Darcy's gotten used to running tech support for Avengers missions. Frankly, she'd have to be an idiot not to get used to it. The work itself is easy enough, certainly not any more difficult than anything she was doing for Jane, and in a year and a half, she's gotten seventeen new stamps in her passport. Fury's sent her all over Europe with Steve and Natasha, twice to China with Stark, and once on a humanitarian mission to Myanmar with Bruce. It's fun, and the work and the globe-trotting make her feel like she's (finally) really doing something meaningful and adult. It's exactly where she wants to be.
The only members of the team she never goes out with are Clint and Barnes. She figures Fury never sends her out with Clint because he's a smartass, and she's a smartass, and one of those per mission is really enough.
She doesn't have any theories on why she doesn't get sent out with Barnes, but she doesn't mind. She knows he's old (real old) friends with Steve, and she likes Steve, but there's something off about him; he's got this whole tall, dark and broody thing going on that she doesn't really get.
But that all changes when Fury calls her into his office and she finds Barnes already there. He's sitting low in one of the chairs across from the S.H.I.E.L.D. director's desk; his feet are kicked out in front of him, brows knitted, staring into space, metal fingers picking at the chair's peeling wood veneer. She has to hand it to him: she's never seen anyone manage to look bored and menacing at the same time.
Fury dismisses them twenty minutes later, and twenty-five minutes later, Darcy crashes into Jane's lab. Jane's hunched over her computer and barely looks up as she storms in.
"Fury's sending me to Kraków with Bizarro Steve," Darcy announces unceremoniously.
"Agent Barnes." Jane gives her a confused look, and Darcy throws up her hands in exasperation, "You know: he's all old like Steve and he used to shoot Nazis like Steve, and you'd think they would be kinda similar, but then he's angry and scary and kind of the exact opposite?"
"Hm," Jane nods absently as she types, the screen lighting up her face in a blue glow, "Why scary? I don't think he's scary."
"Because. Tony told me he does wet work for S.H.I.E.L.D., Jane. Do you even know what wet work is?"
Jane rolls her eyes and shoves her sleeves up to her elbows, "Darce, you're going to Europe. Again. I really, really don't feel bad for you. I'm sure you'll have a good time. You always do."
"Sure, I'll have loads of fun with the murderous murdering murderer."
Jane frowns, "C'mon. He might be…nice."
Darcy pouts and grouses for another fifteen minutes before Jane's absentmindedness gets on her nerves and she heads back to the apartment Tony gave her at Stark Tower, just until she could get a place of her own.
She hasn't told Tony yet, but she doesn't want to leave. She's painted two rooms already and hung up all her posters and prints. She's relying on the fact that after the Chitauri attack, living at Stark Tower has been an unpopular idea, to say the least, and new, paying tenants aren't exactly banging down her door.
She's not that upset about going out with Barnes. She doesn't really know him, not really, but then no one on the team really seems to. She's noticed him though, noticed how he and Steve stick to each other like they're joined at the hip, noticed how he's always looking over his shoulder, noticed how he and Natasha trade barbs (or what she thinks are barbs) in Russian.
She starts to relax into the idea of the mission as she packs. It'll be fine, she tells herself. They're professionals; it'll be easy.
Bucky's already checked into their hotel when she arrives, settling into the room next to him and knocking on his door. When he opens the door and lets her in, he gives her a thorough once-over. He knows she's been around S.H.I.E.L.D. for a while, but he's never really noticed her. His missions are usually more about who has the bigger guns, not surveillance, which is supposed to be her specialty.
Darcy's hair falls around her shoulders in a long, dark curtain. She shoves it behind her ears and pulls the sleeves of her sweater – a brown and purple striped monstrosity – down over her hands. Despite the sweater, it's easy to see what a dish she is – with bright eyes and a full mouth and curves that even a heavy knit can't hide.
She shows him the array of cameras and microphones that need to be planted in his mark's house. The mission is complicated, full of moving targets and multiple locations, and the surveillance is meant to make things more efficient, meant to tell him where to be and when. But when he looks at her expectantly and asks when they're setting up the equipment, her eyes go wide.
