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Stranded

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Chapter One: Overdue


 

It really was only a matter of time, when a person thought about it calmly and logistically.  It had been over five years of closely working with, fixing, cursing at, and just that one time drunkenly cuddling a machine or a piece of a machine that could technically bend the fabric of space.  Hopefully not time.  Darcy didn't want to think about Jane's machines being able to punch holes right on through to the other side of the universe AND send her back in time.

 

Although the past would have certainly had its merits.  For one, she would have been willing to go back to the 1940's and met Bucky Barnes before Hydra got their hands on him.  He'd always told her during late night showings of Darcy's supposedly vital and necessary viewings of certain critical sitcoms, that back in the day he had been a charmer.  

 

She'd always replied back that he didn't do so poorly for himself nowadays.  Natasha certainly had no complaints.  Bucky would smirk, and it was like being transported back to the 1940's, because he certainly looked like a smug and happy charmer in those moments.

 

Darcy also might have liked to go back and see Steve Rogers before Howard Stark stuck him in the hottie soldier microwave.   Ding ding, beefcake is done , indeed.  Current Steve certainly was fun to look at, but Bucky, who had latched on to Darcy during his recovery from his voluntary freezing in Wakanda, was always telling Darcy that she would have LOVED little Steve.  

 

It almost felt like he was trying to sweet talk her into a double date with his oldest and best friend.  

 

Even Natasha knew better than to try that anymore.

 

But Bucky, who had requested constant supervision after the triggers were removed and the new vibranium arm was attached, had no such reservations.  He'd followed Steve like a duckling as he gave him the tour of the new Secret Avengers facility, right into the common room kitchen area, where a short little curvy thing with wild brown curls and mischievous blue eyes was carefully measuring out flour before dumping it into a stand mixer.  

 

Steve had backpedaled away from the clearly harmless woman, muttering introductions between Bucky and Darcy and then wanting to continue with the tour, as if he spent one more moment in Darcy's presence he would spontaneously combust.  Bucky was having none of that though.  He smelled sweet things baking.  And he had one hell of a wicked sweet tooth.



Steve had hung around that first meeting, far removed from the kitchen, keeping a watchful eye over Bucky from the couch further in the common room.  Darcy didn't even seem to notice the creeper version of Captain America, chatting with Bucky as she assembled treat after treat, and then let him eat damn near most of them.  Except for the Salam de Biscuiti, that was entirely reserved for Natasha apparently, much to Bucky's disappointment.  

 

Bucky had latched onto Darcy pretty easily, and he told her openly it was because she reminded him of his sister, in both looks and sassy temperament.    And Darcy had no problem with the latching, as she had long since outgrown her usefulness in teaching Thor about modern Midgard and the other soldier from another time had blatantly refused any and all offers of help from Darcy.

 

"He hates me," Darcy had sighed that very morning, when Steve and Bucky had come into the kitchens.  Bucky had made a beeline for his pseudo-sister and began eating thick slices of french toast that she had just pulled off the griddle.

 

Steve had grabbed a banana and then run away.

 

"He doesn't hate you," Bucky insisted with irritation around his mouth full of piping hot french toast.  He had the burden of knowing exactly why Steve was so averse to spending time with Darcy.  It was a heavy burden, and the only reason he managed it was because it was Steve, and he owed him so much.  But Bucky refused to let Darcy think that Steve hated her and would contradict her every time.

 

"Alright, he does a great impersonation of a person who hates me," Darcy narrowed her eyes at Bucky, then put a hand on his chin to close his food filled gaping maw.  For two men born in a time that was supposed to be more genteel than their current time, the pair of super soldiers were very rude.  She kept her hand on Bucky's chin while he chewed and swallowed and finally let go when he gave her an exasperated look.

 

"He doesn't hate you," Bucky reiterated.  They had this conversation a lot in the past six months.  

 

"Could have fooled me," Darcy popped four new pieces of egg soaked challah bread onto the butter coated griddle.  

 

"Natalia explains this better," Bucky sighed, his mouth watering at the sizzling sounds in front of him.  "And I asked her nicely to explain it to you last week, when the punk ran away from the gym."

 

"Well, honestly, I don't blame him on that one.  The gym is his domain.  I was just searching for Barton to staple the chore list he keeps trying to pawn off on his kids to his ass instead," Darcy shrugged.  "I invaded his personal space with my awfulness."

 

"Kid, stop it," Bucky rolled his eyes.  He went into his automatic explanation that was Steve Rogers approved, which was a lie and he hated it, but he did it anyway to see if he could possibly make Darcy feel better,  "Here's the problem, Steve doesn't know how to act around a pretty girl."

 

"Lies," Darcy scoffed as she flipped the french toast.

 

"And you can be confident enough to stare down the Black Widow about the last strip of bacon, and lock Nick Fury in a closet when he tried to give me orders," Bucky recalled with excessive fondness.  It had been quite the sight and the surveillance tape of the incident was something everyone had watched on more than one occasion when they needed a pick me up.  "But put you in front of Steve Rogers and boom, you're a shrinking violet with the self esteem of a puddle."

 

"Rude," Darcy huffed.  "I was gonna add extra cinnamon to the rest of the french toast batter, but now you can suck an egg."

 

"There's my girl," Bucky grinned down at her, grabbing one of the slices of french toast right off the griddle with his left hand, just as Darcy was going to transfer it off.  He shoved half of it into his mouth and talked with his mouth full again.  "You want me to talk to him, kid?"

 

"No, God no," Darcy said quickly, which was always her answer whenever anyone, Bucky, Natasha, Clint, Laura Barton, Nick Fury, etc., offered to talk to Steve on her behalf to get him to treat her like a normal human being and not the walking embodiment of the plague.  She forced a cheery smile on her face and looked up at Bucky as he stuffed the other half of the slice of French toast into his mouth.  "And if you steal another piece of this, you should know, that they were meant for Janie."

 

Bucky wrinkled his nose.  No one got between Jane Foster and her breakfast foods.  Not on experiment days at least.

 


 



Back to the matter at hand, it really was only a matter of time before something like this befell Darcy.  She'd avoided such a fate for far too long.  Jane had been fine tuning the machines that could act as miniature portals to other sides of the galaxy.  Machines that she had been working on for the tenure of Darcy's friendship and assisting of the astrophysicist.  And yet, in all of the years, Darcy had never accidentally been portaled anywhere.

 

So she was overdue, definitely.

 

Darcy blamed Tony.  Because when in doubt, blame Tony.  He'd done ONE interview where he'd been asked about what Doctor Jane Foster's Nobel Prize winning research meant for the world of superheroes.  He'd looked directly into the camera, the smirk on his face eerily reminiscent of smirks from years prior when he'd taunted Jane about her lack of progress back in Stark Towers.  

 

' If Jane Foster ever wants to actually make a move on her work and have some sort of lasting impact, she should probably come out of hiding with fugitives and come back to Stark Industries, where we know how to properly take care of scientists. '

 

It had been a double blow, and Tony knew it, the little shit. He insulted Jane's progress and he insulted Darcy's ability to take care of her astrophysicist.   His intention had probably been to cause Jane or Darcy to call him up and bitch him out.  Because if they called him, he would be assured of their safety, instead of just worrying about it constantly.  He had hoped they'd landed with Steve after the dustups with the Sokovia Accords, which Jane was expected to follow as well if she wanted to continue to work on physics bending experimental science.  

 

He could have just called Steve or Natasha or even Nick Fury and ASKED, but he didn't really want to do that just yet.  

 

So instead, he was an asshole in a nationally televised interview, mocking Jane and Darcy.  And the ladies did not call him as he had wished.  He hadn't even gotten a box full of rocks in the mail.  Definitely hadn't received a bag full of flaming poop on his doorstep either.  

 

No, because instead of taking their frustration out on the man, they decided it was imperative to show him up.

 

So Jane went into overdrive at work and Darcy went into overdrive keeping the woman thriving.  Jane had strict sleep schedules now to optimize brain activity.  She ate when Darcy told her and she ate what Darcy told her.  

 

And it was really working.  Up until the point that Jane took a chance during the first live test.  A huge chance, replacing transistor A with transistor B in order to get the flux to reverse at exactly the right moment.

 

Live tests at the facility had to be monitored by outside, superhero like forces.  They had a cushy little observational deck and everything.  Darcy hadn't known who had drawn the short straw on the first day of live testing until the machine had begun sparking with liquid light.  It looked almost like wisps of lava coming from metal and high density plastic.

 

It was beautiful.  But Darcy was pragmatic enough to realize she should keep away from the pretty shining lights.

 

"What is it?" Cooper Barton wondered.

 

Darcy's eyes went wide as saucers as she saw Cooper on the stairs leading to the observation room.  She hadn't been expecting the pre-teen to be in the observation room.  Mostly on account of the fact that the minute he landed at the facility with his mother, he had decided that Steve Rogers needed a Cooper Barton sized shadow following him around everywhere.  

 

To his credit, Steve let the boy follow him around and amiably answered all the questions aimed at him eight to ten hours a day.  

 

But if Cooper was here, that meant Steve was too.

 

"Shut it down, Foster!  That's not in your experiment parameters!" Steve shouted as he followed Cooper down the steps.  

 

"I'm TRYING," Jane promised.  She was a foolishly brave scientist to be sure, but no one ignored Steve's Captain America command voice.  No one.

 

"Cool!" Cooper grinned as a wisp of the ambiguous yellow and orange energy matter began to grow and build, looking like a waving tendril that was increasing in size at a rapid rate.

 

And moving towards Cooper alarmingly fast.

 

"Shit," Darcy breathed before making a run for the oldest Barton child, intent on pushing him out of the way.

 

She had KNOWN this day was going to come, but she had thought she'd be pushing herself into danger for Jane, not some snot nosed fruit of Barton's loins twelve year old with an unhealthy fascination for Steve Rogers. And yet, there she was, moving the six feet quickly and popping up three steps as Steve thundered down them from the opposite end.  

 

She reached out for Cooper and pushed him down the three steps she had just climbed, feeling a little bad that he landed face first on unforgiving concrete, but then  the tendril of the seemingly sentient energy glowed a shimmering golden, right before wrapping around her left wrist.

 

"The alarm is going off!" Bucky yelled as he barrelled into the room.  His eyes went impossibly wide as he saw Darcy held in place by something definitely sinister, with Steve standing on the step above her, staring at her wrist, obviously trying to figure out how to get her out of the ambiguous energy's grip.  Bucky growled out, "Foster!  Shut it down!"

 

"I'm TRYING!" Jane shouted as she stopped hitting buttons on her machine and looked to the screen at the informational output.  She put her shaking hand over her mouth and her eyes swam with tears.  Bucky came to stand next to her and made a valiant show of trying to understand the letters and digits.  Jane sighed and cursed,   "Shit, shit, shit, SHIT.  It's going to take her."

 

"What?" Darcy blinked.

 

"I can't stop it, Oh God, Darce," Jane slapped her monitor and then turned to her long time assistant.  Her best friend really.  "Darce, I promise, I'm going to find you.  I'm so sorry!"

 

"Oh," was all the answer Darcy could make.  She looked over at Bucky, her blue green eyes swimming with tears.  She couldn't make any sound but her mouth opened and she silently formed 'Bye' with her lips.

 

"No," Steve whispered.

 

Darcy turned to him and blinked, the tears falling down her cheeks.

 

"No," Steve repeated, shaking his head once and then swallowing, looking fierce and settled with a decision he had just made.

 

"Stevie---" Bucky called out, recognizing the look in Steve's eye.  It looked...determined.  Like Steve had looked before finally giving into Bucky's goading and getting on the Cyclone all those decades ago.  "Don't---"

 

Much like all the warnings Bucky had ever given Steve in their long lives, this too went ignored.  Steve reached out and grabbed Darcy's hand, pulling her up the remaining step and against his body in a fierce embrace.  The energy glowed even brighter and split near the coil around Darcy's wrist, a new tendril growing and forming around Steve's left arm as he clung to Darcy with quite a bit of his considerable strength.  

 

"I'm scared," Darcy whispered into his ear.


"I've got you," Steve whispered back.  "I've got you, Dar---"

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: Goldilocks-ing

 


 

 

Going through a one of a kind portal to parts unknown in the galaxy is not exactly a wild ride.  It could definitely be a wild ride, if Darcy and Steve hadn’t gone completely unconscious the moment the molecules in their bodies had phased out of the secret Avenger’s facility and into the black void of the mysterious and powerful tunnel that Jane had created.  They didn’t know for how long they were in the inky blackness.  Darcy only knew that despite the panic at what was happening before the portal claimed them, Steve had grabbed her, pulled her against his body and wrapped his arms around her.

 

She had felt one moment of surety amidst all the calamity and panic.  As much as she thought Steve hated her, she knew this man.  She’d been watching him for so long, had been the closest of friends with his best friends, and had seen how fiercely he protected what was important to him.   And she might not be important to him, she was painfully aware every day that the world’s most perfect man disdained her, but she knew she was important to Bucky and Natasha.  She knew Steve would try to keep her safe because that is what kind of a man he was, a good man.  But, if it was possible, he would go above and beyond to protect her for the people who cared about her that were important to him too, no matter where the pair of them ended up.  She took that with her on their trip into the void and she woke up with that surety still stirring in her bones.

 

Darcy couldn’t remember how they got to where they were, but she did wake up lying on her stomach against something warm, feeling well rested and comfortable.  Her eyes blinked open slowly and she tried to get up, only to hear a grumbling and feel something that could only be steel bands holding her tight to the comfortable, warm surface she was against.  

 

Soft navy blue cotton, unfairly stretched across skin took up the entirety of her vision.

 

It was Steve’s shirt, she knew that.  She’d argued for fifteen minutes with Laura Barton about it.  The woman had used her connections to get clothing delivered to the facility months ago.  Laura had gleefully requested all medium sized men’s shirts.  They would fit Cooper fine.  The sleeves were just the right amount of  tight across Lang and Barton’s biceps.  

 

Bucky and Sam were delectably ridiculous in the too small shirts.  But Steve?  It was a sin.  Darcy had thrown a pillow at Laura’s face after the first time Steve had managed to squeeze one of the shirts over his body.  Darcy didn’t want to objectify any of the very good looking men she was surrounded by, but they were medium sized t-shirts.

 

In all the chaos from before, she hadn’t noticed that he had been wearing one of the shirts she had so frequently pinched herself about.  And now she was staring right at it, which meant the warm, comfortable solid bed she was lying on was actually Steve Rogers.  And she couldn’t move off of him because he was holding her so tight as his eyes moved back and forth under closed eyelids, like he was having a vivid dream right before waking.  

 

She used what little leverage she had to try and get a glimpse of where they had landed.  Obviously it had been somewhere hospitable, as she could breathe.  Well, she could breathe a little.  It was coming a little shallow, but she figured that was due to her current physical situation as Steve let out a low moaning sound in his sleep.  

 

Maybe Jane hadn’t even gotten them to a different planet.  Maybe they were still on Earth.  An Earth where it was currently autumn in the Poconos?  Couldn’t be that, it was currently April on Earth, early springtime for the Poconos.  Darcy saw beautiful trees, covered in red and yellow and orange leaves.  She blinked and all the leaves shimmered and changed colors.  Red became yellow.  Yellow become orange.  Orange became red.  

 

“Not Earth then,” Darcy sighed.  

 

“Darcy,” Steve murmured.  

 

“Hey, hey, you awake?” Darcy wondered softly.  Her whispers came frantic and rushed as she looked up at his face.  “I’m freaking out, and you should wake up, because I don’t know where we are, and I don’t know if this is one of those crazy planets that Sif told me about where only women can breathe, and I hope it’s not, because seriously, dude...just---open your eyes, Steve .”

 

Another low moaning sound and then his eyes slowly blinked open.  He gripped her tighter for a brief moment before some delayed battle conditioned response set in and his whole body went rigid before he sat up, displacing Darcy from his body, but keeping his arms wrapped around her as they both sat on cushy grass.

 

“Where are we?” Steve wondered as he looked around in astonishment.  They were on a little grassy hill, a clearing amongst thousands of trees.  As if on cue, the leaves shimmered and the colors changed once more.  Steve took a deep breath, making sure that he could and he blinked at the leaves, as if making sure it wasn’t a trick of his eyes.  He swallowed and looked down at Darcy as she knelt beside him and he looked her over as thoroughly as he could, his hands going flat against her back, moving up and down ever so slightly.  “Darcy, are you alright?”

“I”m okay, are you alright?” Darcy questioned right back.  She wrinkled her nose slightly and shrugged, “I’m about ninety-nine percent certain that you broke my fall.  Sorry.”

 

“No, don’t be, it’s okay, I’m fine,” Steve promised, his hands pulling away from her suddenly as he stood up.  He looked up at the sky, which was a beautiful blue with no clouds in the sky.  He turned slightly and Darcy followed his line of sight.  

 

Two distinct suns shone in the distance, both about half the size of their own sun, but looking just the same, burning in the sky side by side.  

 

“So, not Earth then,” Steve whispered.

 

“No,” Darcy shook her head.  “Jane will find us.  She can get in touch with Thor, and they’ll find us.”

 

“Yeah,” Steve nodded.  A cool breeze blew by them, rustling the leaves on the trees.  He was fine, but Darcy shivered slightly and he looked down at her.  She was wearing her standard work clothes: a pair of well worn jeans that fit absolutely perfectly and a large t-shirt with an oversized gray cardigan.  He smiled at the black t-shirt, it had a red hourglass design taking up the entire front of it.  Darcy had never been shy about sporting Avenger’s merchandise.  Before the Sokovian Accords had upended their Avengers’ world, she had been working hand in hand with Pepper in approving and denying designs and therefore, got all the merchandise to test out before it hit the shelves.  He had even caught her wearing a pair of slippers once with his old shield on them.  

 

Still, if the weather turned nasty, she would be cold in her current clothing.

 

He gave her a small half-smile without thinking, and it refused to melt off his face as he swallowed before nodding and beginning to walk down the gentle sloping hill towards the line of the trees.  “We should find some kind of shelter.”

 


 

 

Their journey into the forest lasted about two hours before Steve’s stomach started to growl.  Darcy had been parched for an hour and a half at that point, and she cursed herself for not downing that blended and whipped cream covered mochacino that had been waiting for her at her desk that morning.  She could taste the caramel syrup on her tongue if she concentrated hard enough.

 

“Maybe the trees can be tapped,” Steve sighed as they traversed through the forest.  They had seen nothing but trees so far.  The soil on the ground was covered sparsely with the lush grass that had been on the clearing, but it was also covered in fallen branches and tree leaves.  They had seen one bird, far up in the sky and looking nothing like any bird that had inhabited Earth.  

 

For one, it had been about as big as a small car and then made an unnatural screeching noise, like vibranium against vibranium.

 

Steve sighed once again, aside from potentially being eaten by another extra large alien animal, they would be fine if they could find the basics.  He looked down at her as she licked dry lips again, and he wished she had taken a few sips of the ridiculous coffee beverage he had asked Scott to make  and then had left on her workbench at the labs.   Something Steve requested every time Scott was in house.  “Neither of us are going to make it without some kind of water soon.”

 

“You can---you can hear things right?” Darcy wondered.  “Bucky and Nat, they can hear stuff really well when they’re concentrating.  It’s---unfair when I was trying to keep their Christmas gifts a secret, but you can hear things better than them, right?”

 

“Yeah,” Steve nodded, looking a little disconcerted.  His enhanced hearing had made him hear a lot of things in the past few years that he would have rather not heard, actually.  Sam talking to his long-distance friend (that just so happened to be a girl) one night on the road.  And by talking, it had been some long-distance special friend benefits and Steve had sprinted away from the hotel so he didn’t have to listen to Sam... finish .

 

And then there had been the first time a truly recovered Bucky had encountered Natasha.  The two of them had played it off well in front of everyone else, simply acting like old acquaintances.  Later that night, Bucky’s first night in the facility, Steve had unfortunately heard the official reunion through the walls that separated his quarters from Bucky’s.  Apparently the former assassins had been so much more than old acquaintances.

 

And the worst benefit to his enhanced hearing in the past year had certainly been living in close quarters with Darcy.  Every time he encountered her and made a quick getaway, he had to hear her heavy, disappointed sigh.  Or worse, when she would turn to Wanda or Sam or Bucky or whoever and wonder ‘What did I do to make him hate me so much?”

 

He didn’t hate her.  The idea of it would have been laughable if it didn’t hurt so badly.

 

“I can hear a lot,” Steve admitted.  

 

“Okay, so I’m going to be totally quiet, and you’re going to concentrate.  Close your eyes,” Darcy advised him, astonished when he immediately did what she said.  “Listen for the sound of birds.  For the sounds of animals.  And you’re going to walk towards those sounds, and I’ll guide you to make sure you don’t trip.”

 

“Okay?” Steve furrowed his brow a little.

 

“Animals need water, they go towards water,” Darcy explained.  “We’ll follow them to it.  There can’t be so many trees around here and plants and vegetation without some kind of water.”

 

She was quiet then and Steve had to admit it was brilliant.  She grabbed his hand and he had to force the feeling of her soft skin and gentle touch out of his mind.  He focused on the sounds surrounding him, getting past the slow, easy breathing from Darcy, past the steadfast pounding of her heart and the rapid beating of his own.  He couldn’t find the screeching sound of the gigantic bird, which was probably a good thing.

 

But he did hear a rustling of leaves, just in the distance.  He began walking in that direction, with Darcy following his every step faithfully.  Once or twice, she pulled on his hand so that he could avoid large branches.  The scratching noise got louder and then he heard a sort of clacking sound, like an energetic animal trying to get into a nut.

 

Ten minutes of walking blind, with nothing but Darcy guiding him, and he finally heard it.

 

The slow trickle of water against rocks.  He opened his eyes and grinned, looking down at an expectant Darcy.  He pointed in the distance and nodded.

 

“We’ve got water.”

 


 

They had found a small stream, one that probably fed into a bigger one and after he had taken a gulp of the water and declared it safe, they decided to follow it for a little.  Darcy, brilliant woman that she was, had deduced that if they could get to a bigger stream, the chances of finding people, or aliens, or whatever, were greater.  Civilizations were built upon the availability of water, it was life for everyone, human or not, apparently.  

 

“Sif taught me that,” Darcy admitted, staring down at the cool, clean water they were walking alongside of.  “She’d visited hundreds of places, mostly to battle, and she said that the one thing everyone in all the nine realms needed was some kind of water.”

 

“I wouldn’t say no to food, either,” Steve admitted.  

 

“Bigger water will mean fish, maybe,” Darcy said hopefully.  She stifled a yawn, obviously tired.  They’d been walking for hours, and while she wasn’t an actual sloth, it was a pretty near thing.  The last time Darcy had walked this much was when her college roommate had tricked her into a 5k walk for charity.  Needless to say, that old college roommate was a one term deal.

 

“I need to find you shelter,” Steve said, sounding worried as he looked her up and down.  “Shelter....food...warmth.”

 

“Hey, we’re in this together,” Darcy reminded him, a little amused and a little annoyed at Steve’s insistence that he take care of her.  “I could find some of those things too.”


Steve actually smiled at her for that.  She couldn’t know why it was so important for him to do all of these things for her.  He needed to make sure that Darcy would survive.

 

“That’s a really big tree,” Darcy squinted at a truly massive tree about one hundred yards downstream.  “That’s bigger than a redwood.”

 

Steve looked in the same direction and also squinted.  He stopped in his tracks and pulled Darcy off of the little path right next to the stream, effectively hiding her behind a different tree.  Darcy made a surprised sound of indignation and Steve put his hand over her mouth.

 

“There’s a door in that tree,” Steve whispered, his voice very low.  “Stay here, and stay safe.  I’m going to go and see who or what is down there and figure out if they’re friendly.”

 

Darcy tried to ask him why she had to stay put while he played diplomat, but all of her words were muffled by the palm of his hand.  Steve’s ears went a little red at the tips at the feeling of her lips moving against his skin.  He shook his head and said,

 

“Darcy, if they’re not friendly, they’re going to look at you first to hurt.  Please stay here until I figure it out, please,” Steve sounded like he was honestly begging at that point.  “Promise me you’ll stay here until I can come back and get you.”

 

Darcy shrugged.

 

“Promise me, please, Darcy,” Steve sounded so earnest, so concerned about her that Darcy could only blink up at him in confusion.  

 

He hated her.  She knew that Steve had the heart of a lion.  He was a truly good man, but this was a little overprotective for someone he supposedly couldn’t stand.  Darcy couldn’t help but appreciate in that moment that Steve had kept his distance from her for a year, though.  Because she was useless to tell him to fuck right off for daring to tell her what to do when he was looking down at her with so much earnestness and concern.  Finally she nodded and he let his hand drop from her mouth.

 

“Stay hidden here, I’ll be right back,” Steve promised before nodding at her slightly and then walking away.

 

Darcy watched him go, and in that moment he seemed larger than life.  The too tight t-shirt and the regular track pants that he so often wore all day at the facility somehow looked like a uniform as he walked with purpose, his head held high.  Darcy waited until he was about twenty yards away before taking very slow, quiet steps to follow him.

 

She didn’t actually promise out loud that she would stay put.  And there was no way she was going to let a defenseless Steve walk into something potentially dangerous without her.  At one point he stopped and turned to make sure she was still hidden, and Darcy had to dive behind another tree, coming face to face with something that looked like a squirrel, but wasn’t quite a squirrel.  It was about triple the size of a squirrel, obscenely plump and had the bushy tail of a fox.  And it was purple.  

 

She blinked at it and held her breath, but the not quite a squirrel seemed to be much more content with pushing the remains of a golf ball sized tree nut into its already stuffed cheeks.  Darcy waved at it gently before peeking out around the tree to see that Steve had been satisfied that she had stayed put and was on the move again.  

 

She followed and the closer she got, the more she realized that the tree was not only the largest she had ever seen, but it did have a large door set at the front of it.  The door had different wood than the wood of the tree, and there was a large circle cut out at the top of it, like a window.  There wasn’t a doorknob, but there was a large metal ring set where a doorknob would be, used to push and pull the door closed.    The overall theme was large .  Whoever inhabited the tree dwelling was not Darcy sized.  If anything they were a good six inches taller than Steve, even, and probably twice as wide.

 

Steve squared his shoulders before reaching out and knocking loudly on the door.  

 

Darcy held her breath and waited, but two minutes passed by without incident before Steve knocked again.

 

After another two minutes of tense waiting, Darcy stepped forward and offered, “Maybe they’re not home.”

 

“Jesus, Darcy,” Steve jumped in his place and turned to glare at her.  “I told you to stay behind.”

 

“Yeah, that was a bad idea, when I had the chance to think it over,” Darcy nodded bravely in the face of Steve’s angry disappointment.  It’s not like she could make him hate her more .  “I mean, if I was just chilling in my big tree hovel, minding my own business and a big, strong, muscle-bound alien came knocking on my door, I might not be hospitable.  It would have been smarter to send me and hide you .”

 

“How am I supposed to keep you alive if you don’t listen to me?” Steve demanded as Darcy walked right next to him and reached for the big gray metal ring that acted as the doorknob.

 

“It’s not your job to keep me alive,” Darcy easily disputed.  “Who told you that it was your job to keep me alive?”

 

“It---it just is,” Steve shook his head.  She didn’t have the burden of his knowledge, she didn’t know that he held her life in his hands. He reached for Darcy’s hand but she had already pushed on the door, opening it up with a creaking sound.

 

They were met with a shower of dust and the smell of an old musty library.  Inside of the very large tree, was a homey and very uninhabited dwelling.  The light that was coming from the open door illuminated an obviously abandoned home, with big white sheets covering the furniture.  

 

“Maybe it’s like---a cabin, a getaway,” Darcy mused as she stepped in, despite Steve trying to stop her.  “Whoever has it left and won’t be back until summer or something.”

 

Steve couldn’t argue with her there, and left the door standing open to draw some of the stale air out and the fresh air in.  Darcy went to the first big piece of furniture and began to pull the sheet off of it, slowly revealing a circular stone table.  She made a face at it before going to another piece of furniture, revealing what looked like  some sort of sofa, also made of stone.

