and precious Steve is a little shit who trolls them all.

Life with superheroes isn’t super anymore, but she wouldn’t trade it for anything.

“What all did you do this time?”

Tony’s voice jars her from her thoughtful doze and her lashes flutter against his neck where she’s tucked under his chin.

“Club…” she whispers.

“So alcohol, and the weed I smelled, but what else?”

She swallows the lump in her throat and squeezes her eyes shut at the wave of nausea that rises. He always knows, even when he’s in New York and she’s in a trashy motel or a high-rise half way around the globe, he knows when she’s gone a little too far. She wishes she could hate him for caring.

“Coke,” she mouths against his throat and shudders even though she isn’t cold.

“Darcy,” he sighs and she feels him press his mouth to the top of her still-damp hair.

“’M fine, just need to sleep.”

“Fine my ass,” he says and his arms tighten their hold.

Darcy snuggles in like she could get any closer to the man, her legs tangling with his, and mumbles a pathetic apology into his skin. He grunts in acceptance and not another word is spoken. She falls asleep shortly after but Tony stays awake staring into the dark room wondering how many times he’s going to have to save the woman in his arms.

 

* * *

 

“Rise and shine!”

Darcy rolls over with a groan and struggles to pull the blankets up over her head. When they won’t budge she squints at the blurry image of Tony’s chipper face, his hands wrapped in the bottom of the sheets so they remain stuck. She kicks at him but to no avail.

“Hey! If this is the kind of treatment I get for letting you sleep in my bed then I’m drinking your coffee.”

“Coffee?” Darcy asks, the throb in her head when she sits up making her wince.

“And there’s my girl,” he pats the bump her feet make under the covers. “Come on, up and at ‘em. If you can stomach food, I had breakfast delivered, and yes, coffee.”

“Jane?”

“She’ll be here in about thirty minutes, so you may want to get dressed,” he waggles his brows suggestively and Darcy throws her pillow at his face.

It wouldn’t be the first time Jane had caught her in a compromising position and she’s pretty sure it wouldn’t be the last. But she climbs from her blanket cocoon anyway and locks herself in the bathroom. She should at least attempt to look like a functioning adult. Well, at least her intentions were good she thinks twenty minutes later. Tony had somehow magically produced one of her bags and kindly left it in the bathroom for her to find, so at least she has actual clothes on. She totally kept Tony’s shirt, though. Emerging from the bathroom in her favorite holey jeans, a sports bra under his tee, and her hair braided messily to get it out of her way; she follows her nose to the coffee.

“Thanks for getting my shit.”

He waves her off from behind a tablet and pushes a massive cup of pure caffeine toward the empty chair opposite him. Darcy settles in, folding her legs up in the chair and takes a deep sniff of the black goodness, moaning at the heavenly scent. When she glances up Tony’s eyes are smiling over the top of the tablet. She gives him a small smile and reaches for the butter and toast. She’s nibbling on a piece of bacon when there’s a knock at the door. Tony gets up and Darcy watches as he swings the door open and lets Jane in.

“I really want to slap you,” Jane announces and Darcy grimaces, swallowing her mouthful of coffee and sitting her cup back down.

Stark laughs as he closes the door and Darcy shoots him a glare that he just shrugs at. Jane steals his chair and his coffee cup, making herself at home. She eyes the brunette across from her like she does when she’s found a problem on a readout and Darcy doesn’t like it.

“I’m fine.”

Jane snorts and snatches the toast off of Darcy’s plate.

“Hey!”

“Get over it,” she takes a bite out of it for punctuation.

“I’ll miss you, too, but you’ll be right behind me, right?”

“Besides the point,” Jane says with a mouthful making Darcy make a face.

“Still, I’ll be with Thor and all the other hens, so you can rest easy.”

“I am not a hen!” Tony snatches his tablet out of hurricane Jane’s path and makes to steal Darcy’s coffee.

“That’s right,” Jane swallows her food and looks up at him with an anything but innocent face. “You’re a cock.”

Darcy laughs and moves her mug out of his reach as he stares wide-eyed down at the scientist. Jane high-fives Darcy without even breaking eye contact. Tony makes an affronted sound and turns, marching to the couch like a petulant child. Jane meets Darcy’s eyes and they both burst into laughter. After the tension is broken they finish what’s left of Tony’s breakfast and discuss how Jane will be a week out and Darcy’s going to get her lab set up just how she likes it. Being back in New York will be more of a vacation for both of them the first week since Thor is there, and Darcy would be lying if she said she wasn’t itching to get back on American soil.

“Alright, wheels up in ten,” Tony announces as he stands and stretches.

Darcy smirks because she is so telling Natasha that he stole her line. Jane drains the last dregs of coffee from Stark’s cup making him glare as Darcy wipes her mouth and gets up. Jane follows her lead but surprises her by catching her in a tight hug. Darcy squeezes the petite woman in return and promises her she’ll call her and let her know how the lab’s coming along. Tony, not one to be left out steps up and wraps his arms around them both with an overly dramatic “Group hug!” that Jane promptly puts to an end with a well placed elbow to his ribs.

 

Thirty minutes after Jane leaves them, Darcy is sacked out in a seat next to Tony on his jet and swathed in a maroon, oversized hoodie that she stole from the back of his closet years before. ACDC plays over the speakers while he pecks away at something on his phone and Darcy watches Japan disappear. Once they’re above the clouds and headed home, she pulls the hood up and kicks her flip flops off, angling herself so she can stretch out. Not in the mood for ‘Highway to Hell’ she sticks her ear-buds in and turns on Boston’s ‘Foreplay-Long Time’, the music ironically accurate for her mood. With a huff, Tony tugs her over and she lies down, pillowing her head on his thigh. She’s asleep before the song ends. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

‘I am someone no one falls in love with,

for I am but a flickering flame

waiting for its own destruction.’

 

His hands are shaking, pale skin stained red with sin, a sin so damning that it’s etched into the very whorls of his fingerprints. He watches the blood drip from his hands in dark crimson rivulets to land atop his bare feet. His elegantly long toes curl into the freezing snow beneath his soles as the red runs down to stain the pureness of it, too. It doesn’t matter how many steps he takes backward in retreat. Any measures he takes to wipe the blood from his hands fails, only pushes it deeper into his flesh and he knows in the deepest pit of his gut that he’ll never be clean again.

Jagged nails scratch at his forearms in an effort to feel something other than the rising panic that chokes him but only cause more red to run. The sound that escapes his throat is that of an animal; wounded, guttural, and a cry for mercy. His knees hit the cold earth a ton and his head hangs, nails embedded in numb skin. Tears of frustration and regret sting his eyes as stringy locks swing down and darken the glare from what’s left of the snow. He curls in on himself, hands rising to grip the back of his skull. Naked and drenched in a blanket of red, he flinches at the voices that whisper at his back. He should have known he couldn’t outrun his demons. He should have stayed away and faced them instead of leading them here.

Sergeant Barnes,” Zola whispers.

Wipe him… and start over,” Pierce commands.

Bucky?” Steve asks.

Bucky squeezes his eyes shut tighter because out of the three of them Steve’s voice hurts the worst. He shouldn’t see him like this, see him as he truly is; a monster, a weapon, The Asset. He shouldn’t be witness to the blood that coats him, nor should he see what actually lies underneath his thousand-yard stare. This pathetic and trembling thing he is inside should never ever see the light of day; no one needs to know who he really is.

Bucky?” Steve questions a second time and Bucky whimpers.

His body shudders because that’s the point isn’t it? He knows exactly who he is now. There isn’t a doubt in his tattered mind. He is James Buchanan Barnes; terrified coward hiding behind the mask that his captors forced onto him. He can kill without a second thought, flip a switch and rip the very heart out of a threat. The Asset has no emotions, no remorse, but Bucky… For seventy years, give or take, they tried to burn the soul out of him and they thought they had succeeded. But they hadn’t known that behind a steel door Bucky Barnes was cowering and clawing, warring with himself to take back the reins. And they hadn’t known that Steve Rogers’ voice was the key to that door, the timbre never changing even if his stature had. That voice had a way of bringing him out of the darkness no matter the shade of it, it always had.

Bucky!” Steve orders in a way that reminds Bucky of when the blond used to get mighty angry, all clenched fists and gritted teeth.

Bucky inhales sharply, sucking air into his lungs like a drowning man reaching the surface and his eyes fly open. Wildly his gaze ticks around the room, the light from the window the only illumination. His heart thunders in his ears and he pats clumsily at the arm that’s banded across his neck as his left arm falls to the floor, recalibrating now that it isn’t trying to scratch Steve’s eyes out. Steve loosens his arm but doesn’t let go of him and Bucky goes limp, his head catching Cap’s jaw on the way to his shoulder. He patterns his breaths after his friend’s as a big palm rests atop his heart, sweat making his bare skin sticky but what should be uncomfortable isn’t. Nightmares aren’t a new occurrence for either of them.

“You good?”

He nods and knocks his head against Steve’s in reassurance, his voice gritty when he speaks; “What time is it?”

“Six-ish, I think,” Steve responds with a pat to his chest.

“We running?”

“If you’re up for it.”

“Fuck you, pal,” Bucky says without any heat as he shoves off of Steve and plucks hard at the guy’s big toe on his way to his feet. Steve yelps and comes up swinging and manages to get a laugh out of Bucky. They tussle with each other for a minute before he shoves Steve out of his room so they can change for their morning ritual. Once alone, Bucky tugs on a pair of black sweatpants, a gray tee, and a boring black hoodie save for the tiny Captain America shield that sits over his left pec. He pulls a brush through his messy hair then ties it back in what Natalia insists is a top knot. Perching on the foot of his bed, he takes a deep breath and roughly rubs his right palm over his face.

Although nightmares are a common thing in their apartment, Bucky hadn’t had one that required Steve to restrain him in almost a month. He isn’t by any means ‘fixed’ or a hundred percent better, but he’d like to think that he’s come a long way since he turned himself over to his best friend. With Steve and Wilson’s help (and even Natalia’s, really), he would even go as far to say that he’s human again. And it feels good. It’s fantastic to see Steve’s eyes light up when he makes a joke about something that happened back in their day. It’s amazing that he can say ‘fuck no’ when he doesn’t agree with something. But even with those high points the doubt and fear always find a way to remind him that they’re lying in wait, the Soldier stoic and ever watchful patiently waiting for a chance to skip his leash. He wonders if he’ll ever be free, be clean?

“Ready?”

“Yep,” Bucky pushes up and leaves his worries to snuggle up in his covers while he goes out and pretends that they aren’t waiting for his return.

 

* * *

 

“You’re just mad that you couldn’t finish that last lap,” Steve smirks like the little shit he is and clamps a hand down on Sam’s shoulder.

“Yeah, yeah, laugh it up, Rogers, but Barnes totally kicked your ass.”

Steve scoffs and the left corner of Bucky’s mouth ticks up, his shoulders shrugging when Steve glances at him. “He’s got a point, Stevie,” he says making Steve roll his eyes. Sam laughs freely and Bucky reaches his arm across the annoyed Captain for a fist bump. The elevator dings and Steve pushes his way out leaving a laughing Sam behind and Bucky full out grins as he follows Steve into the kitchen.
“Uh oh… who pissed in Cap’s Cheerios?” Barton asks from his spot on the counter, hands wrapped around an ugly purple mug.

Steven is feeling a little competitive this morning, s’all,” Bucky offers as he rounds the island.

“You win again?”

“Oh come on!” Steve complains and scowls at them from over the top of his glass of water, throat working angrily as he starts to guzzle.

Bucky merely nods and fetches his own glass from the cabinet, filling it then nudging Steve’s shoulder with his own, hips settling back against the counter. Clint hums in understanding with his nose inside his cup. Sam digs around in the fridge after he drains a cup of orange juice then shoos them over to Barton’s side of the stove so he can cook. The silence is comfortable as Sam hums some tune and the two super soldiers and the archer enjoy their drinks. Before long, as if summoned by the smell alone, the others come wandering in, in various states of wakefulness.

Natalia appears first by Barton’s hip in black yoga pants and matching tank-top and steals his cup, scowling at it silently until he refills it. Thor wanders in, shirtless, and his pajama bottoms covered in biohazard symbols. Sam slides him a box of Pop-Tarts and fills him a mug of coffee that proclaims ‘Ah! (the element of surprise)’. Banner’s next looking rumpled and already carrying a cup that more than likely contains one of his favorite teas. He barely acknowledges them with an absent wave and makes his way into the living room where he promptly curls up in the fluffiest chair and falls asleep sitting up. The twins aren’t far behind him, quietly conversing in their native tongue, offering them all hesitant smiles and taking their places at the empty table, heads bent close together.

Bucky steals a piece of bacon and switches to coffee then steals Barton’s seat when the archer jumps down to go and join the twins. Sam puts Steve to work ferrying things to the table and Nat rests her head against his shoulder as they watch him, unwilling to help. Bucky hasn’t reached that place where he’ll readily admit that he wants to be touched, still has to stop himself from flinching when someone (even Steve) reaches for him, but he soaks up the contact that the redhead gives. She curls an arm around his back, draped across the small of his back, her hand weaseling its way under his hoodie and tee to curve around his hip despite his sweaty appearance. Her hand is warm from the purple mug that she rests on his right thigh with her other hand curled protectively around. He sips his coffee and catches Steve’s eye and the small smile that curves the other man’s lips settles him even more.

“Is Stark still in Japan?” Natalia asks, jabbing her toes into Steve’s ankle when he passes.

“My Jane called merely hours ago and said they were returning this morning,” Thor announces around a mouthful of pastries before Steve can answer.

