Wow. I have never had such an overwhelming response to a story one-shot or beginning before. Um…thank you all! The reviews, the private messages, and the story alerts in hopes that I continue were just overwhelming. I was blown away. So…for all of you…the story continues! I hope you enjoy.
Please review! It helps me update faster.
Ugh. Darcy was never moving again. Ever. Considering she'd moved twice in the past week, and both times the moves were inter-continental, it was a little (lot) much.
On the bright side, this time, she and Jane had super powered help, so it was a lot easier. Thor, Apple Pie (whose name was Steve, she'd learned), and Iron Man did all the heavy lifting. Arms and Red (Clint and Natasha) supervised, which seemed to make the other three a little grumpy. Stark did not stop grumbling the whole time equipment was being loaded into the strange jet thing that the non-flying members had arrived in.
It was actually kind of funny that most of what needed relocated was equipment. Darcy didn't have a lot of variety in clothing (hello, the whole starving college intern thing, even though she had graduated), and Jane would wear the same thing every day if not reminded to shower and change clothes. Between the two of them, they had four boxes of personal belongings. That was a little pathetic.
Tony Stark thought the same thing, apparently. "You are going shopping when we hit New York," he told them. "This is sad."
Moppy (Bruce, she kept telling herself, or Dr. Banner as Apple Pie kept calling him), kept to himself during the entire packing/loading period. He was troubled by what had happened, but also intrigued? Darcy wasn't quite sure, but she did know when a guy was checking her out, and Moppy kept doing that. Quick glances and then he hastily looked away, but it wasn't long before his eyes wandered back to her. Okay, so maybe she'd changed into a really tight shirt with a Vneck that displayed the girls to their best advantage, but hey! A girl's gotta flaunt what she has in the face of overwhelming eye candy. And while the memory of a naked Bruce was still very vivid in her brain.
Being oogled by Stark and Arms was a bonus. Apple Pie took one look, flushed slightly, and resolutely did not look lower than her face. What a gentleman!
Still, even though Darcy wanted to give everyone equal opportunity to appreciate her assets, she could admit to herself that Bruce had suddenly become her focus. Who would have guessed that Moppy looked so nice under his clothes? She'd seen ropy thigh muscles and ridged abdominals. And other things. Whew! It was getting way too hot watching the super heroes work. Darcy fanned herself. If that pressed the girls together and made them stand up just a little bit more as Bruce walked by, well…hell yeah!
The fact that he noticed the girls as he walked by was a score for Darcy. She could tell by the widening eyes, and the almost-too-quick-to-be-seen 'I might want' expression. Then he frowned and looked away. Hmm…Moppy had issues, apparently. Well, anyone who turned into a giant green beast when threatened had issues, really.
When the packing and loading was finally completed, everyone stuffed themselves into the jet thingie. Darcy had been surprised how quickly it happened, but no sooner had they returned from tracking down her whereabouts in the morning than the guys had started loading equipment. It was common sense, she guessed. Jane wasn't about to let Thor out of her sight now that he'd returned, and Thor certainly wasn't going to let Jane stay out in the middle of nowhere where she would be vulnerable.
The jet ride was…unsettling. While Jane and Thor were glued to each other, everyone else took turns staring at Darcy. Except for Arms and Red, since they were flying the jet thingie. Stark was the worst. He didn't say a word, but he stared with a knowing smirk that was going to push her over the edge. Occasionally, he would break off staring at her to look at Bruce. Then he would turn back to her with an even bigger shit-eating smirk.
Bruce was not unaware of Stark's preoccupation, Darcy noticed out of the corner of her eyes. He ignored Tony's stares until the shit-eating smirk threatened to break out and bitch-slap everyone on board. Then he turned to Tony with an exasperated expression.
"Stop it Tony. Just leave it alone."
Stark had the worst 'who me?' face ever. He looked around trying to get sympathy from anyone else on board, and sighed when it was clear he wouldn't. "We had so much more fun during the alien invasion."
"What is wrong with you?" Apple Pie demanded.