 

He went about helping her and soon there was a big pile of stiff and rough sheets next to the front door and the main room of the tree house was revealed.  It was a little bigger than his first apartment in Brooklyn had been back in the 40’s.  The entire room was carved into the tree, so the floor was wood and the walls were wood and the ceiling was wood.  And all of the furniture was rock hard stone.  The table, the couch, a chair were all stone.  

 

“What’s back here?” Darcy wondered, pushing against a door at the back of the little area.  She opened it up to reveal another room, this one about a quarter of the size of the other but still built for someone very tall, and once the sheets were removed it looked like a kitchen.  There was a large and tall stone oven, with a place to put burning wood in the bottom, and a few stone cabinets with wooden doors on them.  

 

In the corner of the kitchen was another door, this one leading down into the ground and Steve pushed Darcy behind him and wordlessly insisted on going first.  He then missed her exasperated eyeroll, but definitely heard her obnoxious sigh.  His shoulders set a little straighter.  He didn’t care if putting her safety first was annoying.  She was just going to learn how to deal with it.

 

A half a flight of wooden stairs down beneath the earth and another door was pushed open to reveal a very dark room indeed.  Darcy couldn’t make out what any of it was, but Steve and his serum enhanced eyesight could.

 

“Bedroom,” he told her softly as he walked through the room.

 

“Is the bed made of granite too?” Darcy asked warily.

 

“No,” Steve answered, pressing his hand down on the bed that took up most of the room.  “Seems soft.  It’s covered in animal fur.”

 

“Cool,” Darcy shrugged.  “So, we’re Goldilocks-ing this place, right?  I mean, at least for the night.”

 

Steve’s stomach growled in answer.

 

“There were some containers up in the kitchen, let’s see what they have,” Darcy nodded.  “And if you know how to set up snares, I saw some awesomely fat purple squirrels outside, might not make too bad of a meal.”

 


 

 

Steve sent up a silent thank you to Dum-Dum for teaching him to set snares.  He ripped one of the sheets up and managed to set them around the perimeter of the tree house, and then went back into the dwelling to help Darcy start a fire for the oven.  

 

The wood he’d found stacked up on the other side of the large tree smelled amazing when burning, and soon the musty smell of disuse went away, replaced with the smell of cherry-tinged fire.  Steve took two buckets in one of the cabinets and wandered to the stream, bringing back water and placing it in a basin near the stove.  He continued to do that while Darcy inspected various stone jars and containers.  

 

She’d found something like sugar, but it was bright purple in color, and a sack of something that might be flour, except that it was a blindingly green color.  Everything was edible though, Steve had tested it, and Darcy went about performing some strange kind of science experiment with the various dry ingredients she had found and the one stone jar full of what might be something similar to lard.  

 

“It’s incredibly convenient that you’re willing to put just about anything in your mouth,” Darcy smirked at him as he handed her back the little stone container that he had declared to be something akin to salt.  

 

Steve gave her an unimpressed arch of his eyebrow.

 

“I miss Bucky.  He would have laughed at that,” Darcy sighed.  

 

“If anything is poisonous, it’s not likely to kill me,” Steve shrugged.  “And we’d know faster because of my metabolism.”

 

“You do have good ideas,” Darcy said playfully.  “Natasha didn’t know what she was talking about.”

 

“Don’t expect it too often,” Steve said dryly, feeling his stomach flip when Darcy genuinely laughed at his humor.  He wandered away, keen on exploring the cabinets more.

 

Darcy was handy in the kitchen.  Laura Barton had blessed her prodigiously when she had arrived at the secret Avengers base, as the mother of three had been the only one capable of not burning them all down or poisoning them.  They split the kitchen duties, with Darcy taking breakfast and Laura taking lunch and then collaborating over dinner.  

 

Steve would be lying if he said that whatever Darcy could come up with in the culinary sense wouldn’t be enjoyed by him.  Green flour and purple sugar aside, he was starving at that point, and needed to eat something .  And he had never been disappointed with any of Darcy’s cooking.

 

After the basin was filled and the fire was roaring, Steve grabbed one of the knives in the kitchen, something that felt a little too large in his hands and resembled a machete almost and went back outside and was surprised to see that one of the snares had netted him one of the purple squirrels that Darcy had warned him about.  It was indeed, gigantic and fat, and Steve wondered if all the animals on the planet were as proportionately large as the squirrel and bird they had seen.  The dwelling’s furnishings did seem to be a little on the large side.

 

Darcy had to stand on her tiptoes to reach the top of the stove, and Steve resolved to make her a stepstool of sorts when he came back in with the skinned and butchered meat.

 

“Cool, that’ll work,” Darcy nodded with a smile, reaching for it with no hesitation.  

 

Steve watched her work for a little while, and soon the entire house began smelling of deliciously roasting meat, along with some kind of biscuit or bread.  His stomach growled again and he felt his throat getting tighter as Darcy kept going up on her tiptoes to peek at the frying pan.  He had to avert his eyes to the ground at least a dozen times so that he would stop letting his gaze fall on the rounded curve of her rear end as she worked.

 

“I’m gonna go explore downstairs again.”

 

“Kay, dinner in ten,” Darcy advised, sounding almost cheerful.  

 

She couldn’t do much in the way of protecting them, she knew that.  But she could keep them alive.  She could use her brain to find water, and maybe even lead them to some kind of civilized help, and she could make sure they had decently cooked food.  Steve returned exactly ten minutes later, his hands full of candles that he had found downstairs.

 

Darcy made a reach for the plates, which also appeared to be made out of stone, but found that they were just too high.  Everything in the damned place was too high.  She was sure that they had stumbled upon the vacation home of the tallest damned tree sprite in all the nine realms.  She made a jump for them, but came up short and then suddenly there was that firm warmth behind her, as Steve reached up over her and grabbed the plates for her.

 

“Thanks,” she said softly.  “I need stilts around here.”

 

“Yeah,” Steve nodded. “I’m not looking forward to seeing the person that actually lives here.”

 

“Let’s not worry about that, let’s eat,” Darcy insisted.  

 

Steve did as he was told, and moaned gratefully at the first bite of roasted meat.  He was halfway through his plate, chewing on a mouthful of green biscuit before he shook his head and looked at her seriously.

 

“I have to worry about it, though,” he admitted.  “What if the person who lives here comes back?”

 

“We explain through miming if need be that we were in need of help,” Darcy said diplomatically.  “And we hope for the best.”

 

“Not good enough,” Steve said gruffly.

 

“And if all else fails, we mention Thor’s name.  A lot.”

 

“This isn’t like the time you needed to get Jane out of North Korea when she accidentally wandered over their borders,” Steve insisted.

 

“You know about that?” Darcy blinked.  It had been three years ago.  And she hadn’t just used Thor’s name.  She had used all of the Avengers’ names.  Including Steve.  

 

“I had to send autographs to a dictator’s cousin,” Steve grumbled.  “Of course I remembered it.”

 

“It’s diplomacy.  See, I think you wouldn’t have gotten into half of the trouble you have gotten into in your life if you went with my whole diplomatic approach more often,” Darcy said, with a little teasing smile.


Steve rolled his eyes at her automatically and Darcy laughed and clapped her hands together at that.  It was one of the first times she had been witness to Steve’s legendary sass.  She was always hearing about it second-hand from Bucky or Nat or anyone else at the facility.  But he never stuck around her long enough to allow her to see it.

 


 

Steve had discovered an outhouse a little way away from the house, and Darcy had begged for him not to linger so close as she went about doing her business.   After that was done, it was clear the both of them were completely exhausted and barely standing on their feet.  Apparently, interplanetary, experimental wormhole travel took its toll on the body.  

 

Steve had gathered the linens that had been used to cover furniture, aiming to make some kind of bed on the large stone couch structure, and Darcy stared at him in horror for about fifteen seconds.

 

“What?” Steve sighed, looking up at that pretty face of hers set in abject disapproval, her hands fisted on rounded hips that looked like they had been poured into the denim molded against her curves.  

 

“I’m not sleeping downstairs alone,” she said resolutely.

 

“Darcy, that’s not---it’s not appropriate,” Steve shook his head slightly.

 

“Fuck that,” she blurted.  “I won’t touch you, I promise.  Look, Steve, I know that you hate me, but you can’t make me sleep underground alone, in the dark, and neither of us is sleeping on stone .”

 

Steve winced as she casually blurted about his apparent disdain for her.  He sighed and looked up at her, and her bottom lip was trembling slightly and she looked scared.   Aside from the moments before Jane’s portal transported them to this strange planet, he had never before witnessed Darcy being scared.  She had easily and instantly befriended the man who was the former Winter Soldier, she regularly played pranks on Clint and Natasha, and she fearlessly tickled Wanda whenever she felt like it.  Darcy was fearless.

 

But she was terrified of going down to that bedroom alone, that much was clear.  He swallowed deeply before nodding.  

 

They lit two candles off of the stove fire before Dary pulled at a stone lever and a hatch closed, extinguishing the fire after about fifteen seconds.  Steve took the lead and walked down the steps first, taking a deep breath as Darcy followed him, her hand reaching out and touching his shoulder for balance.  

 

She seemed a little more at ease in the room once the candles illuminated it.  Their was a cool dampness in the room thanks to its place underground, and the bed looked inviting.  It was about the size of a California King, but sort of oval shaped, and on top of it was a fur, singular.  Steve had thought it had been multiple furs before and was wrong.

 

“That was a really big beast,” Darcy let her hand run along the soft gray pelt.

 

“Yeah,” Steve nodded.


“Volstagg told me a story once about hunting parties for Vlagriskar,” Darcy chattered as she turned down the pelt to reveal softer sheets and two spartan, thin pillows filled with feathers.  

 

“Vlagr---” Steve blinked, watching as Darcy kicked off her sneakers haphazardly.  He automatically went for them, placing them neatly by the door next to his own.

 

“Vlagriskar,” Darcy repeated.  “Giant furry bears that are faster than cheetahs and have more teeth than a shark.  Apparently, they’re smarter than your average three year old toddler, too, and more evil and sadistic than your typical movie villain.  It’s a big honor to bring one down.”

 

“That’s fascinating,” Steve nodded.  “And a little horrifying.”

 

“We’ll worry about that when we get to it, we don’t know where we are, there might not be any Valgriskar here,” Darcy waved him off, shrugging off her cardigan.  She put her hands on the waist of her jeans and then stopped for a brief moment, considering whether she should take them off.  She would never be comfortable enough to sleep with them on.  And she wasn’t wearing skimpy underwear by any means.  The USO show girls had worn less modest bottoms than her boy shorts.  

 

Steve looked away as Darcy shucked her jeans off quickly and threw them to the side.  His fingers itched to pick them up too and fold them carefully at the foot of the bed, but he refrained.  Instead he watched as she dove for the bed and got under the sheets.

 

“Wow...it’s soft,” she moaned out.  “Feels like a cloud.”

 

“Yeah?” Steve questioned.  

 

“Hmmm,” Darcy hummed snuggling down into her pillow, clearly worn out.  “Get in.  Partake of the cloud-like goodness.”

 

“Okay,” Steve hesitated still.  He nodded before putting out one of the candles, leaving the room barely illuminated by the one remaining candle that he had put in a holder by the door.  He turned back to the bed and saw that Darcy was already slack-jawed with sleep, a tiny snore rumbling from her with every inhale.  

 

Slowly, he climbed in, trying very hard not to disturb her, but even as the cloud like bed sank with his weight and her body rolled into the dip of the bed right into his own person, she still slept heavily.  Steve consciously stayed above the sheets Darcy was under, but pulled the heavy, soft pelt over the both of them.  

 

And despite her promise not to touch him, she turned onto her side so that her face smashed against his bicep and she latched onto him, one arm flung across his torso.  He looked up at the ceiling, watching the shadows playing from the lone flickering candle in the room and thought about all of the reasons why this was a very bad idea.  

 

He had been warned after all.  He should know better than to get too close to Darcy, much less share a bed with her.

 

“It’s not that I hate you, Darcy,” Steve whispered softly, the words hiding behind the sound of her snoring.  He had the burden of knowledge.  Bucky was the only other person who knew why Steve treated Darcy the way that he did.  He was the only other person that Steve had told about the awful prophecy he’d been told a year ago by a mutant in the throes of a soothsaying attack.  

 

He shouldn’t be so close to her.  It would only be bad for her.  It would be wonderful for him, he knew that, while it lasted.  But it would wind up terrible for her.

 

He closed his eyes as the woman in question snuggled into his side, he could feel soft curves against him and the imprint of plush lips at the line where his too tight t-shirt sleeve ended on his arm.  

 

“It’s just that---I can’t be the end of you.  I don’t want to be the end of you.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Three: Maternal Instincts

 


 

Steve woke first the next morning.  He managed to peel Darcy off of him, and climb out of the bed with Darcy still sleeping like a  rock.  The candle had extinguished in the night, so after a trip to the outhouse, he went about lighting the kitchen stove and starting another candle.  He brought it back to the bedroom and was surprised to see Darcy thrashing in the bed without him, her mouth opening to make noise, but nothing was coming out.

 

“Darcy,” he said as loudly as he dared, putting the candle in the holder and rushing towards the bed.  He crawled back in and put his hand on her shoulder, hoping to shake her gently out of her sudden nightmare.  She latched onto him as soon as her hand hit his torso, and in the space of time that he took to blink, he was on his back on the bed with two arms full of tiny, trembling woman.  

 

“Don’t leave me,” Darcy whimpered in her sleep.  “Stay.”

 

“I”m here, I’ll stay,” Steve nodded.  “I’ll never leave you.”

 

Darcy sniffled and jerked away before opening her eyes a small amount, looking up to Steve’s jaw.  

 

“I had a nightmare,” she whispered.

 

“I could tell,” Steve nodded.  

 

“You left me behind,” Darcy said softly.

 

“I went upstairs to start the stove and use the bathroom,” Steve explained.  “I’m sorry.”

 

“I don’t like the dark,” Darcy admitted bluntly.  Her chin jutted out just a bit, as if she were daring him to mock her or think worse of her for that fact.  “Everyone has something they’re afraid of, and mine just happens to be the dark.  I don’t like it and I don’t like being alone in it.”

 

“Alright, okay, I’m sorry,” Steve apologized genuinely, staring down at her in concern.  “I won’t leave you again.  I promise, Darcy.”

 

“Thanks,” she whispered.  She shifted against him and realized that she was once again lying on top of him.  She wrinkled her nose just a little bit and was puzzled over the soft look that stole into Steve’s eyes as he surveyed her.  “Tell me something you’re afraid of.”

 

“Hmm?” he blinked at her, more than a little confused.

 

“Well, I feel like I’m at a serious disadvantage here.  I just told you the thing that has scared me the most since I was a kid,” Darcy explained, her chin digging into Steve’s pec, but not in an uncomfortable way.  “So even the score, what scares you?”

 

Steve opened his mouth to say something, say anything.  

 

Spiders.

 

Ghosts.

 

Ice storms.

 

“You being hurt,” he blurted.  Darcy’s eyes went from half lidded with leftover grogginess to wide with surprise in half a heartbeat.  He swallowed and quickly added, “On my watch.  I don’t want someone innocent being hurt when I could protect them.”

 

“Oh,” Darcy answered.  She offered him a small smile, one that did nothing to hide the clear disappointment dulling the twinkling in her blue-green gaze.  “That’s noble, Steve.”

 

“Yeah,” Steve said miserably.

 

“Okay, let’s see what we can do about breakfast,” Darcy said quickly, struggling her way up and off of Steve, and then off of the bed.  She wiggled her pants back on quickly and sighed in annoyance.  “I forgot about the damned outhouse.   Disgusting .”

 


 

 

After eating a breakfast of biscuits slathered with something akin to honey, it was decided that they should explore further past the shelter they had found.  Darcy found a little rucksack and filled it with some food, while Steve grabbed two water skins from a cabinet and filled them for their journey.  

 

Another hundred yards from the gigantic tree were two pools of still waters, about five feet deep in the middle, but with no discernible fish inside either of them.   The only living critters they had seen so far had been the giant bird and the plentiful gigantic squirrels. One of the pools was filled with normal water when Steve tested it.  He then bent over and took his cupped hands to the water of the second pool and brought it to his lips, surprised when his nostrils filled with a floral scent.  

 

The water hit his lips and he spit it out immediately and began coughing violently.

 

“Steve, Steve!   Are you alright?” Darcy asked in a panic as she reached up to pound on his back as Steve continued to choke.

 

“It’s soap ,” Steve managed to gasp out, taking the water skin that Darcy handed to him and nearly emptied it in an attempt to clear his mouth out.  He took a deep breath when the bitter taste was finally gone, “Tasted like when Mrs. Barnes washed my mouth out when I was thirteen.”

 

“Why did she wash your mouth out?” Darcy blinked up at him curiously.  Bucky had never told her that story.

 

“Called Mr. Barnes a good for nothing bastard,” Steve muttered.

 

What ?” Darcy whispered.

 

“Well he was a good for nothing batard,” Steve defended himself, just as he had when Mrs. Barnes had scolded him for saying such a thing to Mr. Barnes’ (admittedly drunken and nearly unconscious face).  “He’d spent his last paycheck on a bottle of whiskey and then drank it all.”

 

“Bucky never said anything about his dad---” Darcy shrugged.

 

“Leftover stupid propriety from our time,” Steve shrugged.  “You don’t talk about the bad things your parents did.  And I never told him about this.  Never.”

 

“Propriety didn’t stop you from doing it though,” Darcy gave him a small smile.

 

“He hit Becca,” Steve whispered, remembering it as if it was yesterday.  “She was eight, and she had followed me around all night long while I tried to sell my papers.  She did that...followed me around like a little shadow.  And when I walked her back home, Mr. Barnes was there, cursing a blue streak at Mrs. Barnes.  And when he saw Becca, he just unloaded on her, asking her where she was all day, accused her of chasing boys like a---”

 

Steve wrinkled his nose in distaste, not wanting to repeat the hateful words Mr. Barnes had said about the sweet little girl that Steve had, quite frankly, adored.  

 

“And when he yanked on Becca’s hair and smacked her upside the head, I pushed him and called him a good for nothing bastard,” Steve admitted with no small amount of pride.  

 

“You were foolishly brave even as a kid,” Darcy smiled up at Steve, feeling something in her heart warm at the intimate story Steve was telling her.  It was something that Bucky didn’t even know.  It felt like he was opening up to her for the first time and that meant more to Darcy than she could say.

 

“Not so brave, more stupid than brave,” Steve sighed.  “I was lucky that Mr. Barnes was too drunk to remember.  And I was lucky Mrs. Barnes didn’t tell my Ma.  And she didn’t want to punish me for pushing Mr. Barnes, only was upset that I had used foul language in front of her daughters.”

 

“Thanks for sharing that story with me,” Darcy whispered.

 

Steve looked pained and began to walk away from the pool of soap, exploring more without another word to Darcy.

 

To one side of the pool was a patch of plants with long vines holding berries, and Steve only let Darcy try one first because he had already spotted one of the purple squirrels eating one that very morning while she was using the facilities.  

 

About a half of a mile away from their shelter, Steve reached for Darcy’s hand, gripping it hard and stopping her from walking any further.  Up ahead in the distance, there was a herd of animals, shaped like pigs, but covered in spiky,silver striped fur and roughly the size of a very large moose.

 

“Suppose you can’t catch one of those in a snare,” Darcy sighed.  “We could use the fat to make more candles.  And  a bunch of other things.”

 

Steve gave her a curious look.

 

“Erik loved trashy reality shows where people had to survive all kinds of disasters.  If there’s a zombie apocalypse, I also know what to do,” Darcy quipped.

 

“I can make a spear,” Steve said thoughtfully.  “There are extra knifes in the kitchen…”

 

“Caveman America,” Darcy muttered dryly.  

 

Steve rolled his eyes, almost downright fondly, and muttered back, “Wiseacre.”

 


 

 

After another three hours of walking and finding nothing but more woods, it was decided that the little tree they had found was indeed in the middle of nowhere.  Darcy had shrugged and said it would be smarter to head back than to keep going and Steve was forced to agree, especially after hearing that peculiar bird shrieking once more in the distance.

 

The walking and monotonous scenery that they had been seeing non-stop for the last day meant that Darcy couldn’t help but talk.  And talk.  And talk.

 

In their six hour walking tour, Steve learned so much about Darcy.  All things that he would have preferred not knowing.  She’d told him about being raised by her grandmother in Ohio, with strict rules that hadn’t of existed for Darcy’s wayward, late mother.  They’d spent the better part of an hour comparing how they’d stretched a small budget.  Steve’s had been due to the depression and Darcy’s had been due to her grandmother only having a meager social security check to raise her.  

 

Steve had been silently delighted to realize that they both considered bread pudding to be a necessity in life, on account of frugality and taste.  He’d been impressed when Darcy told him that she could make her own soap thanks to her grandmother.  And he’d been teary eyed when she’d quietly told him that meeting the woman who had raised her would be impossible, since she had died the summer before Thor had landed.  

 

“So what do you say to getting naked and wet with me?” Darcy blurted out about a mile away from their shelter.  

 

Steve had the water skin to his mouth when she had opened her mouth, and he realized she did it purposely when he did a spit take and she began cackling.  He tried to get his reaction in check, but couldn’t manage it and chuckled so hard that his shoulders were shaking.  Darcy’s cackles and snorts were infectious and he found himself laughing longer than he had in a very long time.  In one whole year at least.  

 

“I am serious though, I’m feeling kind of---crusty,” Darcy admitted.  “And you said that pool had soap.”

 

“It did,” Steve nodded.  “And I’d wager the other pool was for rinsing.”

 

“Convenient,” Darcy nodded.  She waited very patiently until Steve chanced drinking from his water skin again and said cheekily, “We should probably do the baths together.  Just for extra safety.”

 

Steve choked over his sip of water in response.

 


 

The two suns were setting on the horizon and the leaves were still shimmering and changing colors.  It was like an autumnal magic show, and Steve stared at one leaf above his head that looked as though it might float off of the branch at any moment.  He was so fixated with the leaf that might blow away that he didn’t notice the tree nut heading towards his head and winced when it landed with a smack.

 

He looked to the left and saw one of the fat purple squirrels staring down at him, his mouth full of food, but still looking mournful at the loss of the one nut that had hit Steve.

 

“Keep it up, pal,” Steve warned.  “You’ll be next for dinner tomorrow.”

 

Steve waited in silence about twenty feet from the bathing pools, his face flaming red as he heard the delicate splashing of water peppered around Darcy’s happy humming at getting clean.  There was a pause and he could make out her pulling herself out of the small pond and tiptoeing to the second pool and then a joyous noise from her immediately followed by a big splashing sound.

 

Steve couldn’t help but be charmed by her ability to find little pieces of happiness and joy in a truly terrible situation.  Things weren’t looking entirely bleak.  They had food.  They had water.  They had a place to sleep  that was warm and dry.  

 

And they had each other’s company.   And as much as Steve had not wanted to spend so much time with Darcy, he wouldn’t hesitate in admitting that it was a very enjoyable past time.  She was funny.  She was smart.  She could hold an entertaining conversation with a brick wall if she had to.  And she had no problem in defying him whenever she felt like it.  

 

And she was currently completely silent.  

 

Entirely silent.

 

Steve panicked and moved at the same time, jumping in place and rushing towards the pools that Darcy was bathing in.  He imagined that when she had jumped in, she had hit her head against a rock, and he’d find her floating face down in the water.  He felt his heart drop into the pit of his stomach at the idea of it, nevermind that he had been fearing it for the last year of knowing Darcy.

 

A whole year since he’d been given the most joyous feeling, a vision shared with him that was everything he had ever wanted or dreamed of, and then it was yanked away and he was told that he would be her ending.  He had just briefly met Darcy Lewis five days before going on that fateful mission.  She’d made him laugh that first time and when he came back, pale and terrified, she’d been so concerned about him that he had no option but to run.  And he’d kept on running.

 

But now, there was no option to run away from Darcy.  They were on an alien planet and they had no idea whatsoever what they were actually up against.  He had to protect her.  

 

He skidded to a stop on the forest floor, kicking up dirt as he looked down at the pool that Darcy was reclining in.  The water was reflecting the orange sunset in such a way that Steve couldn’t see underneath the surface of the water.  He didn’t know whether to be thankful for it or to curse the dual suns.  He did see just the barest curve of breast, wet and delightfully abundant.  

 

The long slope of her neck was on display, with tendrils of dark, wet, curling hair clinging to it as she let her head lay against the ground surrounding the pool, her elbows propped up as well.  

 

“So you did decide to join me afterall,” Darcy murmured, plush lips turning into a sassy smirk without opening her eyes at all.  “The pool is amazing, it’s warm and perfect.  If you let me, I’ll stay in here forever.”

 

Steve took a deep breath and tried to avert his eyes, but found that he couldn’t.  He was fixated with a small mole on her shoulder.  The dark spot on her otherwise flawless skin was fascinating to him.  He wanted to reach out and touch it.

 

He wanted to kiss it.

 

“Seriously?” Darcy snorted with laughter.  “Bucky was right, you ARE a pervert.”


“Shut it,” Steve finally took his eyes off the spot.  “And hurry up, I think the weather is about to change.”

 

“You can hop into the soapy pool a while,” Darcy suggested.

 

“I’ll skip out today,” Steve waved her off.

 

“No you won’t,” Darcy disputed.  “We’re sharing a bed, buster, and your super soldier super serum doesn’t make you smell less after two days of physical labor.  You’re taking a bath if I have to wrestle you into it.”

 

“Christ,” Steve breathed out at the very idea of a wet and naked Darcy stripping him of his clothing and manhandling him into a bath.  The tips of his ears suddenly felt like they were on fire.

 

Darcy finally opened her eyes and both of her eyebrows rose simultaneously.  She tilted her head towards the soap pool and murmured, “Make sure you get the spot behind your ears.”

 

“I’ll wait until you’re finished, thanks,” Steve said tersely, the tips of his ears now blazing red.

 

“Suit yourself,” Darcy nodded, dunking her head under the water very suddenly and very quickly.  She then made an exaggerated show of rising up and out of the water.  

 

Naked.

 

Steve spun around quickly to avoid seeing more than he could reasonably handle as a weak man.  He looked up at the trees and saw that while they were still changing colors, they were changing much slower than before.  

 

“Okay, so while you’re in the pool getting not stinky, I’ll just meander around by my lonesome,” Darcy announced.

 

Steve stopped himself from spinning around to scoff at her.  

 

“Are you decent?” Steve asked.  

 

“Mostly,” Darcy answered honestly.  

 

Steve turned to glare at her and found that he couldn’t physically force a glare on his face.  She was in her bra and panties only and was clearly taking her sweet time putting her t-shirt on.  The smile on her face was knowing and sea colored eyes were sparkling as the suns continued their slow descent.  

 

Darcy knew exactly what she was doing.  She had spent twenty-seven years learning how to not only be comfortable in her own skin, but also love her body.  It had helped being around the Asgardians so much for the last half of a decade.  Thor never cared about covering up his god-like perfection.  A person’s body and beauty weren’t meant to be covered up, but shared and celebrated.

 

Sure, the overly abundant curves and soft, plush lines of her body weren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but she figured that they were Steve’s cup of tea.  Bucky had told her as much last New Year’s Eve, when Natasha had dressed Darcy in a red dress that hugged against every curve and dimple tightly.  

 

Steve’s ears had gone red then, too, and he’d run from the party shortly after Darcy had made an entrance.  Bucky had told her that she was too tempting for poor Steve, like all of his wildest dreams poured generously into a sassy, strong woman.  Darcy had scoffed at the idea at the time, but now she realized that Steve was affected by her body, at the very least.  

 

She decided to honor Thor and the rest of the Asgardians and share the sights with Steve.

 

“Give me five minutes, and you can wander to the tree line only,” Steve ordered.

 

Darcy decided to salute him jauntily rather than put her t-shirt on and she marched quickly away.

