Actions

Work Header

in the blue dark

Chapter Text

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.

"Who?"

"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."

Chapter Text

The pair of them make their way silently towards the building’s entryway. Darcy follows Bucky as he dips in and out of shadows, trying to pretend she’s as sneaky as he is. They get inside easily, because one of the (many) illicit things Bucky keeps on his person is a lock picking kit, and make their way through the spacious flat, planting cameras and microphones as they go.

They’re almost done when Bucky pulls her into a bedroom closet, just a second before she hears the front door open. His hand is heavy over her mouth and she glares at him mercilessly (because she knows she has to be quiet) until she hears someone rattling around in the apartment and her blood runs cold.

Bucky’s arms wrap around her waist, pressing them flush against each other, and she jerks and gasps in surprise. But then she feels his hands at the holster at the small of her back. Her response makes him roll his eyes and give her a withering look. She’s glad they have to stay quiet; she doesn’t even want to think about the shit he wants to give her for even suspecting that he was trying to come on to her in the middle of a mission.

He pulls out her pistol, turns off the safety, and presses it into her hand. He pulls out his own Glock, and a long, mean-looking knife out of sheath strapped to his leg. They both stand together, still and ready, barely breathing. Darcy tries to mirror the serious, dangerous look on Bucky’s face as he stares out of the door's wooden slats.

Despite the tension, the situation comes to nothing. Whoever it was leaves quickly and they tuck their weapons away. Bucky finds a service stairway in the kitchen and pulls her down it, his (real, warm) hand closed tight around hers. He fights hard not to show her how nervous the idea of her in danger made him.

He doesn’t let her go until they’re back on the street, walking back to the car on sidewalks that have gotten rain-slicked while they were inside.

They’re only a few paces down the sidewalk, only a few paces away from the car, when Bucky spots two dark-clad men coming towards them. Darcy barely has time to recognize them from their photographs in the S.H.I.E.L.D. briefing file she read on the plane, before Bucky’s fist closes around her arm and pulls.

***

Bucky yanks her into the first open door he sees, into a discotheque that has mingling crowds and thumping music pouring out onto the sidewalk just feet away. For a moment, the world is a blur of colorful neon lights, deafening music, and the hot, humid press of bodies. Bucky pulls them through the herd, onto the dance floor. Darcy pushes away a rush of claustrophobia as the throng pushes in against them on all sides, but then, nestled in the crowd, Bucky's arms wrap around her. The solid, stable press of his body against hers is grounding and reassuring.

Bucky’s hand is at the small of her back, pulling her against him and swiveling them until her back is to the door. His hips roll against hers in time with the languorous beat of the music, like he’s been on the floor for hours like everyone around them, and she struggles to catch up with him.

“Hide your fucking face,” he growls against her neck, and she turns into his chest, winding her arms around his shoulders, her hair falling across her face. He can feel her stiffen and tense in his arms. He’d feel bad for snapping at her if he weren’t so damn keyed up himself.

Bucky scans the room and picks out the men following them immediately. He keeps one hand on Darcy’s hip and one hand on his holster as he watches them survey the room. Darcy’s moving against him, but tentatively, and he slides a hand up and under her the back of her shirt, not sure if the skin-to-skin contact will make her more nervous or less.

“They’re not lookin’ at us,” he murmurs, close enough to her ear that she’ll hear him over the music, “Just relax. You’ll blend in better.”

Her feels her take a deep breath, her chest pressing against his. Her arms, which had been lashed around his neck, hanging on for dear life, loosen. Her hips press into his and she looks up at him.

“Good girl,” he tells her, his thumb stroking the soft skin of her back.

He watches as their pursuers turn to each other, shouting over the music, then turn for the door. Bucky knows he should get them out of there and back to the hotel, but Darcy’s rocking her hips against his, her hands on his neck, her gaze dropped between their bodies. Even though she’s lit up in pink and green neon, he can see a flush high on her cheeks.

Bucky knows what this is; he’s seen it so many times, it’s almost predictable. He knows it’s easy to get caught up in the danger, the adrenaline and excitement. It’s easy to project that onto your partner. What he doesn’t expect is the shudder that goes through him when she licks her lips, or the semi in his pants that’s growing with each brush of her hips.

“Lewis?” His voice already sounds too husky and strung out. His hand drops down to the curve of her hip and he curses his own weakness. “What’re you doing?”

Her gaze shoots up to his and she puts a few inches between them. She looks at him with wide eyes, pupils fat and dark.

“Nothing. What? Nothing.”

“Hm,” he nods, then brings both hands to her hips, pushing his knee between hers and pulling her towards him until their bodies are fitted together, his thigh pressed tight against the cleft between her legs. Through the din of the music, he can hear the little gasp and moan she gives as his hips roll into hers. Her hands move to grip his shoulders.

Bucky’s jaw clenches. He should know better – should know better than to be rutting on a dance floor with a junior S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. But she’s so damn beautiful, and earlier, in the car, she talked to him like a person, like a man, and it’s been so long since anyone treated him like anything other than a machine.

And now she’s looking at him with heavy-lidded eyes, and he can’t think about what this is, what he’s doing or where this is going. What is knows is this: that this (she) feels good (amazing), and like everything he needs right now. He knows he’s damned, he knows that people like him don’t get happy endings, so how can he be blamed, really, for taking one good thing that's offered him?

His head dips and he catches her mouth with his. She surges up against him, her hands flailing for a moment before she buries her fingers in his hair. His tongue slides against hers. He can still taste his vodka on her, and it sends a jolt of electricity down his spine. There’s no mistaking that she wants him. And it’s not exactly his style to leave a beautiful, het up dame wanting.

Bucky’s eyes skirt around the room until he finds a back door, and he pulls her through the crowd towards it.

***

Darcy follows him out of the club and into a dark, rain-soaked back alley behind it because she’s a goddamned idiot, that’s why. She’s not (normally) this easy, but this isn’t easy, it’s casual. Totally, totally casual. And she’s an adult, dammit, and doesn’t she get to have casual sex sometimes? And if the guy she’s having casual sex with happens to be reasonably respectful and have cheekbones for days, well. But all of her rationalizing as they make their way through the crowd can’t shut out the mini-Jane on her shoulder, railing at her to be responsible and not fuck the dangerous hit man in a dark, vacant alley.

But then he has her outside, pressed up against a brick wall, his erection a hard ridge against her hip. The scent of him, the heat coming from him, the feel of his mouth on hers, is heady and strong. He makes her feel dizzy and delirious.

“This is crazy,” she gasps as he sucks at her collarbone, “S’crazy.”

“You want me to stop?” he hums near her ear.

He reaches down, rucks up her skirt and curves his palm over her sex, covered by nylon and underwear, and gives her a challenging look, like he just wants to see what she’ll do if he goes just this far.

Her hips jerk reflexively against his hand, her fingers fist in his hair. “No. Fuck no,” she manages to rasp, because even the thought of him stopping sounds fucking awful.

He kisses her again – hard and fast and dirty – and drops to his knees. When his metal hand tears open her tights and shreds her panties, she feels her jaw drop. It was, frankly, the last thing she expected. The bionic arm pulls one of her legs over his shoulder and slides around her waist, holding her up like a mast.

Bucky’s stubble-covered cheek leans against the inside of her thigh where the tights have been torn away, scratching against the delicate skin there as his fingers brush against her folds, first in gentle exploratory strokes, then more deliberately. She watches him with her mouth hanging open, and his blue eyes slide up to hers just as he presses two thick fingers inside her.