"Me? Oh, I may have had a few 5-hour energy shots before we started loading the jet," Stark replied in a jittery voice. "That or maybe I watched Hulk fall in love with a taser-wielding teenager."
Darcy thought Bruce was going to swallow his tongue and start foaming at the mouth.
Ignoring his strangled noises and impossibly wide eyes, she glared daggers at Stark. "I'm a college graduate, not a teenager, dickwad." She gestured to Bruce. "Is it your life's goal to antagonize him until he goes green, or what?"
Stark grinned. "Nah. He's a friend. If you can't jibe at your friends, who can you jibe at?"
"Why is he friends with you?" Darcy turned to Bruce. "Bruce – why are you friends with Tony Stark? He might just be the most obnoxious person on the planet."
Moppy took a moment, eyes closed, breathing deeply. Then he opened his eyes to meet Darcy's question head on. "It does seem unlikely, doesn't it? But honestly? He helps keep the Other Guy from accidentally breaking out too often."
Darcy shook her hands in a negating wave. "Wait wait wait. I know I didn't hear that right. Tony Stark helps keep Big Green from breaking out? How is that possible?"
"Built up tolerance," Stark replied smugly. "I've increased Banner's tolerance level for irritation and anger."
Oh. That totally made sense in a twisted sort of way.
Moppy wasn't done though. He ran a hand through his hair, making it even more unkept, and cast a tentative look at the billionaire. "He's also been the biggest push for me to accept myself…all of myself…and do more with what I have. Control it, instead of letting it control me."
Everyone not flying the jet thingie looked to Tony Stark for his reaction. Darcy had to bite back a smile. Stark looked vastly uncomfortable being praised, running a hand through his short hair.
"Hey – we were facing an alien invasion!" he protested. "We needed everyone. We didn't have time for Bruce to feel sorry for himself!"
Bruce's wry smile told Darcy that may have been partially true, but not the main reason that Stark had stepped in. He ducked his head a little, trying to hide that smile so that Tony wouldn't see. That was completely adorable.
Apple Pie's sigh was huge. He seemed to the tentative leader of their little group and Darcy didn't envy him at all. Just trying to keep Stark under control….add in Moppy with his particular gift, Thor – used to being a prince, and the other two, who seemed rather dangerous…she felt a little bad for him.
He caught her looking, and offered a small smile. "You've done very well under some strange circumstances."
Darcy shrugged. "Meh…after you've tased the God of Thunder, being kidnapped by a lovestruck big green guy is just par for the course, you know?"
Stark perked up. "You tased Thor?" He looked like an eager puppy, all wide eyed exuberance.
"Knocked him right on his ass," Darcy said proudly. She lifted a smirk to the sky.
Thor briefly pulled his mouth away from Jane's. He looked vaguely offended. "I was mortal at the time, Darcy, so it was hardly a feat worth boasting about."
Darcy patted her bag, with the trusty taser tucked inside. "Care to try your luck again, Thor?"
The God of Thunder seemed to be considering it very carefully. His mouth opened, and Darcy just knew he was going to accept the challenge. But then his eyes strayed to Bruce thoughtfully, no doubt picturing the moment when Hulk was tamed. He tapped Mjolnir's handle reassuringly a few times, and then looked down at Jane. Finally, he glanced back up at Darcy.
"I need not test my strength against your portable lightning device," he said loftily.
Darcy snorted. "Oh Thor…you are such a McNugget."
Tony Stark giggled as he got her meaning. Giggled. He was one of the smartest and richest people on the planet, and he was giggling like a girl. Shit…she made Tony Stark giggle like a girl!
Apple Pie didn't get it, and neither did Bruce. Thor only knew that he'd been insulted, and he waved a dismissive hand in Darcy's direction. Stark apparently couldn't stand that no one else got it, and he leaned over to whisper to Bruce, and then Steve. They both chuckled, and Darcy preened a little, puffing the girls out. Yeah, she had the metaphorical balls to call Thor a chicken.