“Who are ‘they’?” Bucky asks with a quirked brow.

“Tony and Darcy,” Steve supplies and Bucky hums into his coffee.

Darcy Lewis was loud and brash and had one hell of a figure. He’d only encountered her a few times since he’d moved in, but each one had left an impression. She always had a smile for Steve and by association, him, so he didn’t consider her a threat. She did always seem to spend an unholy amount of time near Stark, though. But so does Steve for some reason he’s pretty sure he’ll never quite grasp, so that argument doesn’t exactly pan out. Steve had got on with Howard a little too well, too and Bucky had heard tale of the man’s efforts to find the idiot after he put the plane down. They weren’t supposed to keep secrets because it only led to trouble, but back then, hell, he’d lied to Steve’s face about his well being, and his time in Zola’s lab. So he isn’t naïve enough to think Stevie hadn’t been hiding shit from him as well, but if the lug was friendly with either one of the Stark males, he’d tell him. Surely.

Fingers pinching his side draw him from his thoughts and he raises his nearly empty cup to his lips signaling that he gets the message. Staring a hole through his best friend with a pinched expression probably wasn’t a bright idea after that morning. As he untangles himself from the assassin, hopping silently down, and turns to refill his coffee, the elevator makes a happy ding.

“Daddy’s home! Oh, honey, you cooked!”

Bucky rolls his eyes in time with Sam’s groan at Stark’s opening remarks, picking up his cup and going to take a seat at the table, two chairs down from Barton.

HOME!” a raspy female voice declares and Bucky casts a glance over his shoulder. Her hair is a tangle of messy waves, her jeans are full of holes that should be indecent to the gentleman his ma tried to raise, and her hoodie and shirt clearly belong to a man and are exposing the creamy skin of her neck and a collar bone. There are unmistakable dark shadows under her eyes and her lips are a bitten mess. Bucky swallows thickly because just the sight of this disheveled creature has his cock twitching. He scowls as Darcy throws herself at the first person she sees, which happens to be Steve. He may be awkward and to this day have a terrible time talking to dames but he sure as hell doesn’t hesitate to wrap his arms around her waist (respectably so) and lift her off her feet in a bear hug.

“Group hug!” Tony calls and goes to insert himself behind her but Steve spins her out of his reach leaving the engineer to hug the hard plane of Steve’s back. Not deterred in the slightest, Stark winds his arms around the two with a happy sigh. Bucky’s scowl deepens as Steve halfheartedly tries to shake Tony loose and angles him away so he’s hidden by Steve’s frame. But Bucky isn’t no stump, he sees the way Steve’s cheeks flush real pretty while Darcy laughs and rambles nonsensically. He saw Stark rub his jaw on Stevie like a cat.

A toned ass encased in black sidesteps in front of him efficiently blocking his view. Ignoring the smirk that he just knows is riding her mouth, Bucky turns his attention back to the table. He fills his plate while everyone talks and moves around for introductions (apparently Darcy had yet to meet the twins). Steve settles down on his right and nudges his shoulder, giving him an inquiring glance with a raised brow. Bucky gives him a lame smile and shoves a piece of toast into his mouth.

He’s minding his own business and chewing while pondering what’s going on under his nose when slim arms snake around his shoulders.

She smells like Stark and her little hand wedges itself under his hoodie as she squeezes him. He freezes up, going still as a statue. Her hair tumbles over his shoulder and down his chest as her face presses against the side of his head.

“Dude, you reek!” she comments making Steve laugh tightly at his side waiting to see how Bucky handles the situation.

Swallowing the bite of toast that tastes like cardboard now, Bucky clears his throat and says; “It’s called exercise.”

“Oooh, he’s got jokes!”

He can hear her grin. She pats her hand against his sweaty shirt much where Steve had earlier to calm him down, squeezes him with what’s probably as hard as she can then lets him go. On the other side of the table Pietro almost looks jealous and Wanda is eyeing him curiously. It gives him the creeps. Dropping his eyes to his plate, he returns to his breakfast. The rest of the meal is filled with idle chatter and laughter. Bucky isn’t sure what any of the topics are, though. His head is filled with how good it felt to have Darcy’s arms around him. Just because he’s nearing a hundred and is a brainwashed ex-assassin doesn’t mean he’s dead. He remembers what it’s like to bury himself between a woman’s thighs and make her pray…

When he’s had his fill of food he excuses himself to go and shower, promising to meet them all later for a movie. He beats a hasty retreat, taking the stairs up to his and Steve’s floor, his nerves too on edge to be held captive in the chrome of the lift. Kicking out of his shoes soon as he gets in the door, he strips on his way to his bathroom, tossing his sweaty clothes into the hamper. The water is nearly scalding just how he prefers and it’s absolute heaven as it pours over him. It doesn’t take much to get him fully hard and a few replayed memories mixed with his imagination has him spending over his fist with a bitten off moan in no time.

If he came to the thought of Darcy’s red lips wrapped around him, well, there’s nobody else there to know.

 

* * *

 

That night when he shows up in the living room on the common floor, it’s to find Steve and Stark sitting awfully close on one of the couches and having a hushed discussion. Huh, so that’s where he went, Bucky thinks seeing as how Steve had disappeared from their apartment a couple of hours earlier without a word. He watches as something Steve says makes Tony facepalm and shakes his head. Footsteps, however sneaky they’re trying to be, behind him alert him to someone coming up on him.

“They’re sickeningly cute together aren’t they?”

Bucky narrows his eyes as Natalia brushes past him with a smirk to join Barton on the loveseat with a bucket of popcorn. Turning around, Bucky moves into the kitchen to grab a drink. When he re-enters the living room all the seats seem to have been taken. He was only gone for a minute but the rest of the team has appeared and staked their claim. He shoots a glare at Nat as Steve clears his throat. Glancing at his friend, he locks a groan behind his teeth.

Darcy clad in fucking Captain America pajama bottoms instead of those holey jeans beams at him and pats the spot between her and the end of the couch. Because of course it’s the only seat left. Steve, wedged all too happily between Stark and the other end, offers him an apologetic smile. The bastard.

“Well, are you going to join us or stand for the movie?”

Bucky flips Tony off with a silver finger and walks over, effortlessly vaulting over the back of the couch not spilling a drop of his beer or disturbing Darcy. She yelps anyway and clutches a pillow to her chest. He offers her an amused smile and settles in, leaning on the arm of the couch so he isn’t touching her save for the place where her knee presses into his thigh.

Due to the upcoming holiday they’d decided on some B-movie: ‘An American Werewolf in Paris’. Back in his skirt chasing days when Bucky took a girl to the movies it was to neck. All the scary scenes had them jumping, burying their faces in his neck, and clinging to him. Now, this movie isn’t all that scary but it is pretty gory, so honestly Bucky was at least expecting Darcy to scooch a little closer to him or something. What he was not expecting was for her to start laughing. In the beginning he had been paying attention to the actual movie but the further it got in, the more she was distracting him.

By the end of the movie he was unabashedly staring at her; and her hand on his thigh.

“Another? Yes, intermission it is,” Stark says and pushes to his feet, grasping Darcy’s wrist and dragging her along behind him.

Steve cocks a brow at him and Bucky just shakes his head. He’s never seen anything like that girl. Ten minutes later she sits a bucket of popcorn down on his lap and hands him another beer. He mumbles his thanks as she sits down right up against his side and digs into the buttery treat. Natalia looks like the cat that ate the canary. Bucky has no idea what the second movie they watch is even called. Darcy is too close and warm pressed into him. But he doesn’t say a word or move away.

When the popcorn runs out and they finish their beer she sets the empties on the coffee table and settles back. Someone on screen is running for their life from some monster but Bucky is oblivious. In the dark, Darcy rests her head against Tony’s shoulder and curls away from him. He tries not to feel jealous when Stark reaches down and pats absentmindedly at her leg and leaves his hand there. Half way through the movie it’s Tony that falls asleep slumped down and his head pillowed on Steve’s bicep. Darcy moves and he doesn’t notice she’s actually asleep, too, when her head lands on his shoulder, her arm curling around his own like a cuddly snake.

The credits roll and Natasha (and Barton) leave both he and Steve with smug grins. Steve shakes Stark awake enough to tell him to go to bed but Bucky doesn’t have the heart to wake the sleeping girl. Surprisingly, (or maybe not) it’s Thor that gives him a smile and motions to take her. Bucky, still strapped with the morals his momma raised him with, shakes his head and slides metal under her knees and hefts her up into his arms. She’s light as a feather as he follows the Asgardian to the elevator. Four floors up, he deposits her into a bed with burnt orange sheets and a tiny ballerina silhouette framed above the headboard.  He’s tempted to kiss her brow but doesn’t feel like he’s allowed yet, so he settles for brushing her cheek lightly with his knuckles and tucking her in.

Bidding Thor goodnight, he takes the stairs to his floor at a run. He can hear Steve’s shower going when he gets in and to avoid awkward conversation decides to go to bed. Making a stop by his bathroom, he pisses, washes his hands, and brushes his teeth. He sheds his clothes and crawls under his stark white sheets in his boxer briefs, stretching out on his back with his right arm flung over his head, silver fingers glinting on his belly. Steve checks in on him before going to bed and he waves at him and wishes him sweet dreams. More tired than he thought, Bucky falls asleep quickly.

But he’s awake an hour later, chest heaving and hands shaking, the phantom memory of Darcy’s blood coating them curling up his spine like a poisonous vine.  

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

‘I am someone no one falls in love with,

for I am not grey

I am black or I am white

I love too hard or I feel nothing at all.’

 

Darcy integrates herself into life at the tower with ease and with much enthusiasm. It takes her less than the week Jane gave her to have the scientist’s lab arranged and tweaked just so. When Jane arrives two days ahead of schedule, the surprise she shows is an insult. Darcy pouts at her friend for a good two hours before Jane relents and gives her an actual round of applause. Since she shaved two days off of their work, Darcy talks Thor into stealing Jane away, which isn’t all that hard to achieve. Darcy is so not going near their apartment for at least twenty-four hours.

With her free time, Darcy catches up on her favorite pastime; sleeping. Barton literally kidnaps her from her warm bed on a Saturday and Darcy would shoot him if she were allowed a gun. (There’s a strict ‘Lewis + weapons = NO’ clause that she’s pretty sure Stark had put into his bogus monthly team email. Long story, don’t ask.) Instead she opts to bite his ass making him yell and almost drop her on her head. No one offers to save her when they reach the common floor and when he tosses her onto the couch she glares at those lounging casually around.

“Don’t help or anything, I’m fine,” she grumbles, swiping unruly strands of mahogany out of her face.

Nat strolls in a few minutes later with Darcy’s bottomless purse and Darcy figures she can let her off the hook at least. She clutches it to her chest like an infant and ‘accidently’ kicks Clint’s shin on her way to the bathroom. Once inside she surveys the contents, noting that Nat had been thoughtful enough to put a pair of gray yoga pants and a black SHIELD hoodie inside along with her glasses, toothpaste/brush, and brush. Thank, Thor that woman knows her. She trades her miniscule sleep shorts for the pants after using the facilities and her toothbrush, and then tugs on the hoodie that suspiciously smells like Barton. She gives up trying to tame her hair and leaves the bathroom in the process of braiding it, badly.

She’s just sat her bag down by the entrance and blown out a breath of annoyance when there’s a tap on her shoulder. Looking back, she’s mildly surprised by Pietro standing there with a small smile curving his lips. Tony had told her all about them and kept her updated, and really they were just two more strays that he’s gotten his greedy hands on. He hoards people like cats.

“Yeah?” she asks and drops her hand from the half-ass braid she’d attempted and straightens her glasses.

“May I?” he questions with a wave toward her hair and Darcy raises a brow.

“He is quite good, I promise,” a quiet, accented voice says.

Darcy turns to peer at the seemingly harmless girl that stands by her brother’s side. Shrugging, Darcy gives them a ‘what the hell’ nod and snatches her brush from her bag. She follows him into the living room with Wanda on their heels and settles down on the floor where he suggests after sitting in the fluffy chair. Handing him the brush, Darcy lets him pull her back between his thighs. She sticks her tongue out at Barton when he shoots her a look, then closes her eyes. He’d warned her once that if she ever cut her hair he’d tase her with her own taser. The first tug of the brush through her hair has her sighing in happiness and she blesses the gods that she has awesome friends.

The sound of playful bickering has her eyes opening a minute later as the resident super soldiers in all of their sweaty glory exit the elevator. Darcy’s heart stutters at the sight of one James Barnes… and his metal arm. Sweat has darkened his gray shirt in a ‘V’, front and back, but it’s the rippling power of his arms that have her drooling. Yes, Cap is a wet dream, but there is something about the danger that radiates from his buddy. It makes her meter short circuit. Kent has nothing on Bucky, but Darcy knows she doesn’t have a chance. Tony had been sure to warn her off of the Winter Soldier long before she ever even met him and Darcy knows when not to push her luck.

“There, all done,” Pietro’s voice draws her away from the two sweaty models.

“Thank you!” she says and true to Darcy form; angles herself around to give him a hug. He chuckles lowly by her ear and squeezes her back before helping her to her feet. Wanda inspects her brother’s handy work and nods in satisfaction. Darcy smiles warmly at her before turning to go in search of coffee. Eyes trained on her makes her steps falter. Bucky watches her over the top of a glass of water and she’s helpless but to watch as he drains it. His jaw is shadowed with stubble and the lean expanse of his throat just calls to her. Images of her mouth leaving lipstick marks along the column of his neck flash behind her eyes. She doesn’t realize that he’s lowered the glass and that she’s still staring until his tongue darts out to lap at the water on his lips. Her gaze snaps to his like a gunshot and she idly wonders if anyone else heard it fire. A single brow arches and Darcy feels heat rush to her cheeks. Swallowing thickly, she pries her eyes from his and wills her feet to move.