Her jaw clamps shut as she swallows a moan, because she’s just wanton enough to let Bucky finger her in this alley, but not enough to let anyone hear them. Bucky’s eyes slide shut and she hears him swear under his breath. She’s not sure if it’s in English or Russian. His head turns and he presses a warm, close-mouthed kiss to the seam between her thigh and body.

He leans forward then, eyes dark and hungry, and presses the hard flat of his tongue against her clit, his fingers curling inside her. Every muscle in her body pulls taut; her hands fist involuntarily and slam back against the brick wall behind her. Something clenches in Darcy’s chest, making it impossible to speak or think or breathe. She’s had this before, from boyfriends who treated it like a favor, but never from anyone with Bucky’s fervor and commitment.

With the hard point of his tongue, Bucky spells out the alphabet, spells out a litany of things he’d like to do to her, spells out his full name on that tiny bundle of nerves, valiantly ignoring the fact that he’s straining hard against the fly of his jeans. He feels her come apart under his mouth and hand, soaking his fingers as she flutters around him, her fingers clenched in his hair, holding him against her until she’s spent (as if he would leave her).

When he stands again, smoothing her skirt down and wrapping his arms around her waist, she clutches at him wildly, her mouth hot on his. He knows his face is a mess, that she’ll taste herself with every swipe of his tongue, but he’s pleased to see she shows no traces of squeamishness.

Darcy reaches down to cup him though his jeans, and he almost bucks against her hand, but he pulls her away by the wrist. He wishes to God he could do this – let her give herself to him in this alley, no doubt against her better judgment – but he just can’t.

So he grabs her by the elbow and pulls her back to the car. She comes willingly, still dazed and stumbling. Bucky tries not to think about the aches in his chest and between his legs.

***

On the drive back to the hotel, Darcy keeps her eyes straight ahead, on the road. Absorbing everything that’s happened over the last few hours is more mind fuckery than she’s used to dealing with, but she tries to focus on what she knows: that he wants her, that she wants him, that none of this is wrong, just unexpected. And maybe it isn’t a bad thing to feel a little out of her depth; maybe this is what she needs.

In the hallway in front of their rooms, she pulls out her room key with shaky hands. As she shoves it in the lock, a plastic fob with her room number dangling from it, she notices that he isn’t behind her anymore – he’s unlocking the door to his own room.

“Hey,” she says, quietly and a little indignantly. When he turns to her, she tilts her head towards her room suggestively. God, she wishes she was better at seduction.

Bucky smiles at her, a little ruefully.

“You got enough to regret in the morning, doll.”

And then he’s gone. When she hears his lock click, it sounds like being shut out.

Chapter Text

It’s past midnight by the time Darcy’s showered and changed for bed. She does the math and figures that Jane, the annoyingly early riser, is probably awake. Darcy dials her number into the phone S.H.I.E.L.D. gave her, because she just feels like she needs to talk to somebody about something. But when Jane answers, the only things Darcy can think of to say are asinine quips about the rain and her (imaginary) plans to visit museums or cafés or markets or something.

Thinking about how confused she is is just…confusing, but sleep is hard to come by, so she stays up and dwells. She’s a little shocked at herself, honestly, but mostly she’s just tense and edgy. Just the memory of the way Bucky touched her – firm and confident, like he wanted her – makes her skin warm, makes her wish like hell that he had followed her into her room.

In the end, though, she forces herself to push her own lust down, because he didn’t follow her. Because she still needs to get through the rest of the week with him. Because she can’t let herself feel hopeful.

***

Bucky spends a long, wakeful night staring at the ceiling, cursing his own impulsive, id-driven missteps. Darcy’s better than this, better than him. Even though she works for S.H.I.E.L.D., he can see how untouched she is. She isn’t chased by the same darkness that follows so many of them, and he had no right to put his hands on her like that.

It only makes it worse that, for all his guilt and remorse, the memory of her in his arms, slick and hot around his fingers, the sounds she made, are still driving him crazy hours later. In the end, though, he’s regretful, but he’s not a monk, and he only has a few compunctions about taking himself in hand and relieving himself into the tight circle of his fist.

He knows he’s in over his head; he knows she’s in over her head. He knows that he’s (they’ve) made a mess of things. But he’s good at bluffing; he can pretend this was (is) nothing.

***

Bucky knocks on her door in the morning, and pushes in past her when she opens it. She’s only just finished dressing, and her hair still hangs wet over her shoulders. He hands her a cup of coffee and a pastry in a paper bag. He sets down his own coffee, digs in his jacket pocket for a moment, and pulls out a handful of creamers and sugar packets. He pours them out onto the table.

“Figured you’d want all this junk,” he tells her disdainfully. She rolls her eyes, but he’s not wrong.

While she adulterates her coffee with cream and sugar and tears into the pączki he brought her, Bucky starts outlining the locations they’ll need to monitor.

They’re obviously not talking about last night. Which is fine. She can totally not talk about it. Or think about it. Or want to talk about it. Or want to do it again. Totally do-able.

Before he leaves to let her finish getting ready, he hands her a key. The room number on the fob is his.

“Just in case,” he shrugs before he disappears back into the hall.

***

They plant more equipment, around the city, at nondescript office buildings, at more apartments, in parks where the thugs Bucky’s tracking are known to meet. Darcy gets better at the undercover stuff; Bucky gives her a few tips, and by the time the last device is planted, she’s sneaking around like an old pro.

After the cameras and microphones are set up, it leaves them with a lot of downtime; this kind of work always does. She’s used to sitting in her hotel room, watching the feed on her own while Steve and Natasha canoodle, or whatever it is they do until she tells them to head out.

Bucky’s different, though. Over the next few days, he sits with her, and they take turns watching the feeds or listening to the audio input or running to the café around the corner to get coffee.

There’s a fair amount of shirking going on, too, in between the recording and reports back to Fury. They watch Polish TV; Darcy makes elaborate guesses at program storylines, then checks her hypotheses against Bucky’s translation (she’s never right, but her plotlines are usually more interesting that what’s actually going on). Bucky teaches her to count cards and they play endless games of blackjack (Darcy’s winning, best out of forty-seven, and Bucky chalks it up to beginner’s luck, even though he knows better). Darcy brought an extra large bag of Jelly Bellies from the States, and they take turns seeing who can catch the most in their mouth; when Bucky’s enthusiastic lunge to catch a wayward strawberry bean sends a lamp crashing to the floor, the look on his face makes Darcy laugh so hard she falls off her chair.

Darcy shows him all the pictures on her phone (most of which are selfies with historic landmarks in the background or compromising pictures of Jane asleep in the lab) and tells him all about growing up in Seattle. Most of the stories Bucky remembers aren’t the kind he wants to share, but he manages to make her laugh with a few hazily remembered, embarrassing stories about Steve when they were both young.

She likes him, she decides. He’s not what she thought he was, not exactly. When he’s working, when he’s monitoring the feeds or on the phone with Fury, he’s serious as a heart attack. But when he’s off the clock, he’s funny and easy to tease and not afraid of a blue joke. He can be damn likeable, and it sure as hell doesn’t make forgetting what a good kisser he is any easier.