 

Steve took a deep, fortifying breath, before yanking his own shirt off, only getting a little caught up in the material that clung to his biceps like a second skin.  He was undressed in less than a minute and was jumping into the soapy water, wondering what kind of trouble Darcy could possibly get into during his two minute bath.

 


 

 

Darcy wandered to the tree line, and then meandered a little farther, intent on picking out some of the berries she had eaten earlier.  She didn’t know what they were,but they looked like gigantic fuschia raspberries and they tasted like a combination of tart apples and sweet grapes.  She was sure she could figure out how to use them in the kitchen to supplement their diet of green biscuits and purple squirrel.  

 

She began filling the rucksack that had been full of leftovers from the night before, but had been demolished by both she and Steve a few hours ago, humming an aimless, pretty tune as she did so.  She heard leaves rustling and assumed it was Steve and sighed.

 

“That wasn’t long enough to get un-smelly!” she insisted.  “And really, the over protective thing is so mixed signals, dude.  I mean, while it’s nice to have anyone caring about my well being so much, it is a little weird to have it be you.  You know, on account of you running away whenever I come near you for the last year.  Like I’m kryptonite for Captain Amer---”

 

Darcy turned and her entire field of vision was filled with something decidedly not Captain America.  For one, it looked like a small deer, except like everything on this planet, it was an odd color.  In this case, the deer shaped animal was a bright and cheerful yellow color.  Like cheddar cheese, almost.  It turned its head to the right and Darcy spotted an extra set of ears behind the animal’s first set of ears.  And it had a mohawk like orange mane of hair running straight down from around that second set of ears all the way down it’s body to the corkscrew tail standing upright on its rearend.


“Oh.   Hi there little guy,” Darcy tried to make her voice extra sweet and syrupy.  Sure, the animal didn’t look like it had ill intent, but it was still big enough to look like it could do some damage to Darcy’s person.  

 

And then it made a small sound, like the bleating of a little goat and Darcy’s eyes went wide in realization.  This was a baby creature in this world of oversized everything.

 

“Oh, honey, are you lost?  Is your mommy around?” Darcy wondered.

 

A louder sound echoed from within the trees, sounding like the deep bellowing of a conch shell and Darcy’s jaw dropped as a set of enormous hooves came into view.  The beast was nearly identical to the little deer Darcy was standing in front of, with the exception that it was about six times the size of the bright yellow baby.  It was about as tall as an elephant, and looked just as dangerous.  The mohawk running down its back was orange as well, but looked decidedly less fluffy than the baby’s.  In fact, if pressed, Darcy would say it looked downright sharp and dangerous.

 

Darcy nodded and managed a little wave up at the beast, who was staring down at her and huffing out loud breaths from her snout, the air leaving was hot and seemed to be steam, curling in the atmosphere.  

 

“Uhhhhm.  Hi?”

 


 

 

Darcy had told Steve that the water in the rinsing pool was warm, and she had certainly looked very comfortably satisfied when she had been sitting in it.  The air was turning colder, that definitely had to be why when Steve eased himself into the five feet of warm and soothing water, he felt such deep down comfort, right to his bones.  His two minute bath turned into five and he bent his knees so that he was submerged all the way up to his neck in the water.  

 

His eyes closed and he was assaulted with the fresh image of Darcy in the bath.  

 

Naked and wet and perfect .

 

His eidetic memory became his worst enemy in that moment, as it had been since he had first received the onslaught of images from the out of control mutant a year ago.  He knew the dips and curves and roundness of Darcy’s body without ever having laid a hand on it or having seen it in the flesh.  He clearly and easily picked out just a few frames of the multitude of images and saw Darcy, laying back on a large oval bed, smiling up at him with her hand extended to him in invitation.  

 

He could remember that creamy skin that looked like satin.  He could remember the heavy fall of her beautiful breasts, and the play of flickering candlelight with the shadows that they created.  He could remember soft thighs that his fingers itched to touch.  

 

He shook himself out of the reverie as quickly as he had fallen into it.  He had been given so many images.  Of happiness.  Of warmth and love.  Of undeniable pleasure .   It had seemed like a certainty and hope had bloomed in his heart for that woman he had just met a year ago.

 

You will be the end of Darcy Lewis.

 

Steve nearly jumped clear out of the pool of rinsing waters and shook himself to get rid of the excess water before popping on his boxer briefs.  He contemplated using his t-shirt to wipe himself off, thereby having to go shirtless for the rest of the evening.  He seriously contemplated it.  Because he felt that Darcy and her gallivanting around in underwear earlier should be paid back with a little of his own skin.  It was a double edged sword, he knew that, because he knew they were one meal away from bedtime, and the t-shirt would give him a layer of defense from her sleepy cuddles.

 

He dropped the t-shirt entirely when Darcy’s shriek echoed through the woods.

 

He ran towards her at full speed, dodging intricate branches just barely, allowing some of the tendrils to scratch against his skin.  Nothing mattered in that moment but getting to Darcy as quickly as humanly possible.  Another shriek echoed right before he came upon her, and he skidded to a stop just as the shriek turned into laughter.

 

She was laughing hysterically as a very large animal...a very large animal, that looked dangerous and deadly nuzzled its mouth, filled with razor sharp rows of teeth, against the top of her head.  A smaller version of the beast was standing next to Darcy, and was trying to butt its head against Darcy’s rear end.

 

“Darcy!” Steve called out.

 

The large animal stopped its nuzzling immediately and turned to Steve, letting out a fierce growl that made the earth tremble beneath Steve’s feet.  

 

“Steve, no!” Darcy warned, too little too late as Steve charged towards her.  He was shieldless, and weaponless, but looked like he was out for blood as he rushed head first into trying to rescue her.  

 

The giant beast lowered her head in just enough time to slam it against Steve’s chest, sending him flying backward into a tree.

 

“NO!” Darcy yelled, pushing away the tinier beast who was still trying to nuzzle its forehead against her rear end.  She ran towards Steve and fell to her knees next to him, reaching out with trembling hands.  “Steve?  Steve---please, are you alright?  Steve?  Oh God.  Please open those pretty baby blues, please, don’t leave me.”

 

“Won’t leave you,” Steve murmured as he doggedly blinked his eyes open.  “I promised you.”

 

“Oh thank fucking God,” Darcy breathed out.

 

“God ain’t got nothing to do with it, thank Erskine,” Steve countered.  Or at least he tried to.  It sounded more like God ain’t thingy do it Errrrrrs .  He blinked as Darcy began to audibly fret over him, her hands suddenly everywhere, wiping over his brow, squeezing his bare shoulders, cupping her hands against his cheeks as she looked deeply into his eyes.  He made a sloppy smiling expression up at her and cooed at her, “You pretty, Darce.  So pretty, can’t take it.”

 

“Thank you?” Darcy whispered as he pet at her face clumsily and kept repeating pretty pretty pretty .  

 

“You pretty, wanna love you,” Steve nodded.  “And sex you.”

 

“What the french toast?” Darcy breathed out.


Steve blinked and shook his head slightly before wincing and taking his hands off of her face and placing them on his own face instead.  “I think there is concussion.”

 

“Yes, I think so too,” Darcy agreed, her  cheeks flaming red as she stared down at the scantily clad man who had just incoherently said that he wanted to love and sex her .  “How long do your concussions usually last, Steve?”

 

“An hour of minutes,” Steve managed to get out clumsily.  He looked back up at Darcy and smiled dreamily before whisper chanting Pretty Darcy over and over again.  

 

The giant beast was at Darcy’s back, and bent over to her, nipping at the hem of her sweater with razor sharp teeth.  She was easily pulled up and away from a confused, concussed Steve, and was high up in the air.

 

“HEY!  That’s my pretty Darcy!” Steve roared out, then immediately cringed as his head pounded and he bent over and vomited.

 

“Steve, calm down, it’s okay!” Darcy called out from high above.

 

“What?  NO!  My Darcy, give her back!” Steve grumbled.  

 

“It thinks I’m its baby!” Darcy shouted.  

 

“No, you’re my babygirl, mine,” Steve pouted.

 

“Oh my lord, you are so cute when you’re concussed.  Bucky wasn’t lying,” Darcy let out a tiny giggle from her precarious position.  Her eyes widened as the beast began to move away from Steve, who was trying to scramble to his feet, but found the need to stop and vomit every time he made a move.  

 

“Just stop moving, Steve!” Darcy shouted at him.  “I’ll come back as soon as I can.”

 

“NO!” Steve wrinkled his nose, panicking and concussed and absolutely out of his mind with fear.  He continued to try to scramble to his feet and winced again as he realized something in his back was also out of alignment.  “Please, no, bring my Darcy back.  She’s mine.  Please.”

 

“Just, stay still and let your brain unswell!” Darcy shouted.  “I promise, I’ll come back to you!”

Chapter Text

Chapter Four:  Courting Rituals

 


 

Darcy had always wondered, since she was a very small child, how tiny kittens and puppies and other sundry mammals could possibly consent to being carried with their mothers' mouths by the scruff of their necks.  Four year old Darcy had wailed the first time she had seen it being done by her neighbor's cat, convinced that the kitten (who had been being very naughty by provoking something bigger and stronger) would be hurt, or worse still, killed by having its jugular ripped out somehow.

 

At four years old she had been glad that she had no mother for the sole reason of not wanting to be picked up by the back of her neck and carried away.  

 

And Nana had dentures, she couldn't possibly have managed to do it.

 

But now, at the age of twenty-seven, Darcy was being carried not by the scruff of her neck, but by a mouthful of her favorite gray oversized cardigan.  She should have been terrified.  The sweater was older than all of the Barton children and could rip at a moment's notice.  She should have been at least concerned about the height.  Falling from one and a half stories onto the unforgiving alien ground would have certainly at least bruised her.

 

But she found that she couldn't be scared or frightened, because she was trying desperately to turn in her new mother's mouth so that she could watch as a stumbling and screaming Steve didn't listen to her advice of sitting down and letting the concussion pass.

 

She could HEAR him, even if he was nearly a mile away by now.  

 

MY DARCY!  GIVE HER BACK! “

 

The elephant sized cheetah deer...the eledeerah?  Cheledeer?  Eledeer seemed easier to say. Her new eledeer mother was having none of her trying to get back to the puny squabbling male that her new daughter seemed to want so badly.  She shook Darcy by the scruff of her neck, or rather by the gray cardigan and went a little faster.

 

Darcy fretted some more and thought back to one of her conversations with Bucky.  They had spent a lazy, rainy afternoon in front of the television where Darcy was slowly introducing him to the wonderful world of competitive cooking television shows.  She'd limited his Cutthroat Kitchen, as he would only raise his voice about using the blow torches as weapons to destroy the enemies.  They stuck to Chopped, mostly, because at least then Bucky only cursed the people who put the stupid things in the baskets.

 

"WHAT KIND OF CHEF ARE YOU?  EVEN NATALIA CAN BOIL WATER WITHOUT STARTING SOMETHING ON FIRE!" Bucky hollered at the television before it cut off for a dramatic commercial break.  

 

"Natasha can boil water?" Darcy blinked over at her friend, who was doing intricate work to increase the fine motor dexterity of his relatively new metal arm.  Namely, he was painting her toenails a bright and vivid red very, very carefully.  

 

"Natalia can do anything she wishes whenever she wishes," Bucky said, and wisely too.  One never knew who was listening, but if one had to take a guess, it was probably Natasha.  His smirk grew on his face and one eyebrow arched in a sinful way.  His comments were directed to where he suspected Natasha had placed her surveillance helpers.  "Especially with my body.  She may do all that she wishes to my body.  Whenever.  However.  Whatever."

 

"Perv," Darcy kicked her unpainted foot at him.  "Disgusting."

 

"Have you seen us?" Bucky scoffed.  “We are not even close to being disgusting.”


"Yes, I've seen you both, and you're GLORIOUS," Darcy rolled her eyes.

 

"Just not your cup of tea, I guess," Bucky said casually.  "What is your type, dollface?  I'm betting you like 'em---what's that thing Sam says he is but he's not?"

 

"Nerdy?" Darcy offered.

 

"No, smart, I was going for smart, which he's not," Bucky's shoulders shook in amusement.  Even if Sam wasn't sitting right there to hear the insults, Bucky was sure somewhere, the winged wonder FELT them.

 

"What are you painting down there, anyway?" Darcy tried to sit up fully to see what Bucky had been so painstakingly putting on her toenails.  She laughed when he pushed her back to a reclining position and she repeated the process five more times with her trying to get up only to be playfully pushed back down until Bucky's phone rang.  He froze, knowing that Steve, Sam and Nat were out on a routine mission and no one called just to say ‘ Hey, everything went super duper great and we’re on our way home.  Do you want us to pick up takeout?’  

 

"Red?  Everything okay?" Bucky answered the phone quickly, abandoning his art project and his pushing Darcy away from seeing his art project.  

 

"Bucky, you fucking turd bucket," Darcy hissed out upon seeing the red, white and blue theme of her toenails.  They were BEAUTIFUL, but they were also decidedly star spangled.

 

"What?  No---no, don't bring him in here," Bucky stood from the couch, staring down at Darcy in sudden worry.  "You can't, you know how he is when he's like that.  We gotta, just, give me five minutes, and then you can bring him in.  Tell Sam to fuck right off.  No, not for any reason in particular, just because.  Also, I love you, my Natalia."

 

Darcy had been worried up until that point, and couldn't help but smile warmly at that last little bit.  It was lovely to see Natasha and Bucky in their relationship.  Natasha was just as she always was, supremely confident, dry and sarcastic.  Probably even more so with Bucky than with anyone.  But Bucky was a fool in love, and it was absolutely gorgeous to watch him worship the ground that Natasha deigned to walk on.

 

"What's up?  Should I go and get Helen on console?  Do I need to warm up the mini-cradle?" Darcy wondered.  Helen Cho was currently in South Korea, only making it to the secret base every other month.  But she could doctor the secret Avengers fine through the video conference calls, and everyone at the facility could technically run the mini-cradle (Barton had to be kept from it though, because he kept trying to grow himself a half an inch taller with it).

 

"No, dollface, nothing so bad as that," Bucky shook his head, giving her a fond smile.  "You just gotta skedaddle, alright?"

 

"Why?" Darcy wrinkled her nose at him.  The only reason Bucky would ask her to leave a place was if Steve had asked for it.  Stupid Steve.  "This is the common room.  Everyone is allowed here."

 

"Stevie's concussed," Bucky admitted, preferring not to keep anything from Darcy.  It was bad enough he was keeping the biggest secret of all from her, the reason why Steve couldn't stand to be near her.  

 

Personally, Bucky thought that the soothsaying was all bunk.  Natalia felt that you couldn't avoid the future by being stubborn and running from it, but Bucky definitely thought that whatever that mutant had given Steve couldn't possibly be true.  There was no way Steve would allow harm to come to Darcy.  


"Oh, poor dude," Darcy wrinkled her nose.  "I've dealt with a lot of concussions though, I mean, Jane is always banging her head on something hard.  Bring him in, and I promise not to rile him, I'll just work in the background, saltines, ginger ale, making sure he doesn't choke on his own vomit."

 

"No, doll, you can't," Bucky shook his head.  "Go on, get outta here."

 

"But---why?" Darcy pouted up at him, with big eyes the color of the most beautiful ocean waters and a big bottom lip jutting out from her face in a pitiable manner.

 

"Stevie's kind of---he's a big goof when he's concussed.  Adorable, and---affectionate," Bucky fidgeted, looking to the door, knowing that Natasha said they'd be in house soon enough.  He knew what the redhead was aiming for here, a little adorable honesty from a prone and injured Steve.  But Steve would KILL him.  He couldn't betray his friend like that, even if he would be happy with the results.  He would keep on gently prodding Steve, and gauging Darcy’s interest via teasing.

 

"Oh, and that would be embarrassing later for him," Darcy nodded.  "Because he would never want to get that way with me?"

 

"Dollface, no," Bucky hedged.  "Just---"

 

"No, it's okay, I should go and fix my nails," Darcy said softly before making a run for it.

 

Just in time, too, because the front door to the common room nearly was blasted off its hinges as Steve marched in on unsteady feet.  He waved happily at Bucky before demanding,

 

"Where's my Darcy?"



Darcy hadn't heard that much as she was running away.  She'd heard her name and automatically assumed that Steve had sensed she had just been there and was complaining about it.  But now, she wondered if there hadn't of been another reason why Bucky had sent her away back then.

 

They reached a clearing, and Darcy saw that they were on top of a plateau about a story and a half high.  They trudged up one lone ramp, the rest of the large, circular nest was surrounded by a two foot wide moat, fed by a lovely, tinkling waterfall.  Her new alien animal mother gently placed her in the comfortable nest, soft and resplendent  with bright teal feathers that Darcy suspected where harvested from the giant birds she and Steve kept seeing.  

 

Darcy wasn't the only child of the animal, although she was the only one that was adopted and human, and she was also the smallest.  About ten of her new siblings trotted over to her and the original straying baby eledeer and sniffed her curiously.  It might have been overwhelming, but Darcy could tell they were absolutely delighted with her as they began rubbing their forehead anywhere they could against her body.

 

It kind of felt like a nice massage, if she was being honest it was way better than what even Natasha had managed to do before to the tense muscles on Darcy's body. She was at least thankful that the eledeer’s way of showing affection was not licking in any way, shape or form.  She'd just come out of the bath and didn't really feel like being covered in alien animal spit.  

 

Her new animal siblings were all different sizes,  which Darcy translated as being all different ages.  Two of the older and bigger ones stopped nuzzling her and walked away for five minutes.  She tried to pet and nuzzle the rest of the siblings, but found they were greedy for her attention and another three of the mid-sized eledeers began playfully grappling with each other, jockeying for position.  

 

Their mother lay down close by and huffed out a warning blaring sound, like a horn, and immediately the three adolescent children stopped fighting and went towards their mother to apologize by nuzzling their foreheads against her side.  

 

Darcy was pushed into a sitting position by her youngest sibling just as the oldest two arrived with a giant piece of what Darcy hoped was fruit in their mouths.  They dropped the two basketball sized pieces of food, which looked like peaches without fuzz and they were shiny and mustard yellow.  

 

"Thank you?" Darcy reached out and picked up one of the fruits, finding that it was a lot heavier than she thought it would be.  

 

The oldest siblings seemed to be waiting for her to eat, their giant lime green eyes filled with what Darcy interpreted as concern.  She brought one of the fruits to her mouth and took a bite, her eyes widening at the delicious, almost magical taste of it.  

 

It was like the most scrumptious cake that she had ever eaten.  The taste of caramel and fluffy buttercream and perfectly browned butter danced along her tongue and she let out a happy groan.  Steve might have been happy with their current food situation, needing massive amounts of protein and calories and not caring how he got it, but Darcy really needed more complex carbohydrates.  Namely cake.  

 

"So good!" she grinned at the seemingly pleased eledeers, who she realized she would need to name.  She surveyed the food providers and realized that they were the equivalent of teenagers, almost as big as Big Mama.  One of them butted their forehead against her elbow, indicating that she should eat more.  She did and made another happy sound at the yummy taste. "Thanks Maria and Nat."

 

They were the only names she could think of at the moment.  Two older sisters who protected and provided and nurtured her in their own way, yes, definitely Maria and Nat.  The three of the middle children who had nearly gotten into a wrestling match earlier were now automatically Scott, Sam and Clint.  The littlest one was Janie.   Since the eledeer and the human namesake were the reasons she was where she was in the first place.

 

She reserved naming the other four until she saw their personalities a little closer.  For the moment though, Maria and Nat kept nudging her to eat more until she had a quarter of the cake fruit eaten and she felt STUFFED.  Nat pushed on her lower back with her forehead while Maria dispersed the other eledeer to allow Darcy to move.  Nat resorted to picking her up by her cardigan when littlest Janie refused to let her go.  Darcy was placed on the edge of the nest where it met up with the little waterfall that fed the moat around the nest.

 

She bent down and cupped her hands and brought water up to her mouth, happy to see that it tasted just as clean and fresh as the water Steve had been handing her all day.  

 

"Thanks, Nat!" Darcy nuzzled into the forehead that the eldest of the eledeer siblings offered her.  "So---uh...can I go find my friend Steve now and bring him here?  He'll be fun to cuddle too, I promise.  I mean, there's only so much of me to go around, but Steve's got a lot more acreage to rub your forehead on...and---"

 

Darcy's words stopped, because on the other side of the stream, stood an eledeer about the size of her Nat eledeer, almost full grown, but the mohawk stripe down its back was bigger.  And he wasn't that lovely yellow color that her adopted clan was.  It was red in color, red velvet cake if she had to truly describe it, dark and deep and decadent looking, and Darcy had to admit it was absolutely beautiful.

 

"Nat?  Is that guy friendly?"  She peeked under the carriage and felt reasonably sure that it was a dude eledeer, because of the giblets that Scott, Sam and Clint had.  


The red eledeer bounded across the stream in a single, acrobatic jump, something Darcy hadn't seen any of her eledeer clan capable of doing yet, and his jump was graceful and poetic almost as the leap had his arc heading towards the edge of the teal blue nest.  Darcy stiffened, wondering if he was coming to snatch her away from the friendly little pack of animals she had been adopted into.

 

"Nat, Nat?  Nat?" Darcy bumped her forehead in a panic against the front limb of the eledeer.  

 

Nat made a snorting sound, almost sounding like Darcy's REAL Natasha when Bucky was being particularly obnoxious towards Sam.  And then the yellow eledeer sister from another---planetary species Mister bent her neck gracefully and met the red guy with her forehead.

 

HARD.  

 

Just as hard as Big Mama had hit Steve.  

 

Red guy went flying back over the stream with a happy chortling noise and managed to roll and land on his considerable hooves.  He shook his head like a dog shaking off water before trying to find a way to right himself and steady himself enough to make another jump.

 

Nat snorted again and made a happy humming noise.

 

"Oh, he's Bucky," Darcy nodded in understanding.  He had romantic (animal) intentions for the Nat creature staring down at him in bemusement.

 

She watched in amusement as Bucky tried to approach three more times, each time Nat headbutted him back across the stream.

 

Then Big Mamma came over, and if Darcy was being realistic in her naming scheme, she should have probably named the mother FURY, and as soon as she saw Bucky eledeer, she made a loud snorting noise at him, then picked Darcy up and brought her back to the pile of her siblings.  Nat followed along dutifully, but not before one last look back at Bucky eledeer and another happy snorting sound.

 


 

Steve had not listened to Darcy even a little bit.  He had tried to sprint after her as she got carried away by the gigantic alien creature, all the while screaming out for her in a way he was sure to regret later, but being concussed, he couldn't help himself.

 

She was his .  And he was hers.

 

The damned mutant had showed him, even if he had tried so desperately to not have it be so.  Something about having his brain swollen cut away his filters and that little voice deep inside of him that kept him from taking what he wanted.  Bucky had noticed how concussions had affected him back in 1936, when Steve had gotten his clock cleaned by a bruiser who had called a fifteen year old Becca a mongrel raced tramp.  Becca's looks had been heavily influenced by their half Jewish mother in her nose, and with the current climate in Brooklyn and the world at large, there was always someone waiting to try and knock the sweet girl around either verbally or physically.

 

Steve had taken pride in protecting her as best as he could.  He'd topped out at five foot four inches, but that still gave him nearly three inches on Becca, and he'd been able to at least jump in front of her whenever the punches came.  


Bucky had found Becca trying desperately to shoulder Steve's weight as she drug him back to Steve's mother's house.  Steve had been nearly shouting about how beautiful Becca was, right to her face, and that if ' Bucky wouldn't beat me to an inch of my life, I'd be honored to take you out and then marry you if you'd have me cause you're gorgeous and I'll fight everyone in the whole world who says different! '

 

Steve when concussed not only had no filter.  Steve when concussed lost restraint about his deep down inner desires.  When Natasha had dragged him back to the secret Avengers base months ago during his last concussion, Bucky had had to sit on top of him in order to stop him from tracking down Darcy and 'B eggin' to kiss that pretty mouth of hers like it deserves to be kissed. Buck, have you seen her lips?  have you?  those are mine to kiss, and I'm gonna kiss 'em.  You'll see!  Lemme up, Buck, I gotta find my Darcy and tell her m'sorry and ask her if she’ll let a dumb bell like me kiss her!


The sprinting in the woods didn't work so well, he managed to get a tenth of a mile before slamming face first into a tree, getting knocked back down on his ass with all the answering momentum of an object in motion.

 

"Darcy, babydoll, where are you?" Steve pouted miserably as he stared up at the wobbling tree he had run into.  "Run away from your alien mom with me and we'll go back to the tree and I'll kiss you like you deserve, I promise.  I'll worship you the way I should!

 

Steve kicked his heels against the ground in short little bursts, looking like a very overgrown toddler having a tantrum.

 

" I want my Darcy !" he screamed out, struggling back up to his feet, pausing to dry heave before staggering back on the path the large animal had left.


His mind began to clear like clockwork, but his desperation to get to Darcy didn't change at all.  The clear prints the big animal had left started to get less discernible as there were clearly more animal prints everywhere all of a sudden.  One hundred yards down, elevated almost two stories off of the ground was a large teal colored nest that looked soft and accommodating, and he could make out the bright cheddar yellow coats of the animals and he began sprinting again, worried that they might have tried to maim or eat Darcy already.

 

He skidded to a stop when he saw a red colored version of the alien beast circling the perimeter of the nest on the ground, his mouth full of a giant fruit.  It effortlessly jumped to the edge of the nest and disappeared from Steve's sight.  Thirty seconds later, the red beast went flying back over the edge, looking at least to be enjoying it, the fruit now missing from his seemingly smiling mouth.

 

He saw dark brown curls, wild and untamed pop over the edge of the nest, smiling down at the red colored beast.

 

"You can do it, Bucky!  I believe in you!" Darcy called out.  "Nat's about to break and she didn't hit you so hard that time!"


"Darcy?" Steve took five large steps forward, his pulse racing at seeing her well and at the very least amused with her current situation.

 

A smaller beast than the one that had drug her off came to the edge of the nest and picked Darcy up, pulling her away just as she had spotted Steve.

 

"Darcy!" he yelled, making a run for it.

 

"Steve, wait!" Darcy called out.  

 

The red alien beast cocked his head to the side as he watched the relatively small human male rush at the main ramp up to the nest, as if he had been invited.  Which was absurd, because no non-clan member was invited into the nest.  They had to prove their worth before they were even allowed to visit the perimeter.  They had to prove their strength and ability to provide before they could even be considered worthy of breathing the same air as the mother and her children.

 

Darcy fretted in the nest, the other eledeer realizing she was upset and began nudging her frantically.  When Steve climbed into the nest relief hit his eyes to see her whole and unharmed, but also in the middle of a lot of dangerous teeth.

 

"Steve, you can't muscle your way out of this one," Darcy warned.

 

Mama Fury snuffed at Darcy in annoyance.  The baby wasn't behaving and shouldn't be talking to the unworthy suitor who wasn’t following protocol.  Even if the new baby’s heart rate had jumped happily at the sight of him, a sure sign that she liked his attention.

 

"How do I get you out of this?" Steve whispered.  She seemed safe, the animals seemed to want to protect her.  But he couldn't leave her.

 

He wouldn't want to be without her.

 

"It's not an option to leave you here, Darcy.  I need you with me."

 

Darcy's eyes went a little wide and a half smile pulled at her lips at Steve's tone.  The second biggest creature on the outer edge of the pile straightened and looked at Steve with suspicion, then back to Darcy.  

 

"I think you're going to have to court me," Darcy blurted as the mother of the clan began huffing out in annoyance.  "Bucky is courting Nat and I think she's going to be allowed to leave the nest soon, if he keeps doing a good job."

 

"Bucky?" Steve blinked.

 

"Red guy?  Sorry, I named them the first thing that came to mind," Darcy shrugged ruefully.

 

"How do I court you?" Steve nodded, eager to get the proceedings started.

 

"Brace yourself, Mama Fury is gonna bash you," Darcy warned quickly, just as the largest of the animals, Darcy's original kidnapper and apparently Fury's namesake took a run at Steve, lowering her head.  