The rest of the day she berates herself for even courting with the fantasies that fill her head.

For two weeks she avoids the man and it’s surprisingly easy. She spends most of her time in the lab with Jane. Okay, if she’s honest she spends the majority of her time hiding out in Stark’s lab because it’s the last place Bucky ever is. It isn’t that she doesn’t like him; on the contrary, she likes him a little too much. For Darcy, it’s always been fall hard, fall fast or have no interest whatsoever, there’s no in between. And maybe it is a little scary that she likes a fucking assassin. So avoidance is key!

Her plan works beautifully until someone decides to stick their nose into it.

Movie nights are sacred to Darcy. When she was younger every Friday was ‘family night’ where her and her parents would gather around the TV after dinner and watch movies, sometimes well up into the morning. So when she’d moved into the tower back when the team wasn’t completely comfortable in each others’ pockets yet, Darcy had demanded they continue the Lewis tradition. The rest, as they say, is history.

To sabotage movie night was right up there with badmouthing her mom in Darcy’s opinion. So when she walks into the living room on the common floor one Friday night to find it empty, she’s confused at first. She hadn’t heard the Avengers’ alarm. No one had called or text her about a change, so where the fuck was everyone?

“Um… Friday?”

“Yes, Miss Darcy?”

“Where is everyone?”

“Agents Romanova and Barton were called away. Vision and the Maximoffs went along. Dr. Banner is currently asleep in his lab and Dr. Foster is with Sir. Thor…”

Darcy puts her hands on her hips with a huff and glares at the black of the big-screen. “Okay, so what about Stark, the supermen, and Sam?”

“Sir would like me to tell you that he’s ‘busy’, and Captain Rogers and Falcon are out of the Tower.”

Her teeth grit together and she feels a headache coming on. She misses Jarvis because he would have told her what Tony didn’t want her to know. Her acquaintance with Vision was a little awkward because every time he speaks she expects him to sass her or turn on her favorite song. Darcy just isn’t over losing the AI. She spins on her sock encased heels to go and beat Tony up for ruining movie night despite it not being his fault (probably), and comes face to chest with a person. Strong arms stop her from skidding and falling onto her ass.

“Shit!” she squeaks as her fingers grip the lapels of a hoodie.

“In a hurry?”

Darcy looks up at her savior and curses the universe. “I’m fine, thanks,” she sighs and releases her hold on Bucky’s jacket.

“Sure,” he drops his hands from her arms and takes a step back. “Where are the others?”

“Out,” Darcy offers with a shrug. “It looks like it’s just you and me unless you’ve come to bail out, too?”

“Nah,” he answers without one iota of hesitation.

“Well, thanks for that,” she brushes past him into the kitchen and doesn’t look to see if he follows. “You hungry? Because I have Stark’s card and an urge to put a dent, however small, in his bank account.”

“I could eat.”

“Excellent,” Darcy states and holds out a beer for him.

They toast then Darcy scrounges up at least six different takeout menus and fishes her cell out of her sweats’ pocket. After they’ve ordered from four different places and acquired more alcohol, they move their party of two into the living room to pick something to watch. Settling on ‘Grown Ups’ and ‘Grown Ups 2’, both in the mood for something lighthearted and a lot less gory than Halloween slasher flicks, they kick back and wait for the food to arrive.

Darcy’s two beers in when Friday alerts them that their buffet is there and they pause the first movie and trek down to the lobby to get it. Once they’re back up on the 66th floor, they forgo plates and personal space in favor of spreading out their spoils all over the coffee table and sharing everything. Pizza, tacos, Chinese, and oddly enough, McDonalds covers the surface and they dig in with equal groans of pleasure. Darcy feels herself begin to loosen up as shoulders nudge and thighs brush. It’s when Bucky swats at her hand when she reaches for a bite of sesame chicken that he’d been eyeing that the tension fully breaks. From then on out she notices the rigid set of his shoulders eases and he laughs at the movie more freely with every corny joke.

By the time the second movie starts, Darcy’s leaning into Bucky’s side and groaning, full and ready to pop. He waves tacos and cheesy pizza under her nose making her groan that much more dramatically all while he laughs at her expense. When he’s finally full, he settles backs with a beer and slings his arm over her shoulders. Darcy snuggles into his side, completely giving up on her mission to avoid this disaster for now. She throws caution to the wind and rests her head against his chest and his arm tightens just a titch around her. When the credits roll, they take a bathroom break and on her way back, Darcy grabs a blanket out of the linen closet to curl up with. She chooses ‘The Princess Bride’ for their third movie and when Bucky returns he rolls his eyes.

“Stevie and me watched this one.”

“It’s a classic!”

“It’s cheesy as hell,” he quips and wiggles his way onto the couch, stealing half of her cover with a teasing smirk.

“Cheesy or not, it’s one of my favorites, so we’re watching it!”

“As you wish,” he mutters and Darcy narrows her eyes at him as she aggressively hits the play button. His laugh is more a rumble in his chest than anything as he tugs her back over to his side and pets her hair like she’s a cat. Darcy ineffectively tries to shake him off but just ends up happily squashed against his chest. Bellies full, lights down, and movie lulling them; they’re both asleep before Buttercup reunites with Westley.

 

*

 

The next morning Darcy wakes up to the sound of a throat clearing and a shutter clicking. She blinks awake and peers through her crooked glasses up at the Black Widow and Captain America. Nat has a knowing smirk on her face and makes no show to hide the phone she’s using to take pictures. Steve, on the other hand looks amused and slightly worried. Brain fuzzy with sleep, Darcy draws a hand out from under the blanket that’s around her and wipes clumsily at her tacky lips. Adjusting her glasses, she winces at the spot of drool on her pillow.

“Ugh,” she grunts and goes to get up so they can have the couch and she can go to bed. She really has to stop falling asleep in weird places. Her motion stills when arms of varying hardness tighten like a python around her. Everything comes back to her real quick like and in a hurry as she looks up at the sleeping soldier who’s acting as her pillow. And her mattress. Bucky is stretched out on his back with her sprawled over him, and he’s holding onto her like a life size teddy bear. A quiet whimper chokes Darcy as she lets her head drop back to his chest.

Natasha audibly snickers and Darcy vows revenge even if it gets her killed.

“I will murder you both,” rumbles under Darcy and she presses her face harder into him.

“You, ah… You missed our run,” Steve finally speaks and Darcy can feel Bucky shrug.

“’M comfortable, don’t care,” he replies like he hasn’t just been caught in a compromising position.

“Okay. I’ll just go…” Steve trails off and Darcy wonders if she can apparate yet, because now would be the opportune moment to get outta there fast.

It’s quiet for a few minutes and Darcy swears she’s working on the courage to get up and make a speedy exit, but Bucky sighs under her first. His arms loosen first then a warm palm cups the back of her head. Darcy unburies her head from his chest and looks up at his handsomely disheveled face. Metal fingertips, warm from being under the blanket, gently brush errant locks from her burning face and he smiles one she hasn’t ever seen before.

“Haven’t slept that hard in a while,” he says quietly and she can’t help but match his smile although it doesn’t quite reach her eyes.

“Glad I could I help,” she pushes back and he lets her go. Getting up, miraculously without rolling off the couch onto her behind, she stretches the kinks out of her frame and meets his eyes as he sits up behind her. “Thanks for staying last night.”

“No problem, doll.”

Darcy gives him a half smile and shakes her head at their leftovers on the table before making an excuse to get out of there. She avoids everyone in the kitchen and slips into the lift with a little wave of her fingers. When the doors slide shut she breathes out a sigh of relief. She’d let her guard down the night before and that was bad. And judging by the smile he’d given her and the fact that he’d actually slept with her, trusted her enough to… She had to nip this in the bud before it got out of hand, that’s all there was to it.

When she gets to her apartment, she goes straight to her room and collapses on her bed with a groan. Why was everything always so complicated for her? Here’s a guy that’s a gentleman, he’s gorgeous, and yeah, he’s a little damaged, but that doesn’t matter to her. He clearly likes her, and God bless America, she likes him, too. But… Darcy doesn’t have a great track record with relationships and she knows she’ll find some way to make whatever they’re building up to crash and burn. It’s inevitable. One of her exes had told her once when he’d dumped her; ‘Darcy, you’re like a viper wrapped up in Christmas paper. It’s fun to unwrap you but when you finally get inside, you just get hurt.’ whatever the fuck that meant. She knows she has problems, but everyone does!

Rolling over onto her back, she flings a pillow over her face and screams into it.

Confliction, thou name art Darcy.

 

* * *

 

‘I am someone no one falls in love with,

because when they do,

I break them and they scatter like the tiny bright stars showering the sky.’

 

Darcy’s been back in New York for a month and three days when she gets the text. She’s sitting in the floor, yelling at the TV and Sam, doing everything in her power to make him lose concentration. Her elbow jabs into his side and he laughs. She kicks at him and he curses at her, but is still winning. Darcy is bound and determined to win this round of Mario Kart so she fights dirty and pushes herself into her opponent’s lap. Sam cusses colorfully and readjusts his grip on his controller as Darcy laughs maniacally, her character sailing past his to speed past the finish line first.

“Dammit, woman! You can’t do that to a brother!”

She falls off of his lap and into a puddle of laughter. From the couch, Tony applauds her and Steve laughs at Sam’s sore loser face. Bucky just shakes his head from the chair and raises his beer in a salute of her victory.

“Round five?”

“Nope! No, I’m done with you,” Wilson proclaims and stands tossing his controller onto the couch by Steve’s hip. “You can torture someone else for the night!” he calls over his shoulder as he disappears into the kitchen.

Darcy snickers and starfishes out on her back to stare up at the ceiling and revel in her accomplishment. Toes nudge at her ankle and she rolls her head to the left and meets Bucky’s smiling gaze. He waves his beer at her in offering and she leans up on her elbows to grab it. She takes a swig, her stomach twisting at the way he watches her and as she’s handing it back to him her phone beeps. Thinking it’s Jane wanting her to hold something so she can crawl under it, Darcy plucks her cell from off the coffee table and thumbs it unlocked. Without looking at the sender she opens the text.

‘I’m in New York on business and you owe me a goodbye. Where are you?’  

A frown knits her brows as she checks the sender before they rise to her hairline upon seeing Kent’s contact. Had she told him she was going to New York? She doesn’t remember much of her last night in Japan. ‘I’m at home…Uh, sorry ‘bout that, had shit to do.’ She shoots back the reply and glances up at Bucky who’s still watching her but with a furrowed brow. Darcy gives him a reassuring smile and goes to ask if he wants another drink when her phone rings in her hand. Glancing down at the screen, her heart does a tiny tap dance at Kent’s face smiling up at her. Pushing to her feet, she clears her throat and answers the call.

‘Hello?”

“Gorgeous!” Darcy can’t help but smile at his voice and the shot of adrenaline that it shoots through her.

“Heeey, stranger,” she replies as she rounds the back of the couch and wanders out into the kitchen and down the hall in search of a little privacy.

“Meet me somewhere?”

“When?”

“Tonight? I miss you and you left without saying goodbye. That’s rude, Darcy.”

Laughing lightly, Darcy shrugs like he can see her. “Ah, I have work tomorrow,” she tries.

“Oh come on, it’s the city that never sleeps, and I know you like playing hooky, so play with me…” his voice drops to husky and this is how she ended up in his car in the first place.

“I really better not,” she says even though the idea of going out and seeing him again is extremely appealing.

“Aw… Please, Darcy? I’m only in town for a week. Just one night, come on, girl, you know you want to.”

Darcy sighs, leaning her head against the wall contemplating just how bad this is going to blow up in her face. Kent chuckles on the other end because he knows he’s won. He’d talked her into enough things the few weeks they’d been together to know when she was caving.

“Fine, I’ll text you an address in a few and meet you there,” Darcy gives in, but she won’t let him know where she is, at least she can control that much.

“Yes! That’s my Darcy. Can’t wait to see you,” he hangs up on her and Darcy drops her hand to her side and thunks her forehead against the wall.

“Yeah, that was stupid,” Stark says and Darcy groans but he just rolls right over her. “Are you aware that you are an idiot and there is precisely a small but very powerful army of people that will be very angry when he fucks you up again?” At least he has the decency to keep his voice hushed and she’s thankful that he has a shred of loyalty when it comes to her.

“Nothing is going to happen,” she whispers even though her stomach is quickly filling with psychotic butterflies.

“Mhm, I’ll believe that, well, never.”

“Dammit, Tony! I’m just meeting a friend for a drink, okay? That’s it. I’ll be home before you manage to pass out and Steve carries you to bed!”

When he’s uncharacteristically silent, Darcy straightens from her slump and turns to face him. His glare is the stuff of legend and she feels a little guilty because she isn’t supposed to know about that. Agitated fingers toy with the hem of her shirt as she watches him lock down on whatever he really wants to yell at her right now. He takes a deep breath as his jaw works then he shakes his head and turns, walking away leaving her to stare at his retreating back.

Gritting her teeth, Darcy ignores the urge to follow after him and moves to the lift, angrily pressing the button. Back in her apartment, Darcy tells Friday to turn on all of her privacy protocols and plugs her phone in to charge. Getting the AI to play her angriest playlist, she strips down for a shower. With the music too loud to think she gets ready for her night out, pulling on a black lace and leather paneled dress with matching black tights and pumps. Feeling edgy, the only color she applies to her face is the deep red on her lips and the tiniest hint of blush. She leaves her hair loose and curling after putting her perfume on her pulse points near her collar and smiles at the finished look.