The mission still lingers around them though, burning in the back of Bucky’s mind. It takes four days of surveillance before they have his target’s patterns down. When Bucky finally heads out to start what they came here to do, he feels the same horror and dread he always does on these kinds of missions. The fact that Darcy’s there, welcome as the distraction has been, only makes it worse.

“You’re not going to, uh. You’re not going to watch the feed while I’m in there, are you?” he asks her after he’s suited up, just before he heads out into the drizzly, cold night.

She shrugs, “I usually do for Cap.”

“Hm.” Bucky gives her a terse nod, “Well you don’t for me. You turn it off as soon as you see me on the screen. I’ll let you know when it can go back on.”

Darcy’s eyebrows are arched nearly up to her hairline. She had expected him to be just this bossy, but there’s an insecurity that’s coming off of him in waves.

But she just shrugs again, “You got it, champ. Break a leg.”

***

Three hours later, she hears him come back, hears his door slam. Hears him pacing the room and running the shower through the thin wall between their rooms. He never radioed to turn the feed back on.

She decides not to check in on him, just turns out the light and crawls into bed. It’s only a few hours later when she wakes up to a strangled, helpless sound coming through the wall, from Bucky’s room.

She grabs his room key and her pistol from the dresser, pulls a long cardigan over the tank top and shorts she sleeps in, and steps into the hall. Adrenaline pumps through her as she slips his key into the lock, not sure what she’ll find on the other side of the door. She pushes the door open and steps in, gun raised, face hard, ready.

Darcy scans the darkened room, just like he taught her to, but it’s empty save for the (surprisingly) still-sleeping man on the bed. Darcy slumps slightly, and sets his key and her pistol on his dresser.

Bucky’s sprawled across the bed, the sheets tangled around his waist and legs. His eyes are closed, but his limbs twitch unnaturally, and he’s emitting the same, choked cries she heard in her room, on the other side of the wall.

For a long moment, she just looks at him, not sure what to do next. He’s shirtless, and dressed in the same jeans he wears every day, which doesn’t really surprise her; he doesn’t seem, she thinks, like the kind of guy who would own pajamas. It takes her off-guard to see him without layers of clothes or body armor, metal arm fully exposed and gleaming in the dim light. He’s not stocky like Clint, or beefcake-y like Steve, but lean, lithe and muscular, with a dusting of dark hair across his chest.

“Agent Barnes?” she murmurs, pulling her sweater tight around her torso. He doesn’t wake up, and she swears under her breath. Darcy takes a step closer, even though she knows it’s a terrible idea. This whole thing is a terrible idea; she should just mind her own business, let him ride out the nightmare and take care of himself when he wakes up. But the look on his face is so desperate and scared, and the little whimpers and moans he’s making make something clench in her chest.

“Bucky?” she calls out, because that’s what Steve calls him. She sits on the edge of the bed and reaches out, her fingers just grazing the bare skin of his real arm.

He jolts awake, his eyes wide and unfocused, and Darcy has a split-second to brace herself for what comes next. Bucky launches himself at her, grabbing her by the upper arms, knocking them both off the bed and onto the floor. He’s heavy over her, his fingers, natural and metallic, pressing into the flesh of her arms. His thigh is shoved between hers, pinning her to the carpet.

Bucky Bucky Bucky,” she chants frantically, calling him back. A shot of adrenaline rushes through her, making every muscle in her body tense, setting her nerves on edge and her skin on fire.

The next few seconds feel like they happen in slow motion. Bucky blinks and his grip loosens. Darcy feels her shoulders relax a little; she refuses to think about the fact that this is the first time he’s touched her since the alley. He shifts, just slightly, but his head dips towards hers, long hair falling down and brushing her cheekbones; his thigh moves between her legs, presses up against her. The friction of the denim, the weight of him, the rush of concern and adrenaline from a moment before, make every sensible thought fly out of her head. She feels her mouth fall open, but then he’s gone.

Shit,” he whispers as he pushes himself off of her and helps her back to her feet. He asks if she’s okay and she has to tell him that she’s fine three times before he believes her.

“You didn’t have to—“ he starts, but she cuts him off.

“I know. It just seemed like you needed some neighborly help,” she tries to shrug nonchalantly. She pulls the sleeves of her sweater down over her hands and crosses her arms.

“I’m not—“ he hesitates, running a hand through his hair, “I wouldn’t—I wouldn’t hurt you.”

“I know. Sit down,” she orders, because he looks too pale and unsteady on his feet.

He lowers himself to the edge of the bed, his elbows on his knees, head in his hands. Darcy tells him she’ll be back and goes to the bathroom, flicking on the lights, finding a white washcloth and wetting it down in the sink. Something dark reflected in the mirror in front of her catches her eye and she turns to the bathtub. She looks down and is immediately glad that the sound of the water will cover up her quiet curse.

Crumpled at the bottom of the tub is a pile of dark fabric – the clothes he left in. It’s obvious that he turned the faucet on them at some point, because they’re soaked and plastered to the white ceramic. A thin line of red extends out from the mess, circling the drain.

Darcy turns quickly, turns off the water and grabs the washcloth. She stumbles out of the bathroom, clipping her knee on the doorjamb, and rushes to crouch in front of him, water from the washcloth dripping between her fingers and splashing on the floor.

“Are you hurt?” she demands, looking up at him sternly.

His brow furrows and he shakes his head in confusion. It’s only a moment before he realizes what she saw in the bathroom. She can almost see him remember it: peeling off his blood-stained clothes and dumping them in the tub, turning a cold blast of water on them, but not having the heart to do any more than that.

Bucky swallows hard. The look he gives her is so filled with guilt and shame; something in it shoots straight through Darcy.

“Go on,” he tells her, looking away, “I’ll be fine.”

She shakes her head and tries to meet his eyes, tries to make her silly, goofy face look serious for once, tries to tell him that she can handle this. “It’s okay. It’s okay,” he finally looks at her, “Mission support, here. I got this. Put this on the back of your neck.”

She holds out the washcloth and sighs in relief when he takes it without question. Rushing back to her room, she digs a pair of latex gloves out of her regulation first aid kit, gets back to Bucky’s bathroom and sets to work. In fifteen minutes, she’s got the water running from his clothes clear instead of pink, and she hangs everything from the shower curtain rod to drip dry. It’s strange, she thinks, doing this for him, but something in her just wants him to feel better, to forget what he had to do, a thing he so obviously hates. She hopes that she’s helping.

When she comes back out, he’s still sitting on the edge of the bed, the washcloth in his hands. He looks tired, worn out, but at least some of the color’s started to come back into his face.

She sits next to him and takes the washcloth from him, setting it on the floor and wiping her damp hands on her sweater.

“You callin’ me ‘Bucky’ now?” his voice is quiet and hoarse, but teasing, and maybe a little hopeful.

She grins, “I’ll call you whatever you want me to call you. I can think of a few choice names right now.”

Bucky shrugs and smirks. “You can call me that, if you want” he tells her, and she nods her approval. She gets that it’s not something he grants to everyone.

“So,” she bumps his shoulder with hers, “Rough night. Wanna talk about it?”

He laughs grimly and runs a hand over his face, scrubbing at the stubble on his jawline. “Nah. Not really a topic for polite conversation.”

Her eyebrow raises, “Who said I was polite?”

She gets a smile out of him, and it sends a rush of satisfaction and relief through her. Bucky looks over at her, his face lit up by the moonlight streaming in through the window.