 

Steve wished for his shield, but did his best to jump up to the level of Mama Fury's forehead, pushing his body into a compact little ball that was just missing the shield to hide behind.  His meaty forearms took the brunt of the blow, and he still flew backwards, but compacted and prepared as he was, he managed to control his trajectory a bit, flying in a tight spin towards a tree and stretching and girding his legs so that they met the trunk for a push off, and he zoomed towards the ground, allowing himself to roll neatly into a crouch.

 

"Woah, hot," Darcy breathed at the crazy rotisserie chicken flying move Steve had just done.

 

Mama Fury somehow sensed that Darcy was impressed as she stood on her tip toes at the edge of the nest, having sneakily rushed out of the cuddle pile to watch Steve's fate.  The mother creature snorted derisively at her youngest 'pup' being so easily impressed and grabbed her by the sweater again to take her back to the pile.

 

"Keep trying!  She'll give in!" Darcy shouted out.  

 

Steve nodded and sighed, feeling a snort of hot breath on the back of his neck. He straightened and turned around to see the tilted head of the red animal---who he was pretty sure was who Darcy was calling Bucky.  Bucky seemed impressed and gave him a snort before trotting up to the stream.  He turned and looked at Steve again, making sure he was watching.  

 

He then jumped up effortlessly, clearing the edge of the nest and making a happy chortling noise.  Steve stepped to the left a bit so that he could see up the ramp and watched as Mama Fury was obviously not pleased at having to deal with TWO suitors to her children, and pushed the second biggest animal out of the way and head butted poor, smaller Red Bucky right out of the nest.

 

The second largest animal wailed almost mournfully at either the disappearance of her suitor or the loss of being able to do the head butting.

 

"That's okay, Nat.  Mama Fury will let you headbutt Steve, I'm sure," Darcy soothed her.

 

Steve wrinkled his nose and watched as the alien Bucky landed on his rear but quickly righted himself.  He trotted over to Steve with excitement and nudged him in the small of his back with his forehead to get him to move.

 

"Bring gifts!" Darcy shouted helpfully.  "Hey, Mama Fury, I'm sorry, you’ve been super hospitable, but I really want Steve to win you over so I can you know...run off and make my own nest with him."

 


 

"Where did they go?!?" Bucky shouted in the lab, looking around wildly as the light receded.  He turned on Jane and the look in his eyes was a strange combination of awe at what he'd just witnessed along with a healthy amount of fear that the former Winter Soldier would have been deeply ashamed of.  

 

To her credit, Jane wasn't about to take time to panic or acknowledge Bucky's panic.  She went right to her output screen, holding the edges of it in her hands and leaning in close as she read the immediate readings of the energy of the portal.

 

"Hey!  Hey!  Someone took over my portal!" Jane grumbled, smashing on keys on the tablet.  "If it was Stark, I'm never gonna hear the end of it."

 

"Foster, of course someone took over your portal, dammit, it was out of control!" Bucky yelled at her as he went to Cooper and helped the boy up, wincing at the goose egg of a bruise on the kid’s forehead.  "It looked like a damned glowy tentacle monster like the kind Wilson looks at when he thinks he's alone and it took Darcy and Steve.  Where did they GO?"

 

"Wasn't Stark...and I can't tell, since someone took over my portal," Jane huffed out in annoyance.

 

"Your out of control portal," Bucky ground out.

 

"My portal," Jane shrugged.  She sighed and put shaking hands up to her face and took a deep breath.  "Darcy usually finds the anomalies, and she's gone."

 

"So we get her back," Bucky softened a little at the astrophysicist’s distress.  "Tell me what to do."

 

"Wait---wait!" Jane pointed at the screen, looking like a light bulb had just gone on over her head.  "I know who took the portal from me."

Chapter Text

Chapter Five: Anger Management

 


 

 

Steve remembered watching as Becca Barnes, sixteen and beautiful beyond his own comprehension, had received her first suitor on a warm Spring Saturday afternoon.  He had been heartbroken, of course, but he'd just spent a whole winter on death's door with scarlet fever.  He'd made his firm resolutions already, when his mother had turned away the young woman as a visitor, in fear of her contracting the illness as well.  Becca had been full of joy and life and verve, and he would never be enough to provide for her.  He hadn't lasted two days down at the docks with Bucky before getting canned.  

 

The most he could do to earn a living was the little newspaper advertisement illustrations.  Becca was smart as the dickens, Bucky was always crowing about how she was going to college as soon as she was done with high school, and Steve believed it.  The last thing she needed was for those dreams to be stolen away by a sickly man who had always thought she was the brightest light in life.  

 

It still hadn't made it easier to watch the relatively short fella that had come to the Barnes' stoop with a bouquet of daisies in hand, looking earnest and hopeful.  Becca had not taken well to Steve shunning her after his illness, and she was dead set on proving that she WAS a catch, even if Steve Rogers didn't notice her anymore.  

 

The fella with the bouquet of daisies, Somethingorother Proctor, stuck around, and when Becca was accepted into Bryn Mawr Ladies College on a scholarship, he followed her to Pennsylvania, keeping up an apartment and offering support.  Steve found out later, that two years after he had gone down in the Arctic, Becca had finally married Proctor, they'd never had kids, but they'd had a nice life.  

 

Steve didn't know how to court anyone.  The only people he had thought about courting were Becca and Peggy and his chance for either was long gone.  Bucky had hardly done anything of the sort when he was younger.  The most Barnes had ever had to do in the company of women was make that smirky little face and maybe sometimes combine it with a slow and lazy head tilt, and suddenly he had pretty girls sidling up to him and asking HIM to dance.  Becca's Proctor had been the only example, and Steve doubted the alien Mama Fury would be amused with him gathering up a bunch of wildflowers off of the forest floor.


He was thankful, then to the alien Bucky creature for nudging him away from the flowers and towards a little grove of trees deeper in the forest.  The trees were relatively tiny in this world where everything seemed abnormally large.  Each tree consisted of a leaning, thin branch, standing about three feet high.  Each one yielded one of the large, basketball sized smooth peaches that Steve had seen the creature Bucky take into the nest earlier.

 

He picked one off the vine and stared at it before taking a cautious bite.  The taste of old fashioned shepherd's pie, the kind that the pub in England would make and hold for the Howling Commandos to inhale after a mission, flooded Steve's senses and he sighed in contentment.  

 

"Food would be a good courting gift," Steve nodded in agreement with himself at least, since his companion couldn't answer him back.  Instead, Bucky made a giggling noise before trotting off to another patch of branches and grabbing one in his mouth.  

 

Steve took another bite of his fruit before reaching for a fresh one for Darcy.  He followed Bucky back towards the nest, finishing off almost half of his own fruit before putting it carefully down on the ground.  Bucky was by the moat again, and he was staring back at Steve to make sure he was paying attention.

 

He made the leap with the fruit and landed in the nest, and Steve couldn't help but laugh at the joy present in the creature as he was booted back over the edge.  Steve nodded and went for the ramp again, but was headed off by a dizzy and disoriented Bucky who huffed at him warningly.

 

Steve surveyed the moat and the leap he would have to take and shrugged.  He'd certainly had to jump higher and farther in his life for less important reasons.  The gift fruit went under his arm and he cleared his throat nervously.

 

"Darcy?  I'm coming up with a gift," he announced.

 

"Janie, off, off of me," Darcy huffed out, sounding just like that time Steve had accidentally walked into the lab to find Jane sleeping on top of Darcy on the floor of the lab, obviously going the fifty feet to their quarters was impossible for the mad scientist and her almost as mad assistant and keeper.  Back then she had blushed a lovely petal rose pink as Steve had a moment of weakness and had been staring at her sleeping form with unabashed interest and fascination.  She was beautiful and peaceful in sleep, obviously running a little hot so that her face flushed and her hair went a little awry with sweat.

 

He had thought her the most beautiful thing he had ever seen at the time.

 

But now, on this alien planet, the most beautiful thing he had ever seen was her popping up on her tiptoes and leaning over the edge of the nest, the grin on her face threatening to outshine the dual suns that had long since sunk into the sky.

 

"I hope you like it," Steve said earnestly, holding up the fruit.

 

"Oh, cake fruit, yes, those are good," Darcy nodded eagerly.

 

"Cake?  The one I had tasted like shepherd's pie," Steve blinked up at her in earnest confusion.

 

“Either way, yum,” Darcy shrugged.  She looked down in concern at the two foot moat and fretted, “Do you think you can make the jump?  I could try and distract Mama Fury so you can run up the ramp again.”

 

Steve actually chuckled at that.  He attempted and failed to look modest, the smirk on his face almost sinful.  Darcy felt her stomach twist a little bit at that look.  Bucky had warned her that Steve was very charming when he wasn’t trying to be, and that once he had been turned into Captain America, a lot of ladies they had run into in England and Europe had fallen victim to the effortless flirtations of a clueless Steve.  When he tried to flirt with someone, the results were entirely different and most definitely disastrous.

 

She let out a little gasp as Steve gave no warning, and certainly didn’t take ten steps backwards to even get a running jump.  Instead, he simply bent his legs in a lazy manner before leaping and he effortlessly went the two feet over the moat and also up nearly two stories in the air.  His free hand gripped the edge of the nest and in one smooth movement his feet hit the rock that the nest was sitting on and he popped his whole body up and over the edge, landing with a gentle thud right in front of Darcy.

 

“Woah,” Darcy breathed.

 

Steve’s free hand went to the side of her face and he gently let his fingers stroke petal soft cheeks.  His eyes darted over her, checking for injury that might have occurred since he saw her last.  He swallowed at the way she was staring up at him, eyes the color of the sea became half lidded as he continued to gently caress her skin.  His eyes were drawn to the tip of a pink tongue wetting pinker lips and he realized he had gotten closer than he thought in the span of a breath.  

 

“Are you alright?” he murmured, pleased at the shiver that went through her body at the low tone of his voice.  It was awful of him, he knew.  He had promised himself that he would never pursue her for her own safety.  But he felt some sort of primal pride in that she found him appealing.  He errantly hoped that she found him half as appealing as he found her.  

 

“I have to hit you,” Darcy breathed out.

 

“What?” Steve’s eyes crinkled with humor.

 

“It’s part of the---the thing they do,” Darcy said helplessly.  And sure enough, the creature that Darcy had named after Natasha gracefully moved towards them, butting her head against Darcy’s lower back.   “I think it’s to prove that you really want me if you keep trying after the hitting.”

 

“Okay, sure,” Steve nodded, putting his courting gift at Darcy’s feet and then standing up straight and taking a deep breath.  “Have at it, sweetheart.”

 

Darcy wrinkled her nose at him before nodding to herself and taking a big step forward, both of her hands held out in front of her as she shoved at his chest.  

 

“OW!” she hissed out when he didn’t even budge.

 

“Get angry, sweetheart, really get angry and hit me.”

 

And the look on his face at her attempt to hurt him was infuriating .  Smug as all hell, amused to a ridiculous degree and still so damned attractive that it wasn’t even a little bit fair.  Darcy huffed out in annoyance before going again, her palms flat on his chest as she pushed.  There was a twinge in her left wrist, leftover from when she had sprained it two years ago during a skirmish with AIM terrorists that had tried to kidnap Jane foolishly .  She winced again and Steve took a hold of both of her hands and inspected them closely.

 

“You okay, babydoll?” he wondered gently, his rough hands running over her soft ones.  

 

“Mmphh,” Darcy wrinkled her nose even more.  He had called her that when concussed and she hated that she loved it so much.   If the term of endearment had come out of any other man’s mouth it would have sounded cheesy and dirty somehow.  Steve made the one word sound like one of the most respectful and reverent pet names to have ever been used.  It was ridiculous and incensed her more.

 

Nat chose that moment to bump her head against Darcy’s rear end and she snapped out, “I’m working on it okay?”

 

She pushed against Steve again and he could definitely clearly see her frustration, so he took a slight, delayed step back in the worst acted stumble of all time.  

 

“Don’t pander to me!” Darcy fumed.

 

“I’m not!’ Steve insisted.  “But if you don’t hit me right, that means one of the aliens is going to hit me, and I’d rather have you ...touching me.”

 

“I call them eledeer,” Darcy muttered.  

 

“Darcy, get angry and hit me, so we can move on to the next step,” Steve gently advised.   “I want to get you out of here and back home by the morning.”

 

Darcy swallowed at Steve saying home the way he said it.  Like it was something good, something he wanted.   With her .  He’d been avoiding her for a year, treating her like she had leprosy or something.  And now he was saying adorable things about her being his Darcy and wanting to go back to their home.  It was so many mixed signals and the girl could only take so much.

 

Her foot came down hard on his instep and he bent over in reflex, bringing his perfect, rock hard jaw all that much closer to meet Darcy’s hands, which she had clasped together in some sort of mega-fist that cracked him and had him flying back up and over the edge of the nest.  

 

The many eledeer in the nest let out loud chortling noises of congratulations as Steve went flying down, landing in the stream messily.  Darcy had a miniature war within her brain, proud that she had knocked Steve Roger’s blockhead off the nest, but also panicked that she had managed to do real damage.  She went to the edge of the nest, and popped up over the rim, despite Nat trying to grab the edge of her sweater and take her back to the cuddle pile.

 

“Steve?  You alright?” she wondered anxiously, but Steve wasn’t in the stream, he was off at a wickedly fast sprint back towards the woods to get another courting gift.  Darcy allowed Nat to pull her back and she had the silence and time to think for five minutes.

 

She was angry.  She hadn’t known that before.  She was angry that despite her best efforts, Steve had appeared to disdain her for a year.  A whole year of her putting herself out there, hoping to become friends with the man, and he would run every time.  Bucky had been insistent that it wasn’t because he hated her, but Darcy couldn’t fathom why anyone would treat her that way if they didn’t  hate her.  

 

She was confused.  To say that she was attracted to Steve was an understatement.  She’d spent the last year trying to convince herself that she wasn’t.  And it wasn’t just the surface she was attracted to.  She loved how devoted he was to his friends.  Bucky was proof positive of course that Steve was endlessly loyal, but she also saw how he interacted with the Bartons and Sam and Natasha.  She prided herself on her own loyalty to the people she cared about and it was one of the things at the top of her list in looking for a future paramor.  

 

And Steve Rogers was nothing if not loyal.  And that brought Darcy back to being infuriated, because he’d never given her a chance.  He’d just run .

 

Nat squawked out in annoyance when Steve hauled himself over the nest again, putting another fruit on the ground and stalking towards the cuddle pile, his eyes solely focused on Darcy.

 

“Hit me,” he demanded.  “I’ll keep coming back to you, I promise, just, hit me and let me prove it.  To you.  To them.”

 

Darcy stood up and shook off little Janie as all the eledeer began looking between Steve and Darcy intently, as if something had changed.  Darcy suspected that the animals could not only hear her heartbeat, but could sense pheromone changes as well.  They were regarding Darcy with a sense of pride as she clung to her angry feelings.  

 

But they were looking at Steve with huffs of respect.  They sensed something in his stance, in his quickness to return and in the way he was staring at Darcy, his cheeks flushed slightly, his lips parted as he breathed a little heavier than he had been earlier.  

 

“You’re mad at me,” Steve said softly.  “I understand.  I get it.”

 

“No, you don’t,” Darcy shook her head.  

 

The words were wrought with burgeoning tears and she couldn’t hide the angry downturn of her mouth or the hurt in those big eyes.  Bucky had warned Steve.  He had.  He’d told him that the way he was treating Darcy would make for either hurt, awkwardness in the future or losing any chance he ever had with her.  

 

“Hit me again,” Steve ordered softly.

 

“Maybe I should just stay,” Darcy said bitterly.  

 

No ,” Steve shook his head, the one word sounding like a desperate plea.

 

“I don’t GET you,” Darcy stamped her foot angrily, causing Mama Fury to let out a pleased honking sound.  “You hate me, you avoided me like the plague.  And then you follow me through the portal, and are a sweetheart and wonderful to me…”

 

“I couldn’t let you go alone,” Steve insisted.

 

“Because you couldn’t have anyone getting hurt on your watch,” Darcy mumbled angrily.  

 

“No, because I couldn’t have you lost to me,” Steve whispered.  He looked down at the ground and shook his head in disgust with himself before looking back up at her, absolutely wrecked with regret.  “You’re so important to me, you just---”

 

“No I’m not!” Darcy shouted, taking a step forward and pushing against his chest.  “You didn’t talk to me for a year!”

 

“You’re so important to me,” Steve repeated.  “You’re...you’re mine.

 

He had said it when concussed.  That she was his Darcy .  It had amused her at the time, but also annoyed her a little.  The thought of being his was appealing to be sure, but she couldn’t understand why he thought that when she thought he hated her.  

 

“No I’m not!” Darcy repeated, pushing him repeatedly.  He had the good grace to take a step back every time, until finally the backs of his knees hit the edge of the nest and her next push had him falling backwards and landing with another splash.

 

Darcy nodded and turned, ready to go back to the pile, when she heard his footfall on the side of the rock again and suddenly he was over the edge once more, dropping another fruit at her feet and reaching out for her.  She was too shocked to stop him and suddenly his hands were on her shoulders and she was being held less than a foot from him, feeling the heat from his body in the cool night air.

 

“How’d you get back so fast?” she pondered quietly.

 

“Carried back ten of the fruits last time,” Steve whispered, not letting himself get side tracked by her stubborn practicality.  He took a deep breath before blurting, “I don’t hate you.  You’re...you’re everything I ever wanted in my life.”

 

“Why did you run from me?” Darcy’s question was pained and angry, but her voice was still soft, as if she hadn’t written him off completely.

 

He knew she was good and kind.  The feelings he had gotten off of the visions had been full and complete.  He’d gotten a lifetime of feelings out of fifteen seconds of visions.  He knew that Darcy ran hot in her emotions, but was quick to forgive and forget.   It was something that Steve knew an emotional ignoramus like him would need in a life partner.

 

“A year ago, we had a mission, freeing the mutants from the prison camp,” Steve explained.  He took a deep breath and shook his head, knowing that he had to come clean.  “One of the mutants that we rescued was a psychic, she was out of control and confused, didn’t know if we were friendly or not…”

 

Mama Fury snorted and got up out of her nest.  Darcy’s eyes widened and she shoved at Steve, who went back over the nest again.  She took a step back just as Steve leapt up again, and he came down into the nest, dropping the fruit at Darcy’s feet.  

 

“She focused on me and pulled me into a series of visions,” Steve continued his story without missing a beat.  “It was all you.”

 

Darcy blinked up at him, her mouth forming a little ‘o’ shape at the revelation.  She was about to ask him what kind of visions with her when Steve gave her a small rueful smile and continued,

 

“It was you, welcoming me home with a smile, like you were happy to see me.  It was you, handing me a cup of coffee and giving me a kiss on the forehead.  It was you telling me that you loved me.  It was you laughing with me, and touching me and giving me warmth and happiness and pleasure and love.  It was a life with you, babydoll.  It was everything I could ever have dreamed of.”

 

“Then why ?” Darcy demanded softly.

 

Another snorting huff had Darcy shoving Steve back over.  This time when he came back, Bucky came with him, having stolen one of the fruits from Steve’s pile.  Nat was up in a heartbeat and instead of pushing Bucky over the edge, this time she cantered in front of him and led him in a very quick, merry chase, where he managed to nuzzle at her neck affectionately and then, to Darcy and Steve’s great horror, very nearly mounted her, before Nat decided that was one step too far and she had him flying over the nest again.  


“Why did you avoid me?  If all of those things are supposed to be, why would you run?” Darcy quickly got back to the matter at hand rather than think about whether Steve would have to try and mount her in front of her new eledeer family.    “Why would you try to stop something that you seem to---want?”

 

Steve swallowed again, combining it with a little wince.  He looked down at his feet and whispered, “She said you would die because of me.”

 

Darcy seemed to digest that rather quickly.  And she shoved him over the edge again without being prompted to by any of the other eledeer.  

Steve jumped back up like clockwork, putting a fruit at her feet and then giving her a harsh look of disbelief.  It quickly melted to see her staring up at him, her hands on her hips and tears in her eyes.  She was angrier than a wet cat, and Steve still thought, despite her well earned fury, that she looked more beautiful than anything he had ever seen in his life.  

 

He closed his eyes and realized that it was the first vision that he had seen a year ago.  It had just been  blip.  He’d been amazed at how beautiful she had looked in her anger.  He’d wondered why she was so angry.  

 

It was the start.  It was their real beginning.

 

“I’m sorry,” Steve whispered.

 

“You’re a fucking----you’re a god damned walnut , Steve Rogers!” Darcy ground out.  “You would deprive the both of us of something beautiful and wonderful out of the fear that I might die someday?”

 

“I can’t do it, Darcy, you---you’re so good, I can’t be the reason that you---”

 

“Did you ever think that maybe it’s when I’m fucking ninety-five years old some day and I die from a well earned heart attack due to an orgasm or something?” Darcy scoffed.  “Or I die of a broken heart after we have a beautiful life together and you pass when we’re old and gray?”

 

Steve blinked down at her.

 

“Look, I get it, I do,” Darcy nodded.  “Your life and your history pretty much states that death happens because of awful reasons and violence and enemies.  But Steve, you perfect idiot, it doesn’t have to always be that way!”

 

Steve couldn’t say anything.  He just gaped at her, looking at once horrified with his idiocy and slightly hopeful for the first time in a year.  He stubbornly held onto a dismal sliver of thought that she would meet violent ends, but the whole of him wanted to take her reasonable explanation and finally worship her as he had been so desperately wishing to for the past year.  She was staring back up at him, and the anger was bleeding out of her body, and only a soft sort of forgiveness remained.  Which was probably why when she pushed him over the edge again, it was a surprise and he landed with a splash in the stream below.  

 

He picked up another fruit and made the leap easily, throwing the fruit on the ground before reaching for her and pulling her to him.  She kissed him , her arms going around his shoulders, clinging to him in a way that made his gut turnover in the most pleasant way. The feeling of her lips and the soft swipe of her tongue against his lip was so much more than any vision could have ever given him.  The soft sound she made as he deepened the kiss set his pulse racing as his tongue swiped against hers indulgently.  

 

His hands found the backs of her thighs, and he lifted her up, turning so that her rear was against the edge of the nest and he pressed into the space between her thighs.  One year’s worth of longing and want was compacted into the first press of his hips against her center and Darcy broke their kiss to let out a sharp, delighted gasp.  

 

“Christ, you’re so beautiful,” Steve’s lips moved against her jaw as he placed sloppy kisses there.  Her fingers were grasping at the short hairs at the back of his head and it was more than a decent man could take.  “I’m an idiot, I know…”

 

“You are,” Darcy nodded in agreement.  “But you’re going to be my idiot from here on out, for the rest of our very long lives together.”

 

Steve wanted to answer her, but he also wanted to keep kissing at her jaw sloppily.  He could do neither thing as he felt the fabric of his shirt being pulled at and suddenly he was in the air, holding tight to Darcy, who wrapped her legs around his waist and held on for dear life.  

 

“Mama Fury, what’s going on?” Darcy demanded, looking past the giant eledeer who was walking them towards the ramp of the nest.  The rest of the clan were staring at Darcy and Steve in wonder.  Obviously they had never seen a courting zoom to mating so very quickly.

 

Nat in particular looked fussed, as if she couldn’t believe she had wasted so much time with Bucky’s courting before getting to what she really wanted.  

 

Mama Fury walked the naughty pup and her suitor to the bottom of the ramp before placing them down on the ground and huffing at them in disapproval, before turning around and leaving them there.  

 

“I guess I’m yours now,” Darcy blinked up at the retreating form of her adoptive mother.  


Steve couldn’t help but kiss her then, breaking out into  grin as she melted against him.  He pulled away and nodded,  “Yes, babydoll.  You are.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Six: Quick Change

 


 

The walk back to their tree had been quiet, which was so different from their explorations they had taken the day before.  Darcy’s effortless chatter had ceased, and the silence was palpable between the two as thoughts went racing and buzzing through their brains.  Steve had stopped off in the grove that the eledeer Bucky had shown him and he loaded his arms with fruits and smiled down at Darcy when she did the same.  They trudged through the woods back towards the direction of their shelter, both of them silent and thoughtful over everything that had been revealed and had happened in the last few hours.

 

Steve had no idea what time it was, but he figured it was close to midnight.  The suns had gone down in the sky hours ago, and the cool night air assaulted them from all sides.  He stole a look at Darcy, worried that she would be cold, but she was walking diligently, her cheeks slightly pink with the exertion of it.  

 

They had just gotten to the bathing pools that they had used hours earlier when Steve stopped and looked around, causing Darcy to stop right away as well.

 

“What is it?” she worried.  

 

“The leaves,” Steve said softly, having heard a million simultaneous little snaps of the stems off of branches.  The ever color changing leaves suddenly fluttered to the ground en masse, making a meandering trip towards the forest floor.  The red, yellow and orange colors frozen finally as the leaves fell to their doom.

 

“What in the fresh hell is this shit?” Darcy demanded.  No sooner had the last leaf hit the ground then a powerfully cold blast of wind blasted against them.  “Holy fuck, that’s cold!”

 

“Yeah,” Steve nodded.  Just as sudden as the leaves fell from the sky, a fine sheet of freezing rain began to fall, harsh and stinging against his skin.  “Run, Darcy!”

 

She took off and Steve kept pace behind her as the freezing rain came down from the sky in sheets.  To her credit, she kept ahold of the food she carried, practicality telling both her and Steve that they might need it if they got trapped by this sudden change in weather.  She was as fast as her shorter legs would allow and they were back at their tree in no time, falling into the open door.  

 

Darcy was gasping for breath and Steve dropped the fruit on the ground before going straight for her, his hands going on her shoulders.  She was soaked through with freezing rain and shaking so hard that her teeth were chattering.  His hands went right for her sweater, pushing it off and then went for her t-shirt.   He didn’t hesitate as he got it off her and his hands started going over her skin in long, firm swipes in an effort to warm her.

 

“St-Steve, we, we,” she stuttered past her blue lips.  “Honey, w-we need water and, and wood.”

 

“I’ll go get it, but I need to get you warm first,” Steve assured her, his hands going for the button of her soaked through jeans.  He ignored the muffled, embarrassed sound from her and dropped to his knees as he pushed the jeans down her hips and helped her trembling legs out of them.  

 

“I---I’m okay,” Darcy’s teeth still chattered as Steve’s palms rubbed up and down her legs from her hips down to her ankles and back again.  She whined just a little when Steve went for her frozen panties and took a stuttering step backwards.  “I could do it myself.”

 

“I know you can,” Steve swallowed, keeping his eyes locked on hers.  He could feel the living area of the tree getting colder and colder by the minute, and knew he didn’t have much time before he had to go and grab the most water and firewood he could before the stream froze over and the wood got completely iced over.  

 

Her entire body starting shaking with the cold of it all and Steve took a deep breath before pushing her panties down cold and clammy skin.  He pulled wet socks off her feet as well, keeping his eyes on hers the whole time, even though the naughty thirteen year old boy that lived deep within most men wanted so desperately to look.  He popped up to his feet and reached around her, fumbling slightly with the clasp of her bra, but getting it after the third try.  

 

She was still shivering uncontrollably, and Steve’s eyes darted to her lips, noticing that they were still blue.  He bent his head and pressed his lips to hers chastely, while his hands did another swipe of her body, holding his breath as his hands skirted along the sides of her breasts.  All too soon he pulled away, and went right for the sheets that they had piled on the stone couch the first day.  He began wrapping her in them, careful not to look until she was appropriately covered.  

 

Darcy was amused to first be wrapped up toga style, with Steve’s long arms manipulating the large white sheets around her body again and again.  The second of the sheets started to limit her movement a little, going over her arms.  The third sheet started to mummify her.  When Steve went for another one, she laughed.

 

“Steve, you have to stop, I can’t even move!” Darcy giggled.  

 

“But are you warm, babydoll?” Steve wondered, looking at her all wrapped up in white sheets critically.  He wanted to take her downstairs and put her under the warm blankets in the bedroom, but he knew he couldn’t leave her down there in the dark alone.  She didn’t like the dark.  