"No. No. You're the master assassin. I'm the girl who sits in the hotel, runs the computers and writes the reports," she mimes typing and pushes her glasses up her nose. "That's how this," she waves her hand between them, "works."
He nods, but he stumbles a little over the first thing she said.
"Is that what you think I do?" he asks quietly, his brow creased. He hates that she doesn't know him at all, but she thinks he's a killer. He hates that she's right.
Darcy frowns, but she has the decency to look a little guilty about the assumptions she's made. He knows she doesn't really know why they're here or what he's supposed to do; Fury barely told her anything about the mission. But he guesses that she's gotten an earful about him from the S.H.I.E.L.D. gossip mill.
He clears his throat and continues before she can answer, "Anyway, aren't you a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent? You can do this. You have a weapon?"
She does, and she goes back to her room to retrieve it. For a gun, it's tiny and pathetic and not at all the weapon of someone S.H.I.E.L.D. expects to be in the field. Bucky frowns as he turns it over in his hands.
"We're gonna get you set up when we get back," he tells her as he hands it back. When he sees her raised eyebrows, he continues, "Mission support or not, you gotta have something better than this. Gonna teach you how to use it, too."
He winks at her, which makes something warm and unexpected pool inside her.
"C'mon," he gestures at the spread of cameras on the bed, "Get your stuff and let's go."
For an hour, they sit in front of Bucky's target's house, waiting for him to leave. She's changed into a navy pullover and skirt, with black tights, because it's the darkest and most discreet outfit she had. Ten minutes in, Bucky pulls a fresh pack of cigarettes out from the inside pocket of his jacket.
He taps the pack against his the heel of his palm, peels it open, pinches a cigarette between his teeth and pulls it out in a long draw. He holds the pack out to her, but she wrinkles her nose.
"S'bad for you," she tells him with exaggerated sincerity.
He smiles and lights up, "I've heard."
He pulls out a silver flask next, and takes a swig before handing it to her.
"Jeez, you're like a magic carpet bag full of vices," Darcy tells him, "What are you gonna offer me next? Heroin and a bottle of high fructose corn syrup?"
He looks away. Even in the darkness, she can see him fold in on himself. Just for a moment, she wonders if he's lonely; she wonders if it's hard having Steve as his only friend, when he spends half his time with Natasha, anyway.
It hits her that he's not used to company, that he's just trying to be hospitable, and she reaches over and plucks the flask out of his hand, just to tell him that she's there. That she's with him. She takes a long swig, and the burn in her mouth makes her struggle to keep it in. She swallows and looks up at him in shock.
"What the hell is this?"
He laughs at her and takes the flask back, takes another sip and tucks it back in his jacket. "Vodka."
"Ugh," she groans, sticking her tongue out, as though the night air could erase the bitter taste in her mouth, "You're not kiddin' around with that stuff."
They sit together in silence for a while. Bucky smokes his cigarette down to a stub, rolling his window down a few inches and politely blowing his smoke through the gap.
"Cap and Natalia never take you out like this?" he asks her.
"Natasha," she corrects, "And no. I don't think they think I could take it. Maybe it's the sweaters."
He smiles and raises an eyebrow at her, remembering the terrible thing she was wearing when they met up just hours earlier. "Yeah?"
"I've got quite a collection. Keeps things interesting." She shrugs and sighs. "Nobody takes me seriously. I wish I was different sometimes," she hesitates, "Not really. Maybe. Maybe I wish other people were different. I don't know why I'm telling you this." She laughs at herself and groans, rubbing a hand across her face.
He looks over at her, and she looks back at him. There's something honest and sympathetic in his eyes. "Everybody takes me too seriously," he shrugs, "I wasn't always like this."
She grins, "If it helps, I can take you not seriously. I'm a master of irreverence." She tosses her hair proudly.
Bucky grins back at her, "Sure."
Their eyes are locked for a long moment, but then she sees someone leave the building they're sitting in front of. Bucky stretches and leans between the front seats, pulling her duffel bag of equipment from the back seat. As he does it, he leans closer to her, filling her personal space with the sound of his breath and the scent of him – leather and cigarettes and something crisp and soapy underneath it.
He pulls back into his seat and reaches for the door handle.
"Time to go, sweetheart."