It’s so subtle, such a tiny movement, that Darcy almost isn’t sure she saw it. But it did happen: Bucky tilts his face towards hers, his brow furrowing slightly, his arm pressing against hers just a little more.

Suddenly, the room seems too hot, too small. Darcy feels like she could crawl out of her own skin, she wants him so badly. What she does next, she does without thinking, and she’s glad for it, because a moment’s thought probably would have stopped her.

She reaches out, puts her hand on his cheek and pulls him towards her. He comes so willingly; it barely takes any effort at all. And then her mouth is on his, taking the lead, pushing her tongue past his lips while his hands fall to her waist. She moves fast. She hasn’t forgotten what happened a few days ago, and she knows how it feels when he pushes her away. She shifts onto her knees and straddles his lap, pulling a low, incoherent groan from him when her hips lower onto his.

He kisses her like his life depends on it, his bionic hand cradling the back of her head, pulling her into him. She grabs his other hand and pulls it up to her breast, needing to feel his hands on her. She’s no blushing virgin, but something about him makes her feel like she’s starting to understand what it is that men and women are supposed to do together. She starts to wonder if maybe all those guys in college, even the ones she thought were all right, didn’t really know what they were doing.

He pulls his hands away from her and pushes the cardigan off her shoulders, lets it drop to the floor. For a moment, she feels exposed, in just her thin cotton shorts and tank top, the night air cold on her bare limbs, but then he’s touching her again, cradling her breasts in both hands and dropping feather-light kisses along the ample curve of her cleavage. She curls around him, her thighs squeezing his hips, her arms wrapped around his bare shoulders, her face lowered to the top of his head as he works his way across the tops of her breasts.

Bucky,” she murmurs against his hair, and he sighs against her skin. Her lips press against his temple, and he closes his eyes and leans into it.

“You gotta go.”

She leans back and looks down at him, frowning and incredulous, “No.”

He frowns back at her, moving his hands to her waist, “I’m not askin’.”

“Please,” she murmurs, leaning in and pressing kisses along his cheekbone. She can feel that he’s hard, pressing up against her center, and she rolls her hips up and down his length, pleased when she hears his breath hitch.

“You’re a smart girl, Lewis. You know what I did tonight,” he stops her (even though he’s so hard and all he wants is for her to keep going, to take the comfort she’s offering him). He pulls away and takes her face in his hands, “Nights like this, I don’t get what I want. That’s just part of the deal.”

He watches her work through it, watches her brow furrow, sees the little pinch of disappointment in her eyes. A part of him feels bad for turning her away (again), but he has his rules, the ascetic code he follows whenever he kills. It’s only something he’s done since he came back from being the Winter Soldier. Because he wouldn’t have cared who he killed, or why, but Bucky Barnes does.

But there’s something in the fact that she pulled him out of his nightmare, took care of him, washed someone else’s blood from his clothes, and still wanted him. Just the thought of that turns him inside out. And he can’t let her leave (again) thinking that he’s pushing her away. He owes her that.

He pulls her back against him, just for a moment, just for as long as he can allow, and presses a kiss to the side of her neck, pulling her hair over her shoulder to give himself access.

“I do want, though.”

Darcy smiles, “Good.”

She lowers her mouth to his, just once more, but it’s nearly more than he can take. It escalates quickly; tongues sliding against each other, with Darcy’s hands in his hair, fingernails scraping along his scalp, sending sparks of pleasure down his spine. Bucky’s hands slide up her bare legs, dipping between her thighs. His fingers push aside the fabric of her shorts, and she groans into his mouth when he grazes the crotch of her panties, finding them soaked through.

Bucky feels his resolve crumble; all he can think about is how incredible she is, and how good it would feel to just sink into her: wet and hot, with her little arms wrapped around him and her hips rolling against his.

Please,” he gasps, “C’mon.”

She pouts at him, and it takes every ounce of mental and physical fortitude he has to stand strong.

“You’re sure you want me to go?”

“Yes,” all he can manage is a plaintive whisper, “Yes.”

She bites her lower lip, drawing it slowly through her teeth. Now she’s just teasing him.

Lewis,” Bucky growls, lifting them both to their feet and marching her to the door, into the hall and over to her door. Before she closes her door on him, he sees her flash a giddy, coquettish smile, and somehow the idea that he screwed everything up by moving too fast on their first night together seems irrational. Somehow it seems like this is just where he wants to be.

Chapter Text

They almost make it through the entire next day without falling all over each other, which Darcy considers an impressive feat of professionalism. They camp out in her room, monitoring the feeds, because Fury still wants Bucky to retrieve files from three of the offices they’ve been watching, and remove the surveillance equipment.

There’s just a brief moment of weakness: they bump into each other when Darcy’s on her way out of the bathroom and Bucky’s heading for the hallway to get ice, and it turns into fifteen minutes of making out and groping like teenagers. Despite that indiscretion, though, Darcy’s sort of proud of their restraint.

After dark, Darcy gives him the go-ahead and Bucky suits up and heads out. When he gets back, Darcy’s relieved to see that he looks fine – not lost and self-loathing like the night before.

“How’d it go?”

Bucky holds up a folder full of documents and an external hard drive, “Got everything.”

He tells her he needs to get back to his room, and Darcy frowns at him, because him leaving her tonight is entirely unacceptable and not at all what she had planned.

“What? Why? We should celebrate.” She plucks the folders out of his hand and starts hooking up her scanner. “I even bought some of that nasty Russian vodka you like so much.”

“I have a…thing,” he gestures vaguely towards the right side of his torso, then towards the door.

“A what?” She peers over the tops of her glasses at him.

“It’s nothing. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Darcy sets the papers down and launches herself at him. He tries to bat her away, but she grabs the lapel of his jacket and pulls it aside. Her hand goes to a dark stain along his ribcage, seeping through the body armor, and her fingers come away wet and red.

“What the hell,” she murmurs.

Bucky rolls his eyes, “So that last apartment might not have been totally empty.”

She winces, “So the other guy…”

“Will wake up with a hell of a headache.” Bucky looks at her sternly, not interested in leaving her with any ambiguous ideas about how he operates. “S’alright. I heal up pretty quick.”

She squints at him, “What, like Cap?”

Bucky raises an eyebrow at her, not in the mood to explain everything the Red Room did to him. “Not exactly.”

“Right,” she nods, grabbing his hand and pulling him into the bathroom, “C’mon.”

***

Thanks to the body armor, the cut isn’t as bad as she’d feared. After he peels off his jacket, the vest, and his shirt, she pulls out her first aid kit and steels herself, cleaning and placing a gauze square over the wound, and sealing it on all sides with white tape. When she’s done, she claps him on the back and meets his eyes in the mirror. He winces and smiles.

“Good as new, Bucky Boy,” she announces, waving him back into the bedroom.

He sits on the end of her bed, bare-chested, with the white bandage a stark contrast to the warm tone of his skin. He watches as she fusses with her computer, her glasses sliding down her nose as she types.

“Where’s that drink, Lewis?”

“Are you sure you should?” she asks him, glancing at the bandage on his side, but he gives her a warning look and she sighs and tosses over the bottle. He twists off the cap and takes a long drink. “There’s soda…” she starts, pointing at the minifridge, but he just shrugs and takes another swig. "O-kay,” she mutters, turning back to her work.

While she scans the documents he brought her, Bucky swallows down half the small bottle, then puts the cap back on and gingerly leans back onto the bed, staring at the ceiling.