Apple Pie's smile became a little more genuine as he looked from Darcy to Thor, who had gone back to sucking face with Jane, and then back to Darcy. Even Bruce seemed to be fighting a smile at the thought of her tasing Thor. But his eyes seemed to be measuring Thor against her size.
"You always tase guys that much bigger than you?" he asked, reaching up to adjust his glasses.
Darcy shrugged. "I keep running into guys that much bigger than me, so they make themselves easy targets." She bit her lip in contemplation. "So, Bruce…if I tased you as Bruce, would you go Big Green on us?"
His eyebrows shot up. "Probably. It's not an experiment that I'm willing to perform."
Darcy propped her chin in her hand, staring him down. He really was adorable. The moppy hair, the dark stubble, the cute little twist to his lower lip, and even the silver dusting in his hair. Then her sex-starved brain went where it shouldn't have gone. Thigh muscles. Chest hair! Abs. Other appendages. (What? Being involved with a secret government agency, even peripherally, had put a serious damper on her love life.)
Darcy could feel the blush down to the backs of her knees. Moppy, watching her turn scarlet as she stared at him with her lip tucked between her teeth, seemed to figure out what she was thinking, and he started turning red too, but couldn't look away.
"Debrief," he finally muttered, still staring. "S.H.I.E.L.D will want to debrief you."
Darcy couldn't help it, grin stretching across her red face. "Are you offering to help with that, Dr. Banner? You seem to have a quite a bit of experience in debriefing."
Stark just howled at that, while Bruce went beet red. "Uh…I'm just a scientist," he stammered. "I don't do the debriefings…er…um…I just do the science stuff," he finished lamely.
Darcy, blush finally receding, smiled widely. "Oh, there could be lots of science stuff involved. Experiments and all. Do you like to experiment, Bruce?"
His awkward chuckle and the way he worried at the inside of his lip with his teeth were enough to make Darcy's day. He didn't make eye contact often, she noticed. His eyes usually focused off to the side and down. Too much potential to unleash the green guy if he met other people head on? Except Tony. Bruce had no trouble looking Tony in the eye. It was very strange, watching their interactions. Despite his incessant yammering and jibing, Tony had a deep level of respect for Bruce. Likewise, Bruce respected Tony despite all of his shortcomings.
Darcy was fascinated. She sat back in the uncomfortable bench seat and stared, twirling a lock of hair absently. Yeah…Moppy had the potential to be a complete distraction for her.
He was waiting for them when they landed. Darcy followed Apple Pie docilely as they exited the jet thingie. Bruce was hiding, keeping every body that he could between himself and her, and Darcy didn't realize that someone was waiting for them until she almost walked into him. Okay, so she'd totally been rubbernecking, trying to find Bruce. But he was hiding well, and Darcy had just sighed in frustration and that's when the leather coat appeared in front of her.
He was tall, she discovered when she looked up. And a little intimidating. But he wore the leather trench coat well, and everyone seemed to defer to him. This must be Mom.
"Stark! Banner! You're with me for the debriefing." His tone softened considerably as he looked down at Darcy. "Miss Lewis – you as well."
Nick Fury was a little scary. The whole eye patch thing. Darcy kept expecting him to growl "Argh" and reveal his peg leg. She was sure he had one. She couldn't figure out which leg it was though. They both looked similar in size, and he seemed to be able to move equally well off of either one. So she found herself staring at his legs as he walked in front of her.
Of course, Nick Fury being a spy and all, knew when someone was staring at him. "Is there a problem, Miss Lewis?" he finally asked, turning his head.
Darcy's eyes snapped up to meet his in total mortification. She was dimly aware of Stark's snicker to her left but she was transfixed by the one eye. "Which one is your peg leg?" she asked. "Right or left?"
The choked noise from Banner's throat made Fury's mouth twitch up, like he wanted to grin, but he didn't. He just stared down at Darcy. "They both are," he finally answered. "And I've stuck them through lesser people. Stop staring now?"
"Okay." Darcy bobbed her head, feeling really lucky she wasn't walking the proverbial plank.