 

“Getting there, not shivering anymore,” Darcy tried to nod, but he had bound the last white sheet around her head after pulling her wet hair through the back so it could air dry.  “You have to get out of your clothes.”

 

“Yeah, but first, I’m gonna go get as much water and wood as I can,” Steve nodded, going towards the kitchen instead of the front door.  “C’mon, come stand here with the fire.”

 

“No, if you’re insistent about running outside, go do that, I’ll light the fire,” Darcy insisted, wrinkling her nose as she slowly pushed her arms through the tightly wrapped sheets on her body.  She grabbed for Steve’s wet, cold t-shirt and pulled him forward, bringing him down for a clumsy kiss that had a grin blooming on his face.  “Please be careful.”

 

“Only cause you asked so nicely,” Steve huffed out in amusement.  Before kissing her forehead for good measure and then finally letting her go and grabbing the water buckets.  

 

Darcy shivered when the door opened again, it was still coming down in angry frozen sheets of water and if anything the temperature had dropped again.  She was no thermometer, but it felt like it was less than ten degrees already.  Steve slammed the door and she lingered only momentarily at the window, watching as Steve sprinted out into the night.

 

She focused on her own work, rushing back to the kitchen and starting a fire on the stove.  Once it was started, she emptied out the remaining water basin into a pot to boil.  She lit four candles and set them in the living room and then set her clothes out against the couch in hopes they would dry, then grabbed the remaining sheets for Steve, shaking them out and placing them on the table.  

 

Steve kicked at the front door and Darcy made a run for it.  Steve was completely soaked through, but wasn’t shivering like Darcy had been, he put the buckets down and nodded.

 

“”We won’t need more,” he said quickly.  “It’s starting to snow like crazy, we can just melt snow if we need it, I’m going for wood now, sweetheart.”

 

“Hurry,” Darcy urged him.  He may not be outwardly affected by the cold, but that could just be Steve’s naturally stoic and stubborn nature.  She closed the door behind him again and rushed back to the kitchen, getting two extra large goblets down and dumping some leaves in the bottom of them.  She had hoped they were tea, and when she ladled some boiling water into it, she was rewarded with the smell of something sweet and citrusy.  

 

The door slammed open and closed very quickly before Darcy could even make it out of the kitchen, and Darcy saw that Steve had dropped off a large bundle of wood.  She nodded and began setting them out inside the tree so that they could quickly dry off.  She was carefully balancing one of the logs on its end when Steve busted through the door again, dropping another huge arm full of wood on the ground.

 

“Steve, stay, it’s enough!” Darcy called out, too late as he went back out again.  She sighed and did the same with the new wood that she had done with the original delivery.  She was waiting at the door when Steve walked through again, this time with whatever wood had been left, and two snares full of purple rabbit in his hands.  “Jesus, dude.   We’re cool, if you run out again, I will follow you, I swear it.”

 

“I’ll stay,” Steve took heaving breaths as he watched her bustle around, taking the squirrels and hanging them from one of the candle holders.  She then went immediately for his clothing and he tried to inch away from her, but she swatted at his behind and went to peeling the tight, frozen t-shirt from his body.  

 

He sighed when she repeated his actions from earlier, her small, soft hands petting at his icy cold skin that she revealed with the loss of the t-shirt.  He wanted to tell her that he was in no danger of frostbite.  He’d been frozen in the Arctic for over six decades and bounced back without any frostbite whatsoever, thirty minutes in freezing rain and snow wouldn’t bother him.  But he didn’t really want to tell her that as she pushed the track pants down his legs.  

 

The gentle way her hands swept across his skin was the most comforting touch he’d ever felt, but also lit a fire deep in the pit of his belly and he couldn’t help the way his chest rose and fell with the steady, deep breaths he was taking in.  He felt a whimper building in his own traitorous throat as she went to her knees in front of him, working off his shoes and socks as he had done for her before pulling off the soaked pants as well.  

 

He reached for her and pulled her up to her feet before she could even think about pulling his already tented boxer briefs down.  Darcy was having none of that though, and she arched a knowing brow at him before delicate fingers went to the waistband of his underwear and pushed down.  Thankfully she kept her eyes on his, as there was no hiding his erection standing at attention between them, flushed and wanting.  

 

“I’m sorry,” he murmured.  “I’m---I’m a weak man, and you’re all the things I ever wanted or hoped for.”

 

“I don’t know if I’m grateful or sad that you wasted a year of our lives,” Darcy sighed, turning away from him with her flushed cheeks and going for one of the sheets to wrap him in.  She turned back around and Steve tried to help her so that she wouldn’t have to lean into his body as she wrapped the sheet around his torso, giving him some modesty, but not enough to hide his aroused state.  “If you hadn’t of been a coward…”

 

Darcy ,” Steve closed his eyes in slight annoyance.  It had been Bucky’s favorite thing to call him in dire times in the last year, the one insult that would land and make him genuinely regret what he’d been doing in his silent treatment of Darcy.  He knew he had been being a coward the entire time, not telling her the truth, but being called out on cowardice rankled him.  

 

He hated being cowardly.

 

“We could have had a whole lot of fun this past year,” Darcy continued as she went for another sheet and wrapped that one around his shoulders with some difficulty.  The look in her eyes was pure, unadulterated mischief as her body rubbed against his arousal.  “But then, I wouldn’t have gotten so much work done, I suppose.”

 

“I did it to protect you,” Steve said softly, sounding vulnerable and almost boy-like.  He shrugged helplessly, “The more I saw of you, the more I got to know you from afar, the more I knew that if something bad happened to you, it would be my undoing.  I had to protect you.”

 

“When I was in Asgard with Jane two years ago, I had a lot of time on my own.  Jane had her head in the clouds, literally,” Darcy shrugged as she took another sheet and brought it up to Steve’s head, smiling when he eagerly bent his knees and let her rub the fabric against his wet hair.  “They have a really fascinating section on prophecies.   Unfulfilled prophecies, actually.  And this is purely unscientific, but I’m fairly confident in saying that the more a person tried to stop a prophecy, the more certain it became.”

 

“There are Asgardian prophecies?” Steve furrowed his brows.  “Unfulfilled?”

 

“Steve, there are Earthly prophecies that are unfulfilled,” Darcy smiled at him even as she shook her head slightly in exasperation.  She dropped the sheet she had been using to dry his hair and let her hands rest on his cheeks, her thumbs rubbing gently on the flush that remained there.  “We all have free will.  We all can fight to achieve a better outcome.”

 

Steve closed his eyes as the weight of her words hit him hard.  He was always so focused on his mission.  And his mission of the last year had been to protect Darcy from him .  He had wasted a whole year being so scared.  And Steve Rogers hated to give in to fear.  

 

He felt her lips against his, soft and gentle and something in him broke .  The tears leaked from the corners of his eyes and slid down his cheeks.  Darcy felt the wetness against her hands and pulled away from the kiss, looking at him in concern as he trembled with silent, harsh sobs.  

 

“Honey,” she whispered.

 

“Every damned day for a year, the vision of you taunted me,” Steve whispered, as Darcy tried to wipe away the tears that kept falling.  “You were everything, you were supposed to my everything and I thought---I thought.  I’m so sorry.”

 

She had the right to be angry at him for forever if she wanted to.  He knew that.  They both knew that.  His shunning of her had hurt.  She could end it all before it began now.  But she didn’t, and Steve knew he would love her fiercely for as long as he could, long after they both left this life and went onto the other.  

 

“I forgive you,” she whispered.  “It’s all in the past, and I forgive you.  And we’re going to start new and fresh and right .”

 

She pulled away from him and turned to take one of the candles she had already lit and he stared after her as she went to the kitchen, tending the fire to keep it going for a few more hours before grabbing a large goblet.  She smiled at him, as he was still standing where she had left him and said,

 

“Come on slow poke, time for tea and then I think we should probably get some sleep.”

 


 

 

Soft kisses and softer words were exchanged before sleep hit Darcy hard.  Steve held her as tight as he dared underneath the warmth of the animal pelt on the large oval shaped bed and just watched her sleeping peacefully for nearly an hour before succumbing to a blissfully calm sleep himself.  When he woke again, Darcy was the one staring at him, her fingers tracing up and down his jaw gently.

 

“Good morning,” he rumbled low in the back of his throat.  

 

“It will be,” Darcy nodded, shifting against him, her leg brushing against the predictable morning arousal of his.  She smirked at him when he let out a groan and he recognized her expression before his head fell back and his eyes closed.  She’d looked the same every time she had changed the wifi password around on the Barton kids (and Clint), and would only give it to them when they’d completed their chores around the base.  

 

She was trolling him.

 

“You just have to give me what I need ,” she purred.  

 

“Give you anything and everything, babydoll,” Steve sighed as he felt the sweet touch of her bare inner thigh on his own.  Their toga sheets had unraveled in the night and were barely covering skin at that point.  “You just name it, and it’s yours.”

 

Darcy wrinkled her nose at that.  She didn’t know if she could continue to tease if he was going to be so heartbreakingly earnest with her.  Then she saw the left side of his mouth lift up in a little smirk and she pinched his chin.

 

“You’re a little shit,” she accused.

 

“You were being a little shit first,” Steve accused right back.  He opened his eyes and smiled down at her and asked, “Tell me what you need, babydoll.”

 

“Bathroom, dude.  Bathroom.”

 


 

 

The world was covered in  thick blanket of snow, at least three feet deep.  Steve found no shovel, so instead, he simply knelt and told Darcy to climb aboard his back before trudging out to the outhouse.  

 

“Holy shit, it’s warm in here!” Darcy called out.

 

“What?” Steve blinked as he stopped trying to fashion a shovel out of two tree branches.  

 

“It’s fantastically warm in here, like---seventy-two degrees warm!” Darcy announced before he heard her going about her business.  

 

“Is there a heater?  Or some kind of fire?” Steve wondered.  “Is it magic?”

 

“It reminds me of something Volstagg told me about once, but I thought he was just drunk,” Darcy admitted as she opened the door to the outhouse.  “Something about a sort of combustion engine, that takes waste and turns it into energy?”

 

Steve blinked down at her curiously before she stepped out and gestured for him to try it himself.  It was warm in the outhouse, a welcome relief.  He had been afraid Darcy would have frozen her beautiful tush off out here.  Now if only they could figure out a way to clear a path.

 

The brilliant woman at his side had already figured it out, taking the branch he had been working on and taking one of her shoelaces to tie another branch to it, creating  a t-shape and essentially a large squeegee for snow.  She handed it to Steve with a smile and he cleared the path back to the tree house for them.

 

Food was put together quickly when they returned.  Steve was more hungry than he cared to admit.  She went about making biscuits and cooking the squirrels that he quickly skinned and butchered.  He had the firewood sorted and  started working on clearing a path from their treehouse back to the stream when it started snowing again, heavy and thick and blizzard like.”

 

“I hope this doesn’t last,” Steve worried once he came back to see that there was hot, delicious food waiting for them.  “I hope that the team can find us soon.”

 

“They will,” Darcy nodded, pushing the plate of food in front of him.  She’d cut up one of the fruits and it looked like a very well balanced meal when inspected carefully.  The fruit still tasted of shepherd’s pie to him though, he didn’t know where she was getting the cake flavor from when they were eating from the same fruit.  “Janie is brilliant, and right now there is no one there to stop her from working non-stop.  Bucky won’t cut it there.”

 

“Bucky is pretty good at taking care of the reckless,” Steve reminded her.

 

“Yes, maybe your brand of reckless, but he’s going to be helpless when faced with Janie,” Darcy said confidently.  

 

“I just worry, this is just the beginning of winter, what if it gets worse?” Steve sighed.

 

“Well, Sif told me once about how planets can be really different across the realms,” Darcy shrugged.  “She said Volstagg had a planet he would go to for man-cations where the seasons lasted three days.”

 

“Man-cations?” Steve blinked once he had swallowed his mouth full of food, the exact opposite of Bucky when it came to table manners.

 

“You know, leaving the wife and kids behind and having man time alone,” Darcy shrugged.

 

“That’s stupid,” Steve scoffed.  “I can’t imagine any of this being fun or relaxing if you weren’t here with me.”

 

He shoveled another bite of food into his mouth and noticed that Darcy had gone silent.  He looked up in concern and swallowed, seeing her looking at him with such a soft, appreciative expression made his stomach do a little, pleasant flip.   He could certainly get used to being looked at with such bare faced affection.  

 

“We’re stuck here,” Darcy said plainly.

 

“We are,” Steve nodded.

 

“We have food, we have water, we have shelter, we have warmth,” Darcy counted off the essentials on her fingers.

 

“We do have all of those things,” Steve acknowledged, his pulse jumping a little erratically at the sudden sinful way Darcy’s lips smirked at him.

 

“And you have me here, so I think we should start having fun and relaxing,” Darcy said with extreme bluntness that Steve really did appreciate.  

 

As far as Darcy was concerned, he really just wanted her to tell him what to do.  


“You clean up the dishes,” Darcy ordered. “And meet me downstairs when you’re done.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven: The First Time

 


 

Steve stood on the final step leading into the underground bedroom, frozen in place.  The sound of Darcy’s wordless singing, the voice high pitched and nasally but still lovely to his ears was drifting towards him from the candlelit bedroom.  He was hit with a sense memory, and he knew it had originated from the visions given to him by the psychic, because he’d never had this opportunity before.  He’d never come home to her before.  He’d never known that certainty that  the woman lying in bed waiting for him was everything he’d ever dreamt about.  

 

Lalalalaa, I’m gonna punch Steve Roger’s v-card ,” Darcy sang with giddy excitement.  

 

Steve’s entire face went slack in intense thought for a second before annoyance filtered over every inch of his expression.  

 

Oh oh ohhhh, he’s gonna be a virgin no more ,” Darcy giggle sang.

 

Steve felt his cheeks going a little red, and not from embarrassment.  Just what had Bucky been telling Darcy about him?  Because he was sure that this was Bucky.  The louse probably told Darcy that Steve was a virgin as a way to get her to chase after him when Steve was trying to run away.  Bucky’s answer to any and all emotional problems was you should probably try to have some sex, it clears the mind .  One of Bucky’s first acts upon being thawed was making sultry doe eyes at Natasha until she carted him off to a private room.

 

He could just hear his best friend now,

 

‘Kid, you’d be doing it for America, just jump his bones.  A man ain’t supposed to be celibate and virginal for so long.  I promise he wants it, and he’ll thank you for it later .’

 

I am gonna rock his world, yeah yeah yeah ,” Darcy sang quietly.  “ Virgin no more more more .”

 

Steve practically fell into the room with all the grace of a drunk baby panda bear, nearly tripping over his two feet.  He had a blustering speech ready to defend his sexual history and set Darcy completely straight on the subject.  He had examples, he had detailed, vivid examples and tales about how he was very much not a virgin.  

 

But his brain broke.

 

Darcy was sitting atop the oval shaped bed, her last humming note still on her smiling lips.  She was wrapped up in a white sheet and nothing else that Steve could see, and she slowly held up her arms in a delectable invitation to him and Steve was washed away by the exact copy of the vision he had been given a year ago.  

 

“C’mere, honey,” Darcy cooed at him.  “We might have a lot of boring, snowed in hours ahead of us.  I’m sure you and I can figure out something to fill the time up.”

 

His upset was forgotten quickly as he approached the bed, shedding clothing he had just hurriedly put on two hours ago.  The smirk on his face turned sinful when Darcy bit her lip at the loss of his shirt.  When those same plush lips parted in a ragged little breath as he pulled off his track pants, Steve honesty, lost a little control.  He dove for her, gently pushing her on her back and blanketing her body with his own.  His lips found hers and he was delighted to find her quick on the response, meeting him for every delicious swipe of his tongue and every pull of his bottom lip between her teeth.  

 

Their skin was separated by the thin white sheet, along with his boxer briefs and Darcy was no slouch in taking advantage of that, her hands initially starting at his shoulders, but quickly massaging down the expanse of his back, fingers tickling along the lines of his muscles as he hovered above her just enough to not crush her.  He made a play to dominate the kiss, swallowing her answering moan when he eased his hips between the legs she had parted for him.  

 

The sheet had ridden up and Steve realized Darcy hadn’t bothered with panties.  He could feel the heat of her, the beautiful warm wetness that he realized was for him and him alone.  He pulled away from the deep, lurid kiss with an audible pop from those beautiful lips of hers and he could only stare down at her in wonder.

 

She grinned at him, her hands finally getting to the base of his spine and she winked when she moved them further still and grabbed two full handfuls of his rear end and squeezed as hard as she dared.  

 

“Don’t worry, Tiger,” she cooed at him.  “I’ll go easy on you for this first time.  Fair warning though?  Next time I’m going to eat you alive.”

 

Steve went stiff above her and Darcy immediately let go of his rear end,  her hands settling on his lower back gently, fingers running little circles against his skin.

 

“Sorry, that was crass,” she mumbled.  “It’s just---I mean, I’m not judging you, I’m---I’m---”

 

“Don’t say it,” Steve whispered.

 

Honored ,” Darcy finished.

 

“For Christ’s sake,” Steve sighed.  He pressed a kiss to Darcy’s lips to take the sting off of his exasperation before grumbling, “Fucking Bucky .”

 

“Nope, I value my life too much to try that,” Darcy answered.  “Besides, I was crushing on his best friend at the time…”

 

“No, no,” Steve shook his head.  “Bucky told you I was a virgin.”

 

“Yes?” Darcy nodded slightly.  “And Clint.”

 

“What?” Steve hissed.

 

“And Tony.”

 

“Son of a bitch.”

 

“And Sam.”

 

“Those fuckers,” Steve growled out.  He kissed her again, desperate and thorough and couldn’t help but grind his hips against her center once more, pressing his stiff arousal right where he so desperately wanted to be.  But not before he cleared something up.

 

He flipped them over, Darcy’s modesty sheet was lost in the turn, and moved Darcy around as if she were a poseable doll.  Darcy let out a squeal as he gripped the backs of her thighs and essentially picked her up and brought her body up his torso.  Her legs had already been parted and he took that to his advantage, not stopping until she was kneeling with each of her knees on either side of his neck.  His eyes drifted from her surprised face down the line of her body.  His vantage point had to be one of the most beautiful sights he had seen in his long life.  

 

Her gorgeous face was staring down at him, eyes the color of the clearest sea opened wide with astonishment and kiss bruised lips parted as little puffs of breath left her mouth.  Her long, perfect neck was in desperate need of marking and he managed to etch that rewarding task onto his mental to do list.  

 

Her breasts, beautiful and full and firm, hung heavy and he could see her nipples tightening and pebbling with just his eyes on them.  His to-do list grew and he knew that he wanted to run kisses up and down the softness of her torso, the luxurious roundness of her belly.  The dip of her navel looked perfect for his tongue to dip in.  

 

Darcy’s breathing got even heavier when Steve’s fingers pressed hard into the backs of her thighs as his gaze went lower, smiling at the little thatch of short curls framing the beauty of her pretty little sex.  Steve licked his lips and Darcy couldn’t help a small little high pitched grunting noise at the back of her throat.   

 

“Can I taste you, babydoll?” he questioned, the gravel in his voice causing a full body shiver to go through her.

 

“Uh huh,” Darcy whispered.

 

It was all the answer he needed, pulling her gently until those moist, pink lips were mere inches from his watering mouth.  He inhaled deeply, the earthy sweet scent of her was the stuff his dreams were made of and he placed an open mouthed kiss on the seam of her thigh before moving to the other side and doing the same.  

 

Fuck me ,” Darcy whispered.

 

“Not until I’ve had my fill, babydoll.”

 

Darcy felt a tickle run up her spine at the sound of his voice and she was genuinely shocked.  With all that everyone had told her, she would have thought she would have been the aggressive one in bed.  But suddenly her handful of sexual encounters (one handful, and she didn’t even think two of those counted), seemed woefully lacking as Steve continued to place lazy, thorough open mouthed kisses on her skin, alternating between her thighs as he inched closer and closer to her center.

 

She was dripping wet, she knew, embarrassingly so, but Steve seemed intoxicated by it at the first bold, long lick he took through her pink flesh.  It was him that pulled her closer then, giving her only enough slack so that she could wriggle and writhe atop his face.  Darcy’s previous encounters with oral sex had been borderline nightmarish.  The one time, her partner couldn’t quite find... anything.   And she did mean ANYTHING.  The second (and last time), it had been a little too enthusiastic in regards to the focus of the far too forceful licks.  She’d pushed him away after ten seconds of overstimulation and aggression against her clit.

 

Steve hadn’t even touched her hardened bunch of nerves yet, he was too busy lavishing tender affection on her inner lips, lazily kissing or stroking her flesh with his tongue, effectively building her up gently but oh so quickly .  

 

He never took his eyes off of her, those steely blue eyes nearly eclipsed by enlarged pupils were gazing up at her intently, reading every little nuance of her expression and adjusting accordingly.  But perhaps best of all were the noises he was making.  He was moaning with every taste of her and taking  deep, harsh breaths through his nose.  He sounded like he was enjoying himself immensely and something about that made Darcy quiver as she reached down and put her hands in his hair in order to hold onto something.

 

She arched her back and let her own head fall back when Steve sucked so gently on her inner lips.  Her hips bucked against him and he let out another groan in response, pulling her even closer. He seemed to be missing the bullseye that most men would go for, and Darcy wasn’t about to complain, because everything felt so much better than anything she had ever felt before, but she could feel herself ramping up on the inside and soon she was craving that touch on her clit.

 

Her hips began to squirm as she sought out the pressure and touch and Steve smiled against her flesh when one whimper escaped her lips before he finally, finally gave her what she wanted, pressing his tongue flat against her hooded clit.  He moaned as her thighs clenched up on either side of his face and he began to methodically, rhythmically lick against her clit, increasing the speed and pressure as her pleasure stoked higher and higher.  

 

He felt his erection straining against the fabric of his boxer briefs as she gripped at his hair and pressed her hips down hard.  He sucked just once on the hardened nub and she broke above him, her hips undulating against his face, her hands pulling hard on the blond hair she gripped in her fingers.  He felt her wetness against his chin and couldn’t help the tightening possessive grip on the backs of her thighs.

 

Oh God ,” she gasped out, her eyes squeezing shut as she let out a whine when he continued to work her through her high, the little licks in the right spots were just what she needed in a hypersensitive state.

 

His grip on her skin eased and his fingers gently massaged at her skin, knowing that he probably had marked her in his enthusiasm.  The idea of it made him twitch again with need, but he put it to the back of his head, looking up at her still as she finally opened her eyes and stared down at him in a mix of astonishment and bliss.

 

“How the hell did you---how do you know how to do that?” Darcy demanded.

 

“Babydoll, I’m not a virgin,” Steve said softly.

 

“Well...shit,” Darcy huffed out.  

 

“Sorry to steal that feather from your cap,” Steve smirked before pressing a sweet little kiss to the inside of her right thigh.  

 

“I’m not a notch on the bedpost kind of girl,” Darcy assured him, finally shimmying her way down his body.  She straddled his torso, leaning down to kiss his wet and shiny lips.  She pulled away and licked her lips, marveling that it was her flavor drenching his mouth.  She went back in for a deeper kiss, loving the vocal way that Steve approved, moaning and groaning into the kiss.  She pulled away and asked, “Can I return the favor?”

 

“That’s not what I want right now,” Steve shook his head slightly.  

 

Darcy blinked at him, because in all of her previous relationships (and non-relationships), not one man had ever turned down a well earned blow job.  And Steve had more than earned such a reward. She sighed as his hand ran a gentle line of pressure up and down her back, from the sensitive base of her spine all the way up to her neck.  

 

“Are you cheating with your glimpses of our future?” she asked very suddenly.

 

“Not even a little bit,” Steve smirked, clearly lying.  

 

Darcy couldn’t even bother caring as he sat up and claimed her lips again, his hand resting on the back of her neck.  He kissed her for a good bit, exploring and teasing and testing, and in absolutely no hurry to rush to the next step.

 

Steve was exceptionally good at winding her up and up and up in a slow build.  She didn’t even realize that his teasing touches on spots she never knew were erogenous were working her into a slow frenzy until suddenly she was sitting in his lap, writhing against him and aching for something more .  The idea that this man, this self assured man playing her body like a finely tuned instrument could be a virgin was now laughable to her.

 

“You feeling good, babydoll?” Steve’s lips moved against her jaw as she rocked her hips against his lap again.  

 

“You little shit, you know I’m feeling good,” Darcy huffed out.

 

“Are you---are you on something?” Steve wondered, the first words out of his mouth that didn’t sound completely self assured.  “We don’t have condoms---”

 

“It’s okay, I have an IUD,” Darcy assured him.  She could read his expression though and she looked at him shrewdly.  “You knew that already.”

 

“I may have---seen some glimpses,” Steve admitted sheepishly, a direct counterpoint to the sex god who had just ravished her and would no doubt rock her world again.  

 

He had seen himself spill inside of her so many times.  But he hadn't known if it was because of birth control or because of other reasons.  Reasons that had taunted him for a year.  The idea that they would want to create new life together had had Steve in a state of longing  torture.

 

“Cheater,” Darcy accused.  She shrieked out in delight as Steve effortlessly flipped them again, so that she was lying flat on her back, with him holding her legs on either side of his torso.  He smirked down at her as he ground his stiff erection against her mons.  “An experienced lover would know that it’s better to do all this without your underpants still on, virgin .”

 

“Minx,” Steve huffed out before disentangling from her body and maneuvering on the bed enough to rid himself of the cursed underpants.

 

Darcy’s teeth dug into her bottom lip at the sight of him.  She had done her very best the night before in not looking at his private parts, and although she had gotten a quick peek, it hadn’t done him justice.  He was thick and certainly the longest of any men Darcy had ever seen in real life, but nothing that frightened her.  He gave his uncut length a few cautious strokes as he came to kneel between her spread legs, and she could feel herself clenching her internal muscles in response.  

 

“I definitely want to play with that later,” Darcy blurted, completely serious as she fixated on the curve of that hard and strangely beautiful cock that Steve stroked up and down.  

 

“I’m really looking forward to that,  but not more than making love to you right now,” Steve admitted.  

 

“Alright, how do you want to do this big guy?” Darcy wondered.  She made a move to go to her knees, expecting to start putting in some honest work, when Steve put his hands on her waist, stilling her.

 

His smirk was sinful and he licked his lips in anticipation.  “You just lay back and enjoy, babydoll.”


“Oh?” Darcy blinked up at him, making a muffled sound as Steve kissed her deeply as he pushed against her, guiding her so that she lay on her back.  He returned to his knees though, his hands going from her waist to her hips, pulling her up effortlessly so that only her head and shoulders rested on the bed, her entire pelvis lifted up and off the bed as he held her there.  “ Oh .”

 

He held her there with just one hand at the base of her spine, his free hand petting at the lips of her pussy, stroking her open gently.

 

“You’re so beautiful,” he murmured.  “I can’t believe you’re mine.”


Darcy made a low humming noise at the declaration, managing to run her fingertips along his knees.  She stared up at him in wonder as his touch began to ramp her up again.  

 

“Please,” she whimpered.

 

Steve nodded and took his length, rubbing it up and down her wet lips with a sort of desperate reverence.  He held his breath at the first push into her, and his eyes fluttered closed as his head dropped back when he sunk slowly into the wet warm bliss that Darcy had to offer.  

 

“Fucking hell,” he groaned as he buried himself inside of her to the hilt.  He remained unmoving, allowing her to flutter and adjust around him.  He felt nearly complete.  Being inside of her scratched at some gray matter in his brain and told him that she was now his , for as long as she would have him.  The prophecy became like a twisted joke in his mind.  He would never allow her to end, not now that he got to have her so thoroughly.

 

Darcy let a satisfied sigh past her lips, She could feel the lovely burning fullness of him, and the angle in which he had driven into her made it so that he pressed against parts of her that she’d never quite had touched before.  He held her there like her weight was nothing, but his fingers, that were pressed at the sensitive line where her ass met her thighs, began to press harder with every passing second, marking his desperate need to move within her.

 

“You’re beautiful,” he promised her in that low gravelly tone of his.  He was breathless, but not from exertion.  “You take my breath away, babydoll.”