“Do you like working for S.H.I.E.L.D.?” she asks, because he’s being too quiet.

Bucky looks over at her, meeting her eyes, and the look on his face is a faint echo of what she saw in him last night, “No.”

“Why do you do this, then?”

“They need somebody to do the kind of stuff Captain America,” he sneers through the title, even though she knows he loves Steve, “can’t do. Might as well be me.”

Darcy purses her lips at that, adjusts her glasses, and pushes through her scanning. When she’s done, when she’s got a series of encrypted emails sent off to Fury and the machines turned off, she moves to lie down next to him on the bed, her knees bent over the side.

“Where do you live, anyway?” she asks, “In Manhattan?”

Bucky lets loose a long sigh. “In Brooklyn. With Steve.”

Darcy gasps and covers her mouth. “You do not.”

He glares at the ceiling, “Like a fuckin’ houseguest. Had to live somewhere when I came back, and he offered. Of course he did. And every time I bring up leaving, he looks at me like I just kicked his puppy. I know we go way back, me and him, but if he tells me to pick up my towels or put the seat down one more time—“

Darcy’s peals of laughter ricochet off the walls, filling the room. He smiles in spite of himself, because even when she’s laughing at him, she’s beautiful, and her hand is on his arm, and that feels like something.

“You got something better?” he asks her, and she tells him about her apartment in Stark Tower, next door to Jane’s.

“How far back do you and Steve go?” she asks, after a moment, “How old are you, anyway?”

“Too old for you,” Bucky snorts and she rolls her eyes.

“But seriously.”

He gives her a challenging look, like he thinks he’s about to shock her, and she braces herself in anticipation. “Ninety-two.”

“Shut the fuck up,” she throws up her hands, “Every time I have to deal with this Avengers stuff, I feel like I’m losing my mind.”

“I object to being called ‘Avengers stuff’,” he sniffs.

“You know what I mean: demigods and geriatric hotties and whatever the Hulk is.”

Bucky just grins and looks at her for a long moment, with her hair spread thick and dark across the cheap bedspread, her skin glowing in the dim lamplight. He’s sure he looks like a smitten idiot, starry-eyed and smiling at her, but he can’t help that he’s so damn fond of her. A part of him just wants to stay in this moment for a few more minutes or hours or days – relaxed and a little tipsy, with Darcy beaming at him and teasing him, subtly twining her fingers between his. This feeling – the feeling of making a girl (woman) happy – is something he can’t remember ever having, and suddenly it seems like something he doesn’t want to live without.

Darcy can see him thinking, but the dopey, infectious smile on his face reassures her that he’s still with her. She leans up on one elbow, scoots closer and leans over him, just barely brushing his mouth with hers. His left hand comes up to her cheek, telling her to stay.

“Let’s just do this,” she says, and for a moment she isn’t sure if she’s thought it or said it out loud. But then Bucky blinks and she knows she did say it, and she has to press on. “Or try it, anyway. Me and you.”

For a long moment, Bucky just looks at her inscrutably and, even though a moment ago she felt sure about how he would react, now she isn’t. She hesitates and leans back, just a little. “It doesn’t have to be serious or anything. Of course not. I wouldn’t make you—“

“Okay.”

“Yeah?” she bites at her bottom lip.

“Yes,” he tells her, and he sounds so sure.

He kisses her for a long time, shifting over her, pulling her under him until they’re fully on the bed and he’s settled between her legs. Her hands run up and down his sides; his fingers are buried in her hair as his tongue meets hers, licking into her mouth. He moves away, shifting his attentions to the side of her neck, and she squirms under him, wrapping her legs around his hips to pull him closer.

“If we do this—“ he starts, but she cuts him off.

“If?” she whimpers, grinding her hips against his, “Is there an if?”

Bucky grins, pressing his face against her shoulder and wrapping his arms around her, sliding his hands down to her hips.

“Okay, no if. When. When we do this, it’s not going to be in a bed that a million fuckin’ tourists have slept in. It’s gonna be in your bed, on your sheets. I bet they’re, what, bright pink? Orange? Somethin’ girly, for sure.”

She frowns, “Magenta.”

“Hm,” he purrs, his lips brushing against hers. “All right. Gonna fuck you in your room on your magenta sheets. When we’re home.”

Something like a growl comes out of her. “How many principles do you have, anyway?”

He smiles and moves his mouth along the hinge of her jaw, “Lots.”

She huffs, “You’re a goddamn tease, Barnes.”

“Yeah,” he thrusts his hips hard against her center and the friction and pressure make her head drop back on her pillow. She can’t stop the high-pitched moan he pulls out of her, “but I don’t think you mind too much.”

Bucky,” she groans, because she doesn’t know how much more of this she can take.

But he’s not far behind her; he slides his hands out from under her hips and pulls at the hem of her sweater, pulling it and the tank top under it over her head in one fast yank.

She feels his arm reach around her, unclasping her bra with a flick of his fingers. He cocks an eyebrow at her and grins rakishly.

“Very smooth,” Darcy rolls her eyes and smiles.

He pulls her bra – lacey and electric blue; she’s ecstatically grateful that she packed on laundry day, when her usual, practical bras were in the wash – down her arms and tosses it to the floor.

Fuck, Darcy,” he growls, lowering his mouth to her right nipple, rolling the left between the thumb and forefinger of his metal hand. Her heart stutters a little, because it’s the first time she can think of that he’s called her that.

She looks down at him, and he looks wasted – long hair a mess, eyes unfocused and dazed, lips wet and swollen from kissing her, from working his mouth and tongue across her breasts. She knows this is her moment to take matters into her own hands (so to speak), and she works her hands between them, tearing frantically at the buttons of his fly.

The feel of him, thick and hard in her hand, pressed against her belly, drives every remaining coherent thought out of her mind. It takes a certain amount of effort to pull away her right hand, bringing it up to her mouth for a wet lick before she lowers it again, stroking and teasing and pumping until he comes with a shudder, every muscle tense, groaning her name, spilling hot against her stomach.

In the wake of it, while he’s still warm and heavy and sated over her, Darcy has a hard time keeping the lusty grin off her face. The look he gave her when he came – blissed out and overwhelmed – is easily one of the hottest things she’s ever seen, and it’s fast becoming a struggle not to brazenly work her hand down between her own legs (not that she thinks he’d mind if she did, really).

He rolls off of her to catch his breath. Sprawled on the bed beside her, he clears his throat hoarsely. “It, uh. It usually takes a little longer for that to happen.”

Darcy smirks and raises an eyebrow. “Obviously I’ll need more evidence before I believe that.”

He gives her an appreciative smile in return, then moves back over her. “Your turn.”

She shrugs and grins, feeling dopey and boneless, even though it was his orgasm, not hers. “S’ok. I don’t have to—“

Bucky sits back abruptly, resting on his heels between her legs. He tugs down her pants and underwear and tosses them onto the floor. As he pulls her legs up, resting her knees on his shoulders, he gives her a stern look, then smiles as he mouths at the soft flesh on the inside of her knee. His hands run up her thighs as he lays her out just the way he wants her.

“Like hell you don’t”

***

Early the next morning, S.H.I.E.L.D. sends a jet to take them back to New York. Darcy spends the interminably long flight curled up in the seat next to him, fast asleep. When her head drops onto his shoulder, something in his chest swells uncontrollably. He wonders what the Red Room would think of him – what Natalia would (will) think of him – if they could see him now, besotted and weak as a baby over her.