Asking Friday to switch her music to her phone, she puts her headphones in and while Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Eraser’ plays, she texts the location of a club on the other side of Manhattan to Kent. Opting to take a smaller purse, she sticks the basics in (wishing she had room for her precious taser) and flips the lights off. Her steps are silent on the carpeted hallway and she prays that no one is in the lift as she presses the button. Thankfully, someone upstairs is listening when the door opens to an empty cabin. The ride down to the lobby is set to more NIN and by the time she exits the elevator she’s more than ready to get the hell outta Dodge. Hailing a cab is too easy because they salivate like sharks in the water around the tower, and Darcy slips into the back and gives her directions to the driver. Her ear buds stay firmly in place ignoring the eager look in the driver’s eyes.

When she gets out of the car, she checks her messages to see if Kent is already there but she only just makes it up on the sidewalk and into the crowd when arms wrap around her middle. Normally she’d knee the jackass who thinks it’s a good idea to touch her, but she is very well acquainted with these arms. Slipping her phone into her clutch, Darcy turns in the embrace and grins up at the tall man.

“You look good enough to eat,” he whispers as his hands ghost over her curves.

Snorting, Darcy rolls her eyes at him. “Maybe later,” she leans up and presses a kiss to his jaw.

Kent is thrilled when she gets them into the club after a quick conversation with the bouncer. Stark will kill her when he finds out she came to one of his old favorites, but he’ll get over it. They grab drinks and head straight to the dance floor, clubbing being something they’re both very good at. The change from her earlier angry music to the thumping beat and bass that vibrates her bones is a welcome switch and Darcy lets loose. Her drink is gone after five minutes and she’s riding that adrenaline high that she always got from dancing with Kent. He’s fit around her like he belongs there as they move to the dirty beat. She ignores the little niggling feeling in the pit of her stomach that this isn’t where she should be. She drowns it with alcohol and music so loud she can’t hear herself think, and with the hands that grab and pull her body in a way that isn’t fit for the public eye.

Three hours and enough alcohol to get Steve tipsy later, Kent drags her outside for a breather. Darcy bums a cigarette from a fellow clubber as Kent tells her he has a call to make and turns his back. The nicotine curls in her lungs as she sways on her feet, the beat muffled from inside the building. She makes small talk with the cluster of people next to her until Kent returns. He presses her back against the brick of the building and leans down, stealing the smoke from her lungs. Darcy offers him the rest of her cigarette and he declines, his eyes excited as he tells her that a ‘few’ of his local friends want to meet up and hang out.

Too drunk to care, Darcy agrees to go and ignores her vibrating phone.

A ‘few’ friends turns out to be about thirty in the penthouse of a building, but this time Darcy is intimately familiar with the view from the top floor. She declines any more alcohol but when they bring out the bongs and pipes, she joins. Kent had always been a handsy drunk and a month hadn’t changed that. With every drink and hit he takes, Darcy snickers as he gets more and more bold. She manages to pull away from his greedy hands long enough to sneak away into the kitchen and guzzle down a glass of water before he finds her and tugs her back to the party. She ends up on a couch with Kent and two guys whose names she can’t remember and doing shots despite her aversion to more liquor.

“I’ve got something for you in the bedroom,” Kent stage whispers to her, his fingers inching up the inside of her thigh and Darcy giggles. She knows it’s officially time to stop with the shots when she does. Kent helps her up and leads her to the master bedroom and Darcy eagerly follows. Unlike the last time she’d followed him into a bedroom, this one is empty and she finds through her hazy thoughts that it frightens her for some reason.

Set in front of the floor to ceiling wall of windows is a low table and two chairs that he steers her to. Sitting down, she kicks her heels off and watches him shuck his blazer and fold down to sit in front of the table. He produces a little baggy from his pocket that’s filled with white powder and waggles his brows at her. Darcy swallows the lump that jumps into her throat.

The cocaine burns and makes her forget why it’s a bad idea.

When they’ve both had their fill, they undress each other in a fever, hungry mouths biting and licking with grasping and bruising fingers as they clutch and tug at each other. He fucks her held up against the window with the twinkling lights of New York at her back and she lets him. He spreads her out in one of the chairs and kneels down making her gasp for breath when he puts his mouth on her. His fingers are wicked and draw her to the peak then fling her over the side without a parachute. He takes her to bed where he fucks her into the mattress until she cries out a name she isn’t sure is his. When they finally pass out, Kent doesn’t curl around her and she doesn’t ask him to. He isn’t a cuddler and when Darcy rolls over and is greeted with the sight of the night lights, she’s too far gone to figure out why she wants to cry.

 

* * *

 

For three days Darcy ignores everything that isn’t inside of the penthouse. Her phone dies and she doesn’t bother even checking it let alone recharging it. For seventy some hours she parties with these people and forgets. She is Alice trapped in Wonderland but it isn’t anything like the books. There’s alcohol, drugs, sex… it’s every devious thing that she promised she’d never do again, but here she is. And the bad thing is that she’s enjoying it. She can’t quite remember why (or who) she told she’d stop because it’s all just so freeing. Her veins are constantly full of something that makes her feel like she can fly and it isn’t like she’s being held against her will or anything. She sees no problem with anything.

That is until the early hour of the fourth morning dawns.

Raised voices drag her up from the depths of her drug laced sleep and she tumbles out of bed with a bleary grumble. She fumbles with the sheet that’s on the floor and wraps it around her frame before shuffling out to see who the fuck thought it was a bright idea to wake her before noon. The sight that greets her makes her come to an abrupt halt.

“I think you need to just calm down, man!” Kent shouts into Captain America’s face.

“Son, don’t. Back up,” Steve commands and Darcy’s stomach drops to her feet at his tone. She wonders if she can slip back into the bedroom unnoticed and like escape out the window… There’s a balcony and…

“Darcy,” Steve’s voice makes her head snap up and she meets his gaze through her blurry vision.

“Oh good, you found her,” Tony chooses that moment to shove into the penthouse behind Steve. “I knew you could do it, Cap. Now, can we go home, please?”

Darcy goes pale because even though he’s wearing his signature sunglasses, the set of his jaw is ten times worse than the fuzzy memory of his anger the other night. She doesn’t waste any time before tucking tail and running back to the bedroom, stumbling the whole way and slamming the door behind her when she gets there. Her chest heaves as nausea threatens to rip everything out of her stomach and her hands are shaking as she locks the door.

“You know, I didn’t peg you for that kind of girl.”

Darcy screams as the voice oh so casually comments to her left. She grits her teeth and shakes her head because maybe this is all just a nightmare and she’s still so utterly fucked up that her subconscious conjured them all up. The nausea rises and she convulsively swallows back bile. Turning her head very slowly, she cracks an eye open enough to squint at the person in her room. Bucky stands in front of the windows, in the same exact spot where Kent fucked her the first night, with his back to her and his spine absolutely rigid.

She doesn’t answer him, doesn’t know how or what to say.

He lifts his right hand and trails a fingertip along the handprint her sweaty hand had left behind and Darcy’s heart is hammering so loud she’s sure everyone in a ten mile radius can hear it. He doesn’t say another word, just kicks a bag by his foot in her direction and disappears out onto the balcony. ‘Like a ghost’ flitters through her head and she shivers. She has fucked up catastrophically. With hands clutching onto her sheet for dear life, she moves to pick up the bag and carries it into the adjoined bathroom. She isn’t surprised when she opens it to find clean clothes, her glasses, and flip flops.

After she gets dressed, she brushes her teeth then emerges back into the bedroom. Noting the silent living room, she hurries a little as she gathers her things and shoves them into her bag. Once everything is safely tucked away, she unlocks the bedroom door and slips silently into the hall. Steve is the only one in the living room when she enters. She hefts her bag onto her shoulder and ignores how it makes her heart twinge when he sighs and pushes away from the wall. He’s silent as he leads her from the building with no sign of Kent anywhere. When they get outside, Tony is standing by a car much like he’d done the last time he’d picked her up and Darcy feels shame burn her insides.

“You’re riding with Steve,” he says evenly, hands gripping his keys as he rounds the hood of the car. “I can’t even look at you right now.”

His parting words make tears well up in Darcy’s eyes and she flinches when Steve lightly touches her elbow to nudge her toward a car that is no doubt one of Tony’s. She goes and gets in without a word. The ride back to the tower is silent but Darcy can feel Steve’s disappointment in every glance that he sneaks. By the time they pull into the garage there are big, fat tears rolling down her cheeks. The fog of her bender still hangs heavy but heavier is the weight of just how badly she’s let those closest to her down, and Bucky… oh God. She lets Steve lead her to the elevator and she croaks out her answer when Friday asks where she wants to go.

“Darcy…” his voice is soft like he’s afraid he’ll scare her and she does jump. She counts the floors on the display even though it’s blurry through her tears and just shakes her head. She has to get behind her apartment door before she breaks down.

“Tell—tell them I’m fine,” she gets out as the door slides open.

Shooting out of the lift like a bullet, Darcy doesn’t care as she runs on shaky legs to her door which is blessedly opening. Once inside she drops her bag and runs straight for the bathroom. She vomits until her entire body’s shaking and her head pounds with the strain. Taking her glasses off and clumsily sticking them up on the counter with trembling hands, sobs wrack her frame and she sinks down, curling into the fetal position with her back to the toilet. She knew she’d find a way to fuck everything up sooner or later and, boy hasn’t she just. Bucky thinks she’s a drugged out whore, Tony knows that she is, and to beat it all Captain America was there for it all, too.

Unsure of how long she lays there on the bathroom floor with her murky thoughts on a hell bent merry-go-round, she eventually cries herself into a fitful sleep.

Some time later, strong arms pick her up off the ground and carry her to her bed. Darcy wakes up long enough to feebly jerk the covers up around her ears, and grab a hold of a pillow to curl around it making herself shrink in hopes that she’ll disappear. Her breath hitches when what feels like lips press to her brow and someone settles onto the bed at her back.

When her pitiful attempt at quiet sobbing fades, Tony dozes off next to her curled around a drained bottle of liquor with his own face wet. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

‘but darling, please, love me.

let my darkness destroy you,

let my madness maim you,

let my poison consume you,

etching and spreading itself into your veins.

let me give you my despairing soul.’

 

The metal rends with a satisfying shriek as he rips the door off its hinges. His mind is blissfully blank as he enters the room. One shot hits him in the left shoulder, bouncing off and another slams into the Kevlar over his heart. They told him wearing the muzzle wasn’t necessary but he’d wanted to, the urge to slip fully into the Soldier’s mindset too tempting to go without it. He cants his head like an animal at the shooter, unblinking.

“Level one secure,” Natalia’s voice sounds in his ear.

In two strides he has a gleaming hand wrapped around the Hydra agent’s neck and it snaps with a ‘pop’. Dropping the deadweight to the ground he sounds the all clear on his floor. Steve orders him back to the quinjet clearly deciding there’s nothing more there for them since Natalia found the files Fury wanted. Backtracking, he makes his way out of the building and to the jet. He gives Steve a nod and takes a seat across from Stark, studiously ignoring him. Used to the muzzle, Bucky doesn’t bother removing it as he pulls a knife from his pocket, using the deadly tip to dig the round out of his vest where it’s lodged.

“You know that’s creepy as fuck, right?”

Bucky looks up from the slug and arches a brow at Wilson as the other man slumps down into a seat next to Stark. Sam motions to the lower half of his face and the knife that Bucky’s still holing. Shrugging nonchalantly, he tosses the blade up into a spinning arc and catches it, his gaze trained on the other soldier. Sam shakes his head with a smirk and leans back. Natalia snatches the knife from the air on the second spin when she passes and Bucky glares at her. Steve tugs his cowl off as he folds down next to Bucky and looks at him, tapping his own jaw. Rolling his eyes, Bucky removes the muzzle and rests back, closing his eyes so he doesn’t have to converse.

And he’s just so tired.

It’s been two weeks since he spoke to Darcy and longer since he’s had anything even remotely resembling a good night’s sleep. Every time he closes his eyes he sees that bedroom… The night she went off, he knew something was up when she answered her phone. Her cheeks had flushed and she’d made a quick exit but not before he’d heard the ‘Gorgeous!’ over the line. Damn his enhanced senses. He had thought that he was getting somewhere and that she was beginning to warm up to him, especially after their movie night. He’d been wrong, though. He’d been mistaken about a lot of things, apparently.

That night when Tony had stormed back into the living room, fuming and muttering about ungrateful people, Bucky had looked to Steve in question. Steve had just shrugged and turned his concerned face to Stark, who’d only shook his head and left to ‘go break something’ in his lab. Bucky had figured that him and Darcy were arguing again, which seemed to be a common occurrence. He’d given her time to cool down and waited until Steve begged off an hour later to go and check on the engineer to go and look in on her. When he’d knocked on her door Friday had informed him that he’d just missed her. Curious, he’d tracked Barton down and casually mentioned that Stark and Lewis had gotten into it again. He’d taken the bait hook, line, and sinker and within twenty minutes he’d had security feeds playing back for them. The altercation between Stark and Darcy had made both men’s eyes widen. Bucky had known Steve was sweet on that idiot! But what had made his gut turn was the ‘friend’ Darcy was meeting. Who was this guy and why in the hell did it worry Tony of all people? He’d thanked Clint and figured he’d just ask Darcy the next morning at breakfast.