 

Steve groaned as Darcy moved her hips back and forth just once to signal she wanted movement.  One withdraw from her heat and he thrust back in, slow and steady and they both let out satisfied moans.  Steve’s reserve and caution ebbed away with every thrust of his hips then, focused now on bringing her to her peak and not losing himself inside of her until she’d reached as many climaxes as she could reasonably take.

 

Every time Steve pressed into her, he pressed against a sweet spot inside of her that had her every nerve singing.  He held her so that her legs fell behind him, her feel resting on his calves.  She couldn’t help tickling him a bit with the clenching of her toes as he drove into her faster and harder.  She’d never orgasmed without the use of something battery operated before and she was astonished to feel it so suddenly within reach with just Steve.  

 

“Never felt anything so good,” Steve whispered.  “You’re heaven, Darcy.”

 

“I’m your heaven,” Darcy promised and let out another high pitched whine as her words had him driving into her harder. She looked up, expecting to have him staring down at her still, or at least at the bounce of her breasts with every single powerful thrust of his.  But he was staring down at where they were joined, breathing heavily, absolutely transfixed as he watched himself repeatedly slide home.

 

He knew she caught him staring when he glanced down at her flushed face.  

 

“You’re beautiful,” he said by way of explanation.  “Taking me so nice...feeling so good…”

 

Darcy’s eyes rolled into the back of her head and her eyelids fluttered closed as she felt herself get closer just by the wrecked tone of his voice.  She felt his right hand leave her backside and her head began to shake back and forth as he gently pressed his thumb on her engorged clit.  He rubbed at her along with the rhythm of his hips and she felt her orgasm hit her from out of nowhere.  

 

“Babydoll, oh god, oh god ,” Steve gasped out as she went tight around him at the next slam of his hips, gripping him hard as she let out a wail of completion.  He had to get his lips on that neck of hers, taught and exposed as she broke beneath him.  

 

She felt like the orgasm didn’t want to end, that satisfying, full feeling of completion not going away as he twitched inside of her, sending of another shockwave.  He’d stopped rubbing her clit, but he kept that pressure there, drawing out additional waves of the aftershocks.  She managed to crack her eyes open and let out a little shriek of surprise as he lifted her entire body up one handed so that her body came off of the bed and pressed against his kneeling form.  

 

He was still nestled deep inside of her, but didn’t seem interested in moving yet as his lips began pressing kisses to her neck, his hands settling on her hips.  He seemed content with painting what promised to be lurid hickies all over her skin.  His hands told a different story though, and just like before, the longer he waited to move, the more his fingers pressed into her skin.  

 

“Go, honey, go,” Darcy sighed, wrapping her arms around his shoulder as he settled back on his haunches.  She was oversensitive to be sure.  She’d usually just stopped after achieving an orgasm before (and none of her prior three partners really cared whether she had gotten there before).  She didn’t think she was capable of anymore, but like hell she was going to stop now.

 

She’d just have to see what her body was capable of.

 

Steve bounced her on his lap lazily, content to still be inside of her and in no hurry to end anything.  He pulled away and saw the bruise from his mouth blooming red and lurid on the base of her neck.  He grinned before letting his mouth move down her body, nipping at the peak of a bouncing breast.  

 

“You have---damn, damn, damn, you have,” Darcy babbled incoherently.

 

Steve tried to to look smug at his effect on her.

 

He failed.

 

“You have great stamina for a virgin,” Darcy managed to get out, winking at him cheekily.

 

“I’m gonna show you virgin ,” Steve huffed out, increasing his pace.  He manhandled her body up and down his stiff length, and began pressing his hips up to meet her, feeling like he was going even deeper inside of her with every thrust.  “A virgin ever make you feel this good, babydoll?”

 

Darcy had never had much of dirty talk in her experience, aside from Oh yeah you like it you like this dick , but she did realize Steve’s dirty talk was just like someone fighting for dominance in a debate.  Or dominance in the sheets.  And she felt herself tremble at that a little, knowing that she’d enjoy the scuffle someday.

 

“Well I was a virgin once and I’m pretty sure I gave myself an orgasm or ---- Jesus ,” Darcy hissed as Steve doubled his pace.

 

“What was that?” Steve huffed out.  “I didn’t catch your point, babydoll.”

 

“I’m a---you’re---yes,” Darcy gave up on sassing him, knowing a pointless cause when she saw it.  He was going to make her see stars, his tongue and the barest scrape of teeth brushing against her nipples.  His hard length was pressing into her and pressing against her so perfectly that he had completely ruined her for any other man or device that ran on three triple A batteries.  She whined and begged, “Please please, Steve, right there.”

 

“So nice of you to help an old virgin out,” Steve ground out, finding himself dangerously close to his own edge.  He repeated the specific thrust that had her mewling in his arms and bit his bottom lip as he concentrated on holding out just a little bit longer.  He bit back a laugh as Darcy tried to open her mouth to sass him back, but only succeeded in an absolutely delightful, surprisingly low pitched guttural moan.  

 

Darcy was a believer.  She’d teased Jane about multiple orgasms before, saying they were only possible at the hands of a god.  But she’d never been so happy to be wrong in her life.  Her fingernails pressed into the back of Steve’s neck as she fell over into oblivion, losing the power of sight.  She realised it was because her eyes had squeezed shut afterwards, but she knew that the little starbursts she was seeing behind her eyelids was all Steve.

 

She delighted in that he couldn’t move inside of her as she clenched her inner walls around him in tight spasms.  She couldn’t see his face, but she could hear him, and the sounds coming from his mouth spoke of pure sin.  Curse words were started, but never found their endings.  Steve’s powerful hands bruised her hips as he pulled her body as tight against his as he could.  

 

She felt him pulsing deep inside of her.  The added warmth of his release deep inside of her, decadent and heavy, gave her a sense of accomplishment.  This man who held her certainly had the stamina to go all day, but she’d brought him to his knees and made him a moaning, groaning puddle.  

 

“Are you alright?” he questioned softly, refusing to pull out just yet.  She still felt so good, and he’d waited for so long.  He didn’t want to leave her.  Ever, if he could help it.

 

Darcy blinked her eyes open again and immediately smiled.  She was sure she looked like a thoroughly sexed up wreck of a person, but she didn’t mind, because Steve looked the same.  He pulled his hands off of her hips gently and winced when he looked down to see the bruises in the shape of his hands already there.

 

“M’sorry---”

 

“No, no, no,” Darcy shook her head.  “Badges of honor, honey, that’s all they are.”

 

“Honor, huh?” Steve smiled.  “So this old virgin did alright by you, babydoll?”

 

“I’ll be sure to give a full report to Bucky,” Darcy assured him, sighing when he finally pulled his softening length out of her.  She got a soft smile on her face as he lay her gently down, then retrieved one of the sheets and cleaned up the evidence of their hard work.  

 

He maneuvered her under the animal pelt and switched out the candles before joining her in bed.  She fit so well in his arms that it didn’t seem fair.  For the first time since they’d gotten pulled into the portal and landed on the ground on the planet, he didn’t really care about rescue.  He wasn’t worried.  They’d find a way to survive until Jane and the rest of them eventually found them.

 

All he cared about was the sweet, brilliant woman in his arms.  

 

They’d find plenty of things to do to pass the time.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter Eight: Winter’s Passing

 


 

Earth

 

“Foster, what do you mean you know who hijacked the portal?” Bucky demanded as Jane made a run from the room.  He called out after her, “Foster!  Get back here and explain!”

 

He huffed out an exasperated breath and looked down at Cooper, who was shell shocked, looking around as if Steve and Darcy would magically reappear any moment now.  The boy had a trickle of blood coming out of his nose, which honestly, wasn’t shocking to Bucky.


Cooper often had more blood on his person and scratches all over.  Lila Barton didn’t understand the concept of gentle play time.  Lila could turn a simple game of gin rummy into a blood bath. She was truly a girl after Natalia’s heart, and it was the reason that Lila was Bucky’s favorite child of all time.

 

“Natalia,” Bucky said under his breath.  “C’mon kid.  Let’s get you cleaned up, I have to go find your Aunt.”

 

The Black Widow was, as she ever was, two steps ahead of him and as soon as he had led Cooper out into the hall, she was there, handing Cooper an icepack and a towel, gently mopping up the blood.  

 

“Nat,” Bucky said softly.  “Steve and Darcy---”

 

“A portal, I know.  Whenever certain perimeters or thresholds are broken, I get surveillance directed to my phone,” Natasha explained, holding up the phone that showed the surveillance feed from the lab Foster had been working in.

 

“So you know about that time that me and Wilson had the friendly fire with the new blasters that Lang and Pym had built us?” Bucky asked warily.  

 

Natasha gave him one look, it was one of her patented looks that clearly spoke of how much of an idiot she thought the person that was talking to her was.

 

“I didn’t mean to accidentally zap Wilson’s ass, I swear,” Bucky began to explain.  The look on Natasha’s face clearly told him to save it, so he did.  He always listened to Natasha if he was capable of doing so.  “Where’d Foster go?”

 

“The Bifrost is on!” Cooper announced behind his ice pack.  “Uncle Thor must be coming!  YES!!”

 

“Thor?” Bucky looked to the lights of the bifrost.  

 

“When a portal goes awry, it’s a safe bet to go straight to the man who controls the most powerful portals in the universe,” Natasha said calmly.  “Cooper, go explain what happened to your parents.  James, let’s go find your idiot best friend and my idiot best friend.”

 


 

Elsewhere

 

Steve had woken up to one kiss before in his entire life.  He had been eleven years old, and sick as the dickens.  The Barnes family was hosting him while his mother worked a double shift, and he had fallen asleep on their threadbare couch, feverish and chilled at the same time.  He didn’t remember much about it, but he remembered sticky little lips pressing gently and innocently against his.

 

Then he remembered Bucky yelling something fierce at Becca and no one ever spoke of it again.  He wished he could remember more of it, but the fever had washed away the details of his first kiss.  He never managed to get a second from Becca when they were both grown properly.

 

But there in the warmth and softness of the bed he shared with Darcy, his senses quickly came to life, and he committed every detail to his memory.  She was soft in his arms and against his body, laying half on top of him, her leg hitched over his hip.  Soft and beautiful breasts pressed decadently into his side, and he could feel the beating of her heart against his skin, steady and strong and getting more rapid with every passing second.  Delicate fingers were in his hair, combing through in a soothing gesture.  

 

Her toes were cold, not the brutal, dangerous cold from their adventure home from the eledeer nest, but it was a cold that almost felt welcome on his warm calves.  He was particularly fond of the way the velvet skin of her inner thigh pressed against his groin.  He didn’t understand how one person got themselves so soft all over, but he knew that for the rest of his life, the feeling of waking up to her body against his would be his most favorite and treasured.

 

If it weren’t for their collective nudity, the gentle kiss against his lips would be innocent.  It was just a press of plush lips against his own.  He smiled into it and it was Darcy’s surprised noise in the back of her throat that had him kissing her back with less innocence and more hunger.

 

“I have to go to the bathroom,” Darcy whispered against his open mouth.  

 

His stomach growled in response.

 

“And we have to eat again before we devour each other,” Darcy said diplomatically.

 

Steve didn’t want to agree with her, but he was hungry, and he needed to keep his strength up.  Not because they were on an alien planet full of heretofore unseen dangers, but because he selfishly wanted to make sure he had the stamina and focus to be able to properly worship his girl for the rest of the day.  

 

Darcy gave him one last searing kiss before all of her warmth and softness were taken from him and he found himself trying to chase her in order to bring her back underneath the pelt.  She grinned at him from next to the bed, just outside of his grasp, flaunting her nudity in a way that had Steve’s finger tips itching.  He looked her up and down, thinking of all the things that they could do together when he saw the bruises on her hips and thighs.

 

Darcy was confused at the way his face went from wanting to absolutely horrified in a flash.  He looked like someone had just punched an adorable puppy.  She looked down to where he was staring and sucked in an annoyed breath.

 

“It’s not that bad,” she assured him.

 

He gave her a horrified look.   Not that bad ?  Darcy’s pale white skin was marred with purple and blue bruises in the shape of his fingers and hands.  He felt absolutely sick at the sight of it.  He had let himself get carried away and had hurt her.

 

“I bruise really easy,” Darcy explained.  “I mean, I can get black and blue just by thinking of falling.”

 

Steve quickly got out of bed and dropped to his knees in front of her, his fingertips tracing along the purple lines on her skin.  He had wanted to paint the ivory skin of her neck with hickies.  He’d wanted to be able to look at her and know that she was marked as his. But not like this.  He didn’t want to hurt her, and she didn’t flinch at the touch, so he didn’t think she was in pain.  His mind automatically went to the prophecy and he couldn’t help that feeling of panic.  

 

‘You will be the end of Darcy Lewis.’

 

He felt sick with worry.  He knew she was meant to be the most precious person he had in life.  And he had hurt her.  Which meant the prophecy he wanted to avoid so desperately would be true.  

 

“Honey, please,” Darcy whispered, her heart clenching in sympathy as tears pooled in his beautiful blue eyes and the deep gasps of air he began to take in as his panic and anxiety grew.    “I can’t feel it at all, I promise.  Look, I have another bruise on the back of my calf from when Jane kicked me by accident when she was trying to kick Clint---it looks like I need my leg chopped off, but it doesn’t hurt at all.”

 

Steve swallowed and a tear slid down his cheek and he turned his head to inspect the leg she was holding out to him.  There was nothing there, though, just the pale white creaminess of her skin, and he ran his hand over it curiously.

 

“Huh...I swear there was a huge bruise three days ago,” Darcy insisted.  “See, nothing now.  It just happens.”

 

“I’m so sorry,” Steve whispered, completely wrecked.


“Don’t you dare,” Darcy shook her head, her fingers reaching down and threading through his hair again, forcing his face to look up at her.  “I was serious when I told you they would be badges of honor.”

 

“I never want to hurt you,” Steve promised her.

 

“And you never, ever will,” Darcy nodded.  

 

“No, not good enough, you have to promise me,” Steve begged, staring up at her, his face the picture of desperation.  “If I ever hurt you, with my touch or words or whatever, you have to let me know, you tell me right away, please, babydoll.”

 

“Yes, Steve, I’ll tell you,” Darcy promised.  “You know me, I’m not the type to keep quiet about---well, anything.”


Steve almost smiled at that.  Clint and Sam had been quick to realize that Darcy would never keep any discomfort, even something as little as how to properly put a toilet paper roll on the holder, quiet.  His fingertips grazed the bruises once more before he leaned in and pressed gentle and reverent lips to the center of each mark.  

 

“I love you,” he whispered.

 

Darcy went a little stiff and he looked up at her in worry.  He probably shouldn’t have said that so soon.  They had only just started this possibly ill-fated but still beautiful journey together.  He had waited so long though, denied the both of them of this happiness for a year.  He didn’t want to waste any more time.  

 

“You don’t have to say it back,” he assured her, pressing another kiss to her bruised hip.  “But I want you to know.  I couldn’t stop it if I tried, and I did try.  But you’re a force of nature, Darcy.  The way you think, the way you talk, the way you feel.  I can’t---I love you.”

 

“Okay,” Darcy whispered, looking at once flabbergasted and breathlessly happy.  “Okay.  I’m---I’m not there yet.”


“I know,” Steve smiled.  “I want to earn it, sweetheart.”

 

Darcy grinned back at him, genuine and beautiful.  

 

“You will.”

 


 

Darcy had been surprised when Steve had left her to the meal cleanup on her own.  It didn’t seem like him at all.  She was stewing about missing chivalry as she added another log to the oven fire.  She grumbled about gentlemanly behavior while counting out the remaining candles (they had enough to get them through another month, at least).  She actually started whispering angry words about gender roles from a different century and how she was going to re-educate him while she needlessly reorganized the pantry.

 

She was piping hot mad when she stomped out of the kitchen and stopped in her tracks at what she saw. Steve had managed to sneak back outside in the ridiculously falling snow (another three feet had fallen in the last ten hours).  He’d brought with him another pair of purple squirrels and somehow a giant tub of water.  

 

The smell of soap was heavy in the cool air of the living area and all the anger flew from Darcy’s sails.  And of course the look on Steve’s face helped in making her fury dissipate.  He was wide eyed and earnest, staring back at her hopefully, his mouth quirked into that little smirk that was insanely endearing.

 

“If you can give me ten minutes, I’d like to do something for you,” Steve’s little smirk grew into a hopeful smile.  “Please?”

Darcy was powerless to resist.  Steve’s smile was infectious and she found she was aiming one of her own back at him and he quickly reached for her, placing  a kiss against her lips before he went rushing about, grabbing the empty water basin from the kitchen and heading back outside.  He returned rosy cheeked with red, cold hands and a bucket full of snow that he took back to the kitchen.

 

She ventured over to the large basin full of soap water and eased one finger into it, shocked to find that it was warm.  

 

“I don’t know why it’s warm,” Steve said as he came back in with a steaming bucket of water.  “Some sort of mystery of this planet.  Warmth  comes up from the ground.  I think that’s why we’re not freezing downstairs at night.”

 

“Makes sense,” Darcy nodded.  She then got a thoughtful look on her face.  That sounded familiar.  She tried to remember a story she had heard, but it was difficult to since she had been incredibly drunk at the time off of Asgardian meade.  

 

Steve took her preoccupation with her thoughts to his advantage and by the time he had her shirt up and over her head and her jeans unbuttoned, she finally resurfaced.

 

“What?” she asked softly.

 

“It’s not a bath,” Steve admitted, looking to the large filled basins.  “But I figure I can make up for the difference by pampering you a little.”

 

“Oh,” Darcy nodded as Steve pushed her pants and panties down in one go.  She made one little sound of surprise when he popped right up to his feet and wrapped an arm around the whole of her body, lifting her right off of the ground.  

 

He placed her feet into the soap filled vessel and grabbed for a rag he’d ripped off from one of the white sheets.  Darcy held her breath as he dipped the rag in the soapy water and then stood, he pushed her hair off of her shoulder and pressed down with the rag, watching intently as rivulets of water ran down her skin.  He couldn’t help the smile on his face as Darcy let out a happy little sigh.  

 

He returned to the soapy water and let the cloth soak up more of the bath water multiple times, spreading and rubbing the soap over her shoulders, up and down her arms, along the length of the curve of her back.  He had to bite his own bottom lip when he wiped the soapy makeshift wash cloth over her bare breasts.  

 

His touch turned extra gentle as he dropped to his knees and ran the soap over the marks on her hips and the backs of her thighs.  He closed his eyes when Darcy reached for him and let her soapy, wet fingers land on either side of his face.  

 

“Open your eyes, honey,” Darcy coaxed.

 

He couldn’t not listen to her.  He looked up at her, expecting to hear reassurances again.  

 

“Make sure you scrub behind my knees,” Darcy said with absolute seriousness.  “I’m not a fan of a dirty, sweaty knee.”

 

“You little sass pot,” Steve huffed out a laugh and made quick work of soaping up the rest of her, despite her squawking about her knees, before he popped back up to standing again, shaking his head in amusement at her gleeful look.  He wasted no time in lifting her up and out of her makeshift bath, her infectious giggling making him chuckle in response before he placed her in the rinsing basin.

 

“I’m going to need to speak to your manager,” Darcy persisted in her teasing.  “I could have gotten a better service if I walked through an automated car wash.”

 

“I wash the finer things in life by hand, babydoll,” was his quick response.

 

Steve chose that moment to pour a cup of water over her head, causing her to both splutter and cackle.  He couldn’t help but flinch when she shook her wet hair at him, soapy bits of water getting in his eyes.  He managed to get another few rinsing cups of warmed, steaming water over her to rid her of the soap before she grabbed for him, and pulled him down to meet her lips.  

 

“You’re gonna get dirty again,” Steve warned her as her hands went for the waistband of his pants.  

 

“My guy will go and get some more water if I need it,” Darcy assured him.  “Seems that he likes to take awful good care of me.”

 

“He really does,” Steve promised.  

 

“I should go and get him,” Darcy winked at him.

 

She gave another delighted squeal of laughter as Steve lifted her up with one arm around her bottom, hoisting her up in the air and taking her towards the sheets he had laid out on the stone couch, setting her down and blanketing her body with his.  She was quick to reach for his shirt and push it up his torso while he pushed his pants down his hips.  

 

“You should be clean too,” Darcy suggested, her still wet hands suggesting otherwise as they quickly went for his erect length.  She stared down as she worked him up and down, fascinating with the movement of his foreskin.

 

He shuddered and nearly went boneless on top of her under her ministrations.  

 

“I don’t understand how your little hand feels so much better than any other person in my life,” Steve gasped out as she worked him quick and fast, her little tongue poking out between her lips as she concentrated.  

 

“You mean your own hand, virgin?” Darcy teased.  

 

“Definitely so much better than my own hand, babydoll,” Steve sighed, his nose nuzzling at her temple.  “You know how many times I had to try to relieve myself in the last year because of you?”

 

“Oh, that’s my fault?” Darcy came back quickly, her cheeks flushing as Steve let out a long grunting noise as she made a twist of her wrist.

 

“The yoga pants you wore every damned Sunday,” Steve whispered.  “I wanted to pull them off with my teeth.”

 

“You should have, it would have cleared the room,” Darcy nodded.  “And then I could have eaten all the bacon and ohhh---”

 

Steve gained a little traction as Darcy halted her steady strokes of his erection thanks to his own fingers searching between her thighs, petting at her wet lips.  If he let her have her way completely, she’d probably have him a useless puddle at her feet.  This may have only been their second time together, but Steve had what felt like a lifetime of future glimpses and he knew one thing that evened the score.

 

“Babydoll, you’re all wet for me?”

 

Darcy tried to swallow her moan in response.  

 

His girl loved when he talked to her just this side of filthy.

 

“I did just have a sponge bath,” Darcy got out in a ragged breath.  

 

“No this is just for me,” Steve refused to be baited by her sass this time, although he still appreciated it.  God, he loved her sassy mouth.  “You’re all wet for me, for my fingers, for my mouth, for my---”

 

Darcy’s grip went tighter and Steve felt his spinal cord give out a little.

 

Fuck ,” he cursed.  

 

“I’m TRYING,” Darcy promised.  “But someone would rather talk and chatter and talk some more.”

 

Steve laughed at that, but still moved his hands to her backside, lifting her hips up as gingerly as he could, and lining himself up.  To her credit, Darcy eagerly brought her legs up, bracketing his hips with her knees.  He sunk into her wet heat slow and steady until his pelvis met her body and waited, not moving as he basked in the feeling of completeness that she provided to him.

 

“I love you,” he whispered against her temple.  

 

“Show me,” she encouraged softly.  

 

He did his best to comply, pistoning his hips in and out of her sheer bliss.    He had wanted to work her higher and higher with more dirty talk, but every time he opened his mouth, another declaration of love tumbled from his lips.    Thankfully for him, his beautiful, wonderful Darcy seemed to enjoy his earnest words of love and devotion just as much as his dirty talk and she was groaning in time with the rhythm of his hips.

 

Darcy arched into Steve’s thrusts and the decadence of the drag of Steve’s flesh against her own managed to set off a tingling feeling in her toes that told her she was close.  Steve’s face was buried in her neck and his words were muffled and barely intelligible, but they were clearly words of love and adoration for her .  And she believed them, one hundred percent.  

 

Steve Rogers loved her.  For one whole year, he had avoided her, had kept his conversations with her as short as polite conventions would allow.  He never had tried to hurt her with his avoidance.  And he’d done it all because he only wanted for her to be safe.  Darcy had never ever had sex plus love.  

 

Steve would have managed to rock her world with his skills alone, but adding in the emotional aspect, the care and love and true feeling that Steve was lavishing her in heightened everything.  She felt the tremors started in the deepest part of her and as she got closer to orgasm her hips started meeting Steve’s every thrust with vigor and enthusiasm that she didn’t think she had in her.

 

“Fucking hell,” Steve gasped against her neck, feeling himself go so deep with their synchronized thrusts,  the pleasure fairly dripping down his spine.  His hands moved to the stone arm of the couch and he gripped as tight as he could, feeling some of it crumble against his fingers.  “I love you, god, I love you.”

 

His words were cut off as he let out a choked moan, burying himself deep inside, pressing hard against her pelvis.  Darcy felt the friction against her clit, and it was all she needed to seize up as she came quick and hard.  

 

Steve followed quickly, a new mangled sound rumbling in his throat with each spurt inside of her.  

 

“Shit dude,” Darcy whispered after nearly two minutes of heavy breathing and recovery.  “Is it always going to be so good?”

 

“Yes,” Steve promised.  He placed gentle, butterfly kisses against the existing love bites on her neck.  

 

“Hmmm,” Darcy still felt tingling all over and knew she needed a few hours to recover before they went another round.  “How about you go and get more soap water, and I’ll clear out the rinsing water, and we try to get clean together this time?”

 

“I’ll make sure to get behind your knees this time, babydoll,” Steve smiled, pulling out of her and gently wiping her with the sheet, smiling as she shivered at the touch.  He reluctantly stood up, staring down at her and wanting to give up on the idea of being clean ever again.  

 

She was the most beautiful thing, laying on her back, flushed and sweaty from their efforts.  Her eyes were closed, dark eyelashes pressing against ivory skin.  He loved the red splotches on her chest, evidence that she had enjoyed herself just as much as he had.  He wanted to reach out and touch her again, the swollen lips of her sex were enticing, but he knew well enough that she might be overly sensitive.  He’d tickle her inner thighs when they were cleaning up again.  His eyes drifted to her hips, taking a short little breath in preparation to see the bruises again.

 

But they were gone.

 

“Darcy,” he whispered.  “Your---the bruises.”

 

“Honey, I told you, it’s okay,” Darcy sighed, sitting up with some struggle and reaching out her hands for help in lifting her up.  Instead, he dropped to his knees, his hands going for her hips and running his fingertips up and down.  

 

“They’re gone,” Steve marveled.

 

“What now?” Darcy blinked at him before staring down where his fingers were grazing.  Indeed, the purplish bruises had disappeared.  Something that had been tickling at the edge of her brain suddenly came knocking around her gray matter haphazardly.  She remembered the stories of the healing waters.  


The Planet of the Warrior’s Respite.

 

A loud crashing sound shook the whole tree and Steve managed to grab his pants and throw them on in less than five seconds before he was bounding towards the door, ready to defend Darcy with all of his might from whatever was coming for them now.  

 

“Darcy,” Steve whispered.  “Babydoll, you have to come see this.”

 

Darcy went for Steve’s shirt, and it was just long enough to cover the important parts.  She rushed to the door and watched with Steve in wonder as the snow had abruptly stopped and the sound of melting was loud.  A huge clump of wet snow fell from the tree branches to the ground, which had been the sound from earlier.  

 

The suns were blinding and intense, like the first warm day of Springtime.  

 

“What in the hell?” Steve whispered, as simultaneously thousands of tiny buds sprung forth on the tree branches, just as suddenly as the leaves had fallen from them nearly three days prior.  

 

“The seasons last three days, something about the pull of the two suns, affecting the way time works here,” Darcy explained.  “The waters of the bathing pools are meant to heal severely injured warriors.  A week here is five minutes on Asgard.  It comes in handy during the middle of a war.  You can send your best and most injured warriors here, and they rest up and heal and go back to battle if they need to, barely missed from the field.”

 

“Darcy, do you know where we are?” Steve questioned as the snow continued to melt, the water sinking into the ground.


“Yes,” she answered.  She shook her head in disbelief and smiled,  “I know where we are, and I know how we got here.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine: The Warrior’s Respite

 


 

"It's called the Warrior’s Respite.  Or at least that's what Thor calls it," Darcy explained as she grabbed Steve's hand, walking him outside of their little tree dwelling as soft green grass grew instantly below their bare feet.  Steve had managed to get pants on and she was wearing his t-shirt.  The cold that had been present hours before was gone now, and the suns were warm enough that it felt comfortable to be walking around half clothed.