Somehow, in the space of a week, his entire world has shifted. It’s strange and new to feel like he has something to look forward to, but, he thinks, it might be worth getting used to. It might be worth starting over for.

Chapter Text

As soon as they land in New York, things go upside-down. Fury’s waiting for them as they disembark, immediately quashing any plans they might have had to disappear into Darcy’s Stark Tower apartment for the next week.

Instead, Fury pulls him away so fast, all Bucky has time for is a quick glance back at her before Fury sends him to meet up with the other Avengers. They all end up fighting a terrorist cell in Toronto for three weeks, which seems to Darcy like an absurdly long amount of time.

Bucky calls her twice on the phone, ostensibly to get details about the mission, or to forward messages to Fury, but each time they end up talking for over an hour. Not about anything important, really, just the weather or stupid stuff Steve said or what a jackass Tony’s being, but it feels good to hear his voice. It feels good to know he’s okay.

He doesn’t tell her he misses her. He tells her he wishes she was with him, just because he’s so damn bored. But she hears what he means.

She misses him, too. She misses how he looks at her (like he sees her). She misses laughing with (and at) him. She misses how he touches her, the way he can make her feel adult and sexy and wanted.

To keep her mind off it – how badly she wants him and how much danger he might be in – she works harder than ever. Fury commends her for how diligently she’s applying herself, and she starts to wonder if she’ll be able to squeeze a raise out of all her angst-inspired effort.

***

The first thing Bucky does when the team gets back, in the middle of the morning on a Tuesday, is keep his promise of taking Darcy down to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s underground weapons dispensary. He finds her in her office on the Avengers’ floor of the massive S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters building; it’s hardly a struggle to get her to set aside her work and follow him out.

He doesn’t touch her until they’re in an elevator filled with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Bucky maneuvers them until they’re against the back wall, behind the dark-suited crowd. Out of sight and blocked by his hip, he takes her hand in his. Darcy keeps her expression neutral, casual and bored, like his, but the press of Bucky's warm, calloused palm against hers makes her heart pound like it’s about to burst out of her chest.

At the dispensary, Darcy lets Bucky do all the talking, and when the clerk hands her a sleek case with a small, powerful Glock inside, she grins up at him, satisfied. When the clerk tells them that it’s the same gun Agent Romanoff carries, she sees something indefinable flicker across his face, but he just smirks down at her.

“Just what you need, then,” he tells her.

On the walk back to the elevator, he pulls her into an empty hallway, backs her up into a wall and kisses her. She feels the case slide out of her fingers, down the wall, hears it hit the ground with a soft thump. Bucky's mouth is warm and his hands are rough – on her breasts, between her legs, cupping her backside – and the whole thing makes Darcy feel dizzy and crazy.

“Forgot how good you feel,” he murmurs against her mouth.

Darcy moves to the side of his neck, lips and tongue tracing the tendons there until he shudders and presses against her harder, pushing her up against the wall. There’s an unmistakable warmth spreading through her belly, pooling in her groin; Bucky’s pressing hard against her hip, and she lowers a hand to stroke him through his jeans.

Darcy,” Bucky brings his real hand up to the back of her head, her hair curling around his fingers; he buries his face into the curve between her neck and shoulder. He’s quiet for a long moment, overwhelmed by an increasingly-familiar swell of longing in his chest. “Oh, fuck it. I missed you.”

“S’ok,” she gasps as he lifts one of her legs, wrapping it around his waist and pressing his hips into hers, “I won’t tell anybody.”

“Can you skip out for the afternoon?”

“Yes,” she nods wildly, because she’s so over just fooling around, “Yesyesyes.”

He’s only just grabbed her hand, only just started to lead her back to the elevators, back to her apartment, when his transponder goes off. He curses, pulls it out to silence it, and looks at her apologetically.

“Why’re you getting called out so much?” she asks with her brow furrowed.

He smirks at her, “Fury thinks Kraków proved that I can work in a team.”

Darcy’s eyes go wide and she snorts a surprised laugh.

She shrugs. “As long as you’re not screwing Stark, now.”

He groans and pulls her back against him, hands on her ass, “Not even screwing you yet.”

She sighs against his shoulder. “All in good time, Agent,” she takes his hand and pulls him towards the elevator, “C’mon. Avengers assemble.”

***

The team’s only gone for a few days this time, and everyone comes back in one piece, or so Darcy hears. Darcy’s kept her nose to the grindstone, churning out report after report for Fury, most of which still need the Avengers’ stamps of approval.

The day after they get back, she sets out to find them and collect their signatures. She definitely doesn’t think about the fact that Bucky is on her list of agents to find, because she’s determined to control her own horniness and pining while she’s on the clock.

She finds everyone she’s looking for in one place: taking turns sparring against one another in the fitness center S.H.I.E.L.D. installed specifically for the team. It's not a huge surprise; after missions, Steve usually rounds them up to work on their form. Bucky's told her what a stickler he is about correcting their mistakes.

“Mmm. I love it when you’re all in one place,” she announces as she walks in, “Makes my job so much easier.”

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Tony gestures in her direction as the team drifts towards her, knowing from experience what she needs from them, “Darcy Lewis, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s laziest agent.”

She rolls her eyes at him and turns to Steve and Natasha, Bucky, Clint, and Tony, handing each of them a stack of papers, “Berlin, Kraków, Boston, Singapore. I only have one pen, so be nice and share.” She tosses a black pen at Steve and he snatches it out of the air.

One by one, they drift apart, flipping through, signing and turning back their reports, all except Bucky, who Darcy finds lounging on a weight machine, slowly turning the pages of the report in his hands. Darcy clears her throat and holds out her hand, one eyebrow lifting impatiently.

“Nah,” his brow furrows, “Everybody else here seems to sign whatever’s handed to them, but I wanna read what you wrote about me, Lewis.”

She glares down at him, her arms crossed, pinning the completed reports to her chest. Out of the corner of her eye, she can see Steve watching them, and she’s sure Bucky’s aware of it, too. She tells herself to stay cool, calm, and collected, despite the indecent leer on Bucky’s face.

“Fury wants these today. As in now.”

He just shrugs and flashes an infuriating smile, “I’ll turn it in later. I know where your office is.”

She freezes at that – at the inherent promise of being alone with him. Just the idea of it makes something desperate well up inside her.

“Fine. Whatever,” she snaps, turning on her heels and walking out.

***

Two hours later, Bucky walks through her door, signed report in hand. Her office is tiny, crammed full of papers and binders and boxes of surveillance equipment. But she has a lamp with a lime-green shade in one corner, her desk is covered in colorful plastic knickknacks and it smells like the perfume she sometimes wears. Being there fills Bucky with the kind of tender, damnably weak-kneed feelings that he always struggles to control whenever he’s touching her or looking at her or thinking about her.

“Well?” she asks, as he walks around her desk to hand it to her.

He shrugs and leans against the edge of the desk. “You left a few things out. But I’m sure Fury will approve. Excellent job, Agent Lewis,” he gives her a little mock salute and she rolls her eyes, tossing the report onto a stack of papers on her desk.

He shifts closer to her.

“So—“ he starts, but she cuts him off with a pointed look, followed by a glance towards the ceiling. Bucky follows her gaze upward, to a black domed security camera. He scowls and crosses his arms, but the look on his face when he turns to her again is almost timid.