But Darcy wasn’t at breakfast.

For three days, Bucky watched Tony lose a little more of his collected cool as his own gut filled with dread. Dr. Foster wouldn’t come out of her lab and every time Tony went in, he came out either yelling or looking like he’d been kicked. Steve was a mess because Stark was and any attempt they’d had at hiding their growing affections were shot to hell. Steve wouldn’t leave Tony alone, afraid that he’d take off in a suit and do something stupid. Apparently the tracker on Darcy’s phone was defunct because it was dead and the last ping he’d gotten was the night she’d left in some club across the city. Tony hacked the security feeds and spent hours combing back through it until he was finally successful. But it was Natalia who found Darcy first.

She had done her own surveillance and gone to the club and talked to the bouncer. He’d cheerfully pulled a few strings and gotten her the guy’s credit card slip where he’d paid for drinks and she’d traced her down in a blink. Tony had indeed wanted to go in the suit and maim the guy Darcy was with, but Steve had talked him down. Bucky was worried to death, but instead of freaking out like Stark, he’d opted to stay quiet and bide his time. He knew he’d get to find out what was going on sooner or later, but looking back he wishes it had been never.

Stark’s phone rings inside the suit and Bucky opens his eyes.

He watches him lower the faceplate and his jaw clenches when her voice sounds small but clearly. Bucky looks away from the eyes of the Iron Man suit and leans forward, elbows cushioned by hard thighs as he hangs his head and stares at the floor of the quinjet. For two weeks he’s avoided her, avoided everyone, really. Steve constantly watches him like he did when he first came back to himself, back to Steve. Sam frowns with worry filled hues and makes it a point to talk to him every day. Natalia, she’s different, she never speaks, nor does she goad him anymore about his budding relationship. She knows what it is to allow yourself to trust only to find that what you thought was completely bullshit. No, Natalia waits, waits for what he doesn’t know yet, but he can feel it churning in his stomach every time someone mentions Darcy or he catches a glimpse of her in the halls.

Bucky had followed Steve and Tony to get Darcy. Steve knew and hadn’t asked him not to, so he figured it wasn’t a big deal. Natalia had pressed Darcy’s bag into his hands and told him not to go in the front door. Bucky was confused, but obeyed what he knew was a thinly veiled order. He’d easily scaled the building and landed without a sound on the balcony of the penthouse. He had not been prepared for what awaited him on the other side.

He’d slipped through the doors without trouble and stopped dead. The scent of sex had warred with that of weed and alcohol, and he’d had no problem identifying the other drug that covered the table like a dusting of fresh snow. But all of that paled in comparison to Darcy. She’d been laid with her back to the window, the sheet pooled in the floor, and bare as the day she was born. Unmistakable bruises were littered along the curve of her hip and the round of her ass, and Bucky had stopped breathing as his hopes had nosedived. Ears picking up the sound of Steve’s voice, he’d moved back and watched in fascination as Darcy had crawled out of bed and fashioned the sheet about her like a dress then left.

Heart raw and pounding, Bucky had turned his gaze from the bed and pulled air into his lungs in greedy gulps. He’d actually thought that he’d had a shot. She didn’t seem to care that he was a monster, wasn’t afraid to touch him, and he had hoped for the first time since he’d found Stevie. Who was he kidding, though? Why would she want him and all of his baggage when she clearly would rather have someone that could give her everything her heart desired? He’d noticed the dirty handprint on the window and it only made him angrier at himself. She wouldn’t want his hands on her, not when one of them was a weapon, not when they’re covered with his transgressions.

Her scream after he’d spoken had nailed the final nail into his resolve.  

 

* * *

 

A week later…

 

Bucky grits his teeth at the sound of whatever tool Stark is using, the buzzing like nails across a chalkboard to his throbbing head. He absolutely hates getting injured on missions. Stupid fucking robots. Shifting his numb ass and adjusting the rag he’s using to hold against the lump over his right eye till the gash heals, he sighs. Again. Loudly.

“Yeah, yeah, I know, Terminator. Just a few more minutes then you can get out of my shop,” Stark declares, his tone tired and a little pained if Bucky is honest.

“You gonna let Stevie patch you up?”

Tony’s head pops up comically fast and he narrows his eyes. Bucky just gives him a knowing look and the scruffy man looks back down at his hands. Bucky pulls the rag away from his head noting that it’s mostly dried and drops it into his lap before leaning to the left a little and smacks Tony upside the head.

“HEY! What was that for?! You want the shit out of your arm, you be nice!” he complains and Bucky settles back into the uncomfortable chair with a tiny smirk toying at the side of his mouth.

“I don’t have to give you the shovel talk do I?”

“I really wish you wouldn’t,” Tony mumbles and goes back to Bucky’s left arm.

“Good, just remember what I’ll do to you if you hurt him,” he comments happily.

“Noted.”

Bucky nods and props his chin up on his right hand. He goes back to ignoring the man tinkering with his arm. Zoning out wondering if Steve will feed him or leave him to his own devices, he almost dozes off when Friday speaks.

“Sir I tried to warn her but she is rather… angry.”

“Huh?” Tony glances up at the same time the door to his shop bangs open and they watch Darcy march into the room.

“You’re a bastard, you know that?”

“I’ve been notified but what makes you think that this time?” Stark asks and Bucky just wishes that he could pop his arm off and escape, but it’s like he isn’t even there.

“You got him deported!” she shouts, her hands clenched into angry fists. “That is lower than low, Stark! He called me crying because his dad is beyond pissed that his fucking VP can no longer do business in the states. He blamed ME and told me that I was nothing but a fucking whore and he never wants to see me again. He was my fucking friend and—and I HAVE HAD IT! I get that your intentions were good but I’m done letting you rescue me!”

“Rescue you?” Tony rolls away, Bucky all but forgotten as he jumps to his feet and chucks a screwdriver across the room. “You think I like picking you up when you’ve self destructed, again?! Do you really think that I enjoy wondering if the next time is when I’m going to find YOU FUCKING DEAD? DO YOU? Because let me tell you right now, that I don’t.”

Darcy opens her mouth to speak but Tony moves surprisingly quickly and kicks over the stool he’d been sitting on.

NO, okay? I don’t want your excuses. I’ve heard them all. You have daddy issues, well guess what, baby, we ALL do. Our daddy issues could fill the Grand fucking Canyon. I get it, I do, but this shit has to stop. I know I’m not one to talk at all, but I think I actually am the best candidate for it because you’re burning down the same highway that I did,” Tony turns his back on her and cards his hands through his hair in apparent frustration. “You’re not only gonna get yourself killed, but you’re killing us. Think about it, Darce, I’m getting too old for this shit. And how long do you think Jane’s gonna continue to try to get you to hear her? Hell, you’ve got Steve and Bucky fucking worried out of their heads, too,” Tony helpfully gestures at him.

Darcy glances at him and he sees the second that it clicks that he’s there. Her watery eyes widen and Bucky can’t help but take in her face. It’s the first time he’s been in the same room with her since they went to get her and it stings. Not a stitch of makeup paints her face and she’s pale making the dark circles under her eyes stand out starkly in the harsh light. Her maroon hoodie is baggy and it looks like she’s lost weight. Bucky’s heart breaks a little more because she’s still so beautiful and he wants nothing more than to hold her.

When she doesn’t say anything right away, Tony sighs and rights his stool and takes his place back on Bucky’s left. Bucky drops his gaze to his lap, head full of questions. Stark picks up a tool and taps it against Bucky’s wrist, his voice level and quiet when he speaks.

“I didn’t get Kent sent back to Japan, but I can’t say I’m sorry he’s gone. He wasn’t any good for you and you know it.”

In his peripheral, Bucky sees her hang her head. She doesn’t say anything, instead she turns and leaves much quieter than she came in. Tony sighs again and Bucky feels a swell of pity for the man. He works in silence and ten minutes later he closes a panel on Bucky’s arm and declares him good as new. Bucky quietly thanks him and pushes to his feet with a wince at his sore muscles. He’s reaching for the door handle when he hears Stark clear his throat. He pauses but doesn’t turn back.

“Don’t be so quick to write her off, okay? You aren’t the only one with demons, Barnes.”

Bucky nods sharply and leaves.

 

*

 

Natalia appears in his living room that night with a bottle of vodka and a knowing look. Barton joins them when the bottle is half gone with a six-pack of his own beer. They watch some British show called ‘Top Gear’ and Barton tells him about the time Darcy stole a SHIELD SUV to go to a concert. He’d been the one tasked with going to fetch her and had ended up having the time of his life. Apparently ‘Bon Jovi does rock on occasion’. Bucky gives him a confused face and Clint orders him to watch ‘Supernatural’ with Darcy. Before they leave him, Natalia cups his jaw in her small palm and stares into his eyes. She calls him a beautiful idiot in Russian, kisses him square on the mouth, and then turns to a smirking Barton and leaves.

 

*

 

He runs into Thor and Dr. Foster the next morning in the kitchen. Jane corners him when he and Steve return from their run. Thor grins at him reassuringly as she tells him that he’s a good man. Utterly confused, Bucky looks over her head at an amused Steve who’s biting back laughter. Jane grabs his left hand jerking his attention back to her and his eyes widen when she tells him she knows how to stick him in a wormhole where he’ll never be found. She gives him a pretty smile that scares him and leaves him standing there in shock.

“Did she just threaten to throw me into another dimension?”

“Aye,” Thor replies and clamps a heavy hand onto his shoulder. “My Jane is a fierce warrior.”

“Yeah…” Bucky swallows thickly.

Steve laughs and laughs.

 

* * *

 

It takes Bucky two more days to work up the courage (and shake a horrific nightmare about wormholes) before he finds himself outside of Darcy’s door again. He knows she’s there because Steve told him that he ran into her in the kitchen still in her pajamas. He knocks hesitantly and waits. She hollers for him to hold his horses probably expecting anyone but him, and then she flings her door open.

“You are not who I was expecting…”

“Sorry.”

“No, s’okay. Ah, what’s up?”

“Are you busy?”

“No—not really?” she cocks a brow and he nods, his mind made up in an instant.

“Can you be ready in ten minutes?”

She crosses her arms over her Star Wars shirt and eyes him warily. “To go where exactly? I’m sort of on house arrest.”

“I want pizza and Stark stole Steve.”

“And I’m the only one left in the entire tower…?”

Rolling his eyes, Bucky mirrors her pose and crosses his arms over his chest. “No, I want you to go with me, figured you’d want to get out for a while.”

Darcy stares at him in confusion but he sees the flash of hope that sparks behind her eyes. As if it’s a hardship, she agrees and stands back so he can come in. He steps in and closes the door behind him softly and glances around. Her apartment is laid out like his and Steve’s but is actually decorated with more than whatever Tony tossed up on the walls. Her couch is a slightly faded red color with an array of multicolored pillows (one is Steve’s shield). She has a floor-lamp in one corner with a shade that looks like something his ma or Sarah Rogers would have adored, and the wall behind it is nothing but framed photos.  He moves over to look them over. Most of them are of the team and Darcy with Dr. Foster and some other tall man in the desert. Bucky’s admiring one of Darcy in a white lacy dress tucked into Barton’s side and laughing at something off camera when she clears her throat behind him.

“Nat snapped that one at a picnic up on the roof the summer before we left for London.”

“It’s nice,” Bucky turns around and offers her a small smile.

“I need to get more of you and Steve, and Sam.”

“I’m not overly fond of pictures.”

“Neither am I,” she shrugs and twirls her phone in her hands. “So, I’m ready if you are.”

Nodding, he follows her out. To say the walk to the pizza place a few blocks down from the tower is awkward is an understatement. He tries to loosen up but he can’t get what happened in Tony’s shop the other day out of his head. He waits until they’re seated in a back booth to broach the subject.

“Can I ask you something?”

Darcy smirks down at the table as she toys with her straw paper. “I was wondering how long it’d take you to say anything.”

“You don’t have to—I mean… I just,” he stammers and when she laughs, he leans back with a dramatic exhale.

“It’s okay, Bucky… Tony and Jane are the only ones that really know about me ‘pre-Thor’, though I wouldn’t put it past Barton or Nat to have gone snooping.”

“After Tony yelled the other day I was just confused,” he taps his gloved fingertips on the tabletop.

“About what?”

Before he can answer the waitress comes over and takes their order. Bucky takes a sip of his beer and tries to find the way to word what he wants to know. He ends up just being blunt.

“I thought you loved your parents and he said you had ‘issues’,” he questions, observing her features for tells of lying.

“I do,” she states quietly and he can’t find anything but truth.

“Then what did he mean?”

Darcy blows out a breath and wipes the now shredded paper aside and folds her arms atop the table, fully meeting his gaze for the first time since they sat down.

“When I was ten my dad cheated on my mom and divorced her, and left us. He disappeared for a while then came back begging for forgiveness, spouting off all kinds of shit and she took him back. When he did it again a few years later, it was the same thing. By then I was old enough to get angry, and I was in high school,” she takes a drink of her soda and shrugs before continuing. “I experimented with drugs like a normal kid, but I got addicted. My boyfriend at the time supplied, and I consumed. It was pretty bad and when I found out that my dad was leaving again, I ah, I tried to overdose. Needless to say it didn’t end well. He still left and I disappointed my mom.”

The waitress interrupts with their pizza and Bucky smiles slightly at her, Darcy’s story turning over in his mind.

“Anyway,” she takes a big bite and chews slowly. “Mom finally got over it and picked herself up. I, however, ran away to college and continued to dabble in bad things. When I met Jane I was so high I don’t even remember putting in the application to be her intern.  She says I was the only applicant, but I think she took one look at me and decided that I was going to be her next project.”