 

They watched as any evidence of the nearly three day long winter melted away, huge amounts of snow melting into the ground where the grass and flowers were springing up like magic.  The dangerous bird screeching was loud again, and was joined by tiny dangerous screeches, presumably the baby killer birds.  The trees were blooming with leaves and white flowers and Steve saw dozens of the purple squirrels skittering amongst the branches, families of them, with the tiniest of babies on their backs.

 

"Volstagg calls it Heaven," Darcy looked up at the bright, strong dual suns in the sky.  She smirked ruefully, knowing that she should have put two and two together much earlier.  "And he comes here the most, as he's the most prone to nearly getting his head cut off by accident in battle."

 

"I can see how a place like this would be helpful then," Steve nodded as they approached the bathing pools.  He looked down at Darcy's thighs, which were barely covered by his t-shirt.  He saw the impressions of his fingers on her outer thighs from their earlier dalliance on the couch.  He stopped them from walking forward when they were right in front of the pools and lifted a handful of water rubbing it on the marks gently.

 

If his hands then continued to rub small circles on her skin while the marks disappeared, well, that was hardly his fault.  She was so soft and beautiful and when her hands went to his hair, at first gently combing through, then tugging a little, Steve only wanted to lay her down on the grass and have his way with her.

 

"Good thing we didn't find the mating fields.  Yet," Darcy said softly, before pushing him back so that he lay sprawled out on the ground.  She sank to the ground and pulled on Steve's track pants.  She wasn't quite recovered from their lovemaking in the house, but she could hardly allow Steve to walk around with a hardon.  Especially since she had been wanting to check this particular act off of her checklist.  "I don't think you need any help in finding amorous inspiration.  I mean, dude, it's been like a half hour and you're...well..."

 

"Babydoll, we're in public," Steve gasped as she wasted no time in licking a slow, torturous line up the length of his stiff arousal.  

 

"Believe me, no one is coming around anytime soon," Darcy promised him before wrapping her lips around the tip of his engorged shaft and giving an experimental suck.

 

"Fucking hell," Steve gasped out, his neck ceasing to hold up his head. His eyes rolled back as Darcy added her hands to the mix, stroking him up and down steadily as her mouth and tongue sucked and laved at his hot skin.  

 

He knew after the first minute that this was going to be very, very embarrassing to his stamina.  His hips were thrusting up erratically into her hands and mouth and his hands went for her head to try and slow down the process, but Darcy was having none of it, and took him as far as she could in her mouth, humming tunelessly in such a way that Steve was undone completely, feeling like a young, green boy at how fast it had been.

 

He pulled on her shoulders gently to ease her off of him and choked out a groan as his release landed on her chin and neck.  That was a hell of an image and he felt a burning deep down at the pleased little grin on her flushed face.  

 

"Sorry, supersoldier.  I know you have stamina, but I'm super proud of myself," Darcy grinned, as Steve struggled to sit up.  “A girl likes to be accomplished in any task she can take on.”

 

He immediately went to wipe the mess he'd made on her face, taking the stickiness and depositing it on the grass.  She was pretty in her prideful smugness.  He went to reach for her and she laughed, pushing his hands away.

 

"Not that I'm complaining, but you're gonna need to give me like, an hour more to recover from the last round," Darcy winked at him.  

 

Steve pouted and shrugged, his hands evading hers and yanking at his t-shirt, pulling it off of her before he stood up and plucked her off of the ground, shaking his legs free from his pants while he walked towards the soapy pool again.  He dove in with her in his arms, chuckling at her shrieking laughter ringing in his ears.

 

"What's the mating fields?" he wondered as he held her against him in the warm, lovely smelling soapy water.  

 

"It's why Fandral calls this Planet Boinks A Lot," Darcy shrugged.  "Or he did start calling it that once I told him he boinks more than a porn star.  And then spent half an hour explaining what a porn star was.  And then spent another half an hour telling him he couldn't try to be in a porn film."

 

"Is Fandral the small tough one or the big one or the---" Steve scowled.  "Handsome, forward one?"

 

"I think Hogun is plenty handsome too," Darcy said nonchalantly.  

 

"Hmmm," Steve pursed his lips.

 

Darcy turned in his lap and grinned up at his slightly jealous, put off face.  She poked at his jaw playfully and giggled when after the fifth poke, he tried to take a bite of her finger.  Her hands went to either side of his temple, gripping his hair and pulling with all of her might so that she could guide him under the soapy water.  His arms automatically went around her waist while he was under there, and he nudged the space between her breasts with his nose fondly before he finally came up for air, soapy and no longer pouting.

 

"Fair warning? I think jealousy is a joke  and childish, and is to be made fun of at all times," Darcy told him.  "So if you continue to do it, be warned that I will mock you mercilessly for it."

 

"I'm okay with that," Steve shrugged.  His hands moved up and down her sides and he smiled down at her.  "I'm never gonna be that guy who cannot be jealous if my sweet babydoll gets flirtatious attention from other men.  And I'm just FINE with you mocking me, in case you haven't noticed.  I'm an odd sort of duck I guess, but it gets my motor running."

 

"We're going to have a strange relationship, aren't we?" Darcy shook her head in amusement.



"No, babydoll, we're going to have the best relationship," Steve promised her.  He brought one hand out of the water and gently poured soapy water over the ends of Darcy's hair, repeating the motion and going higher each time until she was leaning her head back, her eyes closed and a heavenly smile on her face.  "So, the mating fields would make us even...more drawn together?"

 

"Apparently the only purpose of them is to just---go bananas on each other," Darcy told him.  "The goal is to come out with a litter of offspring cooking."

 

"I'd like to go to those fields closer to summertime," Steve smirked, picking Darcy up when her soaping up was finished and placing her on the edge of the ground.  He quickly followed and was unsurprised to see Darcy running and jumping into the rinsing pool.  He copied her actions, complete with a larger splash.  He arranged them similarly to before, holding her so that her back was against his front and he began rinsing out her hair slowly and methodically.  

 

"Who sent us here, Darcy?" Steve wondered.  "I'd like to thank them someday."

 

"Hmmmm," Darcy sighed under the calming effect of Steve's pampering.  "Heimdall.  Just throw up a fist into the sky and he'll know it's for him."

 

"Heimdall, the gatekeeper?" Steve blinked.  

 

"Thor and I may have had a few words with him on our last visit.  We knew Jane rarely had time for precautions," Darcy admitted.  "So we asked him to make sure to keep an eye on Jane, if I couldn't.  Just to be sure that she didn't rip a hole through the universe.  So my best guess is that he felt the rogue portal, and then took over on the destination planning."

 

Steve held a fist in the sky and looked up with a grin,  "Thanks Heimdall."

 

"We're going to have to get these magic water baths back on Earth, too," Darcy decided, laughing when Steve dunked himself this time, coming back up and shaking his wet head in her face.  "I feel so good right now, like I just had a great massage and a really strong martini.  It's awesome."

 

"Yeah, you feel all better?  Not sore?" Steve asked, trying very hard not to smile like the little shit that he was.

 

"You sneaky bastard," Darcy laughed as he picked her up and placed her on the side of the pool again.  She didn't get very far before he was out as well, wrapping her up in his arms and pulling her down on the lush grass.  He rolled them until she was straddling his body as he lay on the grass, his hands going for her hips once more as he jerked his hips up into her body.  "Yeah, we definitely don't need to go to the mating fields, you insatiable virgin."

 


 

Steve insisted that Darcy cover up somewhat (her cardigan over his t-shirt and her panties along with her sneakers) before they took a longer walk away from their tree house, not because he was worried that someone might see her.  Darcy had been clear that it would take at least a week or two for someone to get to them.  Time moved differently on the Warrior's Respite planet.  It had been five days already for them, but for those they left behind on Earth, it would have felt more like five to ten minutes.  He was more worried about the temptation she presented walking along scantily clad.  The temptation to him .

 

By the time they got to the portal to Heimdall, and sent for someone to come to the Warrior's Respite to retrieve them and bring them to the proper portal, Steve was sure that they would see quite a few seasons.  And the best part of it all was that he didn't care.  Not even a little bit.  He could protect Darcy here.  There was no need to worry about Hydra or any other nefarious outside sources coming and trying to harm Darcy.  

 

And Bucky and the rest of the team wouldn't have to worry too much.  Within ten minutes of Earth time, they'd know that Steve and Darcy were safe.  All in all, the situation was ideal.  He just had to make sure they had proper shelter, warmth, and food.

 

"I hope Mama Fury and the rest of the eledeer crew weathered the winter," Darcy fretted as she walked alongside Steve, holding onto his hand as they traipsed through the woods back to the grove of fruit trees that Steve had gotten his courting gifts from days earlier.  

 

"I'm sure they're fine," Steve assured her, smirking just a little at her naming of the creatures who had tried to adopt her before the start of the planet's winter cycle.  He was sure the real Fury would be pleased as punch to know that his name had been gifted to a ruthless, loyal beast, responsible for a clan of haphazard children.  It really was a fitting moniker, the Mama of it all not withstanding.

 

"Well, yeah, they have the nest and each other to huddle for warmth with," Darcy reasoned and then began to visibly fret more.  "But Bucky!  He didn't have access to the nest?  What if Natasha pushed him over the edge and he froze?  The poetic irony of it all might break my heart."

 

A snort interrupted Darcy's slightly serious, but mostly joking accusations.  The eledeer standing in front of them was somehow bigger than before, but no less crimson in color.  He greeted Steve first, like an old friend, headbutting the man straight in the gut and causing him to fly backwards and against a nearby tree.

 

"Bucky!  You're alive!" Darcy greeted happily.  She looked back at the tree that Steve had landed against and asked, "You okay, honey?"

 

"Good, I think," Steve gasped out as he tried to quickly recover his breath.

 

"Concussed?" Darcy wondered.

 

"No---well, maybe a little," Steve sighed as he pulled himself up to his feet, swaying only slightly.

 

"I like you concussed," Darcy offered him hopefully.  "You say the sweetest things."

 

Steve held up a finger, asking for her to wait as he gathered his bearings.  No blurred vision, no need to vomit.  He shook his head a little and smiled at her.  "I'm not concussed.  But I'll say sweet things to you if you want, babydoll."

 

"Oh good, because you haven't already been absolutely PERFECT for the last couple of days," Darcy rolled her eyes fondly.  She looked back to the eledeer who was gathering small, new fruit off the vines and shoving it into his cheeks as a way of storage.  "Oh, I can carry stuff too, you bringing these to Nat?"

 

Steve loaded up with new fruit too, and they followed the creature back through the woods, and to Darcy's surprise, not towards the big nest on top of the plateau in the clearing, but towards a smaller emerald green nest built up at the end of a ramp going almost as high, right next to the big nest.

 

A familiar eledeer head popped up over that little nest and Darcy clapped her hands together in excitement and set off at a run.

 

"NAT!" she squealed.  

 

Another smaller, much smaller, eledeer head popped up above the nest.  It was smaller than even baby Jane had been in Darcy's earlier stay with the eledeer. Darcy stopped dead in her tracks and pointed at it, the lovely, tiny  thing was a pink color, violently so.  It was about the size of a large dog, and its fur was incredibly fluffy like an unshorn sheep.

 

"YOU MADE A BABY BUCKY JUNIOR!" Darcy cooed, and began running again.  

 

Steve held his breath and inched towards the nest, ready to run at a moment's notice should the new mother creature or the father standing proudly at his side should take Darcy's arrival as menacing, but his worry was for naught because the creature Nat was making happy, baying sounds as Darcy ran into her nest, going straight for her old nestmate and throwing her arms around the base of her long neck.  

 

“How’d you have a baby so fast?” Darcy wondered, as if the eledeer could answer her.

 

And then to Steve’s horror, the creature Bucky charged forward, up into the nest and went to mount Natasha, as if he was trying to visually explain how babies happened to the silly baby that had been thrown out of the main nest back before Winter.  Nat had the good grace to kick him with her hind legs, sending him flying off the edge of the nest.  She then turned right to Darcy and began nudging her towards the new baby eledeer.

 

“Oh my goodness, Bucky Junior, you are so fluffy and soft!” Darcy cooed at the little pink creature who leaned in for the petting that Darcy offered.  The baby was letting out little happy chirping sounds mixed with the snorts it had inherited from its father.  “Steve!  Honey! I want one, please?”

 

“Uhm,” Steve looked at Bucky for the assist, much like he would if it had been the human Bucky ambling up towards his right side.  “You want a baby or a Bucky Junior?”


“I don’t know, silly man,” Darcy giggled as Bucky Junior nuzzled at her  neck.  “That tickles!”

 

Steve couldn’t help but grin as Darc continued to nonsensically chatter at the baby and its mother.  He almost missed the heavier tread of the largest eledeer coming up behind him, but turned just in time to see Mama Fury herself staring down at him curiously.  

 

“Uhm, Babydoll? Someone is here to see you,” he called out.  

 

“Mama Fury!” Darcy called out and ran quickly down the ramp, with Nat and Bucky Junior quick on her heels.  

 

Steve tried not to be outwardly alarmed as Darcy threw herself at the very dangerous legs of the creature.  He tried not to think about how easily she could be tramped to death, not even with malicious intent from her Mama Fury.  His fingers itched to grab Darcy and pull her back but he held back, knowing that the headstrong woman wouldn’t take kindly to him treating her as if she were made of glass.  

 

It wasn’t an easy thing to balance in his brain.  The prophecy would weigh heavily on him whenever she wasn’t safe and right in his arms.  But he loved her because she was independent and fierce and fearless.  He tried to hold onto the hope that Darcy was right.  That the end of her meant a long time in the future, when they would both naturally end.  

 

Darcy’s laugh echoed through the clearing again, and it was Mama Fury was sniffing curiously at the hem of her sweater, trying to nip at it and bring it up, revealing sky blue panties and the hem of his t-shirt.  The eledeer sniffed right between Darcy’s legs and while Darcy laughed uproariously, Steve stepped forward in protest.

 

“Hey, watch what you’re doing there, Fury!” he scolded.

 

Which was really something he would have said to the real Fury, so at least that was the same.

 

Mama Fury snorted derisively before turning her head and putting her sniffing muzzle in Steve’s crotch this time.  Darcy laughed some more as Steve tried to swat the creature away, to no avail.  He began backing up, intent on getting away, but Bucky was right behind him, holding him in place with surprisingly gentle teeth at the nape of his neck.

 

“C’mon pal, real Bucky woulda never let me sniffed up like a piece of meat,” Steve admonished.

 

Whatever Mama Fury was sniffing for, she didn’t find.  

 

“What in the hell is going on?” Steve demanded of Darcy as Mama Fury turned back to Darcy and picked her up by her sweater.  He felt a tug on his pants and sure enough, Bucky was gripping him by the back of them, lifting him in the air.  “Buck, what’s the big idea here?!”

 

“Uhm, I think they expected us to be---expecting?” Darcy called out from her place in the eledeer’s grip as they began to promptly walk out of the nesting area.  “It seems to be the goal of the whole courting ritual, mating thing.”

 

“Well, that’s going to be a damned problem,” Steve reminded her, gripping the sides of his track pants, praying they wouldn’t rip right off of him as Bucky continued to carry him in Mama Fury’s wake.  “We’re not gonna be expecting any time soon, are we?”

 

“No, my IUD should last for the next year,” Darcy admitted.


“Where are they taking us?” Steve wondered, knowing that Darcy could see better since Mama Fury was carrying her and leading the way.  

 

Darcy squinted in the distance and wrinkled her nose at what she saw nearly a mile away.  Fandral had waxed poetic about those fields for twenty minutes.  Golden and soft, the ground was covered with what he described as cotton blankets.  The sunlight hit the field with a pinkish hue, and the sparse trees were a lot like weeping willows, providing curtains of privacy or weapons to tickle should they so be needed.

 

She didn’t need to smell it to know that the trees emitted an aphrodisiac, Fandral had been clear that one whiff would lead to complete and utter desire overtaking a person completely.  Fandral had spent three seasonal cycles in the fields with three warriors of Valhalla and two Vanaheim Princes.  He’d bragged about it until Hogun had knocked him out in order to get him to shut up.

 

“Uhm, I’m pretty sure it’s the mating fields,” Darcy finally answered.  “I hope you’re feeling pretty limber, Honey, because I think we’re in for some interesting---- stuff .”

Chapter Text

Chapter Ten: Prophecy Debunker


 

Being dropped into a soft, warm field, then having your pants entirely ripped off of you by a large elephant sized alien beast should have probably, definitely been a mood killer.  Steve felt the creature Bucky’s head butting against his...rear, and he tripped over the wavering line drawn between the normal grass of the forest and the plush gold, fluffy carpeting of the mating fields.  Darcy was at least laughing as Mama Fury delicately pulled off her cardigan.

 

“I can do the panties myself, I swear!” Darcy giggled, shimmying out of them  as well as her t-shirt.  

 

Steve didn’t realize he had walked the five feet they were separated, waiting on the edge of the line eagerly.  His chest was heaving and his mouth gaping wide open as his eyes looked over Darcy’s beautiful, plush naked lines.  He was consumed with the need for her, never mind that they had two of the beasts still present.  He didn’t care.  As soon as he got his hands on her, he would never be letting her go.

 

Darcy hesitated for a second as she saw just how the fields were affecting Steve.  He looked crazed with need and lust, the blue of his eyes eclipsed by his pupils, a flush spreading all over his bare upper body.  Every muscle in his abdomen was tense and defined as he held himself taught, his fists curled into his side as he devoured the sight of her hungrily.  And then of course, he was nude, and his erection was standing tall, flushed and proud.  She honestly didn’t need to fields in order to covet him at that point.  She was sure that a dead log of wood would have coveted Steve at that point.  

 

“Uhm----” Darcy hesitated.  If Steve was feeling it this much, she knew she wouldn’t have much sense in her head once she stepped onto the field.  There was a reason why Darcy had survived multiple potentially world ending events.  She was very quick on her feet, no matter her surroundings.

 

Her mind immediately started to mull over the consequences of potentially spending days in the mating fields.  If they managed to get out, the eledeer, trying to be helpful of course, would just put them back in there.  The IUD she had could prevent a normal man from knocking her up, but with the amount of doing it in her future, she had the very dreadful realization that Steve was no normal man.

 

“Babydoll c’mere,” Steve begged, holding out his hands for her, a slight pout on his face as she hesitated.  “I need you.”

 

“Uhm, how super would you say your sperm were?” Darcy asked bluntly.  “I mean, I’m sure tests were run, how strong are those swimmers?”

 

“What?” Steve blinked, confused at her reasoning.  “You have birth control…”

 

“Yeah, but, it’s not hormonal, I still ovulate and everything,” Darcy explained as Mama Fury edged her closer to the line.  “It’s just meant to, you know, murder your swimmers so they can’t get the job done.  But you’re kind of hard to murder, so I think your sperm would be too---”

 

“I---I don’t know,” Steve stammered, a little of the whammy being taken away as he thought about it.  He’d always had protection on hand and never had cause to worry about it.  But Darcy looked worried now, and he couldn’t stand to see her even the slightest bit upset.  

 

Bucky made a chortling sound as he watched Steve, seeing that the fields were losing their effect a little.  That had never happened before.  The strange human was showing strength that hadn’t been witnessed in quite some time.  The eledeer looked to Mama Fury, who was just plain annoyed as she pushed on Darcy’s back a little harder.

 

“I don’t want to get pregnant,” Darcy said quickly.  “I mean, someday, yes, let’s do that.  But this is new for us, and I want to build it properly, and a baby would take up so much of each of us that it would be hard to---”


“I won’t, I promise,” Steve said automatically.  He didn’t want to get her into trouble either.  Until his life as a superhero could slow down, until they were ready for it.  He’d like to marry her first, ideally.  His heart soared at that, wondering if he could make her love him enough to say yes.  It said something of how much he trusted Darcy’s feelings in him that he thought that eventually, when the time was right, she might say yes.  And then, then they could think about children...a part of him and a part of her into someone new and beautiful.

 

His traitorous brain always went back to the prophecy and he winced at the thought of it.  A million awful scenarios sprang to life in his mind.  What if his sperm was affected by the serum?  Would a superbaby be too much for her body to take?  What if she had a difficult time of it and got sick?  What if something happened to her while giving birth to the baby?  What if someone evil tried to get her once they knew she was carrying Captain America’s baby?

 

“I don’t really like anal play,” Darcy blurted, effectively ending Steve’s morbid and careening train of thought.  "Unless you want me to do something for you.  Cause I'll man up.  But, I'm not doing something with my butt that you aren't willing to do with your butt."

 

Steve’s eyes widened at that and he was shook from rapidly imagined horrible nightmares.  Mama Fury pushed at Darcy some more and she was about to complain when she lost her footing and fell forward into the field.  Steve caught her handily.

 

“Oh fuck ,” Darcy whispered.  She took a deep breath and looked up at Steve, not unlike she wanted to devour him.  It was a beautiful, magical sort of thing to watch her sea colored eyes be eclipsed by the black of her pupils.  The flush started on her cheeks and then showed up in spots on her neck, then lower down to the beautiful expanse of her chest, getting redder as her desire ramped up quickly.  

 

“Well damn,” Steve whispered, his teeth biting at his own bottom lip as he tried to remember there was a reason they shouldn’t go at it like rabbits.  He didn’t know much about modern birth control, but if Darcy had been worried, then he would be worried too.  But it was exceedingly difficult to keep remembering that they shouldn’t lose themselves in each other for a few days nonstop, especially when her hands started to wander along his sides, then set up shop on his abdomen, little fingers mapping out tense muscles with a gentle touch.  

 

“Why aren’t you inside me?” Darcy demanded in a whisper.

 

Christ , babydoll,” Steve whimpered, his eyes going closed as her hands went for his cock, not having to work at getting him rock hard and twitching.  “We---you said---we shouldn’t...let me just---let me find a way out of here for us.”

 

“No,” Darcy whispered, taking her hands off of him and smiling when his hips chased the touch.  She turned around and grinned at the sinful groan rumbling in the back of Steve’s throat when she purposefully rubbed her backside up and down on his hardened length.  “Please, Steve?”

 

Steve let out a string of expletives as she grabbed for his hands and placed them on her hips while she bent forward and he felt the tip of his dick graze against her soft, wet lips.  His eyes closed and his head fell back as she moved against him teasingly, her wet warmth was enticing and beautiful and he just wanted to bury himself inside of her and give her everything he had.  

 

“Don’t you want me?” Darcy coaxed, her hands on top of his at her hips, pressing them harder against her soft skin.   “ Please .”

 

“God, do I want you,” Steve promised her.  “More than anything.”

 

“Then take me, Steve, please ,” she begged in a whisper.

 

Steve tried to blink himself out of the haze, looking up to see that the eledeer had left them to their privacy.  He groaned and cursed again when he fet her tease the head of his cock with the wet warmth of her sex and he gripped his hands hard on her hips as he met her with a thrust of his own, sinking into her in one pass.  His hips met her backside and she let out  happy sigh at the feeling of full completion.  

 

One of his hands left her hip and he ran his fingers down the line of her spine, amazement etched in his eyes as goosebumps broke out in wake of his touch.  His head went a little fuzzy with the intense want for her.  He blinked and it felt like an indeterminable amount of time had passed, but his hips were slamming into her and she was thrusting back wildly against him, crying out with a pleasured wail as she came around him.  Everything seemed to stop except that low churning feeling in his gut that was pure fluttering pleasure and he zoned out on everything else except the feel of her.

 

Steve felt himself resurface again and fought so hard against all of his natural instincts to just let himself go inside of her.  Instead he pulled out, and took a slight step back,  breathing harsh and heavy through his mouth as he came, spurting his release against her backside.

 

No ,” Darcy whined softly at the loss of him inside of her.   She felt the warm, sticky splash on her skin and she would have stomped her feet if she could have moved at the moment, but she was heavy and satiated with her own orgasm.  “Steven Grant Rogers, did you just come on my ass?”

 

“Uhhhhh,” Steve’s nonverbal response was soft and unsure.   He wiped at the mess he had left and then looked around in uncertainty about what to do.  “I’m sorry?”

 

“You will be if you don’t do it inside next time,” Darcy turned in his arms and reached up on her tiptoes in order to kiss at his lips avidly.  She let out a happy groaning sound when Steve pulled her closer and she could feel him grow harder almost immediately.  Between Steve’s super soldier refractory period and the effects of the field, next time was going to be sooner rather than later.

 

“I want to make love to you,” Steve whispered against her lips when her kisses ceased momentarily.  “None of this savage mating like we’re alien animals.”

 

“And cause you love me,” Darcy grinned.  

 

“And cause I love you, babydoll,” Steve grinned back at her.  He put both of his hands on her ass and lifted her up and off her feet.  “You know how much I love you already?”


“A healthy amount?” Darcy giggled as he took her to one of the nearest willow like trees, laying her down on her back under the canopy of feathery sky blue branches.  

 

“No, not even close to being healthy.  I could overdose on you, I think,” Steve smiled at her gently, kneeling next to her.  He reached for a branch off the tree and let it tickle a line from the base of her neck, between her breasts and right to her navel.  His smile grew bigger as she squirmed and giggled under his touch.  

 

“C’mon, overdose already,” Darcy goaded, holding her arms open to him.

 

“I really love you,” Steve said softly.

 

“I know,” she nodded.  “I’ll follow soon, honey, don’t worry.”

 

“Yeah,” Steve nodded.  “I hope you’ll want to love me after I do this...”

 

“Do what?” Darcy blinked up at him, and was confronted with the real world equivalent of cartoon plumes of smoke as Steve made a naked getaway from her, running at top speed in the opposite direction from her.

 

She sat up and glared in his direction, he was already over the line of the mating fields by some kind of Herculean effort.  He bent in half after clearing the boundary and took deep gasping breaths, as if he had just run a few world record breaking marathons and not half a city block.  She stood up and pouted at the loss of her mate, making the mating fields pretty useless.  

 

“Come back!” she whined, kicking her feet in annoyance.  

 

Steve scrambled around to find his pants  and pulled them on, holding them at his waist to keep the torn garment from falling down.  He looked over at Darcy and tried to hide the visceral wince as she sat there with her arms crossed over her chest and her face was the picture of pouting disappointment.  

 

“I’m sorry, babydoll,” he called out hopefully.  

 

“If you were sorry you’d come back and bone me proper!” Darcy yelled back.

 

“Can’t do it right now,” Steve said resolutely.  “And I’m not gonna do it until we can go back home and get my you know, swimmers tested proper.”


“WHAT?!” Darcy shrieked, hopping to her feet and stomping towards Steve with surprising speed.  She stood just out of his reach, naked and flushed and beautiful, her hands balled into tiny fists at her hips as she glared at him.  “We won’t be rescued for weeks .”

 

“Yeah,” Steve muttered miserably.

 

“Why?  Why?   Why ?” Darcy said rapidly, her voice going up in volume.  “You can't tease a girl with a taste of that fine aged salami and then force her to starve!!”

 

Bucky the eledeer chortled and came hopping into view, turning his head to the right at the odd sight of Steve being dressed and separate from his mate.  The creature could imagine how they hadn’t managed to mate properly.  It seemed like the mates had no idea how to go about things the right way.  Bucky wanted to help, so he came rushing forward.

 

Steve’s eyes went wide, and he quickly jumped over the line back into the mating fields and any clarity he had gotten from his escape quickly melted away and he let his ripped pants fall to the ground and pulled Darcy to him, lifting her easily off the ground.  Her grin was positively feral when she made the leap for him, wrapping her legs around his waist and trying to sink down on his stiff length once more.  

 

Steve played a dangerous game then, avoiding the wriggling of her hips by sort of dancing his own hips, rocking them from side to side ever so slightly to avoid plunging into her warm wetness.  Darcy made impatient little annoyed grunts and her hands went right to his hair and yanked.

 

“Darcy, sweetheart,” Steve hissed.  “Calm down.”

 

“You calm down!” Darcy irrationally countered.  “Fuck me, dude!”

 

Bucky, the eledeer huffed out in amusement before trotting away, clearly not willing to judge on the mating habits of the bipedal, mostly hairless adopted eledeer.   Once he was out of sight, Steve took a squirm of Darcy’s to his advantage and pulled her straight up and off of him, plopping her down on the ground and then running away again.