Being debriefed by Nick Fury was not fun. Especially not when Tony Stark was on one side of her, telling an R(or maybe X)-rated version of what had happened, and Bruce was on the other side, head resting on his arms, probably wishing he had skipped this adventure.
"Tony…" Bruce's voice was muffled and weary, but he didn't look up. "The Other Guy did not have a boner."
Darcy clapped a hand over her mouth to stifle her giggles. Stark cast a quick at her, flashed her a rakish grin, and then looked back at Fury. "Hulk totally had a boner for her. He kept making little love noises at her. Then he grabbed her and took off. We found them in a hay barn the next morning." He dropped a wink at Darcy. "Banner was naked."
Fury wasn't about to be sucked in by Stark's colorful account. "He's always naked after he Hulks, Stark. That doesn't mean anything. Look at the girl. Dark hair, bluish/green eyes…she's similar enough to Betty Ross that Hulk saw it. That's why he took off with her."
Banner raised his head to stare at Fury while Darcy felt her stomach plummet. Betty Ross? Girlfriend? Wife? Of course. Figures.
"She might have a slight resemblance to Betty," Bruce said slowly to Fury. "But she's got a style all her own, and the Other Guy would never think she was Betty. Betty would never shoot the Other Guy with a taser." The corner of his mouth curled up into a smile. "Or call the God of Thunder a chicken. She's…spunky."
Fury's one eye widened and he turned to look at Darcy. She shrugged. "What? Thor's my buddy. If you can't jibe at your buddies…"
Stark snorted laughter so hard that Darcy hoped there were no boogers flying. He pushed his chair back and stood, clapping Bruce on the shoulder. "She's a keeper, Banner. You can't go wrong, cuz Hulk already adores her. Nick…I'm done taking my briefs off for the day. Although, if you leave the room, maybe Bruce can debrief Kick-Ass a little more. I think they'd both enjoy that."
Darcy threw her water bottle at him as Stark scooted out of the debriefing room. She was blushing again, and Nick Fury's speculative, raised eyebrow perusal wasn't helping.
"Don't even think about it, Dread Pirate Roberts," she warned, shaking a cautionary finger at him. "If Moppy here is gonna debrief me, it'll be because we both want him to." She was elated yet full of trepidation. The whole Betty thing had her upset, but Bruce's comments afterward…yeah. Was it completely sad that that was the nicest thing a guy had ever said to her? She turned her head to look at Bruce. "And I'm game, but no audience. 'Specially not the pervs around here."
"Moppy?" Bruce protested softly. He didn't even seem to have processed the rest of what she'd said.
Darcy grinned at him, reaching across the table to run a hand through his fluffy hair. "It's your hair," she admitted. "It gives you this rumpled, absent-minded scientist look. Totally adorable, by the way."
"And it stays the same when you go Big Green. You still have this adorably moppy head of hair."
Once started, her fingers could not stop their dance through his hair. Darcy knew this was probably one of her poorest choices in crushing out, ever, but she couldn't help it. He was so off balance right now, mouth open slightly, eyes darting back and forth, but SCORE! He was leaning forward, into her hair fluffing.
The loud clearing of a throat had her pulling back suddenly. Darcy chanced a look at Fury, and he looked…resigned.
"We just saved the world from an alien invasion. I don't need this right now. Absolutely no funny business between the two of you, or the Hulk! Any questions?"
Darcy thought about it. "What do I do now?
"Stick around. Have Stark find you a place to live for awhile. I get the feeling that our chances of keeping the Hulk from breaking out and wandering off will be much greater if we keep you close." Fury rose to his feet, glaring down at them. "No funny business, right?"
Banner's head nodded slowly, so Darcy had little choice but to follow his lead. For now. She had the feeling that life was going to get very interesting.
So, I admit that I have a habit of being swayed by my reviewers. My Blame it on the Vodka story (Darcy/Loki) started out as a very short one-shot and is now at 30 Chapters and three related one-shots. So thanks to all of you for pushing me to continue something that I would have left alone. I really like the Darcy/Bruce/Hulk dynamic, and this story is just hilarious to write.