“So how did you meet Stark?” Bucky asks wiping his mouth and digging back in.

She laughs and swallows, shaking her head. “You really don’t want to know. You already think low enough of me as it is, so I really don’t want to ruin what tiny shred of pity or whatever it is you have for me.”

“I don’t think low of you.”

“Right,” she points at him.

“I like you, Darcy,” he admits and she places her half-eaten slice down and stares at him.

“I slept with him,” Darcy says calmly.

Bucky raises a brow in question.

“We met at a Science! party. He was trying to convince Jane to come to New York and play in his lab. I was drunk and he’s Iron Man.”

“Does Steve know?”

“Nat does, so I’m sure he’ll hear about it if he hasn’t already.”

“I slept with Natalia,” he counters with and Darcy chokes on her drink. “I’ve known her for a very long time and once we were partners.”

“Does Barton know?”

“Absolutely.”

“Oh,” she takes a bite and watches him while she chews. They finish their lunch in silence letting the shared information sink in. When the pizza is gone, Darcy drains her glass and sighs. “So, you don’t hate me, huh?”

“Nope,” he pops the ‘p’ and tosses enough money to cover their lunch and tip the waitress onto the table and offers Darcy his hand. She looks at it for a moment before tentatively taking it and letting him tug her to her feet. He leads her from the pizza joint and towards the park.

They walk around for a good hour, talking, and relearning how to be comfortable together before she starts looking like she’s going to fall asleep standing up. She apologizes and tells him she’s not been sleeping that great, coming down off all the shit she’d done. He nods and they make their way back to the tower. When they enter the building; the elevator won’t take them anywhere.

“I am going to put tracking chips in both of,” says Stark’s voice over the speaker and Bucky rolls his eyes.

“Like you don’t already have one in our phones,” Darcy comments and the idiot snorts.

The lift takes them up to the common floor despite them pushing different floors and Bucky smiles when Darcy sags against his side. Maybe Stark was right, though he will never admit it aloud. He isn’t the only one with demons and now that he thinks about it, and knows that Darcy isn’t the perfect angel he thought she was to begin with, everyone deserves a second chance. Hell, if Steve hadn’t given him one he’d probably be dead by now. He isn’t one to judge and he’d been dumb to jump to conclusions. Yes, Darcy is fucked up, but it doesn’t mean she doesn’t want him. Yes, he's fucked up, but it doesn't mean he doesn't want her. Maybe they deserve each other.

A tug on his arm draws him from his thoughts and he lets Darcy drag him into the living room where Steve, Stark, and Sam are sprawled out looking like a bunch of sailors on leave. Steve raises a brow at him and Bucky just shrugs and goes where Darcy pushes him. They end up sardined on the couch with Steve and Tony where Darcy immediately kicks off her shoes and curls into his left side. He lets her tug his arm around her waist and pluck the glove off of his metal hand. She plays with his fingers while everyone talks about whatever they’re watching, but Bucky’s too focused on the warm press of her into his side. She yells at the TV (and Tony) and Bucky laughs. Steve elbows him in the side and Bucky elbows him back, shooting him a genuine smile that makes Steve’s eyes light up.

When first Darcy and then Bucky fall asleep, the others turn the TV off and quietly sneak away. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

‘let me love you so much that I burn my whole being into nothingness.’

 

DRIVE! DRIVE!” Steve’s command is all Captain as he dives into the seat and slams the door shut.

Darcy doesn’t hesitate, and although her hands are shaking, she cranks the engine and shifts into gear. With barely a glance over her shoulder at the oncoming traffic, the car lurches from the curb. The streets of Manhattan are not the ideal location for a car chase but it would appear as though Hydra doesn’t give a flying fuck. She winces as they dart around a mini-van and the mirror scrapes down the side.

“Try not to run over anyone, yeah?” the breathless superhero suggests, white-knuckling the door handle.

“Sure, no problem,” Darcy splutters and swerves to avoid hitting a shiny red car.

Her heart is racing, she’s sweating, and her brain is one big ball of WTF. What was supposed to have been a nice, calm press conference for the Avengers had gone absolutely sour. She wasn’t even supposed to be there, but Tony had thought an outing with the team would be good. (And he’d promised food after. Really, she had only been there because food.)

Darcy had sat at the back of the room ignoring the annoying reporters and been minding her own damn business when all hell had broken loose. She’d almost beat her high score on her favorite game when some slimy reporter had stood up to ask his question. But, instead of being boring like the rest, he’d aimed a gun straight at Steve, yelled something and fired. It’d all happened so fast; people screaming and diving on top of the man that Darcy hadn’t really believed it was happening at first. Nat and Tony had tackled Steve and through the people running about, Darcy had no clue if he’d been hit or worse; one of them. In the erupting pandemonium, she’d grabbed her taser out of her bag and pushed through the crowd like a quarterback aiming for MVP. She’d only made it to where the guy who’d started everything was foaming at the mouth and dying. Damn cyanide. Pressing on, Darcy had nearly made it to the foot of the stage when someone had grabbed her from behind. In moves that would make Natasha cheer, she’d had the guy on the ground, groaning with his hands holding his crotch, and convulsing from her taser.

Stark had hollered her name and Darcy looked up in time to see four other men in black tactical gear making their way toward the stage. One was a little too close for comfort and Darcy made a run for the stage. Steve plucked her up like a ragdoll as Tony shoved his car keys into her hand. He’d given her instructions to get back to the tower and pointed her to the bright ‘EXIT’ sign on the other side of the auditorium. Without argument, Darcy had turn tail and ran. The last thing she saw before pushing out into the sun was the Iron Man suit closing around Tony and Captain America hot on her heels.

To say the exits had been blocked was an understatement. If it wasn’t for Steve, Darcy would probably be deader than dead. When she’d flung the door open, it was into a body. She’d yelped in fear as the person had swung around and aimed right at her head with a sinister looking rifle. Before she could piss her pants, Steve’s body slammed into her, knocking her to her knees as he’d vaulted over her and snapped the guy’s neck.

Darcy had stared at Steve with wide eyes till he’d yelled at her to get moving.

She’d sprinted to Tony’s car with gunshots ringing in her ears and praying to anyone who would listen to keep Steve safe. She’d just started to mend things with Bucky and she really didn’t think letting his best friend get shot while protecting her was a bright thing to do.

Motherfucker!!!

The tires squeal in protest as Darcy jerks up the parking brake making them drift sharply to the right. They barely avoid a zoned off part of road construction and its terrified looking workers. Fluidly shifting and working the pedals, Darcy zooms in between a delivery truck and a Honda, flashing Steve a smirk.

“Wow, Cap, that’s the first time I’ve heard you really curse.”

“No offence, but you drive like a maniac, Darcy.”

“I’m sorry, did you want to stay with the gun-toting psychos? Because I can take you back.”

“No thank y—Shit!” Steve curses again making Darcy glance in the rearview mirror then parrot his language.

“Miss Darcy, Captain Rogers, Sir would like for you to lead the agents to the abandoned warehouse—Thanks, Friday, I’ve got this,” Stark’s voice comes out of the speakers interrupting his AI. “Hey, Darce, you know our favorite fish place? Nat’s traced their HQ to the warehouse two blocks over. Think you can bring your party to us?”

A bullet shatters the back window and with a curse, Steve hefts his shield up and leans towards Darcy.

“Um, yeah, sure…” the tires squeal as they narrowly miss getting T-Boned at a red light. Darcy struggles for a second to get the wheels righted, but manages it with gritted teeth. Steve braces himself against the dash and peers over his shield and when another bullet pings off of it, something occurs to Darcy. “Hey, Stark, you still keep that gun in the glove compartment?”

How did you know about that?!” replies his breathless voice.

Steve immediately searches the glove box and when he finds nothing, Darcy points to the underside. He comes up with a Glock and tells her to get them to the warehouse, then proceeds to climb into the backseat and out the shattered window. Darcy glances at the display readout and silently thanks Friday for putting up the GPS. It’s only twelve blocks, they’ll be fine. Jesus.

Somehow, by some miracle, fifteen minutes later, Darcy slams on the brakes and the tires screech like a demon into the parking lot of Hydra’s HQ. Steve catapults over the hood and lands on his feet like a cat and Darcy waits for the idiots that had been chasing them to pull up. She’d lost them a little ways back, but considering she drove straight to their fucking lair… She’s about to ask Steve what’s gonna happen now when Tony drops down next to Steve.

“Stay in the car. Dunk down and you should be fine,” Stark says and Darcy’s eyes widen.

“You want me to stay in the car?! Hell, no!”

“Now’s really not the time for arguing.”

“Oh, sure, take his side!” Darcy shoves out of the car with a yell at Steve.

Before he can glare her into submission, the SUV that’d been on their tail comes barreling into the lot. Steve leaps at her as Tony shoots up into the air just as it slams into the back of Tony’s car. Both vehicles spin out into a chaotic riot and crash into the side of the building. Steve’s body is heavy and she’s pretty sure she dislocated her shoulder, but when she tries to shove him off, he shakes his head. Then she hears it; the explosion rocks the ground under her and Steve uses the shield to shelter them from the debris. The heat is intense as Steve pulls her up and further back to where Tony is stood in the middle of the street.

“I liked that car,” he whines and hysterical laughter escapes Darcy’s throat before she can cage it.

“Heads up,” Steve erases the small smile that’d been flirting with his mouth and moves into a defensive stance. The impact of the explosion hadn’t damaged the warehouse (much), but it had alerted the people lurking inside that something outside was amiss. They were now coming out to investigate, and they didn’t look too happy.

“Man, ya’ll are just danger magnets, you know that, right?” Sam states with an edge of seriousness as he drops down between Darcy and Steve.

“We’re aware,” Steve mumbles and chances a glance at the Falcon. “The others here?”

“Mhm, went in the back door and your boy is on the roof,” he casually inclines his head and Darcy’s heart stutters.

What?!” Steve grits out and Darcy watches one of the agents finally notice them.

“Yep, sorry, Cap,” he sticks what she guesses is a com in his Steve’s ear and taps it, then turns to her snaking an arm around her waist. “And I’ve got my orders. Say bye-bye, Darce.”

Darcy doesn’t have time to wonder what the hell Sam’s talking about as suddenly his wings whip out with a mechanical snick and they’re airborne. She manages not to scream and grips the strap of her bag that’s across her chest as Sam flies them up, then down to the roof of the building they’d just been standing in front of. When her feet are on solid ground and she can pry her fingers from their death grip, she punches Wilson in the arm.

“You’re an asshole!”

“Aw don’t be like that, doll,” a voice says and Darcy spins around where Bucky is kneeling with his back to them and cradling a sniper rifle.

“Package secure,” Sam says and her head whips back around to glare at him. Before she can yell at him, he winks at her and takes off again. The adorable bastard.

“I am not a package,” she mutters and Bucky laughs.

“Sit down by my hip, yeah?”

Darcy moves and does as she’s told, pulling her bag off and taking a seat on the dirty roof, the ledge tall enough to provide her coverage from the action below.

“You know how to use a gun?” he asks without his focus wavering and Darcy looks up at his profile noticing for the first time that he’s wearing a muzzle.

“Yeah.”

“Good, that makes this easier. See the holster against my ribs?” he waits for her conformation before continuing. “I want you to—Shut up, Barton! Grab the gun out of it and shoot at anyone that comes through that door.” Darcy glances wide-eyed at the door across the roof that leads inside. “Can you do that for me? Let me watch Steve’s back and you watch mine?”

“I ah… yeah, yes… I can,” she stammers and it’s with trembling fingers that she shuffles to his other side, carefully maneuvering around his rifle, and gently fishes the gun out the holster. Moving back to his left side, she clicks the safety off and settles in. She has to work to control her breathing, but she eventually manages to calm down and aim for the door.

She’s not sure how long they sit there; the sound of gunfire and shouts echoing around them. There are so many questions she has but she isn’t stupid enough to start rambling now. She hears sirens in the distance when it happens. The door flies open and Darcy springs to her feet, gun aimed at the men clad in all black save for the ugly skeleton-octopus symbol that adorns their left shoulders. She hears Bucky say something into his com but can’t make it out as she pulls the trigger.

Despite her aim, (which isn’t half bad) Darcy never gets in a single hit. Their suits are lined with Kevlar and their faces are obscured by ugly black masks. This pisses her off. Actually, as she throws caution to the wind, Darcy remembers all of the things she’s read about Hydra, every detail she wasn’t supposed to know about what they did to Bucky… Oh, is she pissed. She may look like just your average, run of the mill skank, (and act like it sometimes) but she isn’t. Not many know that she’s trained with Natasha, with fucking Thor. They don’t know that Barton made her and Jane learn how to shoot, nor do they know that Coulson once tried to recruit her. She hears Bucky again, this time he curses filthily, and his rifle fires with precision.

“You watch Steve’s back, yeah? I’ve got this,” Darcy says and eyes the three men that are striding across the roof towards them.

If she goes down fighting, at least it’s for a good cause, right?

Getting her second wind, her veins fill with adrenaline as she herds them away from Bucky and makes herself a target. She taunts them and they laugh at her. Darcy scrounges up every last ounce of courage she has and she fights. Yes, they’re bigger than her, but that just gives her the advantage. She lands hits and manages to rip the helmet from one, then takes out one’s legs with a well placed kick to the groin. She spins around and launches herself at the third man that’s sprinting away, letting the other two act as a distraction so he can go for Bucky. She gets her arms around his neck and yanks making his steps falter for a split second, but that’s all it takes.