 

“STOP RUNNING AWAY!” Darcy screamed.  “If you love me, come back here and prove it and let me salute your flag pole properly!”

 

“Babydoll, no,” Steve insisted as he leapt over the line again, then immediately tripped over the pants around his ankles.  He sat with his ass on the ground and was breathless with the effort it had taken to break free of the spell of the mating fields.  Twice now.  

 

“You said you loved me!” Darcy switched tactics immediately and viciously .  She went from angry and taunting to heartbroken and pleading in an instant.  

 

"That's not fair, sweetheart," Steve sighed.  He may have constantly worried about her safety in the last year, but this was a true nightmare in front of him.  She was so beautiful, and she only wanted him to soothe her and make love to her and he wanted that as well, more than anything.  But he had to stay away, and she was now feigning heartbreak over it, which had his heart twisted into a pretzel, even if he knew she was play acting.

 

"It's just like before!" Darcy suddenly wailed, a sure sign to Steve that she was playing up the theatrics to the best of her ability.  She had huge tears slipping out of those gorgeous eyes, but they reminded Steve strongly of the crocodile tears that the girls from the USO would give the chaperone whenever they wanted to go out and drink after a show.  "You're running from me and it's making me feel AWFUL.  You should fix it by copious amounts of boinking over here on the nice side of the field."

 

"Babydoll, stop playing dirty," Steve almost smiled.  He tried very hard not to smile.  He failed.

 

"I will if YOU WILL," Darcy countered immediately, the tears quickly disappearing as she arched a devious little eyebrow at him.  Her hands ran down the length of her body and she watched his reaction very carefully as one hand went right between her legs and rubbed against her slick folds.  She let out a loud, pornographic, fake moan and was at least a little placated to see his jaw drop and his eyes glaze over with want.  

 

"You can touch yourself all you want, sweetheart, I don't mind the show one bit," Steve told her confidentially.  He licked his lips as she put on a bigger show, spreading her legs and showing him everything as she petted and played.  "I mean, in the old days I'd have had to put a nickel in to see such finery---"

 

"Sorry, no nickels, I will take that roll of Vanaheim quarters you got packing there though in your pants," Darcy quipped.

 

Steve looked down at his manhood, and then back up at her skeptically.  "I'm going to assume Vanaheim coins are bigger than what we got on Earth."

 

"Hmmm...I probably need a closer inspection, c'mere," Darcy taunted.

 

"Nope," Steve said resolutely.  "Get used to that hand, Missy.  We're not doing this again until we have proper protection.

 

"WHY?" Darcy demanded.  "You're a rotten bastard!"

 

"If you step over this line, you'll remember what you just told me about worrying about getting in the family way," Steve sighed.  "I shoulda never let myself get carried away before.  If I had known there was even a small chance I coulda gotten you into trouble, I would have never---"

 

"I wasn't worried about once or twice a day, I was worried about---"Darcy paused and thought for a moment.  "I don't remember what I was worried about."

 

"Cause of the mating field," Steve smiled at her patiently.

 

"Yes, that, come over here so I can ride the Star Spangled Express," Darcy went back to sweet wheedling.

 

"Express???  No, you know what, nope," Steve sighed, knowing that this entire situation was going to get cyclical.  He wanted to just reach for her and yank her over the line, but he feared that if he got one inch over the line he wouldn't be able to fight his way back out a third time.

 

He was a good man, but he was only a man after all.

"I'm bored over here all alone," Darcy sighed.  "C'mon and play.  Just for a little.  What could be so bad if we had an oops moment?"

 

"Darcy, I'm not risking you having a baby," Steve insisted.  

 

"It'd be a cute baby," Darcy sighed.  "Half of you and half of me.  I hope it gets my hair and your eyes, and Tony's money and Natasha's ass---"

 

"You silly girl," Steve smiled at her indulgently.

 

"You want it too," Darcy shrugged.

 

"Someday, more than anything," Steve agreed.  "But what if we're here longer than you thought and you need medical attention?  What if the serum affects you and you get sick?  What if for some god forsaken reason I lose you---"

 

"Stop thinking about that, why do you keep thinking about that?" Darcy whispered, stepping closer and closer to the line, looking like she wanted to hug him to console him.  "I don't have plans to die anytime soon."

 

"But you will, and it's gonna be my fault!" Steve was in full blown panic now.  

 

"No it's not!" Darcy promised, taking another step forward, her toes on the edge of the line between the mating fields and the rest of the world.  

 

"I'm gonna be the death of you," Steve whispered.  "The psychic said that I would be the end of Darcy Lewis."

 

"She said what?" Darcy whispered breathlessly.  Steve shrugged and looked at her in confusion.  He didn't want to keep saying it. Those words had haunted and tortured him for a year.  He didn't want to say them ever again if he could help it.  But Darcy, even with the whammy of the mating fields on her, would not be dissuaded.  "Steven, tell me exactly what the psychic said.  Every word."

 

"She gave me the vision, of our happiness and then, she said 'With a loving heart and with care and hope, you will be the end of Darcy Lewis.'  So you see, I just can't---"

 

Steve's words were cut off and he stumbled backwards a few steps.  He had not anticipated Darcy jumping straight over the line of the field and into his arms.  He wrapped his arms around her and his pants fell to the ground again while her legs wound around his waist, but he didn't care one bit because Darcy was currently kissing him fiercer than anything, but without that desperate hazed need for mating.  It was full of passion though, and he returned the kiss without hesitation.

 

"You idiot," Darcy whispered when she finally broke away.

 

"What?" Steve croaked out.  He felt like he had been put through the wringer a few times in the past fifteen minutes.  

 

"You perfect idiot," Darcy laughed, her arms wrapped around his shoulders, her hands playing with the short hairs at the back of his neck, giving him the comfort of touch as she made fun of his very real concerns.

 

"Babydoll, it's not nice to make fun---"

 

"You're gonna be the end of Darcy Lewis," she interrupted, a big beaming smile on her face.  "With a loving heart and with care and hope, you're going to get rid of Darcy Lewis."

 

"Sweetheart, please," Steve's voice cracked with the weight of it.  He didn't understand how she could be so happy at the moment, repeating those awful words.  "Stop teasing, I've been sick over it for a whole year.  And I love you so much and I can't, I can't be without you. I can't."

 

"And I'm pretty sure you never will be," Darcy assured him, giving him a soft, fleeting kiss on his lips.  "Everything is going to be alright."

 

"How can you be sure?" Steve wondered, her hope, her happiness and light infecting him.

 

"Because," Darcy shrugged. She couldn't torture him anymore.  She understood why Steve would hear those words and automatically jump to the conclusion that he'd be the death of her someday.  His life had been pretty much jam packed full of death and destruction so far.  She threw him a bone and smiled sweetly at him,  "Steve, will you marry me someday?"

 

"Yes," he answered without hesitation.  "I want it more than anything, but we have to be careful, because if certain people find out that you're my wife, then they might come after you and---"

 

"No one is going to come after Darcy Rogers," Darcy smirked.

 

"And if any of them could get their hands on you they'd---"

 

Steve blinked at her and almost dropped her for about a half second before his hands gripped her waist and pulled her closer into his body.  His forehead hit hers and his eyes were wildly darting over every inch of her expression he could get to.  She was grinning madly, her eyes shining with happy tears.  

 

"Good God," he whispered.  "I'm going to be the end of Darcy Lewis."

 

"Yup," Darcy kissed the tip of his nose.

 

"I'm going to ---I'm going to marry you," Steve concluded.

 

"Very likely," Darcy nodded minutely.

 

"And you're going to be Mrs. Darcy Rogers," Steve continued.  "And that's the end of Darcy Lewis."

 

"See, Bucky was wrong.  You are smart," Darcy said as seriously as she could manage.  She shrieked with laughter when Steve brought her to the ground, laying her gently down in normal grass, quickly following her down, covering every inch of her body with his.  "You better pull out again this time, Mister.  I don't know if the IUD could take much more super baby batter today."

 

"I love you," Steve's declaration came out as a huff of laughter.  "I'm gonna marry you."

 

"I know I'm a catch, but you don't have to keep repeating it," Darcy teased.

 

"I wasted so much time," Steve shook his head in disbelief.  The only dark spot on his joy.  

 

"I'm sorry you were in pain during that time, but maybe it was for a reason?" Darcy said hopefully.  "Now we're here.  And we're going to be so happy, I promise---"

 

"FRIENDS!" the shout was loud and boisterous.  "Lady Darcy! What are you doing here?!?"

 

Steve lay flat against Darcy, crushing her into the ground in an effort to protect her from whoever was rushing towards them.

 

"Never the matter, COME INTO THE FIELDS!" Fandral shouted happily.  He ran past them and went for the field  "Hogun and Sif are at the healing waters to tend to his severed hand.  The three of us can occupy ourselves with joyous mating!"

 

Steve looked on in horror as the Asgardian stripped down quickly before jumping right into the mating fields.  The blond warrior held his arms wide open and grinned lecherously at both Steve and Darcy.

 

Fandral beckoned them forth. "Do not waste your amorous activities outside of the fields.  Come, let us join in new and interesting combinations!"

Chapter Text

Chapter Eleven: More Than You Came In With


 

It wasn't hard to leave Fandral alone in the field, left to his own ridiculously amorous devices.  To Steve's great delight, it had been Darcy that had grabbed his hand and drug him away in a jealous fit after Fandral had started making eyes at him.  Apparently, Steve was Darcy's 'man now, and ‘ you're not allowed to put your creepy intergalactic STD coated fingers on him, you blond Tony Stark !'.

 

Steve had grinned the entire time she'd led him away, stopping only to grab the clothing she had shed earlier, throwing it on while Steve held his pants up with one hand.  He didn't even realize Darcy was leading them back to the healing pools until they came upon them and saw Hogun sitting in the soap pool, with Sif looking over a severe red line all along his right wrist.

 

"Your hand, Hogun?  Really?" Darcy sighed.

 

"It's but a scratch," Hogun waved her off and wrinkled his nose when the red line opened again.

 

Sif dunked his hand back into the water forcefully and rolled her eyes before greeting Darcy and Steve with her usual warrior's nod.  It faded quickly and she broke into a beautiful smile at Darcy.

 

"I did not know you were at the Warrior's Respite, Darcy.  Did Thor send you here with your mate?" Sif nodded towards Steve.  "It has not been used as a marriage destination in some time---since Volstagg came many years ago with his bride."

 

"Ahh, they returned with triplets," Hogun laughed.  "Fools and their mating fields."

 

"Uhm, no, Thor didn't send us here," Darcy shook her head.  "Jane had a mishap with an experiment, and I'm fairly sure Heimdall directed us somewhere safe, probably about the same time he was sending you here for---the hand thing."

 

"I can hardly feel it," Hogun said stoically, sharing an understanding nod with Steve, who he had only met once, but knew was a great warrior in his own right.

 

"Are you guys in a big battle or something?" Darcy wondered.

 

"No, just---" Sif paused and shrugged, rolling her eyes slightly.  "Men."

 

"I totally understand," Darcy nodded.

 

"They just don't know when to get out of the way of my broadsword in time," Sif finished.

 

Darcy looked at her with a mixture of respect and absolute fear.   "Maybe I don't understand totally, but, whatever.  Cool."


 

It was decided that when Hogun was well enough, they would all make the trek back to the official portal site.  Heimdall had dropped Darcy and Steve there due to the tumultuous nature of Jane's clever portal, or that was what Darcy and Sif had hypothesized together.  Fandral still had not returned from the mating fields that night, Hogun had guessed rightly so, that he had found a host of wood nymphs to aid him in the lust driven area.

 

"Wood nymphs?" Steve blinked as he and Hogun tended to the traps.  Hogun loved the purple squirrels of the Warrior's Respite planet and had decided that they would need at least five to feast on that evening.

 

"Indeed, this planet has many creatures, great and small," Hogun nodded.  "You have surely seen the great birds of Sarpapsis?"

 

"We've heard them.  They sound dangerous," Steve admitted.

 

"NO, not at all!" Hogun laughed.  "They are the closest thing this planet has to what your planet has---Lady Darcy had tried to rescue them when the destroyer landed on Midgard."

 

"Doggies?" Darcy offered as she lingered around the bushes that Steve and Hogun were working in, looking for the biggest, juiciest berries and placing them in a gigantic goblet she had taken from the house.  "Adorable puppies?"

 

"Yes!" Hogun confirmed.  "The Sarpapsis birds are beautiful, jewel toned, loving creatures."

 

Steve looked at the warrior warily.  The man had treated a nearly severed hand as nothing more than a paper cut.  He had trouble believing that those birds were akin to domesticated house pets.

 

"I don't know about the birds," Darcy unwittingly spoke for Steve.  "But I really liked those eledeer.  It would be worth a severed hand to come back and visit the family that adopted me."

 

"What are eledeer?" Hogun wondered curiously.

 

"They're gigantic sort of furry elephants that look like deer.  Different colors, live in nests," Darcy answered.

 

"Extremely pushy about courting and mating rituals," Steve rolled his eyes fondly.  

 

"Oh!  Like that picture that Thor showed me in the great hall where Odin lay waste to that planet of bad alien homicidal lunatic animals!" Darcy said.  "Exactly like those guys, actually, except my eledeer were fluffier and cuter.  And less homicidal."

 

"Lady Darcy, those were---those ARE the Beasts of Elodesia," Hogun whispered.

 

"What now?" Steve asked, worried that Hogun seemed to be in some stunned state of worry.

 

"The beasts were banished to a nearby planet, but must have found their way here in the last few rotations of the suns," Hogun still sounded slightly worried, which only made Steve worry more.  "They are fearsome and not to be trusted."

 

"Pffffttt," Darcy waved him off.  "Mama Fury adopted me and only wanted me to be happy and taken care of and mated and stuff."

 

"She---she adopted you?" Hogun looked confused.  "A mother beast adopted you and took you into the fold?"

 

"Yes?" Darcy didn't like how shaken Hogun seemed.  Her eledeer family was harmless and loved her very much.  "They kept me warm and safe and happy and fed me delicious things. And made this big lug over here confess his love for me."

 

"You---they fed you?" Hogun questioned.

 

"Yes, delicious fruit, that tasted like cake," Darcy gestured with her hands to indicate the size of a basketball.  She pointed at Steve and said, "That one thinks it tasted like shepherd's pie, which is strange."

 

"Lady Darcy!" Sif called out, loud and worried.  She rushed into the clearing, scaring away any potential purple squirrels that might have wanted to get ensnared.  She held one of the fruits in her hands and demanded, "Where did you get this?"

 

"From the beasts of Elodesia," Hogun explained.  "One of the fearsome hell beast mothers has taken Darcy as one of their own."

 

"Dear God."

 


 

Steve and Darcy refused to believe that the eledeer were dangerous.  Sure, Mama Fury had given Steve a concussion, but they hadn't tried to tear their faces off and wear them as masks.  The very next morning, after a night spent sleeping as a group under the stars, with Hogun keeping a careful watch, they finally retrieved Fandral, who was satiated and refreshed.

 

Sif wanted to prove to the Midgardians what danger they had run up against, so they used Fandral as bait, leading him to the little field of the Elodesia fruit.  He had scarcely made it to the field where the fruit grew before the loud and unnatural shrieking began, sounding like metal scraping against metal.  All of Mama Fury's children, just a little bit bigger than they were during Darcy's time with them came barrelling into the field to protect their fruit.

 

Fandral made a quick getaway, screaming his head off in terror, but still, Darcy remained unconvinced.  And despite Hogun and Sif trying to keep her in one spot, she barrelled ahead and went into the field herself.

 

"Thor will have your head, Captain, if harm befalls Lady Darcy," Sif warned him.

 

"She's fine, I promise," Steve insisted, and sure enough, Darcy walked into the field, covering for Fandral as he ran.  

 

As soon as the creatures saw Darcy their ear bleeding screeches stopped and only happy, light sounds remained.  She was swarmed by them, but they didn't eat her face off as Sif and Hogun feared.  Instead, they put her in the middle of a cuddle pile.  

 

"Strange," Sif blinked as the smallest of the creatures went to retrieve a fruit for Darcy.  "No, don't---"

 

It was too late, Darcy had taken a big bite and was now sharing with the smallest eledeer.  

 

"What, what's wrong?  Both of us have eaten them, what do they do?" Steve demanded quietly.

 

"The sharing of food with the Elodesia commit you to the clan," Hogun answered.  "Their lives are tied now.  Should the herd suffer, your lady suffers."

 

"And I do too," Steve realized.  "How long do the herds last?"

 

"At least two hundred of your Midgardian years," Sif told him.  "This one appears to be in its infancy, there are less than one hundred of them."

 

"I don't care about what troubles you and yours have had with these creatures," Steve said plainly.  "They aren't to be harmed in any way and they are to live here happily."

 

"Of course," Sif nodded.  She looked at Steve curiously and wondered, "They are friendly with you as well?"

 

Steve shrugged and without warning, a snorting chuffling sound surrounded them and Steve was being lifted by the hem of his newly mended pants into the air by Bucky the eledeer.  The creature seemed happy and surprised to see him out of the mating fields so early.

 

"Buck, c'mon, put me down!" Steve said irritably.  “And don’t even THINK about taking me back to those fields, Mister.  I’ll just run away again.”

 

"Friendly," Hogun whispered.  "Unbelievable."

 


 

It was probably wisest for Darcy and Steve not to say goodbye to Mama Fury.  They still were not in the family way, and it was almost certain that either Natasha or Mama Fury would just put them right back in the mating fields.  So the following day, the Asgardians and Darcy and Steve set off on the one day hike back to the portal.

 

The planet was firmly in summer now, and Darcy had no qualms whatsoever about traipsing along the trail in only her underwear and his t-shirt.  Steve wanted to take her back to the damned mating fields.  And Steve found he had no need to get jealous, as Hogun and Sif had no interest and Fandral seemed more interested in Steve than Darcy, foolish idiot that he was.

 

"I'd like to come back here," Darcy admitted to Sif.  "But I don't want to have one of us near death to do it."

 

"I'm sure Thor will arrange for a trip after you are wed," Sif waved her off as they ascended the small, winding slope up the stone plateau towards the official portal area.  

 

Steve stopped his own conversation with Hogun and turned as they walked, giving Darcy a blindingly bright smile.  Because they would  be wed.  He was now sure of it.  As sure as he had been about Darcy meeting harm due to him, he was now equally convinced that he would end Darcy Lewis by making her Darcy Rogers.

 

Natasha and Bucky and Sam had all warned him plenty of times that for a man with such a good heart, he often looked at his own life and could only see the negative.  It had been something his own mother had tried to break him of at a young age, to no avail.  He was optimistic about most things, but anything involving him personally, he was liable to automatically assume the worst.

 

But no longer.  He had been stranded on a planet on the other side of the universe with the woman he was madly in love with, but doomed to hurt in some way.  And he had come out of it well fed, healthy, and with dangerous beasts as his friends.  But most importantly, he had Darcy now.  He was going to get her to fall in love with him, and someday, they'd certainly return to this strange planet for their honeymoon.  A million things could have gone wrong the moment he was sucked through the portal with Darcy.  

 

Everything had gone right though.

 

They waved off the warriors who would stay behind and attempt to build on the small relationship they had been building with the eledeer so that they could cohabitate without fear of having their faces ripped off.  The portal light shone down on them and Steve reached for Darcy, holding her close as Heimdall knowingly sent them to where they needed to go.

 


 

"Do you have a read on them?" Natasha asked calmly as she walked into the portal room of the new Avenger's facility.  It had been built to mask the light from the portal itself, looking to the outside world like an astronomer's tower.  They'd been gifted some pretty high tech light refracting technology to hide most of the show of the portal.  And any of the light could be explained away usually by sunlight reflecting off of a high powered telescope.  

 

"I'm sure it was Heimdall, I'm just waiting for him to get back to me," Jane reported, only a little harried about the last ten minutes.  

 

"Isn't there a way to get him to answer us faster?" Bucky demanded, more anxious than Natasha.  He knew Steve's penchant for getting into trouble, and he also had the burden of knowing Steve's prophecy.  He didn't think there was much to it, not believing in such things as cemented fate, but he did know that danger seemed to follow Steve, and he didn't want it following Darcy as well.

 

"They'll be fine," Natasha reassured him, sensing his worry.

 

"Steve can cause an international incident by kneeling down to tie his shoelaces on a good day," Bucky muttered.

 

"And Darcy has uncanny luck, she's fallen into a handful of galaxy ending events and come out of every single one of them unscathed and unscratched," Natasha smirked.  "They're an excellent match really, one has a habit of falling into trouble and coming out stronger than before, and the other one has the habit of falling into trouble and getting out with more than she fell into it with.  They'll be fine, James."



As if on cue, the light from the portal began to glow and everyone squinted against it.  By the time it receded, Bucky let out a low whistle, because standing where Thor usually stood was Darcy and Steve.

 

Steve was shirtless and had pants that appeared to have seen better days just barely staying on his hips.  Steve had his hands full, his arms wrapped around Darcy, whose clothing had seen better days as well, what little was left for it.  Bucky spared one quick glance to Natasha and they both smirked at each other, because Darcy had Captain America's hands firmly on her underwear clad bottom.  

 

"What in the hell?" Jane asked.   "What happened to you guys?"

 

"Long story," Darcy shrugged, pulling away and giving Jane a smile.  

 

"Told you," Natasha whispered to Bucky.  "She falls into these things and comes out with more than she bargained for."

 

Bucky smirked and let out a wolf whistle.  "Yeah, in his case, it's two handfuls of Captain America's ass.  Get a room!"

Chapter Text

 

Chapter Twelve: Family Reunion


 

The matriarch of the last Elodesian clan in existence had witnessed a lot in her relatively short life.  She had gone from planet to planet, generations after Odin nearly obliterated their entire race.  She had witnessed violence against her kind, she had witnessed the elders waste away on nothing in order for the young to eat.  She and her mate had landed on the Warrior’s Respite, just a few among the small handful of their species that was left.  The planet was idyllic and perfect.  The warriors who used the healing pools never found them, allowing them to begin to prosper on the large planet.

 

And then came her unruly baby, her last, the one who walked on two legs.  With the unruly baby came a new peace with the warriors.  Even the son of Odin would treat them with respect when he had to visit the pools.  They no longer had to hide.  They no longer had to run.  They proliferated and entered a new age of peace and enlightenment.

 

But Mama Fury still missed her youngest adopted child.  

 

She sniffed the air for her everyday, expecting to hear her funny, rapid, little single heartbeat.  She thought she might even be able to smell the baby’s mate, unconventional and ineffective as he might be.  The baby had cared for her mate, so he was deemed worthy enough in Mama Fury’s eyes.  

 

Seasons passed quickly on their new home planet, and Mama Fury saw more suitors coming for her children and even sent her three middle children out into the vast world to find mates of their own.  A brother of her eldest’s mate came trotting up to the nest one day his mouth full of the clan fruit, intent on courting her very last child.  

 

She knew it was the way of their people, and she would still see the tiny one that she thought of as Janie thanks to her baby naming her that.  But seeing the last of her clan beginning to mature made Mama Fury miss her tiny, adopted baby even more.

 

Janie had just head-butted Bucky’s brother when Mama Fury’s head shot up and she breathed in deeply.

 

The baby was back.

 

She and Janie both ignored the prospective suitor and came barrelling down the ramp to their nest, rushing to the pools where the naughty baby had been found all those years ago.  She was there, and the matriarch of the Eledosia let out high pitched, happy snorting noises as she and Janie cuddled the lost baby heartily.

 

“Woah woah, easy!” the baby’s silly mate came running up, away from the healing pool as he tried to stop the frenzied, happy cuddles.  “Easy! Mama Fury, not so rough!”

 

“Mama Fury?” came another voice from the pool.  

 

The eledeer huffed out and looked over at the pools to see friends of the baby and her mate.  She could tell they were friends from the concern emanating off of them in waves.  The one with the metal arm was submerged to his waist, while the female with the red hair was standing next to the pool, looking ready to fight and guard should she need.

 

“I’m okay, it’s okay!” the baby managed to get out while giggling in delight.  

 

“Babydoll,” Steve worried, pushing at Janie’s rump gently to move her away.  

 

“I’m okay,” Darcy insisted.  She heard the stomping of hooves and realized more eledeer were on their way. “Nope, never mind, here come Bucky and Nat!  Rescue me super-hubby!”

 

Steve laughed in spite of himself and resorted to dropping to the ground and crawling underneath dangerous hooves to get to his wife.  He pressed himself between Darcy and the eledeer who were intent on nuzzling her.  Bucky and Nat, the eledeer versions and not the humans currently at the healing pool came barrelling into the clearing, followed by at least a dozen small eledeer creatures.

 

“Bucky Junior!!” Darcy whispered in excitement.  


“What are you gonna name the others?” Steve wondered playfully, holding out his arms and shielding his wife from most of the attention, only getting a few playful nips against his clothing.  “Buck, don’t you dare wreck these pants already!”

 

“Seriously?  So weird,” Bucky called out from the healing pools.  He pulled himself out, eager to go and meet the ‘ eledeer ’ that Darcy had name after him.  He’d heard enough about the creature in the last year.  

 

“James, back in the pool,” Natasha said sternly.

 

“Aww, Natalia, I’m fine,” Bucky insisted.  “It was just a little scratch.”

 

“You nearly lost your leg to that alien!” Natasha reminded him, pushing him back into the pool roughly.  “T’Challa said he wasn’t going to give you more vibranium for a new leg, so you need to let the pools heal you.”

 

A snorting chortle echoed in the clearing and the bright red creature stopped trying to cuddle Steve and Darcy to within an inch of their lives and instead trotted towards the pool.  He stared down at the man who had been manhandled by his woman and let out a happy snort in salutations.

 

“You must be other Bucky,” the man in the pool nodded at him, a slow amused smile taking over his features.  “I’m you, except, you know, human .”

 

“Idiot,” Natasha rolled her eyes fondly, looking to her own counterpart and shrugging slightly before both looked back to Darcy fondly as the small, excited woman began naming all the babies.

 

“And I’m naming you Jamie and you Jimmy and you Natalie, and you Nat-Nat, and you Nathan,  and you Thalia and you Barnsey and---”

 

“Doll, if you’re naming these babies like that, you should name your own in the same spirit!” Bucky encouraged.  “James Nathan Lewis-Rogers has a nice ring to it!”

 

Mama Fury’s neck went long and straight and she took a long sniff of the air.  She let out a little barking sound and all of her grandchildren backed off immediately, allowing Steve to relax a little.  He took a step to the side, wrapping an arm around Darcy as he puffed up with pride.  The eledeer matriarch bent her head and took a sniff at the little belly that Darcy was sporting and then she let out  happy sounding whine.  

 

“Yeah, see, the parts work just fine,” Steve told the eledeer.  “First try off of her birth control too, so, everything is working real good for me, you know, downstairs .”

 

“You’re a bozo,” Bucky laughed and the eledeer version of himself laughed in that strange alien way of his as well.  

 

“He’s my bozo,” Darcy pressed a kiss to Steve’s cheek.  “So hey, before winter sets in, me and the hubs are totally going to go hit the mating fields, come check on us in a few days if we don’t come back.”

 

“Why can’t we go too?” Bucky wondered.  He gave Natasha a waggle of his eyebrows.  “I’m always up for a little mating.”

Steve wrinkled his nose, thinking of the way Fandral had relentlessly tried to get him to come into the fields with him.  It had made every battle they had shared together in the last year a little awkward.  

 

“I’m up for it,” Natasha winked at Darcy.

 

“Nope, you guys get acquainted with the fam.  And make sure you get enough purple squirrels before winter,” Darcy advised.  She gave Mama Fury’s front right leg a hug, laughing when the creature bent down to sniff her head.  “We don’t have to be home for at least a day or two, so let’s make the most of it.”

 

Steve wrapped an arm around his wife and pulled her in close.  “I made the most of it the first time around, Mrs. Rogers.”


“You’re a cornball,” Darcy accused.  She kissed his lips quick and fierce.  “You’re lucky I love you.”