“Could come by tonight. If you wanted,” he murmurs quietly, meeting her eyes with an unmistakably suggestive look.

“Ugh, yes, for the love of God,” she mutters, “I’m off at six.”

He grimaces. “Six? Are you serious?”

“It’s only four hours from now,” she chirps, trying not to seem like she thinks it’s an offensively long time.

“Just leave with me right now, then.”

“I—I have meetings," she tosses her hair, because a little turnabout is fair play, and Fury really is expecting her, "You’re not the only one who has frustrating sex rules, you know.”

“Fine,” he huffs. He leans up off the desk, ready to go, but with no intention of leaving her without something to keep in mind later, while she’s sitting in Fury’s office, listening to him drone on about who knows what.

He leans over her, his back to the camera, placing a hand on either arm of her chair and lowering his mouth to her ear. Darcy knows her face is still visible on the camera’s feed, though, and she fights to stay expressionless.

“Gonna have you tonight, then. It’s all I fuckin’ think about, Lewis,” he growls, delighting in the way she struggles to hide the hitch in her breath when he nuzzles the side of her neck.

“It is so time for you to go,” she rasps. He glances down, and through the fabric of her pencil skirt, he can see that she’s pressing her thighs tight together, squirming her hips against the chair, instinctively trying to find some relief from what he’s stirring up in her.

He lowers his real hand to the hem of her skirt, curling his fingers around the back of her knee. “Bet you’re wet for me already. Aren’t you, sweetheart?”

Darcy gasps and stands, because that, that, was too much. Because she needs to not jump his bones in her tiny, thin-walled closet of an office, where people can hear and see them.

“Okay, you deviant,” she hisses, grabbing him by the elbow and pulling him towards the door, “Get the hell outta here.”

He’d almost believe she was really mad at him, if it weren’t for her flushed cheeks and dilated pupils and the dazed, aroused expression on her face. She opens the door and pushes him into the hallway. As she closes it, he runs a hand through his hair and grins at her.

“See you tonight.”

Chapter Text

It’s half past seven when Bucky strolls through the empty Stark Tower lobby, making a beeline for the elevator. Darcy’s texted him her floor and apartment numbers, and he checks his phone to make sure he has them memorized.

He’s still waiting for the elevator when he’s joined by a statuesque strawberry-blonde he immediately recognizes.

He can feel her eyes on him, sizing him up, and it’s surprisingly intimidating. From the stiff way she’s standing next to him, it’s obvious that she’s a little suspicious of him, that his reputation has preceded him, and he straightens and takes his hands out of his pockets. He can look respectable. He can.

Bucky gives her a terse nod, “Ma’am.”

“You’re, um.” She waves her finger at him like she’s trying to place him.

He holds his hand out to her and she gives it a brusque shake, “James Barnes.”

“Pepper Potts. Are you…meeting someone?” she raises her eyebrows at him expectantly.

Bucky hesitates. ‘I’m here to fuck Agent Lewis’ brains out’ doesn’t seem like an appropriate response, so he clears his throat and tells her an almost-truth. “I’m teaching Agent Lewis to shoot. There’s a late-night range at S.H.I.E.L.D.”

She purses her lips into what he thinks is a smile.

The elevator doors finally open and they enter; Pepper presses the button for the tower’s residential floor, then the button for the top floor.

The rest of the ride takes place in an uncomfortable silence. Pepper keeps her eyes fixed on her phone, pointedly ignoring him until they reach Darcy’s floor. They exchange curt nods as he steps out into the hall.

***

As soon as Darcy opens her door, the minute he sees her, he’s already half hard and aching for her. He doesn’t care that the elevator doors behind him haven’t quite closed when she pulls him into her arms and through her door.

For a long moment, they just stand in her doorway, arms wrapped tight around each other. Darcy traces the lines of his shoulders through his leather jacket; her fingers comb through his hair.

When she pulls away from him, she’s laughing and glancing warily at the open door. “You can come in. You want something to drink?”

She’s a little more dolled up than she was in her office; she’s wearing the same blouse and pencil skirt, but she’s brushed her hair out and freshened her makeup. It hits him that he’s come here with the explicit intention of having sex with her, but he has yet to take her on a date. He cringes, because she deserves those kinds of real, normal things, and it only just now even crossed his mind.

He manages a nod, though, and steps in, closing the door behind him while she disappears into the kitchen. Darcy calls out to him, telling him to make himself comfortable, and he takes a seat on her sofa. But suddenly being comfortable seems utterly impossible.

Steve’s told him that he used to be a ladies’ man, but if Bucky Barnes had any lovers, he doesn’t remember them now. What he remembers is how the Winter Soldier would seduce, ravage, and use. It hits him hard that maybe there’s a reason he’s been delaying sex with Darcy: because it’s been too long since he’s done this, and maybe he’s never done this exactly, or been this person while doing it. Because maybe the only thing he’s good for is killing people and scowling about it.

Despite his anxieties, the defiant bulge in his jeans clearly isn’t going away anytime soon. The memory of how she held him when he walked in is still fresh in his mind: the way she clutched at his shoulders and sighed like he was all she had wanted all day. And something about her, her, wanting him turns him inside out.

While she’s gone, he adjusts the crotch of his pants and sits up straighter, trying to figure out how he’s going to conceal his overexcitement and how he’s going to explain everything he’s thinking when she gets back. He’s debating whether or not it would be completely, painfully obvious if he pulled one of her throw pillows onto his lap, when she returns, setting two lowball glasses of whisky and soda on her coffee table with a clink.

Before he can fully register what’s happening, she’s in his lap, her skirt rucked up around her waist, her thighs straddling his hips. Her hands fist his jacket, yanking him up to her. His hands move to her bare legs impulsively, running along the twin curves of her calves. Bucky steals a quick glance downward, his heart skipping a beat at a glimpse of lemon-yellow cotton panties peeking below the hem of her skirt, before she tugs him against her and kisses him.

“Darcy,” He pulls her back by the upper arms, “Maybe—I just—“ He can’t even bring himself to tell her that they shouldn’t, because it’s such an anathema to everything he wants. But he can’t kick his concern. “Maybe we should take this a little slower.”

Darcy could slap him for stopping them for the millionth time, but she can see how serious and defenseless he looks and takes a deep, grounding breath instead. She moves his hands from her arms to her waist, and he lets her.

She rests her hands on his chest, “How are we ever going to find out what this is if we don’t just jump in?”

“It’s just…things like this haven’t happened a lot, for me,” he gives her a plaintive look, “I keep feeling like I’m screwing it up.”

“What kinds of things haven’t happened to you?”

He winces and looks away, “Just…good things.”

Something inside Darcy freezes. What he’s saying is so damn familiar, so like things she’s thought about practically everything she’s ever tried. It’s something she’s refused to let herself think about this, though, about them, and she resolves to not let him think it either.

She presses her lips to his temple, tangling her fingers in his hair, “You’re not screwing this up. You’re not.”

Leaning back, her eyes meet his, and she smiles at him, placing one hand on either side of his face.

Bucky,” she starts, and the just the sound of that name is jarring in the best way, “Remember how everyone takes you too seriously? Maybe it’s because you worry too damn much. Just…let’s just let this happen.”

Darcy holds her breath while she watches him think through it, but when the corners of his mouth tic up, just slightly, she knows she’s in. She presses her lips against his, and he opens up to her easily, his tongue sliding along hers, his teeth nipping at her bottom lip. She opens his pants, pushing his boxers out of the way and taking him in hand.