Darcy watches from the Hydra agent’s back as Bucky moves in one swift motion, standing, snatching the smaller rifle from his back, and fires. His bullet hits true and the guy’s feet stumble. Someone grabs at Darcy and she’s jerked backward, an arm going around her throat this time. She doesn’t feel the helmet and figures it’s the one she got off as the man Bucky shot crumples in front of them. She claws ineffectively at his arm and tries to gasp, but he’s cutting off her air.

“You shoot and you kill her, Soldier,” the guy’s voice is breathless and Darcy grins ‘cause she put up a good fight.

Bucky doesn’t say a word, but Darcy sees the anger in his gaze. His blue eyes, not a hint of the soldier the man speaks of to be found in them. He may be terrifying and look scarily calm, but those eyes are clear and Darcy knows with Steve’s voice in his ear they have nothing to worry about. The second bumbling idiot finally climbs to his feet and snatches Darcy from the other agent’s hold. His grasp around her throat is deadly and so is the barrel of the gun he points at her temple. Darcy is terrified even though she inherently knows that Bucky won’t let anything happen to her.

“Let her go,” his voice is even and makes her gut tie up in knots.

“Turn yourself over and she can go free,” says the guy holding her, his breath foul.

Fuck…you,” Darcy gasps out feeling lightheaded.

Bucky’s eyes look away from hers and up to her captor’s. He cants his head to the left like an animal assessing its prey. The mechanics inside his arm whirl and it recalibrates. Darcy watches in horror as the blue in his gaze fades to an eerie, cold gray. Please, don’t let me have been wrong. Please, please, please, Darcy prays.

The sound of a gun firing is the last thing she hears before her world blinks out.

 

* * *

 

Darcy comes to an hour later. The sound of laughter and voices rouses her from the fluffy cloud of her dream. She’d been lounging in a canoe in a proper Victorian dress, complete with a parasol above to shade her from the sun. It had been lovely.

“She lives!” Stark proclaims making Darcy wince at his volume.

She wants to go back to her weirdly comforting dream, please.

“We need to get you a suit, kid. With a helmet so the next time you get thrown you don’t get brained.”

“I hate you,” she groans and sits up, shoving the throw somebody had draped over her off.

“Whoa,” Tony says a little quieter and helps her sit up. “You have a mild concussion so try not to puke everywhere, okay?”

Nodding, she pats absently at his leg and looks around. They’re in the common floor living room and Nat, Barton, and Tony are there, but Steve and Bucky are noticeably absent. Darcy’s heart plummets. She meets Nat’s gaze and without a word the redhead gets up, favoring her left side, and orders Tony over. Darcy’s eyes well up as she shamelessly turns into Nat’s side and curls into her.

“Why the water works?” Tony asks and gets a glare from the woman. “What? We won! Another Hydra cell taken out and she kicked ass, so she should be drinking, celebrating, not crying! Although, with a concussion maybe drinking isn’t the way to go…” he trails off and stands, wandering out of the room mumbling to himself.

Darcy!” Jane yells as she skids into the room and spots her. Nat presses a kiss to Darcy’s temple and gets up, giving the scientist her seat. Barton bends down smacking a kiss to her cheek and grins broadly at her before following Nat out. “I was so worried! And they said you got a gun and blew up Tony’s car, kudos on that by the way, but what were you thinking?!”

“Jane! Shut up, woman! I’m fine, a little concussed, but alive.”

“Aye, we are glad of that, Lady Darcy,” Thor walks in with a blinding grin and smoothes a paw over her hair with fondness twinkling in his eyes.

Darcy grins back at him and squeezes Jane for good measure. They talk for a few minutes, but Darcy is starting to ache all over and she’s in desperate need of a shower. So she promises to come back for food because Tony owes her, and then begs off to go take a bath. When the door of the elevator slides closed, Darcy deflates against the back wall with a sigh. After her ‘episode’ as Tony kept calling it, she’d been more or less keeping to herself and working on getting back to normal. She knows that she was utterly stupid and selfish to do what she did with Kent, and she pays for it every day. The others watch her like a patient on suicide watch and her body does not like coming down from the high she’d created. But since Bucky had knocked on her door two weeks earlier and insisted she go out with him, she likes to think she’s doing better.

Now she just has a slight problem.

A Bucky sized problem.

He’s snarky, he likes to read trashy sci-fi novels, he’s gorgeous, and Darcy is worried that she could easily fall for him. You know, more than she already has. Shit.

The lift stops and Darcy scowls at the floor number. Before she can ask Friday why they aren’t on her floor like she requested, the door opens. She stares at Bucky and he stares right back.

“I can get the next one?”

“No, it’s okay!”

Bucky nods and steps in and when the door closes, Darcy feels an odd sense of ‘now or never’. She doesn’t mean to, really. She can’t help it, though.

“Are you… I mean, I…” She laughs nervously and rolls her eyes at herself. “Are you okay?”

His brows shoot up and he turns to look at her making her blush. “You want to know if I’m alright?” he questions incredulously.

“Well, yeah…That was the first time you’ve been back in the field,” she waves off his annoyed/curious expression and continues. “I snooped. Anyway, you had to go all Soldier on those fuckers because of me. I wasn’t good enough to take them out and it put you in a bad spot and I—I’m sorry,” she blows out a breath.

Bucky’s hand flies out and hits the emergency stop button and the elevator comes to a shuddering halt. Darcy stares at him in confusion as he turns to face her, his hands coming to rest lightly on her shoulders. He stares at her for a moment before speaking.

“Friday, privacy.”

“Yes, Sergeant Barnes.”

“You’re right, you know?” he asks and Darcy’s brows knit into a frown. “It was your fault.”

He says it so matter-of-factly that Darcy’s stomach swoops and her eyes begin to well up again. Bucky smiles down at her and it’s all she can do not to shove him away. His hands tightening on her shoulders give her no option to run, though.

“When I asked you to watch my back it was just to keep you busy. I didn’t know if you were about to freak out or what,” he shrugs and offers her a small smile that makes her relax just a titch. “I had no idea that you would actually do it. I swear you’re as stubborn as Steve. He’s fine, by the way, that’s why I wasn’t there when you woke up; the punk got stabbed and I had to cart his ass to medical or he wouldn’t have gone.”

Darcy’s mouth makes an ‘o’ of understanding.

“When I saw them with their hands on you… Darcy, it wasn’t you that put me in a bad situation. It was my own doing. I wanted to rip them limb from limb for touching you. Do you have any idea what the sight did to me?” He sucks in a breath and Darcy swallows thickly, her heart hammering loud enough for probably Odin to hear. “I’m not a good man, doll. I’ve got blood on my hands and all of it isn’t guilty. But you, you make me wanna get clean. I’m fucked up, but I’m working on it and you are one reason out of very few why I am.”

A lone tear escapes and slips down her cheek. He wipes it away with a warm thumb. Darcy’s knees are weak and she wants to run. She doesn’t deserve him. She shouldn’t be a star in his sky, not with how she treats those she loves, how she treats herself.

“Jesus, say something, doll. I’m dying here,” Bucky whispers and when did he get so close?

Darcy reaches up and rests her hands on his chest, atop the straps and Kevlar of the uniform he still wears. “I… You deserve someone so much better. You saw first hand how messed up I am, Bucky. I can’t—no, I won’t burden anyone else with that shit,” her breath hitches and more tears spill.

“Bullshit,” he swipes the tears away from her cheeks and gives up, cradling her face between his palms, leaning to rest their foreheads together. His voice is quiet but unwavering when he speaks again. “I don’t deserve anyone. We’re both fucked up, okay? And I—I’m not proposing here, doll, I just think that we can make it work.”

Her breath hitches for a different reason as images flash behind her lids; them curled up on a couch, them laughing as he tries to teach her to aim better, them arguing and Tony and Steve grinning from the sidelines. Flickering like a flipbook, they’re fleeting, but Darcy swears she can hear Bucky’s voice whisper an ‘I love you’ in a tone she’s never heard him use before. Her fingers curl around the straps on his uniform and she’s afraid to open her eyes.

But she does.

“I’m gonna screw up,” she whispers.

“I’ll have bad days and not speak,” he replies.

“I promise I’ll never cheat on you.”

“I promise I’ll never forget us.”

“I’m maybe a little in love with you…”

Bucky pulls back, eyes wide and shining as he stares at her. Her tears fall freely, but she’s smiling. Without a warning his lips are on hers, tentative at first and oh so polite. Darcy gasps and his tongue sneaks into her parted lips. Her knees go from weak to jelly in .3 seconds. His mouth is hungry and she’s dizzy with the taste of him. He tenderly cups her face as they kiss despite the bite of his teeth and Darcy wonders if this is how she’ll die; lack of oxygen kissing Bucky Barnes. The thought makes her laugh into the kiss and he leans far enough back to grin at her. His eyes are blue and his smile, it could compete with Thor’s with how bright it is. Darcy feels a peace she hasn’t experienced before settle around her shoulders and grins back at him then leans up for another kiss.

They’re so lost in each other that they don’t notice the elevator begin to move.

 

*

 

“Are you sure that was a good idea?” Steve glances worriedly at Tony.

“Pffft, you underestimate my genius, Cap!”

“No, I made a note not to do that after Ultron.”

Stark scoffs and taps angrily at his phone. “I can’t believe Frosty locked me out of my own elevator!”

“He just didn’t want you spying,” Steve sighs and leans back on the cot he’d been directed to when Bucky had ushered him into Medical like he’d been bleeding out.

“Lewis is my business! It’s not spying,” Tony huffs.

“Do not worry, Captain,” Wanda says from the doorway with a hesitant smile. “I was not intrusive. I merely placed images in Darcy’s mind that would sway her.”

“With all due respect, Miss, I’ve had you in my head before and I can’t help but be a little weary.”

“I understand, but as I’ve said, it was completely innocent,” her smile widens as if she can see something they can’t. “The future is fluid, ever changing, and sometimes it takes something more than crossing your fingers to set events in motion.” She raises her hand into the air with her fingers splayed and counts down with them as she speaks. “Darcy has a beautiful mind despite her trials and her heart is pure. She is a good match for him, Captain.”

With that Wanda turns and walks out just as the elevator dings. Tony pats Steve’s thigh and grabs his wrist attempting to help heave him to his feet. Steve rolls his eyes and lets him, following behind as the man drags him from the room like an excited puppy. When the door slides open, Tony gasps and slaps a hand over his heart like Steve’s ma used to do when she saw a rat. Steve just blinks over Wanda’s head as Tony’s left hand releases his wrist only to lace their fingers together. His cheeks go hot at the open display of affection, but he can’t help to grin.

“And in my elevator!” Tony accuses loudly.

Bucky and Darcy stop kissing but make no move to back out of their embrace. Wanda turns to leave with a smug smirk leaving him and Tony to stare at their best friends. Darcy laughs at whatever she sees in Bucky’s eyes. Without breaking eye contact with her, Bucky flips them off with a metal finger. The door slides closed and Steve laughs out loud. He turns to go back to his cot when Tony tugs on his hand making him turn back around.

In my elevator!”

“That’s what you get for spying,” Steve shrugs as the engineer pouts. Steve yanks on his hand making Tony fall against his chest and Steve grins at him. Leaning in till their noses are nearly touching, he whispers in a most sincere tone; “You’re an ass.”

Tony grins back at him and sighs, his fingers tapping over Steve’s heart as he meets his eyes and says in a tone just as equally sincere; “I know.”

 fin. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

One year and three-in-a-half months later…

 

“Now really isn’t the time for this discussion!” Darcy hissed through gritted teeth into her comm.

“Aw, come on, doll,” Bucky replied.

“Uh, Buck, I agree with Darcy on this one,” Steve’s voice crackled over the link, breathless.

“No, no, I think we should hear this, Cap,” Tony chimed in, quickly followed by a curse and Friday rambling off logistics.

Darcy told Stark to fuck off in flawless Japanese right before a fresh wave of gunfire stole her attention. Bucky watched through the eye of his scope as the team took down the newest threat, picking off any that got too close to them. It never failed to make him proud (and fucking terrified) to see his girl fighting alongside them. About a month after they’d officially become a ‘them’, Darcy had gotten a call from some uptight former SHIELD agent that had offered her a job. At first, she’d flat out turned him down. But somehow Natalia and Barton had convinced her that it would be beneficial to them all. Darcy seesawed back and forth for a while, and he’d dutifully listened to every rant. Natalia, ever the impatient, had ended Darcy’s wavering when she’d shown up one Tuesday morning in workout gear and dragged his girlfriend away from the coffee pot. He’d followed out of sheer curiosity and had gotten what he claims to be the best show of his life. (He swears only seeing Darcy naked for the first time had topped it.)

For four hours, Natalia and Darcy sparred. Bucky had been entranced. At first classical music had flowed quietly through the room while they’d warmed up, stretching and contorting into poses. Before long though, some angry beat had poured from the speakers to match the way they threw their bodies at each other. They held nothing in check, Natalia never softening her strikes, and to his surprise, Darcy had held her own. It had been a beautiful sight and made him want to take her up against the nearest surface. Barton had wandered in at the three hour mark and clapped a hand down on his shoulder, a knowing grin playing on his mouth. They’d watched them contentedly, albeit probably very turned on, (oh, who is he kidding, he was hard as a rock) and gave the women a round of applause when they finally called it time.

Over the next two months their lives had taken a turn. Steve moved up to the penthouse with Stark, Darcy moved in with him, began seeing a therapist to deal with her baggage, and she’d started working for Coulson. Seeing her so happy doing something that she obviously loved, Bucky had taken a second look at his own situation and decided he was ready to take the next step in mending his own psyche. So he’d joined the Avengers. Now if he could just get Darcy to—

“Okay,” Darcy grunts and he watches her shove a guy’s nose into his brain and glance up in his general direction, the sun obscuring her vision. “What did you want, Barnes?”

“Ooooh, ‘Barnes’. Someone’s in trouble!” singsongs Stark.

“Bite it, Iron Asshole.”

Bucky snorts at their banter and ignores the damn butterflies that fly helter-skelter in his gut. Clearing his throat, he talks over Stark’s reply. “I was just saying that I don’t see why you won’t make an honest man out of me.”

“You know why,” she says with a sigh.

“Yeah, yeah, but you know what I think about that.” Bucky bites down on his own sigh. He’d worked up the courage to bring up marriage in a conversation about a week ago and Darcy had shot him right down. Now Steve isn’t the only stubborn bastard around and he’d refused to take no for an answer, promising to win her over to the idea. He doesn’t care about her past (she doesn’t care about his) and he doesn’t plan on leaving her. He told her as much, that it would take God himself pulling him away from her, and she’d rolled her eyes at him and called him dramatic. (That night before they fell asleep, she’d whispered that Satan himself would have to snuff her out before she’d ever leave him.) Yes, they are both damaged, but their love is unconditional and absolute, so he doesn’t quite get why she won’t let him vow in front of anyone who will listen that he’s hers.

Yes, dear,” her voice draws him from his thoughts. “I know what you think...”

Natalia mutters something then sighs loudly and says; “Can this soap opera not wait till we aren’t (she grunts and a bone snaps) in the middle of a mission?”

Darcy steps over the guy at her feet and leans back against an overturned food-cart. Bucky shoots a stray trying to sneak up on Steve and waits. He knows when Darcy’s working up to something and he’s learned to let her or risk making her angry.

“Tell you what, Barnes, when Stark gets the balls to put a ring on it and make an honest man out of our Captain, then I’ll consider it!”

Three things happen at once; Steve makes a noise that Bucky’s never heard before, Stark and Barton burst into laughter, and another van of ninja’s (seriously, what the hell?) come squealing into view.

 

* * *

 

A month after that…

 

Bucky sips at the whiskey sparkling in his glass, the Christmas lights strung up everywhere making damn near everything sparkle. This was really the only part he didn’t like about being on the team; obligation to attend all functions. That unfortunately included Stark Industries’ annual Christmas party. Draining his tumbler, he pours another three fingers from the bottle that he’d stolen from behind the bar and turns to survey the crowd.

Barton’s head adorned with gaudy, red reindeer antlers, Doctor Banner’s shockingly bright green sweater, and Natalia’s hair fastened up in some complicated looking twist woven with sprigs of holly. The twins with their matching, striped elf hats, Steve’s hideously ugly Christmas tree tie complete with tiny flashing lights, Thor done up in a burgundy suit with Jane on his arm in a deep green dress, and Stark with that utterly dumb Santa hat sat crooked atop his equally dumb head. Vision had been squeezed into a suit along with Sam, and Hill was sporting a daintier pair of antlers as well.

Then there’s Darcy.

She’d chosen a dress the same shade of red as her lips and a pair of golden, sparkly stilettos. Her hair was artfully curled and hugging her cleavage lovingly and she’d topped it off with a wreath (It’s a festive flower crown! Where’s your spirit, Barnes?) of Christmas-y flowers. She was absolutely the most beautiful dame he’d ever laid his eyes on. And he was maybe a little smug that she would be going home with him. Taking a swig of his whiskey, he sighs at the warmth it brings. She hadn’t been able to get him to show any ‘spirit’ other than the red flower pinned to his lapel. He didn’t think he looked that bad considering when he’d walked into the common room kitchen, (she’d gone to Nat’s to get ready) Darcy had choked on the water she’d been drinking. There’s a slight chance that he’d neglected to tell her that morning that he was going to get his hair cut.

Bucky had been warring with himself about getting it chopped off for a long while, and he’d finally gotten tired of dealing with it (along with Stark’s constant jokes). So, after he’d said goodbye to Darcy that morning under the ruse of going out for breakfast with Steve and Wilson, he’d actually made his best friend go with him to the barber. He was glad that Stevie still had some old habits and that one of them was going to a tiny little shop in Brooklyn, run by an equally tiny, white-haired man. Sitting in the chair with Steve at his side and the sound of their rambling conversation had been enough to let him relax a fraction. When they’d emerged a good hour later into the brisk December air, for the first time, Bucky felt more like his old self than he ever had.

If they both got a little misty eyed, well, they blamed it on the wind and were both secretly glad no one else was there to see it.

“I’d think you were brooding but you’ve got a goofy smile on your face.”

Bucky rolls his eyes as Stark sidles up next to him, hand clutched around his own glass. He spares him a look and the man just grins, his cheeks glowing. Love, man, it makes fools of us all.

“How many have you had? Didn’t Steve tell you to dial it back?”

“Hey! It’s Christmas and it’s my party,” Stark says, but a second later his shoulders slump. “It’s only my second.”

Arching a brow at the engineer, Bucky silently curses and turns to face the bar. When he speaks, it’s in a hushed tone. “I was only joking… And, if you repeat what I’m about to tell you, I will murder you in your sleep.” Tony angles himself a little to show him that he’s gathered his attention and hums in acknowledgment before Bucky continues. “You’re doing a lot better than I thought you would and you make Stevie happy. I dunno how, but you do. And I just wanted to thank you… you know, for being there for Darcy. She’s, ah, she’s lucky to have you, I guess.”

“Why, Frosty, were those compliments for lil ole me? Two whole ones? It’s a Christmas miracle!” Tony snarks and Bucky rolls his eyes so hard he’s surprised they don’t pop out of his head. Taking another sip of his drink, he wishes he could get drunk like in the old days. He goes to reply to the idiot but Stark turns fully to him and throws an arm around his shoulders. Bucky tenses at the contact. “Since you said something nice, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.” Stark drains his glass like he needs the extra courage and it hits the bar with a snap when he slams it down. “You remember that little trip Cap and I went on last June? Yep, that one, well, we made a pit stop in Vegas…”

Bucky’s brows furrow in confusion at this information. Steve had obliged Tony (read: gave in so he’d shut up) and gone on a road trip with him all the way to his place in California. From what Steve had said it was uneventful and Bucky really didn’t care to hear any details of how boring it was because he wasn’t keen on knowing what they got up to under the sheets. It takes all of thirty seconds for a light bulb to go off over his head like a cartoon character. His eyes widen and he straightens, Stark’s arm sliding off his shoulders as he faces the other man.

“You and Stevie…you…?”

Grinning from ear to ear, Tony shrugs looking nonchalant. “Jewelry doesn’t really go with either of our suits.”

“But… He would have… Seriously?”

“License is hanging on our bedroom wall if you want actual proof. I’m very good at hiding things, Barnes. Don’t get your panties twisted, he’s been trying to figure out a way to break it to you for months.”

Bucky swallows hard as Darcy’s words from that day a month ago ring through his head. He grabs the bottle of whiskey and takes a deep pull right from it. Steve and Stark are married. Well, doesn’t that just change things? He has a sudden hankering for a cigarette. Gently placing the nearly empty bottle back onto the bar top, he wipes his mouth oh-so politely on a napkin and takes a deep breath before speaking.

“Anyone else know?”

“Is there anything Romanoff doesn’t know?”

“Good point.”

“We decided to announce it before New Years.”

“That’s just… that…” Bucky turns back around and easily finds Steve among the guests, hands gesturing as he speaks, cheeks flushed and grin beaming. It takes him even less time to pin Darcy. She’s tucked into Barton’s side, standing in front of the massive Christmas tree, and smiling up at something Pietro’s saying. The twinkling lights make her shine. It’s as if something in his chest evaporates, fingers loosening their grip and retreating from his ribs. He can breathe. Everything is brighter and—

“Go get her,” Tony whispers.

Bucky glances at him and his grin is growing, he can’t stop it. He nods, straightens up to his full height, and moves to stand in front of the shorter man. “Stark, you’re a good man,” he states then gives the billionare a heart attack. He grabs his face in between flesh and metal palms and plants a kiss square on the man’s lips. He pats a scruffy cheek a little too hard with a smirk as Tony splutters, and then spins on his heels and squares his shoulders.

“I… You have to run a threesome by Steve! I know I’m attractive but I don’t—”

Bucky flips him off with a silver finger over his shoulder and tunes out his rambling, his mission now crystal clear. It’s by instinct alone that he catches the object Natalia aims at his head, his focus centered on his girl. He pockets whatever it is without missing a step. Whether it is his rare, genuine smile or his determined (predatory) gait, people scurry back out of his way opening up a path right to her. Although his eyes are on her, ever observant, he notes how Pietro’s stance tenses upon noticing his advance. He notices the way Wanda places a hand on her brother’s arm and shakes her head with a small, warm smile. It isn’t until Barton removes his arm from Darcy’s waist and takes a not so subtle step back that she spots Bucky.

Darcy’s brows tip down in confusion and unlike everyone else, she takes a step forward. In that moment he loves her more than he’ll ever be able to explain. He forgets that they aren’t exactly public with their relationship just yet, that she was worried it’d bring him more attention than he already received as the ‘refined’ Winter Soldier. He forgets that there are reporters (cleared by Pepper Potts, of course) among the guests. Everyone and everything fades around him as he reaches for her.

“Bucky? You okay?” she questions.

Instead of answering her, Bucky slides his left arm around her waist, tugs her left arm up around his neck, and pulls her intimately flush against him. If there was any speculation about them, he blows it all to hell in that moment. Slanting his mouth over hers, he swallows her gasp when he dips her deeply over his arm in a show of his old fashioned talents. Her mouth is warm, tasting of beer and peppermint, and he happily kisses the living daylights out of her before righting them.

After making sure she’s steady, he steps back and drops to one knee like a throw of silk pooling to the ground. The hush that had fallen around them is broken by titters of shock but Bucky ignores it. Darcy stares at him with big eyes.

“Now, you know I’m not big on speeches, but it’s Christmas, right?”

Stark laughs somewhere close by.

“You’re it, doll. You are what I used to ramble to Stevie about back before the war. Hell, you’re better than the dame I imagined then. You’ve seen every side of me and I still haven’t scared you off. Darcy, you anchor me down and I wanna do the same for you till we’re both ninety.” He smirks when she snorts and switches hands, wrapping silver fingers around hers while his other hand fishes in his pocket. (Thank you, Natalia.) Pulling the black box out, he flips the lid open and plucks the simple, yet exquisite sapphire solitaire from its bed. “Darcy Marie Lewis, would you make me the happiest man alive and marry me?”

He watches her bite her red lip, fat tears rolling down her flawless face as she blinks uselessly to clear her vision. His heart hammers with every second that passes and his insides riot with nervousness. He’s still as stone as she raises her right hand and cups his jaw, her palm clammy.

“James Buchanan Barnes, you are such an idiot,” she breaths out on a laugh and he grins so hard it’s a miracle his face doesn’t crack.

“What was that? We didn’t hear what you said!” Stark hollers and Darcy barks out a laugh while Bucky rolls his eyes.

“Yes,” Darcy says staring into his eyes as she speaks, her voice strong and steady despite her tears and shaking hands. “YES!” Bucky slips the ring onto her finger and surges up, lifting her into his arms with a happy yell of victory. Her arms go around his neck and he buries his wet eyes against her neck as he hangs onto her for dear life. “Yes, a thousand times, yes,” she whispers to him as everyone cheers.

“Guess now would be a good time to let everyone know that I bagged Captain America, right?”

Darcy, Bucky, and Steve groan in unison.

 

---

 

Two years after that

 

“Stole your thunder? Okay, calm down there, Monica!” Tony grumbles and pinches Darcy’s toes making her squirm and upset the popcorn bowl in his lap.

“You did! Bucky had just done the unthinkable and you had to go and one-up me with the whole ‘I bagged Captain America’ thing!” Darcy digs her heel into Tony’s thigh and elbows Bucky for rolling his eyes.

Steve meets Bucky’s eyes over their spouses’ heads and smirks at him. It’s the same old argument and by now he and Buck have learned just to stay out of it. So he just stuffs his mouth with more of the buttery treat and watches their banter like a ping pong match. Darcy, on a roll now, pushes off of Bucky’s lap and rounds on them all. Steve arches a brow in suspicion when Nat, who up until then had had her nose stuck in a book, closes said book and straightens in her seat giving Darcy her full attention. Steve also notes the minute smirk that’s threatening to bloom on her mouth. Something’s up. He tunes back in to Darcy’s rant.

“—and you’re an asshole, still! You know what, it’s my turn now!”

Darcy reaches up and jams her hand down her shirt and yanks something out of what he presumes is her bra. Steve’s eyes go wide at her hiding place, still not used to all of her quirks. She tosses whatever it is into Bucky’s lap and grins like she does when she beats them at poker.

“I’m pregnant!” she proclaims with a flourish. “Top that, Stark!”

The only sound in the room after Darcy stalks off is the echo of Nat’s pleased applause. Steve glances to the left where his husband sits, mouth gaping open in utter shock, and where his best friend is eyeing the little stick on his thigh like it’s a bomb about to explode. He can’t help the grin that attacks his face or the laugh that escapes his throat. He’s going to be an uncle!

It takes a full three minutes and sixteen seconds before Bucky grasps the stick with stars in his eyes and takes out of the room at a dead run.

However, it’s another four minutes before Stark’s system reboots and his ‘DAMMIT!’ resounds through the tower.

 

the end!