“I got a clean bill of health. You?”

The feel of her fingers stroking his now-exposed hard-on makes his brain go numb; he gropes frantically for words. “What? Yeah. Yes.”

He watches intently as she pulls the crotch of her panties aside with one hand, wrapping the other around his shaft, running the sensitive head of his erection between her sodden, pink folds. He can hear her breathing grow ragged; she sucks her bottom lip between her teeth.

“What about—“ he starts, but she cuts him off.

“Got it. On the pill.”

He nods and groans as her hips roll, sliding against him.

“Darce—” he gasps, “Darcy."

Her name has barely left his lips when she lowers herself on to him, slowly inching down until he’s buried in her to the hilt, their hips fitted together snugly. For a long moment, they just look at each other, mouths open and panting, foreheads pressed together.

“This okay?”

She pushes down a hysterical laugh that bubbles in her chest, because this might be one of the most okay things that has ever happened to her. She had known already that Bucky was modestly well-endowed, but the sensation of him fully seated inside her, filling and stretching her, lights her up like a Christmas tree, makes her feel like she could lift a car.

“Jesus, yes,” she smiles and presses her face into the side of his neck, “Oh, Bucky.”

With her hands on his shoulders, she rocks her hips, moving up and down the length of him. The first feel of her, slick and tight and hot, knocked him senseless, but as she moves over him, he starts to come around again.

“Where’s your bedroom?”

She gapes at him breathlessly, her hips still riding him, “Are you seriously thinking of taking a break right now?”

He grins, “Don’t worry, kitten. We’ve only just begun.”

***

They leave a trail of clothes down her hall as Darcy leads him into her room. Naked, she climbs onto her bed (with magenta sheets, just like she promised), and he follows her.

Bucky makes his way over her, pressing his lips to her mons, her stomach, her breasts, her collarbone, her mouth. The cold metal of his right hand spreads across her lower back, shifting her hips until she’s under him, her legs spread wide. His mouth is still on hers when he slides into her, pushing his hips into hers until her ankles hook around his waist and her arms tighten around his shoulders.

Bucky’s warm and heavy over her, his hips churning against hers, working his hand between their bodies. He keeps his mouth near her ear, telling her all manner of obscene details about how good she feels, how much he loves this, and how she’s all he wants. For her part, all Darcy can do is whimper and dig her fingernails into his back, letting herself be taken over by the building pressure between her legs. When he finally tips her over the edge, all it takes is a hard thrust, a flick of his fingers across her clit, and her name on his lips.

Darcy doesn’t know how he manages it, especially considering how hard he is and how long they’ve waited for this, but he manages to make it last. She’s not complaining, though, because this is all she’s wanted for so long, and she’s not (may never be) ready for it to be over. With his fingers and his cock, he coaxes her into another sobbing, shuddering climax before rolling them over, letting her work herself on him until she’s scratched his chest raw, until she’s chanting his name, until she knows that this is everything.

His hips snap up as he comes, trembling and breathless under her, his hands squeezing her hips.

After he’s spent, she collapses next to him, and they lie together, panting. Bucky’s got his eyes closed; Darcy watches him recover, this man who treats her like a grown up, like an equal, who seems to live to make her laugh or come or both. She watches his chest rise and fall; he’s covered in a thin layer of sweat, glistening cock softening against his thigh. Seeing him like this, in the wake of what they’ve just done, makes a rush of feeling rise through her chest.

As much as she likes him, she’s still getting used to this: being this close to someone, letting someone this far in, past her sarcasm and goofiness. When he opens his eyes and turns to her, flashing a dazed smile and reaching out for her hand, it’s more than she can take. She presses a quick kiss to his cheek and heads to the bathroom to splash water on her face.

When she looks at her reflection in the mirror, she almost doesn’t recognize herself. She looks wild and primal, lips red and swollen, hair a mess, neck dotted with love bites. She wonders if Bucky’s changing her, or if she’s changing herself and he’s just with her. She realizes then that whatever it is, she’s not afraid of it.

She picks up their drinks from the coffee table on her way back, and dumps in new ice cubes to replace the ones that have melted while they were in the bedroom. She pads back down the hall. He’s pulled the sheets around his waist, leaning up against her pillows, metal arm curled up and under his head. She can’t help but notice how good he looks in her bed, how natural and homey it seems to find him there.

He smiles at her when she comes in, his eyes wandering over her still-naked body as she hands him a glass of watery whiskey. But the real focus of his gaze seems to be her room.

Her walls are covered from floor to ceiling: with concert posters for bands he’s never heard of, art prints and red-white-and-blue campaign posters. One wall’s covered with photographs: of her and Jane and Erik and Thor, of her and an assortment of relatives, and of her with a variety of recognizable politicians. When she lies down on the bed next to him, he asks her about them.

She shrugs and swallows half her drink in one gulp, “Once upon a time, I was a political science major.”

“Hm,” he muses, throwing an arm around her shoulders, pulling her into his chest, “College girl.”

Darcy curls against him, “You didn’t go to college?”

“Was a different time,” he smiles, a little wistfully, “I joined the Army.”

He takes a long sip of his drink. His chest moves under her head; she can feel him take a deep breath and clear his throat.

“Darcy—“ he starts, and hesitates before continuing, “I don’t really do this. Sex. I mean, I used to. A lot. But things are kind of different now.” Darcy frowns and shifts so she can see him, not sure where he’s headed with this, but he presses on. “I just…I don’t want it to not mean anything, like before. It doesn’t. It doesn’t not mean anything with you. It’s just—You didn’t know me when it – when I – was like that, but I’m just…I’m not like that anymore. That’s all.” By the end of his speech, he’s mumbling and staring intently at the ceiling.

Darcy sizes him up for a long moment, trying hard to piece together what he’s trying so desperately to say. Then, something clicks. She rolls her eyes. Hard.

“Christ on a cracker, Barnes,” she starts, “Are you trying to tell me you like me?”

“I—“ he looks at her like he’s going to launch into another rambling rant, but then her eyebrows raise and he thinks better of it, “Yes.”

Darcy shakes her head, “I can’t believe I met someone worse at this mushy stuff than I am.”

He smirks and pulls her back against him. Darcy presses her cheek to his shoulder, one arm wrapping around his waist.

“For the record, I like you too,” she smiles against his skin, “But next time you do that, try not to bring up how many chicks you’ve banged.”

“Only bangin’ you now.” He grins impishly, but there’s something serious in his eyes. She smiles back and nudges his shoulder.

They lie together for a long time, still and silent. Bucky’s arm is wrapped around her bare back; he can feel when her breaths start to grow deep and even. He cranes his neck and can see that her eyes are closed, the muscles in her face slack with sleep.

“Darcy?”

“Mmpf.”

“You want me to go?”

That wakes her up. She sits up on one elbow, her other hand spread wide on his chest, eyes still bleary.

“No. Sleep over,” she orders, because the thought of him leaving, of going to bed alone, is abhorrent. “I’m awake. We’ll order in and watch movies and stay up past our bedtimes.”

She gives him a lazy smile. She’s so absurdly, incredibly beautiful like this: satisfied and relaxed. Bucky downs the rest of his drink and moves over her, kissing her until she’s dazed and dreamy, until he’s hard and she tells him she wants him again.

And, at least for now, Bucky realizes that nothing can ruin this, not even him.